Nothing are categorised as a shoegaze, dream pop, slowcore band that formed in Philadelphia in 2010. Today’s line up consists of Domenic Palermo on guitars and vocals, Aaron Heard on bass, Brandon Setta on guitars and Kyle Kimball on drums.

`Dance On The Blacktop` is the band`s third studio album and follow up to 2016`s `Tired Of Tomorrow` The title of the release was taken from ancient prison slang meaning a fight or hit during outside recreation, in the works of urban fiction writers Donald Goines and Iceberg Slim. Indeed, Palermo became acquainted with this while he was incarcerated. He stabbed another man during a fight and spent two years in jail for aggravated assault and attempted murder. Following his stint in jail and done with performing in punk bands, Palermo spent a long time soul-searching. He formed Nothing and here we are today.

The album opens with `Zero Day` with just a strummed guitar before a full guitar assault and Palermo`s slightly aloof haunting vocals sauntering atop. The singer has shared that the song is about lying awake countless nights contemplating human life, a song of paradoxical enlightenment. `Blue Line Baby` follows and the vocals are a little bit more prevalent, it tells a story of the Kensington/Frankford section of North Philadelphia in the early 1990’s, amidst its full-blown opioid outbreak, using street names and landmarks as the stories protagonists.

We get less feedback with the more up beat `You Wind Me Up`, at times it reminded me of the Jesus and Mary Chain`s `Some Candy Talking` on acid!

I really loved `Plastic Migraine` a wonderful musical soundscape which had me drifting off, tripping or zoning out as it washed in and over me, taking me along on it`s voyage.

`Us/We/Are` is a little unnerving, quietly structured at times with reassuring lyrics of “Everything`s great” before thumping you with a delightful wall of controlled noise.

I felt `Hall On Palace Pier` was probably the most immediately accessible track on this offering. I loved the drumming, intricate guitar picking, and the vocals pitched at just the right level, enhancing this elaborate submission. The entrancing `I Hate The Flowers` is shared before a seven-minute lullaby `The Carpenters Son` is offered up. This was written about the singer`s father who was, indeed, a carpenter, who struggled with addictions and succumbed to a tragic death. The song is almost cathartic with the writer coming to terms with this event. A laid back tranquil and collected song. The album closes out with `(Hope) Is Just Another Word with A Hole In It` the tune incorporates all aspects of what has gone before with blinding dissonant guitar swatches, thumping drums and layered and at times almost detached vocals. Cracking stuff.

This is an interesting release with stories of self-loathing, self-destruction, and a general disdain for humanity and its, “insignificant” role in the singer`s vision of the universe.

Palermo was recently diagnosed with the early stages of CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy), a neurodegenerative disease found in people with serious head injuries.

This is a hugely enjoyable piece of work that would sit well with lovers of bands such as My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, Mazzy Star, Ride and Sonic Youth.

Nothing as an adjective means having no prospect of progress; of no value. I would have to disagree, on the strength of this release there is plenty of progress and an inordinate amount of value. Check it out for yourselves.

Rating 8.5 /10

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