Modern West Coast Noise Rock
by Raymond Cummings | August 23, 2013
Ah, noise: It's everywhere, and honestly, it's always been everywhere. Post-millennium and post-Wolf Eyes, we're less afraid to slap that label on pre-existing genres, curl upper lips and crank the volume higher. Whatever noise we're talking about -- noise-rap, noise-rock, noise-folk, noise-drone or just straight noise -- NYC is the undeniable epicenter. Yet the West Coast more than holds its own, offering a wide range of rabid flavors.
Anyone who has not been exposed to The Icarus Line should be, at least once ("Spit On It"): At their least forgiving, experiencing them is like being broiled alive in an oven. Currently celebrating 30 years together, Smegma (["Up There"]) are almost The Residents of pure noise, cobbling together Pynchon-esque epics out of everything from prepared piano to ragged percussion to tape-collage perversions to drug-fueled chicanery. The dizzyingly prolific John Wiese specializes in mind-bending static studies.
On the more melodic side of things, No Age are all about spluttered deconstructed takes on pogo pop-punk, like on "My Life's Alright Without You," and the late Coach Whips preach a no-fi garage gospel with "Your Party Will Be a Success." Deerhoof chase their art-rock muse all over the map, but they're never as captivating as when the band abandons all but the slightest pretense to accessibility and leaps into the wild (["Look Away"]). Eat Skull and Love as Laughter serve up janky, junkyard slop with a smile. Don't get too enthused, though: The Hospitals and Big City Orchestra are ready and waiting, in their own disparate and idiosyncratic ways, to wipe that grin right off your smug mug.