No Age – Goons Be Gone

No Age was formed from the LA DIY scene in December of 2005. They started their career making indie punk with abrasive textures and tones. Making use of heavy distortion with even heavier energy. Their fifth album Goons Be Gone follows in the same vein, except with fifteen years worth of practice and refined techniques along the way. No Age manages to use interesting arrangements and experimental timbres of textural noise, infusing it with the raw energy and free-spirited approach of punk rock. Despite the tight constraints of being a duo, Randy Randall and Dean Spunt manage to spin these ingredients into a tightly innovative stew, where they can easily change up the formula to keep every song fresh and unique.   

Opener “Sandalwood” comes in with a tight swagger and an airline guitar distortion. It hypes the album up with an eerily familiar rock sound, like an amalgam of Satisfaction and Born to be Wild. “Feeler” uses its guitar in an atmospheric way. A fuzzy thundercloud swells and flourishes in the background. Where other artists may use synths for this technique, No Age opts for an analog approach. Resulting in a kaleidoscope of trippy, fuzzy psychedelia. “War Dance” is a loose and erratic earworm, even with its aggressive and menacing tone. A tight and constant drum rhythm repeats, peering into the hypnotic, while its walls of noise feel like an engine that’s guzzling down gallons of gasoline.

For the uninitiated, the band’s more experimental tracks can be a surprising transition, as these moments of finesse have only been used as embellishments for the heavier songs. “Smoothie” is more relaxed, despite having the same tonal pallet. In these glimpses the band is more selective and deliberate with their sound design. A calm reprieve that uses negative space and slow tempo that makes for an unconventional ambiance. “Toes In The Water” is an instrumental where industrial sounds and shoegaze noise are layered and contrasted with radiant synths. It brews in anticipation at first, and booms into a crescendo, then fades away into the distance, like a space shuttle lifting on its first voyage.

Goons Be Gone is a good example of how a group can refine their style while still paying homage to their roots of rocket-powered punk rock. I always find it interesting how a two-piece band can make use of their constraints to create their own sound and refine it through the years, and every group has a unique approach. No Age certainly has glued down into their identity and has reached new heights in their craft.

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