Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

Consumer Guide:
  User's Guide
  Grades 1990-
  Grades 1969-89
Books
Writings:
  CG Columns
  Rock&Roll& [new]
  Rock&Roll& [old]
  Music Essays
  Music Reviews
  Book Reviews
  NAJP Blog
  Playboy
  Blender
  Rolling Stone
  Billboard
  Video Reviews
  Pazz & Jop
  Recyclables
  Newsprint
  Lists
  Miscellany
Bibliography
NPR
Web Site:
  Home
  Site Map
  What's New?
Carola Dibbell
CG Search:
Google Search:
Twitter:

No Age/

  • Weirdo Rippers [Fat Cat, 2007] A-
  • Nouns [Sub Pop, 2008] A-
  • Losing Feeling [Sub Pop EP, 2009] ***
  • Everything in Between [Sub Pop, 2010] A
  • An Object [Sub Pop, 2013] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Weirdo Rippers [Fat Cat, 2007]
These two senior skateboarders' distended guitars and obtrusive trap drums are the sound of realized misery, which is so much better than some egomaniac screaming because adulthood is scary. They know they hurt because that girl is gone and they know they hurt because America is spilling its coffee on them. They're saving room for their baby in the pit, but they'd rather not fight you for it. Sometimes they think death is hope, sometimes pain. But they're "not afraid of laughter because it's all feeling too." And they're not afraid of beauty either. A-

Nouns [Sub Pop, 2008]
Randy Randall and Dean Spunt aren't the kind of new punk geniuses who'll be putting "When I Come Around" on the pop charts two albums from now. They're the kind of new punk geniuses who'll be getting commissioned by Cal Arts to augment a production of Waiting for Godot or score a webcam installation. Imagine one of Glenn Branca's microtonal symphonies for massed amped-up guitars cut down to two minutes with vocals, chord changes and drums, lots of Spunt's drums. Be more interesting that way, right? Their debut was called Weirdo Rippers because that's how it sounded. This one's solider, more concrete--even beautiful sometimes. A-

Losing Feeling [Sub Pop EP, 2009]
Vinyl-only EP exploring the musical question, "What to do, what to do, elegiac raveups or peculiar songs?" ("Losing Feeling," "You're a Target"). ***

Everything in Between [Sub Pop, 2010]
Having disbanded their punk trio to prove they weren't simply or even primarily punks, Dean Spunt and Randy Randall apply their bag of arty tricks to a punk album with a punk narrative. "I try to make myself seem vague/Cause the words get so engraved"--OK, understood, only not entirely, which is how they want it. Hence 10 of these songs are directed at a "you" that could be a boss, a colleague, an audience, a roommate, or, obviously, a girlfriend, but who is only clearly a female once. There are also three instrumentals, which contextualize the songful riffage of most of the other tracks with the atmospheres in which they've specialized. But the decisive atmosphere is provided by the riffage--hooks and power chords as anthemic as any in punk, only shot through with their atmospheric chops and innovations. In other words, it's a punk album with a difference, which at this late date is the only kind you can count on for a thrill. And what it says beyond its seeming vagueness is: "we" care about "you." A

An Object [Sub Pop, 2013]
With drummer-etc. Dean Spunt's vocals mixed up front and enunciated like he means them, you'd think they'd gone pop on us except that, in the great Moore-Ranaldo tradition, pop is well beyond Spunt's manful monotone. But in the same great tradition, he and guitar-wielding Randy Randall are committed to rendering noise as music. Is that a saxophone lowing underneath "C'mon, Stimmung"'s I'm-OK-I'm-OK? Are those electric cellos bowing behind "An Impression"'s Monet appreciation? Is that a full orchestra plus ornithological field recordings--oh, never mind. I hope not. There's a pleasure on the far edge of song in imagining that two DIY purists are making all these musical noises with their guitar collection and their home studio. A-

See Also