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No Idea Records

Record Reviews

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E=MC Hammer: CD
Smashing Pumpkins play the Dickies. Hey, that’s what it sounded like to me. –Jimmy Alvarado (Opulence, PO Box 2071, Wilmington, NC 28402-2071)

Self-titled: CD
Pretty standard oi/ street punk stuff. It’s far from bad, but there’s nothing really jumping out at me. I think that the problem may lie in the mix on the record. The vocals seem to blend in with the music a bit much to the point where it’s all a little muddy. The girl on the cover is really pretty, though. –Ty Stranglehold (Step-1)

The Devil Made Me Do It: CD
Wow, what a difference a few years make. Last thing I heard from these guys was a CDs-worth of boozy, good natured, but ultimately nondescript hardcore. This disc, however, demonstrates a marked improvement light years from that earlier release, with tempos ratcheted way the fuck up, more thoughtful lyrical content, and the introduction of a bit more metal in the geetars. The result recalls the glory days of metallic L.A. punk bands like Bloodcum, Pig Children, and others who managed to toss a lead into the mix without sacrificing the “core” in “hardcore.” Calling this impressive would be an understatement. –Jimmy Alvarado (Six Weeks)

Pissing Beer: CD
Yogi said that one of the guys in the band gave this to him at Al’s Bar recently to, in turn, pass to me to review. Drunken speedcore here from the breweries of East Los Angeles. Pico Rivera to be exact. They chug along, sounding like a sloppy, pissed MDC, singing the praises of drinking, being drunk, anger, assault and battery, and even take nearly a minute to cover GG Allin. Musically, they’ve got the goods, but it’s hard to distinguish them lyrically from the thousands of oi bands that sing the same kinds of things. Hell, Gang Green made a career out of this exact thing 10-20 years ago. In short, I like the songs, but the beer’s getting a little stale. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.kingofdrunk.com)

Volume One: Drug Sounds: CD
I was expecting something really weird here, especially when I tried looking up the label to find more info, only to find a site that makes it look like the whole thing is just a tax write-off or money laundering scheme. The songs have influences ranging from later-era Smiths to some of the mid-to-late ‘90s Epitaph garage/rock’n’roll, in part due to its slick production. However, the whole album is practically repeated in “demo” form, which, to me, sounds like the exact same versions but with a whole ton of gain added so everything sounds distorted and “rough.” I can’t really decide which versions I like better, though it’s probably a better idea to leave the straight-up goofy demos off there. –Joe Evans III (NMG)

Take This Precious Edge off This Treacherous Ledge: CD
This band lives just over in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, a few miles from where I reside. I’ve never heard of them until now and they remind me of this obscure band from Atlanta back in the ‘90s called Loudflower. Except Loudflower had horns, but weren’t ska, and were actually pretty good. The Smile Brigade is not. It’s fairly generic-sounding coffee house rock music with cheesy backing vocals and nothing exciting to offer. Next time we do the reviews, Todd, I want some of the faster, harder shit, not this wimpy, boring crap. –Kurt Morris (Tilton House)

Split: 7”
Smirk: Some bands can pull off the three chord song; this isn’t one of them. Learn how to play before investing in any form of studio recording. Learn how to sing too; between the two vocalists, the lady sounds like a bad Dolly Parton impersonator while the man has a deep, nasally voice (that is not a good thing). They sound terrible solo as it is, but imagine the duo together. Jesus Christ help us all. If that isn’t enough, the second song cuts off before it is even finished. It doesn’t matter if that was done on purpose or not, it sounds awful either way. Best Pals: The lead singer sounds like he has a jawbreaker in his mouth at all times. The only thing he seems to be saying is “a la ba da da da da”. Again with the terrible three chord songs. A ten-year-old could have written better. Honestly people, it’s not 1976 anymore and you are not The Ramones. The second song, “You’re Number One,” sounds like a terrible Descendents cover with an autistic child spitting out unlistenable lyrics. Thumbs down. –Guest Contributor (Broken)

No One Gets Lost Anymore: CD
I enjoy the Weakerthans and Cheap Girls. I don’t really listen to much other contemporary music that would be comparable to either those bands. I’ve just found myself becoming less and less interested in most music that might, for lack of better descriptors, have passed for emo or pop punk over the last ten years or so. And those two bands in particular, in my opinion, have stood head and shoulders above many of their contemporaries. Smith Street Band seems to fall somewhere in between Weakerthans and Cheap Girls and I can’t help but think that this just makes me want to listen to the two that I already have and already like.  –Jeff Proctor (Poison City)

Demo: CD-R
It’s that one local band that can’t figure out how to write a song without using some phrase that was hilariously clever when you were nine years old. (Underwear jokes? Hell yeah!) Of course, I can only really guess what they’re singing about. All I have to judge off is song titles. Now, I’m no genius, but my guess is that “Sticky Panties” isn’t a metaphor for the never-ending class war that plagues our world. One positive thing: hand drawn cover. Thumbs up for that! –Bryan Static (Self-released)

Self-titled: LP
After years and years of reviewing, my expectations are incredibly low. Then an LP like this one comes along! The Smith Westerns play psychedelic power-pop really well. There’s a lot going on with this record—sure, the music of the Soft Boys and the lyrics of John Felice are obvious influences. But what I’m into is the Smith Western’s guitar playing—amateurish Roger McGuinn-style playing pervades—and the production of this LP, which sounds like dynamite on your speakers. On repeated listens, this album only gets better. It’s like a fucking raucous version of the Rain Parade, then shit starts going T-Rex on your ass. One of the most eclectic albums I’ve heard in a long time, with the variation and prowess of the Deadly Snakes at their best. Unless a musical revolution happens—one that makes the Nerves sound like Captain and Tennille—this album will be one of the ten best of 2009. Good lord! –Ryan Leach (HoZac, hozacrecords.com)

Rocky Road: CD
This made for a fascinating listen not so much because Smith is talented singer, which he is, as for two other things: 1) so much of the modern reggae I run into these days is of the ragga variety, which seems much more interested these days in being the Jamaican equivalent of gangsta rap or 2 Live Crew than imparting knowledge and consciousness, so it was a bit jarring, not to mention refreshing, to hear some honest-to-goodness roots reggae for a change; 2) he really loves his influences, man—the chorus of opening track, “Tour the World,” is a variation on Black Uhuru’s “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” and the backing track to “Freedom” sounds like it was lifted wholly from Bob Marley’s “Exodus.” In short, this is quite good, but hardly treading uncharted waters. –Jimmy Alvarado (http:/myspace.com/culturetalentagency)

The Coolest Thing about Love: CD
This band is very doo wop. And they are very clear with the album artwork, lyrics, and song titles that they are all about “love.” It’s not hippy music, though, so don’t misunderstand. It’s more like cutesy ‘50s music. It’s kind of adorable to a point of being disgusting. But I like it nonetheless, even though listening to it is the equivalence of me puking in my mouth after the sight of an adorable couple riding a tandem bike. It reminds me a lot of The Magnetic Fields with the types of instruments they use, the tone of voice, and the song pace. I like that about it. –Corinne (Happy Happy Birthday To Me)

Audiophile: 7" EP
The question I find myself presented with is this: How or what makes Smogtown the best at what they do - surf punk? The title track fucking kills and plays along like an air raid siren blasting over a bong-toking beach party. It's the fun, nervous tension that they capture which is so addictive. I can hear echoes of the past of Orange County punk, but those echoes are distant compared to the absolutely fresh scree Smogtown continues to provide. They even tackle and champion an instrumental on this one: "Blackout in Beach City." As with anything that has Smogtown on the cover, you'll be a better person if you buy it. That all said, the cover blows. Sorry, but it looks like someone just learned computer layout, found the emboss filter and had a 45 spool to play with. My only qualm with the band? Tour, you fuckers, tour and the world will be yours. –Todd Taylor (Hostage, PO Box 7736, Huntington Beach, CA 92615)

Self-titled: 7”
It is a very rare thing for a band as good as Smogtown to come along. It’s also a rare thing for a band that is legendary for being volatile to stick around, but it seems that the Beach City Butchers keep coming back for more and I couldn’t be happier. This piece of wax I’m holding in my hand is proof that these guys can come back more times that Jesus, and still keep kicking ass from the shore to the clubs. John Poddy does a great job on guitar on this. Rumor has it that Guitardo is back. I hope they keep John, too, and go for the twin guitar attack. Tim and Chip are still the rhythm section that everyone wishes was in their band, and, as usual, Chavez is throwing down the words that so clearly describe the decimation and insanity around him. On the A side we have “Ugly American Makeover.” It’s a good song that I think fits in somewhere in between “domesticviolenceland” and “All Wiped Out.” The two tracks on the flip are my favorites. Both “Kids Got Beat Mom” and “White Picket Electric Fence” bring out the stoke in the same was as the Smog on 45 single did. Good work, boys. Keep ‘em coming! –Ty Stranglehold (TKO)

All Wiped Out: CDEP
Ahh, motherfuckin’ Smogtown, stalwarts of the New Beach Alliance. Is it true that All Wiped Out won’t be their swan song, that it wasn’t just a CD to crank, like summons for a dance to bring their acid rain of notes to melt that frown off my face and remind me of the good times? Will the Fuhrers of the New Wave resurrect themselves and not succumb to their own personal Bodie 601s?  There are rumors afoot that by the time this magazine hits the stands that the wheels will be back on the Gross Polluter and Smogtown will be back playing audio radiation live. Hope so.All Wiped Out’s got everything that made Smogtown the Southern California punk band to beat – songs about crazy bag ladies, bricks to the face, and the weeds in Western punk culture growing up through the concrete that wants it all to be smooth and does its best to weigh it down to look the same. Smogtown’s in fine form on these eight songs, flexing a throttle that can blast a hardcore beach tune then pull back with “Squares,” quite possibly their prettiest and catchiest song to date.  –Todd Taylor (TKO)

All Wiped Out: CD
The first couple of times I listened to this, my basic reaction was, yep, this is Smogtown. Nothing new. Nothing unexpected. It rocks hard enough to knock my dick in the dirt, but I expected that. Then something happened the third time I listened to this. I started to notice Chip’s chaotic bass. Tim’s drum fills started to burrow into my ears. Little things just beneath the fuzz came to me more clearly. Yes, I thought, this is Smogtown. Everything new. Everything unexpected. As far as I know, they’re still broken up, though rumors of new Smogtown shows are surfacing. Supposedly, they played a big show down in southern Orange County in March. Who knows if they’ll keep it together. Who knows if this is one last, great slab of music from Smogtown or if there’s more to come. Either way, it’s another fine, fine CD.  –Sean Carswell (TKO)

domesticviolenceland: CD
There are days and there are foot-stomping, pin-your-ears-back, wake-up-wanting-to-run-through-walls, need-something-to-blow-the-top-off-your-skull days. Those are Smogtown days. Domesticviolenceland is a brutal record. What it lacks in the narrative finesse characteristic of Führer's of the New Wave it makes up for in ferocity. Guitardo doesn't do walls of sound, he cuts a swath through the silence, stabbing at the empty spaces. My favorite track-of-the-minute, "Dead Actors," is their fastest song yet. It starts like a siren. Wailing guitar. Terminal bass loop. Relentless drum beat. Chavez spits non sequitors like shotgun Da-Da inoculated with instamatic irony. It's an ambush. A sneak attack on the abstract phoniness of the television programming that tries hardest to convince us of its replication of reality. But is it really just a satire, a silly spoof? Forget Holden Caulfield. Forget Homer Simpson. The final line "violence is celebrity" is a 100% accurate, non-ironic reflection of the present state of the media in this country. That's so fucked-up. –jim (Disaster)

domesticviolenceland: CD
Smogtown are the most sonically crazed crew of loud’n’lively louts to ever put the punk in the rock! They savagely unleash an A-bomb’s roar of California beachpunk chaos furiously raging with snotty ‘77-style lawlessness. It’s disruptive, unrelenting, hostile, angry, combative, and merciless! The vocalist pugnaciously growls as if his throat has been aggressively dragged across a cheese-grater; the guitar rhythms are explosively similar to the frenetic fretboard flash of Steve Jones with thick, meaty leads sporadically burstin’ forth like the flames of Hell lickin’ the wounded emptiness of a condemned man’s soul; the thunderous torrents of the rumbling out-of-control bass fractured my vertabrae and split my skull straight down the middle; the drums sound like a whirlwind of crumbling bricks smashing to the pavement in the war-torn streets of Nazi Germany. And then there’s the wry lyrical commentary about nightmarish suburban uniformity, an intolerant neighborhood’s violent rejection of leather-clad spikey-haired punk freaks (ala the storyline in “Suburbia”!), obnoxious slamdancing boneheads and the havoc they wreak, a Midwest couple’s cursed quest for the American Dream in California (awww shucks, they only make it as far as Denver, Colorado), fascistic surfer racists, drugs, renegade toiletpaper-tossin’ vandals, and lots more narrative misadventures of the dimwitted, downtrodden, and depraved. Fuck yeh, Smogtown have detonated the ultimate resounding blast of snarlin’ punkrock fury! It just doesn’t develop bigger balls than this. –Guest Contributor (Disaster)

Tales of Gross Pollution: CD
Could Smogtown really be as good as all the hype we’ve given them in Razorcake? Yes. Yes they are. And now those fuckers have gone and broken up. Money already wrote their obit in the pages of Razorcake. So what are we left with? One last offering of this now defunct, but someday legendary punk band. Tales of Gross Pollution is the CD version of Smogtown’s original demo tape. They recorded it less than a month after they had formed as a band, and, amazingly enough, their science was tight even that early on. The songs are a little slower than most Smogtown songs. This album doesn’t showcase the band at their best. Still, there’s a real beauty to the rawness of the songs, and keep in mind that a not-at-their-best Smogtown is still a shitload better than most bands at their best. Also, for someone who already has pretty much everything else these guys have put out, it’s nice to have one last new thing to listen to. Some of the songs from this first demo were later re-recorded and released on other albums. Four of the songs here popped up in different versions of the Beach City Butchers 10”, and one more of them was re-recorded for the Führers of the New Wave album, but the other fourteen songs are new to me. It’s probably pretty obvious at this point, but I highly recommend this one. –Sean Carswell (Disaster)

domesticviolenceland: CDEP
Whenever I get a new Smogtown CD I go through four distinct phases: 1) Denial. I pop it in give it a listen and think “nope, it’s not as good as the last one.” 2) Infiltration. I keep listening. A hook, the ferocity of the rhythm section, a bit of lyrics infested with sneering sarcasm worms its way into my subconscious, forcing me to listen to same disc, the same songs, the same section of a song over an over again. I memorize the lyrics. I make sure my disc player goes with me everywhere I go. 3) Conversion. I accept the error of my ways, and am fulfilled by the truth: this is the best fucking record I’ve ever heard. I anticipate the next one, in this case the full length, the way a four-year-old awaits Christmas. 4) Thanksgiving. I’m glad Smogtown is only a punk rock band and not a cult, otherwise I’d probably be down at LAX right now, passing out pamphlets, hustling for jack. –jim (Disaster)

Domesticviolenceland: CDEP
The terroristic trio of tunes contained herein violently assaulted, pillaged, and plundered my inner ears like a raging out-of-control maelstrom of mayhem and destruction. It’s been many moons since the punkrock hooliganistic spirit within me has been so viciously shaken and so vigorously throttled... hell yes indeed, I’m overwhelmingly awed by the short bursts of frenzied energy generated by Smogtown (surging with uncontrollable sonic chaos and indescribably comparable to a well-blended bombardment of The Adolescents, Circle Jerks, Middle Class, and early Suicidal Tendencies!). They wildly wail, screech, and scream with enraged contempt against society’s complacent ethical blandness, and they take no prisoners whatsoever along the way. This is punker than all-out fuck... so do yourself an ever appreciative favor and aurally overdose on Smogtown today! –Guest Contributor (Disaster)

domesticviolenceland: CDEP
Smogtown continues to blow me away. They're like surgeons who can cut the cancer that is the suburbs out of us, hold it up and show us what a gross, mutated tumor it really is, then put it back in our body and say, "Think about that." And not just lyrically - though the lyrics are pretty insightful. The music is so rich and textured and rocking that it feels like a tumor growing in your gut. It's disturbingly amazing. This release is just a three song EP, with one song that'll be on their upcoming album and two songs that you can't get anywhere else. It's only seven minutes long, so I have a hard time not listening to it twice in a row every time I play it. And that just makes the tumor grow bigger. –Sean Carswell (Disaster)

Audiophile: 7"
“Hey, stupid ass, didn’t you review this last issue?” Why, yes, I did. The news is that it’s got a non-lame cover of a giant 45-hole filler instead of the Photoshop’d emboss-filtered dohickey cover that pissed me off last issue and the vinyl’s red. And I just want to remind you that Smogtown’s one of the best bands to never have left California and you should urge them to come to your town. –Todd Taylor (Hostage)

Tales of Gross Pollution: CD
Yes! I love Smogtown! A Southern California retro explosion! The sort of thing that would not be out of place on the Beach Blvd. compilation (for the record, the greatest comp of all time!). And that’s saying a lot! Totally crazed beach punk ‘80s new wave hardcore insanity! This CD puts together nineteen early recordings – great stuff! But if you haven’t heard ‘em yet, buy this AND their album DomesticViolenceLand. If you don’t like it, you must not like punk! And if you do like ‘em, it’s time to put a gun to your head, ‘cause they just broke up! This is Corn Pops! –Maddy (Disaster)

Tales of Gross Pollution: CD
You know what? Fuck Smogtown. Do they not know how fucking hard it is to simply FIND a favorite band these days, let alone flat-out adore every release said favorite band manages to release? This has been the case for notoriously picky-ass me, who has not gone more than a few days without listening to something by them since having Beach City Butchers blasted into my ears while taking a trip in the Retoddmobile not long after its release. I even became a “Smog City Waver,” the first time I’ve EVER come close to belonging to anything even remotely resembling a fan club (thanks Todd, by the way). Smogtown was the ultimate statement of “real” Southern California at the turn of the millenium, a final “fuck you” to the limp joke that the ‘90s turned out to be and a rousing “where’s the fucking party, asshole?” welcome to the zero years we currently find ourselves in, a reaffirmation to those of us who’ve been around longer than Green Day has existed that the good shit was still alive and kicking and still not making radio waves. With two albums, a 10-inch and a slew of singles and comp tracks, these guys are responsible for ramming some truly crucial “we just don’t give a fuck” punk rock noise up the ass of an American punk underground that had apparently forgotten that it was supposed to be a threat to the cultural mainstream and not a breeding ground to tomorrow’s boy band heroes. And now they’ve fucked off and broken up. Yeah, they were kind enough to toss us this helping of early demos on their way out the fuckin’ door, and it is some righteous shit, but it just ain’t the same knowing that, aside from a rumored final album due from TKO, this is all there’s gonna be. They’re history now, the fucking bastards, and we are all the worse off for it. In emulation of Money’s sign-off on their obit a couple of issues back, I remain… –Jimmy Alvarado (Disaster)

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