Among the more recognizable names in Los Angeles' experimental-leaning music scene — Health, Captain Ahab, Abe Vigoda — a support network has developed, including labels like Not Not Fun and Deathbomb Arc, and venues like The Smell, which has helped build those names in national blogs and zines. But along with scene infrastructure, those high-profile-but-still-underground bands that have bubbled up to national attention have also cultivated an aesthetic that's distinctively L.A.
Dance-y undercurrents and sugary pop fetishism make these bands more palatable to mainstream audiences than what issues from many of the country's other experimental music pockets, but the good-times party vibe blankets a gritty underbelly.
The Smell has also become perhaps the country's best-known tiny DIY venue, and when the L.A. duo No Age put the building on the cover of their 2007 full-length debut Weirdo Rippers, they became its poster boys. But that big support system wouldn't have amounted to much if the band didn't also kick ass.
One of the things that makes No Age so much better than a lot of their peers is that they are able to tap into the sunny, Southern California vibe without sounding like a lolcat (see: Best Coast). They do the '60s pop thing, but at the same time, they do a '70s punk thing and a '90s noisy shoegaze thing. Oh, and a lo-fi, freeform thing. So, you know, post-punk. They're in between everything without sounding middle-of-the-road. The English band Swell Maps was also able to pull off something like that back in the late '70s, but if you don't remember them, that's OK — No Age do.
Last year's fittingly titled Everything in Between sticks with the same recipes but tinkers with the measurements. Feedback becomes a backing instrument, but it's more harmonic than shrill. Like the rest of the band's catalog, the album's an exercise in blending discordance and chaos with carefully controlled hooks. The Beatles liked to do that too, and as you probably remember, they did it successfully enough to become the biggest band on earth ever.
For a two-piece, No Age layer a lot of different sounds on top of each other, and in a live setting the pair relies on loops and samples to flesh things out. If you were at No Age's one and only previous Nashville show, then you saw this method in action, although chances are you weren't at that show. Back in 2007 they opened for Deerhunter at Mercy Lounge, a venue that their indie-blog clout should have helped them fill, but only about 60 people showed up. A year later, the poor attendance was cited in a Scene cover story ("Not Playing Here," April 10, 2008) as an example of why tours sometimes skip over Nashville, in which Next Big Nashville founder Jason Moon Wilkins suggests this explanation: "Nashville should be called Song City instead of Music City. Song-based bands do great here. Iron & Wine is gonna sell out, but No Age isn't."
That may have been true when Weirdo Rippers came out, but No Age are much more a song-based band these days. They're also much better known. Earlier this month the band that once played basements and the aisles of vegan grocery stores appeared on The Late Show With David Letterman. But even as they've graduated to indie's upper echelon, they still stick to their roots: The band just released a split 7-inch with Infinite Body, available now on Not Not Fun.
Thanks Gold. If his home base is in LA I can definitely understand now why…
Here's a link to the record. http://ponychase.bandcamp.com/album/parade…
Cherub is amazing!!! Check out their video for Doses and Mimosas!!!
He lives in L.A.
Cool. Is Mr. Grohl still based in Seattle? Seattle and Nashville should become sister cities…