Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Morning Show with John Richards, is “An Impression” by No Age from the 2013 album An Object on Sub Pop.
Duos can be intriguing. Fewer instruments compete for attention, allowing adventurous artists the musical space to explore subtleties. Often these intentional nuances are what separate the great bands from those who drown in their own studio excesses. On today’s Song of the Day, No Age’s drummer/vocalist Dean Spunt and guitarist Randy Randall confirm the power of duos and the art of making each note meaningful. “An Impression” begins with the ambient haze of fuzzy, distortion lurking under Randall’s patient guitar melody with Spunt’s shuffling drums and yearning voice. The openness of the arrangement allows the emergence of slurring, drunken cellos to build an emotional vulnerability. The result captivates with its stark beauty.
Since their 2007 debut, Weirdo Ripper, these Los Angeles art punks have always cultivated gritty ambience from hardcore, landing somewhere between Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation-era experimental noise pop and Fugazi’s bombast. “Fever Dreaming” from 2010’s Everything in Between (Sub Pop) is a perfect introduction. But on 2013’s An Object, No Age opens up the album production to reveal the songwriting. Rather than smear the guitars with layers, the melodies feel succinct and filled with purpose. When Spunt sings “stripped away layers that you lay, stripped away intention” on the song “Defector/ed,” his words underscore the sonic aesthetic of the band’s fourth full-length album. An Object shows the fearless maturity of a band willing to reveal itself. The listener is rewarded by No Age’s honesty.