Was there ever such a thing as ‘shitgaze’? The genre name seemed to mostly exist to for writers to get to swear while they make a pun on shoegaze, but it was used by the likes of even highbrow political/arts journal The New Republic. But the one band, maybe the only band, that people could point to as an example of the sound was Los Angeles’ No Age. The guitar-and-drums duo lit the indie-youngsters on fire two years ago with Nouns (QRO review) and a ferocious live show (QRO review). However, since then, styles like garage-rock have grown, and styles like chillwave have been born, while shitgaze languished – and No Age’s new Everything In Between doesn’t revive it, but instead borrows from more popular indie sounds of today like garage-pop & tech-fuzz.
It’s always a risky game, comparing one band to another, as it usually pisses off both (and sometimes the reader doesn’t know the other band), but much of the higher fuzz, in a monotone procession, to Everything In Between resembles Atlanta-by-way-of-Brooklyn act Deerhunter (QRO live review), such as on openers “Life Prowler” and “Glitter”, with the latter (also the first single) doing much better, being peppered with emotion and more. There’s also the teched- and fuzzed-out “Sorts” & “Dusted”, and the fuzz to instrumentals “Dusted” & “Positive Amputation” certainly feel like the work of Bradford Cox (QRO live review) – it doesn’t help that those three are back-to-back-to-back on the track listing. There’s also a feedback instrumental in “Katerpillar”, but lots of artists have done that (see Sonic Youth’s “Providence” on the classic Daydream Nation – QRO re-release review – though “Katerpillar” doesn’t have the recording of a voice message from then-fIREHOSE Mike Watt – QRO photos).
Meanwhile, the fuzzy monotone garage of closer “Chem Trails” is more akin to labelmate The Vaselines (QRO live review) – not that that’s a bad thing. No Age do garage better than a lot of the acts out there, with catch on “Depleted” or press on the preceding “Fever Dreaming”. It gets best near the end of “Valley Hump Crash”, when the band gets more powerful – why couldn’t they have done more like this? Only the rocking & pressing “Shed and Transcend” really tries for it. Instead, there’s the kinda whiney, though not annoying, but also not amazing “Common Heat”, and the kinda snotty, though not annoying, but also not amazing “Skinned”.
At this year’s All Tomorrow Parties NY, No Age got to cover Hüsker Dü (QRO spotlight on) with the band’s legendary singer/guitarist Bob Mould (QRO live review) – they are an act that picks good influences. But even if they didn’t ape Hüsker, Everything In Between‘s more modern feel also leaves it kind of inessential, even as it’s enjoyable. And consigns shitgaze, whatever that was, to the dumpster (look out, ‘chillwave’, you’re next…).
MP3 Stream: “Shred and Transcend”