No Age – Nouns

No Age

One of the more astonishing features — out of its immensely innumerable ones — about L.A. experimental music duo, No Age, is that the members really have a deep passion for music. Their music, very succinctly, breathes life. I remember seeing them in concert this past March and just being in awe of their down to earth, welcoming presence. They played to a small group of people on the top floor of a dirty little club and absolutely ripped through their set. But every now and then they’d talk for a little bit and just mention how they love making music and how they love performing it live for people to enjoy. And when you really get down to the thick of it, that’s what it’s all about.

All of the band’s fervor and emotion is perfectly captured on this lean, quick album. Finishing at just a hair over thirty minutes, this is over quick and yet, it’s just the right amount of music. Drummer and vocalist, Dean Spunt and guitarist, Randy Randall, are a band unlike many others. They each have a hand in the songwriting and they are an ideal match because they each bring so much to the table. Opener, “Miner,” is a rich taste of hard and explosive punk rock; after some repetitive droning and carefree tambourine, Spunt kicks in on his drums and the duo take off from there.

Songs like “Teen Creeps” and “Here Should Be My Home” are straight-ahead rockers. The guitar melodies and vocals are woven together to create impeccably melodic harmonies. And they don’t shy away from reverb either, as they recall certain influences such as Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine.

There are also a number of beautifully moody pieces like “Things I Did When I Was Dead,” “Keechie” and “Impossible Bouquet.” The former’s guitar is displayed in such a manner that it resembles a grand piano and the atmospherics presented on here are grand themselves. The wonderful backing vocals are a nice touch and the song ends with a pretty guitar line. Things pick up right where they left off with “Cappo,” another up-tempo song that might be the closest thing resembling a “verse/chorus/verse, etc.” approach. Spunt’s voice is clearer here as the reverb and muddiness is taken a back so that you can hear more of the menacing guitar and pumping drums.

The lead single, “Eraser,” might just be one of the best songs of the year. Here is where all of the band’s strengths are culminated into a single moment of music heaven. The song starts off with a sweet and joyful guitar line before a kick drum is added and the guitar line is altered a bit. This goes on for about the first minute before an explosion erupts and Spunt and Randall ferociously pound away. It’s so good that on an album of this caliber, with so many stand-out songs, it is still, easily, the best song on Nouns.

I can’t even fully describe the startling effect that this album will have on you. It’s the kind of album that will creep on you when you least expect it to but it’s also the kind of listen that requires careful attention. Although there isn’t a lot going in terms of instrumentation, the album flourishes with color changes, shifts in styles, mesmerizing melodies and captivating hooks. Once the blissful excitement of “Brain Burner” closes the album you will realize that with Nouns, No Age have not only delivered an intense blend of experimental/noise/ambient rock but they have very clearly delivered, arguably, the best album of the year.