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No Age Shrieks And Soothes On 'Everything In Between'
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No Age Shrieks And Soothes On 'Everything In Between'


Finally, this hour, a review of music that may not be the easiest to listen to, but our critic Robert Christgau thinks it's some of the best punk music he's heard in years. It comes from the Los Angeles band No Age.

Here's Robert Christgau with a review of the group's new album.

ROBERT CHRISTGAU: No Age comprises two grown-up skate punks now aged 27 and 28. Dean Spunt plays a lot of drums and sings lead. Randy Randall plays even more guitar and sings occasionally, and both lay on samples to fill things out. Their 2007 debut was called "Weirdo Rippers." And though it had its rockers, it was kind of slow for a punk record.

(Soundbite of song, "Loosen This Job")

Mr. DEAN SPUNT (Lead Singer and Drummer, No Age): (Singing) My time is the right time. And the feeling isn't even my time.

CHRISTGAU: "Loosen This Job," that song is called, and it is a song. But its point is its guitar sound or sounds - a primer coat of scratchy distortion topped by some free-form arpeggio, with drumstick ticks and bassy thumps added for texture rather than beat.

On "Weirdo Rippers" and 2008's somewhat more melodic and speedy "Nouns," sonics always come first for No Age, with specifics varying from track to track. Not for everyone, obviously. But I found both records surprisingly beautiful. It's like they're miniaturizing Glenn Branca guitar symphonies.

(Soundbite of song, "Fever Dreaming")

CHRISTGAU: On "Everything in Between," however, you might think No Age were harking back to their skate punk roots. Listen to "Fever Dreaming."

(Soundbite of song, "Fever Dreaming")

Mr. SPUNT: (Singing) (Unintelligible). I got to go home. (Unintelligible) million pieces. I got to show (unintelligible).

CHRISTGAU: As somebody who's thrilled to propulsive punk riffs for 35 years, I want to testify that the shrieking tunelet you just heard is the coolest new one I've encountered in this century. It channels No Age's adventures in sonic architecture into readily usable form. And if it makes a few softies flee the room, well, that's one of its uses.

Then, just before the end of the record, comes the defiant "Shed and Transcend," which does for the propulsive punk barrage what we just heard "Fever Dreaming" doing for the propulsive punk riff.

(Soundbite of song, "Shed and Transcend")

Mr. SPUNT: (Singing) I try the best I can. (Unintelligible). Thinking of you when I can. These things can (unintelligible).

CHRISTGAU: If you wonder about the words on this songful album, well, despite an earlier line that goes I try to make myself seem vague, I'd argue that lyrics like I try the best I can and these things make you human, which you just heard if you were trying, reach out to those they address and are never cynical or apathetic. I'd also argue that No Age's commitment to song form makes their reach-out more credible. That means that when they revisit their atmospheric side, they're proffering genuine comfort.

(Soundbite of song, "Sorts")

Mr. SPUNT: (Singing) Breathing (unintelligible) I don't want anyone to know.

BLOCK: The new album from No Age is called "Everything in Between." Our critic is Robert Christgau.

(Soundbite of song, "Sorts")

Mr. SPUNT: (Singing) Everyone except for you. No one except for you. (Unintelligible) to the cold. (Unintelligible).

BLOCK: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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