No Age

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Photograph: Ed Templeton

Bowery Ballroom; May 6, 2008

No Age is inextricably linked to its home turf, the Smell, an aptly named Los Angeles art space. The facade of the grungy joint was the artwork for last year’s Weirdo Rippers, guitarist Randy Randall is the Smell’s plumber, and both he and drummer-vocalist Dean Spunt promote it constantly.

Weirdo Rippers compiled tracks that Randall and Spunt had been bashing into shape at the Smell since 2006. No Age’s new Sub Pop debut, Nouns, both revels in and expands upon the scuzzed-out, small-amp feel of its predecessor. Clocking in at a supertight 31 minutes, the 12 tracks (which include two standout instrumentals, “Keechie” and “Impossible Bouquet”) swim in a choppy ocean of sandpaper vocals and dissonant thrash. The sweltering “Sleeper Hold,” a potential indie-compilation candidate, acts as a microcosm of the whole album, balancing a murky DIY aesthetic with speedy yet disciplined rhythms.

Onstage, No Age embraces its name, as Randall and Spunt (both in their midtwenties) cavort in much the same way as the teen crowds at the Smell. And like kids who either won’t follow the rules or never learned them at all, the pair have taken to the great outdoors, playing generator-powered “guerrilla gigs” by the L.A. River and on Austin’s Lamar Bridge. Jumping up and down, making noise and sometimes music, the two rightfully emerge as poster boys for punk today.

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