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No Idea Records

Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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Ears Wide Shut: CD
Norton Records’ house band (the label’s two owners are members) are bit rougher sonic-wise than I remember their earlier work sounding—no doubt due to the fact that it was recorded in their rehearsal room—but they nonetheless turn in another fine slab of mostly garage rock’n’roll covers. Honking sax, rolling keyboard lines, and sludgy fuzz aplenty, they keep the rock rolling in ways that’ll please discerning trash rock fans. Been a helluva long time since I heard anything by ‘em, and it’s nice to find they haven’t lost any of their gumption or charm.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Norton)

“Full of Hate” b/w “I Don’t Wanna Talk About It”: 7”
New release on the new, hip label Total Punk. Big hole, skint paper sleeve a la Rip Off records, and two bangers that are over so quickly I barely had time to sit down. Originality is overrated. These Finns took a gamble putting just two tracks on the record, but luckily it worked out as both tracks are bangers. This shit could have been on Rip Off records, sounding like the Registrators or the Motards (two faves of mine) or, hell, this could be some long lost KBD banger, if you can find it. Get this.  –Tim Brooks (Total Punk)

Tänk På Döden: LP
In Scandinavia right now, as well as certain parts of the rest of the world, a subgenre of punk has been developing for a few years. No one dares name it for fear of tarnishing this special movement. Part of me wants to say fuck that, give a name to the genre, but I’ll be content with just explaining some of the recurring elements. Bands heavily utilize female vocals, write with post-punk influences in mind, but undeniably work in the tradition of the first wave of punk. Other bands that you know of in this genre would be Gorilla Angreb, Masshysteri, and Arctic Flowers. Allvaret sits comfortably within these sounds, while still producing an intimidating record in their own right. Perhaps sounding something like a sped-up X, if you took out all of John Doe’s vocals. Without even understanding the lyrics, the music has a tone of panic and anger. The songs have such a natural flow, I feel as if I’m cheating the record if I only put it on for a few songs. Great record, great band. Grade: A-.  –Bryan Static (Dirt Cult)

Baseball and Alcohol: 7” EP
“I just want to be the goddamn MVP for the Minneapolis Protest Punk Baseball League”—now come on, that’s got to be one of the best lines in any song, punk rock or otherwise. Apocalypse Meow remind me a hell of a lot of Sicko, playing pop punk that is loose yet just within the boundaries of being under control to stop it from becoming too sloppy and chaotic. Just like Sicko, Apocalypse Meow manages to crank out a hatful of perkiness and do so with much aplomb. The band consists of a pair of Sundowners and a member of Off With Their Heads, for anyone who is interested in the pedigree of the band’s personnel.  –Rich Cocksedge (Dirt Cult)

Weaver: LP
Portland’s Arctic Flowers unveil their second full length of that unmistakable northwest punk style also heralded by compatriots Criminal Code and Red Dons. A potent concoction of the Observers’ sharpest edges and the post-punk flag waving of Flesh World mixes in nicely with some fiercer numbers such as the rager “Anamnesis.” Something tells me that Arctic Flowers’ songwriting prowess has yet to reach its zenith and that the well of talent that they’ve tapped won’t be running dry anytime soon. Absolutely mandatory.  –Juan Espinosa (Deranged)

The Greatest Band of All Time: CD
I was at a Jello Biafra And The Guantanamo School Of Medicine show recently and an older gentleman standing next to me was lamenting how Alternative Tentacles hadn’t kept up with the times. I politely chided himfor not keeping up with Alternative Tentacles. As good as joke records get, these songs are all named after Arnold Schwarzenegger movies and prominently feature quotes and plot descriptions of the films, twisted into hilarity, in the lyrics. Musically hard, with an almost oi tinge, this might be the best Alternative Tentacles album since the 2004 release of Leftover Crack’s Fuck World Trade. Want to touch Arnold’s gams? That’s one of the many pressing issues discussed on this instant classic.  –Art Ettinger (Alternative Tentacles)

Metropol Agencies: LP
Sometimes, when you listen to a given style of music for an exceedingly long period of time, things start to get jumbled and you lose track of the subtle shifts in style and delivery, until something comes along at a key moment that makes you say, “Wait-wait-wait the fuck up. At what point down the line did punk start sounding like really bad, boring adult-rock fodder?” This, my friends, is that moment.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Can I Say?)

Shattered Cattle: LP
I remember these cats being one of the bands on the old Philly comp, Get Off My Back, but in truth it’s been so damned long since I’ve actually heard that record that I had forgotten what they sounded like. This was a nice refresher course—in addition to the requisite thrash/hardcore tuneage that ruled the roost back then, you get some surprising diversity in approach, with some songs delving deep into post-punk territory, which would’ve been a rare excursion by a hardcore band during that time. A lot of creativity is in evidence here from a band that wasn’t afraid to stretch out of the staid dominant punk pigeonhole, something that is all too rare these days. The sticker on cover says this is an unreleased LP from 1982 put out for Record Store Day 2014, which means it has some bonus tracks, comes on splatter-color vinyl, and I’m assuming quantities are limited, so happy hunting.  –Jimmy Alvarado (SRA)

Head on a Rail: 7”
This band has a raw freshness to them, though I’m sure they’ve been together for quite a while. They seem to sincerely lack any inhibitions when it comes to trying new things and how they should sound. Vocalist Camylle has totally challenged what I expect to hear from a front woman. The closest comparison that comes to mind is Poly Styrene with her extremely feminine shrieks about being boxed in by society. Bad Daddies’ jam “That Ain’t Right” just builds and builds the entire time, climaxing at the precise point that I feel a panic attack coming on. There’s so much anger, desperation, and a general feeling of being fed up in her voice that invokes anxiety in me until the song bursts and slowly comes back for a quieter refrain. Only bad thing I can say about this record is at the beginning of “I Don’t” there’s a bit of goofing around, prepping to play the song that I don’t feel is relevant to the feeling of the whole record. It lasts for fifteen seconds, just long enough to notice, but short enough that it’s not a deal breaker. This band rocks and is highly recommended.  –Kayla Greet (Negative Fun)

Singles Going Broke: LP
Kinda sounds like what the late great Brainiac would have sounded like if they were more into old Fang records than Dungeons & Dragons, although sometimes it just sounds like the chords to “Gimme That Girl” by the Devil Dogs and I wonder if I’m just assigning intent where none exists. If I try to aim my analysis in the other direction, I get an art school version of the Pagans ((okay, that’s a stretch, but not wholly invalid)). Mildly weird and darkly artily abrasive throughout, but with a solid enough punk rock type backbone that I never really got the feeling I was listening to random horseshit. Contains the line “three tongues are better than one,” so you know these guys are a lot of fun at parties. BEST SONG: “Dividends.” BEST SONG TITLE: “Swastika Bones” or “Stereonucleosis.” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: This album purports to be compiled from the Blitz Yonder Broughnut, Boil Yr Bong, and Dividends7-inches, the Steve Hawkwind +1 12”, and the Better Yobbo Bureau 10”. These five records are depicted and discussed in some depth on the back cover; they almost certainly do not exist.  –Rev. Norb (Kunstwaffe)

Vampires Are Real and Palpable: LP
This is a pretty trippy record. The songs switch from a pop sound to nursery music to a campy goth thing. The cover has a picture of a model-sized Swiss-looking mansion through psychedelic eyes. It’s a perfect image for their music. I should also mention there’s a great cat family album photograph on the back. This is the type of music that I imagine Beetlejuice listens to presently. BAF fall somewhere between Sparks and Mindless Self Indulgence. If you want to listen to the soundtrack of a bad trip without the effects of actual drugs, put this record on.  –Ryan Nichols (This Will Be Our Summer)

Self-titled: Cassette
I love everything about Beastman. First of all, they took the time to design full-fledged cassette inserts, which is absurdly lacking in the new tape craze movement. Also, they play fast, sleazy Dwarves-inspired punk, but with smart, elevated lyrics. The song “Reasonable Suspicion” especially surprised me with its expertly crafted words, taking the standard theme of resistance to the criminal justice system to a new level. Hopefully they’ll move from cassette to vinyl soon, but ‘til then, this beast shall remain contained in its tape shell.  –Art Ettinger (Jelly Music)

Home. Run.: LP
As a kid, I had the VHS tape of The Sandlot on heavy rotation for one reason and one reason only—and it sure as shit wasn’t for the baseball. Benny the Jet ran away with my adolescent heart as quickly as he ran from the Beast while trying to retrieve a Babe Ruth autographed baseball. So, I find it fitting to have my heart stolen yet again by Benny The Jet Rodriguez. A hip swaying, head bobbing, shoulder shimmy-inducing lo-fi, pop punk extravaganza that has found a steady spot on my summer jams list. There may not be any crying in baseball but there sure is a lot of rocking.  –Ashley (Recess)

Split: 7”
Big Eyes kick off Side A of this 7” with “Asking You to Stay,” building up with lollygagging, songs-to-sway-your-hips-to riffs, that katamaries itself into hard-hitting chords, faster speeds, and eventually more “aggressive” vocals. The built up energy brought on tumbleweeds its way into the second, and final, Big Eyes song off of this split, “It’s Not Fair”: a sugar coated, upbeat take on obvious frustrations (as Big Eyes tends to do), topped with air guitar worthy riffs. Post Teens follow this up with a quick, steady, and slightly manic, “Mexican Painkillers,” that tie this record together perfectly. Side B eventually slows itself out with pacing, and steadies into, “Friendly Start.” With such fuzzy chord progression, poppy beats, and perfectly timed pauses that leave you on edge, how can you possibly not fall head-over-heels in love with this? –Genevieve Armstrong (No Idea)

Self-titled: Cassette
The self-titled tape from Vancouver’s B-Lines is a re-release of the much-liked LP put out by Nominal and Deranged. On it, B-Lines play a nervy mash of hardcore and pop punk: nine tracks in eleven minutes, all threatening to shake apart from jittery rhythms and shout-yelped delivery of lines about wearing “Sunglasses when I’m all alone / Sunglasses when I’m on the phone.” Songs like “Hastings Strut” and “PsychedelicHigh School” are wild and hooked and would fit on any mix. Tonally, you’d think B-Lines rented the Angry Samoans equipment with the promise that they’d only write songs spikier and stranger than those of 1978. But now it’s 2014. It’s time to save on tapes. Order one for your uncle who likes “proto-punk,” one for your step-pep who whistles Red Kross, another for your grand-pep, a car copy the whole family! Or maybe just one for you and your dog.  –Jim Joyce (Shake!)

Guts: Cassette
This tape contains four cuts of crossover-era-style angry hardcore the way I like it. “Guts” is a five-minute HC epic with weird marching interludes thrown in. The other three songs are one-two minute blasts against the things you wanna be against, like cops and waiting to blitz. Plus if you mail back the logo on the tape, they’ll send you more music. So play this tape as part of a healthy breakfast. If you know anyone who is balding but still has a Mohawk, this is for them. –Billups Allen (Smash!)

Self-titled: 7” EP
Wow, these cats don’t fuck around in the least. They go right for the throat with some tasty full-bore thrash reminiscent of early Gang Green with maybe just a bit more musical sophistication, and don’t let up until you’re good ‘n’ bruised up. Thumbs definitely way up for this bad boy. –Jimmy Alvarado (Beach Impediment)

Noise: CD
Possibly the most polarizing release yet from these longtime audio terrorists. Polarizing in that longtime fans might be surprised at the “new” sound and direction the band are taking on this album, but once the shock fades it becomes apparent that this is really just the perfect distillation of the band’s work to date. This CD is at once maybe the heaviest, most poppy, beautiful release I have heard this year. My only complaint is that the album was pretty short by today’s standards. It left me wanting more—much more—but, then again, I guess that is one of the marks of a great album, isn’t it?  –Garrett Barnwell (Sargent House)

Playback EP: Cassette
One of the cutest things I’ve heard in cassette form in a very long time. Boy’s Order is a four-piece, sugary, female-fronted rock band from Japan and they’ve got some fantastic melodies. Songs are uptempo and these five tracks are over fairly quickly, which means you can totally listen to them twice in one sitting! Their singer and bass player, Chihiro, is so high pitched that she almost reaches chipmunk octaves, but never to the point of annoyance. She makes you want to bob your head and smile while singing along to adorable lyrics, albeit slightly lost in translation, like, “Do you want to date with me? / Let me go / It’s broken my heart.” Dancey songs about love and loss that keep you grinning play after play after play.  –Kayla Greet (Love Panic)

Kings on the Run: 7”
Montreal’s an odd place. Probably more music per capita than anywhere else in the region, yet breaking out is tough for just that reason, it seems. Popular bands play for massive crowds in sold-out clubs, while the younger bands have to work a little harder to cut their teeth. Point being, while I’ve heard of Bummer—living a couple of hours away—I haven’t had a chance to check them out. And then this beautifully packaged and well-presented single comes in the mail, which makes you feel like a fool for not knowing it existed before. The Quebec three-piece play ‘90s-style, aggressive (yet emotive) post-punk. Still grungy enough to make you want more—far from anything too slick. The vocals are sang in an almost gang-style, yelling tone, while still being on key. A number of bands from Montreal are doing this sort of thing at the moment, but Bummer seem to stick out. There’s another 7” out in the wild as well, so I’d also recommend tracking that down, too, if this genre gets you going.  –Steve Adamyk (Housebreaker / Lost Cat / Sex Cave)

Relax on Everyone: Cassette
Pretty competent indie pop punk with really high-pitched vocals, but I don’t know how much I need sixteen songs’ worth of it. At times, the Cats veer into GBV-esque territory, touching on the lo-fi living room wonder jam, yet the majority of the time they wade in the saccharine sadness of Plan-It-X.  –Vincent Battilana (Manondor)

Feel It like a Scientist: CD
I fuggin’ love Chrome. Their best known and most lauded period—the “Edge/Creed” era that produced the five albums, from Alien Soundtracks to 3rd from the Sun—is the kind of good that’ll leave those inclined to listen to ‘em slack-jawed in awe (for a quick, cost effective overview of this period, I recommend the one-disc Anthology 1979-1983 CD and decide if you wanna venture deeper down the rabbit hole). Theirs is a sound that manages to be all over the map influence-wise—equal parts punk, rock, metal, industrial, drone, psychedelia, space rock, soundscapes, and so on—and at the same time result in something that is both singular and cohesive, an almost perfect amalgamation of all of its parts that is heavy, playful, hypnotic, oddly funky in places, and just downright weird. Things got a bit dicey after primary progenitors Helios Creed and Damon Edge parted ways and each fronted separate subsequent incarnations of the band, and the two never managed a planned reunion before Edge died in 1995. Between this and last year’s release, a stunner of a collection of unreleased tracks recorded during the band’s most artistically prolific period entitled Half Machine from the Sun: The Lost Tracks from ‘79-’80, Creed has brought the band full circle. Feel It like a Scientist is prime Chrome—odd and oddly catchy, rife with experimentation and seasoned noise mongering, uncompromising and yet still engaging, and true to the initial lineup’s ability to play music that continues to be several decades ahead of its time. As we hit the mid-point of 2014, I’m gonna safely bet this’ll make it onto several “best of” lists come the end of the year, including any such list culled by this writer. Highly recommended.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Chrome)

Punk Is Bread: 7” EP
It took me a few listens to realize there are only two kind of regular songs with vocals on this six-song EP. There are also two brief, fuzzy atmospheric instrumentals and two songs with what sounds like a six-year-old singing? In my mind, this puts the record structurally in the same league as Brian Eno’s Another Green World, except Coolies are noise pop kids in their own universe instead of one cool egghead who’s friends with Phil Collins and Robert Fripp. “God Take Me” and “Mothers in Mantis”—the two, I guess, reg jams—are mixtape worthy, or classic, without trying to be. They disintegrate completely or hang out until they’re ready to split and both approaches are correct. This is one of those 7”s you hold close for a long time. –Matt Werts (Epic Sweep)

Self-titled: 7”
Not a Ramones-core band. This is fast, pummeling hardcore from Richmond, Virginia. A tried and true formula that includes Discharge, guttural vocals, and a dash of Motörhead. Though I tend to prefer vocalists I can clearly understand, exceptions are certainly made: Tragedy, Celtic Frost, the fucking Germs! Problem is, when I can’t even follow along with a lyric sheet, it’s kinda tough to get into. The music is solid though, and I could see these guys evolving into something much more compelling.  –Chad Williams (Vinyl Conflict)

Free Drinks in Hell: LP
If you’re a fan of We Must Burn-era Poison Idea, and early ‘90s thick-necked hardcore in general (and are willing to overlook what may be one of the worst band names in recorded history) this might be worth checking out. I personally think it was a pretty dismal time for a lot of genres, hardcore included, and I found this record to be pretty uneventful. It suffered a lot from the deadly All The Songs Sound Exactly The Same Syndrome. Still, Crippled Old Farts are enthusiastic and committed and a lot of care was taken here: the recording’s solid, the packaging includes a separate, full-color booklet of photos and lyrics, and it’s been released on some of the heaviest gray vinyl I’ve ever seen. (And the guy who did the liner notes has such amazing handwriting that I totally thought it was a font at first. Good job, guy!) A split release between a bunch of French and German labels, so while Free Drinks in Hell was not remotely my bag, it was also clearly a labor of love for all involved.  –Keith Rosson (Slow Death)

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