No Age - Weirdo Rippers

When Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation came out, I was four. As I got older and started actually caring about music, the album occupied a weird place in my life. I heard it and really liked it, and the more music I listened to, the more it made sense to me. But it was never my record. By the time I came around to it, the sounds on it were familiar. It didn’t strike me as an eye-opening hybrid of noise and straight-forward rock though, it just struck me as a good record.

No Age ended up being my Sonic Youth, which worked out pretty well because I’m pretty sure Sonic Youth were No Age’s Sonic Youth. No Age’s 2008 record Nouns was their first studio album, and it’s really great, but Weirdo Rippers the duo’s 2007 compilation of singles, means a lot more to me.

At the time, I was disillusioned with rock music. It just didn’t feel inspiring. I was late to the party on a lot of records as a result, but I just couldn’t bring myself to care. There were exceptions because there are always exceptions, but mostly rock music just felt like a wasteland of dudes that looked like me, and were a little bit older but still fumbling through the same emotional bullshit I was dealing with, and doing it just as poorly as I was. I didn’t relate so much as despair. I don’t write that to prove a point, because I was actually wrong. There were a lot of great rock records in that time period, but if not for Weirdo Rippers, I’m not sure I would have ever heard them.

Weirdo Rippers, like Panda Bear’s Person Pitch, created an entire world within an album. I was living in New York at the time, but it was so obviously a Los Angeles record. From the ambient guitar scratch on “Loosen This Job” to the plaintive field recording of waves on “Every Artist Needs a Tragedy” to the defiant, almost snotty “Boy Void,” which sounded like it was recorded from inside a crusty cardboard box, the Los Angeles that No Age were writing was all warehouses, skating at sunset and unpretentious unity. They made their world seem human, flawed, not without anger, but generally accepting. Listening to Weirdo Rippers always brings up a lot of emotions, but the most dominant one is calm, even when the record is hectic, it feels meditative.

For me, Weirdo Rippers wasn’t just a way back into a world I’d lost interest in, it was a guide for how to be sincere without being lame about it. How to not feel trapped or lost, or if you were too deep into those things, how to use them to your advantage.

As much as No Age offered a clear path back to rock music for me, they probably offered a way out for a lot of kids that were dealing with suburban imprisonment, mowing endless lawns, laconically skating the curve of cul-de-sacs, wishing they were anywhere else.

The idea of being trapped by the surroundings you’ve inherited isn’t new. Kids grow up and want to leave home before they actually can leave home. It’s a frustrating feeling mostly because it feels so alienating. No Age voiced that frustration with pathos and a lived-in weariness. They were optimistic too. They were writing from the other side, and Weirdo Rippers felt like an invitation to anyone that felt like coming over.

But it’s not all about togetherness. “My Life’s Alright Without You” is all shimmering guitars and jittery electronic interludes. From the right angle, its ominous, razor thin, and full of simmering rage, even if the end result is positive: pushing toxic people away in favor of better living.

That song really captures the essence of Weirdo Rippers and the emotional honesty that No Age would stretch across an entire career. It felt like they were saying, Life can suck for awhile, but it’ll get better, which is a pretty commonplace statement. The difference is, they remembered that it often starts to suck again, and then gets better after that. It’s a loop none of us have much control over, but No Age makes that okay.

Comments (6)
  1. No Age are a truly vital band in an era with so few of them. Nouns (and later Weirdo Rippers) opened up my ears to some of the most beautiful sounds I’d ever heard on a rock album.

  2. I can still remember the exact time I heard No Age for the first time. I was booking concerts at UCLA at the time and one of my co-workers came into our office, went to the computer and said, “Hey, I just heard about this new group that we should totally book. They’re local and they’ve just started to play shows around here.” He played us Boy Void and everyone in the office was just stoked. We had them open for Matt and Kim on the last day of February in 2007. I had to go out soon after that and buy the five EPs released on the same day. Since then I’ve seen No Age just about every time I’ve been able to, at everywhere from the Smell to a sandbar in the LA river, from the LA public library to a basement in Chicago that flooded, and even acting as the drums and guitar for No Flag, the first of these recent Black Flag reunions. I love these guys so much.

  3. This is the No Age I love. A balance between blistering punk rock barn burners juxtaposed with an ambient calmness. I like how they’d often integrate the two into the same song on “Weirdo Rippers” and their further refinement on “Nouns”.

    I pray “An Object” returns to this form, as “Everything In Between” gave me more straightforward songs and not enough droning ambiance or natural sound that I’d came to love on this album right here.

  4. I love this article. This album meant a lot to me at 16 and still does at 20. They also have put on one of the best shows ive ever seen. So much energy and beauty in the noise. Long live No Age.

  5. I gotta say I like this feature a lot. Reflections on past great albums that sometimes get forgotten is always an interesting read, and for albums I have loved in the past its a nice reminder/nostalgia trip.

    Anyways, I started listening to No Age with Nouns, which is an amazing album that perfectly melds the ambient serenity with old school punk sensibilities. Sorta like My Bloody Valentine covering Black Flag. I discovered Weirdo Rippers later on, and was going through a rough break up at the time. It might sound super eye rolling, but hearing “Every Artist Needs a Tragedy” was a moment where I stopped and totally felt like the song hit the exact nerve and feeling I was trying to find in music at the time.

  6. This record is the best. I wish that they printed it on vinyl. This album and deerhunters Cryptygrams made 2007 my favourite year in music since 2004. So good, like most lo fi classics its hard to explain why it is so good to a casual listener. I really needed this record.

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