The Joup Friday Album: No Age-Snares Like A Haircut

No age snaresTen years ago a multi-colored, noisy yet still somehow pop-inclined punk band made a significant splash in the underground music scene. I’m talking about the record Nouns by the L.A. based duo No Age. This wasn’t my first exposure to the band; that came in the form of the almost equally brilliant follow-up, 2010’s ‘Everything In Between,’ a more polished take on the band’s sound. After falling in love with ‘In Between,’ I embarked on the journey every music nerd takes once they discover a band that’s new to them: I checked out No Age’s old shit.

During this journey, I came across a copy of the aforementioned ‘Nouns’ at a local book/record store – a store that I now work for (Readers probable response to this sentence? “Of course this dude works for a book/record store” *rolls eyes*). From there, Nouns became “one of those albums” to me. What do I mean by that? I mean, not only is it a record that I feel a certain attachment and undying love for, but it’s a record that helped steep and cement my interest and need to explore the ever increasing avenues of indie and underground music, thus leading to why I’m here, writing this today. Now here we are ten years and three records later, and No Age are back at it with a new one. ‘Snares Like A Haircut’ – The hype was real for this one, but my friends, does it disappoint?

*Band photo to fill space and raise suspense*

 

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……No actually, not even close. In fact ‘Snare’ is a triumph in a lot of ways. First: It’s better than their last record, 2013’s good but kinda lopsided ‘An Object’. Second, Snares… sounds like a wiser, more mature version of the seminal ‘Nouns’. Third, the record sounds like a band realizing what they do best: keep raising the bar on those attributes and simultaneously not losing their ability and wanting to experiment and trying new things with their music. Or as I like to call it: The musical equivalent of aging gracefully. Believe me, as a long time fan of this band it’s quite relieving to say that; especially after  ‘An Object’ didn’t really give me the same impression. ‘Object’ had me worried about this project, worried that maybe No Age would lose the ferocity, sound experimentation, and melody that made me fall so deeply in love with them in the first place. My doubts were put to rest a bit after hearing lead single “Soft Collar Fad” but still, that’s just one track. What if? WHAT IF!?

 

But those questions and concerns were put to rest literally the moment I put the album in. Opener “Cruise Control” is a beautiful noise punk life affirming blast that feels like being reunited with an old friend. Delirious and crunchy sounding enough while simultaneously conjuring up so many pretty sounding melodies and atmosphere to them, which is what these guys do best, and have not lost a touch of whatsoever. Track four “Send Me” being a super bright and indie pop leaning cut that features a very laid back slacker-esque vocal melody from drummer/singer Dean Spunt is captivating and well worth repeated spins. It should also be noted how much of a love letter this track sounds like to 80’s underground legends Husker Du, a band that No Age has always been very vocal about being a directly influence on them, but none more obvious than it is on this track. The one two punch of “Tidal and the aforementioned “Soft Collar Fad” is the band playing at their punkiest best. It’s simple, it’s rudimentary, it’s catchy as hell.

‘Snares’ is not a completely direct/accessible listen as those tracks exemplify. On a No Age record it’s typical to have a couple tracks of pure noise/ambient experimentation. Tracks “Snares Like a Haircut” and “Third Grade Rave” are the examples of that in the track listing here. What sets these tracks apart from others similar  to them in their discography is how much more adventurous they are in comparison to the band’s other more ambient outings. Especially on “Rave” with it’s eccentric rhythm patterns on drums it takes their approach to ambient music in a much more primal way. ‘Snares’ even closes out as a whole with the very experimental “Squashed” and “Primitive Plus” ending the album less with a bang and more of a sense of unease and tension stylistically that is super engrossing and captivating.
‘Snares Like a Haircut’ is a winner and a very early crown jewel for Indie rock in 2018. It’s a record from a band that proves why they are as beloved by the ones who have been listening for years and is proof positive of the earned cult status they have. Art rock, but by way of punk rock, just as easy to be put into a trance by as it is to head bang to.
TAG: Katie

 

 

Daniel R. Fiorio

Writer, blogger, record collector/music fanatic, comic book junkie, jerkstore/all around nice dude from the south suburbs of Chicago

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