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August 19, 2013 at 8:13 AM
L.A.’s No Age fights the path of least resistance | Concert preview
When bands depart basements for larger clubs and festivals, what they gain in stability they often lose in day-to-day spontaneity.
Not so, however, for Los Angeles duo No Age, which celebrates the release of its latest LP “An Object” Tuesday at Washington Hall, a hundred-year-old theater in Seattle’s Central District with a deep musical history. The city’s first documented jazz performance took place inside its walls in 1918, and Jimi Hendrix played there often in the ‘60s. Nowadays, however, it mostly hosts plays and community meetings.
For No Age’s Randy Randall (guitar) and Dean Spunt (drums and vocals), such underused — or disused — spaces are a way of life. Formed in 2005, the pair came up performing guerrilla gigs at off-the-grid locales like the L.A. River and Central Library. Their above-ground appearances usually happened at The Smell, a downtown all-ages club far from the glitz of the Sunset Strip.
“There’s a monotony to professional venues,” Randall explains, “and being the entertainment while they sell booze was never of interest to us.”
Apropos of where they play, No Age’s style is unorthodox. There’s no bassist. The drummer sings. Their albums mix slamming punk and summery pop with shoegaze, noise and sound collage.
Sub Pop Records signed the band in 2007, releasing its blitzkrieg debut “Nouns” a year later. “An Object” marks their third full-length for the Seattle label, yet Randall and Spunt remain closely attuned to the do-it-yourself ethos, making all their T-shirts, posters and videos in-house.
This time, they’ve gone a step further, designing and assembling 10,000 record and CD sleeves — 5,000 of each — entirely by hand. Randall describes this seemingly laborious approach as “a challenge to see just how hands-on we could be. We aren’t trying to be kitschy or artisanal… it’s just who we are.”
On “An Object” — which follows 2010’s comparatively polished “Everything In Between” — No Age fills its sound in new, creative ways, using contact microphones as percussion, employing a string section, and staggering frantic rippers (“C’mon, Stimmung” [listen]) with experimental non-songs (the hazy “Running From A-Go-Go” and droning “A Ceiling Dreams of A Floor”).
“The songs might not relate to each other in a musical way,” Randall says, “but share a feeling of intimacy we hope translates.”
Even if the 11-track LP isn’t No Age’s most immediate, the duo’s dedication to never repeating itself is admirable. Its pioneering spirit continues to connect with listeners, from the next generation of L.A. indie-rockers (Big Joy Records, run by a group of Smell regulars, is issuing “An Object” on cassette) to iconoclasts like Pavement and Sonic Youth, who they opened for at the Hollywood Bowl in 2010.
Of his band’s accomplishments, says Randall, “we simply dream big… and leave our minds open to anything and everything.”No Age, Naomi Punk, Sun Foot, Devin, Gary & Ross
7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Washington Hall, 153 14th Ave., Seattle; $10-$12 (206-316-7613 or www.etix.com)
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