Band To Watch

Band To Watch – SXSW Edition: No Age

This week we’re revisiting and reflecting upon the original write-ups for some of our favorite Bands To Watch playing SXSW ’08…

We first saw No Age live at last year’s SXSW and were blown away by the performance. So much so, that a couple months later in May, before they had a widely available full length, we featured them in BTW. We wrote the piece before they’d released Weirdo Rippers, the collection of five previously released 10″ EP’s, and long before they showed up in the New Yorker, became the faces of the Smell, signed with Sub Pop, and sold Colin Greenwood a t-shirt. Randy’s old students must be proud. Considering how we got to first hear Dean and Randy’s joyful noise, it’s more than fitting to check back in on the duo on the eve of SXSW ’08.

Originally Published 5/17/07
No Age floored us at Fader’s outdoor SXSW party — it was hot, the sort of day you willingly drank the free, too sweet SoCo Jungle Juice, but the excellent art-pop duo of Dean Spunt and Randy Randall frolicked through a hard-hitting set of smashing noisy power-pop as if passing out wasn’t a worry. On some level you could try to compare No Age to Lightning Bolt: There’s the bottomless energy coming from two guys (including a drumming vocalist very unlike Phil Collins), both connected to their area art scenes (the pair curate at L.A.’s the Smell and collaborate on videos and visual and performance art) with one member running his own label (in this case, drummer Spunt’s PPM).

What marks No Age’s approach, though, is that the ex-members of the Wives (right, ex-Wives) also know their way around the achy, slow-mo ambient patch: “I Wanna Sleep,” drifting loose-hinged, builds into phased Deerhunter psychedelia (incidentally, during SXSW, dressed-up Deerhunter dude Bradford Cox called these guys his favorite newbies); “Neck Escaper” flutters for a while until growing into rollicking cymbal-smash drums, a catchy guitar angle, and bouncy surf vocals; “Sunspots” approximates its name if the sun were constructed of softly pulsating rays of feedback. The guys rule at spacey fragments, nighttime lo-fi fuzziness, but it’s the snotty hooks in chattering anthems like “Boy Void” and “Everybody’s Down” that make us dance Deacon-style around Stereogum HQ: Experimental shoegazing skate punk with a sometimes Ramones/Dickies pronunciation (and production) key. If you want to hear the band the way nature intended, locate any of their five limited-edition vinyl EPs (each released on a different label). If that doesn’t work for turntable-free folks, wait until August’s Weirdo Rippers, which coming out on Fat Cat, culls tracks from those previous slabs.

For now, head to MySpace to sample the sizzling, disaffected fight song “Everybody’s Down” (wait until those dust-kicked drums escalate like a spastic Moon for final lift-off!) and the house-of-mirrors love-rock sparkles of “My Life’s Alright Without You.” And be thankful you don’t need to sip that Southern Comfort beverage to make the discovery.

SXSW Itinerary:
3/13 @ Habana Annex (Upset the Rhythm)
3/13 @ Mohawk
3/13 @ Texas Garage (JellyNYC and Myopenbar Party)
3/14 @ Emos (Windish/Pitchfork Party)
3/14 @ Bourbon Rocks
3/15 @ Waterloo Park
3/15 @ Volume (Stereogum/PASTE Party)

Tags: No Age, SXSW