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No Idea Records

Record Reviews

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Empty Pockets: CD
It’s clear from first blush that the cats responsible for this release have been around the ol’ punk rock block. The tricky thing with older punkers playing in a modern setting is that oftentimes things get a bit too caught up in pining and/or attempting to recreate the “good ol’ days,” but these guys manage to keep the mothball stench of nostalgia at bay and deliver some strong tunes with lyrical content teetering toward more personal subject matter without coming off like a confessional session transcript, addressing not fitting in, lost love, being broke, and the like. They hail from Northern California, but there’s a definite mid-’80s Southern California feel to the tunes—catchy riffs, the vaguest wisp of oi influence, and tempos that rarely ratchet up past a solid gallop. All told, some solid work here. –Jimmy Alvarado (americanhabit@yahoo.com)

Split: CD
I don’t know why I grabbed this to review. I’m not into the rock’n’roll stuff too much. This reinforced my belief that I should have put this back. My interest dropped so fast that I couldn’t tell the difference between the two bands. I learned my lesson. –Donofthedead (Coldfront)

Self-titled: LP
The American Heist from Houston is my kind of band. They’re definitely firmly planted in their punk-as-fuck roots, but they also aren’t afraid to borrow from folk music traditions. They remind me a lot of Hudson Falcons, but with slightly harsher vocals. From the maroon vinyl and super cool bank robbery cover art on down, this LP is a labor of love. There’s no heist going on here, as these guys are doing all of us a favor by putting out a record. You can line up seven of your average dwarf oi bands and six would be called “dopey.” The last band standing is called The American Heist. –Art Ettinger (Cutthroat, myspace.com/cutthroatrecs)

Sedentary: LP
The one record I got this month that I literally know nothing about. I thought they were European, but it turns out they’re from here. I don’t mean the U.S., I mean Chicago. I live here. How have I not heard of this? And they have three full lengths. What? They sound like early Mastodon in that most of the riffs are pretty technical but are played with a consistency that sounds like the guitarist moves in triplet time constantly and just sort of moves his left hand around. Does that make sense? I mean he sounds bored. I don’t really mean that in a bad way, it’s sort of a mark of a good metal guitarist. I don’t really see super punk dudes getting into this, but those with a lot of crossover taste will appreciate this and the RIYLs all come from the bands name-checked as “guest musician” creds on this record (Mastodon, Nachmystium, Black Cobra). –Ian Wise (Solar Flare, solarflarerds@gmail.com)

Your Kids Need AK47s: CD

Crudely recorded punk/ska that would’ve been just peachy if they’d ditched the ska altogether and came up with more memorable punk songs. –Jimmy Alvarado (No address)



–Jimmy Alvarado (No address)

Listen, That’s Disco: 1-sided 12” EP
My geography’s not the best. Neither is my sense of time. The East Bay late ‘80s/early ‘90s has shifted to the Inland Empire (2009-201?). I don’t think anyone’s gonna deny that without the early Lookout and Fat catalogs shipping into chain stores in the dryer and hotter parts of Southern California that American Lies wouldn’t exist in its present state. American Lies is less beef jerky and more fruit leather. Sure, you can reduce all the ingredients to their original fruit components: Crimpshrine, Pinhead Gunpowder, Fifteen, NOFX, Sludgeworth. The good news with fruit leather is that all those musical notes are still pliable, flexible, shapeable, provide some nutrition. It’s not over-salted, dry, brittle relying on artificial preservation. American Lies are also playing with tangible excitement. The B-side is a bitchin’ silkscreen. Not for fans of disco. For fans who wish there was a record that bridged Today’s Empires… Tomorrow’s Ashes and Fallow. –Todd Taylor (americanliesband@gmail.com, Way Out West / Muy Autentico / Mouse House)

Listen, That’s Disco!: 12” EP
This record has six songs on it and they’re all really good. The songs are also all on side one. Side two has no songs on it, but it does have a sweet image of two dudes who look like they’re out of Saturday Night Fever, disco dancing with Stormtrooper helmets on. The track listing is also there, on top of grooveless vinyl. Everyone in this band is talented as hell. The songs are all very catchy, and they pretty much draw you inside of them. Listening to this, I feel like I’m in the same room with the band. Honest and real lyrics are sung through strong vocals that make it easy to understand where the songwriter is coming from. Songs about questioning your existence and growing old, but not wanting to let go of your youth. Good stuff. –Nighthawk (Autentico Records, americanlies.bandcamp.com)

Feed ’Em Before You Kill ’Em: CD

Punk rock with, sometimes, more country than is good for it. When they keep the tempo up, they can muster a good hardcore song, but when they start going for that modern Social Distortion sounds, watch out! In short, nice try, but no thanks.

–Jimmy Alvarado (American Pig)

Soundtrack of the Struggle: CD
American Static sounds like they've already sent their demo into TKO. Blue collar, proud-to-be-American, alcohol-encrusted punk. Woo! –Mr. Z (Street Anthem)

Destroy Their Future: CD
Destroy Their Future has quickly become one of my favorite recent releases. I heard American Steel for the first time this summer when I saw them play at the Fuck Yeah Fest in EchoPark. I enjoyed them then, but I was surprised by the difference between their live sound and their studio sound. Live, I thought they really sounded close to the Lawrence Arms. On this, it’s more of a… I dunno, electric-folksy, sing-along epicness? I know these guys predate Against Me! by a few years, but I think the first reaction upon listening to this is the urge to compare the two bands. I would say there are definitely grounds for doing this as they both share some similarities. Both bands have singers with an earnest working man’s operatic shout, both bands hit full tilt with choruses that beg to be sung along with, and both tend to write songs that resemble mini character sketches or open indictments against some facet of society. I have three favorite songs on this. “Mean Streak” starts out with a drunken-sounding intro about being a really anti-social girl, which turns into a love song from the girl’s point of view about one miserable fuck-up finding another miserable fuck-up with the chorus, “I like you ‘cause you’re like me.” I think that might be one of the most astute observations about how “love” tends to often function. “Smile on Me” starts out with a slow and lazy—almost acoustic—intro, breaks into one of the most joyous-sounding choruses when the rest of the band and backup singers bust in, and then, just as quickly, the song ends. I think the centerpiece of the whole album has to be “Old Croy Road.” This song about inheriting a father’s record collection is the kind of song that sucks you into the narrator’s viewpoint, even if you’ve never been in the exact same situation. This is the sort of song I think people were hoping for more of on the last couple of Against Me! releases. The rest of the record is just as strong. If big, hearty choruses are lacking in your life, I say pick this up. –Adrian (Fat Wreck)

Destroy Their Future: CD
I never really listened to this band the first time around. I see that they had a run of a few years where they had released three LPs, toured extensively, and disbanded in 2002. So they resurface and bam! Here’s the reformed band and a new record. So this is new territory for me. Right off the bat what comes to my mind is that they remind me of an Irish-influenced version of Against Me! meets One Man Army. But the second track, “Dead & Gone”goes into a different direction. It had a mixture of the Cure meets early Goo Goo Dolls before they went major. My favorite track, right off the bat. But this band gets hard to pigeonhole as you continue listening. They bring a lot of elements to the table. The song structures are multi-layered and yet still calculated. Not one song seems to be from the same camp, which keeps things interesting. This release is a pleasant surprise to my ears, indeed. I was so ready to dismiss this. –Donofthedead (Fat)

Dear Friends and Gentle Hearts: CD
“Emergency House Party” is an excellent, nearly perfect opening track. It really nails that enthusiastic “good stuff’s ahead” feel. The rest of the album is solid. Not quite as amazingly good as Destroy Their Future (One of my favorite albums of 2007), but really good nonetheless. To describe the sound, American Steel is like the East Bay Against Me! (and yes, I am fully aware that American Steel is the older band). Both bands ply their trade in clean and passionate vocals, distorted yet bright guitars, and great sing along choruses. First thing that stands out in this album, aside from the great opening track, is the prominent use of “ass” in two different choruses (the songs “Tear the Place Apart” and “Your Ass Ain’t Laughing Now”). It’s weird to hear that word sang with so much conviction, not just in one, but two, songs. Second is that the opening to “Finally Alone” sounds exactly like a song by some indie rock band I can’t remember at the moment. I want to say maybe the Arcade Fire. Overall, this is a pretty good CD, but it’s kind of like Leave Home or Give ‘Em Enough Rope in that it suffers from being not quite as mind blowing as the album that came before. I think, mostly, because the lyrics never quite click as well as in Destroy Their Futures. Still, this is a solid effort that’s better than most. –Adrian (Fat)

Dear Friends and Gentle Hearts: CD
Grown-up pop punk—polished production, expert musicianship, earnest vocals, and lyrics filled with personal introspection all wrapped up in snappy two and three minute packages. It doesn’t do much to excite me, however. And it’s not for a lack of fist-pumping choruses. Don’t worry guys, it has plenty of those. It’s just not exactly my bag, but I can see plenty of kids and grown-ups alike getting down with this album. My one real issue with the record is the line “haters can blow us” in the song “Your Ass Ain’t Laughing Now.” This is a pet peeve for me, but I really dislike the term “hater” and how it has permeated American English. And using it in conjunction with some lame, macho threat that were one to hate on them that fellatio would—by the hating party—then be a requirement is absolutely ridiculous. Firstly, it’s lazy songwriting. Secondly, it’s treading on offensive. –Jeff Proctor (Fat)

Self-titled: CDEP-R
I’m reading though this band’s one sheet and I notice that this release was produced by Jim Pearlman of Blue Oyster Cult and The Clash fame. That’s fucking sweet. Oh, wait—that was Sandy Pearlman! Well, maybe it’s his cousin or something. Anyway, this crisp sounding demo starts off with “Coming Back” and I think they’re pouring an icy cold one into a glass at the beginning of the song to get thing revved up. Sounds like the best drinking song since “Drinking and Driving.” The band keeps the amps cranked for the whole deal and this sounds really good at high volume. They tend to remind me of a twisted concoction of Scream and Junkyard. All in all, probably the hottest rock to come out of Pensacola since the last NASCAR crash. But at four songs, this is a quick fix. I hope more is on the way. –Sean Koepenick (Self-released)

Self-titled: 7”
American Sun is an all-female, dark garage punk three-piece with silly lyrics and an eye to the past. But there’s a problem with fetishizing the past. It leads to the resurgence of things like echo-drenched vocals and people thinking moustaches are pretty sweet. The goal should be to take what’s good from the past, develop it, and leave the headbands in the mud of rural New York. I like ‘60s garage rock as much as the next person, but it’s time to move on. Get over it. We went to the moon: there was nothing there. With that said, if I was wasted somewhere I didn’t want to be and this band came on, I’d think it was pretty cool. - Matthew –Guest Contributor (Self-released)

Self-titled: 7” EP
Little bits from here and there—garage rock, psych, art punk—Osterized together and topped with a delivery reminiscent of a Novocain hangover. Woozy, but good. –Jimmy Alvarado (American Sun)

Wanderers Forever: CD
For a band of thugs with a picture of their neck-tattooed selves giving mean faces on the cover of their album, their music sure is mushy. They put the brass knucks and blood-stained razorblades aside and decided to get misty eyed on this one, reminiscing about the old days and girls, but mostly the old days. Street punks get old too, I guess, and when they do, they break out the whoa-oh-ohs and wedge them between lyrics about remembering and redemption and change. If I labeled it emo street punk, I’d run the risk of them breaking out those brass knucks and razorblades again. But what else can I call it? Thugs and hugs? Yeah, that might work. –MP Johnson (Warbird Entertainment)

The Devouring: CD
A little bit o’ metal, a little bit o’ hardcore, add a dude one throat lozenge away from throat cancer grumbling about man’s perpetual destruction of the planet, and you’ve go the makings of this band. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.americanshardcore.com)

Give Up: CD
Hard-rocking Christians are always a hoot. Few things jack the needle up on the old laff-o-meter like constipated religious folk doing the Satan Rock thing. Remember Stryper? Sweet Jesus, what’s funnier than a bunch of born-again Christians wrapped in tight spandex and playing hair metal? How about some Amish gentlemen casting aside their hoes and butter-churners and picking up electrical instruments to unleash an unholy sound that falls somewhere between Jesus Lizard and Fear? This is the Amish Armada’s second full length and I’m sure there will be those who will describe them as an Amish Gwar; and while that comparison isn’t totally without merit, it’s a tad superficial. I hear a myriad of influences here, everything from Mr. Bungle and the Dead Kennedys to Merle Travis. And when you add to that a crazed frontman with a mustacheless beard and a wide brim black hat who sounds like Lee Ving in his angrier days, you’ve got a wonderfully weird and potent mix. There’s just something about the notion of an Amish Lee Ving that puts a little hike in my giddup. I never imagined neo-Luddites could be this much fun. Eclectic, dastardly smart, and funnier than an Amish circle jerk, the Amish Armada are a swift kick in the britches and are worthy of much notoriety. If I only knew the secret Amish gang handshake, I would shake their hands heartily. Good stuff. Bring this disc to your next quilting bee. –aphid (Amish Armada)

Straight, No Chaser: CD
This five-song disc really packs a punch. Right off the bat, it took me back to the late ‘90s with a sound that’s reminding me a lot of some of the bands on Dr. Strange in that era (The Marshes in particular) with a heavy dose of Anti-Flag’s first couple records (you know, the ones where they were mad rather than sad). They’re pissed off and rocking. There is something to be said for putting a socio-political message in your lyrics and not coming off like a preachy, whiny jerk. AEC pulls it off nicely. I really like this a lot and would hope there is a longer disc on the way. –Ty Stranglehold (Geykido Comet)

Kept Under by a Generation of Ghosts: CD
The Amistad are a British band that plays poppy emo punk, whatever that means. I already referenced them in another review I’m working on, but there are a lot of similarities between this band and the band The Reason from Ontario. I’m kind of tired of hearing so many bands that sound like this but, at the same time, keep me from hating them because their songs are kind of infectious. They provide no redeeming value but do provide some good toe tapping, head-bobbing times. Chances are, however, that you already have albums by bands like this in your collection that are just as good. These albums are the hardest to review, so check it out at your own risk or you too might be sucked into the great sound of mediocrity and indecision. –Kurt Morris (Bombed Out, bombedout.com)

Split: 7”
I’m really digging All In Vinyl’s series of U.K./American splits. They’re totally carrying on the Snuffy Smiles tradition (you know, just with a different country involved). The Amistad: Shit yeah. Catchy-as-hell punk rock from the U.K. Definitely in the same league as their fellow countrymen like Dauntless Elite and Bangers. A couple side notes: 1.) the guitar tone on these recordings is perfect and 2.) “If you find some answers, you’ve got 140 characters” - totally made me look up how many characters you get in a tweet, and lo and behold the answer is 140. New Bruises: One of my major complaints with a lot of “gruff” punk is that a lot of bands, try as they might, aren’t nearly catchy or interesting enough that I find myself humming their songs when alone. New Bruises is one of the bands that I’ve never really had that problem with. Solid stuff! Good split. –Chris Mason (All In Vinyl, allinvinyl.com)

Unity and Rebellion: CD
Here’s something that I wasn’t expecting to be writing. Ammunition is a band that is doing something new in the oi genre. Really. From the looks of the disc, it is pretty much the usual fare. Old English-style fonts, a group of skinheads, a skull, and a mean-looking dog. It was only after I played it that I realized that this was something special. Right off the bat, you notice that it’s really quiet. It wasn’t the mix, but the actual music. Low key, mid-tempo rock with the bass up front. Then the lyrics kicked in. The guy singing has a low, raspy voice and is almost whispering in his delivery. This in itself may not seem at extraordinary, but the lyrics themselves are what you would usually find on this kind of record, so it winds up being pretty amazing to hear someone so relaxed singing about storming the streets, standing and fighting, and hating the cops. It took me a couple of songs to wrap my head around it, but once I did, I really got into it. Cheers to you, Ammunition. You’ve managed to be original in a very static genre. –Ty Stranglehold (Class War)

Bad Fuggum from the Mysterium: CD
One or two of the Electric Eels run through some of their old songs as well as a few Pagans covers and a version of “7 and 7 Is.” Not a bad listen overall, although the Eels intensity is muted somewhat and the performances drag on occasion. The Pagans covers are particularly good. Biggest gripe: No “Cyclotron”? –Jimmy Alvarado (Smog Veil)

...Let the Infection Set In: CD
If anybody lost a whole bunch of delay, I think I found most of it. And while it’s the least bluntly brutal thing I’ve heard from C.N.P., it’s still plenty fucked up, what with the rampant and aforementioned echo, dissonant guitar and off-kilter timings, woozy synth swells and so forth. Too bad these guys weren’t around when I lived in Richmond; you couldn’t dance to the noise rock we had then. –Cuss Baxter (C.N.P.)

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