Tag Archives: No Age

I see rivers in my sleep they’re filled with blood

No Age

On Sunday I went to see No Age twice, because I’m a lady of leisure with nothing better to do than fuck up my hearing by over-exposure to loud noise.

One gig was in the Academy 2 at night time, the rescheduled version of the gig that would have been on in Crawdaddy on the Saturday night. Run of the mill. The other gig was in the Exchange. It was the second ever show there after Adebisi Shank with Find A Way the Friday before, and the first touring band. A touring band in the afternoon in Dublin’s sparkling new collective space. Exciting!

At the first couple of Exchange Audio meetings (i.e. the ones that I was at), and amongst my friends, there was always the whisper that if this thing got up and running properly, maybe No Age would play. It was specifically No Age. Because they’re from The Smell, they’re made of all-ages collective art spaces. It was the carrot on the end of the fishing rod, that Dublin could be a place that has a Smell, except a Smell that doesn’t smell and isn’t in a bad neighbourhood.

Well, they came. Despite being forced to pay exorbitant sums for flights after being stopped because of an excess of hand luggage (two bags instead of one) in a Norwegian airport, they seemed pretty happy to be in a place like the Exchange. I got the impression that it was one of the better things of its type they’d been in, which is the kind of thing that fills me with civic pride.

So, No Age are used to this sort of thing. But are we? Not really, yet. The Kids, who Exchange Audio is essentially for, weren’t out in force, really. It was mostly the same faces, but holding coffee instead of pints and in a definite Sunday afternoon mode, rather than an ebullient, youthful mosh-mode, despite the mild encouragement of Dean No Age.

The set was mostly from Nouns, and very loud. The police came. “Hello cops” – No Age, again, probably not the first time they’ve been told to turn it down in a “space”. Eraser, Miner – the closing two if I remember? – were both great. Teen Creeps, which was the opener and is one of the best songs of the decade (gonna phase in “of the decade” pronouncements for the rest of the decade), was underwhelming by virtue of lazily off-key vocals and something other missing magic.

It was good. How was the later gig in the Academy 2? Same, basically. No, it was actually just the same set, so there’s no “basically” required. They did an encore though, which some more of the same level of good.

Can you tell I’m not overwhelmed with joy and enthusiasm? I’m not sure why. I was really impressed when they played the Drowned In Sound thing last year, and I expected to be really impressed again, but I wasn’t. They were worth seeing. They were worth paying for once and seeing twice, even. But, whether it be because Venus is waxing and the stars are aligning against a certain type of music in the dark, spider-webbed corridors of my taste, or because they just weren’t as on it on the day, it just wasn’t as inspiring.



The Year. 15-11.

15. Fight Like Apes and the Mystery of the Golden Medallion
Model Citizen
A disclaimer: I know the production is dodgy. I know Something Global sounds bizarrely like Avril Lavigne. I know all that. It took me a month to get over minor differences in inflection on the songs that were on the EP. But I got there in the end. And as a collection of songs, it’d be remiss of me to leave this out just because it wasn’t the album to put Dublin on the world indie map. So many of these songs are undeniable. Lend Me Your Face, Jake Summers and Do You Karate are all the pulse-raising clumps of alternapop they were last year. But it’s heartening to note that the rookie Digifucker is, in all its abstraction, dejection and aggression, probably the album highlight. And Tie Me Up With Jackets, the lyrical high point of the Apes so far, wraps up a Side A that could fight almost anything and win. The second half is patchier, but that’s forgivable. Hot Press insanely said that it was the best thing in the world in 2008. It’s not, but it’s a remarkable display of off-kilter songwriting ability, and I have a feeling it will still stand on its feet in ten or twenty years because of it. Now, who has Steve Albini’s phone number?
MySpace, or if you’re interested, this is a blog named after a line from Jake Summers.

14. Roots Manuva – Slime and Reason
Big DadaHaving watched Dizzee Rascal and Estelle zoom past him to worldwide audiences and financial reward with half the lyrical talent,‭ ‬it would be easy to forgive Rodney Smith some bitterness.‭ ‬However,‭ ‬Slime and Reason’s opening line,‭ “‬A lot of people don’t know about Smith‭”‬,‭ ‬seems more like a simple statement of fact than a complaint.‭ ‬This album doesn’t acknowledge anything in its surroundings.‭ ‬Rather,‭ ‬it is the newest chapter in an isolated musical portrait of the artist.The music channels the place-in-time feeling of Jamaica’s Studio One recordings from the‭ ‬1960s and‭ ‬1970s.‭ ‬However,‭ ‬the dancehall carnival feeling is skin deep only.‭ ‬Smith is one of the difficult school of rappers that fight with their demons on acetate for the world to hear.‭ ‬Consistently throughout,‭ ‬but especially on closer‭ The Struggle‭‬,‭ ‬we find him enumerating the difficulties of balancing artistic advancement and the need to provide for others.There are few rappers in the world who can deal with real internal turmoil and lyrical skill in a successful way.‭ ‬Nas is one.‭ ‬Roots Manuva is another.‭ ‬There is enough universal wisdom in Slime and Reason to make it one of the most vital hip hop albums I’ve ever heard.
This review originally from Analogue. The video to Again and Again is pretty excellent, and you should check this uninformed review against that of the experts.

13. Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Real Emotional Trash
Domino“Of all my stoned digressions, some have mutated into the truth”. That’s the first line of Real Emotional Trash, and that’s the premise. Follow the music where it wants to go. Wait for the beauty to reveal itself. In a world of indie rock that Malkmus perceives to be divided between the Gang of Four devotees and those who love Pavement, an album in the milieu of long-deleted 60s bands in the psychedelic slipstream of the more cocksure likes of Hendrix and The Doors is likely to be a curveball. Many felt it didn’t work, but my gut feeling is that comparative listening is hurting Malkmus. You can only judge an album on its own isolate merits. And Real Emotional Trash is not devoid of those, even if they are longer and a little more esoteric than those that preceded it. Simply following the music where it wants to go paints pictures with subtle and novel shades. But it is the clearings in the dense forest of fretplay that provide the true transcendence. When Out of Reaches or Gardenia pop out of the furore, context makes them something strangely, and differently, beautiful.
SM is at least my second favourite interview I’ve ever done. This video might be better though.

12. Wolf Parade At Mount Zoomer
Sub PopSpencer Krug is a font of genius. This is a truth self-evident. Picture his input to anything as a white light. The question is not whether or not the germ of inspiration is going to be there, the question is how it’s going to translate to music. In front of the white light, you could put any number of things. You could have slides of colour, or you could cast shadows, or block it off, or whatever. That all comes from the context. How do you listen to a new Wolf Parade album when the guy who wrote almost all of the truly great songs on the last one has spent the last three years taking his music into new, complex and much more developed regions with a different band? You just have to go with it. It works, too. It’s not quite the opus that the unjustly underrated Random Spirit Lover unfolded into, but the spidery, proggy character of Mount Zoomer stakes its own claim. It’s surprisingly unified for what is now essentially a side project for both primary songwriters. Songs such as Boeckner’s bare, aching Fine Young Cannibals and Krug’s more knotted but equally aching Call It A Ritual sit well together and create a slightly gothic feeling that evokes the wildness that the title describes.
Dan Gray did an interview which was pretty good, and Pitchfork did several.

11. No Age – Nouns
Sub PopI read a lot of magazines and blogs, and a lot of my friends do too, so I’ve slowly developed quite a stockpile of indie rock anecdotes. With some of them, I can remember the page and issue of the magazine it came from. With others, it’s just a vague recollection, or something I was told in passing. My favourite No Age anecdote is one of the latter. I was once told that Nouns was recorded and mixed in full, then played through a guitar amp and recorded again with a single microphone. This recording is the one that ended up being released. I’m not sure if this is actually true, but it sounds a lot like it and it’s a good story. It’s loud and it’s muddy. Everything is distorted. But it has more going for it than the half-attentive stoner shoegaze it might be, just on production values. Eraser bristles with static electricity before releasing it and heading into a hooky chorus. And Teen Creeps, as I have noted here before, is one of the tracks of the year. It’s not often that music perceptibly explodes on your speakers, but this does.
Metacritic is an interesting one here for such a divisive record, but bring the band and you have two friends for life.

Wash away what we create

So I also went to that Drowned In Sound show at Whelans too, thanks to the beneficence of my lovely girlfriend, who pitched exactly right on what I would want for a birthday present. I won’t bore you with the details of my Odyssean trek to the venue, because I probably already did between bands, but just remember never to get a 38 bus anywhere ever if you still have the use of your extremities and your critical faculty.

The mess that is post-rich Ireland’s transport infrastructure meant that I missed all but the last couple of songs by Times New Viking. Close watchers will know that I also missed Times New Viking last time they played because I was at The Mae Shi and they went on early. Guess why I missed them this time? They went on early.

What sort of promoter puts on “motherfuckin’ Times New Viking” (Dean Allen Spunt, No Age) at 8 o’clock? I mean I made it to the venue at about twenty minutes past eight and I only saw the last two songs. The ticket said doors at 8. I have never been to a gig where the band starts at the time the doors were supposed to open, because logically, there would be no-one there at that time. This is apparently what happened last night. I wouldn’t know, because I wasn’t there. Fuck everything.

Anyway, next tack.

No Age were incredible, thankfully. It was my second time seeing them, but my first time indoors, and my first time with a respectful amount of album-listening done. Last time was more fun in the sense that the Dutch punks at Lowlands were moshing enough to make my wobbly headbanging seem okay. Last night my wobbly headbanging seemed to be shared by only two or three acquaintances and the members of Los Campesinos! who were in the crowd.

The show, though. Very, very loud. Intense. No Age have some really great songs. Teen Creeps, for example, has got to be one of the songs of the year.

Strum, strum, strum. Dididi-deh-do-do – NOISE. Washes and washes of noise. Two guys just being honest about it, playing a great song at a volume that cannot be ignored. There aren’t many better moments in modern life than the heavy bit kicking in. And that’s what No Age are all about.

They had some new stuff (I think) which was more directly rocking and less obfuscated. I enjoyed this. I would like to see No Age at a house-party (maybe the Hideaway House as Adam said in a comment below) or somewhere less self-conscious and less full of LC! fans. Because they’ve got energy in spades and it’s a pity not many were sharing in the loud, loud glory of it.

As for Los Campesinos, I didn’t like them. I’ve never liked them anyway, but they were never going to beat No Age. It’s their own fault for picking such good support acts. Their lyrics are so blatantly poserish that I’m surprised anyone except teenage girls can stomach it. “I was listening to music and reading fiction at the same time” or whatever. I mean, what the fuck is that? They play like a major label band on Letterman or something. There’s no heart to it. They’re just trying to be clever, and their songs aren’t particularly good. They’re the opposite of No Age’s honesty, in my eyes. If they didn’t have vaguely different instrumentation I don’t think anyone would ever have thought of them as separate from the NME continuum in the first place. Because they’re not. Death to Los Campesinos.

Long live No Age.

Times New Viking I am sorry please don’t split up before I see you.