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No Idea Records

Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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HAMILTONES, THE:
Self-titled: CS
Surf music must be much more fun to play than to listen to. How else to explain another entry into the vast sea of an overpopulated genre? Two of the six tracks are twenty-five seconds or less, probably the appropriate length of attention span for toothless background music. –Matt Seward (More Power Tapes, morepowertapes.bandcamp.com)


HANGMEN, THE:
What a Girl Can’t Do: 7”
A reissue of a garage rarity originally released on Monument Records in 1965. The title track is a rockin’ little ditty about a love gone wrong, while the flip, a track called “The Girl Who Faded Away,” is a moodier bit about a dream love never realized. Those who believe that nothing of any value has come out since 1966 or so will find much to drool over here. –Jimmy Alvarado (Windian, windianrecords.com)


HARMONICA LEWINSKI:
Naked Brunch: 7” EP
“I’m seein’ shootin’ stars inside of titty bars” is a damn great line, and that’s the kind of mondo trasho eloquence that Harmonica Lewinski excretes in their Naked Brunch 7”. Circusy keys traipse on fuzzy bass and surf on beachy Dick Dale guitar, while Tarzan pounds away at the skins. It’s like the garage punk aesthetic of The Cramps got lost in the jungle with the salacious creep-factor of Fat White Family. Someone please give John Waters a call: these freaks should score all of his future films. Two thumbs way up. Author’s note: best listened to while cloaked in leopard print and as stoned as Cheech. –Simone Carter (Reel Time, reeltimerecordss@gmail.com, reeltimerecordss.bigcartel.com)


HARPOON FOREVER:
American Flag: 7” EP
Harpoon Forever’s cover art for this EP is deceiving in 2015, but it doesn’t fall from the indie rock tree of the 1990s. Four tracks of Silkworm-esque tunes, but without some of Silkworm’s humor. It’s not hard to get lost in the music on this one. –Steve Adamyk (Sweater & Pearls, harpoonforever.bandcamp.com)


HEAT DUST:
Self-titled: LP
This right here is one of those albums that is so great, it’s life-affirming. You could call this post-punk, but that would be selling it short. Think of the Chameleons meeting Beautiful Skin (especially the vocals), and you get something like Heat Dust. The guitar figures heavily in the sound, slashing and careening around, sometimes shimmering, as in the song “Anybody.” Meanwhile, the bass and drums move everything forward with a certain swiftness while bringing that slightly brooding edge. The bass steps forward in “Seeking a Praxis” with just the right amount of distortion to announce its presence and singe your ears. The song structures are dynamic and layered with different textures coming up against one another—tempos change and varying moods come into play. In “Always,” where the song starts off with shimmery guitar, the tempo builds to a boil and the song suddenly shifts and breaks through the dark clouds to sound almost pop—then ends close to where it started. “Do You Think About It?” is the sole instrumental on this album and is still very expressive despite its lack of words. Tempos shift, the guitar rings and clangs, and there’s an air of despair over the whole thing. I strongly urge you to get this; easily one of the best albums of the year. –Matt Average (The Flenser, theflenser.com)


HEX:
Poison in the System/The Demos: CD
A collection of four demos from a Sunderland anarcho punk band founded in 1984 and containing future members of HDQ and Leatherface, to name a few. It’s another one of those instances when one gets to hear the growth of a band brimming with ideas—things start off with an odd mix of Conflict and post-punk and blossom into driving post-punk with some great guitar work by the time things wind down to the last three tunes. Good stuff. –Jimmy Alvarado (Boss Tuneage, bosstuneage.com)


HIEROPHANTS:
Parallax Error: EP
From the same camp that brought you Eddie Current Suppression Ring, Total Control, Ooga Boogas, and Ausmuteants comes this wonderful slab of wax. The aforementioned bands give a nod in the direction these Aussies take, veering away from the traditional paths of “punk.” Fiercely individual, the album swings and grooves but also has a palpable nervous tension. Elements of The Fall, Squeeze, and any number of one-single wonders from the bleak English DIY scene of the late ‘70s. I love how the bands from down under have ignored the rules and just make arresting music. Fantastic.  –Tim Brooks (Aaargh! / Goner, goner-records.com)


HIGHER STATE, THE:
"(Consider It) A Debt Repaid” b/w “In a World That Just Don’t Care": 7”
If you’re into Teenage Shutdown-style jangle rock, The Higher State are carrying that torch well. This recent single contains two mid-tempo pseudo-’60s rockers. The A-side moves. The B-side is an up-all-night comedown with a simple keyboard solo in the middle. Perfect for looking off of a bridge or a montage in a non-linear movie. Solid single. –Aaron Zonka (13 O’Clock)


HI-LITES, THE:
Self-titled: LP
On the surface, this looks like the typical lo-fi garage rock record. It’s got a retro design with images of vampires and ghouls all over the cover. As soon as the needle hits vinyl, however, it becomes clear that there is nothing typical about this record. There’s no goofy, ghoulish rock’n’roll. The true theme here is the sea. But it goes deeper than that. In songs with titles like “Lighthouse” and “The Fall and the Shipwreck,” boats and the sea really only serve as metaphors for finding clarity, for searching for meaning and truth amidst life’s complexities. It’s thoughtful stuff, and so is the music itself. Not content to just stomp and be fuzzy, the band creates a dense tapestry that really pulls you in and makes you feel the waves and smell the salt of the sea. It’s very powerful. –MP Johnson (Purepainsugar)


HOLDER’S SCAR:
Sin without Doubt: 7” EP
Hardcore malcontents pop in, wreck the place, and leave it burning to the ground before you even realize they were even in the neighborhood. Six tracks of driving thrash, and not a stinker in the bunch –Jimmy Alvarado (To Live A Lie)


HOLIDAY:
Self-titled: 7”
Straight-forward, modern punk that’s earnest and melodic, like the bastard sons of Lawrence Arms and Gordon Gano’s Army. One of the vocalists has a softer voicing than the other, but between the two of them you get a good mix. It’s not flashy and it doesn’t rely on current trends; it’s just well-written, sincerely executed music for people who want something they can hold on to and know it came from somewhere honest and real. –Daryl Gussin (Brassneck / Antikörper Export / Lost Cat / Pumpkin / JSNTGM)


HOLLOW SUNSHINE:
Bring Gold: LP
Hollow Sunshine does not like to be called shoegaze. So, let’s call this dream pop influenced by Unwound and Hum. All instruments are performed by Reuben Sawyer (who also mixed the record) with Morgan Enos performing lead vocal duties. I’m impressed by the minimal cooks in the kitchen, but Bring Gold needs some more seasoning and ingredients. All of the components seem to be here for a solid record. Rich atmosphere? Check. Obtuse lyrics and wet, layered vocals? Check. Dense guitars that shimmer and wallop? Check. Missing are moments of clarity and varying arrangements and tones. It’s a shame that you can skip around the record and think you have landed on the same song again and again. –Sean Arenas (Iron Pier, ironpier.net)


HORACE PINKER:
Recover: 7”
Three-song single on clear vinyl. It’s been awhile since we have heard from this band and even longer since results were put to wax. You can expect to hear tight songs with catchy melodies, solid playing, and all that jazz. If you haven’t heard this band before, think Down By Law or Face To Face with a Midwest sensibility. Here’s hoping this is just a teaser for another full length and more touring! –Sean Koepenick (Dead Broke, deadbrokerec@gmail.com)


HOUND:
Out of Space: LP
With a name like Hound, I expected something heavy and in my face, and that’s what I got. The vocals have a low, distorted, drunken charm to them. The tunes are really straight-forward, driving, hard rock jams—mostly riff-driven and shy of a lot of flashy leads. There are heavy rock’n’roll and early metal influences here, but more punk via the Ramones. –Ryan Nichols (SRA, SRArecords@gmail.com)


HUE BLANC’S JOYLESS ONES:
Stoning Josephine: LP
I feel like if Ian Curtis was still alive and well, he’d be in a band that sounds like this. But more so if Ian Curtis found happiness, or at least discovered a way to curb his depression. It leans heavy on the Joy Division influence, on more of an upbeat, rock’n’roll tip. Right about now I’ve probably lost you. Just hear me out—things can be contradicting and coalescent at the same time. Vocally, I can hear Ian right there with Hue Blanc. Musically, it’s like an age progression from a sketch artist. Much like when the man is looking for someone years after an initial testimony and they have to guestimate what someone will look like later on in life, this is what I think Curtis lead post-punk would sound like today. Only swap the keys in for horns and less shoegazey than you might imagine. Though, for whatever reason, the band’s name is printed nowhere on this record and I was lead to believe they were called Stoning Josephine. The only indicators are “Produced by Hue Blanc” and “Everything else by the Joyless Ones.” –Kayla Greet (Certified PR, certifiedprrecords.com)


HUM HUMS, THE:
Back to Front: CD
At some point the Ramones and the Beach Boys got down and produced some kind of punk rock Japanese lovechild and I am hopelessly head over heels for The Hum Hums. If you don’t stop this one on the first spin, you probably won’t ever want to. –Maddy (Waterslide, watersliderecords.bandcamp.com)


HURRICANE:
In Vein: CD
Malaysian metalcore that really, really, really wants to be 1990s-era Converge. This stuff was really popular in the early 2000s. Is this the beginning of a revival of that sound? I sure hope not. –Kurt Morris (Dogma Artistic Guerrilla, dogmaartisticguerrilla.blogspot.com)


IAN QUIET:
Gas Station of Love: CD
Goofy, annoying disc that has no business going anywhere but into the hands of the friends of the person that spent money making it—a disc full of rap with “funny” vocals, ambient noise, and nothing that hasn’t been done a million times before. –Mike Frame (Self-released)


IMMOLATO TOMATOES:
IStumbling Block, Complete Recordings 86-88: CD
Forgotten English band Immolato Tomatoes are mid-’80s-as-hell, drawing influence from Revolution Summer D.C. bands and 7 Seconds, with a few late-Black Flag guitar skronks for good measure. The CD contains liner notes from the band and twenty-two tracks, which span three shoddily recorded and poorly preserved demos. Quite a few songs are repeated, giving the feeling of a local band spinning its wheels, but this project is still a worthwhile labor of love. –CT Terry (Boss Tuneage)


INSTIGATORS:
Phoenix: CD
More crucial history from the great Boss Tuneage records, this time the second Instigators album along with a live set. The band’s first LP Nobody Listens Anymore is still my favorite, but their second still hits the spot. The band at this point was an almost a completely different lineup and entity to the one that made the first LP. Gone were their nods to the anarcho world of bands like the Subhumans, taking on to a much more obvious USHC direction. This album shows the influence of the massive amount of touring this band did throughout Europe and the States (a thing very few bands of the era were doing to the extent they did), complete with bandanas and scissor kicks. Musically on this release the band have an almost mid-period Dag Nasty sound with Andy Turner’s unmistakable vocals. As with discs from my youth, it’s difficult to divorce a time and a place from the music. I absolutely love this and am happy it’s easily available for everyone else to enjoy. –Tim Brooks (Boss Tuneage, bosstuneage.com)


ISKRA:
Ruins: LP
There are a lot of reasons to be angry. I spend most days frustrated by the fucked-up shit that goes on at home and abroad. Well, here are ten more reasons to decry the state of the world. Iskra burst out of the gate with “Lawless,” screaming anarchist dictums: “Individuality is forfeit, culture destroyed / Militaristic carrion, totalitarian interests.” Wrap your head around that. The songs are on the longer side, but they aren’t simply blast beats and guttural growls. The metallic, face-melting riffs unravel and punctuate the caustic lyrics. It’s symphonic anarcho metal, especially on “Predator Drone MQ-1,” an objection to drone warfare. Iskra is relentless. They sometimes verge on Insect Warfare-level grind. They’re thought provoking. Iskra forces you to ask, “What is our Meaning? / What is our purpose?” You might not like the answer, but some questions you have to ask. –Sean Arenas (Profane Existence, profaneexistence.com)


JACQUES LE COQUE:
Tip of My Tongue: 7” EP
JACQUES LE COQUE: Tip of My Tongue: 7” EP Pop punk hit perfection with Jacques Le Coque. Layered, spider web-thin vocals stretch over too-catchy riffs and an infectious beat that moves your bones to dance. Tip of My Tongue draws on the melody-rich prowess of pioneering punk forefathers Hüsker Dü and adds a granulated grittiness that elevates it to being one of the sharpest releases of the year. These dudes have sculpted a damn fine EP, and it only gets better after each listen. –Simone Carter (Windian, info@windianrecords.com, windianrecords.com)


JAILL:
Brain Cream: CD
For some reason, I’ve always assumed Jaill were from NYC, or somewhere on the West Coast. Clearly I was way off, but I imagine these cats are quite the hometown heroes in Milwaukee. There’s never been a shortage of hot acts from Wisconsin, sure, but Cream City seems like an unlikely place of origin for these dream pop masterminds (albeit the title of the long player in question is “Brain Cream”). “Getaway” is clearly a fan favorite, but the whole record stands out quite well the whole way through. (“Picking My Bones” is likely tops for me.) Jaill’s lateral jump from Sub Pop to Burger is a solid one, as Brain Cream doesn’t miss a beat. –Steve Adamyk (Burger, burgerrecords.com)


JOEY CAPE:
Stitch Puppy: CD
In all likelihood, the Venn diagram of people who read Razorcake and people who are familiar with Joey Cape’s body of work just looks like a single circle, so you’ve probably already made up your mind about Stitch Puppy. For established fans of Cape’s previous solo efforts, his newest release pushes the formula forward, showcasing songs that are more ambitious and mature—and arguably darker—without sacrificing the gentle melodies and quiet introspection that have become his trademark. For those who’ve yet to be seduced by his siren song, the previously unseen instrumental diversity present on the third full-length may offer the nudge you’ve been waiting for. Stitch Puppy features piano provided by Brian Wahlstrom and cello by Serina Chang, as well as guest vocals from Flatliners frontman Chris Cresswell, who previously recorded a release with Cape for his session label, One Week Records, and Useless ID’s Yotam Ben Horin, who is an acclaimed solo artist in his own right. Cape’s acoustic releases have always felt deeply introverted, and the presence of more collaborators helps Stitch Puppy explore its themes of melancholy and atmospheres without ever spiraling into hopelessness. –Kelley O’Death (Fat Wreck Chords, fatwreck.com)


KATIE DEY:
Asdfasdf: CS
This collection of acoustic/electronic bedroom folk pop is strange and calming and seems to be from the sunlit pastel future we may never actually see. Kate Bush and pop punk combined might be a fair description? The autotune-ish vocals may set some people off, but it’s one of those things that seems too bizarre until five years down the road and you hear it in every pop song, like it’s always been there. Optimal for long subway rides and making dinner and hanging around in the sick, sad world that is the only planet we have, at least for the time being. –Matt Werts (Orchid Tapes, orchidtapes.com)


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