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No Idea Records

Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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HYGIENE:
Public Sector: LP
There is no doubt that Hygiene are in full control of their package. Music, artwork, references, matrix message, are all tightly considered. The music is cold, grey-skied, blunt, restrained, artful. Repetitive. Mechanical. Grating and sparse with melodic, wiry guitar work. Public Sector sounds like dark, feet-in-thick-boots dancing music for Orwellian robots. It is very English, busted pipes, and rust-stained concrete. Lyrics largely deal with middle-management bureaucracy in a large organization. Think of fluorescent lights flickering—casting everything in a pale, bloodless light. For years at a time. For those who enjoy the dangerous black ice traversed by the Estranged and Total Control, Hygiene’ll raise your banner and keep you in formation. Talented. –Todd Taylor ((La Vida Es Un Mus, Paco@lavideesunmus.com)


HUNX AND HIS PUNX:
Too Young to Be in Lov: LP
Ten catchy tunes, some bubblegum but mostly ‘60s girl group-influenced pop. I’d say it’s even better than their previous LP (a comp of out of print, internet-expensive singles). Some of the shtick is dropped and songwriting seems to be the main focus. Lots of help from Shannon Shaw of Shannon And The Clams (check out her turn in “The Curse of Being Young”—goddamn!) Shaw’s vocals are much stronger than Hunx’s bratty whine and, on some songs, the backing vocals even overpower Hunx. If I have a complaint, I’d say that was something that should have been fixed during mixing. –Sal Lucci (Hardly Art)


HJERTESTOP:
Musik for Dekadente Ører: 7"
If I didn’t know better, I’d swear this was some long-lost ‘80s punk gem from Denmark. While it’s a new release from a band with an inception that dates no farther back than 2004, it definitely has an ‘80s feel to it. You get two thrashers and two slower tunes in all here, all of them with a deceptive pop undertow that gives them a little something more to remember them by. Good stuff. –Jimmy Alvarado (Fashionable Idiots)


HIGH TENSION WIRES:
Welcome New Machine: LP
One of the tenets of post-modernism is the lack of a center. What was on the outside one minute can be in the middle the next. It’s flux, unpredictable movement, interchangeable parts, marbles rolling around in a box. Inside of atoms, we can either know where the electron is or where it’s going. Not both at the same time. Same goes for what comes out of Denton, Texas and DIY punk rock. Put Mike Wiebe (Riverboat Gamblers, Chop Sakis) and Mark Ryan (the Marked Men proton in this example, since he’s doing the recording, guitar, and some songwriting) in the same room. Wha-bam! Filtrate with both the tried and true formulae of Chris Pulliam (Reds [pre-Marked Men]). Glug-glug, flash! Then agitate, accelerate, and excite with Gregory Rutherford (Bad Sports) and Daniel Fried (Wax Museums). Ba-boom! The result is something that Einstein, Picasso, Tim Kerr, and the Oblivians would all agree on. Welcome New Machine is perfect rock’n’roll for outcasts not looking for acceptance, fueled by an unquenchable thirst to keep making more music if others catch on or not. Shityeah. –Todd Taylor (Dirtnap)


HAPPY THOUGHTS, THE:
Self-titled: CD
I reckon the foundation these kids are working from would be power pop, but the production has a raw, garagey feel to it, and the wisps of Teenage Fanclub and Jesus And Mary Chain that flitter around the edges would lead one to believe there’s more happening than is apparent at first blush. The hooks are aplenty, and the whole package is definitely worth a listen. –Jimmy Alvarado (Hozac, hozacrecords.com)


GRIM FANDAGO:
Birthmark Blues: CD
A four-piece from Australia comes at you from different angles and throws a few curveballs here. I’m hearing Jawbox-like guitar with some Off With Their Heads-type vocals. I like some of the song titles like “Dirt Doesn’t Need Luck” and “Horseland.” These guys are earnest and you can tell they are serious about this endeavor. I endorse this one and look for more sonic desserts from this band soon. –Sean Koepenick (Poison City)


GOVERNMENT FLU:
Are You Sorry Now?: CD
Kickass Polish hardcore going whop upside yer head and doing so without resorting to silly-speed trickery or blustery metal blowhard bullshit. They come in, beat you senseless, and head out the back door, quick ‘n’ impolite-like. Fuckin’ love that. –Jimmy Alvarado (Nikt Nic Nie Wie)


GET RAD:
Choose Your Own Adventure: 7" EP
Am I easily swayed by clever packaging? You bet your fuckin’ life I am! As the title implies, the accompanying booklet features the exploits of Cru Jones, whose life is pretty crazy since he won Hellpath, and by making key decisions for him, you lead him towards either ruin or true love. The music? Rock-solid hardcore with the lyrics printed on the back page of the booklet for those not easily distracted, but shit, I’ve got more important things on my mind, namely trying to figure out why every decision I make seems to result in Cru’s death. Creative, lots of fun, and, on the whole, a great listen. –Jimmy Alvarado (Halo Of Flies)


GATEWAY DISTRICT:
Perfect’s Gonna Fail: LP
Throughout this review, just think “Really great punk pop, but so much more.” Coming from America’s Scandinavia, Gateway District are Midwestern poetic. Of being born into failing industrial towns, down to specific streets as familiar as veins on forearms. Compelling, bubbling harmonies and backing vocals. Dark skies. Long winters. A deep appreciation for spring and summer. Constant renewal. What gives Gateway District repeated listens is their yearning, their ontology. They’re concerned and dealing with the nature of being; not just beers, breakups, boohoos, and yahoos! But some deep thinking and placement: “You think you’ve got it all figured out/ that’s when the bottom drops out / looking for perfect’s gonna fail you.” Perfect’s Gonna Fail is an album that sounds like a shared relationship between four musicians. In fact, its strength is in the lattice of overlapping types of relationships the band examines: From memories of high school to the drifting-away of friends by the passage of time or time stolen away by addictions. Records like these make me proud to self-identify as a DIY punk. So smart, rockin’, and meaningful. –Todd Taylor (It’s Alive)


FUTURE VIRGINS:
Western Problem: LP
I spent a few years in college as a the music director for the local college rock station, and after countless hours of listening to new music in order to make the decision about whether to add new discs to our rotation, I got incredibly good at the “recommended if you like” section of our description page. Problem was, even though I could suggest to people, “you’ll like this if you like that,” it became more and more difficult to differentiate between “good” and “bad” music. For a period of time, I thought I’d lost my passion for music; it all just sounded derivative. I feel like a band like the Future Virgins would have snapped me out of that line of thinking pretty quickly had they existed back then. These guys knocked me on my ass with their first seven inch and nothing’s changed with each subsequent release. This is probably the best DIY pop punk band in existence, and I don’t apply such labels lightly. Perfect, passionate, and energetic songs that make me want to jump around my bedroom all night long with a huge smile on my face. I didn’t expect this to top their previous efforts, but I think it just might have! I dare someone to try to knock this out of its current “best record of 2011” position. –Chris Mason (Plan-It-X South/Starcleaner, plan-it-x.com, starcleaner.com)


FUCKED UP:
David's Town: LP

Fucked Up has become known for their unique vinyl-only releases, and David’s Town, is no exception. This is a concept record—with artwork making it look like a fake compilation—and the band doing garage rock in the personae of eleven bands. The fictional bands on this record are all from the fictional town Byrdesdale Spa, U.K.—setting for the narrative of their forthcoming LP David Comes to Life—with the title clearly a nod to the forthcoming LP. Keeping up the premise of a fake compilation, the eleven songs on this record all sound very different, recalling a slew of bands spanning the entire garage rock subgenre. Each song features a different vocalist or performer, with guest performances by Danko Jones, Dan Romano, The Cloud Nothings, and others. The songs are all catchy, with some great hooks and interesting riffs, each offering a distinct and unique sound, as though written by different bands—which is obviously the point. Those who think Fucked Up is just another hardcore band won’t really get this record, but that’s okay, it’s not for them. This record will appeal most to diehard Fucked Up fans, particularly those into their experimental side, and fans of garage rock. The curious should give this a try as well. They may be pleasantly surprised.

–Paul J. Comeau (Matado)


FROZEN TEENS / STREET LEGAL:
Split: 7"
Frozen Teens: Somewhere between Onion Flavored Rings and Future Virgins on the pop punk spectrum. Definitely the biggest surprise I’ve had in a long time. Is it any surprise a band this good comes from Minneapolis? There must be something in the water up there. Street Legal: Pretty awesome hardcore. Reminds me slightly of This Is My Fist! mixed with Brutal Knights. All in all, very recommended. –Bryan Static (Shut Up)


FOLDED SHIRT:
Self-titled: 12”
After a sterling EP, these Cleveland mongoloids return with twelve black inches of musical fuckery. Never straight forward, or typical. Instead, they go to outer realms, make some noise, use children’s instruments for color, assault the senses with hyper tempos, discordant breaks, odes to ice machines, and more. Not for the meek. –Matt Average (Fashionable Idiots, fashionableidiots.com)


FLESHTONES:
Brooklyn Sound Solution: CD
Goddamn, this band just keeps going, and I mean that in a good way. They’ve been around since 1976 and have been busy every year since. Twelve songs in just under thirty minutes. Featuring Lenny Kaye, y’know, the Nuggets guy, and recorded by Ivan Julian (Richard Hell And The Voidoids). Most of the songs are instrumentals (seven out of twelve). presumably to showcase Kaye’s guitar. Highlight for your next party mix should be “I Can’t Hide It.” Kids today need to know The Fleshtones! –Sal Lucci (Yep Roc)


FIGGS, THE:
Sucking in Stereo: LP
Got a Figgs forty-five a while back that was pretty good, so it was a nice surprise to find this in my in-box. This is apparently a remastered reissue of an album they released a decade ago, available here on vinyl for the first time. It’s clear very early on here that these guys know their way around a hook, and they wield them well, slathering tune after tune with catchy bits culled from power pop influences and delivering them with a bit of punk conviction. Not a stinker in the bunch and a definite keeper to add to your party platter rotation. –Jimmy Alvarado (Peterwalkee, peterwalkeerecords.com)


FAMILY MAN:
Self-titled: CD
Two albums for the price of one here, one from 2008 and the other from 2010. Both feature some top-tier, mostly mid-tempo hardcore, with a whiff of metal found in their love of the E chord, and well above average lyric writing. Dunno where they hail from—my guess would be somewhere in Germany, but I wouldn’t lay any money down—but they more than handily deliver the fuggin’ goods. Nice, sly homage to Black Sabbath’s Heaven and Hell album on the back cover, too. –Jimmy Alvarado (Nikt Nic Nie Wie)


EXTREME NOISE TERROR:
Phonophobia: CD
If you have yet to hear ENT, then this is the perfect place to start. I tend to think a lot of crustcore has a short shelf life. However, this album, Phonophobia, is like a box of Twinkies. Ageless. Could survive a nuclear holocaust and still be fresh as the day it hit the racks. Originally released in 1991 and remastered recently, it still packs a powerful wallop. Just listen to “Third World Genocide.” Starts off with heavy percussion that reminds me of Siouxsie And The Banshees, only faster and hell-bent. Then, kerblam! the guitars kick in and it’s chaos supreme. This reissue also includes two unreleased tracks (“Commercial Suicide” and “Is This the Way?”) from the same session, and a live recording from 1986. –Matt Average (Terrotten, terrotten.com)


ELWAY:
Delusions: CD
So here’s the wildcard in the latest batch of records I got this month. This band comes out of the speakers and tugs at the old heartstrings while pummeling your eardrums. Crisp guitars, slippery bass, and in-your-face drums. Plus actual songwriting skills! Real vocals chock full of melody! It’s so good I can’t stop using exclamation points! You get the idea. This is worth checking out. Oh yeah, and if that loser ex-quarterback doesn’t like the band name than go toilet paper his front lawn. That will learn him –Sean Koepenick (Red Scare)


ELECTROCUTIONS, THE:
Forgotten City: 7”
There’s an early punk influence in there, but it veers less in the default directions of the Ramones and the New York Dolls, and more towards the slightly off-kilter vicinity of the taut English cluster of bands that ended up being the vanguard of post punk. The band’s precision is impeccable, with barre chords sharing space with slashing guitar work, and an almost military backbeat. Some solid work is in abundance here. –Jimmy Alvarado (Windian)


DWARVES:
Are Born Again: CD
After the Dwarves were sentenced to die on their last outing, 2004’s The Dwarves Must Die, we all knew that it would only be a matter of time before they were reanimated. Well the wait was a little longer than usual, but the almighty Dwarves are back and born again. The amazing thing about the Dwarves is their amazing ability to cross styles and genres with ease. That said, it seems that perhaps they were spreading themselves too thin on the last couple of releases. A little too much experimentation, and not enough Blood, Guts, and Pussy perhaps? Well, I’m happy to report that the Dwarves have in fact been born again into the world of depraved punk rock insanity. There isn’t any foray into hip-hop on this one, just a great balance of melodic mastery and pornographic alchemy delivered at break neck speed. Twenty-one songs that traverse all aspects of the Dwarves world. Sex, drugs, violence... Would you expect anything else? The lyrical content is heinous, for sure, but the most evil trick that Blag and company pull is their ability to make them so catchy that they can’t help but stick in your head. In the end, if you like the Dwarves, you’ll like this. If you don’t, you’ll still hate them. –Ty Stranglehold (Greedy, thedwarves.com)


DOGHOUSE LORDS:
Diggin’ at the Doghouse: CD
The good: A few members of some better known groups (namely the Blasters and the Cramps) get together to mine some choice rootsy sounds that sound more informed by the dark, swamp-soaked bluesy glory of bands like early Gun Club and Poison 13 than their own back catalogues. The bad: The sequencing of the tracks is such that the lion’s share of the moodier pieces are within the first six tracks and the Texas-steeped floor scorchers are within the last six, making for a release that (dunno if it’s intentional or not) is more like two different releases than a cohesive whole. The relief: Hitting “random” on the CD player fixes up that last issue quite nicely. –Jimmy Alvarado (Ratchet Blade)


DIE DIE DIE:
Forms: CD
These guys are from New Zealand and are really well known for their energetic live shows more so than their recorded output. An old band of mine was on a sparsely attended show with them a few years back in Austin where they played their brand of noisy post punk to a crowd of about ten people. Despite this fact, they still played with the intensity of a band playing a packed show. Listening to this record now, I would never have guessed that it was the same band. Forms dives much deeper into an indie rock realm from what I remember, reminding me a lot of the newer records by New York indie darlings Les Savy Fav, if those records were showered in reverb and given a less prominent vocalist. The guitars are not as noisy as they used to be, instead infusing a greater sense of melody throughout. I suppose it’s a pleasant record to listen to, but it’s just not very exciting. –Mark Twistworthy (Flying Nun, flyingnin.co.nz)


DEZERTER:
Prawo Do Bycia Idiota: CD+DVD
Poland’s Dezerter plays straightforward, no-frills, no-nonsense punk rock, and I found their tunes to be highly satisfying. While I’m trying hard to make fewer “sounds like” comparisons these days, these guys remind me a lot of Straightjacket. Dezerter’s riffs have a bit of a staccato feel to them, and the harmonies between the guitars and vocals are really good—all of the songs are sung in Polish, but it didn’t matter that I couldn’t understand the words because the vocals blended well with the music. For the record, English translations are provided for all twelve songs, and the lyrical content is fairly standard twenty-first century punk rock fare, but there are some interesting intellectual twists. I don’t have a review of the DVD at this time because I was gonna watch it sometime in the next twelve hours, but I’ve gotta drive nine hundred miles to a funeral instead. Watch for it next time, if you’re interested. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Mystic [not the Mystic of Super 7” fame])


DESPISE YOU / AGORAPHOBIC NOSEBLEED:
And On and On: Split: LP
The release of this record is as monumental to me as the first time I (or anyone) saw Despise You perform live at Murderfest ‘07. That might not sound like a big deal but in case you didn’t know, prior to that show, DY existed only on recordings between the years of ‘94 and ‘97. Fake band member names, interviews, and show fliers added to the confusion amongst many of their fans (myself included) and peers in the scene. Their records eventually became obscure collectors items and a partial discography, Westside Horizons, became a cult classic as the band’s fate appeared to have been sealed when a split with Man Is The Bastard never materialized. Sure, it’s a bummer to think of what might have been, but you’ll be glad to know that they picked up right where they left off—and with a suitable partner in Agoraphobic Nosebleed. If you loved DY’s classics, then you should have no problem enjoying these eighteen brand new tracks of the same brand of thrashy hardcore that they built a reputation on. Still fucking bleak, brutal, and fast. There’s also a cover of Fear’s “I Don’t Care About You” just to show you where they’re coming from. Agoraphobic Nosebleed have also created quite a name for themselves in the extreme music world, though it’s debatable whether it’s a name to be praised or shunned. Still no drummer in place of the drum machine, but the songwriting is still excellent as Scott Hull doesn’t seem to run of out of riffs to manipulate. ANB doesn’t seem to rely on speed (the musical kind, that is) as much as they did in their earlier days, but don’t kid yourself, shit’s still fierce. It’s fairly typical of Jay Randall to conjure up lyrical diarrhea, but this time around the lyrics are not as offensive. Still, that doesn’t mean that they haven’t or won’t be again. But, hey, Randall couldn’t have been more right on with these lines: “Get pissed—throw the disc in the trash? But the Despise You side is where it’s at.” Amen to that. –Juan Espinosa (Relapse, relapse.com)


DEEP SLEEP:
Turn Me Off: 12” EP
Hey, who put All into my hardcore? Deep Sleep. It’s noodly, but the noodles are kept in the bowl of the song (and aren’t at the top of the mix). Deep Sleep’s abrasive, like how sandpaper takes the burrs off, but the result’s a smooth finish that shows off the natural wood grain. Burly, with a purpose, without being unwieldy. Heavy without being “tough.” Deep Sleep are movers who clear out an entire truck in record time without chipping a single dish or dinging a chair leg. There’s something gratifying about listening to a band that’s getting the job done so efficiently and crisply. –Todd Taylor (Grave Mistake)


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