Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Sub Pop

L.A.'s new underground kings make a horrible racket--in the best way

Randy Randall and Dean Spunt come out of L.A. hardcore's DIY tendency, not its punk tendency. By inclination and personal history, they're avant-gardists, twentysomethings who believe there are "no limits on art or sound or anything." Like 2007's Weirdo Rippers, their second album deploys the noises guitars make when turned up to 12, with samples thickening the mix and Spunt's cymbals generating as much drone and buzz as Randall's guitar amp, and his drums even taking the lead once in a while. Since avant-punk often has more "limits" than its creators recognize, respect and then some to No Age for keeping theirs interesting. At living-room volume, Nouns suggests a Sonic Youth jam of two-minute songs, or My Bloody Valentine inhibiting serotonin uptake the vegan way. It even has hooks--and for the last three pages of its 68-page booklet, lyrics. The rest: expertly curated full-color photographs.

Blender, June 2008