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No Idea Records

Record Reviews

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SMUT PEDDLERS:
Bipolar Girl: 7" EP
Tickle me pink and tattoo a skull on my throat. This is good. When I'd cordoned off the Smut Peddlers to the playground of The Dwarves and GG Allin camp of white trash punk, comes this slab of wax. The playing has always been powerful (shit, with Roger Ramjet (X-Members, Pushers, ADZ) skinning his guitar, leading the attack) and with Julia's drumming and Gish's bass, the music's been as tight as a liposuctioned thigh on a soccer mom, but the lyrics seemed - well - a bit dumb. I'm not asking for "Masterpiece Theatre" or anything, but it seemed they were gonna get as complex and deep as shooting speed. Maybe I wasn't listening closely enough before. For example, with the song and main chorus "Let's Get (Fucked Up)" is the inverse of what you're thinking. It's about the travails of a sober guy drinking fizzy apple cider on New Years Eve. And the other two songs complete Polaroid snapshots of Orange County in decline - surfers with Hepatitis C, washed-up construction worker surfers, and being in love with a girl with a bona fide psychological disorder. I'd even go far to say that "Surfer's Grave" is an epic. A surprise. What separates this release from the rest of the Hostage pack? The band's actually smiling on the picture on the insert. –Todd Taylor (Hostage, PO Box 7736, Huntington Beach, CA 92615)


SMUT PEDDLERS:
Coming Out: CD
Five LPs from a SouthBay or OC punk band? It’s almost unheard of. As a matter of fact, I can think of a handful. I’m sure there’s more. The Circle Jerks’ VI LP (not so good), Pennywise’s Straight Ahead (proficient), and TSOL’s Disapear (I’m not counting the Joe Wood ones, and, strangely, their latest, Divided We Stand is better than Disappear), FYP’s Toys That Kill (excellent, excellent stuff), and the Minutemen’s 3-Way Tie (For Last) (not their best, but far from slouching and I’ve got a soft spot for D. Boon). OC and the SouthBay breed a special, more resilient fuckup. Bands just usually can’t stay together and tend to crack from member’s jail visits, egos, addictions, old-fashioned wig-outs, or any cocktail of the four. For a band to keep it together when the lead singer’s fixated on skate parks and rattles on about pharmaceuticals better than your average neighborhood Sav-on white coat, the wheels should have flown off this dysfunctional wagon long ago. No so. For all the yahoo, numbnutty attention OC gets, it’s still nice to hear that neither dank and rank rock’n’roll nor the first wave of English punk have been abandoned for designer t-shirts and empty caskets of nostalgia with “1977” spray painted on their lids. The Smut Peddlers keep blapping along with a wacky-assed lead singer with a heart of gold and a short attention span, gun-rattling guitar work, and a wrecking ball, rock solid rhythm section. Coming Out’s a good listen, neck and neck with their last full length, Ism. My only complaint? Since I have the Exit Plan 7” and their self-titled 10” that preceded this album, only half of the songs were new to me. –Todd Taylor (TKO)


SMUT PEDDLERS:
Failure: LP

 

It still takes me a bit to wrap my head around the fact that the Smut Peddlers’ Failure came out over thirteen years ago. Really? Those unfamiliar with the Smut Peddlers, let’s just say that I think that John Ransom should become ambassador/MC of Orange County punk and that the band’s songs always remind me of Polaroid pictures. They’re definitely not the most “pro” band (I say that in the best way), but they definitely capture a raw, intimate snapshot of specific moments. Those moments are filled with being pissed about yuppies fucks, PC fucks, drugs (pro, con, plus, minus, snort, needles, pills) and hostility towards the increasing safety measures that society is imposing on itself (pads, helmets, smoking bans). It’s probably the most honest—and definitely a controversial—version of lifelong punkdom that’s come from Orange County. (No one I know says “The OC” without some retribution.) The hidden engine of the Smut Peddlers is Julia Smut, the drummer. And I’m just guessing here that she’s the one behind the gorgeous and detail-oriented 500-copy reissue of this self-released record. She sent us two versions. One comes in a sewn canvas sleeve, silk-screened, signed by the entire band, on booger and old-bruise yellow marbled vinyl. (Fifty made. Check out www.smutpeddlers.net) The other is a more traditional cardstock sleeve, on purple-swirly vinyl, but also comes with an honest-to-goodness photograph of the band, a sticker, a button, and a flyer that will come out in different configurations. Talk about a band taking care of its own legacy and embracing some of the awesome possibilities that only the vinyl format can offer.  –Todd Taylor (Ransom)


SMUT PEDDLERS:
Exit Plan: 7"
In the spirit of full disclosure, Julia, the drummer for the Smut Peddlers, helps us out with making sure our covers are correctly prepped for print, so there may be some favoritism. That said, I was a fan of the band prior knowing her. In true punk OC, the land where few bands last beyond two records, I can honestly say that the Smut Peddlers are putting together the best songs of their decade-long career. John’s vocals and lyrics are still simultaneously hilarious, kooky, sad, angry, and oddly insightful. The only thing a veteran Smut Peddlers fan might wrinkle an eyebrow over is that his vocals seem more intentionally tattered and roughed-up on this 7” than before. But his lyrics are a fascinating glimpse into the inner workings of a frontman with bad balance. If you ever want to see how paranoia, love of older ways of life in a beach culture, and an obsession with skating pools works out in punk songs, look no further. Although I always liked Roger Ramjet’s single guitar work when he was in the band, the addition of Sean and Scott, both at guitar, really ratchets up the melodies and anxiety. Almost secretly, behind all the obvious stuff, Julia’s drumming cements these three songs, like a perfectly poured and groomed transition in a deep bowl, giving them the perfect, pumping material to carve through song after song. Recorded, engineered, and produced by X’s Billy Zoom. Thumbs up. –Todd Taylor (Ransom)


SMUT PEDDLERS:
Ten Inch: 10"
Has it been almost ten years? The Smut Peddlers have been firing on all cylinders lately – gigging constantly, recording on a regular schedule, and it shows why they’re emerging as one of the best, most reliable OC punk bands in existence. (Smogtown, RIP.) Gish Stiffness’s bass is the understated foundation, Julia’s drumming is both more frantic, inventive, and precise, and Sean’s guitar is right on par with Roger Ramjet’s (whom he replaced). Couple this with their last full-length, Ism, John Ransom, lyricist and singer, has emerged with a twisted, yet clear voice as the underbelly of OrangeCounty. He has an insatiable fascination with pharmaceuticals that are prescribed to overcome addiction and their effects on the body; specific parts to Harley Davidsons; big skateparks with bowls as the alms that will cure most of society’s ills; and expresses an understandable beef with “Escalade drivers wanting reparations.” This is a spot-on extension to their already considerable catalog, and it’s near the top. –Todd Taylor (Dead Beat)


SMUT PEDDLERS:
Ism: CD
What’s this? A Smut Peddlers song about multinational corporations (“Playstation Generation”)? What the hell happened? Where’s all the songs about getting high? The Smut Peddlers have fucking nailed it. That’s what. Not only has the lyrical telescope been opened up beyond being a fuck-up (although the theme isn’t totally discarded, it’s just more of a starting point instead of an end destination), all of the songs on Ism can be laid next to one another like an audio series of Polaroids that go from urban California landscape shots, to shots from space, to shots at the tips of needles and the lives the swirl into them, to surf spots during a storm, to abandoned pools, to abandoned lives. The result is a crisp, unflinching, distinct string of songs that stand out by themselves, yet fit into a definite larger framework. Songs go from highly personal (“I can’t tell the difference between trying and greed”) to reviling against gentrification (“It’s a natural result of a bureaucratic cult who is fucking with the balance of power”) to just fun – “Dogtown Boys Vs. The Taliban.” Hand-in-hand with the vast improvement of the lyrics is that the Smut Peddlers play like a band now. They’re all in tight synch –Julia’s and Gish’s drums and bass provide an almost-unbreakable, rattling cage and spine to all the songs, Roger’s razorwire guitar never chokes or flails or wanks – it just seems to sneer – and John’s carnival barker/ monster truck announcer voice takes breaths and wraps itself in and out of the songs instead of just talking along. Fantastic. One warning, if you listen to this too much, you’ll be humming and toe tapping “It was an Inglewood heroin morning” when you’re pushing your shopping cart with a smile on your face. Fuckin’ catchy. –Todd Taylor (Ransom)


SMUT PEDDLERS:
Bipolar Girl: 7"EP
Tickle me pink and tattoo a skull on my throat. This is good. When I'd cordoned off the Smut Peddlers to the playground of The Dwarves and GG Allin camp of white trash punk, comes this slab of wax. The playing has always been powerful (shit, with Roger Ramjet (X‑Members, Pushers, ADZ) skinning his guitar, leading the attack) and with Julia's drumming and Gish's bass, the music's been as tight as a liposuctioned thigh on a soccer mom, but the lyrics seemed ‑ well ‑ a bit dumb. I'm not asking for "Masterpiece Theatre" or anything, but it seemed they were gonna get as complex and deep as shooting speed. Maybe I wasn't listening closely enough before. For example, with the song and main chorus "Let's Get (Fucked Up)" is the inverse of what you're thinking. It's about the travails of a sober guy drinking fizzy apple cider on New Years Eve. And the other two songs complete Polaroid snapshots of Orange County in decline ‑ surfers with Hepatitis C, washed‑up construction worker surfers, and being in love with a girl with a bona fide psychological disorder. I'd even go far to say that "Surfer's Grave" is an epic. A surprise. What separates this release from the rest of the Hostage pack? The band's actually smiling on the picture on the insert. –Todd Taylor (Hostage)


SMZB:
Ten Years Rebellion: CD
I always say, “I’m not really sure where I’m pigeon holed, as far as what I get to review,” and seeing as this is China’s answer to the Dropkick Murphys/Celtic punk like Flogging Molly, I rest my case. It’s not bad, though it runs super long and I start to get bored after a little bit. Inside, there’s a weird insert that looks like a label for a mix tape, but doesn’t fit, and I’m fascinated to know what it’s for. Also, technically speaking, when I put this in my computer, it identified it with all Chinese letters, but I can’t copy or type it, so I’m going with what’s on the cover. –Joe Evans III (Tenzenmen)


SNACK TRUCK:
Terrier Demo: 7”
If Rah Bras made love to The Locust the ensuing noises would sound like this Richmond, VA band. The music will most likely be an unbelievably fun carnival ride for some and ungodly noise for others. –Mr. Z (Drash, no address)


SNACK TRUCK:
Harpoon: CD
I like snacks, and trucks that deliver them. However, I do not like this arty screamo CD. –Megan Pants (Perpetual Motion Machine)


SNACKTRUCK:
Spacial Findings 1-7: CD
Noodly musician porn. –Jimmy Alvarado (rorschachrecords.com)


SNAGS, THE:
self-titled: CD
Another UK three-piece with a jones for that ‘60s garage rock. While there may be zillions of bands doing this these days, I gotta admit these guys’ repertoire was catchy enough to warrant several listens. Not bad.  –Jimmy Alvarado (www.thesnags.co.uk)


SNAKE CHARMER:
Self-titled: EP
How much noizecore can you take? I know it’s all the rage at the moment, and if you want more, then here you go. I’ve had more than my fill of the stuff over the years. Next!  –Matt Average (Schizophrenic)


SNAKE FLOWER 2:
Renegade Daydream: CD
San Fran T Rex rock, equal amounts strumming, noodling, humming, and full-out rock blast, a pretty nice mix actually. I usually hate the wandering rock, too in love with its own voice to form a song, but that’s kept in check here. It’s tight with some trip out moments that lead to something, for a change. Fun and peppy. Led by ex-River City Tanline Matthew Melton, for your band family tree at home. –Speedway Randy (www.snakeflower2.com)


SNAKE FLOWER 2:
Talk About It: 7”
One man, self-produced, psychedelic, shit-stomping garage rock from Oakland by way of Memphis. Massive amounts of reverb balance out the melodic riffs. Loaded with talent, Matthew Melton takes a forgiving genre and takes it to a whole other level. –Jim Ruland (Tic Tac Totally)


SNAKE HANDLER:
Enjoy the View: 7”
Yes. Now we’re talking. Furious, dark hardcore in the Poison Idea vein with a slightly more chaotic slant, made all the more aggressive and frenzied by Orchid/Ampere wizard Will Killingsworth’s ultraviolent mix. Killer cover art to boot. Awesome. –Dave Williams (Victimized, snakehandler.bandcamp.com)


SNAKE ISLAND!:
Self-titled: Cassette
Dirty, stomping blues riffs and a swaggering beat that verges on psychobilly at times. An indelicate mixture of the Cramps and White Stripes. Six songs, limited to one hundred copies, comes with a download code. Nicely done, as songs like “Oh Lord” come across as both reasonably rocking as well as mournful and kinda desolate. Not my thing, but they’ve got the bravado to pull it off. While I may not be swayed, gentlemen, I’m reasonably impressed. –Keith Rosson (Rainy Road)


SNAKE MOUNTAIN:
Don’t Surf Zombie Beach: CD
Sounds a bit like if in the late ‘70s Glenn Danzig would’ve revamped his B-grade horror movie shtick with just a touch o’ the rockabilly influence. Granted, this isn’t psychobilly, but rather dirty, grimy rock‘n’roll mixed with the macabre. Perfect, unobtrusive use of saxophone, too—the one instrument that can ruin a record as easily as improve it. On the whole, it’s as if the Quadrajets were into death and cemeteries. Yet I can’t stop thinking that this reminds me most of the Dogmatics, but not because Snake Mountain sound terribly like those rockin’ Boston ne’er-do-wells; rather, Snake Mountain has the same stripped-down let’s-just-fucking-rock-without-slick-tricks attitude that pervades some of the most timeless rock‘n’roll ever made. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Old Bird)


SNAKE TRAP, THE:
At Home in a Hostile World: CD
Jammy, instrumental rock with some math parts, like if your friend’s band practicing in their garage down the street decided they wanted to sound like Don Caballero, but weren’t quite technically proficient enough to pull it off. Maybe if they’d spent more time practicing and working on making their music more interesting instead of writing painfully long-ass liner notes, meticulously listing every instrument and amp they used (right down the brand names and model numbers of each cymbal), it would’ve held my attention longer. –ben (Australian Cattle God)


SNAKE, THE CROSS, THE CROWN, THE:
Mander Salis: CD
This album is nothing if not ambitious—combine the soaring vocals of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke or Jeff Buckley and Elliott’s instrumental experimentation and you’ll have an idea of some of the reference points. It’s a headphone record in the best sense of the term; this album rewards people who own a good pair and can hear the nuances and subtleties, yet still sounds awesome on a cheap pair of speakers. The problem with this record is that while it’s ambitious and more musically complex than the average indie band, it doesn’t actually sound that different. While I wish I could take it on its own merits as a single work, it’s hard because the album sounds young—it’s not that these songs are immature so much as they are bursting with ideas, some of which seem incompletely expressed, sketches of musical brilliance which don’t necessarily last long enough to indicate whether more rewarding material lay further along down that path. Likewise, the lyrical content is all about transcendence, transformation, overcoming—the big stuff that more mature bands seem to forget as they grow older and try to describe how lives become more complex and more difficult to explain. These lyrical themes are more commonly the province of younger, less experienced and more earnest bands which haven’t yet been given sufficient opportunities to find themselves as jaded and detached as characters in a Richard Ford novel… or have somehow managed to side-step that loss of innocence and hope. I suspect that’s part of the reason why bands don’t (and, arguably, shouldn’t) last forever—the language required to describe youth is fundamentally different from that which is required to describe the transition from youth to middle age; trying to speak the old dialect seems foolish and the new one simply doesn’t translate with any significance. I recognize the language spoken here, much as I recognize Spanish being spoken after a few years away from California and several years after speaking it in any meaningful way; I can piece together what is being said here even though my conjugations are rusty, even though I don’t remember as much of the vocabulary as I used to. With all that said, even though fans of the aforementioned artists will probably find much here to like—and I’ve spent quite a bit of time appreciating this record as well—I’m curious whether the next album will show further progress and additional exploration of the more interesting musical ideas expressed here (much as Elliott’s False Cathedrals was leagues beyond U.S. Songs in its complexity and depth) or whether it will also suggest other directions that might have yielded more curious fruit. –Puckett (Equal Vision)


SNAKEBITE:
Every Bad Idea Is a Good Idea: 7"
“RRRAAAWWWR!!” is how this record starts off. Fast, pissed-off, good ol' New Jersey hardcore. I love this kinda shit. It makes me feel like I felt when I saw Tear It Up in 2002. Ah, the good ol' days. It's got a cool Winston Smith-looking collage artwork, good, angry lyrics, and blistering production. There used to be a shitload of bands like this, but it kinda seems like the thrashcore fad is dying out. Good for Snakebite, ‘cause they're too good to get lumped in as just another generic thrash band. They're better than that, and this record is the fucking proof. This is music to punch out windows to. –ben (Don Giovanni)


SNAKES / 1-800-BAND:
Split: 7"
Snakes: Imagine the Strokes on heroin. 1-800-BAND: Mellow-groovy-remembrance-of-things-past-sipping-beer-on-a-Saturday-afternoon rock. The record is all right at any point, but borders on good when I’m in kind of an introspective and, dare I say it, peaceful mood. Nothing earth-shattering here, but nothing worth pitching in the trash, either.  –The Lord Kveldulfr (Slow Gold Zebra)


SNAKES, THE:
Hiya Hoya: 7”
Dripping with symbolism, this seven inch appears to be a sort of parable of punk rockers or indie rockers as the ill-fated American Indians, being forcefully assimilated into the greater WASP culture, having their identities co-opted and watered down in to a mainstream mess. The cover art prominently displays a picture of a braided Apache-chief-from-Super-Friends-looking dude ripping a pilgrim in half, with the A-side “Hiya Hoya” and B-side a couplet of tracks dedicated to the seventies half-breed anti-hero, Billy Jack. Musically, it is akin to the more tuneful Flipper numbers: perhaps a bit off-putting at first with its thrashy noise; with repeated spins you’ll come to find a seductively clandestine layer of pop sensibilities buried beneath the sonic rubble. This is an interesting and unexpected follow-up to their previously released split with 1-800-Band, also released on Slow Gold Zebra. –Jeff Proctor (Slow Gold Zebra)


SNAP LINE:
Party Is Over, Pornstar: CD
I began listening to this for the first (and only) time while driving. It was the first hot day of the year, which meant that I had my window down. Goth-y, electroclash rock poured from my speakers because of this, and embarrassment poured through my mind. “Oh, how I hope that nobody I know pulls up next to me while I have this playing,” I thought to myself. “I don’t want to mention this moment to anyone!” Just as I thought this, one of my cousins drove by—perhaps the only person whom I know who would take me to task for listening to this utter crap. “That was too close,” I told myself, as I ejected the CD and hid it away. –Vincent Battilana (Maybe Mars)


SNARLAS:
Self-titled: 7"
Mid-tempo, thudding punk with constant female gang vocals. Pop sensibilities with frayed edges and borrowed equipment. It’s scrappy DIY punk with fiery, burning passion that transcends musicianship. Awkward sounding at times, but it just adds to the punkness. Imagine The Shaggs meets Cleveland Bound Death Sentence songs that Emily sung. –Daryl Gussin (Plan-It-X South)


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