Band of the Day

2012.07.06

No Age

Genre-bending noise rock infused with pop melodies
One time is all I need, to know my job's complete.
lyrics from Life Prowler

No Age is the lo-fi rock duo of Dean Spunt (drums, vocals) and Randy Randall (guitar). The pair formed No Age in late 2005 after the break up of their previous band Wives. They played their first proper show in April 2006 at downtown Los Angeles venue, The Smell, where they’re currently listed as a mainstay after developing strong ties with the underground community centered around the venue. No Age are known to play in unconventional places and in the past have had gigs at venues like, Food Fight, a vegan grocery store in Portland, Oregon, and the Los Angeles Central Library. The band compiled five previously released EPs to make the album, Weirdo Rippers, which was released on June 11, 2007 via Fat Cat records. No Age moved to Sub Pop records in 2008 and delivered their proper debut album Nouns. Their third album, Everything in Between, was released in September 2010.

It’s easy to characterize the experimental noise rock duo No Age as the wise, older brothers of the current DIY punk scene in downtown Los Angeles. Like all cool siblings, they’re trendsetters: both guitarist Randy Randall and drummer/vocalist Dean Allen Spunk are committed vegans; the band promotes all-ages venues in LA through the Movement Project; and they’ll play a show just about anywhere from aqueducts to Ethiopian restaurants.

Formed in 2006 after the dissolution of their previous hardcore punk band Wives, No Age’s music has consistently evolved since their first full-length release, Weirdo Rippers. Whereas the debut favored speed and twisted, lo-fi guitar effects (along with burying Spunk’s vocals deep in the mix), today the band is more widely known for their unique merging of guitar squeals and pedal effects with bright, catchy melodies.

Take “Glitter,” the standout track on their 2010 LP Everything in Between, which pairs a relaxed vocal line with a guitar effect that sounds like a screeching dial-up modem with perfect pitch. It’s distinctive, nearly impossible to replicate, and an earworm nonetheless. The diversity and innovation of their guitar production has earned No Age endorsements from Radiohead, Deerhunter, and even The New Yorker magazine.

Everything in Between demonstrates the duo’s comfort with a whole range of styles, from the post-rock guitar sustains of instrumental track “Positive Amputation” to the strange, wobbly opening of “Shred and Transcend,” which recalls the Flaming Lips two decades ago. Spunk’s lyrics aren’t the most insightful words ever laid down but on the acoustic track “Common Heat” we’re given an explanation: “I try to make myself seem vague / because the words become so engraved.”

It’s a fitting maxim for the band, as they’ve always seemed to favor actions over words. Whether that means promoting local all-ages venues or writing inventive punk songs that recall everything from surf rock to ambient noise, No Age refuse to be pigeonholed by journalists, other musicians, or even themselves.