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No Idea Records

Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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Better Places: CD
This is earnest acoustic punk in the same vein as all the bands you’re thinking of when you read the words “acoustic punk.” This dude is from Ontario, like me, so I immediately have a soft spot for him and his sweet, yelly pop songs. I like the sing-along choruses a lot and I think this is cool because it keeps it simple. No random weird instruments or crazy production techniques. Just cool songs and a good voice to sing them. That said, I think it would be awesome if he found himself a drummer to fill out the sound now and again. I think this kid would make a really great lead singer and I’d like to see what he could do with a bit more back up. –Jennifer Whiteford (Self-released)

Naked: LP
This appears to be a collection of acoustic versions of previously recorded songs. I know nothing of the band or the original versions, but the songs as they are here are mostly inoffensive and seem to work well enough as acoustic numbers. The songs are fleshed out with organ, harmonica, and percussion. The vocals are a little weak and sometimes sounds a little too much like the slurring, tropical affectations of Tim Armstrong. I can’t really imagine myself listening to this again after this, but this is otherwise fine for what it is. –Jeff Proctor (May Cause Dizziness, mcdrecords.bigcartel.com)

Clown Sounds: LP
Call me funny, but I have little desire to see most of humanity naked. I also have no desire to hear most bands stripped down to one band member. Because when there’s no loud volume to be camouflaged by, no other band members to hide in plain sight with, no pushing electricity to crackle and deafen, most punk songwriters aren’t that good by themselves. Just sayin’. It’s like putting a spotlight to a zit and the record’s a half hour of squeezing that zit. But in that kitty cat farm that is Todd Congelliere’s creative brain, those furry motherfuckers are playful, busy, complicated, adventurous, fearless, and will always let you know when they’re hungry. So, I’m not going to say genius—because what’s a genius but someone to crucify, vilify, or ignore in the future—but one of the main creative forces in FYP, Toys That Kill, Underground Railroad To Candyland, and Stoned At Heart has a unique musical vision, one that I abide by. When it’s mostly him, a guitar, and a cast of rotating friends, the result is yearning and often sad, but always worth listening to. And it sounds fully clothed, so it doesn’t feel like you’re staring at his wiggling wang the whole length of the whole record. Because that’d make most of us uncomfortable. –Todd Taylor (Burger / Small Pool)

Demo 2010: CD-R
There’s definitely potential here. The songs seem a little rough, but it’s a demo. They’re certainly played with conviction and they use surfy guitar parts as texture and not just as a crappy Agent Orange or Ventures homage. I could see good things happening with these guys in the future. –Ryan Horky (Self-released, myspace.com/terriblefeelings)

Man inside My Brain/Schizophrenic Ghost: CDEP-R
“But, Bryan, you listen to punk rock! It doesn’t have to be recorded great!” You’re right, it doesn’t, but there is a certain level of lo-fi that is just annoying. Traits include when the reverb rings out longer than the notes actually existed for, and playing it anywhere above the halfway volume mark on my computer gives me a headache. The songs aren’t bad though. Two songs each: one original and a cover of the original the other band had. Essentially, yes, you are listening to two songs. Both bands employ a variety of strange effects on their vocals, which could be considered innovative or wacky for the sake of wacky. Take your pick. –Bryan Static (Fleshwave)

Jesse and Jack: EP
Jesse and Jack is an absolute burner. You can buy this EP for $4.99 from Douchemaster Records. And while I seldom encourage people to straight-up buy records I get for review (we’re all just scum bags—no hierarchy here), this is one of those times where you need to just trust me and pick this gem up. These four tunes are pure gold. “Away” is a beautiful song—a street-level folk-rock number in the vein of “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” (the Chocolate Watchband version). “Life Is Good When Cinematic” has great girl-group harmonies and a driving, Tommy James and the Shondells-like bass line. All of these tunes are so simple—they share a lot in common with The Seeds and early Love in their teenage lyrical subject matter and musical accessibility. But there’s real brilliance to them. “To Jack and Jesse or Jesse and Jack” has an ace Merseybeat root-fifth bass line that makes the song, not to mention a great, reserved little guitar lead. You have to have a vast knowledge of music and lyrical prowess to come up with a 45 of this caliber. Although the music is so simple to perform, to replicate it is really difficult. This is the hallmark of all great music. I mean, even down to Adams’ lyrical phrasing on “Summer Days” and its nursery-rhyme feel. He’s truly entering Syd Barrett, Ray Davies, and Dan Treacy territory with the tune. What do you say when someone drops a 45 of this caliber on your lap? I can easily write a sprawling, thousand-word article on how good this EP is. I’m not fucking around, either. Pound for pound, this is the greatest 45 I’ve ever received for review. Right up there with Greg Cartwright at his best. Absolutely stunning. If you don’t like this 45, write the magazine and they’ll get you in contact with me. I’ll purchase it from you, collect a few, and sell them back to people who get it. I can lay this offer out because I know no one will take me up on it. I haven’t lost hope for humanity. –Ryan Leach (Douchemaster, douchemasterrecords.blogspot.com)

A Series of Screws: CD
What a pleasant surprise this was. I had heard of this band ages ago when I picked up a Copper Press sampler CD. We’re talking two or three computers ago. I’d only ever heard the one song from them. When I got this I was happy to see they were still around and curious to hear more since I had enjoyed the one song I knew of theirs. Listening to A Series of Screws, I didn’t discover the world’s best kept secret but I did discover a pretty good one. Coming out of the Pacific Northwest, System and Station (S&S) has been around for over a decade and play indie rock but with good angular moments influenced by some post-punk sound. I was at various times reminded of Shiner and Cursive. Frontman Ryan Heise has the ability to create some catchy tunes while maintaining some integrity in the music. And his vocals reminded me of Cris Cordero’s (whose album was one of my favorite rock albums I’ve reviewed here at Razorcake) with the ability to sing clean if needed but retaining gruff edges when called upon. Some of the songs have great grooves but keep their strength. S&S is noisy without being obnoxious and tight without being pretentious. It’s a solid album that I hope gets them some of the attention they deserve after certainly having put in their time. –Kurt Morris (Latest Flame)

Monster 11: CD
I loved Symbol Six back in high school. Saw them once at Godzilla’s opening for 45 Grave right after the EP came out on Posh Boy. Wish they had recorded more back then. They were so young but had a knack for writing good songs with musicianship that was beyond their years. They were melodic with metal overtones, but with a SoCal punk edge. Saw this in my review pile and I totally cringed. I went to a gig recently where the reformed band was headlining. I left right before they played. I did not want to taint my memory of a favorite band from my childhood. Now my memory is tainted. Gone is the punk energy with the youthful vocals. What I hear is another generic bar rock band that I have heard millions of times. More power to them for wanting to play music again. Wish they would have changed the name. I hear no semblance of their former selves –Donofthedead (Symbol Six, symbolsix.com)

Time Lord: 7"
Dug their (S)pain EP from a while back, and this follows along similar lines, maybe a little more straightforward than its predecessor, but it’s clear they still do love them geetar leads. Only gripe is that, like (S)pain, the mastering makes this sound a bit muddy. –Jimmy Alvarado (Pizza Pants)

Self-titled: Cassette
Despite the downright gorgeous silkscreened packaging, the recording quality on the tape (and this is coming from a fan of the format) was a smidge too muddy for my tastes. Thankfully, it also comes with a download code for what looks to be the band’s entire discography to this point. And, holy shit, what a surprise. Muscular pop songs that nod respectfully to both Hüsker Dü and Naked Raygun’s sense of structure and melody. Hell, songs like “(s)Pain” and “Time Lord” could have been buddies with J Church in the era when Broken Rekids was getting the Camels… singles comp together. Their only downfall is their tendency to noodle a bit too much—tunes like “Black Bag” and “Trails” almost, almost suffocate under the weight of the wankery—but other than that, these are some seriously good, reaching songs. Recommended. –Keith Rosson (Big Purple)

No Mercy Fool/Suicidal Family: CD
This whole CD consists of re-recordings of old Suicidal Tendencies/No Mercy songs. I’m assuming that having them re-recorded instead of reissued stems from some legal debacle, but I can’t be sure. I’ve actually never heard the original versions of the No Mercy tracks so I don’t have a real point of reference, but the Suicidal tracks I was dubious about actually sound pretty good compared to the originals. The recording sounds really full and is really high energy. The problem is that the bass sounds like complete shit, and the midtones drop out of the recording, so all you hear are the high end “pops” when he goes to the top two strings. It’s not enough to ruin it, but it’s really annoying. In any case, the record isn’t bad, but if you’ve got the originals you’re not missing out on anything life changing here. For the die-hards or newcomers out there, this is actually worth your time to pick up –Ian Wise (Suicidal, suicidaltendencies.com)

Self-titled: CD
For all my disdain for the whole “Celtic punk” thing, there was a time when I was really into Dropkick Murphys’ Do or Die record. It was fun and full of energy. I’d say that they, along with Real McKenzies, were the launching point that many bands copied to varying degrees of success. I soon became bored with the subgenre as a whole. Even Dropkick Murphys didn’t do it for me anymore. Well, here I am listening to Street Dogs for the first time and I’m thinking that it might have been the vocalist change that turned me off of DM. Lead Dog (and former Murphy) Mike McColgan has recaptured that feeling I got the first time I heard Do or Die with a great, rockin’ punk record. The bagpipes and whistles and such are still there, but far from the focus. I’m as shocked as anyone at how much I like this... Or it could be the booze talking. –Ty Stranglehold (Hellcat)

Our Refining Days: CD
The latest from this quartet further solidifies their bluesy niche in L.A.’s indie circuit. SRF took the distinctly southern Americana formula of baritone vocals like Leonard Cohen, coupled them with female vocals, and added solid post-punk/blues guitar riffs. “Down in the Hole” and “Missing” veer toward a lighter, stripped-down sound more like Iron & Wine or The National. Meanwhile, “In the Blood” showcases their southern gothic roots, reminding me more of NickCave with a foreboding creep of guitars while the title is chanted repeatedly. They neglected to include a murder ballad, which would have sweetened the pot. If you dig the aforementioned, pick this up right quick. –Kristen K (Silenced, myspace.com/silencedrecords)

“Better Off” b/w “Satellite/Hit the Ground”: 7"
This is the kind of 7” that makes you want to just turn it over and play it again as soon as it’s done. On here are three delightfully messy pop punk songs that remind me why people must have been blown away when Phil Spector first started doing his Wall of Sound thing. My personal favorite is “Hit the Ground,” but all three songs are worth your attention. Nothing makes me want to dance more than repeated choruses, driving guitars, and sweet backup vocals. Three cheers for my hometown of Ottawa for producing such excellence. Go get it. –Jennifer Whiteford (Red Lounge)

Holiday Cops: LP
A decade ago, around late August, was the last time I worked for anyone else. I was fired from Flipside (a punk zine that existed from the summer of 1977 until that day). Fired isn’t a strong enough word. Locks were changed at night. I had to go seek my boss out. Confrontation wasn’t his scene. I wish The Statues were a band then. I’d’ve put them on the record player as a motivational tool before heading over to soon-to-be-ex-boss Al’s house. You see, The Statues are unmistakably punk and hummy, but they’re not pop punk. They’re more like sweater vest power pop. But that sounds a little douchey and the Statues aren’t douchey. They’re just a little Dilberty, more than a little Office Space-y, nine-to-five, forty hour death sentence rock, ties-are-nooses, Smalltown-friendly punk. They’ve got the deadening effect of mundane work at the crack of someone else’s whip vibe down. And they always make me think of literature. This time out, it’s Orwell, living in a grey world with conflicting directives. I like The Statues. This isn’t my favorite record by them—it’s less crunchy and less diverse than the past couple outings—but I’m still a big fuckin’ fan and I’m not gonna fire ‘em anytime soon. –Todd Taylor (Deranged)

In Control: LP
Smart idea to remaster this album. I must confess I didn’t care much for this album when it first came out for the very reason that it sounded dull and flat. I figured this was one of those bands you had to see live to appreciate. Living in the middle of the country during the ‘80s, where a good hardcore show was twenty-five people in the audience, I was never going to see these guys in their prime. Hearing this version, my opinion has changed drastically. The songs now have more spark and there’s that needed punch here that’s necessary to make a hardcore record and band good. The songs are straight forward, as are the lyrics of teen angst. It’s aged a bit by today’s standards, but the most important aspect remains, and that is the raw energy that Stalag 13 and most of the early hardcore bands possessed. I’ll gladly take that approach any day over musicianship, wall of sound, and opaque lyrics. There are four extra tracks on this edition—three recorded in 1983 with a different line-up, and a live song that’s pretty unnecessary. I’d recommend this pressing over the Upstart version. –Matt Average (Dr. Strange, drstrange.com)

Self-titled: 7"
Do you ever listen to a song and realize the verses and choruses blend together and there are no real ups and downs in the music? It’s kind of boring. Even if a band has some wacked-out rockabilly nut hollering like a maniac and spazzy guitar riffs right and left, if there’s nothing to latch onto, there’s no real point in listening to it more than once. I’ve listened to this a few times now, but when I sit down to write about it, just moments after the record has finished, I’ve already forgotten the songs. –MP Johnson (Self-released, myspace.com/thespooklights)

Don’t Surf Zombie Beach: CD
Sounds a bit like if in the late ‘70s Glenn Danzig would’ve revamped his B-grade horror movie shtick with just a touch o’ the rockabilly influence. Granted, this isn’t psychobilly, but rather dirty, grimy rock‘n’roll mixed with the macabre. Perfect, unobtrusive use of saxophone, too—the one instrument that can ruin a record as easily as improve it. On the whole, it’s as if the Quadrajets were into death and cemeteries. Yet I can’t stop thinking that this reminds me most of the Dogmatics, but not because Snake Mountain sound terribly like those rockin’ Boston ne’er-do-wells; rather, Snake Mountain has the same stripped-down let’s-just-fucking-rock-without-slick-tricks attitude that pervades some of the most timeless rock‘n’roll ever made. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Old Bird)

Fuck Those Who Go Unheard: CD
Melodic punk by a band from Hamburg, Germany that sings in English and has been around for nearly a decade. This is the band’s first proper release in the States and this album compiles a best-of from Small Town Riot’s catalog to date in reverse chronological order. A solid, if unremarkable synthesis of a lot of current bands with reverberations of Anti-Flag, Hot Water Music, Screeching Weasel, and Dear Landlord coming to the surface. There is one major misstep on the album, that being the acoustic folk punk track “Madness” that bogs down the album half way through. Fortunately, they recover quickly with the next track “Timmy” that is the most up tempo, hardcore-influenced, and perhaps finest on the record. The other standout tune is “Cemetery Hill” which adds a harmonica and the western swing of cow punk to the mix to craft a damn fine song. It ended up my favorite tunes on the CD were towards the end, so, apparently, I liked Small Town Riot’s earlier material and the newer stuff left me a bit cold. –Jake Shut (Warbird)

Too Much TV: 7" EP
Seventies-steeped rock’n’roll fodder with punk undertones to give it some heft. –Jimmy Alvarado (Grave Mistake)

Self-titled: CD
Their name led me to think this might be some sorta militant Chicano rap stuff, but no, you get sludgy Sabbath-derived metal delivered at snail’s crawl tempos with vocals howling lyrics that offer no explanation of their purported connection to either Pedro de Alvarado or the Aztec deity. They did inspire me to start a jazz fusion band called Huitzilopochtli’s Second Cousin on His Mother’s Side, though. –Jimmy Alvarado (hydro-phonicrecords.com)

Secret: 7"
What a great song the A side song, “Secret,” is! Coming on like some sublime classic power pop and indie twee pop with a little swagger in the guitars, Sleepovers seem to really have it down. The production is good too, not too lo-fi like a lotta this kinda stuff seems to be these days. B side song is strong also. Looking forward to hearing a full length from this group. –Mike Frame (HoZac, hozacrecords@gmail.com)

Drain-O: 10"
A reissue of this North Carolina band’s 1994 debut. This is what it’s all about. Small town outcasts hell-bent on flipping out the squares. But this music isn’t punk so much as grunge. Not that Pearl Jam shit. This would scare the Capri pants off sorority girls. It’s snide, murky hard rock, like Mudhoney, Tad, and Fitz Of Depression. While not essential, especially if you don’t already own “Superfuzz Bigmuff,” this is an interesting document of what was going on in the punk scene in those odd couple of years between Nirvana and Green Day. Bonus points for the anti-Bush song being about the first President Bush. Four studio tracks, two decent-sounding live ones. –CT Terry (Girth)

6 More Reasons to Hate Us: CD
You know, there’s really only room in the world for one Hatebreed. –Ryan Horky (Pee, peerecords.com)

Split: Cassette
This is one of those “you had to be there” or “you really must love these bands” kind of deals. I really like Devour, and Coke Bust. And what I can hear of Sic Sensations and Stripmines, they must be pretty good as well. However, the recording is not all that hot. Granted, it’s a live recording from their show at Kent House in Raleigh. But the vocals for all the bands sound like they’re recorded in a metal shed, which ends up sounding like “bwaaahhh bwaaaahhhhh!” The music sounds a little flat, but the chaos and energy come through. If you weren’t there at the show, or are a diehard fan of the any of the bands on here, there’s really no reason to get this. It’s not horrible, it’s just not necessary. –Matt Average (tolivealie.com/webstore)

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