The most confusing way to describe L.A.'s No Age is as a punk band people listen to for the production. This means their fans aren't necessarily punks, though the two-person band whose singer is the drummer would be anomalous anyway.
No Age isn't punk in the same way that Nirvana wasn't punk, the same way the Replacements weren't punk. It's good company. And not only did it attract Sub Pop's interest for 2008 breakthrough Nouns, but Dean Spunt and Randy Randall, neither quite in their thirties yet, are even more vital these distortion-starved days.
The first lines on the new Everything in Between — a title for a record clearly proud of its genre-straddling — are "One time is all I need / To know my job's complete," which is too eloquent a summation of punk's one-take ethos to actually be punk. Ironically, No Age is the first punk band since Le Tigre to benefit from the public domain of loop technology the way, say, Soulja Boy has.
With Rene Hell and Total Abuse, 9 p.m. Wednesday, January 12, at Fitzgerald's, 2706 White Oak, 713-862-3838 or www.fitzlivemusic.com.
Their chaos is neatly controlled, the offhand squeals and scraps seemingly plotted on graph paper. The songs, when they're songs, are vitamins. They're too-efficient riffs and recycled parts (from Green Day, Hüsker Dü, whatever) melded into quick, bent doses of necessary guitar rock for those otherwise besotted by Beach House and Four Tet.
The parts are rarely grander than the whole, which is welded together with interstitial tracks that let you know they're a Serious Band: Instrumentals that sound like fastidiously prepared Eno rather than, say, Pavement's impromptu rec-room jams.
Because they revere their DIY base and eternally support their home scene — debut Weirdo Rippers featured L.A. flagship venue the Smell on the cover — No Age were raised too modestly to brag about the new sonics they're inventing, the way Everything lead single "Glitter" and the hectic "Fever Dreaming" turn screaming glitches into hook riffs, or the way the "Skinned" backbeat is like a concrete body being dragged by the ankles. The only rhythm element on "Sorts" sounds like a bag of detonating popcorn.
But the duo transposes these quirks with the overtly familiar: The repeated trade-offs in "Glitter" recall the Nirvana of "All Apologies" or "Lithium," until they culminate in a resolutely hopeful mantra of "I want you back underneath my skin." "Chem Trails" fulfills the folk-punk promise of Jay Reatard covering the Go-Betweens. And one of the record's best moments isn't new at all: The acoustic guitar that starts "Valley Hump Crash" could be introducing The Who's "Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand."
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And while No Age's homespun ambient is now as familiar as Yo La Tengo's ten-minute organ jams, it dominates Everything's second half with one showcase too many, and Archers of Loaf did the feedback-and-piano balladry of "Positive Amputation" better on All the Nation's Airports. It shouldn't be a fatal flaw; No Age's adrenaline stage has lasted at least one album longer than the Ponys' or Liars'.
And in an age where bands have finally cashed in on unlimited artistic freedom, bless these guys for not outgrowing themselves too quickly. Fabricating the friction from the bygone era of Art vs. Commerce may prove No Age's greatest trick yet.
Houston musician Mean Gene Kelton was killed in a car accident in Crosby around 8:45 p.m. December 28, when his SUV collided head-on with a school bus full of Crosby High School students returning from a ninth-grade basketball game in Liberty. The Harris County Sheriff's Department told abc13.com that Kelton swerved to avoid a stalled car, struck the bus and was killed instantly. Several passengers on the bus and the driver were taken to area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries. Kelton, a Mississippi native, formed his band the Die Hards in 1992, and they quickly became popular at area motorcycle rallies, icehouses and roadhouses, thanks to songs that mingled Southern rock and the blues, such as "My Baby Don't Wear No Panties," "Too White to Play the Blues" and "Going Back to Memphis." He also starred in the 2009 independent film Marfa Red, later renamed The Passage, and self-published the memoir Gigs from Hell in November. Kelton is survived by his wife, mother and two sons.