26 October 2010

No Age, Everything In Between (2010): Album Review

No Age is a two-person rock band that hails from Los Angeles. Consisting of guitarist Randy Randall and drummer Dean Allen Spunt, the duo was originally part of a hardcore punk band called Wives but soon branched off to form their own band. They’ve recorded three studio albums since, the most recent being Everything In Between. I picked it out of the music bin because I thought it looked really cool—sadly, the music doesn’t live up to the hip style of the cover, and is a huge disappointment.

The album gets off to a fairly exciting start. “Life Prowler” begins with the repetition of a single drumbeat, and then builds as the song commences—introducing the guitar, and finally the vocals. The lyrics are quite interesting, actually—discussing the wonders of self-discovery—but judging by the excitement of their voices, you would never think this was some great event. “Glitter” is also a very energized tune with the heavy blaring of the guitar, but towards the end becomes a mess—making it very difficult to distinguish between the different elements of the song. They turn things around though with “Fever Dreaming” which is reminiscent of an OK GO-style song…but what is with the random earth-shattering screams throughout? When the next song “Depletion” began, I was pretty excited for a slower, hopefully more audible tune. But then they kicked in the instrumentals and I couldn’t understand a word of what they were saying. “Common Heat” depressed me even moreso. This is a slow song, and finally I could hear their voices perfectly clearly. But honestly…they can’t sing. Like, I understand speak-singing, but they are honestly tone-deaf, I almost feel bad for them. The introduction to “Skinned” sounds pretty trippy—as if the listener is in some psychedelic rainforest—and then, as every song thus far, it goes downhill from there. It actually wouldn’t be too bad, but the drums sound beyond terrible. Are they supposed to sound like gun shrapnel or raining pouring down on a gutter pipe? Because that’s all I could make of it. And I was about to write how I think “Valley Hump Crash” is the best song on the album—the guitars and drums are especially infectious—but the tone-deaf vocals particularly in the beginning are really difficult to ignore. They do serviceable vocal work in the next tune “Sorts,” but the instrumentals are all over the place. Some bits sound like a chain-gang marching song, while others sound like the electrical-light parade at Disneyland. Not to sound like an old geezer, but this song was a headache to listen to. “Positive Amputation” finally highlights some much-needed piano into their repertoire—too bad it’s way overshadowed with blaring guitars and heavy over-production. I don’t know how the guy that produced this CD wasn’t seeing major red on his soundboard. “Shed and Transcend” sounds like something you’d hear on Rock Band—not the actual songs, but what your wasted friend is desperately trying to play with their little plastic guitar. This tune is pure empty noise with some inaudible vocals heard in the last minute or so that just make the song messier than it already was. Finally, the last song “Chem Trails” introduces some new vocalist—is it a girl or a guy? —but it keeps up with the band’s usual awfulness. Sounds like some kind of love song—not like I would know though since they haven’t gone to their speech therapy sessions yet this week. I will give them some lively action on the drums, though.

Overall, I came in with decent expectations for the album—it looked like a nice, hip album from the cover and design aspects. Most of the music I’ve reviewed thusfar has been at least quality, even if the genre isn’t to my taste. I’m not sure how this band ever garnered an audience—let alone produce three studio albums. I don’t even have any suggestions on how they could improve. Their voices are awful, and their instrumental work is mediocre at best. There is not one song on this album I’d ever choose to listen to again, and is a mere waste of space in my iTunes library.

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