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No Idea Records

Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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VACATION CLUB:
Heaven Is Too High: LP
Vacation Club is my favorite Indiana band and is tied for the just made up title of “My Favorite Midwestern Band” with Wisconsin’s The Hussy. I have nothing but praise for the Vacation Club kids. I’ve liked all their releases so far, but this record finally gets their sound down. Lots of between-song noise and background ambience, a hallmark of studio/show space Magnetic South. Reverb-y, psyche basement rock stew (here in the Midwest, we do garage in the basement). Kids on the coasts should search this out. –Sal Lucci (Magnetic South)


VALENTEENS, THE:
Fun in the Sun: 7” EP
The Valenteens’ Fun in the Sun is their third and newest EP. Before I could get to the vinyl I had to pass through many, many pictures of band at the beach, but I can deal with that because I just saw The Valenteens play a great set at Dimo’s pizza for Fed Up Fest, with Boots and Arugula opening. For a thin three piece, The Valenteens cooked a thick deep-dish sound. Toppings like Kyle’s crunching bass and waves of Kris’ crushing drums are rounded out by guitarist/vocalist Vince’s melodic nasal delivery. Like hot peppers slithering through a mozza cheese swamp, The Valenteens’ pop hooks slice right through the slurry drum blasts best on tracks like “Mile Marker” and “Long Way to Go.” I only stopped listening to gobble my crusts. Midwesterners, this is a band to hear in a basement near you. See also 2013’s fine 7” release, “Emma Lee” b/w “Later,” which, if not Fun in the Sun, is what I’d eat on my Tombstone.  –Jim Joyce (High Fashion Industries)


VANILLA BEANS:
FFFF: CD
This little four-song EP took all the piss and vinegar out of me. Take synth- and guitar-based rock’n’roll (I’m looking at you, Epoxies!) and mix it with nouveau hippy-dippy mother earth sensibilities (now I’m looking at you, Edie Brickell and those on your coattails!) and this record is what will pop out of the toaster. The male/female vocal harmonies are what really makes this record stick like spaghetti flung against the wall: even though a couple of these songs sound remarkably similar and the rhythm is fairly one-dimensional through all four tunes, the sincerity behind those harmonies makes the record memorable. This had my toes tapping start to finish. A record for when you want to like the world, or you hate it so much you need an attitude adjustment.  –The Lord Kveldulfr (Pancake Productions)


VANISHINGKIDS:
Spirit Visions: LP
This record was a nice surprise this month. There are a string of genres going on here, from goth to post-punk, psychedelic, minimal, synth-wave, you name it. If you’re a fan of Siouxsie, Eva O, Dresden Dolls, 4AD (Records) you would really love this. The production on this record is really sharp. Vanishing Kids do a great job of not settling on one style for too long. On songs like “Spirit Grow,” they go from a mellow Cocteau Twins sound to tribal, psychedelic finish. Nice job on this record, Kids.  –Ryan Nichols (Bright As Night)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Berlin Tristesse: 7” EP
Sounds like Berlin has quite the punk scene happening these days. At least judging from the bands on here. One of these rare all-killer, no-filler collections. Starts off with Peacebastard, who do their hardcore somewhat crust style, then followed by the manic Pig//Control who destroy with “Die Invasion.” This is my first time hearing Crack Under Pressure, who crank out some insane thrash bookended by a dirty guitar sound that buzzes and churns before coming to an abrupt halt. Bitter Crop has a slightly poppy sound to their punk, but not the wimpy or vapid kind. Tuneful, with tough vocals, and a tale of apathy. Mülltüte excite and delight with their short blast, “Nicht Fur.” Then Nuclear Cult lay waste to everything with that hellish guitar distortion and blasts of speed and mid-tempo parts that churn and scrape. Followed by the blow-out sonic hell from Earth Crust Displacement that gives way to a hypnotic lock groove. This is held together with primo packaging: fold-out two and a third panel with full color photo inside, then there’s a poster, a few postcards, lyrics, and a dust sleeve with screen printed artwork.  –Matt Average (Heartfirst)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
FSDC 3: Cassette
At first I thought this comp might be utterly threadless, but after a few listens it feels as if these might all be bedroom creations rather than proper bands. There’s a bunch of kinda college-y stuff on here, some twee pop, and some painfully produced over earnest sensitivity. In the midst of it all is the awesomely named Raw McCartney, whose cut “Problems” sounds like DJ Shadow trying to recreate a My Bloody Valentine song (or maybe the other way around). Aside from that one, though, nothing really grabbed me.  –Michael T. Fournier (Glory Hole)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Hamburger Saignant: LP
The LP showcases fifteen current French and Belgium bands. These tracks range from blazing three-chord punk to ratchety Back From The Grave-style stranglers. Chimiks “Action” is a stand out rocker with snotty vocals and lots of discussion about action. Skeptics’ “I Want You” also moves with the wrench. Funny how none of these bands have the definite article “the” in front of them. There are lots of “the” bands on here. Some of the bands rely heavily on the vocal reverb, but that seems to be the fashion these days. The album slows considerably at the end of side two with a nice Spacemen Three style sludger by Mountain Bike followed by a psychedelic epic called “Sweet Analog” by Forever Pavot. Well worth checking out the lesser-known crowd of France and Belgium. I’m going to have to renew my subscription to Maximum Rock et Rouleau.  –Billups Allen (Frantic City)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
It Came from Alabama: LP
I consider it a high compliment when I say that this compilation made up of bands from, you got it, Alabama, could have come from any decade from the ‘60s to the present era. All the shades of fun, poppy, beach-blanket-bingo, rock’n’roll punk are represented here. (It begs the question: do they go to the beach in Alabama?) I do not mean to give the impression that this is a kitschy throwback or retro surf-rock album. It still sounds fresh and new. It just has that vibe that connects Dick Dale to Television to the Go-Go’s to Sonic Youth to Joyce Manor and back around again. I like almost everything I mentioned above and I like almost everything on this compilation.  –John Mule (Eyesore)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Love Panic Compilation CD, Vol. 1: CD
Oh, boy, there’s nothing I love to review more than a label sampler. Especially nowadays, when labels don’t so much have a unifying sound, but several sounds all competing for attention. Love Panic likes to sign a veritable mish-mash of punk, hardcore, and noise with a healthy dose of Japanese bands. Several bands repeat over the course of the disc, by the way, so if you were undecided by the first song, the second song will surely convince you. Really awesome at some points and garbage at others. If anything, this shows why label samplers aren’t worth much at all at this point. I feel like none of the bands actually had enough space to show what they could do, and if they did, I don’t think it makes for a particularly good mixtape. The flow is so janky and awkward. The tone and speeds of the songs just don’t match back to back. So glad I got this for free, because any money spent on this would have been wasted. Grade: C.  –Bryan Static (Love Panic)


VERA MALETA:
Beyond the Town: Cassette
Among the best archival 20th century witchcraft chant cassettes I got for review this month. –Todd Taylor (Let’s Pretend)


WET, THE:
Self-titled: 7”EP
If Kathleen Hanna came up in the ‘60s and limp wristed her feminist punch, she would be Mae Day, the vocalist of this four piece out of Chicago. In an octave that sidles up to bitchy, manic pixie vocals work with a garage pop Bo Diddley rhythm on “Bad Habit,” sporting an earwormy chorus of “I’m so fucked up, I’m so fucked up” ad infinitum. “Let’s Get Wet” saunters into a bluesy Sonics bass line, topped off with a mid scale Chuck Berry riff. The flip side drops “I Miss You,” a dank basement bedroom rhythm like a disorienting 13thFloor Elevators track punched up with a Stooges reference—”I want you to wanna be my dog”— sung in what I could only imagine to be a state of broken-hearted unwash. Hipster rock’n’roll on raspberry smoothie vinyl. Recommended.  –Kristen K. (Tall Pat)


X-RAYS!:
Jameson Shot: 7” EP
Jameson whiskey goes down fine, and finer still are the X-Rays! of Nottingham for supporting neighboring Ireland’s economy. What isn’t fine is the way waking up to the aftertaste of whiskey has cross-wired my brain to think that whiskey actually tastes like hangovers. But that’s my problem. For the strong eared and stomached, every song on Jameson Shot will please, neat or with ice or water. G-Man’s guitar roars with bottom dollar distortion and Gary X-Ray’s weasely shouts are perfect on tracks like “Drinking for My Baby,” crafting gleefully shitty rock of the street punk feel, minus the aggression and double the cheese. I can just get through these three tracks before the X-Rays! liquor slap overwhelms my system, which needs some watery lager (tempo changes) mixed in with the hard stuff so I can stand on solid legs and flip the record, which comes on marbled vomit grey vinyl.  –Jim Joyce (Big Neck)


YOUNG CONSERVATIVES:
Young Conservative: 12”
This band is neither young nor conservative. The one thing that is true of Young Conservatives is that it’s very much trying to bring back the era of Revolution Summer from the mid-1980s given how its sound has been appropriated from a number of Dischord bands. There’s a definite emotional bent to the songs, some of which is borne from anger whilst the rest seems to be from a sense of positivity, thus allowing an even handed approach and avoiding any overt negativity. I hear snippets of Dag Nasty, Ignition, and Soulside when listening to the six tracks here and it’s done in a way that is drawing inspiration from that period thirty years ago rather than copying it directly. As such, this is quite an exciting release and Young Conservatives certainly wears its heart on its sleeve and its influences in its music.  –Rich Cocksedge (Obscene Baby Auction)


ZERO GAIN:
Slow Thinking: LP
For fans of poppy, jangly, mod-punk like the Buzzcocks or, more recently, Low Culture and Radioactivity, here are seven fun, upbeat songs from French punks, Zero Gain. I’ve always wanted to visit France and I think this band would be fucking great to see live. There is a life and energy that makes me want to bop around a smoky bar with an Audrey Hepburn-look-a-like, scooter-riding, Parisian punk waiting to break my heart so I can listen to these songs again. I love this sound!  –John Mule (Gestalt / Echo Canyon)


ZIG-ZAGS:
Self-titled: LP
Zig-Zags—a heavy metal/hard rock record on In The Red, America’s premier garage rock label? At first thought, it doesn’t make much sense. Like progressive rock, metal is a subgenre of rock best left alone. Nevertheless, there are exceptions to every rule: for every one hundred Gongs, there’s bound to be a Soft Machine. Zigs-Zags are another case in point. Steeped in metal, the Zig-Zags are erudite enough to celebrate the stupid, namely Iggy Stooge and The Ramones. The songs on this LP rock really fucking hard and are enjoyable as all hell to listen to. The Zig-Zags will definitely piss off your parents—yet their songs are melodic enough to keep on the turntable once that goal is accomplished. So get in your blown ‘68 Camaro and jam this full length on the cassette player. It won’t be heard over the glass packs, but the desired effect should be achieved. Of course, your mom’s four-cylinder Saturn will also work.  –Ryan Leach (In The Red)


ZOOPARTY:
UpOn9: CD
It warms my heart when I see Scandinavians flinging quality rock at me that isn’t black metal. From the opening notes, Zooparty suffuse the ears with up-tempo tunes that fall somewhere in the rock spectrum between garage and bar. Punk, with hints of ‘77, but not quite. Certainly not a foray into cock-rockery in any way. I’ve heard this record from a bunch of different bands before—from start to finish it’s a solid punk’n’roll outing. When that’s done right, as is the case here, I never get tired of it. All in all, this is quite a good record except for one clunky stab at a slow, crooning ballad that completely falls flat. I’m more than willing to overlook that, though. Good work, men!  –The Lord Kveldulfr (Dead Lamb)


VYVYAN:
Demo: Cassette

Just sloppy enough to know it’s played with heart. Sincere but not self-serious.
 Accessible but well thought out. Vyvyan are a shambolic female/male melodic punk trio from Bloomington. I’m hearing a little Weakerthans, some Plan-It-X, and a whole lot of their roommates telling their friends that the people practicing in the basement are “the best fucking band.” And, yes, they’re named for the punk guy on The Young Ones

–Chris Terry (VYVYAN)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Shake! Records Sampler: Cassette
After a couple listens to this comp my tape player crapped out and I can’t get the digital download to work. Even still, this makes an impression. Shake! Records is a very garagey, low-fi, punk/rock ‘n’ roll type label. They remind me a lot of Bomp! Records in their label style. Of course there’s variations to the style, which you’ll hear on this seventeen-band sampler that has an additional nine on the download code. That’s a lot of bands. I ended up enjoying most of the bands on this and am looking forward to checking out more things from Shake!  –Kayla Greet (Shake!)


WATERY LOVE:
Decorative Feeding: CD
Watery Love conjure up an interesting take on garage punk by slowing tempos down considerably while disregarding the need to stay in tune or even play in the same key. Each song successively builds up momentum to the next and ratchets up horrifying anticipation. It’s as if you’re watching a freight train from miles away rapidly approach uneven tracks. “Unlike you dick heads, I welcome death!” Sifting through the wreckage, you appear to find remains of early Total Control, the Dicks, and Shellac. I’m highly intrigued.  –Juan Espinosa (In The Red)


UNWELCOME GUESTS:
Wavering: LP
Reviewed a single of theirs a while back that I recall thinking was nifty. Here they successfully shift into full-length mode, with some sticky-hooked, noodly guitar poppy punk with an odd undertow of maybe very early (good) emo, country, and rock that is reminiscent at times of (sweet Jehoshaphat, they’re gonna kill me!) a heavier Gin Blossoms. A scary prospect on paper, I know, but they handily pull it off and deliver some fine work here.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Dirt Cult)


TRAMP FOR THE LORD:
Shaking a Tree: CD-R
Four tracks of laid back, troubadour, singer-songwriter stuff. There is a vague, Americana feel running through these tracks, maybe a Jeffrey Lee Pierce meets Starvations-gone-acoustic vibe. I suppose if you are into that sort of thing there might be something of interest here. For me though, it just felt a little too much like open-mike night at the local dive.  –Garrett Barnwell (Self-released)


TIJUANA BULLFIGHT:
Southern California: CD
Here’s a riddle. If a band sounds almost exactly like another band, should anybody care? It’s a question I’ve wrestled with a lot. Riverdales’ songs are Ramones’ songs. It’s impossible to deny, but the songwriting is so good that you can ignore the question of it being derivative. It’s about heart and homage. Tijuana Bullfight ape Nirvana to the point of influence be damned, this is like Kurt Cobain’s lost fourth album where they decided to embrace sludge metal just a teeny bit more. (I will now politely ignore the question of why they sent this to Razorcake, and just came at this from the view point of, “Man, I really like Nirvana.”) The record has the capability to be engaging, which makes the tracks where they rely too much on repetition and insubstantial riffing all the more disappointing. (Take these masterpiece lyrics for example: “Shout it from your heart! Yeah, yeah, yeah, I want to live, live, live, yeah! Live, live, live, I want to!”) When they don’t use cheap filler lyrics and approach the songs with the heaviness of Nirvana’s Insecticide, the record sparkles. There’s also a Psychedelic Furs cover, if you care about that sort of thing. Grade: B-.  –Todd Taylor (Tinderbox)


THIS IS BRAINWASH:
Self-titled: CD
A self-described “Anglo-Hispanic” supergroup comprised of former members of Older Than Dirt, Parade Of Enemies, Cerebros Exprimidos, Disease, and TV21 here. Most of the tunes fall within the mid-tempo range, with the occasional thrasher thrown in to break things up a bit. As with many other releases by bands with a bit of road under their tootsies, there is a bit more of an emphasis on the “rock” in punk rock, which can both introduce a bit more sophistication and muddy things up a bit, and this is no exception—things are strongest and decidedly more interesting when they’re either kicking into overdrive or mining more experimental terra, but on the whole what’s here isn’t particularly objectionable, even on the occasions when it feels less than inspired.  –Jimmy Alvarado (This Is Brainwash)


TETOLA 93:
Self-titled: LP
There are a handful of invigorating moments on this album that sound like a Japanese monster movie: air-raid sirens, bullhorns, news reports, panicked crowds running scared like cattle. I must admit that I don’t listen to much of “this kind” of hardcore. I’m one of those “stuck in the mid-’80s” types when it comes to the genre. That being said, the story here, the one beyond the Japanese lyrics that I don’t understand, is really gripping. Tetola 93 describe their self-titled LP as “14 tracks of chaotic Japanese hardcore.” The opening track, “Nagasaki Nightmare,” begins with a scratchy hum, a panicked voice on a megaphone, and a stern report delivering a breaking story in Japanese, before a sad acoustic guitar melodrama leads into the aforementioned chaos. There are needle-melting guitar riffs, screaming, growling, gnashing of teeth, and a rhythm section that would do Slayer proud. On top of all this, the packaging is really fucking beautiful—from the cover design to the liner notes that come in a skull-and-crossbones marked envelope, and lyrics that look as beautiful as they read, side-by-side in Japanese and English. Like I said, I don’t often listen to this kind of hardcore, but I like what this band is presenting.  –John Mule (Meatcube / Zegema Beach)


TERMINAL A:
Pacific Water and Power: CD
If you live in southern California and haven’t seen these guys yet, you’re missing out. Terminal A is a two-piece synth band specializing in avant-garde music. Until recently, the only recorded track from them was “Satellite,” which is on here. So it’s great to hear more music. My favorite track is “Queen Mab”; the vocals are the most pissed-off-sounding of all the songs. There’s also a great guitar solo on the track. Most of the guitars are very minimal and static-y sounding, so it’s nice to hear them take a risk. Fans of bands like Fad Gadget and The Screamers will love these guys.  –Ryan Nichols (Ad Nauseam)


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