NoMeansNo

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Mama

NoMeansNo - Mama ©1984 Wrong Records
1. Living Is Free
2. My Roommate Is Turning Into A Monster
3. Red Devil
4. Mama's Little Boy
5. We Are The Chopped
6. No Sex
7. Rich Guns
8. No Rest For The Wicked
9. Living In Detente
10. Try Not To Stutter
11. I'm All Wet
12. Approaching Zero
13. Forget Your Life

The early days of Nomeansno were indeed spent dwelling firmly in left field. Since the band at the time consisted entirely of brothers John and Rob Wright, the songs were constructed almost completely as bass/drums/vocals with occasional piano spritzing and a tiny tiny bit of that six string slipping in for spice. Originally Mama was a limited pressing vinyl release and supposedly the master tapes were lost. According to Rob's liner notes, a miraculous discovery of the master tapes led to this CD reissue which also includes the 1981 7" commonly known as "Betrayal, Fear, Anger, Hatred".

Nomeansno was quite innocent sounding on nearly these tracks. Rob's voice was not the deeper, ominous thug voice of the newer Nomeansno. Rather, it was a sort of high-pitched thing of amusement. Since the band was playing as a rhythm section, vigorous bass lines and John Wright's fantastic drumming propel these weird ditties along nicely. Mama by no means can compete with any other Nomeansno release except on the basis of novelty and historical purposes. Some of the songs are lyrically hilarious: "My Roommate is Turning Into a Monster" or the psychology profile of "Mama's Little Boy". For the most part this CD is designed to give hardcore Nomeansno fans (and nearly anyone who likes Nomeansno is a hardcore fan...funny thing, that cult status) a look into the embryonic stages of the band. Newcomers to the Nomeansno world are best advised to find the band in a more mature state.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/1999

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Sex Mad/You Kill Me

NoMeansNo - Sex Mad/You Kill Me ©1987 Alternative Tentacles
1. Sex Mad
2. Dad
3. Obsessed
4. No Fgnuikc
5. Love Thang
6. Dead Bob
7. Self Pity
8. Long Days
9. Metronome
10. Revenge
11. No Fkuicgn
12. Hunt The She Beast
13. Body Bag
14. Stop It
15. Some Bodies
16. Manic Depression
17. Paradise

Early Nomeansno is a difficult proposition. Somewhere along the line after Mama, the Wright Brothers found a guitarist in Andy Kerr (who really has never been formally listed in liner notes to any of the albums, which causes a great deal of confusion with uninformed rock critics who thus assumed either Rob or John Wright must've been responsible for the guitar parts). But where the band then went is nearly indescribable. On the opening track "Sex Mad", you get an immediate taste for the sound of Nomeansno: strong and inventive rhythms - the staple of Nomeansno - and Kerr's adjunct, clashing riff style. What makes Nomeansno both unique and often maddening is the fact that the guitar riff often goes in direct violation of where the song seemingly should go. What's even more confusing is "Dad", which is easily the most straightforward, basic punk song the band has ever recorded. And as expected, it's a winner. And after that, things just get ugly. "Obsessed" is a reasonably fathomable instrumental, but songs like "Dead Bob" are aggravating and trying to follow the song's direction is like making sense of your girlfriend's mood swings. "Long Days" is a throwback to the band's earlier days, with Rob's bass taking the forefront as well as his taking lead vocals. "Revenge" is another tough pill to swallow, partly because it starts out with an epic sounding, arena-sized guitar riff but the verses aren't quite in sync with the chorus. What I note here is that the band still hasn't mastered song transition in comparison to their later days. "Body Bag" is an example of a good song that doesn't quite get to full realization until you hear the much superior live version on Live and Cuddly. Needless to say, this is the one Nomeansno disc that almost never gets rotation in my worship of the band. There are occasional times where I don't mind if a band pokes and prods at me in tender locations, but knowing that there is other Nomeansno material that will hold my hand just a tad more keeps Sex Mad / You Kill Me tucked away.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/1999

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The Day Everything Became Isolated And Destroyed

NoMeansNo - The Day Everything Became Isolated And Destroyed ©1988 Alternative Tentacles
1. The Day Everything Became Nothing
2. Dead Souls
3. Forget Your Life
4. Beauty And The Beast
5. Brother Rat/What Slayde Says
6. Dark Ages
7. Junk
8. And That's Sad
9. Small Parts Isolated And Destroyed
10. Victory
11. Teresa, Give Me That Knife
12. Real Love
13. Lonely

The CD coupling of the two 1988 Nomeansno records, The Day Everything Became Nothing and Small Parts Isolated and Destroyed, is a near lethal ride through Nomeansno's most obtuse and difficult music of their entire career. My previous vinyl copies of this record have actually spent quite a bit of time gathering dust as I often would rather listening to any of the other albums on tape or CD in the car, partially for ease of digestion, if nothing else. However, in the past few months I have essentially reacquainted myself with the Nomeansno back catalogue and this collection is slowly growing on me.

Nomeansno has always walked two musical paths, often within the same album. Some of the songs here are concise and gripping pieces of work that are rapidly assimilated and turned into favorites. The Day... includes "The Day Everything Became Nothing", "Brother Rat/What Slayde Says", "Dark Ages" and the epic "Victory". Of course, dissonance and freak out noisefests even sneak into bits of these songs, such as the ending of "What Slayde Says". On the Small Parts half of the CD, it takes a lot of patience to completely sit through the entire record. There are so many skew sections pasted together in what seems haphazard on the surface that an easy and safe listen is completely out of the question. "Small Parts Isolated and Destroyed" is a great example of stop'n'go rhythms as well as seemingly unrelated sections being shoved together to create a song. "And That's Sad" is another difficult song, but one that eventually becomes quite beautiful in the jarring noises. The highlight of the entire CD has to be "Real Love", a force of sound epic song that puts Rob Wright's interesting perspective on love into the forefront. Though simple in construct and utilizing only the most basic of riffs, the vocal attack and lyrical matter make this song larger than life.

For those first exploring Nomeansno's extensive back catalogue, it really is best to start elsewhere and work your way back to this CD later. Taken as a whole, Nomeansno towers above nearly all other rock/punk/metal bands in existence, often taking each of the subgenres and outdoing it in their own peculiar way. The Day... is a rough ride but eventually one of the most rewarding trips of them all.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 06/1999

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Wrong

NoMeansNo - Wrong ©1989 Alternative Tentacles
1. It's Catching Up
2. The Tower
3. Brainless Wonder
4. Tired Of Waiting
5. Stocktaking
6. The End Of All Things
7. Big Dick
8. Two Lips, Two Lungs, And One Tongue
9. Rags And Bones
10. Oh No! Bruno!
11. All Lies
12. Life In Hell
13. I Am Wrong

For Wrong, Nomeanso reeled things in a bit for a slightly more focused and honed sound and ended up transcending nearly everything they had done before. But considering the band has continually challenged and redefined themselves, it probably came as suprise to no one. Overall, Wrong is chock full of some of the most aggressive, powerful and crushing of the band's material. The middle section of the album contains one of the most solid core of songs ever to make it through a recording session: "The End of All Things", "Big Dick", "Two Lips, Two Lungs and One Tongue", "Rags and Bones" and "Oh No! Bruno!". I dare you to play this quintet of songs loudly and not find rock bliss. "Big Dick" is a unique number that is a throwback to the early days of the band with a heavy, looping bassline and absolutely manic drumming from John Wright and absolutely no guitar. The changeup in rhythm right before the end is guaranteed to move your body. "Two Lips, Two Lungs and One Tongue" is a extremely fast, bruising thrash-punk song that culminates in a two note guitar solo break. Live, this song has become legendary with a huge build up to the anti-climatic solo. A total treat. "Oh No! Bruno!" proves there still is life in three chord fast punk (years before it became fashionable) but naturally add the Nomeansno technical touch to it. Wrong also contains a couple of the Nomeansno signature epics: "The Tower" and "All Lies". The one drawback to "All Lies" is that it follows the Fabulous Five and is somewhat of a letdown. But only slightly. Wrong proved all was right in the Nomeansno world in 1989 and even a decade later this material is still downright amazing and close to achieving perfection. A must have for anyone who can fathom cerebral and primal punk played with a progressive rhythmic edge.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/1999

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Review #2

Wrong was my first foray into Nomeansno's discography, hence I might be somewhat biased. But no matter what way I twist and turn it, this is truly one of the masterpieces of modern punkrock.

Peculiarly enough for a punk-band, Nomeansno have some elements of progrock in them. This has gotten more obvious with later albums, but already here you can hear the atypical songstructures, the crazy drumming and general great musicmanship one might expect from a prog band. But everything is presented with a punkrock sense of hurry, or fierceness, if you will. I can't think of many bands that are as good at building up their songs, then vehemently deconstructing them, just to go straight back into a catchy section. Sonic Youth? Nah, too improvisey and perchance pretentious. These guys are just having a helluva lot of fun, and making some killer music in the process.

Unlike most punk-related bands, Nomeansno's songs are all singular compositions instead of variations of each other. There's the tribal drums/bass/vocals track of "Big d*ck", the three-chord punkiness of "Oh no! Bruno", the doominess of "I am wrong", and the straight out rocking funkiness of "Tired of waiting." Hell, "The tower" almost sounds like a heavy metal song.

Luckily the album flows perfectly, and there's not a single weak point to it. The production is nice and powerful, letting the bass dominate with its heavy attack. Never relying on any fancy effects to wow you, but presenting the band with more of a live-sound.

The lyrics are for the most part quite good, although not as good as most other Nomeansno albums. Still, they serve their purpose, and are for the most part quite enjoyable. "Big d*ck" might seem somewhat stupid to many though, for obvious reasons.

If you want to hear some excellent almost thrashy punkrock with a quite progressive rhythmic backbone, I urge, nay, command you to seek out this classic slab of music. This is a definite classic which every rock-fan ought to at least have heard a time or twenty.

PS: This is usually considered the quintessential Nomeansno album. Personally I might value a couple of their other albums a tad higher, as I'm a sucker for long, "epic" songs. I still feel it deserves a top score, though.

Review by Øystein H-O

Review date: 10/2000

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The Sky Is Falling And I Want My Mommy

NoMeansNo - The Sky Is Falling And I Want My Mommy ©1991 Alternative Tentacles
1. The Sky Is Falling And I Want My Mommy (falling Space Junk)
2. Jesus Was A Terrorist
3. Bruce's Diary
4. Bad
5. Ride The Flume
6. Chew
7. Sharks In The Gene Pool
8. The Myth Is Real - Let's Eat

Jello Biafra never had such a great band backing him before. This energetic and exciting pairing of the Dead Kennedys legendary vocalist with the best thing to ever come out of Canada. But Nomeansno being constantly overturning expectations, there is some instrument switching with Rob Wright playing guitar and Andy Kerr handling the bass. The result is a crazed and entertaining album that often pushes the intensity level higher than either party's normal offerings. "Jesus Was a Terrorist" is a careening, nearly out of control assault that blazes in sheer speed. There is also a stronger version of the Hanson Bros' "Bad" as well as a pseudo-horns outing in "Bruce's Diary". "Ride the Flume" is another rollicking number that is atypically non-political. Overall the music is somewhat a cross between the usual weirdness of Nomeansno and a more straightforward punk attack. The best songs are the straightforward ones or the ones where the bass takes the groove firmly in hand, such as the album closer "The Myth is Real - Let's Eat". But no matter what, this gem is recommended to fans of either Jello Biafra or Nomeansno as it captures two creative forces in action.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/1999

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Live And Cuddly

NoMeansNo - Live And Cuddly ©1991 Alternative Tentacles
1. It's Catching Up
2. Two Lips, Two Lungs, And One Tongue
3. Rags And Bones
4. Body Bag
5. Brother Rat
6. What Slayde Says
7. Some Bodies
8. Teresa, Give Me That Knife
9. Victory
10. Dark Ages
11. The End Of All Things
12. The Day Everything Became Nothing
13. Dead Souls
14. Metronome
15. No Fucking

This is essentially a double LP's worth of all the family favorites, assuming your family is the dysfunctional type. Recorded in Europe in 1990, Live and Cuddly takes on all of the best tracks from their 80's output and puts a little extra flavor into them. Some people have complained that this album wasn't all it could be, but for the most part it acts quite well as a strong package. Tracks like "Body Bag" and "Dark Ages" get a shot of adrenaline and sound much more exciting than their studio counterparts. Moreover, on "Teresa, Give Me That Knife" or "Two Lips, Two Lungs and One Tongue", the sound is excellent, especially giving Rob Wright's bass sound a real shot of power. With a track listing that includes a good variety from their 80's albums, Live and Cuddly has a lot going for it. Often I'd rather hear the versions on this CD than the studio versions. Nomeansno is possibly one of the best live bands in existence and this album goes a long ways in capturing that.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 06/1999

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0+2=1

NoMeansNo - 0+2=1 ©1991 Alternative Tentacles
1. Now
2. The Fall
3. 0+2=1
4. The Valley Of The Blind
5. Mary
6. Everyday I Start To Ooze
7. When Putting It All In Order Ain't Enough
8. The Night Nothing Became Everything
9. I Think You Know
10. Ghosts
11. Joyful Reunion

0+2=1 proved to be the last album featuring Andy Kerr on guitar. Musically the band displayed a huge grab-bag of tangents and explorations. Relying less on punkfests than Wrong and sneaking in the occasional epic pieces (the title track and "Ghosts"), Nomeansno raised quite a few flags to see who would salute. The first two tracks, "Now" and "The Fall", are somewhat groove oriented rock pieces. "The Valley of the Blind" is a steam engine driven aggressive piece. However, there are noticeable flaws in "Mary" and "When Putting it all in order ain't enough" as those two pieces lack the spirit that characterizes Nomeansno's better material. At the same time, the album also contains two absolute masterpieces:

"Everday I Start to Ooze" is a bass driven piece of work that displays the best of the band's work. Relying on Rob's ability to use the bass a lead instrument with a simple yet engrossing bass line and adding guitar lines as texture, the song takes a severely warped lyrical approach - one of the ultimate Nomeansno narratives. Add in the pseudo fake English disco bridge in the middle, and you have one of the ultimate Nomeansno songs around.

"Joyful Reunion" is also a remarkable piece. Rather than even focus on bass, the destructively powerful chords of the guitar and tribalistic drumming are massive and nearly unstoppable. Couple that with Rob's impassioned vocals and you get musical bliss. Aggressive and insightful, this is the other song which makes 0+2=1 a necessity in life.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/1999

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Why Do They Call Me Mr. Happy?

NoMeansNo - Why Do They Call Me Mr. Happy? ©1993 Alternative Tentacles
1. The Land Of The Living
2. The River
3. Machine
4. Madness And Death
5. Happy Bridge
6. Kill Everyone Now
7. I Need You
8. Slowly Melting
9. Lullaby
10. Cats, Sex And Nazis

Sometime after 0+2=1, longtime guitarist Andy Kerr left Nomeansno to pursue chicks (well, something like that). Rather than tuck it in or search out a new guitarist, the core of Rob and John Wright regrouped as a duo to create Why Do They Call Me Mr. Happy?. Much like their earliest work as a duo, the songs are very bass and drums oriented, with Rob playing studio guitar simply for texture. Even he admits he's not a great guitarist, but for the purpose of this album he does a credible job.

Mr. Happy contains some of the longest, most sprawling songs the band ever wrote. Admittedly it's occasionally a bear to get through. "Land of the Living" and "Cats, Sex & Nazis" are the two most listenable of the group as "Machine" or "Kill Everyone Now" are a little more difficult to digest. "The River" is somewhat haunting in its approach but once that song sinks in it becomes possibly one of Nomeansno's absolute best works. However, it must be said the narrative lies/truth diatribe in "Cats, Sex & Nazis" is a Nomeansno classic on par with "Everyday I Start to Ooze" from 0+2=1. Featuring a Residents sample and a little Faith No More "We Care a Lot" in the intro, this song is the best reason to make sure own this album. The three CD bonus tracks are also exceptional pieces of work, with "I Need You" being a definitive song. I definitely wouldn't recommend this album as your first Nomeansno album, but after hearing a couple of the other albums, this is a good piece of work that very well may become your favorite given time.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/1999

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Oh, Canaduh [Single]

NoMeansNo - Oh, Canaduh Single ©1993 Allied
1. Oh, Canaduh
2. New Age

This brief two song seven inch is nothing more than Nomeansno paying loving tribute to a couple early pioneering Canadian punk bands: Subhumans on the A Side and DOA on the B Side. Rather than inflict the usual Nomeansno weirdness on them, the band instead runs through them with nothing more than appropriate enthusiasm. These could also be interchangeable with the feel of the Hanson Bros. records. Not bad at all, if a bit short.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 05/1999

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One Down And Two To Go

NoMeansNo - One Down And Two To Go ©1994 Wrong Records
1. Intro
2. Red On Red
3. Who Fucked Who?
4. Pigs And Dogs
5. Widget
6. More ICBM's
7. Blinding Light
8. I'm Doing Well
9. This Wound Will Never Heal
10. Real Love
11. Remember
12. Baldwang Must Die
13. Victoria
14. Sitting On Top Of The World
15. Canada Is Pissed
16. Burn

Interesting CD that basically is Nomeansno under pseudonymns. Mr Right (drummer John Wright) and Mr Wrong (bassist/singer Rob Wright) tackle their career in Nomeansno with various unreleased tracks from now and then. They also include a couple songs from side projects (namely Hanson Bros. and Swell Prod.). Overall, a fun listen as Nomeansno is one of the true punk rock greats. You won't find a better rhythm section anywhere (check out the raging and pulverizing "Blinding Light" to see what I mean) nor are there many bands calling themselves punk that are capable of writing such unique and different songs that do not all sound the same.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/1997

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The Worldhood Of The World (as Such)

NoMeansNo - The Worldhood Of The World (as Such) ©1995 Alternative Tentacles
1. Joy
2. Humans
3. Angel Or Devil
4. He Learned How To Bleed
5. I've Got A Gun
6. My Politics
7. Lost
8. Predators
9. Wiggly Worm
10. Tuck It Away
11. Victim's Choice
12. State Of Grace
13. The Jungle

Theoretically, this should have been Nomeansno's finest moment to date. Armed with new guitarist Tom Holliston (who also plays with the Wrights in the Hanson Bros) and a finely honed songwriting approach, Worldhood is chock full of more punked out material as opposed to the lengthy and sprawling Why Do They Call Me Mr. Happy? With the exception of "Victim's Choice", which is an unnappealing throwback to the early days of dissonance, every song on here is remarkable. Unfortunately, the production leaves a lot to be desired as the guitar is rendered too thin and the bottom end becomes a bit too "rrrraaaammmmpppphhhhh" for its own good. That, or I've played this tape so many times that it's getting fuzzy.

The most notable songs are "My Politics", "He Learned How to Bleed", "Humans" and "I've Got a Gun". The band plays in tight unison with end user destruction being the operational goal. "My Politics" in particular is the most impressive, containing one of the most convincing and fulfilling Rob melody lines in Nomeansno history. The song winds through several stages, all of them tying in well with one another. There is also an emotional remake of the bass & vocals only Mr. Wrong track "State of Grace" which fleshes out the song very nicely. If it weren't for the lacking sound quality, this would be truly a classic. Regardless, Worldhood is a fine moment and proved the band had viability this late in the game.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/1999

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Would We Be Alive? EP

NoMeansNo - Would We Be Alive? EP ©1998 Alternative Tentacles
1. Would We Be Alive?
2. You Are Not One
3. Rise
4. Big Dick (alternate Version)

For some reason the concept of Nomeansno covering the Residents is not hard to fathom whatsoever. The bands may be on entirely different realms of existence stylistically, but they do share a same creative spirit. On Would We Be Alive?, the band decides to take on a rhythmic, tribalistic drumming approach for the four songs (most recently documented on In the Fishtank, where three of these four songs are recorded with the two drummer setup used on tours in the mid-90s) and more heavieness than ever before. On the title track, Rob Wright and company get down to business with some crushing tones and of course Rob's killer voice carrying the weight. "You Are Not One" is a twisted look into geneology, though not necessarily one of the best Nomeansno tunes out there. "Rise" is a bit more surprising, sound somewhat influenced by a weekend of blasting Black Sabbath before writing the song. The lurching, chugging guitar is good company with Rob's emotional vocals making this song a chilling winner. The finale to the EP is a drums'n'vocals only version of "Big Dick", which frankly I just do not care for. Generally speaking, though, this EP is absolutely necessary to Nomeansno fans as it simply shows the creativity of this band is still burning bright nearly twenty years into their existence.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/1999

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Dance Of The Headless Bourgeoisie

NoMeansNo - Dance Of The Headless Bourgeoisie ©1998 Alternative Tentacles
1. This Story Must Be Told
2. Going Nowhere
3. I'm An Asshole
4. Disappear
5. Dance Of The Headless Bourgeoisie
6. The World Wasn't Built In A Day
7. I Can't Stop Talking
8. The Rape
9. Give Me The Push
10. One Fine Day
11. Youth
12. Lifelike

I've been waiting a long time for the next Nomeansno. Their last, The Worldhood of the World (as such), was a veritable fantastic album so naturally I was waiting rather impatiently for this one to finally surface. Fortunately with a band like Nomeansno, they seldom disappoint and are proving age is only making them sharper and meaner. Dance of the Headless Bourgeoisie is basically a cross pollenation of their last and 1993's Why Do They Call Me Mr. Happy?, with equal parts of punked out aggression and the epic length songs. And unlike their last, Nomeansno finally has some decent production that puts all their instruments in the right place without sacrificing their power. The first four tracks charge out of the gate with the steam of a locomotive, armed with a sense of melody (Rob Wright's vocals have never sounded so powerful or menacing before) and their wacky sense of songwriting. The Wright brothers are still one of the best rhythm sections ever and guitarist Tom Holliston makes his presence known without resorting to some of the noisy dissonace that marked early Nomeansno. On the lengthy title track, which is a ransom note from a would-be kidnapper, Rob's vocal acrobatics are easily the most impassioned and psychotic he's ever done. On "The World Wasn't Built in a Day", the slow rumbling bass underlies a bizarre mental trip of the narrative. And on "I'm an Asshole", Rob simply cuts to the chase lyrically. However, it's the final four songs that really do it for me. "I Can't Stop Talking" is a silly little ditty that shows Rob in fine talk-sing form and in the same spirit as "The Jungle" on Worldhood. Then comes the intense and gripping "The Rape", which is an immeasurebly potent brew of musicianship and vocal madness. "Give Me the Push" is simple lyrically, but again Rob's singing is the impetus for the song. The closer, "One Fine Day", is just a heavy but happy song that ends the album on an upbeat note.

Nomeansno is approaching nearly two decades of madness and this dance shows they are simply getting more graceful with age.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/1998

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In The Fishtank EP

NoMeansNo - In The Fishtank EP ©1999 Koncurrent
1. Would We Be Alive
2. The River
3. Joy
4. You're Not One
5. Big Dick

According to the information on the sleeve of this EP, In the Fishtank is a project similar to the Peel Sessions. Koncurrent invites bands with whom they feel a special kinship and have them record a half hour or so of whatever the musicians like in a studio. Nomeansno was the first band to participate in the project (and don't ask me if the project ever went anywhere after this was recorded in 1996) and this little EP is actually quite entertaining. The two tracks that were new to me, "Would We Be Alive" and "You're Not One", are both quite good, but it's the remake of "The River" (from Mr. Happy) that is the most remarkable. The session included touring second drummer Ken Kempster and the dual bombast of him and John Wright makes this recording downright excellent. Though sadly Nomeansno no longer tours with a second drummer due to the expense, at least one recording will capture the brilliance of their musical experiment. The only disappointing track on this whole CD is "Big Dick", which strips away the bass and has only vocals over tribalistic drumming. Unfortunately it just isn't enough to carry the song as well as the original. Nevertheless, a great little souvenier to find.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 06/1999

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One

NoMeansNo - One ©2000 Alternative Tentacles
1. The Graveyard Shift
2. Under The Sea
3. Our Town
4. A Little Too High
5. Hello / Goodbye
6. The Phone Call
7. Bitch's Brew
8. Beat On The Brat

You simply just have to be impressed with a band whose three members all look like they're older than most witnesses of the big bang and still put out a brand of progressive punk rock that is far more intense than nearly anything else being released these days. Still Canada's best kept secret and most underappreciated export, NoMeansNo is now twenty years into their musical explorations and having had No Means No One (or perhaps simply One) on constant repeat play since receiving it in the mail, I can say with great conviction that this album is easily one of the best - if not the best - NoMeansNo albums to date.

As has been the tendency since 1993's Why Do They Call Me Mr. Happy?, the band is hell bent on their epic songs with One. With the exception of the cover of Ramones' "Beat on the Brat", every single one of these songs clocks in near or well above the six minute mark. Best yet, all of the songs are so craftily structured and written that you will not tire of them at all. By and large the epic songs should cement the fact that although the band travels in and is embraced by punk circles, they are well beyond the typical connotation of what punk music should be. Best yet, the performances of the members, particularly drummer John Wright, are very much their strongest yet. I rather can picture musicians worldwide throwing their instruments down in disgust, realizing how much more practice they need, after listening to this album in full. The production is definitely the best the band has received, finally giving the studio output the sound that you would hear in a live setting (which is where this band still is at their best). So given all that, you have the all the necessary elements to put together the strongest NoMeansNo album of all.

"The Graveyard Shift" starts out One with one of the most infectious and stirring bass lines and guitar harmony that the band has ever written. The narrative of the song more or less sets the stage for how the rest of the album follows. Rob's vocals and lyrics are incredible throughout. "Our Town" is a grinding and chilling look at urban reality that quite possibly is the most blatantly real observation on city life that I've heard. "A Little Too High" is one of the most manic numbers NoMeansNo has come up with, offering an extremely avant performance from the band and Rob giving one of his more schizoid vocalizations yet. The lyrics here are bleak and disturbing, as well as brimming with strong imagery that is seldom found anywhere else. "The Phone Call" is another disturbing song about a telephone stalker losing his marbles. And quite possibly the most impressive song on the album is the fifteen minute long cover of Miles Davis' "Bitch's Brew". You never would have thunk that perhaps he wrote this song with NoMeansNo in mind, but their take on it is extremely wonderful. Any preconceptions on what a punk band is supposedly able to perform should be tossed out the window.

All in all, One is an incredibly deep and profound record from a band that has never seemed to have lost their edge or musical vision in twenty years. Every strong element of the band in the past - whether it is the amazing rhythm section of the Wright Brothers, impressive songwriting on a long song scale or lyrical strength - has been brought together into a single package that redefines and solidifies the reputation of the trio. I am personally of the opinion that this may be their best album to date and that says a lot considering some of the amazing releases in their catalogue. No Means No One is certainly for everyone and is getting the highest recommendation for any new release of the year 2000.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/2000

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Generic Shame

NoMeansNo - Generic Shame ©2001 Wrong Records
1. Sex Is Philosophy
2. No Big Surprise
3. I Get Up In The Morning

Generic Shame is a rather lengthy three song EP described as "generic" by the band themselves. However, that is quite far from the truth based on listening to this EP nonstop since getting it from overseas. Recorded during the same sessions as their 2000 release, One, Generic Shame exceedingly proves that the last recording session for the band has by far become their most fruitful session to date. The sound quality of Generic Shame is phenomenal, the production giving the songs a very clear and thunderously heavy charge to them. The first two songs are long, drawn out epics as Nomeansno has been prone to write for the last few years. "Sex is Philosophy" is a basic, Rob Wright observation on pornography's less glamorous social effects. The centerpiece of the EP is "No Big Surprise", which is a very lengthy eleven minutes plus. This song can best be described as progessive punk blues and might remind some listeners a bit of "This Wound Will Never Heal" from One Down and Two to Go. Wright's vocals are top notch here, giving his voice an incredibly powerful emotional charge that he hasn't attained often. The final track is a ska-punk type number done in typical Nomeansno style. "I Get Up in the Morning" is the most energetic, fun number the band has written since perhaps "Everyday I Start to Ooze" from O+2=1. It's interesting to hear what a band such as Nomeansno can do with a rather tired, worn out trendy sound.

For any fan of One, this EP becomes an absolute must have companion disc. Generic Shame adds on two more excellent epic tracks as well as a great, fun number to round out what has turned out to be one of the band's best creative peaks since perhaps Wrong era.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 06/2001

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The People's Choice

NoMeansNo - The People's Choice ©2004 Wrong Records
1. Now
2. Sex Mad
3. Theresa, Give Me That Knife
4. Body Bag
5. Angel And Devil
6. Rags 'n Bones
7. I Need You
8. It's Catching Up
9. Humans
10. I Can't Stop Talking
11. The Day Everything Became Nothing (Live)
12. Dad
13. The River
14. Victory
15. Give Me The Push

Bands like Nomeansno don't usually require greatest hits packages. Considering their fanbase is quite fanatical (can you believe some people will drive fifteen hundred miles just to see them play live?), chances are folks already have everything the band ever released and may very well be planting microphones outside their practice space simply to catch every note coming from them. Yet at the same time, there's hopefully a certain amount of curious people out there who would like to check out Nomeansno but don't know which album from the band's immense catalogue to select. Moreover, for the fanatical follower, The People's Choice offers some old photographs and some stunning liner notes from W. Buzz Ryan that are sure to illuminate fans on the band's illicit history.

As with any compilation, track selection is an arguable thing. My personal choices might vary a bit, but overall, The People's Choice does a fine job in picking out fifteen tracks from the band's twenty plus years of making music. Only the earliest album (Mama) and the last one (One) have omissions. Otherwise, you get plenty of selections from both the Andy Kerr years and the Tom Holliston era. The band wisely chooses the In the Fishtank version of "The River", which features Ken Kempster on the second drum set. Another great inclusion is the sensitive and touching "I Need You", which was a CD bonus track from Why Do They Call Me Mr. Happy? Fanatical followers of Nomeansno might be disappointed that there are no rarities or unreleased tracks for the compilation, but the cover art is great. Plus you get a picture of the band eating popsicles. I truly doubt Slayer would ever feature a photo such as that.

The People's Choice should indeed be the first choice for any curious person who has listened to me trump this band for ages. As an introduction to Nomeansno it's almost flawless. It also serves as a reminder that although the trio has left Alternative Tentacles to handle all future releases on their own label, the band is still relevant and reminding fans of their existence.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 06/2003

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Would We Be...Live? (DVD)

NoMeansNo - Would We Be...Live? (DVD) ©2004 Punkervision
1. I Got A Gun
2. I'm An Asshole
3. Body Bag
4. The River
5. Mr In Between
6. Valley Of The Blind
7. Rags & Bones
8. Hello / Goodbye
9. Big Dick
10. Sex Mad
11. Victory
12. Graveyard Shift
13. Humans
14. Now
15. Brother Rat / What Slayde Says
16. Dead Souls
17. Under The Sea
18. Can't Stop Talking
19. Oh No! Bruno!
20. Hey Hey My My (Out Of The Blue)
21. Total Goombah!
22. The Hockey Song
23. My Girlfriend's A Robot
24. My Game
25. A Night Without You
26. Third Man In
27. Stick Boy
28. Tranquil
29. I've Been There
30. Sabrina
31. Comatose
32. 100 + 10%
33. Rink Rat
34. Unsung Heroes
35. Joey Had To Go
36. Duke It Out
37. Road Pizza
38. Jack Off!
39. You Can't Hide The Heino
40. Bad
41. Sudden Death

Nomeansno (and their cloned dumber twins of the Hanson Brothers) have been around an awfully long time to only have officially documented their live show once (Live and Cuddly). There was an attempt a couple years ago to record a show in Vancouver for a DVD release, but the effort was scrapped. Thankfully, a fan named Punkervision Pete asked the band if he could have permission to record a couple shows in London in 2002. As it turns out, Pete had a full camera crew as well as professional editing skills. The resulting documentation was so well done that the band consented to its release. So finally, after years of suffering and despair, fans can have their home version of the live Nomeansno and Hanson Brothers shows.

The one inherent flaw of any live DVD, no matter what artist, is that it just doesn't quite equal actually being present. However, the two shows recorded here are done in a very authentic, genuine way that becomes the next best thing. Pete and his crew take up strategic points in the venue, offering good angles that capture all the stage antics. Moreover, as Pete is a fan of the bands, his editing skills helped dictate when to change angles and who to emphasize at any point in the song. Would We Be...Live? is no amateur video filmed from the back of some seedy club on a camcorder.

The Nomeansno performance is quite strong (though this comes as no surprise to any veteran of their live show). Material is taken from all phases of their career, including a new song that has yet to be recorded (the extremely catchy "Mr In Between", hopefully featured on the next Nomeansno studio album) and a cover of Neil Young's "Hey Hey My My (Out of the Blue)". The stage humor and between song banter is captured as well, which is one of the most fun parts of a Nomeansno show.

Recorded a month previously to the Nomeansno show, the Hanson Brothers live event is also equally well captured. With Ernie Hanson (a.k.a. Ernie from Removal) in tow as their rookie drummer, the Hansons charge through an entertaining set of hockey songs set to Ramones styled songwriting. Pete does a great job of capturing the hooliganism and absolute goofiness of the Hansons, including Tommy Hanson's chronic drooling problem (warning: this footage may cause nausea and vomiting in Montreal). Considering the Hanson are probably retiring from touring for extended period of time or possibly for good, it is nice to have a live documentation in hand.

Overall, the quality of this DVD rivals big budget efforts done by such luminaries of rock as Iron Maiden or Rush, despite the stripped down and authentic nature of the live shows. The sound quality is very good, taken from the soundboard. Obviously both Nomeansno and Hanson Brothers are confident enough in their onstage abilities that there were no needs to overdub anything. While I personally have troubles watching any live video (either I listen while I do something else or I just get very antsy), this DVD will see much playtime in the future. At some point, Nomeansno will retire from touring (hopefully long, long from now) and it will be nice to be able to pop this in for my grandchildren and say, "Back in my day, this is what rock was all about!" And then I'll most likely drool just like Tommy Hanson.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/2004

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All Roads Lead To Ausfahrt

NoMeansNo - All Roads Lead To Ausfahrt ©2006 AntAcidAudio
1. Wake Up
2. In Her Eyes
3. Mr. In Between
4. I See A Mansion In The Sky
5. Ashes
6. So Low
7. Faith
8. Heaven Is The Dust Beneath My Shoes
9. Mondo Nihilissimo 2000
10. The Hawk Killed The Punk
11. I'm Dreaming And I Can't Wake Up
12. Til I Die
13. Slugs Are Burning
14. The Future Is A Past

In the interest of full disclosure, I must inform the reader that as of this writing date, I am by far the least objective, most thoroughly biased person to be writing this review for the latest Nomeansno recording venture. In the years since 2000's One, I've become the band's webmaster and part of their North American roadcrew. Moreover, I witnessed a portion of the recording sessions for All Roads Lead to Ausfahrt and guitarist Tom Holliston has been known to buy me a tasty meal here and there.

Thus, take this review with the necessary grain of salt.

Nomeansno. The very name evokes mysticism and intrigue, or complete looks of vacancy due to the obscure nature of this Canadian outfit. The band has attained a very small dedicated cult following over their quarter century of existence and without a doubt, these folks do not need to read yet another review of an album they most certainly have already purchased or stolen in a most anarcho-punk rock fashion (no doubt sporting a very Exploited-inspired green Mohawk hairdo). But fans unfailingly read reviews of albums they already own, so this review is for both them and those who still may not know much about Nomeansno.

The band's last new studio album was released in 2000 on their former record label, Alternative Tentacles. In that time, the band left the label, were kidnapped by the Hanson Brothers who dominated musical activities for a couple years, signed onto AntAcidAudio (a sister label to Ipecac), and finally remembered that, oh, it might not be a bad idea to finally record a new CD. Thus, the band booked some time in Vancouver area recording studios, enlisted the engineering aid of Blair Calibaba, and sat on their laurels. By December 2005, the band had put together a bit more than a half dozen songs. The realization that within a month they were due to record, the trio whipped together another batch of songs, the results of which are finally displayed on All Roads Lead to Ausfahrt.

Ausfahrt, which features quite possibly the finest photography to ever decorate liner notes, is both a step forward and a nod to the past (and a sideways tip o' the hat their alter egos). One had taken the long, meandering songs to a logical conclusion, particularly in the fifteen minutes of "Bitches Brew". During their stint as the Hanson Brothers, little lights went off in their heads. "Wait a minute! It's okay to write shorter, catchier songs!" As a result, Ausfahrt is one the most condensed and to-the-point releases in Nomeansno's career. At the same time, it is also one of their more grandiose and epic releases. One must embrace dichotomies. On one hand, the CD features some incredibly catchy, ear friendly sing-along numbers such as "Mr. In Between", "In Her Eyes" and "Til I Die". But on the other, tunes such as "I See a Mansion in the Sky" and the album centerpiece "Heaven is the Dust Beneath My Shoes" are epic and monumental in ways that even the band themselves haven't touched before. "Heaven", in particular, is a true triumph for the band, as it is their first truly epic song, complete with a goosebump raising climactic ending. Rob Wright's vocals have never sounded stronger or more impressive. "Faith" is perhaps one of his finest vocal performances to date, although the aforementioned "Heaven", "Mansion" or even "Til I Die" vie for that honor. Tom Holliston's sole lead vocal performance, "The Hawk Killed the Punk", unleashes some seriously off kilter moments. But then again, each instrument in that song is played in a different time signature, so there's quite a bit that is travelling in skew lines.

The other most notable aspect of this album is that Nomeansno finally has a truly powerful production courtesy of whiskey phenom Blair Calibaba. One could certainly credit emerging technologies over the past half decade, but one must also know how to use such technology. I certainly don't. And I bet most of you don't either. The guitars finally are given a powerful presence, one that doesn't compete with Rob's bass. In fact, the stunning solos on "In Her Eyes" may transform formerly mild mannered guitarist into a bonafide Tomwie Hollisteen.

In summation, All Roads Lead to Ausfahrt is a thoroughly welcome return for our Canadian friends. Unlike previous Nomeansno albums, Ausfahrt doesn't contain a song so out of left field as to render it unlistenable. I've had a copy of this album in one form or another since the night mixing was finished and it still hasn't grown thin or weary in that time. Nomeansno never fails to astound my ears. Whether you're a fan from their humble beginnings in the 80s or have come along in the last few, Ausfahrt is a supremely satisfying record that undoubtedly demonstrates these guys have not overstayed their welcome in the music world.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/2006

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0+2=1½

Nomeansno - 0+2=1½ ©2010 Wrong Records
1. Cats, Sex and Nazis
2. I Need You
3. Lost
4. Blinding Light
5. This Wound Will Never Heal
6. John Instrumental (demo)
7. Victim's Choice/Happy Bridge/Intro Ghosts (demo)
8. Now It's Dark
9. Cats, Sex and Nazis (demo)

When Nomeansno recorded 0+2=1 back in 1991, they actually recorded enough songs to fill a double LP. However, after various discussions and some ballyhoo, the trio pared down the album to the eleven songs that we all know and love. Eventually, although guitarist Andy Kerr had left the band, the remainder of these songs were re-recorded on later records. And since the Wright brothers are far from talented archivists, these alternate takes would have been truly lost had Andy not found a cassette copy in his box of treasures. He was able to "remaster" the cassette and transfer it to MP3 to share with a select group of friends. Ultimately, the band decided the best way to issue these tracks would be a free web release, and thus we have 0+2=1½.

The noteworthy aspect of this release is that the original recordings of these songs are not vastly different than their later re-recorded versions. Andy Kerr's guitar playing has, of course, sharper edges than either Rob Wright's Why Do They Call Me Mr. Happy? versions or Tom Holliston's take on "Lost" from Worldhood of the World (as such). This demonstrates that Nomeansno tends to get their songs fully fleshed out before the recording process and rarely deviate from the original version once they have it nailed down. For tracks I've played countless times over the years, such as "I Need You" or "Cats, Sex and Nazis", hearing the slight differences between the first version and ultimate studio recording is interesting, though just a tad disconcerting at times. "I Need You" has a heavier bridge section on the original version, but it seems the song's pensive mood was better captured on Mr. Happy.

Andy also rescued a few demos from that era as well. Fans get treated to the original take on "Cats, Sex and Nazis", an untitled instrumental that gets attributed to John Wright, another instrumental medley of songs that ultimately were finished for later releases, and a completely unreleased track called "Now It's Dark". This energetic song is outstanding. It's hard to say exactly why it was left to the wayside, but fans should thank Andy for being sentimental enough to store such treasures away. (Fans should also be aware that this free release also represents nearly all the unreleased Nomeansno that is existence. The band does not operate in the same manner as, say, Muslimgauze, squirreling away DAT tapes of unreleased songs for future albums.)

You can download this album for free from the Wrong Records website. It's an outstanding companion piece to the end of Andy Kerr's tenure with Nomeansno and there's no arguing with the price.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/2010

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Tour EP 1

Nomeansno - Tour EP 1 ©2010 Wrong Records
1. Faceless May
2. Slave
3. Old
4. Something Dark Against Something Light

Sound the trumpets, dim the lights, and chill the ham, Canada's youngest progressive punk band are back with their first new release since 2006! Consistent with my expectations of the group, Tour EP 1 finds Nomeansno in typically unpredictable form. While I became a fan of the band through manic single-genre defying releases such as Wrong and Sex Mad, and then found myself blown away by the looming, first wiry-then-monolithic (yet always highly structured) force of later releases such as Dance Of The Headless Bourgeoisie and One, this EP, like most Nomeansno releases, reveals the band keeping certain familiar elements of their sound intact as they at they simultaneously move into new and interesting sonic directions.

As for what fans may already come to expect, this music is, first and foremost, very rhythm-section oriented. Interplay between the bass and drum parts act as the driving center of focus, upon which Tom Holliston's guitar parts and Rob Wright's thick, deep voice serve to build upon and embellish. The musicianship is typically tight and intricate, and those with a familiarity of Nomeansno's more "epic" tendencies won't be too shocked by the fact that these songs are all fairly long; the shortest being a little over four minutes, with the lengthiest number reaching just past the eight minute mark.

Once we are past these basic features, however, things take a turn for the atypical. For one thing, with the exception of the lumbering, vastness of "Old", Tour EP 1 features some of the most minimalist-sounding music I've ever heard from this outfit. Sure, drums were always a highlight of Nomeansno's sound, but the band seems to have placed a particular emphasis on John Wright's skinwork for this release, with solid but unbusy bass lines locking in over pounding, decidedly tribal-flavored beats. Meanwhile, aside from some constrained note and chord riffing on "Slave", and an admittedly palpable presence on "Old", the guitars here are generally an understated affair, with a part often either being a single chord followed by a note line following in unified step with the bass line, or during looser moments, simply background noise. This isn't to say the guitars are unimportant by any stretch; to the contrary, they help to round out the pounding rigidness of the rhythm instruments with much needed atmosphere, and add a sense of dynamics to the otherwise highly repetitious nature of these songs. Being that this is the case, most of the appeal of this music lies not so much in having it kick your ass with its seething intensity or generating a sense of vast catharsis via grandiose arrangements (even if the songs are long). Rather, these songs work due to the band's ability to build and build upon repeated musical motifs, adding greater and greater depth to each song with each passing measure. Suffice to say, background music this is not. However, if you allow yourself to focus first on that ever-interesting rhythm section, and then shift towards what's going on with the lyrical narratives as the guitars stir up and make their presence known, you'll find that these are not at all simply long, slow, go-nowhere exercises in repetition, but very lush and dynamic musical pieces. And quite smart pieces at that. Those familiar with this group shouldn't expect any less, nor should they be disappointed…even if this is quite different from being some sort of Wrong Part 2: Wronger.

Tour EP 1 is proof that almost thirty years on, Nomeansno continues to remain as vital and interesting as ever, and are still likely to be the most interesting band releasing new music to get filed into the "punk" section at the local record store. This EP may take a few listens for one to fully wrap their head around, but believe you me: when you get it, it gets good. Another fine release from Canada's most loveable band (besides Anvil).

Review by Hunter Brawer

Review date: 04/2010

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Tour EP 2

Nomeansno - Tour EP 2 ©2010 Wrong Records
1. Jubilation
2. All The Little Bourgeois Dreams
3. One And The Same
4. Perambulate

Look, I can totally understand how Nomeansno may want to redefine their sound again after so many years and different phases as a group. It's natural - people change with time, and so their art, as expressions of themselves, ought to change with it. But as intrigued as I was by their last EP, which introduced the world to decidedly more circular and minimal Nomeansno (or reintroduced the world to, if you want to count late-released Mama), I'm starting to have a hard time saddling on with Nomeansno's newer direction. I hate to say it, but to cut right to the chase, Tour EP 2 is Nomeansno at their most musically restrained and unfocused, even though the tunes themselves sound livelier and more streamlined than their last effort. The EP is bereft of an official track order, but I recommend you begin listening with the side "Jubilation/All the Little Bourgeoisie Dreams", as it contains the best song on this release, and frankly, the only number which I can honestly say I enjoy from start to finish. "Jubilation" is a catchy, uptempo song that has a great arena-rock-with-a-skittery-jazz-drummer vibe, and exemplifies the way in which Nomeansno is so adept at taking music which would usually be imagined as being pretty straightforward, and putting their own distinctive, instantly identifiable touch upon it. The song it is paired up with, however, is a surprisingly pretty standard pop rock issue, spare for the abnormal time signature (the verses sure don't sound like a blocky 4/4 beat) and odd violin sample/drum break in the middle of the song. And although I love that oddball section in the middle, two thirds of "All the Little Bourgeoisie Dreams" simply isn't all that interesting – like most modern pop rock these days.

On the other side, "One and the Same" showcases some more typically excellent drumming on the part of John Wright, but the song itself fails to grab me at all. The guitar, bass, and vocals all play such a nondescript role in this song that even after having heard the tune five or six times (including another couple times as I've been writing this review), nothing other than the drumming sticks out in my mind. I struggle to remember that I'm listening to this song when it's on, and I immediately forget it when it's over. On a more positive note, "Perambulate" starts off quite well, with very interesting guitar/bass interplay, lurching rhythms, and (more) incredible, distinctive drumming. Unfortunately, it devolves into a wandering instrumental jam (replete with acoustic guitars and handclaps) about four and a half minutes in, and never regains its focus. But with some editing, this song could be great! Ah, if only…

So, all in all, as much as I like Nomeansno, it's difficult for me to recommend this EP to anybody but diehard fans of the group. Fortunately, given that most of Nomeansno's audience is already nuts about them anyway, most people who would go to a show would probably want to own this record right off the bat, thereby rendering this review rather irrelevant. Such is the benefit of your band acquiring that elusive "cult" status. One way or another, I hope we can all agree at the end of the day that Nomeansno is still a great band, and that they deserve your respect for, if nothing else, taking a hell of a lot more artistic risks than most bands - even though this approach basically ensures that nobody will ever like every single thing the band does. After all, that's what keeps Nomeansno interesting and relevant, and that's what'll keep me looking forward to the next release, regardless of how bored I may happen to be by this particular EP.

That said, I really hope they fix the snare drum sound on the next release. Like, seriously – it's not as bad as St. Anger, but it still sounds like a rattling trashcan lid on this ep! No mas!

Review by Hunter Brawer

Review date: 11/2010

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