From Norway and Oregon Come the No Ones with a Potent Dose of Classic Jangle Pop

Photo: Courtesy of Yep Roc Records via Bandcamp

Scott McCaughey and Peter Buck's the No Ones took their sweet time on their debut, The Great Lost No Ones Album, but it was well worth the wait for any indie or pop fan.

The Great Lost No Ones Album
The No Ones

Yep Roc

27 March 2020

"No One Falls Alone", the call for compassion and understanding that opens the No Ones' debut album, The Great Lost No Ones Album, feels like an accidental anthem for the spring of 2020. "If I last another hour without some better bitter news…," sing Scott McCaughey and Frode Strømstad, before eventually noting, "There's no other home / Be kind for no one falls alone."

Those are oddly prescient lyrics for a song that was written and recorded in June 2017 but is just now seeing the light of day. And it's about time. But when your band includes two guys in Norway and two guys in Portland, Oregon, timetables can be weird.

In addition to the McCaughey and Strømstad, the No Ones is comprised of Arne Kjelsrud Mathisen and Peter Buck. McCaughey is the founder of classic Pacific Northwest bands like Young Fresh Fellows and the Minus 5; Arne Kjelsrud Mathisen and Strømstad are members of Norway's I Was a King; and Buck, well, he's been around. As a band, the No Ones have created an album that doesn't necessarily beat any brand new or wildly innovative musical paths but could be one of the most satisfying guitar pop-rock albums you'll hear this year.

"No One Falls Alone", whose lyrics are matched by a soaring pop melody, is the perfect starting point for the album, which touches on a variety of sounds and styles throughout its 13 songs. The second track, "(Going Back to) Stockholm Syndrome", is a guitar rave-up (McCaughey, Buck, and Strømstad all play guitar on the album) that makes room for some woozy keyboards as well.

"Clementine", another uptempo rocker, adds some subtle psychedelic touches to the mix. Meanwhile, McCaughey alludes to "darling Clementine", adding the No Ones to a long line of pop culture entities that have referenced the classic 1884 western folk ballad, "Oh My Darling Clementine", including, but not limited to, Huckleberry Hound, Lieutenant Columbo, Bobby Darin, Tom Lehrer, and movie characters in Hud, Repo Man, and Eternal Sunshine of the Mind.

While the No Ones show a decided proclivity toward rocking out, they've included some dreamy slower tracks on the album. "Sun Station Vadsø" is an evocative description of a Norwegian town, above the Arctic Circle, where the band members have gathered for a pair of music festivals. Another quieter track, the brief "Cinnamon Roll Hair", could be the second-best song about Carrie Fisher ever, combining Fisher's thoughts with a Star Wars reference and a hat tip to the best song about Carrie Fisher ever, Paul Simon's "Hearts and Bones".

The Great Lost No Ones Album ends with "Turn Again", a deliberately Byrds-invoking tune that ruminates on the search for meaning and connection as we grow older, or as we're weathering a life crisis. As with "No One Falls Alone", "Turn Again" wasn't meant to be a pandemic-ready anthem, but it is certainly a song for these times and beyond. And the entire The Great Lost No Ones Album is a record for these times and beyond as well.





12 Essential Performances from New Orleans' Piano "Professors"

New Orleans music is renowned for its piano players. Here's a dozen jams from great Crescent City keyboardists, past and present, and a little something extra.


Jess Williamson Reimagines the Occult As Source Power on 'Sorceress'

Folk singer-songwriter, Jess Williamson wants listeners to know magic is not found in tarot cards or mass-produced smudge sticks. Rather, transformative power is deeply personal, thereby locating Sorceress as an indelible conveyor of strength and wisdom.

By the Book

Flight and Return: Kendra Atleework's Memoir, 'Miracle Country'

Although inconsistent as a memoir, Miracle Country is a breathtaking environmental history. Atleework is a shrewd observer and her writing is a gratifying contribution to the desert-literature genre.


Mark Olson and Ingunn Ringvold Celebrate New Album With Performance Video (premiere)

Mark Olson (The Jayhawks) and Ingunn Ringvold share a 20-minute performance video that highlights their new album, Magdalen Accepts the Invitation. "This was an opportunity to perform the new songs and pretend in a way that we were still going on tour because we had been so looking forward to that."


David Grubbs and Taku Unami Collaborate on the Downright Riveting 'Comet Meta'

Comet Meta is a brilliant record full of compositions and moments worthy of their own accord, but what's really enticing is that it's not only by David Grubbs but of him. It's perhaps the most emotive, dream-like, and accomplished piece of Grubbsian experimental post-rock.


On Their 2003 Self-Titled Album, Buzzcocks Donned a Harder Sound and Wore it With Style and Taste

Buzzcocks, the band's fourth album since their return to touring in 1989, changed their sound but retained what made them great in the first place

Reading Pandemics

Chaucer's Plague Tales

In 18 months, the "Great Pestilence" of 1348-49 killed half of England's population, and by 1351 half the population of the world. Chaucer's plague tales reveal the conservative edges of an astonishingly innovative medieval poet.


Country's Jaime Wyatt Gets in Touch With Herself on 'Neon Cross'

Neon Cross is country artist Jaime Wyatt's way of getting in touch with all the emotions she's been going through. But more specifically, it's about accepting both the past and the present and moving on with pride.


Counterbalance 17: Public Enemy - 'It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back'

Hip-hop makes its debut on the Big List with Public Enemy’s meaty, beaty manifesto, and all the jealous punks can’t stop the dunk. Counterbalance’s Klinger and Mendelsohn give it a listen.


Sondre Lerche and the Art of Radical Sincerity

"It feels strange to say it", says Norwegian pop artist Sondre Lerche about his ninth studio album, "but this is the perfect time for Patience. I wanted this to be something meaningful in the middle of all that's going on."


How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.


From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.