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Nouns

No Age

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Album Review

Divorced from all the talk about the return of the lo-fi sound, the scene revolving around the band's home base in L.A. (the Smell), and the group's rep as no-nonsense noise punks, you have the music of No Age. All that stuff is just background — what matters is the sound coming down the wires as Nouns clatters and hisses on through to your ears. The duo of Dean Spunt (drums and vocals) and Randy Randall (guitar) are proudly noisy, drawing influence from early-'90s lo-fi acts like Eric's Trip as well as the New Zealand sound of that decade. They make no attempt to clean up their sound (though it does seem slightly more professionally recorded than the singles that made up their first release, Weirdo Rippers) as amps hum, drums clatter like garbage cans, and voices shout and holler. It's an arresting amount of noise and it may put you off initially. If you stick with it past the first wave of fuzz, though, you'll be captured by the songs, because No Age aren't about noise alone. Below that less than pristine (to be kind) sound there are songs. There are rollicking freak-outs ("Here Should Be My Home"), folk songs tossed about by waves of fuzz ("Eraser"), and careening rockers with hooky choruses ("Cappo"). Take them out and scrub them up a bit, and they would be as shiny and clean as things you might actually hear on the radio. After a polish it's not hard to imagine "Teen Creeps," for example, playing in the background of a teen movie. "Sleeper Hold," too, could be the theme song for any manner of triumphant scene; the chorus has the kind of hook you'll be singing all day. Choosing to bathe the songs in noise adds an extra layer of sound, sure, but also creates an epic battle between melody and noise, between beauty and grunge, that gives the album a real sense of drama. Also adding to the sense that something is at stake on Nouns are the lyrics. There are no simple love songs here — mostly twisted fragments of isolation and ruin with the (very) occasional bit of tender hope thrown in to keep you from throwing in the towel. In the final count, melody and beauty, fractured as they may be, win the day. Like fellow noise poppers Times New Viking did on their awesome album Rip It Off, No Age turn noise into gold on Nouns.

Biography

Formed: 2005 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Los Angeles experimental lo-fi drum-and-guitar duo No Age are Dean Spunt and Randy Randall, ex-members of hardcore band Wives. Through assorted indie labels, No Age released limited runs of vinyl-only EPs before collecting many of those tracks for the singles collection Weirdo Rippers, issued by U.K. label FatCat in summer 2007. The record's cover pays respect to the Smell, a venue/art space they felt was partially responsible for the livelihood of both No Age and Wives. The duo is also known for...
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Nouns, No Age
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