No Age formed during a rather bizarre time for the punk genre. Pop-punk was still alive in “Emo” bands like Fall Out Boy and Panic! At the Disco; hip-hop was slowly becoming more mainstream with chart-toppers like “Lollipop” by Lil Wayne feat. Static Major; and you couldn’t turn on a radio without hearing “I Kissed A Girl” by Katy Perry. Hardcore punk rock, however, wasn’t as popular as it once was.
Stripping away the hi-fidelity sound equipment for something more simplistic, guitarist Randy Randall and drummer/vocalist Dean Allen Spunt formed the Los Angeles noise rock duo from the remnants of their hardcore punk origins.
They first established themselves by doing something rather unorthodox… according to Pitchfork, they recorded five limited edition vinyl singles and EPs and released them on five different labels around March 26, 2007. Each of the individual tracks and EPs came with album artwork that when assembled spelled out the name “NO AGE.”
The tracks were later released on their debut compilation album, Weirdo Rippers, from FatCat Records. It would go on to receive critical acclaim from critics at Pitchfork and Drowned in Sound, who both ranked it within the “Top 25” of the 200 Best Albums of 2007. Thanks to the positive press the duo went on to sign with the prominent Seattle indie label Sub Pop Records in 2008, before going on tour with Australian-American rock group Liars.
Recorded by Pete Lyman at Infrasonic Sound in LA, Harvey Birrell at Southern Studios in London, and at home by No Age, their studio debut, Nouns, was released in May 2008 and again received top praise from music critics for its carefully controlled chaotic sound. The album opens with the track, “Miner,” a much more indie-focused tune with jagged Sonic Youth-like guitar riffs and heavy reverb.
The lead single, “Eraser,” is noise-filled pop melody with nonsensical lyrics that then become introverted, changing from “A witness now in every place / A window broke” to “A window now in every place / A witness spoke” on the second verse. In traditional punk fashion, the songs are not just short and sweet, but punchy and powerful.
“Teen Creeps” has a much heavier grunge and indie rock influence, with a more ‘90s throwback sound similar to groups like Pavement and Superchunk, which they follow with “Things I Did When I Was Dead,” one of the album’s more psychedelic tracks with an Animal Collective-type vibe.
Some other noteworthy tracks include “Here Should Be My Home,” and “Ripped Knees,” two power-pop infused melodies which come in with the gusto of punk rockers in their prime. The album draws to a close with the ‘70s surf-pink throwback “Brain Burner.”
It’s no wonder the album received such acclaim from music critics at the time. It eventually went on to chart at No. 196 on the Billboard 200 charts and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Recording Package, but lost to Metallica’s Death Magnetic.
The album is truly magnificent and is an underrated gem that will turn 10 later this year. No Age also released their fifth studio album Snares Like a Haircut from Drag City Records in January.
LISTEN: NO AGE – ‘NOUNS’