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No Age - Weirdo Rippers

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Artist: No Age

Album: Weirdo Rippers

Label: FatCat

Review date: Sep. 5, 2007

No Age have a bit of an identity crisis: They can’t decide if they want to be a punk band or sculptors of ambient sound. They could have easily been a really fantastic garage-y punk band in the mold of Times New Viking or the Spits. For a few songs here, they tap into the same kind of laconic punk scuzz as their Ohio and Seattle counterparts, but with slightly better production, more drum clatter, and a secret love of ’90s pop-punk, particularly in the vocals which occasionally sound like the guys from Blink-182 gone horribly, horribly right. That punk energy isn’t surprising given that No Age is two thirds of the noisy punk band Wives (who, despite only releasing one record are apparently either “beloved” or “fondly remembered” depending on which press release you read). If the whole albums consisted of songs like “Boy Void” and “Everybody’s Down,” this would easily be one of the best albums of the year.

Sadly, they seem to like making ambient textures a lot more than they like rocking out. While ambience isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, it has to actually do something to be effective. In a few songs, like “Every Artist Needs a Tragedy,” “Dead Plane” and particularly “My Life’s Alright Without You,” they use ambience as a framing device, setting up the rock song that follows and making the arrival of the hook that much more exciting. But the rest of the time, the sounds they create are simultaneously tired and truncated. Black Dice and Animal Collective have already used a lot of these sounds to much better ends by giving them space to spread out and develop on their own turns. No Age are in such a rush to get through the 11 songs on Weirdo Rippers that they choke off almost every idea, including the punkier ones, before its time is up. Part of that may be a result of Weirdo Rippers’ provenance as a collection of highlights from five limited-edition vinyl releases from earlier this year.

That is, however no excuse. This is no singles collection. No Age do seem to be aware of the problem, though, and they sum it up succinctly in the song “Loosen the Job”: “Why are there so many records in my life?” I heartily endorse having lots of records in your life, but you shouldn’t try to recreate all of them in just 31 minutes.

By Dan Ruccia

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