No Age - Snares Like A Haircut (Cover Artwork)

No Age

Snares Like A Haircut (2018)


Growing up in Michigan, California always seemed a mythical place. My only exposure to the golden state was through the VHS tapes my mom rented for me from the local video store. Thrashin’, Rad, and License to Drive were my window into a world that seemed to be too good to be true. Every aspect of it made it seem like there was no way that California could actually exist on Earth, let alone the United States. It wasn’t until much later that I finally made it out to California, and everything I felt as a kid watching those VHS tapes came rushing back: the way the sunlight looked and felt different than in Michigan; the sense the people were the most beautiful people on the face of the planet; the feeling that anything was possible. I spent most of that first trip out to California in a state of bewilderment. I was taking as much of my surroundings in as I possibly could and trying to process it all at the same time. I wanted California to live up to what I had been building it up to be since the age of six, and truthfully it was far more exotic. I’ve been back to California a number of times since the summer of 2003, and nothing has brought back that feeling I had on that first trip; the magic has begun to wear off. That is until I heard No Age’s brilliant new record, Snares Like A Haircut.

No Age formed in 2005 and nabbed their name from an SST records compilation. They began playing shows in the LA punk scene and found their home at the all ages DIY venue, The Smell. They began to hone their craft and they put out multiple EPs before signing with Sub Pop Records in 2008. It has been five years since we last heard from the dreamy fuzzed-out punk duo, and it has been well worth the wait. No Age’s last record An Object, was a bit of a left turn from the duo’s previous efforts, 2010’s Everything In Between, and their excellent debut, 2008’s Nouns. Snares Like A Haircut finds Dean Spunt and Randy Randall returning to their Jesus and Mary Chain meets Husker Du approach, but with a more focused vision. In 2009 Both Spunt and Randall joined Husker Du guitarist Bob Mould on stage to perform two classic Husker songs, and some of that magic seemed to have rubbed off on the duo.

From the opening track “Cruise Control” the mood is set, and your journey begins; the sun falls behind the San Gabriel Mountains, you climb into your car, roll down the windows and turn the stereo up as loud as you can. Then you begin your drive into the oncoming night, where the destination is not important, only the journey itself. Though most of the lyrics on Snares… seem to deal directly or indirectly with the new-found fatherhood of both members, there is also a sense of spontaneity around every corner. Tracks like “Send Me” and “Squashed” break up the fever dreaming noise punk attack and show an almost softer side of the band. The instrumental tracks, “Snares Like A Haircut” and “Third Grade Rave” not only tie into the records’ overall sound, but bring you into the band’s creative process. The duo is as much about rocking out as they are about creating mood and atmosphere, which is something that a majority of bands lack these days. Randy Randall’s guitar tone creates a sonic cloud that feels like a dream state where colors are sound, and sound is color. Dean Spunt lays the foundation with drumming that is both fluid and tight, but also gives you the sense that the songs could go in any direction. Once a serene hook filled pop punk gem, now becomes a chaotic wasteland of noise and decibel shattering volume, all at the flick of Dean’s wrist.

Snares Like A Haircut may just be the definitive No Age release. It is certainly the No Age record that has everything a fan of the band loves in one tight cohesive package. Sometimes taking a step back from your art and looking at life’s big picture is just what you need to get your focus clear. The five years off for No Age have seemed to make the duo not only more focused in their approach to their art, but also a force to be reckoned with. Snares Like A Haircut is by far my favorite record of the year, so far. I know we are only in the second month of 2018, but believe me when I tell you it is going to take one incredible record to top this one. The twelve songs on Snares Like A Haircut are that mythical California I have been dreaming of since the age of six.