Attempting to describe the sound of Los Angeles-based band No Age is like navigating a minefield of pretentiousness, repetitiveness, and assorted other –nesses. To classify a band’s catalogue as “pulsating lo-fi art rock with pop sensibilities” is admittedly not as descriptive as it once was. No Age’s layered, distortion-heavy melodies – not to mention the critical goodwill they have enjoyed from influential music blogs – invite comparisons with bands like Deerhunter and A Place to Bury Strangers.
Trying to assign a specific genre to a band with influences as diverse as No Age’s is pointless. With inspirations ranging from the loud, unaffected punk sounds of their Los Angeles predecessors the Germs and X to the raw, abrasive sound of Sonic Youth, No Age has assembled a more-than-modest arsenal of labels and genres. Their debut album, 2007’s Weirdo Rippers, was at once ambient and cacophonous, prompting reviewers to label the group as noise rock. Pitchfork claimed that the album achieved a “low-tech immensity…much bigger than its constituent parts.” However, the following album, this year’s Nouns, yielded more straightforward, melodic material, while not losing the band’s familiar relentless blasts of distortion.
Throughout the group’s shifts in direction, No Age’s music has remained refreshingly earnest in both lyrics and production. No Age’s two components, drummer/vocalist Dean Spunt and guitarist Randy Randall (yes, that is his real name), demonstrate this humility through their prolific and varied volume of projects. Together, they have played shows in venues as diverse as a vegan grocery store and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, all the while maintaining a consistent DIY and all-ages ethos. In a nod to their humble origins in the Los Angeles art scene, the group has recently expanded into traditional mediums beyond music. Their recent album Nouns included a 68-page full-color booklet with art and images by, among others, the album cover’s designer Brian Rottinger.
Randall, the band’s guitarist, has even ventured into film; he is set to direct The Foreigners, a film documenting the Altamont Apparel skate team’s 2008 tour of Paris. The film will be scored exclusively by No Age. Despite these varied projects, No Age continues to tour tirelessly and promote their sophomore album Nouns, put out by Sub Pop Records.
No Age plays at Club Lambi (4465 St. Laurent) on November 22 at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $15.