Ostensibly a noise rock band, No Age write surprisingly melodic songs that incorporate enough dissonance and non-traditional rock drumming to avoid falling comfortably into any real category. Punk? Not really. Noise? At times. Rock? Sure—there are guitar and drums, after all. But really, No Age is a band mostly defined by what they are not. And that’s a lot of things.
Which is not to say that the L.A. duo don’t have contemporaries. They share the droney vocals and ’verbed-out psychedelia of Eat Skull; the love of repetition and experimentation of Deerhunter. If anything, No Age are a product of the deep uncertainty of rock music in the mid-2000s—a time that seems to have permanently fried the circuits of all major rock radio and label output.
No Age’s debut for SubPop, 2008’s Nouns, was quickly celebrated by music journalists for its mix of energy, melody, and noise. 2010’s follow-up, Everything in Between, can be seen as something of a mission statement from the band that exists between most genres and contains some of their best songs to date (notably the excellent closer “Chem Trails”).
And with their last release being 2013’s An Object it’s been a little while since we’ve heard from guitarist Randy Randall and drummer-vocalist Dean Allen Spunt. That album saw an increase in tension, and a decrease in catharsis, leading Pitchfork to describe the album as brimming with “potential rock songs denied everything they need to actually rock.”
If An Object is at all dynamic, it is so through sheer addition and subtraction: the skeletal songs add parts over parts until everything becomes awash in buzzy guitars. And though An Object’s lack of clear choruses and moments of atonal “soloing” only draws further comparison to New Zealand’s psychedelia-loving Eat Skull, it is still very much a No Age album.
All of this makes now an interesting time to see the band. The most recent interview with either member found guitarist Randall waxing rhapsodic on family, with births and deaths happening in the lives of both members. No Age has always been a live band, and Randall recently collaborated with the legendary avant gardist Glenn Branca, which is sure to have only further stirred the pot of creative influences. On tour between albums, with no definite plan for a new record anytime soon, now is just as mercurial a time as when the band began. No Age, indeed.
Jan 24, 8:30pm, $15
The Catalyst, Santa Cruz