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No Idea Records

Record Reviews

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The Sublime, the Perverse, the Ridiculous: CD
Before the Destructors first self-destructed (don’t blame me for that one; it’s straight from the promo sheet) in 1983, they drafted a blueprint for what was intended to be their second full-length. Thirty years later, the current lineup has revisited the songs to give the album the chance it never had. The effort generally avoids sounding like a lukewarm reenactment—after all, this is no feeble reunion but a band that never really gave it up for good, multiple hiatuses notwithstanding. That being said, there’s no new ground to be covered here. This is straightforward streetpunk from the ‘80s played by guys who have been playing since the ‘70s. The band plays tightly but predictably while Allen Adams barks scathing couplets on the usual topics: war, religion, and capitalist exploitation. The album trails off with unnecessary renditions of “Wild Thing,” “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” and “Louie Louie,” perhaps the most exhausted covers in rock’n’roll. A few surprises do stand out, including the grim sludginess of “Body Bags” and the ominous breakdown in “Nerve Gas.” But at its heart, this is gruff, working-class U.K. punk rock to listen to with your boots on.  –Indiana Laub (Rowdy Farrago, thedestructorsuk@googlemail.com, destructors666.com)

Espiritu de Libertad: LP
There’s something about the Spanish language that is perfect for hardcore (the same goes for Italian, too) in that it somehow has more of a snap to it as well as providing me with a learning experience as I seek translations of a host of words and phrases. This Austin, TX-based band employs Spanish to good effect as part of the whole battering ram approach that the thirteen tracks provide. Criaturas comes across like a mix of Slöa Knivarand a slightly less frenetic Ruidosa Immundicia, with a female-fronted hardcore delivery that steamrolls through the door having had no intention on knocking politely. Whilst there is no doubt that this album rages, it certainly contains enough melodic elements to stop it from sounding one dimensional. Definitely the strongest material I’ve heard from the band.  –Rich Cocksedge (Hardware, chris@hardware-records.com, hardware-records.com)

Rad: Cassette
I will go on record as the one Razorcake staffer who is openly skeptical of the “org-core” trend that has at one point or another stigmatized both the fanzine and record label imprint. I reluctantly find some of the reasons for all the hate warranted: not everyone who falls in love with Tiltwheel and Dillinger Four needs to replicate that sound. Diversity is a beautiful thing that I wish more bands would embrace instead of rehashing ad nauseam. Ah, but then again: once in a while a band comes along who not only sports the beards and shotguns the beers but can also write a great pop punk song or ten. Boxsledder do a damn good job of saluting the originators of beardo-punk while holding their own with heartfelt and sincere lyrics, and melodic-but-powerful guitar hooks. Quick, someone help them put this out on vinyl format before they decide to gut some more old Nintendo cartridges and use them as cassette cases (which was a great idea for the sake of novelty but a pain for filing away purposes). Still, thumbs up all the way!  –Juan Espinosa (Self-released, boxsledder@gmail.com, boxsledder.bandcamp.com)

Breakdown: CDEP
Modern poppy punk rock that’s heavily inspired by a range of ‘70s and ‘80s punk rock. The rapid-fire power chords and ever-so-slightly reverby vocals send my mind right to X (or Generation X, for that matter), not to mention the unexpectedly Clash-like breakdown in the opening track. City Mouse is the most obvious contemporary comparison—just amplify the new wave and power pop nostalgia by an order of magnitude or so. Frontwoman Rita Vanegas’s snarling vocals sound a little affected for my taste at times, but it’s a stylistic choice and she sure as hell knows how to work it. This is bouncy, aggressive punk rock’n’roll that could definitely ignite a sweaty bar or garage within a chorus or two.  –Indiana Laub (Rebel Noise, info@rebelnoiserecords.com, rebelnoiserecords.com)

Self-titled: LP
This is a hard rock record for fans of Big Business, Melvins, Dragonforce, and Pentagram. There seems to be a bit of humor mixed in with Black Black Black’s mix of heavy rock and roll, at least I hope they’re joking at times. Some of the song titles such as, “Pentagram On” and “Soar Like a Spider” should give you some insight as to what I’m talking about. There are a lot of chugga-chugga guitar riffs; most of the songs are very riff-driven. The recording sounds great, the instruments are tight, and the production is clean, “Get your pentagram on.”  –Ryan Nichols (Aqualamb, aqualamb.org)

Pearls Before Swine: 7”
It’s good to see that kids in upstate New York are still total weirdos. This sounds/looks like members of White Guilt and Brown Sugar (internet search confirms suspicions), but certainly falls more on the Brown Sugar side. I like hardcore bands that aren’t afraid to play slow like these guys do on “Daddy’s Little Boy.” They also don’t feel like they have to blow everything out to make it sound good. Here is a band that is writing really catchy material with lyrics about being frustrated with the social state “scene.” Fans of early LA/SF punk that was singles-driven should take note and dance by themselves in a dark room while getting drunk on gin. That’s what I’m doing, anyway.  –Ian Wise (Feeble Minds)

Walking through the Dark: LP
Slower, introspective garage rock. Dream-like fuzz jams that lull you into a secure warmth and drag you into a happy place. Normally I’d use the phrase, “makes you fall asleep” as a negative statement, but this is a pleasant listen with great songwriting. The trancelike state that the music creates is a wonderful, natural high. Grade: B+  –Bryan Static (CQ, cqrecords.com)

3 Songs: 7”
Wooden Wand is one of the many stage names of singer-songwriter James Jackson Toth. This 7” offers up three tracks of minimalist acoustic folk. The only instruments are Toth’s guitar and his voice, and both are working overtime on these home-recorded tracks. He demonstrates a gift for songwriting, with music and lyrics both working in conjunction to evoke mood and emotion, as in the somber “When Your Stepfather Dies.” Many singer-songwriters who perform with only their guitar and voice often struggle to keep silences at bay, constantly playing or singing, as if out of fear of losing the listener’s attention, but not Toth. He makes as much use of the brief silences between his guitar and voice as he does of his instruments, as in the track “Country Graveyard Soil.” The result is a certain gravitas, an emotional power, which I think is the essence of great music.  –Paul J. Comeau (25 Diamonds, info@25diamonds.com)

The Jacket: CD
For a band that seems to be striving for the hard-drinking, blue-collar, Midwestern indie rock sound, these guys play it pretty safe. Everything’s a little too clean, a little too pretty. It’s a fresh-off-the-lot pickup truck that yearns to be covered with rust and mud. I’m not sure these guys are going to make it that 200,000 miles.  –MP Johnson (Self-released, facebook.com/thewildfinish)

“Hey Everybody” b/w “Wild Emotions”: 7”
Wild Emotions are an all-girl band with a lo-fi, keyboard-punk sound. The song on the A-side, “Hey Everybody,” would be a perfect track to spin at a Halloween party. It’s a fun, simple song you could easily pogo to in your ironic costume. The B-side song is called, well, “Wild Emotions.” This song is a bit more chaotic than the other. The vocals are blurry and it has a drunk-speed tempo. All in all, this is a fun little party record.  –Ryan Nichols (Blahll!, blahrecords.com)

Pines: 7”
Paint It Black are time lords, went on a bender with Adolescents in Orange County 1982, things got hot and heavy, and a child was born. Twenty some-odd years later, that child started its own band and named it Western Addiction. WA released some fantastic hook-laden hardcore punk right after the turn of the millennium with their 7”, split EP with New Mexican Disaster Squad, and LP. Cue eight years later, some line up changes (plus Ken, minus Chicken, plus Sam NMDS/Dead To Me) and punks over thirty are back with three ragers on Fat (but not recorded in that “Fat sound”). Smart and intriguing lyrics (the Agent Orange nod in “Black Salt” had me smiling and singing first spin) backed by power and hooks that can’t quit. “My Opinion Is, I Hate It” wins best song title, but lyrical content propels it way past clever rubric. Pines is worth the wait, but don’t keep us waiting for more.  –Matt Seward (Fat)

Baltimore Record: LP
Man’s Ruin worship flirting with arty period Black Flag. Everything is tightly performed and crafted but it’s missing the little things that make albums like this more endearing, such as guitar feedback or dog pile-inducing sing-a-longs. A fairly competent effort but, unfortunately, nothing that left much of a lasting impression.  –Juan Espinosa (Latest Flame)

Yeti: CD/LP
The Visitors launch a triple vocal attack with male vocals by Skottie (guitar) from Crusades and Kevo Polo (drums), and female vocals by Erin (bass). It’s a nice contrast, which keeps things lively and my prior introduction to Skottie’s vocals via Crusades made this album feel more comfortable than it might have otherwise. I wasn’t a big fan of Erin’s vocals, however. I’ve heard her medieval metal punk project, BlackTower, and the vocals work much better with that style. All the songs are short and quick: the whole thing is over in less than twenty minutes. It’s lyrically silly (most of the songs are about things like burning witches, Dracula, unicorns, and, of course, Sasquatch), but that’s not to say the music is silly. It’s guitar-led, catchy, driving pop punk that’s played competently and tightly. It’s just not entirely my thing.  –Kurt Morris (It’s Alive)

Yeti: CD/LP
Pop punk with lyrics about vampires and unicorns, but with songwriting strong enough that any ridiculously silly lyrics aren’t that big of a deal. The lineup has three singers, one of which is Skottie of The Creeps and Crusades fame, so I was sold on this before I even listened to it. Knowing those two bands is a pretty good benchmark for what The Visitors sound like. Honestly, the strongest moments of the record come when bassist Erin takes the mic and delivers her lines with a croon akin to Sturgeon from the Soviettes. The songs are varied in delivery and intent, with one track even sounding like a punk and power metal hybrid, complete with fantasy lyrics. Grade: A-  –Bryan Static (It’s Alive)

Yeti: CD/LP
If you’re looking for a heady existentialist message, you’re picking up the wrong CD. The Visitors are just trying to have some fun here with a punk-nerds delight, Yeti. Lyrics like “kings in castles” and “tales of wizard magic” and song titles like “Unicorn in the Mist”….you get my drift? Aside from the whimsical lyrics, the music is melodic pop punk, harkens back to early Green Day at times, and has a serious ‘70s Queen-esque guitar shredding. The Visitors is a punk trio, two guys and a gal, and the vocals alternate between all three. Like I said, these kids are just having a good time, and I think it’s cool. Let them indulge.  –Camylle Reynolds (It’s Alive)

The Cockroach Theory: LP
Well the cover art really tells it all: Stencil lettering, giant military cockroach, arms flanked with political emblems, standing at a podium with an eagle crest adorned with a dollar sign, holding a bloody document, preaching to the minions of sheep that stand in before him. Sound cool? Well then perhaps this is for you. Similar sound to the Casualties, Violent Affair is streetpunk with no apologies. It is what it is. Mohawks, spiky jackets, all of the above. This is not my thing, but I think it’s well done.  –Camylle Reynolds (Jailhouse)

Better Luck Next Life: CD/LP
I’ve known the singer/guitarist of Victory And Associates, Conan Neutron, for over ten years. He used to write for my online zine and has played in bands such as Replicator and MountVicious. That being said, I do honestly believe that Victory And Associates is the best of any of the projects he’s been involved with and Better Luck Next Life is the best album he’s recorded. Of course, the band isn’t just him (he’s just the one I know). This four-piece from the Bay Area has one prior release under their belt, but this second album is much stronger. The first thing one notices is that the lead track, “We’ll Have to Be Our Own Heroes” sounds like something Torche might have written, with a plodding bass line and fierce guitars. The song then slows down but comes up with a catchy chorus the likes of which I haven’t heard in quite some time. It should be noted that while Torche sounds like an influence, the band diverges from Torche in that they aren’t nearly as heavy and Neutron’s vocals are unique. In fact, the approach he’s taken with them sounds different than any of his bands’ past albums. I can’t think of anyone to compare them to except perhaps the singer from the now defunct Baltimore band, Wilderness, but they’re one thing that attracted me to this album. While Victory And Associates aren’t a joke band (at least not that I can tell), they certainly have a sense of humor, as can be seen with the pop culture references in song titles, including Louis CK (“Everything’s Amazing (Nobody’s Happy)”) and the TV show Party Down (“‘Are We Having Fun Yet?’”) While ten songs seems a good amount of material for this sound, the forty-three minutes seems excessive. Some of the songs on here (“For Serious,” “A Cheeky Little Wish for Your Attention,” “Taste the Danger”) are really amazing in that catchy heavy indie rock way but could’ve gotten the same ideas and punch if they were shortened by a minute or two. As it stands, the sound is good but the songs need some tightening. Overall, though, I’m definitely interested in seeing where Victory And Associates go next.  –Kurt Morris (Seismic Wave, seismicwave.net)

No Rules No Fun: LP
A potent potpourri of punk, trash, surf, and such, with echoes of rock’s most productive periods peppered throughout. This time ‘round Mean Jeans, Angora Debs,Denizenz, Chemicals, Guantanamo Baywatch, Cyclops, Dancer, Primitive Hearts, Elvis Christ, and many others participate in the shenanigans. As many, myself included, have yammered on too many times to count, contemporary comps are too often a dicey purchase, but, in this case, care and thought have clearly been given to maintain a certain level of quality and the end product is consistent enough that any clunkers there may be are buried in a flurry of tasty tuneage.  –Jimmy Alvarado (No Rules)

Drop the Needle: CD
This CD is a retrospective of sorts featuring the Stilphen brothers, Chuck and Glen, who seem to have left quite a historical footprint on the Boston punk scene. These recordings span the years from 1985 to 1995, starting with the brothers’ stint in Gang Green and progressing through their time in other bands that are perhaps a bit lesser known. I never knew what it was with those classic hardcore bands from Boston in the ‘80s (DYS, SSD, and even Gang Green) that they all seemed to end up playing metal, but the brothers Stilphen went down that road as well (something in the water?) with their respective bands Scratch, Mallet Head, and Celebrity Death Certificate. Personally, I wasn’t too keen on the metal stuff but there is plenty here to keep me occupied, particularly the tracks from Smegma and the Nunz. My only complaint is that the tracks don’t follow a chronological order, but I can be picky about stuff like that.  –Garrett Barnwell (Trev)

Self-titled: 7”
I finally have a vinyl version of “Daydream!” I love this song so much, and had to settle for a cassette version last year. (I hate the tape resurgence of the past few years, but I made an exception for Vacation Club.) In the spirit of full disclosure, not only are Vacation Club my favorite Indiana band, but I’m friends with these guys. They’re kinda reverb-y pop-psych, and there’s something distinctly Midwestern about them. “Forest Babe” is no slouch of a tune, but “Daydream” is the jam. Don’t be afraid to dance home alone to this record.  –Sal Lucci (Randy)

Candy Waves: LP
Don Henley and Phil Collins do not count. The only singing drummer that springs to mind as actually good is Will Grabass and now that he’s moved up front, The Careeners are even better. Enter Vacation to turn that notion on its head. 2011’s self-titled was a stunner and Candy Waves seals the deal. Tight mod-pop (think current Canadian punk explosion) drumming dropped into a 40oz full of California echo and fuzz. Dose the drink with just a touch of desert expansiveness. Re-cap and shake vigorously. Pop the top and catch Vacation explode. Fast and tight hooks to blow your mind and set your happy feet free. Highly recommended.  –Matt Seward (Let’s Pretend)

Split: 7”
I think I could sell this hardcore split from Vaaksa and Impalers just by describing the cover. A shrouded skull has bony arms coming out if its mouth, hanging a mass of cracked and mangled skulls, spines, hair, and eyeballs from a barbwire fence. This all, of course, is happening in black and white. My three years of high school Spanish, mostly long forgotten, help me to translate Vaaska’s two songs as “Where is your God?”—my favorite track on the split—and “All is shit.”  –John Mule (Beach Impediment)

Eroding Forces: LP
New band with the Fraser brothers of ‘90s punk outfit Krupted Peasant Farmerz (as heard on the classic Can of Pork comp). A mixture of ‘80s skate punk and ‘90s pop punk, this record is a grower. Has a “heard this before” feeling at first and while that may not be an unfair criticism, there’s a lot to like throughout the fourteen songs. Raw, raspy vocals, catchy melodies, and lyrics that balance political and personal commentary with just the right amount of humor. Really, just good punk songs that worm their way into your brain. Favorite song: album closer “Psychological Breakdown.” I’d be remiss to not mention that this thing is nice and raw, recorded basically live by the man whose name must appear on a thousand Bay Area punk records, Bart Thurber at House of Faith Studios. All in all, solid first album from this San Jose band.  –Chad Williams (Vinehell, trallpunk@aol.com, vinehell.com / Lost Cat, lostcatrecords.org / HaHaHa Cool, hahahacool.com / Say-10, say-10.com / 86’d, 86drec.com / Shit Starter, shitstarterrecords.com / Smart Ass, smartassrecords.com)

Protijed / Oči Šelem: LP
It took me a minute to figure this one out but I do believe this is a 12” with two separate recording sessions (and possibly even releases) on each side by Uštkni from the CzechRepublic. The first side is entitled Protijedand recalls the “to the point” energy of Naked Raygun but with a sax player. Side B, Oči Šelem, is more rhythmically led with a strong Big Boys, Dead Kennedys undercurrent and more of that zany sax-o-ma-phone which, I might add, is front and center with the rest of the band and will surely test your tolerance for the sexiest of all horns. The songwriting is expertly crafted despite the arrangements appearing to be a tad bit too adventurous for most of us American punks who typically prefer to have something to sing or mosh along to. You’d only be able to sing along if you’re fluent in Czech and since things rarely get fast or frenzied, you’d do well to just stand in place and enjoy your drink while your head bobs back and forth to the herky-jerky beats. Solid stuff.  –Juan Espinosa (Papagájův Hlasatel, phr.cz)

Live and Loud: CD
What we have here is a live album of some good quality British street punk. The singer has a great voice. It’s rough in all the right ways. Apparently, these guys put out a record in the early ‘80s and the follow up came in 2012. Well, good on them, since they are still sounding vital and carrying the punk rock torch high. For a live album, this is some stellar recording too. This is great all around.  –Ty Stranglehold (Punk Lives, punklives.co.uk)

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