Top 10 Albums of the Year: #4

No Age - Weirdo Rippers (Fat Cat)
This album couldn't have a more appropriate title. Is there a list of "most appropriate album titles of the year"? Because this might top such a list. A dirty, well-worn punk rock aesthetic combines with a willingness to experiment and play with effects. Weirdo? Maybe. Rippers? Oftentimes, definitely. With this collection of songs from a series of 7"s and 12"s, Dean Spunt and Randy Randall have grabbed lots of attention from all corners of the music scene, and deservedly so.
The concise length of Weirdo Rippers (a bit over 30 minutes) is to its advantage. The pair blow through rousing stompers with gusto ("Boy Void," "Everybody's Down"), but they also spend time developing more atmospheric, guitar-pedal-effect driven pieces ("Loosen This Job," "I Wanna Sleep"). These tracks don't wander on into extended jams. The more freeform elements of No Age's music, and really just everything about No Age's music, is about exploring a particular sound or idea long enough to have it fully conveyed, and then move on before anything outlasts its welcome. Get in, do your thing, and get out. The album never really drags because even after a static-cloud of song, up comes something with a bit more teeth.
I first fell for No Age when I heard the track "Neck Escaper" back in early spring, and it remains a high point on the record. A clicking drum rim and pleasant guitar melody lead the song in, making you think the song might be one thing, but then the drums get a-crashin' and the guitar puffs out its chest and it becomes something else, neo-punk blues with an electrical cord plugged into its back. Brief yet powerful.
And altogether that's what's surprising and captivating about No Age: their capability to explore a formidable amount of sonic territory and manage to mesh everything together so effectively into this sort of amped up heap of fuzzed-out anti/un-punk, making it all catchy and listenable and enjoyable. Also appealing is the entire d.i.y. aesthetic that Dean and Randy so fervently support. The fact that they got their initial vinyl records out on either the label they run or the labels run by friends, the fact that they're so deeply involved with Los Angeles all-ages venue The Smell (it's right there on the cover), the whole youthful energy about it is infectious and encouraging. From interviews I've seen and read, Dean and Randy would probably tell you that Weirdo Rippers and No Age are as much an expression of themselves as it is an expression of the scene that fostered them that they feel so close to. It's rare to come across a record so concise that makes such an encompassing statement about a particular time, place, and particular individuals. It's about putting on and going to shows and dancing and sweating and rocking out and then also making the space to push yourself and push your peers, to create something always, always, always.
And get jazzed for more No Age in the future: another full length is due on Sub Pop sometime in 2008, and a big tour with Liars begins in January. Yesssssssss.


Maegan said...

Favorite Albums/EPs of 2007

1) YACHT - I Believe in You / Your Magic is Real
2) Shugo Tokumaru - Exit
3) Jens Lekman - Night Falls Over Kortedala
4) Boat Club - Caught the Breeze
5) Vampire Weekend - S/T
6) High Places - S/T EP
7) Architecture in Helsinki - Places Like This
8) Kickball - Everything is a Miracle / Nothing is a Miracle / Everything is
9) Best Friends Forever - Romance Conflict Adventure
10) Nedelle - The Locksmith Cometh
11) Pants Yell! - Alison Statton
12) Saturday Looks Good to Me - Fill Up the Room
13) Patrick Wolf - The Magic Position
14) Deerhoof - Friend Opportunity
15) Shapes and Sizes - Split Lips, Winning Hips, a Shiner

Udai said...

I saw these guys open up for black dice back when they were still not really on anybodys radar. They played a sloppy 15 minutes and I remember the cymbal kept falling over. I hadn't heard anything recorded by them yet but their casual rendition of Neck Escaper was what pulled me in.

I tried to buy their last gold on red bandanna, but some woman who Randall knew from high school or something (it seemed) got it instead.

That's my story.