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No Idea Records

Record Reviews

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Split: CD
The Break: Hmm, no. Cock rock (or uplifting metal, you decide) meets hardcore wasn't a good idea with Junkyard. (Shake that hair, Brian Baker, shake it, 'till you forget the words Minor Threat.) The idea hasn't improved with age. This is the second band this rotation that's resurrected something that should remain deader than dirt. Leave the power ballads to Whitesnake. It worked - marginally, but topically - with cocaine and hookers, not why you think war is bad. Let It Burn: Three mid-paced finger snappers that take the catchiness of early CIV, use sharp and clear like broken glass guitars, and a guy who can sing about the noose of nostalgia, straight-up romance, and the love of a specific city, all like his life depends on it. If I could only program the CD to skip the first three songs, a boner'd be popped. –Todd Taylor (Doghouse)

Split: CD
The Break: Decent enough poppy punk rock, although the emo flourishes of the second track made my flesh crawl. Let It Burn: I really liked the music here, rife with just the right balance of pop hooks and hardcore attack, but that slight whine in the singer’s voice and his monotone delivery just grated like nails on a blackboard. A little more vocal melodicism and I would’ve been all over myself praising these muthafuckas. –Jimmy Alvarado (Doghouse)

Walking Out on Love (The Lost Sessions): CD
After the end of The Nerves, Paul Collins and Peter Case started a new outfit. Previously only two songs were ever made available to the masses via a Bomp compilation. Now from the archives comes this thirteen-song release. Only three songs look to repeat from the recent Nerves CD. This sounds like a band trying to find its sound, but it really does not matter since both Paul and Peter are such fantastic songwriters. A revolving door of almost members completes the lineup here. But as quickly as it started, it ended. Case went to start The Plimsouls and the Paul Collins Beat was born. If you like even one song from either outfit, then you need this too. –Sean Koepenick (Alive)

Walking Out on Love (The Lost Sessions): CD
Between the breakup of L.A. power pop legends The Nerves and the formation of their equally legendary bands The Beat (not to be confused with the English Beat) and the Plimsouls, Paul Collins and Peter Case had a band called the Breakaways. Although the group never really quite got off the ground, they did manage to record a few demos of some tunes from the Nerves’ set list and, in the case of the title track, some that would also feature in the Beat’s future set list. These tapes were apparently mislaid for many a moon, but have been rediscovered and released. The sound quality is great considering these are demos and they’re some thirty-odd years old, and the songs, well, we are talking about the dudes responsible for “Rock ’n’ Roll Girl” and “A Million Miles Away,” so of course the tunes are top notch. –Jimmy Alvarado (Alive)

Battle Hymns for an Angry Planet: CD
Mosh metal (from New York, of course) that’s about as groundbreaking and exciting as the last Backstreet Boys record. Guest vocals on one song courtesy of Roger from Agnostic Front. –Jimmy Alvarado (Thorp, PO Box 2007 Upper Darby, PA 19082)

1987 Demo: CD
Late ‘80s NYHC, which means this is metal with a singer who shouts instead of sings. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.blackoutrecords.com)

Battle Hymns For An Angry Planet: CD
Ok, I was given a stack of CDs for a fellow reviewer and myself to review. On my drive to work I threw in each one, gave it a 10 second scan of each song and came up with two out of ten that I could actually review. Now... Breakdown is not a band whose album I would go looking for, nor would I actually buy it. It’s one of those CDs I would borrow indefinitely from someone. I need a reason to listen to this band, i.e. bad day at work, fight with the ol’ man, etc... This band has playing ability, and they probably have something to say, but I can’t find the booklet to read the lyrics. The best thing about this band is the unmistakable late eighties/ early nineties sound they have. Think Billy Milano-ish vocals, the SOD/ MOD “moshing” interludes that flow right into a double time chorus that stops, fades, then whips you right back into the mosh pit. I hear a little Slayer action in the guitar leads, and those big shouting back up vocals, usually consisting of the words like, “WAR,” “HATE,” or “KILL.” If you were a Fender’s Ballroom local and remember the “cross over” era fondly, you’ll probably like this too. –Julia Smut (I Scream Records)

Runnin’ Scared: LP
Breakdown were one of those bands whose influence has always been heard more than their actual music, due mostly in part to the fact that their early output consisted of two demo tapes and four tracks total on the late ‘80s comps NYHC: The Way It Is and Where the Wild Things Are. Breakdown’s talent was overshadowed by other bands in the scene that were able to put out records in the late ‘80s (Warzone, Gorilla Biscuits, Agnostic Front, etc), but that doesn’t make them a bad band. The younger generation might remember singer Jeff Perlin from his time in Slumlords, but his younger years (these recordings specifically) were spent contemplating more serious issues and making music a lot more stripped down. These songs are sourced from the band’s second demo tape, recorded in 1987, as well as a live set from WNYU in ‘89 that sounds better than expected. There are two more tracks from an unreleased session in ‘87 that are just alternate versions of other tracks and I didn’t really feel are needed, but I’m certainly not going to complain about extra stuff being thrown on top of what you’re already getting here. I’ve always had an affinity for the NYHC recordings that were a little rough around the edges (like Warzone’s Lower East Side 7”, the Life’s Blood 7”), and this record falls nicely into that category. This record works because not only is it a document of something falling into the obscure side of a certain scene for collectors and completists, but the songs are good enough in their own right to warrant getting a proper release.  –Ian Wise (Painkiller)

Let the Young Minds Think: Cassette
Great, a four-song cassette tape from a totally generic hardcore band. Does anyone really care about limited edition tapes? There’s a reason no one listens to these things anymore guys—they sound like shit. This is no exception. (I looked at the record company website and they actually have multiple colors for each tape. This collector shit is getting out of hand.) –Ryan Horky (Mind Melt, mindmelt.lifeyo.com)

Phoenix: CD
Oh, sweet merciful fucking Christ on the cross. These shoegazing indie-emo fucks are one step removed from The Get Up Kids (that step would be the very slight crunchy modern emo-core edge) and I don’t mean that in any of the good ways. If you think there are actually good things that statement could mean, you are likely reading the wrong magazine and should renew your subscription to Spin or Rolling Stoneforthwith.  –Puckett (Equal Vision)

Get Saved: 7”
Hardcore from Chicago that has all it needs to achieve future “classic release” status: fast beats, stop-on-a-dime breaks, pretty good lyrics, pissed vocals, and a band tighter than Bush’s grip on an oil-producing third world country. This is some seriously bad ass shit here. Be sure to send a full-length this way when it hit the streets, kids. –Jimmy Alvarado (Firestarter)

…Are Broke: one-sided 7”EP
The format’s curious. A five-song, one-sided EP that goes at 33. Perhaps it’s a money-saving enterprise because the band had already broken up or they wanted to laugh at all the suckers who drop the needle on the blank side? The Breaks were a straight-ahead St. Louis (they’re very no-coast proud) hardcore band in the 1981 (coasts), 1983 (Midwest) sense of the word. The good news is the bad news: tight, powerful, heartfelt music that was close to twenty years old when The Breaks were around. I believe that they believe what they believe; it’s just that the musical mold they chose had already been cast and hardened. The Breaks pour right into what Minor Threat and Youth Of Today had already formed and settled right into that shape. You know exactly what the music’s gonna look like. The band broke up in 2006. –Todd Taylor (Firestarter)

Nobody Likes a Winner: CD
This record is not completely repulsive to me, but it is permeated with a sort of synthetic ickiness that makes me imagine that it was the product of Gordon Gano’s not-quite-as-bright son leading a band who idolize the Figgs at their least exciting, promulgating a crop of tunes based off the unlikely blueprint of the final Mr. T Experience album—i.e., this is a record where the time between the appearance of Clever Bits is of an extended enough duration that not only do you cease caring about the upcoming Clever Bit, but you also begin to resent the previous Clever Bit for being so unfulfilling. Even the lyrical chirps about Camus sound more lame-o collegiate than they do legitimately pop cultural, so kindly reference that song by Jonathan Richman about the girl not laughing at his jokes to see an example of how a proper pop-Camus reference should be handled. I do not generally wear a wristwatch, but, during the course of this album, i found myself looking at the spot on my wrist where a wristwatch would most likely be located. Quite often. BEST SONG: “Nobody Likes a Winner” BEST SONG TITLE: “The Day Before the First Day of the Rest of My Life,” which should just underscore how subtly annoying this album is. FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: I was Employee of the Month once at Domino’s Pizza. –Rev. Norb (Get Hip)

So Much Unhappiness So Little Time: CD

Fans of power pop can get behind the Breakup Society’s new release pretty easily. Lead songwriter Ed Masley writes tracks that could’ve been featured on a Left of the Dial Rhino Records compilation for their similarity to ‘80s and early ‘90s alternative rock (think Hoodoo Gurus) that they recall. Despite the crotchety album title, So Much Unhappiness So Little Time is upbeat. These are songs written by someone who’s likely an old hand at crafting hook-heavy pop rock, laden with glittery sustained chords alongside sweet and sour garage rock vocals, only maybe the nicer garage of a guy who remembers to cut his lawn. The result reminds me a bit of Superchunk or Spoon in a good way, though the shimmer and omnipresence of Masley’s voice kept me from falling into the songs completely. Not exactly my thing, but plenty to like for fans of power pop to check out.

–Jim Joyce (Get Hip, gethip.com)

Charmer: CD
Tough hardcore from the bluegrass state that will leave your head spinning. I felt like I was in the fucking boat with Willy Wonka on an out-of-control tour of the Jack Daniel’s distillery when I heard this great new release on a label willing to take some chances. Everything from all-out hardcore to grunge-influenced headbang sessions. A much different take on the same old shit. JasonK –Guest Contributor (Jade Tree)

Self-titled: CD
I don’t know shit about recording music, but even I could figure out how to get songs at the correct levels. Not The Breathing Light. One song is loud, the other soft. The next one is loud and so on. It’s as though no one mastered this album (which may not be too far from the truth). That being said, I actually liked some of the music on here. It had some cheap-sounding guitars that still proved effective and vocals that, at times, reminded me of the band Egon from El Paso, Texas. The noisy, dirty sound says it’s in the garage punk camp, but the recording makes it hard to tell. At least it shows potential. I’d be interested in hearing more if it was recorded properly. –Kurt Morris (thebreathinglight.tumblr.com)

Self-titled: CD-R
It would be easy to dismiss the Breathing Light’s effort as lacking structure, amateurish, and musically scattered. All these attributes initially came to mind as I was trying to process the few listenable moments. Hope was seemingly lost until I noticed the following words printed on the back of the CD jacket: “Recorded in classrooms and basements, DIY or fuck off!” That fills me with mountains of hope that soon they’ll sort out their New York no-wave, goth, indie, and punk influences and meld it into something more palatable.  –Juan Espinosa (Slash Em Up Collective, theonenother@gmail.)

Crossroads: CD
I can tell this Czech band likes bands that I like, I just think they like the bands I like in eras I don’t like them. Does that make sense? The Breed sounds a bit like DRI and a lot like Discharge, but in their metal years. I kind of like the chanted gang vocals, but can’t get past the Metal Zone guitar tones and double bass. Pass. –Chris Mason (Papagajuv Hlasatel, phr.cz)

Self-titled: 2 x LP
Lanchy, from Totalitär, Krig I Hudik, and Brainbombs makes up half of this very interesting duo. Mentioning his past efforts, you might expect some hardcore or misanthropic Flipper-esque kind of music. Not the case here. I point this out because it’s refreshing to see a musician not rest on their laurels and take the safe route. Bremen are a mix of drone, psych, spacerock (“Moon of Led” brings to mind Hawkwind), and krautrock. Four of my favorite musical forms in mixed into one project? Please! Not to mention it has someone who has played in bands I have immense respect for? Can it get any better? Yes! This record has me locked in, giving myself over to the drone or the sweeping feedback that screams and yet has this hypnotic quality about it. “Bastogne” is a somber piano piece closing out the first side. Keys are hit, sound fills the room and fades away with guitar lurking in the background, never really making its presence known too much until the end. It’s the songs like the aforementioned “Bastgone,” “Don’t Bring Me Home Yet,” “Debris in Orbit,” and “Nitrate Blossom” that really pull me in to this record. To the point where I don’t want it to end. This is the kind of music that shuts the world out, all without resorting to being loud. The power is in the quiet and dark and the mood they create. Excellent, excellent album. –M.Avrg –Guest Contributor (Skrammel, order@skrammelrecords.se, skrammelrecords.se)

Wasted Potential: CD
Acoustic stuff is tricky work, especially in a setting like this: two frontmen of two popular bands (Lawrence Arms and Smoke Or Fire) rendering acoustic versions of their songs. To their credit, I’d say that Wasted Potential is reasonably successful. I’ve heard Smoke Or Fire on a handful of comp songs over the years and never really found them that memorable. Unfortunately, Joe McMahon’s solo outings seem to yield the same results: his voice comes across as a bit too high-pitched to compliment the git-fiddle in his hands, and the songs themselves tend to blend together. Brendan Kelly’s material fares better, if only for the fact that his bandmate Chris McCaughan sings on half of his songs, lending a bit of variety. The bias is obvious: I’ve enjoyed the Lawrence Arms for years, and hearing these songs was a treat. Granted, it’s certainly not the best venue to be introduced to the songs, but hearing the solemnity of “Necrotism”—somewhat buried in the original, electric version—and the subdued, yearning rendition of Jawbreaker’s “Kiss the Bottle” was pretty awesome. I’d say Wasted Potential is mostly for hardcore fans of either band, but Kelly’s side (though why McCaughan isn’t credited for any of the vocal work here is beyond me) carries the bulk of the weight. Fun record. –Keith Rosson (Red Scare)

I’d Rather Die Than Live Forever: CD
The singer / bassist from The Lawrence Arms has put out a new CD after a previous EP. It has hardly anything in common with The Lawrence Arms other than the raspy vocals. This has only two songs that could be considered punk rock, with the rest being more rock and acoustic songs, but they are infused with a punk spirit. You have good production on here and really good lyrics that make this a very cool change of pace for when you need something not in your face, but a bit more laid back that still has a bite to it. –Guest Contributor (Red Scare Industries, redscare.net)

The Night Shift: CD
It’s a change of pace to get a comedy CD. Although, the production quality seems professional in terms of the laugh tracks and getting an extremely eerie effect from the tone of his voice (it’s rather emotionless, like a serial killer on the phone). During the stand-up stuff, Weinbach has high energy and the crowd sounds receptive, but the material alone without us listeners seeing his facial expressions or mannerism falls flat. I just didn’t find myself laughing about how he wanted to be Chun-Li from Street Fighter II and how the six joystick buttons reminded him of his six testicles. So, perhaps Weinbach sums it up perfectly in his track “Making Sense” when he says, “It’s not supposed to make any sense.” –N.L. Dewart (Talent Moat)

“Va Va Va Voom” b/w “Space Ace”: 7”
Reaching back across the decades into the glam pool can be tricky. Sing Sing made it easy this time with a quality grab by Bret Smiley. “Va Va Va Voom” is a jumpy rocker in the vein of Mud with rowdy pianos and horns. “Space Ace” is more elaborate and dramatic with a Bowie-esque soar; perfect for the beginning of a long night or for the end of the night joint.  –Billups Allen (Sing Sing)

Untouchable: CDEP
As the band and label name imply, there is a definite interest in certain malt beverages in evidence here. Normally, that’s a bit of a black mark for me, not because I’m a prude, ’cause, lord knows, I’ve been know to knock back a few in my time, but because it seems like such an easy rabbit hole to hide in instead of saying something truly threatening to the status quo. In this case, however, they pair that unhealthy obsessin’ with some decent meat and potatoes punk rock, and even manage to make a point or two that don’t involve drinkin’. Can’t say they’re my favorite new band, but I ain’t hatin’ what they’re dishin’ out, either. –Jimmy Alvarado (Wet Brain)

Unquenchable: CD
I think every town has a band like these guys. Slightly older guys who enjoy Motörhead and drinking and have probably gone through a Gregg Allman-like amount of marriages. Dudes who sound like Fear and wear their own T-shirts, not in an exercise of self-promotion, but because that was what was within reach when they drunkenly stumbled out of bed that morning. It may sound like I’m not talking about the actual music in this review, but you’d be wrong. This CD is the aural equivalent of those things. I think the world needs those things. –Ryan Horky (Wet Brain)

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