No Age, ‘Nouns’ (Sub Pop)
Duos simplify the concept of “band” as far as it can go before becoming “solo artist.” Synth pop made duos an emotionally unique form, testifying, “Us and our funny haircuts against the world, baby. All I need is a keyboard, an arpeggiator, and thou.” Hip-hop’s “He’s the DJ, I’m the rapper” steez brought bold ambition — here’s a turntable, a mic; let’s change the world. The liberating, two-man art punk of Los Angeles’ No Age feels as if it could hurtle in any direction. Even their name distances them from any traditional sound or scene.
Though Randy Randall’s guitar and Dean Spunt’s drums start out at noise rock’s shit-wall (the two-minute opener, “Miner,” is Lightning Bolt–style panic rock), Nouns evolves gradually, with “Teen Creeps,” “Sleeper Hold,” and “Cappo” adding Superchunky pop riffs to the their relentless punk vigor. “Keechie” is cool, drifty ambient hum, and Randall unleashes a likable Everyman bleat on the snappy “Here Should Be My Home.” Which means the band fits comfortably on a label that’s home to the Shins, Wolf Eyes, and Mudhoney — No Age could open for any of ‘em and win over the crowd. Don’t be too surprised if the next album features Tuvan throat singers or an acoustic cover of the Shangri-Las. There’s nothing more punk than fearing no music.