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No Idea Records

Record Reviews

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20 Years of Tanked Up Tunes: CD
Okay, right off the bat, these guys get points for covering Jimmy Liggins’ “Drunk.” A mighty fine tune, that one, as is his equally coverable “I Ain’t Drunk, I’m Just Drinkin’.” Gotta love a band that knows their drinkin’ songs and, based on the selection here, these guys have made a career out of bein’ well versed in the classics. While normally such single-minded attention to one subject, especially when we’re talking a span of two decades, would be the kiss of death for such an endeavor, and things do wear a bit thin the closer one gets to the end, the fact that they are wise enough to pluck covers from a wide variety of styles—not to mention penning a few of their own, including the beloved punk holiday anthem “Santa Claus DWI”— to get the most mileage out of what is essentially a one-trick pony. Although I’m most partial to the earliest stuff here, courtesy of the band’s late ‘80s-early ‘90s lineup(s), all here are delivered with enough joyously sloppy abandon that one can’t help but smile. Definitely one to toss onto the player at the next straight edge club meeting. –Jimmy Alvarado (Steel Cage)

Loved Me Back: 7”
Italian-pressed single from this U.K. act, coming on with a very British sound. Hints of acoustic guitar, piano, and pop hooks make for an interesting style. There are hints of everything, from the Kinks to Scott Walker and all manner of anglophile obsession to be had on this single. I would recommend this for fans of everything from Swell Maps to power pop or britpop. Pretty good stuff; would like to hear more.  –Mike Frame (Rijapov, myspace.com/rijapovrecords)

Nowhere Is the Place for Me: CD
At first I was wary, because this CD’s artwork looked like that of so many hopeful but ultimately dull singer-songwriters of the sort I used to encounter in New Hampshire when I went to college there—y’know, well-meaning and earnest but ultimately disposable, just like the drawings or, worse, photographs of guitars which appear on their album jackets. But! That’s what I get for judging a book (fine, CD) by its cover, because this fine slab from Alec Morrison upends expectations. Sure, it’s primarily acoustic, but this dude’s stuff takes little heed of the form and conventions dipshits like me associate with being a singer-songwriter. His voice, which manages to sound both otherworldly odd and completely grounded, vacillates between raspy and reedy, a fine complement to riffs which are obviously purposeful and skilled technically but operate with inner logic like a puzzle which unlocks after several listens. This music’s hard to pin down, which had me coming back repeatedly for more, which is what a good record’s supposed to do. Fantastic, expectation-defying stuff. Holla!  –Michael T. Fournier (Self-released, morrisonalec.ca)

First Aid: 7”
This is some serious skate thrash! I had to go back and check to see when this was recorded. The sheet says 2005, but I’d swear it was ‘85 judging by the style, content, and recording quality. Five songs of all-out skate rock as it was meant to be. The fast parts are really fast and the breakdowns have a groove. Throw in some tag team vocals and we’ve got ourselves a winner. “To all the kids who still skate for fun!” Indeed! –Ty Stranglehold (Cassette Kill)

…It Never Ends: CD
The packaging that this CD came in is pretty sweet. It’s like a little zine, with the CD put in a plastic sleeve and stapled onto the last page. The drawing on the front is nice, and I would have liked to see more drawings on the other pages. Instead, the other pages had lyrics and then a short explanation of the impetus behind the song. On a couple of the copied pages the words go off the bottom of the page a little, so a bit more attention could have been paid to that, but, overall, it’s a nice little package. The music is kind of folk or anarcho folk or something like that, and, usually, Alex Loeb was on his own, singing and playing guitar. Not that he stinks or anything of the sort, but I preferred it when there were gang vocals and when Sara Mann sang with him. The CD wasn’t bad, but it just didn’t do it for me. This is not my favorite genre of music, so I think it has to be quite compelling or fresh for me to get into it. As it was, I think Mr. Loeb is very sincere and earnest and I get the feeling he really hopes to contribute to making the world a better place, which is excellent. I think his songs will make certain fans of the genre feel excited and touched. For me though, it just didn’t thrill. Favorite song is called “Money Can’t Buy You Clean Drinking Water,” even though, unfortunately, it sure enough can, sometimes. –Jennifer Federico (Raise Your Fist)

If you swear that acoustic singer-songwriter stuff is where music’s most honest, heartrending revelations stem from, this solid but ho-hum four artist project is up your alley. Alex And The Imaginary Friends (which is probably just one guy here) pull off a swell Chris McCaughan impression as they talk about aging and getting grim in the decent “Growing Up Is Giving In.” Valentine’s “A Plea for Something” is the least appealing of the four songs. It’s plagued by grating, whiny off-key notes, even if it does pick up toward the end with the addition of claps and muddled chants. Tanner Willow wishes on a star in “Starlight Starbright.” It’s a childish, unimpressive move that’s compensated for via a decent hook. Closer “This Is The Biggest Thing (Of All Things We Deserve),” as executed by Winter Winds (a.k.a. Eric Doucette), delivers a mature, beautifully assembled little song. It’s nothing mind-blowing, but it delivers on the sense of sincerity so important to this sort of music. Production quality definitely varies between tracks: while Winter Winds’ song is warm and full, the Valentine track sounds like it was recorded on a computer setup. As of this writing, you can catch the whole thing at http://the4waysplit.bandcamp.com. –Reyan Ali (Raise Your Fist)

4-song: 7”EP
Singer, guitarist, and one of the main songwriters for the Hex Dispensers does some solo work. While the Hex Dispensers conjure banshees, Alex summons quieter, more conversational ghosts and languid spirits. The songs are reverby. There are trebly effects over his voice and he’s backed by electronic keyboards and/or drum machining. Alex is spooky in a haunted, thoughtful way, not a photocopied comic book rendering of the Danzig playbook. There are no skeleton gloves fingered into in the making of this record or “whoah ohs!” instead of choruses. It’s more like a broken-legs-barely-healed waltz. Smooth and animated and swaying at the same time. –Todd Taylor (Trouble In Mind, troubleinmindrecs@gmail.com)

Hallo Mein Name Ist: 7"
Back when Lux Interior left this Earth, I was upset and my friend Adam consoled me by informing me that at least we still have the Hex Dispensers. I had heard the name, but had no idea that my life was about to change. That band proceeded to take over my being. They instantly shot to the top of my go-to music list. A while later, HD front man Alex Cuervo put out a solo 7” that was also amazingly creepy. Well, here is another solo slab and it’s a nice addition to the catalog. Two off-kilter songs that sound so perfect with that odd feeling that something is amiss in the background. Catchy yet menacing. This man can do no wrong in my books! –Ty Stranglehold (Red Lounge, redloungerecords.com)

Welcome Song: CD
For years now I have had a severe distaste for Gene Defcon, the always-a-child artist of mindlessly strange obscure short songs, usually accented with Casio play sounds. I have destroyed multiple Gene Defcon CDs, spread my message of distaste for Gene Defcon to friends, and forced people to listen to his music just to prove that he is indeed one of the worst artists ever to exist. Quite frankly, Come Party with Me 2000 is the type of thing I hope I never have to listen to again, but God knows I’ll get dragged into it at some point in order to win an argument about the worst album ever. Alexis Gideon reminds me of Gene Defcon if Gene tried to do more rapping and had more of a Ween influence. Upon hearing the Casio-backed track, “Casio Elation,” I seriously wanted to punch my computer monitor. This isn’t as bad as Gene Defcon, but hell if it doesn’t piss me off nearly as much for it’s (amongst other things) a complete waste of so many peoples’ time (including my own) and waste of natural resources to make this garbage. –Kurt Morris (Sickroom)

Flight of the Liophant: CD
Alexis Gideon is what some might call “schizo-rap” (or at least that’s what his label calls him). At times I felt like I was listening to Silver Jews trying to do loosely formed hip-hop. Other times, it was just a mess of electronic beats and noises, worked in with higher pitched vocals. Sometimes the music produced an ambient, floating sensation. The last song is an Irish ditty with just voice and acoustic guitar. What the hell is going on here? Overall, the material seemed like a whacked-out Beck with heavy doses of Dan Deacon. I definitely enjoyed this more than I thought I might and it will grow on you in all its silliness and oddity, but it’s still pretty fucking bizarre. You can decide whether that’s good or not. –Kurt Morris (www.sickroomrecords.com)

self-titled: CD
For every Black Cross, Give Up the Ghost, or Fairweather record that Equal Vision releases, there’s at least one album by a band like Armor For Sleep or Alexisonfire (which is to say that for every interesting, experimental, and artistically challenging record, you get one incredibly commercial release which offers no surprises and nothing new). Like bands such as Waterdown and the rest of the screamo hordes, one vocalist screams as if he wanted to be in Morbid Angel; the other sings in sweet, angelic tones. Like most bands of this ilk, the musicianship is passable to good; that’s rarely the problem. The problem is that the actual music begins at pop-punk with the sweet melodies to get the chicks in and then tries to add a tougher edge so that, you know, the dudes will like it, sounding like every other band with dyed black hair and bangs, ear plugs, and star tattoos in the process. In that respect, this album offers something for everyone who will be listening to the next big trend in two years. However, by nearly every measure that I can use to gauge a good – or even decent – album, this doesn’t even begin to register.  –Puckett (Equal Vision)

Self-titled: CD
Italian hardcore at its, um, core, but there’s a ton of straightforward rock slathered liberally on top. Results are on the whole good, depending on how one feels about rock. –Jimmy Alvarado (Avis Odia, avisodiarecords.jimdo.com)

A Wayward Sound Floods the Streets: CD with graphic novel
Wow, this CD comes with a lovely black and white graphic novel, with romantic, cartoony art reminiscent of the stuff done by Nate Powell. The story is about consumer culture ending the world. After checking out the awesome artwork and cool story, I was prepared to hear some fucked-up jazz or progressive hardcore. Instead, my ears were felched by modern rock at its most pretentious and ham-handed, played by sloppy musicians that you’d expect to see stinking things up with an Incubus cover at a high school battle of the bands. It’s interesting when pedestrian art inspires other, greater art—similar to how the movie Superfly was surpassed by Curtis Mayfield’s terrific soundtrack. While Superfly was a good movie with incredible music, A Wayward Sound Floods theStreets is a strong comic inspired by a weak band. –CT Terry (www.algrenmusic.com)

Rowne Prawa: CD
I believe the band is from Poland and they play ska, reggae, hardcore and any combination thereof. Included are Dead Kennedys, Clash, and Peter Tosh covers. Normally, this stuff ain’t my cup of tea anymore, but these guys are pretty darn good at it. –Jimmy Alvarado (href=mailto:arkumusic@clerk.com>arkumusic@clerk.com)

Violence Girl: 7”EP
I’m much more fond of looking at music as a continuum instead of isolated times and places. Instructive history shouldn’t be trivia and artifact. That way, as a listener, I can actively participate, draw from my own experiences and enjoy music—even if it was released years ago—as a living, instructive thing. Alice Bag could have easily been solely a significant, static jewel in the crown of first wave L.A. punk and called it a day. Instead, she continues to make art through today and this 7” is a nice reminder of that, culling songs from five bands that Alice actively participated in: Bags, Castration Squad (live), Stay At Home Bomb, Goddess 13, and Cholita. The music Alice plays just isn’t one thing. It’s punk, goth, rootsy and mellow, angry, funny, violent, and tender. And that way, we all win when Alice uses this refracting jewel of her talent and perseverance, lighting up and crystallizing great music for three decades. An excellent short collection of songs by a fantastically talented lady. –Todd Taylor (Artifix)

Three Sisters: CD
I suspect you would be hard pressed to find anyone who has thought about Alice Donut in the past fifteen years, much less cared about the band’s music in some way. I would put myself in both categories. Having listened to this album, duly noting that it is presumably intended to be filed under rock by dint of its guitars and rhythm section, I will continue to place myself in the latter of the two categories. –Puckett (No address listed)

Ten Glorious Animals: CD
I fully admit that while the name has not been unfamiliar to me for more than a decade or two, I’ve never actually gotten around to actually listening to them before this, so I can’t really speak to where it fits in their oeuvre. What I can say is that what’s on here is sorta catchy, but ultimately pedestrian alt-rock stuff that’s neither bad nor good, but mostly just kinda there at best. –Jimmy Alvarado (Alternative Tentacles)

For Lovers, Dreamers and Me: CD
Although the press material says Smith “evokes influences” including Patti Labelle, Barbara Streisand, and Billie Holiday, she sounds nothing like these singing legends. What she does share with them, however, is an ability to transcend (or in her case wholly bypass) current popular trends in music and stake out a little place all her own. Marrying strong vocals to a concoction of jazz, psych-tinged pop and nouveau soul, Smith demonstrates some range and a desire to experiment outside the box. She eschews the heavy reliance on scales, 808-beats and self-demeaning lyrics so frequently found in modern soul/hip hop in favor of a more organic approach with what sounds like real, honest-to-goodness instruments. Dunno if it’ll garner massive radio airplay, but it should, and when it works, like on “Love Endeavor,” and the velvety “Secrets,” some mighty good listening is afoot. My requisite gripe? Where’s the cover of the Muppets’ “Rainbow Connection,” which features this album’s title in its lyrics? –Jimmy Alvarado (Heroes)

: 7”
Truth in advertising, this is Alicja Trout (River City Tanlines, Mouserocket, Lost Sounds) playing straight-up, ‘60s-inspired pop by way of Oranges and Lemons XTC with gentle keyboard caresses. One original, one Daniel Johnston cover. It’s extremely pretty, full of innocence, and very far afield from what I normally listen to… but goddamn it if Alicja Trout can’t hold my hand far into a scary land that I’m fearful of—”indie rock I don’t understand made by members of once-frenetic punk bands”—and show me something, well, something that’s beautiful. –Todd Taylor (Certified PR, certifiedprrecords.com)

“Shining Apple” b/w “Walking the Cow”: 7”
If you haven’t listened to I’m Your Negative by the River City Tanlines at least 1,000 times, I highly encourage you to track down a copy and indulge in the brilliance that is that full-length. Within that album you are exposed to a vast array of tempos and variances of hostility. From the most seemingly mellow to the most completely unchecked, unhinged, borderline psychotic aggressiveness. Moral of the story; Alicja Trout (songsmith of the River City Tanlines and the 7” at hand) has this ability to write these incredibly diverse songs that ooze of passion and complexity while always being completely and undeniably hers. So when a 7” single comes through that’s Alicja Trout recording two nonchalant synthy slow jams, it’s very easy for me to exit my world of angry, hostile, prejudices against stuff of the sort, and enter her world of tried and true songwriting, hence, me enjoying these songs for what they are. And they are awesome. –Daryl Gussin (Certified PR)

“I Play the Fool” b/w “Water Death": 7”
Incredible 7” from legendary Memphian Alicja Trout. Alicja-Pop is her power-pop outlet—sort of removed from her darker Lost Sounds/Black Sunday work. “I Play the Fool” has hints of the Rich Kids and The Breeders. B side, “Water Death,” is amazing. Alicja’s vocals and Ramones-inspired rhythm and lead guitar lines (Walter Lure) are supported by a great drum machine track and Theremin-sounding synth. Alicja continues to put out the greatest records with regularity. I’ve heard Billy Childish referred to as a “cultural treasure” of Great Britain. If that’s true, Alicja’s likely our best response. Recommended! –Ryan Leach (Certified PR, certifiedprrecords.com)

“I Play the Fool” b/w “Water Death”: 7”
The A-side is great, it sounds like what would happen if you took a Holly & The Nice Lions song, gave it to Jem & The Holograms, and told them to play it in a way that would make Muppets slam dance. The b-side, with its predominant cheap drum machine, sounds a little bit more like Helen Love’s depressed little sister. Altogether, i was always curious to know what would happen if the Thing’s blind girlfriend married Iggy, so this record does me right fine. BEST SONG: “I Play the Fool” BEST SONG TITLE: “Water Death” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Cover art depicts the most flowers, pineapples, and magic potions of any Certified PR release to date. –Rev. Norb (Certified PR)

“I Play the Fool” b/w “Water Death”: 7”
My exposure to Ms. Pop’s endeavors outside of her work with Lost Sounds is severely limited, so I can’t really speak to where this rests in her body of work. What I can say, though, is that both songs have a minimalist, almost demo-like quality, with what sounds like a drum machine and guitars that are sans big studio trickery. Of the two songs here, “I Play the Fool” is the most immediately catchy, with some nice drony guitar to anchor the tasty hooks that fly by. “Water Death” is a bit more sophisticated, deftly hiding its buried treasures for those willing to visit ‘n’ dig a bit more to find ‘em. –Jimmy Alvarado (Certified PR)

R.I.P.—A 12” Collection: 2 x CD
Alien Sex Fiend is one of those rare bands so unique that one has a helluva time trying to describe with words what they sound like. Death Rock? Punk? Rockabilly? Synthy art damage? Brooding psychoses set to a dance beat? You get all the above in spades, plus bizarre lyrics and a visual presentation that someone must’ve dreamed up while watching The Munsters with a head full of some kick-ass acid. As the title suggests, this is a collection of tracks culled from various 12” singles and EPs, but it would serve just as well as a “best of” initiation for anyone interested in dipping their toes in what the band has to offer. A good dose of their prime material—“Dead and Buried,” “Now I’m Feeling Zombified,” “I Walk the Line,” “Hurricane Fighter Plane,” “Inferno,” “Smells Like...” and a fistful of others—are here for the listening, so those interested in tuneage from a band that yowls with the best of ‘em yet refuses to be easily plopped into any one category would do well to pick this up. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.cherryred.co.uk)

Hell Yes b/w My Standard Break from Life: 7"
Against-my-better-judgement, catchy-as-hell songs that lick the razorblade separating pop and punk which bleeds in the same way as Green Day when they go to balladeer mode. Tight, well written, gettin’ girls wet while dudes can shake their fists along types of songs. If it helps, think of the Weakerthans with a couple of nuts and less wounded warrior poetry. –Todd Taylor (Lookout)

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