Tuesday, September 28, 2010

No Age, "Everything in Between"

In 2010, the term “punk rock” has evolved into myriad meanings, each one depending on who’s doing the defining. For LA noise-punk duo No Age, it represents a fiercely independent DIY ethos that permeates everything they do. On their third full-length (and second for indie giant Sub Pop), the duo continue to steadily expand their sonic palette while creating more of their emo-tinged slabs of deceptively melodic mayhem. From the sunny Beach Boys aesthetics of “Life Prowler” to the college-radio-at-4am whirr of “Glitter,” it would be easy to say this is the band’s most accessible release to date. But it would also be true: Glossier production values don’t detract from the songs’ sneering defiance, which is never too far from the music’s surface. No Age even flirt with getting downright pretty on tunes like the dreamy, My Bloody Valentine homage “Positive Amputation” and “Chem Trails,” which is reminiscent of classic Sonic Youth. Evolving without losing sight of their roots in now-famous all-ages LA club the Smell, No Age are rightful heroes for a new generation of emerging indie rockers eager to really go their own way.

(Originally published on shockhound.com)

Soundgarden, "Telephantasm"

Soundgarden was always among the more intriguing outfits of the early ‘90s rock generation. Their dichotomy of being cool, brainy guys that could rock you as hard as any mob of meatheads put them in an exclusive class. Frontman Chris Cornell was blessed with a testosterone-charged yowl comparable to Robert Plant, and just as pretty. Kim Thayill’s textured guitar playing leaned toward the sublime and substantive over flash. But it Soundgarden's ability to craft tight, explosive songs that made them famous. This comprehensive retrospective concentrates on the big hits like “Black Hole Sun,” but mixes in a few fan favorites to keep it interesting — like “Hunted Down,” a caustic down-tuned roar from their early Sub Pop era, which already hints at their expansive potential. The draw here for fans both old and new is “Black Rain,” a monstrous, previously unreleased song from their fertile BADMOTORFINGER era. But track for track, TELEPHANTASM is a fitting testament to the legacy of these rock legends.

(Originally published on Shockhound.com)