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No Idea Records

Record Reviews

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Self-titled: 7”EP
How is it that the Japanese have the same pieces to the puzzle that everyone else is given—instruments, brains, hearts, practice space—and yet they can come up with, time and again, music that’s more in focus, bouncier, and tighter? Pear Of The West are no exception; from Mami’s incredible voice, to the Buzzcocks meet the Parasites pop punk paradise of the playing. It’s the perfect realization of strong-voiced female vocals joyfully bubbling atop the best of the ‘90s, all compressed into superballs of songs that bounce all over the place and never get mushy. –Todd Taylor (Snuffy Smiles)

Stupid Game: 7"
I’ve been wholeheartedly endorsing Snuffy Smile records for so long, I’m running out of new ways to sing their praises. This is disconcerting to me because I want to keep getting the review copies, and I know that I have to type for my music. So here goes: Pear of the West plays poppy punk rock, but it’s more than that. There are the sweet, pop-style female vocals, but they’re backed by music that’s more complex and textured than you’d expect. Think of a Japanese version of Discount. Then factor in happy, Jughead-style guitar riffs, and you’ve got yourself a doozy of a seven inch. Highly recommended. Pear of the West has also released a kickass full length, This Means Little Resistance..., and a split 7” with Servo on Snuffy Smile. Those are highly recommended, too. –Sean Carswell (Snuffy Smile)

Passed Out the Wasted: CD
A self-described incomplete discography from this female-led band from Japan. The songs span from the years 2000-2008. Not sure if they broke up or not. But one thing for sure is they have that early pop punk sound from the late ‘90s to early ‘00s of bands like Discount, Co-Ed, and Servo. In fact, I see in the liner notes that they did a split with the latter. Songs are sung in English with a heavy Japanese accent, which give them a unique feel. You can hear the growth of the band from their humble beginnings: Raw but poppy at first, then you can hear the evolution with the musicianship and production. I don’t listen to much pop punk lately, but the later material is infectious and undeniably fun. –Donofthedead (Snuffy Smiles)

This Means Little Resistance and the Proof of Existence: CD

Mix in the undeniable catchiness of the Teen Idols when Heather sings or does a duet (like the Idols', "Twenty Below") , along with the jumpiness of Hi Standard, and a clear and radiant guitar, you've got Japan's Pear of the West. Female-fronted goodness, and it's pop punk, but in the new mutation that I'm liking so much more. Instead of tapping the pock marked vein of trying to cop what both Screeching Weasel and early Queers did so well, bands seem to be rotating the crops and pulling up the roots of some of the best catchy punk and instilling it with their own dirt and growth to fill in the spaces. Best Japanese to English translation line: "I'm full of drunk." Cool.

–Todd Taylor (Snuffy Smile)

Murder Blues And Prayer: CD
Combine garage rockers like the Count Five with the Rolling Stones and update it through the Cramps and the Crypt catalog and you’d get… well, pretty much everything like this and the White Stripes and all these other fucking bands that attempt some recidivist, reductionist version of two-chord neo-trash rawk. This was tired when the Oblivians and Guitar Wolf and the rest of the Crypt and Estrus catalogs did it. After this album, it’s so exhausted that it’s practically (and hopefully) dead on its feet.  –Puckett (Dim Mak)

Self-titled: LP
Shoegazing would probably not be the proper point of reference for this band, but I like a few things like that and I like this record for similar reasons. Heavy guitar reverb, dual female vocals, and minimalist drumbeats create a rainy day atmosphere that’s not depressing. They are sort of an upbeat Low. I hate to put it like this, but I just can’t think of another way to say it: It’s good music to chill to. Word. –Billups Allen (Rijapov, thepearls.bandcamp.com))

Walking the Walk: CD
These guys meet at the intersection of Saints Street and Devil Dogs Avenue, and then head over to catch a Muffs show. The songs are hellafied strong and they milk the best out of every clichéd riff in the rock’n’roll songbook, making this, strangely, the most refreshing album of its style I’ve heard in years. Would’ve much preferred them to sing in their native Italian rather than English, though.  –Jimmy Alvarado (www.thepeawees.com)

Everyone I Know Who Skis Is Dead: Cassette
Here are five songs from a post-rock group of talented high school dudes out of OrangeCounty. Lots of drifty clean guitars, occasional crunchy chugs for punctuation, finished off with husky, sadful singing. It’s cool, it’s ambient. I can get down with the echoing soundscapes built up by unhurried stacks of chords and reverb, but the singer sighing out lines like “you have got the best of me” and “you can watch me fall” distract from otherwise engaging songs by adding a sentimentality overload. If Pedestrian can stop crying ninety six tears they’ll graduate with honors from Rock and Roll High School, having double-shots of that baby love all the way to ParadiseCity or FunkyTown and out of the suburbs of feelingsville.  –Jim Joyce (Avocado, avocadorecords.blogspot.com)

Self-titled: LP
Mid-tempo punk that sounds quite aware of their ‘80s predecessors, but manage to eke out their own personality within. Singer sounds a helluva lot like Damaged-era Henry Rollins. Good stuff overall. –Jimmy Alvarado (A Wrench in the Gears)

Killing Season: 7”EP
Mid-paced, blunt punk thud that knows exactly what it’s doing and how to do it. Ulcerated vocals, slicey guitars, steam roller bass, cement mixer drums. It’s almost like The Pedestrians are construction workers, maintaining the structural integrity of certain DIY punk onramp, making sure everyone can get on board as easily and safely as possible, which is usually tough, thankless work. (When’s the last time you high fived a freeway worker?) Looking at it another way, The Pedestrians are making their own small, pragmatic monuments that are hooked into a much larger, world-wide system. Effective. –Todd Taylor (Residue)

Ideal Living: LP
I hear a lot of records that are good, but know they’re not improving life any. Every so often comes along something that just rips, and the sky is suddenly a prettier blue, and the birds are whistling sweet songs, and everyone is your friend. This Pedestrians album, their second I believe, is one of those life-improving type of records. Sure, my life hasn’t actually improved, but it’s a little nicer. I can’t remember the last time I heard a U.S. hardcore punk album, or band, this good, or should I say fantastic? They don’t rely on thrash for intensity. Instead, they craft well-structured songs that move at a moderately quick tempo. There’s no metal here either. I mean this is pure hardcore punk. Songs that are actual songs. The sort of stuff that inspires. That makes jaws drop. And the vocals are a dead ringer for Dez Cadena. It’s unreal. If it were physically possible to have this band as a lover, I would go for it without a doubt. Regardless of what the neighbors might say. So fuggin’ great! –Matt Average (A Wrench In The Gears)

Future Shock: LP
For the really great records, there’s just not all that much to say, especially since my vocabulary mostly consists of “rad” and “awesome.” But it’s pretty safe to say that if you like the inventiveness of Articles Of Faith, the boiling-over anger of The Offenders, and the total steamroller feel of Fucked Up (and let’s face it—you do), this is right up your alley. If you buy three records this year, this oughta be one of them. –Josh (Residue)

Ideal Divide: CD
I’m pretty sure this is a CD version of the vinyl I reviewed a while back (for some reason I can’t find said vinyl, though I’m certain I kept it), but just in case, these guys dish out some mighty fine hardcore that doesn’t need to resort to hitting warp factor five to show some muscle. Singer sounds like Henry Rollins when he was a punk, backed by a band that knows how to put them instruments to good use. The whole thing is top notch from beginning to end. –Jimmy Alvarado (Southkore)

Self-Titled: 7"
Sometimes I think I shouldn’t write record reviews because when I really like something, I have a tendency fall back on saying “this is rad” like I’m about to do right now: this record is rad. An Effigies comparison fits pretty well: inventive, plowing drums; guitars that sound thick and heavy without being slow or thuggish; and vocals that are forceful but still intelligible. It’s more raw and modern and it doesn’t have the post-punk leanings of songs like “Security,” but it’s definitely prototypical broad-shouldered, mid-tempo Chicago punk. An amazing debut by a band that hopefully we’ll hear much more from in the near future. –Josh (Southkore)

Dancing Friendly: CD
Peelander-Z are back on their own Eat Rice Records after a stint on a posh label and their sound and songs are better than ever! There’s even a song from a certain Miss Peelander-Pink this time! If you missed them at last year’s SXSW Festival… or even this year… never fear! They tour the U.S. practically every year! The live show is amazingly funny and amazingly good! J-PUNK LIVES IN NYC! AND THIS CD IS LIVING PROOF! –Mr. Z (Eat Rice; www.peelander-z.com)

P-Bone Steak: CD
Self-described as “The Japanese Noodle Samurai Punk Band,” Peelander-Z is one weird bunch. Three Japanese guys from New York get some costumes together and decide to rock out. Vocals remind me of a cross of Biafra mixed with the guy from F.O.D. who’s name escapes me. The songs have that late ‘70s, early ‘80s punk sound. The lyrics are either in broken English or Japanese. If you want something silly and has that garage feel, this is your new favorite band. –Donofthedead (Swell)

Split: 7”
Fun, fun, fun. Two noisy, chaotic, and spazzy tracks by two Japanese ex-pat bands living in America, soaking in a light-hearted darkness. Peelander-Z: The weird thing about these dudes? No, not that they’re comic book characters or the “from another planet” thing, but a good portion of their songs seem to begin in the middle and end where you’d usually start a song. If the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers had no special powers and Gummi Bear mouths (they could just gum you fiercely but look athletic doing it)... Birthday Suits: sound nothing like the following bands, but would fit perfectly on the bill: Scratch Acid, Shark Pants, The Causey Way, Japanther. When I say arty and noisy in this context, it’s not code for “shitty,” but tension and release, big-ass dynamics, a wall-of-sound that sounds much bigger than two humble dudes. Neat, neat, neat.  –Todd Taylor (Crustacean)

Lets Detonate: CD
I can’t help but conjuring up dudes in $200 jeans at fashionable bars who act like their guitar are an extension of their cock. Bleh, gross, no thanks. –bree (Beercan)

Demo: 7”
This demo (in tape form) has been around for a while, but I’m really glad Nervous Nelly had the good sense to put this out on a 7”. Not a lot of demos deserve a “proper” release, but this is one of the exceptions. Peeple Watching is the new band from Zack of The Credentials and picks up right where his old band left off: scrappy and passionate DIY punk rock for fans of ‘90s Bay Area punk and Boston stuff like Witches With Dicks and Awful Man. I’ve said this in past reviews of his other band, but it seems with every release he’s a part of the songs get better and more memorable, and this release is no exception. Looking forward hearing more from these guys, for sure! –Chris Mason (Nervous Nelly, nervousnelly.tumblr.com)

Demo: Cassette
For those of you, like me, who were bummed out that The Credentials called it quits way too soon, Zack is back with a brand new band and it’s a total rager: pop punk that could have come right out of the early ‘90s Gilman scene. But they’re a bit more mid-tempo and melodic that Zack’s previous band. A couple of these songs have been stuck in my head for days, something that The Credentials, no matter how good they were, never seemed to do. –Chris Mason ((Self-released)

Somethin’ to Tell Ya: LP
The cover album with its crude, ziney drawing of a leather-jacketed punk girl walking in the snow down a dirty city street with a 40 ounce in a bag crooked in her arm, the skyline behind her as she looks at the ground is a familiar image, that of the sentimental suffering that you’ll commonly find in punk, but in underground punk, an image that belongs to what I would call the cultural alchemy of punk, the unexplainable and untenable language that underground punk speaks, but is, nonetheless, very much there, beneath Vans Warped Tours and Henry Rollins’ flexing neck. The songs come from the same place: happy-sounding about bad times, sexual frustration, and loneliness; catchy but with garage dissonance; from the familiar place of damage, both familiar to our own and the collective damage that brought a bunch of misfits together in the first place; perhaps what Patti Smith was talking about when she said, “Those who have suffered understand suffering and thereby extend their hand.” When the lead singer sings “with my brand new pair of shoes and a backpack full of booze, I’m comin’ to tell you I’ve got nothin’ else to lose,” once again, it’s comforting and fun to listen to. But Peeple Watchin’ takes a huge subjective leap. The lead singer has recently, at twenty-seven, come out as a transgendered woman and some of the songs take on a far braver detour. Take, for example, when she sings about feeling she missed her prime, lamenting, “the only thing that’s passing is my youth,” she throws the punks a bone, in a youth movement full of old souls, feeling old is not uncommon and hits pretty hard, but she demands you look at it from her perspective, from the viewpoint of a recently out queer woman, and the bait and switch is staggering. –Craven Rock (nervousnelly.storenvy.com)

Somethin’ Ta Tell Ya: Cassette
Right out of the gate, the bass and the drums are pure energy; the guitars are loud and maybe even a little proud that there are so many really good riffs throughout the album. Better still, it seems like everyone in the band sings on every track, which for me is an undeniable invitation to sing along, as well. Even though this is sonically cheery and bright, lyrically I found it to be pretty bleak. That said, isn’t it more interesting to hear people sing about sad shit with energy and power? I think so. If I were in a pit of despair, this would be the soundtrack to my triumphant escape from it. –Bianca –Guest Contributor (Reality Is A Cult, realityisacult@gmail.com, realityisacult.com)

Mondo Deluxe: CD
Punk’n’roll that’s good enough to make you go "wow," yet I somehow missing that certain something that makes you go "whoosh." Put another way, although these guys are pretty damn good, I can’t really see myself gracing the Orange Death Machine with one of their stickers. –Jimmy Alvarado (Scooch Pooch, 5850 West 3rd #209, Los Angeles, CA 90036)

Rhetoric and Hands: 7” EP
I’m often exasperated at the myopia that plagues L.A. punk history. So many creative people, bands, and musical experiments get lost in the shuffle and the populace is treated to yet another Circle Jerks or Black Flag reissue while mountains of wicked cool stuff collects dust in some dank corner, unknown and criminally unloved. Water Under The Bridge has been kind enough to shine a little light into San Pedro punk’s historical dark corners, (re)issuing crucial recordings by the Reactionaries, Minutemen, Saccharine Trust and the release currently under discussion. An obscure act (my recollection is one track on an SST comp and that’s about it), this, along with the four tracks included with the complementary MP3 download code, comprise the sum of their oeuvre, with what’s on wax apparently being an EP that New Alliance never quite got around to releasing back in 1981. The sound is somewhere between the erudite, flanneled “Thinkin’ Joe” hardcore of the Minutemen and the art-punk minimalism of 100 Flowers, translating into “aggressive but still pretty goddamned weird.” Being old enough to remember and appreciate the musical melting pot L.A. punk once was, it’s great to see/hear some lesser-known talent getting some long-overdue love. –Jimmy Alvarado (Water Under The Bridge, waterunderthebridgerecords.com)

Bless This Mess: LP
Think Fifteen, Crimpshrine, J.Church. Think of people swarming over the band as they play, crawling over frothy waves of shaken beer to grab the mic. But as the guy whose seen the bands they’re influenced by (perhaps knowingly or unknowingly), I hope for the following. 1.) That they would let the songs breathe. It’s a lesson to be learned from the Carrie Nations’ Be Still. Because if someone new to the band isn’t rapt in the content of the lyrics, most of the songs, well, they really blend into one another into a solid chunk. “Roomies” is in the right direction with the long instrumental part before the same-singing-voice-mid-tempo-of-most-of-the-record sound that follows. 2.) Really learn your songs before recording them. I’m, by no means, an audiophile or looking for pro-dudes, but there are several songs that sound unintentionally shaky and falling-out-of-tune (which is fine live, but vinyl’s as close to “forever” as I can conceive). The charm of DIY punk is that—although rough—its intention is crystal clear. (Think cutoff shorts. The edges—no matter how raggedy-assed—don’t matter half as much as the length.) 3.) The good and bad news is that the most instantly memorable song on the record is a Crimpshrine cover. The definite upside is that there’s a ton of room for improvement and there are flashes of much stronger music possible at their fingertips. Shit, man. Sorry I’m not a cheerleader on this one; it’s just that I’ve seen variations of this band hundreds of times over the past twenty years. And they’re the band that’s opening up for the band I’m waiting to see. –Todd Taylor (Anti-Civ, anticivrecords@yahoo.com / Dirt Cult)

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