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No Idea Records

Record Reviews

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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)


SUBORDINATE:
To See Their Demise: EP
This record came with a sticker that said, “From Ireland” but it’s a sound that’s very Oakland crust. I guess crust music has no geographic borders. I can’t say that I honestly know much about crust bands, but these guys sound pretty fucking legit. The songs on here had enough variation to keep my interest. It wasn’t d-beat song after d-beat song; there is a decent amount of craft to their songs to keep a weirdo like me with no attention span interested. The songs go from heavy, brutal metal riffs to a melodic style to d-beat. If you’re into crust, buy this record and get their patch for your jacket or your dog’s bandana.  –Ryan Nichols (Visions of Warning / A World We Never Made / Suburban White Trash / Anarchotic / Don’t Live Like Me)


STRANGE WILDS:
Wet: 7”
The intro riff on the “The Traitor” had me instantly buying in. Their music is the offspring of Sonic Youth’s “Silver Rocket,” Drive Like Jehu’s “Golden Brown,” and a dash of Bleach-era Nirvana for good measure. This is noisy punk for noisy’s sake. I’m not entirely sold on the moody vocals; the primal howls are a better fit. The intriguing musical fusion has me keeping tabs on this Olympia, Washington-based band.  –Sean Arenas (Inimical)


STERILIZED:
Zero Sum Game: EP
Another stellar release from Warthog Speak, this time hardcore from Olympia, WA. Crushing, fuzzed-out d-beat with unhinged vocals. Musically, these dudes don’t stray too far from the Scandi d-Beat blueprint, but the vocals give this record the edge almost getting into Nervskade territory. Bruuuutaaaaal.  –Tim Brooks (Warthog Speak)


STEADYS, THE / GRANDMAS BOYFRIEND:
Split: 7”
Hailing from Japan, The Steadys dish some snappy-ass power pop jams. So fresh and so clean. I mean really to the T, literally, like a squeaky clean Mr. T Experience. Slick stuff. Grandmas Boyfriend is a bit more rock’n’roll. Mix of lo-fi ‘60s pop, with tinges of Weezer in “Dirty Surfboard.” Reminds me of fellow San Franciscans Midnite Snaxxx, and new comers Dancer, but perhaps not quite as good. Not that it’s a dis or anything.  –Camylle Reynolds (Dirty Rabbit)


SPIRIT OF DANGER:
Malus Web: Cassette
I just discovered Marc Maron’s WTFpodcast, and have been bingeing appropriately in an effort to get caught up on the man’s Proustian prolifism. His podcast with Thom Yorke from Radiohead had a point that’s stuck in my head since I heard it: Yorke talks about how each bit of Can’s Tago Mago makes sense a few seconds after it happens. This Spirit Of Danger release is the same way: as the thick, largely midtempo riffage provides a backdrop for snotty/affected British accent vocals, I think it’s competent. But afterwards, the songs get stuck in my head, so they’re doing something right, right? I can’t pin down what it is, exactly, but the answer is yes.  –Michael T. Fournier (SPIRIT OF DANGER)


SPIRAL:
Our Final Days on Bellicus Prime: CD
On this album, New Mexico’s Spiral really stretches out, tackling an apocalyptic, sci-fi–ish concept album that would make the Mars Volta proud. This struck me like maybe Pink Floyd meets Mogwai with a dash of Ministry. Sometimes though, it feels like the songs kind of drag a bit due to the drumming and/or the drum programming. I think maybe a more spirited drum performance and mix would have helped this along. As it stands though, this is still worth seeking out. It reminds me of some of the classic “headphone” albums of the ‘70s in that it feels like it was intended to be listened to in one sitting and not just random songs.  –Garrett Barnwell (Self-released)


SLOW CHILDREN:
Prevalent Emotional Distress: CD
Not to be confused with the American electronic band, or the American new wave group responsible for the ‘80s staple “President Am I,” or the ‘80s American punk group responsible for the Pseudo Girl EP, or even the ‘90s American alternative band, this latest band to use the name Slow Children (I’m also fairly certain the East L.A. punk legends the Stains would take exception to the appropriation of their logo, cleverly changed here by adding arrow points to the ends) apparently hails from Southern California. While it’s clear very early on they’re quite proficient with their instruments, their emo-saturated hardcore ultimately left no lasting impression whatsoever or really did much to set them apart from the hundreds, if not thousands, of other bands that ran this kinda stuff into the ground a decade ago.  –Jimmy Alvarado (California Street Music)


SICK THOUGHTS:
Self-titled: 7”
This is imperfect garage, lo-fi punk rock at it finest. If you like trashy music brought to you in DIY packaging: this is it. The cover was obviously put together by the band, the vinyl is blue, and the music is punk rock.  –Ryan Nichols (Zaxxon)


SICK HYENAS:
Self-titled: Cassette
Hamburg, Germany, huh? I didn’t see that coming. First off, I’d like to make it known that I am currently burnt the fuck out on surf guitar. These guys have the chops, the energy, and the formula. It’s all there, but it comes out as regurgitated. A little work to find their own voice and they could really have something. There is a twenty second sample of Allen Ginsberg’s Wales Visitation, at the end, which was pretty cool.  –Jackie Rusted (Dumpster Tapes)


SHOCKTROOPERS / THE SCUTCHES:
Split: 7”
Shocktroopers do some basic, no-frills punk rock. I hope and assume they get their name from the all-time classic Cock Sparrer record rather than the alternative, though there is no musical Sparrer influence here. Doesn’t impress but doesn’t offend. The Scutches do pop punk that scratches that Queers-style, surfy, mid-tempo melodic itch.  –Todd Taylor (Tranquilo)


SHINING WIRES:
Self-titled: Cassette
The first half of this quick four-song tape is solid enough, but the flip side is where things really take off. That’s where this Denver three-piece starts to stray a little further from their faithful ‘90s pop punk revivalism, giving the last couple tracks some breathing room and bringing in some criss-crossing, emo-inspired guitar work. Overall, though, Shining Wires are loyal to a long tradition of smart, hoarse, melodic punk. Strains of Iron Chic and Lawrence Arms creep in at every other turn of phrase or change of chord. Frontman Casey Yunko has a gruff-yet-sensitive voice you already know well, whether or not you’re familiar with any of his previous bands. This isn’t necessarily a fatal flaw. A well-placed lead here and there can be all it takes to avoid the gaping and unmemorable void that is Hot Water Music-core. Fortunately, Shining Wires put enough of their own spin on things to make the difference between tiringly trite and pleasantly familiar.  –Indiana Laub (Snappy Little Numbers)


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