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No Idea Records

Record Reviews

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Shame: 7”
I don’t spend too much time, err, really any time at all listening to crust or d-beat. I mean, my favorite Dis-band is Discount. Thus I can’t really say if this going to float the average crusty’s boat or how it compares to genre-mates. Personally, I think it’s okay, but, as I said, I don’t really have a good basis for comparison. –Vincent Battilana (Forcefield)

Only Boundaries: 12” EP
Four songs of beefy emo rock, like prime Cursive, or the stuff that Revelation was releasing fifteen years ago. The musicianship is tight and the recording packs a punch and a crunch. The problem is, that while the music takes its cues from the highpoints of this much-maligned genre, the vocals are lifted wholesale from the radio emo of the last five years. The lead singer is whiney, and some dipstick screams in the background every now and then. Making matters worse, the vocals are super loud in the mix. It’s a shame, because the music shows a lot of promise; it’s just sunk by what Mr. Burns on The Simpsons would describe as “off-key caterwauling.” –CT Terry (No Sleep, nosleeprecs.com)

Split: CD
I don’t know how anybody can really be into music that either band makes. Balance And Composure sound like they are trying to write songs that will have mass alternative radio appeal. Just pure crap. Tigers Jaw is lucky that BAC is the other band on this split, because, comparatively, TJ is genius. While I don’t care for Tigers Jaw’s brand of Vagrant Records-styled stuff, they sound like they actually play what they want to. Plus, TJ keeps their songs close to the bearable three-minute mark; BAC’s tracks seemed endless. Not cool. –Vincent Battilana (No Sleep, nosleeprecs.com / Run For Cover, runforcoverrecords.com)

Split: 7"
There’s something cleansing about no-bullshit, full-speed-ahead hardcore. It’s sort of like sandpaper. You feel like you can rub it against anything – politics, dogmatism, bad jobs, being penniless, and marginalized – and by its abrasive friction, it makes things shinier. Hitting darkness with its own form of rough force. Now that Victory Records is courting boy bands, it’s high time that hardcore get reclaimed by bands like these, who take cues from Negative Approach, From Ashes Rise, and Deaththreat. I like Balance of Terror a tad more. They’ve already broke up, and it’s a shame. I always wonder at bands who go so fast but can weave in different ways and actually hook a melody deep inside the fast-moving blades, dropping cues on how the genre can redevelop itself instead of merely repeating. –Todd Taylor (Partners In Crime)

“The Message” b/w “The Railtown Abbey”: 7”
This single seems to be going for a funkier, Northern Soul-type sound. There are male and female vocals that go well together. The performances are A-OK, but there is such a thick layer of reverb over the whole thing there is not much attack. Do I hear keyboard and xylophone? I like what I think is going on, but I can’t fully make it out. “The Railtown Abbey” comes across as having a lot of energy that just can’t seem to bust out of the mire of a murky recording. It’s a good song. I would take a guess that the band sounds better live. –Billups Allen (La-Ti-Da, latidarecords.com)

Sound Asleep: CD
I had seen this band from Montreal, Canada this past summer and was not too impressed. I felt that they were going through the motions. It was a tough night for them to be playing with Paintbox, Sunday Morning Einsteins, Artimus Pyle and Harto. I know bands have off nights and I believe they truly had one that night. So, I was glad that this showed up for review. Musically powerful and emotional at the same time, this band plays a dirge of despair. Having elements of crust and anarcho punk from the past, they developed a sound that seems genuine and heartfelt. Female-led vocals that, at times, waver in pitch, belt out lyrics that are intelligent and seem to touch her personally and expressed by her delivery. The music is top notch, using a variety of chords, breaks, and tempo changes so that each song is not a repeat of the previous. An effort was made to structure the songs like stories. They may be a little long for some who are in the short-and-fast school of preference. Hearing this band in a studio situation gives me greater appreciation. –Donofthedead (Profane Existence)

Fuse: LP
I never get over the feeling of having no expectations for a band, and then being blown away. If This Is My Fist was a whole lot darker and angrier and had both male and female vocals, you’d be pretty close to where Ballast is. And that is a damn fine place to start. Throw in intelligent lyrics and great artwork and you’ve got something special. –Megan Pants (Trujaca Fala / Stonehenge)

People’s Republic of Rock and Roll: CD
Dolls meet AC/DC. Strictly for those who miss the glory days of KNAC, and I ain’t one of ‘em. –Jimmy Alvarado (Vicious Kitten)

Tales from the Basement: CD
Couldn’t find much info on these kids, but it appears they hail from Spain and are fond of playin’ pop punk. They steer clear of the heavy NOFX influence for the most part, opting to fiddle with ringing chords instead of Ramones power-chord worship. Songs are pretty solid, but it’s clear very early on that English ain’t their primary language. –Jimmy Alvarado (Balloon Flights, balloonflights04@gmail.com)

Gotta Have : CD
Back in the late '70s Tom Petty wrote this song for Stevie Nicks called "I Need to Know" but her "wow, that's, like, a bummer" hippie delivery was so unconvincing that he took the song back. Tricie Kiss gets it right, though, on Balls cover of that song. On the other end of the spectrum they also cover "Whole Lotta Rosie" by AC/DC. The nine originals on this self-released effort by a three guys and a chick singer punk group from Arizona are pretty ballsy, too. –Guest Contributor (Balls)

Split: 7”

Two northwest post-hardcore bands share this split. Balsa, a Seattle band, offers three songs packed tight with steady drum fills and pulsing bass that keep things rolling. The vocals are strange, screechy male vox, that are a bit off-putting at first listen. Flip to side B, all girl band Sei Hexe, self-described as “cat metal,” offers two songs which can best be described as post-hardcore/tribal crust. A mix of goth, metal, and post-punk. It’s dark, aggressive, tribal, and gets under your skin. This is really not my thing, but I have a feeling they probably kill this shit live.

–Camylle Reynolds (String Break, stringbreak.com)

Out of the Grave and into the Dark: CD/DVD
Here is the second domestic release from Japan’s horror punks. This includes the Came out of the Grave LP that came out last year on the band’s own Diwphalanx label in Japan and G-Force Records out of Germany. Also included are the tracks from the Dark-ism EP that was released earlier this year in Japan. Throw in the bonus track “Gimme Some Truth,” and you get a jammed pack release. But wait, there is more! There is a bonus DVD with three music videos, a short movie, five songs shot from a live performance in Tokyo, and five more songs. What a package! That is even more than was offered in the 2003 domestic release of Beyond the Darkness. So that is a lot of bang for your buck. The way the exchange rate is with the Euro or Yen, you will spending some bucks to get all this stuff. Don’t know who this band is? Well, simply put, this band from Japan are heavily influenced by the Misfits and Samhain. They took what those bands had started and improved upon it. Now they have built a large cult of fans around the world with their brand of horror punk. Their popularity in Japan can be compared to that of AFI in the states. So check out another great band from Japan and see what the excitement is about. If you are hooked, look up Horrorwood Distribution to pick up those Japanese-only releases that will fill up your appetite. –Donofthedead (Misfits)

Beyond the Darkness: CD
If you didn’t make it out to Fiend Fest to see Balzac on their first US tour, you missed out. Let me tell you, they were fuckin’ incredible. I saw kids seeing and hearing them for the first time get blown away by their set. I even got to hang with them for a bit each night that I went. Here is a little history for you. The band originated in 1992 and are from Osaka, Japan. The band is a Misfits-influenced band that has taken everything that is to be loved of the band and improved on it. They play original songs that are catchy and can compete against the Misfits catalog. This release is a collection of songs from their past catalog that they re-recorded for their North American introduction. Some of the songs on this recording were released earlier this year in Japan as the Beware of Darkness EP. On that EP, the song “The Pain (Is All Around)” and three live tracks did not end up on the American release. But the American release is chock full’o songs. Seventeen studio and three live tracks fill the disc. In addition, you get a bonus DVD of videos that were only available in Japan. The differences I hear in this recording session, compared to the past versions, are the vocals are a little up front in the mix, the guitar is a little pushed back, and the tempo is a hair slower, I believe. The songs are still great though! I look at it as just a different version of a great thing. Fans of the Misfits, Samhain, AFI or Danzig, here is your next favorite band! –Donofthedead (Misfits)

Terrifying! The Art of Dying / The Last Men on Earth II: CD
Are you still obsessed with the Misfits and Samhain? You have every item related to those bands known to mankind? How about trying a band that is still together? They have a fan club called “Fiendish Club,” dolls and all the merchandise a fanatic could latch on to. Many reading this are probably saying that I already know about this band. This is intended for those not in the know. First off, this band put together two things that I am interested in – Japanese things and punk rock. Mix that in with a worship for Glenn Danzig, the Misfits and Samhain. They have devil locks and their skulls are similar to the Misfits. The music is similar to a point. But they take it further to add their own punch. What is presented here is a re-recording of their long out of print first album, The Last Men on Earth. The songs were re-done to give it more punch. Included in the second disc is a bonus release of nine songs to give the listener more to cherish. All this is packaged together in a special release box. Now go scour the internet and get this. Horrorwood Distribution sells Balzac stuff in the states. As good as an ice cold beer! –Donofthedead (Diwphalanx)

Golden Haze 2: 7" EP
The title track is anchored on a simple dark riff, from which they speed up the tempo then slow it back down for the chorus. Nice bit of work there. The remaining tracks more or less fall within the sorta lo-fi pop confines that modern college radio stations seem to find so swell. This isn’t a necessarily bad thing, it’s just the others don’t quite live up to the infectiousness of that opening salvo. –Jimmy Alvarado (HHBTM)

Play Out of Tune: CD
Starts off with a nice little surf ditty, then proceeds to come off as a college garage band with too many Cramps and Gun Club CDs in their collection, with half the talent to boot. –Jimmy Alvarado (Slusaj Najglasnije)

Feel Like Hell: CD
Everyone tells me I should be a big Devil Dog fan, but I’m not. If you are, buy this. Its really that simple. –Speedway Randy (Empty)

The Way Things Are: EP
The Bamboo Kids have been at it for close to ten years now, and this new EP of theirs won’t disappoint in the least. Fans of The Lazy Cowgirls, Thunders, Dead Boys, and Dramarama alike will dig on this current release from the ‘Kids, as will those folks who get off on the Ziggy Stardust era of Bowie, and the Exile On Main St. era of the Stones. These may sound like some broad strokes I’m painting, yeah, but keep in mind that this trio is no stranger to laying down some of the catchiest, better East Coast rock’n’roll, as their first two full lengths, The Bamboo Kids and This Ain’t No Revolution have proven in the past. The Way Things Are hints at a bit more maturity this spin around, but in no way gets diluted along the way, or loses any of the bands’ substance, like so many other bands have in the past (and present, unfortunately). Most definitely recommended, and that goes for their entire catalog. –Designated Dale (drugfrontrecords.com)

Safe City Blues: 2 x LP
If the Exploding Hearts would have matured along the same trajectory as the Figgs for the last ten years, and somehow bumped into the first Boomtown Rats and Jim Carroll Band albums along the way, when they weren’t sounding like a slightly more housebroken Barreracudas, then saw fit to replicate occasional glimpses of those faux-ass-shaker bands of about ten years ago like the Sick Fits or the Richmond Sluts for levity, garnishing the whole bit with small doses of New York network TV soul a la Springsteen or DeVille, then made a double batch of big vinyl cookies with the results because no single platter could contain all the awesome thus produced, i’m guessing it’d sound a lot like this double album. Wouldn’t you? Look to thy laurels, London Calling! Make way, Zen Arcade! Don’t buy any green bananas, Registrators thing with the big long title! THE BAMBOO KIDS HAVE DONE SOMETHING OF NOTE!!! None can ask fairer than that. BEST SONG: “Batshit Crazy.” BEST SONG TITLE: Curiously, it’s also “Batshit Crazy.” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: This double album comes with a download code that includes all the songs plus nine bonus tracks! Look to thy laurels, “Dozen Beats Eleven!” –Rev. Norb (Drug Front)

Safe City Blues: 2 x LP
Not too long ago, I reviewed an EP from the ‘Kids in these very pages, and was pleasantly surprised that such a great rock’n’roll band like this exists these days. This double full-length, which includes the songs from that EP, further prove that NYC is far from finished when it comes to laying down the goods in the studio, as well as producing some of the better live acts that you and your more discriminating, music-craving pals can catch these days. Those keen on the vinyl will also be happy to know that the 150 gram vinyl version of this set is limited to 250 copies and also includes a download card that scores you nine extra tracks (thirty songs total!). Safe City Blues is a healthy dollop of getting your riffed-filled rocks off, and there’s no correct side of the genre dividing line you have to stand on to appreciate these rekkids. Simply put, if you like good music (as Sam Cooke one time asked), chances are you’ll have a helluva good time spinning this vinyl. The Bamboo Kids’ soundscape mixes and matches with some of the better influences of our time: Dead Boys/Stiv’s post-Dead Boys solo work, the non-wanking era of The Stones, that all-too-brief 1973 to 1974 window of the New York Dolls, a healthy dusting of Bowie’s glitter era, the catchiness of Mott The Hoople, and those awesomely solid hooks that Dramarama still bring to the table to this day, and this is just what I hear the first couple of times around. Fans of Prima Donna should find the ‘Kids right up their dirty little alley, as well. These three guys have been at it for ten years now, and not only does it keep getting more and more solid, but they deliver just as much as most four or five piece bands do. Yeah, think about that while you dig on this. –Designated Dale –Designated Dale (Drug Front, drugfrontrecords.com)

Split: 12"
Bamn reminds me a lot of Wilmington’s Armistice—super crusty! Black Star Rising is super fast Swedish street punk. This is one of the best new splits out right now, and from the DIY looks of it all, it’s probably not too far off from being permanently out-of-print forever. So you better go pick yourself up a copy right away! –Mr. Z (S&M)

New Animals: CD
Hooray! At this point, the Bananas could’ve easily coasted on past exploits. I mean, if you’ve already made the musical equivalents of The Statue of Liberty (A Slippery Subject) and the Grand Canyon (Nautical Rock’n’roll)—(these monuments are totally arbitrary; solely used for illustrative purposes due to their hefty landmark fame)—no one’s gonna give you shit if the new record doesn’t make a Mount Rushmore (without fucking over the Oglala Sioux). I mean, these three Sacramentoians basically made, and then perfected, a version of punk that’s equal parts confectioner’s sugar and cordite. It’s as sweet as a Jolly Rancher, but as dangerous as a grenade with the pin already pulled in the hands of an infant. It’s celebratory, raucous DIY pop that has the wonderful tendency to explode into unexpected chunks. I’ve put my level of trust in The Bananas on the same shelf as two long-standing underground bands that, last year, they went and upped the ante on themselves. The Arrivals’ Marvels of Industry and The Tim Version’s The Decline of the Southern Gentlemen are two hard-playing band’s best records. Mind you, I already celebrated The Bananas entire catalog, but New Animals is the best album by one of my already-favorite bands. The lead-off song is quite possibly the catchiest song about gentrification ever written. Wahoo! –Todd Taylor (Recess)

A Slippery Subject: CD
The Bananas are sonically similar to a ferociously flamin' firestorm of The Dead Milkmen, Descendents, Doggy Style, Germs, and a psychotically crazed Thelonious Monster... they loudly blend an upbeat and addictive melange of wondrous musical weirdness that's all-at-once melodic, poppy, punky, funky, and pure... spastic, manic, snotty, and chaotically all over the fuckin' place... wildly primal, feverishly unrelenting, and goshdarned energetically frenzied! This is the sort of audial nastiness that should be routinely blasted at daycare centers everywhere, 'cause it's so damn bratty, clownish, and jubilantly hyperactive... yep, it playfully tugs at my inner ears, goofily slaps me upside the head, and then teasingly pulls me back for more. So I recommend this deliciously delightful disc profusely: get "A Slippery Subject" by The Bananas as soon as humanly possible... it'll drive ya ape and make a monkey outta you in no time at all! –Guest Contributor (Plan-It-X)

Broken Dreams: CD
Arriving ten-and-a-half years too late for the party, these guys provide the definitive follow-up album to both Alice in Chains and Soundgarden’s respective careers, circa 1993. Competent at their craft and spot-on in their aping the commercial wing of the “grunge” sound, maybe they’ll strike it rich when the grunge revival hits in five years, but right now this is woefully uninteresting. Adding a little confusion to the proceedings, they’re apparently somehow aligned with the Hieroglyphics hip hop crew. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.abandcalledpain.com)

Self-titled: 7”EP
Dreamy, lysergic-drenched drone rock. While minimalistic in structure, the four tracks here are remarkably diverse in approach, with one that sounds like someone’s jamming along on a sitar. –Jimmy Alvarado (Hozac, hozacrecords.com)

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