There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
I just remember the hug. Last October at the Hosiery, one of D.C.’s most hipster-filled places, No Age was just about to end its short set. During the Los Angeles duo’s final burst of noise, Randy Randall draped his guitar over a kid and nudged him to just play the shit out of it. The kid obliged. After he was done, Randall hugged him and told him, “I love you.” Randall meant that “I love you,” really—the band’s biggest contribution to the world is deleting cynicism, contempt, and any ideas of starfuckery from the Los Angeles vocabulary. Randall and drummer-vocalist Dean Spunt are prime movers in a Los Angeles all-ages scene that’s built on good noise and vegan snacks, and their beehive is a space called the Smell, which has become perhaps the most-written-about club in America. Its façade graced the cover of No Age’s collection of singles and EPs, last year’s Weirdo Rippers, and it was front and center in a glowing profile of the band in the New Yorker. The piece mentions that Randall helped dig a trench to accommodate a new bathroom at the Smell, and while that oft-repeated detail (along with the half-pipe in the backyard), makes for good copy, it’s also a fitting way to approach the band’s music. No Age’s songs are one-two-three-four basic as a plumbing job, throwbacks to the kind of tiny anthems that filled up Homestead cassettes and Siltbreeze singles. Its debut full-length, Nouns, is rousing without coming off as calculated, dealing in the kind of noise that once consumed Sonic Youth, Pavement, and My Bloody Valentine. Only No Age’s carved-up blocks of feedback and tube-amp exhaust—especially on Nouns’ first single, “Eraser”—aren’t meant as endurance tests or opportunities for intellectual chin-stroking. No Age is sensible with its noise, and melodies eventually appear like rivers rising through mud. In the case of a song like Nouns’ opener, “Miner,” the effect can be breathtaking. After a clatter of furious scrapes, the noise yawns and the drums sprint before words float up, barely audible: “I want you choosing me/I feel a common breeze/A street’s a miracle/I want a miracle/I want you choosing me.” Elsewhere, “Teen Creeps” has a crunchy, sad undertow that could make it a Nirvana demo, and “Things I Did When I Was Dead” shows the band can do quiet, its noise as harmless as bird chirps. “Keechie” sounds as handmade as a sound experiment can get, with the band spraying hiss and utilizing feedback like train smoke, before it jumps into “Sleeper Hold,” where the duo embraces its own feel-good rally cry: “With passion, it’s you!”