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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

New Music in Stores Today: No Age, Russian Circles

posted by on May 6 at 10:55 AM


No Age Nouns (Sub Pop)

Eric Grandy has had nothing but great things to say about this band lately—he reviewed their Sub Pop debut in his column this week. An excerpt:

A lot of influences ricochet and echo around on this record, but a few echo loudest. There’s Sonic Youth, of course, both in the band’s melding of slanted pop and digressive experimentalism and in their shared penchant for age-defying monikers. There’s a little bit of Built to Spill’s sloppier, poppier side in Spunt’s wide-eyed vocals and Randall’s fragile driving melodies. Most exciting though, are the unexpected, though eagerly welcomed, traces of Sam Jayne’s teenage trio Lync, whose fractured, fuzzy indie rock deserves greater credit for presaging countless bands. These last two reference points are especially pronounced on songs like “Sleeper Hold,” “Here Should Be My Home,” “Ripped Knees,” and “Brain Burner.”

Throughout, No Age mix noise, punk, and pop in unusual and deeply satisfying ways, dressing up by-the-numbers pop structures with peripheral chaos, hiding hooks under deep layers of lo-fi squall.

Listen to No Age:

Try before you buy; stream the whole record on the band’s MySpace:


Russian Circles Stations (Suicide Squeeze)

From this week’s paper:

Russian Circles
(Suicide Squeeze)

If Chicago instrumental combo Russian Circles founded a school, their curriculum would ditch the “three Rs”—who needs language arts when your discipline forgoes words?—in favor of a trio of Gs: geography, geometry, and geology. Studied closely, their music revolves around exploring diverse terrain, measuring spatial relations, and stratifying layers. And, yes, Russian Circles rock: at times, quite hard.

On their second full-length, drummer Dave Turncrantz and guitarist Mike Sullivan are joined by Brian Cook (Botch, These Arms Are Snakes) on bass, with Matt Bayles (Mastodon, Minus the Bear) handling production. Randomly sample a segment of any of the six tracks, and a listener could be forgiven for thinking Station was the work of myriad bands. But no, the skittish percussion fills, headbanging bursts of staccato guitar shredding, unsettling dissonances, and extended ambient passages were all crafted by the same players. (The bowed bass and organ drones on “Versus,” however, come courtesy of Past Lives’ Morgan Henderson and Bayles, respectively.)

What holds everything together, across 43 minutes that seem shorter, is judicious overlapping pitched somewhere between tectonic plate movement and a rapid-fire game of Tetris. Russian Circles don’t deal in verses, choruses, and bridges in the traditional sense, instead building songs around succinct melodic cells, elongated textural passages, and mathematical counter- point displays. On the opening “Campaign,” repeated guitar figures ripple over sustained notes, like an edgier update of Eno and Fripp’s seminal collaborations. The core components of each track are sometimes embarrassingly simple—during one chunk of “Station,” Cook plays the same bass note past the point of mind-numbing and straight on till mesmerizing—yet their array changes so quickly and fluidly that boredom is never a concern; this is stoner music with ADD appeal. KURT B. REIGHLEY

Hear the song “Harper Lewis” at

Also in stores today: Elvis Costello and The Imposters Momofuku, Neil Diamond Home Before Dark, Matmos Supreme Balloon, and uh… Clay Aiken.

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