Thursday, June 19

A Collection of Words Describing Nouns

Artist: No Age
Album: Nouns

Talented and all-around nice guys, No Age are back after their 2007 release Weirdo Rippers. Since that release, their notoriety has grown out of the L.A. "Smell" scene and into the confines of hip America (and presumably, other hip countries). On their newest release Nouns, No Age’s noisy punk sound is polished and more audible than their previous venture, while still maintaining their nonchalant swagger.

After Weirdo Rippers, it was hard to tell which way their sound was going to swing. Would No Age lean towards their roots and end up more hardcore, or would they become a clean-cut and bland indie-rock outfit? Luckily, the band (Randy Randall and Dean Spunt) did not push the genre-bending extreme. All they did was re-evaluate their overall sound to make it more accessible for a wider audience.

The first track “Miner” sets off with two bangs on a gun-like sounding snare, with a hushed Spunt reciting “I want you choosing me, I feel a common breeze.” As a quiet beginning, it foreshadows a loud and noisy storm.

“Eraser” is the first pre-released track off of Nouns. When I first heard this track on their myspace, I was underwhelmed; I was afraid that they had made a change for the worse, sound wise. Thankfully, the song is just a bad representation for the rest of the album.

What is nice to hear is the clarity of the vocals. Before, Spunt’s voice was hidden underneath raunchy distortion which made listeners focus on the sound more. Because of this newfound transparency of the vocals, it put his lyrics to the test.

Some may be discouraged by some of the lyrical offerings in Nouns’ tracks, which are full of odd and nonsensical word pairings. A flow is prevalent, but otherwise most of the lyrics don’t make sense (at least not to me).

One obvious difference between Nouns and Weirdo Rippers is the early on presence of fuzzy filler tracks. “Cappo,” and more importantly “Keechie,” are the best examples of noise fillers. They are pointless to the album and do not bring anything to the table, except enable the band to play around with unorthodox sounds.

Once you pass the weak tracks on Nouns, “Sleeper Hold” can be found. In all of its vibrant sound, “Sleeper Hold” melds together some of the finest music No Age has put together to date. The track is blissful and finely crafted. The emphasized lyric “With passion” resonates ironically throughout the recording.

By “Errand Boy,” the realization should already have been established that No Age enjoys the restraining limits of ambient and punk noise, as previously mentioned. The bad thing is all noise sounds basically the same- fuzz, fuzz, distortion, reverb, reverb, and so on. It’s repetitious, and No Age should not stoop to such a bland style of music.

“Here Should Be My Home” is up there with “Sleeper Hold.” It is a flawless tune with musical muscle to boot. Randall’s riffs beam through Spunt’s crisp cymbals. The lyrics are autobiographical with “jumped on the tube, just to see you. My heart’s in a tunnel baby, what can I do?”

As Nouns come to an end, the familiar No Age style is loudly heard with “Brain Burner.” In some ways it sounds like a farewell; Randall’s guitar work stems off in the distance like a speeding car in a chase across the borders. The drums and guitar weave in and out of each other stirring up a solid mix of clash and clamor. In the last line of the song Spunt sings (this time with more energy) “It’s not a cop, it’s not a dad, but look what I have become.” Truly sentimental lyrics set to a punk sound.

Nouns is a good album. The efforts of Spunt and Randall are heard, but they just have to get rid of those useless noise fillers. Otherwise, everything they did was solid and shows their growing maturity in the fun noise punk scene.

- By Erin Mae Szrankowski

(NOTE: Due to a backlog in albums and shows, Mr. Dogg will be back reviewing on Monday. In the mean time, enjoy the fine fine people helping him out today and tomorrow.)


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