Owned since: 2017
Genre: 2008 Pitchfork pretty much
Where I bought it: A Discogs seller
Label/pressing: Sub Pop
25, the big one. When we reach this point, we’ve been doing nearly a year of these which is absolutely insane to me. I’m typing this somewhere early on in 2021 so I have no idea if concerts or even being outside in cultural settings are a thing really here again(2022 Bresson here, just literally last week everything opened up again), but writing these has helped me shed some much needed music complaining I normally do with pre-show drinks. I was thinking about what kind of record I should do for this but honestly I think Nouns was the perfect fit here.
Me and No age were for sure not love at first sight. I was well aware of their previous EP compilation Weirdo Rippers, which I thought ruled but every song that got released before Nouns felt a lot more clean and lacked the punk spirit of Rippers. Even more when the album leaked and the 20 minute download (God I don’t miss 2008, I got it off some Blogspot and put it on my old Creative Zen) just felt kind of numb to me. Some of the songs, I had heard them as earlier live versions online earlier in the year, Sleeper Hold was a great song, but for the rest it never really stuck. Even after weeks of trying, I kind of cast it aside as the first real disappointing new release of a band I liked. It wasn’t till follow up Everything in Between got released which was a lot more experimental than Nouns I started clicking with the record.
Because honestly nothing screams more 2008 to me than Nouns. A big release on Sub Pop, full of feedbacking two man indie rock that edges close to noise rock but never goes over it. A bit monotone, a bit bratty and mostly just a sound made for a life setting of beer dumped over your new All Stars. There’s little substance to the Los Angeles duo’s music on Noun and Weirdo Rippers and this is honestly what made it such a big hit. The whole The Smell scene of bands like Abe Vigoda and Mika Miko just had a sort of fleeting fun energy to it all even though those bands all sounded nothing alike. Mika Miko went for fun jumpy riot grrl indie rock, Abe Vigado on Skeleton sounded like a more a bunch of post-punk throwbacks and No Age with its catchy take on noise rock with a heavy tinge to more danceable post-punk were the kings of all this.
It all just kind of flows together in one big cloud of lo-fi sound, honestly. There aren’t really a lot of songs to tell apart here beside album opener Miner, Ripped Knees and Sleeper Hold and it just oozes in and out with the ambient-like interludes pretty much across the album. Looking back, Weirdo Rippers feels like a weird embryonic version of this but with a bit more rough edge to it. The production on Nouns always felt a bit forced to me, it’s mixed down and sounds like it’s blasted from an old transistor radio a room removed from where you are at. Their previous work already spotted this a lot, but it just feels like it is kind of smothering the music here.
Because honestly, beside the horrible production there’s quite a few bits to like here. The ambient interludes are fairly unique for the time and there are a lot of times when guitarist Randy Randall gets some great Superchunk-like riffs out of his guitar. His interplay with drummer Dean Spunt always had a real punk feeling to it, songs just kind of breakdown and stop and start, even more so in a live setting. Because honestly, that is where the band mostly shined around this time.
An extremely infectious two man unit that would get most semi-big indie venues into a massive mosh pit and just would do their thing for 30 minutes and nothing more. That is what I mostly remember when I hear Nouns; shows at Paradiso in 2009 and long gone Trouw in 2010 when the band seemed to be on a never ending tour.
Like, seen here below in a 2011 performance where they rip through Weirdo Ripper’s crown-piece Everybody’s Down
Eh, even in 2021 I’m not sure if I really like this record. The main reason I own it is because it was dirt cheap and it makes me sentimental for days (long) past. It’s funny to me this record is old enough to hit high school here and it was pretty much my late teens, which was quite the reality check honestly. Nouns really is the sound of rancid cheap beers, summer stupidness you get up as a teen and, well, late 00’s guitar music. Nouns is a relic of a band long gone and a time long gone, it sounds old but remains just on the good side through youthful energy.
No Age is still going and for me has only improved since. 2013’s An Object was a rare misfire, but all their other records since Nouns have a more well rounded experimental sound (and lots better production) which really showcases their sound better than this. Anyway fun record, I’m off to feel ancient.
Slootfork/Pitchface: I can see how this would’ve been a big deal back in the day, but I get the feeling it would have been mindblowing to see played live. Maybe one day, maybe this day?