Tuesday, June 10, 2008

No Age - Nouns

I recently got my hands on the new album by the band No Age, Nouns. No Age is an experimental rock band, based in LA, and signed to the label Sub Pop.

Sub Pop is known for working with artists like Death Cab for Cutie, Flight of the Conchords, Hole, Nirvana, the Smashing Pumpkins, and Soundgarden.

The album as a whole is pretty short, burning through 12 tracks in just over a half hour. The whole album has a very unprofessional, garage band type sound to it. Mike static and amp feedback is left on the vinyl, and often overpowers the songs themselves. The album is also very unbalanced aurally, with some very high pitched tones, but minimal bass to balance it out. There's quite a bit of overdubbing done, to make up for the fact that the band only has two members. Nouns pulled in a 78 on metacritic.

The first track, "Miner", is fast, dissonant, lacking in any bass whatsoever, and the lyrics are very difficult to make out.

"Eraser" is a little more coherent. The high strung guitars still drown out most of the lyrics.

"Teen Creeps" has an annoying feedback in the background that hurts my ears.

"Things I did when I was Dead" features a specifically engineered dissonance, generated by taking the same vocal track, and layering it twice, the second time a split second behind the first.

"Cappo" is the first track that I found genuinely listenable. The drummer is actually fairly talented.

"Keechie" is an okay ambient piece, but it really seems like someone just decided to tape a band's warm up session.

"Sleeper Hold" is a pretty good song. They have solid tempo variance. But the lyrics are a bit repetitive.

The lyrical delivery on "Errand Boy" is really bland. But the guitar work is decent.

"Here Should Be My Home" is dissonant, and the lyrics gradually get buried by the guitar work. It almost seems like the guitarist and lyricist are going through a spat over who's the most important member of the band. It's kind of cute, in a high school garage band sort of way.

"Impossible Bouquet" starts off with a strained amp static noise in the background that really bothered me. It spoiled the song for me, which is a shame, because the string work on the guitar is good.

The cleanest song on the album is probably "ripped knees". Even including the last minute which is just a few guitar chords on a badly tuned amp.

The last track is "Brain Burner", it has the most audible lyrics of the album.

In the end, most of Nouns is noise, and combined with the repetition, it shapes up into an audio assault on your eardrums. I finished listening to this album, and shortly thereafter developed a nasty headache. The image I got while listening to the album was of a couple of high school kids trying to emulate the overdubbing style that made Billy Corgan famous, only to completely forget that it only works if the layers are sonically distinct.

Perhaps you might enjoy music like this, but I do not. It's not Metal Machine Music cacophonous, but you can see it from here. I really can't recommend this album to anyone. I'm giving it a 3/10.


Deutlich said...

You know, I actually liked "Keechie" but it does really sound like a band's warm up session.. hmm...

James said...

Nice review. I only just noticed the link to this post in the forum, I thought 'It gave me a headache' was your review.

I have to say this didn't float my boat either. Thanks for highlighting metacritic to me too, I hadn't heard of that.