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Mama (1982)

5

Living is Free / My Roommate Is Turning into a Monster / Red Devil / Mama’s Little Boy / We Are the Chopped / No Sex / Rich Guns / No Rest for the Wicked / Living in Détente // Try Not to Suffer / I’m All Wet / Approaching Zero / Forget Your Life

MamaPerfect. Just when I finally ‘finished’ the Nomeansno-page and added a concert review, Southern Records re-release the band’s rare debut album. Initially, only five hundred copies were pressed, and then the master tapes were lost. The band then distributed it on tape mastered off a record and managed to get their hands on the tapes again, releasing it in 1992. I’ve never even seen it around though, and I swear I’ve been looking for it dozens of times in record stores all over the place (and I refuse to bid 200 dollars for an album on eBay). Oh well, I finally have it and basically I can only agree with what’s been said by several people: it’s different, it’s undeniably Nomeansno, but it’s also not very good. On some level I certainly like it, that’s because I love the band, but I’m also a man enough to admit that after about a dozen listen or so, there’s very, very little that sticks with me. It’s probably because the album’s so different than I’d expected: the 1994 compilation One Down and Two to Go contains songs that were recorded two or three years before this, and while they’re obviously the product of an inexperienced band, they were playful, energetic ditties that were funny (“Canada Is Pissed”), awkward (“Burn,” with the memorable line “My mind is a Nazi, but my soul is a Jew”) or both at the same time (“Pigs and Dogs”). That also goes for the early 7” inch Betrayal, Fear, Anger, Hatred (1981) they added to this CD: there’s an embryonic version of “Forget Your Life,” which they’d rerecord a few years later, but also straightforward, punk-ish rock ‘n’ roll (“Try Not to Suffer,” “I’m All Wet”) and a piano-led pop track in the vein of the earlier “More ICBMs.”

The music on Mama is far more experimental and cerebral than anything they’d done before. For the first time, their music’s completely defined by the fact they were only recording as a duo the time. Refusing to consider this a limitation, the band simply developed a unique approach to songwriting, as both bass and drums became more than just part of a rhythm section. While Rob’s alternately crawling and pounding bass lines provide the melodic part, John’s drumming is already as remarkable as it still is today, with weird accents, rumbling tom rolls and occasionally stunning velocity topping it off. This works excellently in the case of album opener “Living Is Free,” which has bass playing on a par with that of Bourgeoisie’s “Can’t Stop Talking” (and already seems to announce “The End of All Things”). In this song, and a few others, the due also adds keyboards, but they basically don’t change the peculiar nature of the music. The remainder of the album, however, isn’t as successful. It’s immediately obvious these guys have talent, but the songs rarely rock, while not all of these minimalist grooves are that interesting. The sinister funk-wave of “My Roommate Is Turning into a Monster” and the fractured art-funk of “No Sex” that reminds of Gang of Four, are pretty cool, but tracks like “Red Devil” and “Mama’s Little Boy” are pummelling songs that aren’t half as interesting as the band’s later efforts. Similarly, the fast rumble of “No Rest for the Wicked” is no match for, say, “Big Dick.” That said, there’s another ‘highlight’ in the guise of “Rich Guns,” a ska-influenced, socio-political rant with some great drumming. Even though John’s vocals aren’t the deep, demagogue’s baritone of the later albums and the addition of guitar player Andy Kerr would turn them into a really interesting band on subsequent releases, Nomeansno’s spirit, originality and twisted lyrical concerns are already there. It’s just that some of these tracks are too self-indulgent or directionless, never gaining true momentum, making it a rather underwhelming experience.

Note: This new edition contains HILARIOUS videos for “Forget Your Life” and “Rich Guns” with John and Rob looking very early 80’s, almost unrecognisable and playing the songs like Kraftwerk-like robots in some incredibly bland environment.

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Sex Mad / You Kill Me (1991)

7

Sex Mad / Dad / Obsessed / No Fgnuikc / Love Thang / Dead Bob / Self Pity / Long Days / Metronome / Revenge / No Fkuicgn / Hunt the She Beast / Body Bag / Stop It / Some Bodies / Manic Depression / Paradise

Sex Mad - You Kill MeThis release combines the second and third release of Nomeansno, the You Kill Me EP (1985) and their album Sex Mad (1987). I never heard their debut album Mama (1982), simply because I never saw it around, but I did check out some reviews of it, and none of them were positive about it in any way, so let’s get on with it. Basically the classic Nomeansno sound is already there: strongly influenced by the funk-punk fusion of Gang of Four and – to a lesser degree – The Minutemen, Nomeansno creates a blend of punk ethics and paranoid ferocity on the one hand, and complex and lengthy prog-rock influenced compositions on the other hand. Indeed, Nomeansno is one of the very few punk bands that often cross the 5-minute border, but I never said anything was average about this band. Their sound is entirely dominated by the ‘rhythm section’: brothers Rob and John Wright, in control of respectively bass and drums repeatedly create tough grooves in which the guitar (handled by Andy Kerr – although the poor boy was never mentioned in the liner notes) is often added to give some extra texture to the whole mix. That is not to say they left their punk roots entirely behind, as most of their albums also have a fair share of hardcore punk songs. By consequence, you’d expect them to appeal to a wide audience – punk lovers who want to hear some excellent playing, prog fans who want to hear complex music with balls – but somehow they never gained much more than a small, yet (very) loyal fan base, and it suits them fine, since the band is still around playing loud an intense shows for the masses.

The You Kill Me EP (the five last songs on the album) is dominated by the presence of one early NMN-classic, the brooding and morbid “Body Bag,” with a minimal and repeated bass-line and steady drumming, that’s probably meant to tackle topics such as war and death, but it’s the near-funny and unsettling lyrics (“See the children play in the mud, moulding balls of faces and blood from the body bag, all praise for corporal flesh, the smell of love, the smell of death, from the body bag”) that turn it into the kind of awkward song NMN would repeatedly create during their career: a combination of serious subject matter (death, lies, betrayal) and near-absurd lyrics. The rest of the EP can’t hold a candle to that song, but some at least try: “Stop It,” for example, which hints to the next album’s title song, has a great groove going and the yelled “STOP IT” is pretty cool. Also noteworthy is a cover version of Jimi Hendrix’ blues-waltz “Manic Depression,” which the band pulls off with style and creativity. It just makes you wonder what fake-ass skatepunk bands would make of this. But hey, we’re dealing with NMN here, and these boys can puh-lay, plus the song's topic suits them just fine. Left are two lesser tracks (well, in my opinion at least), “Some Bodies” and “Paradise.” Although the first one has some fine sections (and just listen how that bass totally drives the guitar into the corner), the last one comes off as a bit of a mess.

The actual album could be divided in two, the original A-side has the more punk-infected up-tempo stuff, while the B-side offers four lengthy compositions that are of a more droning nature, and that are a lot slower. The multi-parted “Dead Bob” acts somewhat as the link between both sides here. A great start is given by “Sex Mad,” a song that not only rocks and is great fun, but also points out their obsession with the theme of lust and (let me call it, for convenience’s sake) ‘the flesh’ (see also “Body Bag”). Anyway, it’s an excellent slab of music, with chugging riffs, steadily rumbling bass playing, and the slightly obsessed lyrics (“I’m going in, not coming out”) turn it into an early classic. The most traditional punk song of the album is “Dad,” and lyrically it’s a lot less fun, as it deals with domestic violence. This has been done before, but rarely have I heard a song that deals with it in such an outspoken way, and the fact that it’s told from an I-perspective (“Dad keeps hitting mom’s face, and there’s blood all over the place, I said, “Please dad, please! It was my mistake!””) makes it even more frightening in its intensity. I almost felt sick when I heard the song for the first time (I mean, this kind of approach isn’t very common – it’s as if you’re actually witnessing it), and it still has the capacity of sending shivers down my spine, despite the coda “I’m seriously considering leaving home.” And that’s about it. Well, not really, but the remainder of the album isn’t as impressive as these two opening tracks. “Obsessed” is an instrumental that’s interesting on a technical level, I suppose, but as a song it’s not very memorable. The 30-seconds long a-capella song “No Fgnuikc” points forward to the band’s similar contribution to the Virus 100-compilation, while “Dead Bob” has a structure that’s just too complex (multi-parted). The theme (suicide) is again quite morbid, but the hilarious lyrics (“Roses are red, violets are blue, I hung myself, so fuck you”) lighten things up. Not a classic, but an enjoyable song nonetheless.

Left are four lengthy tracks that really ask for repeated listens as they don't have much to offer when you’re hearing them for the first time, and in some cases not even after several listens. “Self Pity” has a threatening atmosphere all over it and certainly makes an impression, while “Long Days” never really caught on with me. “Metronome” is a lot better and is (I think) about the only of the album’s epics the band still plays to this day. “Revenge” has a chorus I never really liked that much, but fortunately the disjointed angularity of the verses makes up for it. Almost. Anyway, to finish this ridiculously lengthy essay: the CD-version also adds “Hunt the She Beast” (which is OK), and “No Fkuicgn” which basically is “No Fgnuikc” + instrumentation, and in this version it’s a great kick of punk fury. A bit of an uneven affair, Sex Mad/ You Kill Me does have some great songs and a few average ones. Certainly an acquired taste, but if you’ve already heard some other stuff by this band, chances are pretty high you’ll at least appreciate this one. And if you listened really carefully, you might’ve found the seeds that would turn this band into one of the most consistently impressive acts of the past 15 years.

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The Day Everything Became Isolated and Destroyed (1988)

7.5

The Day Everything Became Nothing / Dead Souls / Forget Your Life / Beauty and the Beast / Brother Rat / What Slayde Says / Dark Ages / Junk / And That’s Sad / Small Parts Isolated and Destroyed / Victory / Teresa, Give Me That Knife / Real Love / Lonely

The day everything became isloated and destroyedRunning at 70 minutes, this release – which combines the The Day Everything Became Nothing EP and the Small Parts Isolated and Destroyed album (both 1988), might very well be one of the most exhausting ones I’ll ever review. Mind you, it’s not bad or uninspired, not even a step down from the previous album, it’s just that the album is so hard to take in, both lyrically and musically, that listening to it becomes a heavy physical chore. While there are certainly instances of their hardcore personality, the main emphasis lies on mid-tempo rockers, most of which have an epic length (several stretching out for more than 7 minutes, the frighteningly intense “Real Love” even approaching ten minutes) or a multi-sectioned structure that never allows you to really get a blast out of it. Of course it doesn’t imply that all songs aspire to Zappa-complexity, as the band would never become obsessed by weird time signatures and ridiculously complex structures, unlike the even more eclectic Victims Family, for instance. The EP’s title track, for example, alternates grooving sections with machine-gun hammering, and with some typically nonsensical NMN-lyrics that refer to earlier tracks (“I couldn’t remember my name, so I called myself Bob, it’s weird being a Bob, but I’ll get used to it”).

The best song on the EP, however, is probably “What Slayde Says,” which has infectious bass melodies by Rob Wright dominating the entire song, while climactic parts regularly up the ante. “Dead Souls,” on the other hand, is a short blast of furious hardcore punk with cartoonish lyrics, “Forget Your Life” is a slowly thudding slab of rawk that points forward to the grand epics of the next album, while the goofy “Beauty and the Beast” marries Gang of Four with The Residents and other assorted weirdness. The actual album opener, “Dark Ages” is definitely another highlight of this release, immediately setting the tone with some incredibly tight musicianship. Weirdly enough the verses, and especially the singing, sound like a early ‘80’s British wave band, while at other instances the band comes across as a prog-funk band. Tracks like “Junk,” “And That’s Sad” and “Small Parts Isolated and Destroyed” are much harder to get into, though. All three of them contain these sudden tempo-shifts, changing rhythmical patterns, unsettlingly angular sections, peculiar vocals (the goth-like ones in “And That’s Sad” are even annoying), and a density of ideas that is quite impressive, but at the same time also hard to take. Much better, and classic stuff (hell, it’s some of the best music of the era) is the glorious trinity of “Victory,” “Teresa, Give Me That Knife” and “Real Love.” Both the first and the third song are basically rock in the classic sense (closest to Neil Young), with slowly accelerating sections and a gradual built-up up of tension, giant choruses, and a massive sound (although the overall quality of the production isn’t that impressive).

Also lyrically the songs seem quite ‘normal’ at first listen, but after hearing Rob Wrights meticulous dissection of love (“Real love is scary, you try to hide when it looks for you, you never know what it will do, and it don’t care about me and you”) in the appropriately named “Real Love,” you’ll discover a frantic intensity that’s constantly underneath the song’s surface and from beginning till end threatens to rip it up. It’s overwhelming and loud, but not in a ‘I’ll-kill-you-with-my-three-chords’-way. “Teresa, Give Me That Knife,” on the other hand, is as violent as can possibly be, both in its threatening lyrics (“What would you die for, Teresa?”) and its music, since it’s nothing short from being an ear-splitting aural grenade, fast and lethal, but memorable. “Lonely,” starting ponderingly with a repetitive melody, develops into another pessimistic meditation (“People come and people go, they put on their little shows, see them laugh, see them cry, see them live their little lies”) on isolation, freedom and lies (along with “the” probably the most occurring word in the complete Nomeansno output). The Day Everything Became Isolated and Destroyed was definitely a step forward for the challenging Canadian trio (if I only considered their musical skills, none of their albums would be less than 9), but somehow it never really caught on with me like it should have. I’m not really able to put my finger on what’s wrong with it, so I’m betting it’s the extraordinary density, emotional heaviness and uncompromising attitude (although they’d make albums that could qualify as weirder or more playful, this is the least accessible) that turns this album into one that’s easy to admire but hard to love. Really love.

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Wrong (1989)

9.5

It’s Catching Up / The Tower / Brainless Wonder / Tired of Waiting / Stocktaking / The End of All Things / Big Dick / Two Lips, Two Lungs and One Tongue / Rags and Bones / Oh no Bruno! / All Lies / Life in Hell / I Am Wrong

wrongWWWHHHHHHHOOOOOOOOAOOOAOOAOAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!! This is the one, baby, this is the first one where all the things that set them apart came together and clicked: it’s got stunning musicianship (I bet this is one hell of a listen for any advanced bass player/guiter player/drummer), furious punk and ridiculously complex jazz-punk, just like on the previous releases, but this time they succeeded in creating an album that’s entirely captivating, which makes this their first album that is both challenging and digestible at the same time (unless you never got further than your average three-chord punk). “It’s Catching Up,” for instance, with the bass and the drums synchronically opening the album with bludgeoning power, unites manic intensity with obsessive precision (making NMN one of the tightest punk outfits ever), in the process putting forward images as dark as those in “The Day Everything Became Nothing.” The album opener is only the beginning though, as the album’s split between generally short and fast punk blasts (about half of the album, thus becoming the most punk-oriented of their output yet) and longer (but no 7 minutes-epics this time) and seemingly more complex songs that incorporate elements from hard rock, prog, funk, jazz and God knows what else.

God must get a kick out of hearing ‘Brainless Wonder” though: with the lyrics (nothing more than “I need lunch feed me now, I need lunch when’s my break?”) coming near the end of the song, I usually refer to this one as an instrumental, but it’s not your average one, as it’s almost impossible to keep up with, although it has several original sections that show more creativity and focus than many prog outfits can put in an entire concept album. It’s followed by the equally relentless and pumping “Tired of Waiting” that shows the band to be the second act ever (in my humble opinion) to combine punk and jazz successfully (the first is, of course, The Minutemen). The nonsensical “Two Lips, Two Lungs and One Tongue” even ups the ante and has some terrific verse/chorus-contrasts, a drummer going completely berserk without losing his control, and a break that would be turned into a great advantage on the following live album. “Oh No Bruno!” finally shows they could also limit themselves to minimal punk employing fewer chords and complexity, and pull it off.

“The Tower,” like “Real Love” and “Victory” on the previous album, is basically a mid-tempo rocker with fairly simple riffs, but the bass is much more prominent here, forming a heavy foundation for the slashing guitar parts of Andy Kerr. “Stocktaking” starts off with the repetition of weird guitar accents and an intro that goes on for more than one and a half minute, but once it’s on its way, it becomes another prime example of Nomeansno’s near avant-garde approach to punk/funk. Apocalyptic images are once again revived for “The End of All Things” which is probably one of the most peculiar songs on this album, primarily because of the most remarkable contrast between the supercharged musical attack and the drawled vocals, with even backing vocals during the chorus. One of the best songs on the albums and, by consequence, an undisputed classic in the band’s catalogue, is “Rags and Bones,” on which bass and guitar basically repeat the same melody over and over again, but somehow turn the song into some sort of mini-rock opera with an intensity that doesn’t diminish until it’s finished. The album closer, “All Lies,” has a catchy chorus that somehow sounds familiar, but the sections in between are as challenging as the rest of the album (just listen to those thundering drums!!).

And then there was only one song left: “Big Dick.” Now, what this exactly is, I have no idea, but I usually refer to it as one of the hardest funk songs any punk band ever recorded. With only bass, drums and semi-rapped vocals, “Big Dick” is one of the funkiest ever, with an awesome performance by Rob Wright on bass. Already cool in itself, my amazement actually even grew when I saw these guys perform the song live and almost blew me away with an almost otherworldy groove that made my butt cheeks explore polyrhythmic exercises. Likewise, this album blows me away time and again. It’s one of those rare albums that finds an utterly original band at their creative peak, with overall impressive songs, a production sound that stresses their qualities, a perfect song order that grabs your attention for forty minutes and, most importantly, it’s a GIANT kick in the butt. To this day I have heard very few loud albums (one by The Dead Kenndedys, one by Black Flag, and uh …) that give me a kick like this one does. It’s not only one of the best “(hardcore) punk” albums I ever heard, no, like many other favorite bands/albums it’s just too good to be labelled as “only punk.” It’s rock ‘n’ roll as good as it gets.

Note1: The CD-version contains two more tracks (“Life in Hell,” “I Am Wrong”), both of which are good, but not album highlights.

Note2: Two of NMN’s members would later found hobby-project the Hanson Brothers, which is an absolute must for fans of Ramones-styled punk that deals with topics such ice hockey and drinking beer.

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The Power of Positive Thinking (1990)

7.5

I Am Wrong / Manic Depression / Life in Hell

POPT"Just think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of them are even stupider." For some reason, this George Carlin quote always reminds me of Nomeansno's music, which in its turn makes me repeat that Carlin-quote. Plain facts: the world is a great place, but the cultures/peoples are pretty fucked up. There are as many ways of dealing with it as there are trains of thought, the main options being: a) you become a malcontent, nagging bore (an option that seems to become more popular by the day), b) you're an actor and remain optimistic, c) you become indifferent, or d) you do things the Nomeansno-way and turn a large part of your catalogue into an absurd black comedy on society in which people feature as worms, beetles, monkeys and themselves, scrupulous predators who enjoy nothing more than really fucking up things and other people. The Power of Positive Thinking EP basically has nothing new to offer, as two songs ("I Am Wrong," "Life in Hell") can be found on Wrong as bonus tracks and the other one (recorded in '85) appeared on the You Kill Me EP. They're a nice triptych though, as well as a clear-cut summary of their funny/depressing world view. It's sheer misanthropy, but channeled through a lunatic's perspective, both crazy and rational at the same time. Luckily, the music in which the messages are wrapped up is equally well-balanced, an exciting merger of sheer force and intricateness, of power and intelligence. The bass-led crawl of "I Am Wrong" is the oppressive cut here, the dark beast. Creepy when it's going slow, insane during its mock-ecstatic accelerations, a menacing and minimalist King Crimson with a sense of humor. "Life in Hell" is the real winner though, more exciting, more deranged, displaying their manic skills to great effect by means of blistering stop & start punk-funk dynamics, a barely containable enthusiasm that also affects the message and insane grin of a deranged prophet of doom. In between these cuts, a version of Hendrix' jazzy waltz in 9/8, but faster than the original, comes as no surprise. If there's any band with the chops and the ability to give the song's theme a slight bend, it's Nomeansno, right? Anyway, nothing essential is going on here, no hidden gems waiting to be discovered, just three Canadians with nothing better to do than babbling about the pending end of all things. (Dec. 31st, 2005)

 

Live + Cuddly (1991)

8.5

Intro (Radio Finland) / It’s Catching Up / Two Lips, Two Lungs and One Tongue / Rags and Bones / Body Bag / Brother Rat / What Slayde Says / Some Bodies / Teresa, Give Me That Knife / Victory / Dark Ages / The End of All Things / The Day Everything Became Nothing / Dead Souls / Metronome / No Fucking

Live + CuddlyTaken from a few shows recorded in the Netherlands during their 1990 tour, Live + Cuddly offers a good selection of songs from Sex Mad/You Kill Me (4), The Day Everything Became Isolated and Destroyed (7) and Wrong (4), and luckily almost all of them were highlight on the respective albums. But more than a nice selection, the live release proves the band is really blessed with an awe-inspiring stage presence. Because no matter how good your studio efforts may sound, I’m one of those people who have to see it on a stage as well. Way too many bands that knocked together fine sounding albums in a studio just aren’t capable of pulling it off on a stage, and turn in sloppy performances or rely on gimmicks that should distract the spectator’s attention from the music itself. Not here though, as the live versions of the songs still contain the original songs’ variety, complexity and furious energy. The first time I saw this band play live was almost seven or eight years after these recordings, so they already had a larger catalogue to choose from, but the conviction, humor and precision apparently has been a constant factor during their concerts.

It’s not easy to point out highlights from the set, as many of my favorites are gathered here, but if I have to, the version of “Two Lips, Two Lungs and One Tongue,” with its stage chatter during the break (Kerr asking the crowd whether they listened to too many violent acts such as M.O.D. and S.O.D.) begs to be mentioned. Even more intense (yes, it’s possible) than their studio counterparts are “Rags and Bones” and “What Slayde Says,” while the one that improves the most (with a much more forceful sound here) is “Dark Ages.” Also special to me is the fact that “The Day Everything Became Nothing” is announced in Dutch (“De dag dat alles in niets opging”) and the inclusion of the a capella “No Fucking.” So, there you got it: of course it doesn’t replace the real experience and of course it won’t change your life (and I’m still not that impressed by “Body Bag” and “Metronome”), but if you wanna have an idea of what the band sounds like on stage, but you’re too lazy to leave your house/apartment/shack/cardboard box, at least do me a favor by buying this great live album, cranking up the volume and enjoying (?) the excellent music of one of the most powerful trios rock music has ever had.

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0+2 = 1 (1991)

9

Now / The Fall / 0 + 2 = 1 / The Valley of the Blind / Mary / Everyday I Start to Ooze / When Putting It in Order Ain’t Enough / The Night Nothing Became Everything / I Think You Know / Ghosts / Joyful Reunion

Sixteen HorsepowerI bought 0 + 2 = 1 when it was just released and it was my introduction to Nomeansno. This may very well be the reasons why I still like the album this much. I didn’t know very much about music at the time, and apart from a few exceptions (Ramones, Pixies, Rollins Band, Hüsker Dü), my knowledge about “alternative” music was quite limited to say the least. But oh boy, I can assure you, once you’ve heard this band, the bar is raised pretty high, very high. Incredible accomplished albums like this one enabled me to distinguish between true creativity and fake-ass wannabees. All in all, 0 + 2 = 1 perhaps doesn't have the overall consistency of Wrong, but in terms of creativity, variation (both of songs ànd sounds) and sheer musicianship, this is their best effort, and their album I play the most. I must have heard this album literally dozens and dozens of times, but each time I hear that introduction to “Now” I jump up, eagerly anticipating the next 45 minutes that succeed in being catchy, hard-rocking and danceable (believe it or not) at the same time. In other words: the EXACT OPPOSITE of Laurie Anderson’s Big Science.

“Now” may very well be the most accessible of all their songs, as it’s also the one of the poppiest, rolling along at a nice and playful pace, with a melody and a bounce that’ll stick around for a long time. The multi-tracked vocals in the beginning of “The Fall” are a nice gimmick, while the song itself is a tight excursion into ska, rock and funk, with lyrics that seem to refer to earlier songs (“The Tower”, “Real Love” (?)). There are also some ska-influences noticeable in what is perhaps the album’s best song: the bass-led “Everyday I start to Ooze,” which you just have to hear to believe, as it combines all the best elements of Nomeansno: a hypnotic groove created by the most supple bass playing this side of Bootsy Collins, typically nonsensical lyrics that perhaps don’t make sense, but at least sound great, and an unstoppable drive. Maybe I should also have stressed it more during the earlier reviews, but the lyrics of this band are something that’s not given enough attention to. OK, OK, most of them are quite absurd (especially on Wrong), but as often they offer glimpses of the band’s bleak worldview, one that’s dominated by deceit, absurdity and lots of Catch-22-styled goofiness. The best thing of all is that it often results in funny analogies (“If every fourth animal in the world is a beetle, maybe every fourth person is a dumb fuck”) and highly quotable lines such as “But if nothing is something, if to rise is to fall, then a child needs a name like a corpse needs a pall, nonsense is better than no sense at all” (the last part – from the creepily crawling title track – being one of my favorite one-liners ever). But I’m digressing again, and it’s definitely the band’s music that sets them apart more than anything else.

Despite the surprising variety and the amount of more accessible songs than ever before, the album also has its share of bone-crunching rave-ups, like the speedy “Valley of the Blind” with its ridiculously fast vocals (almost half as fast as the Meat Puppets’ “Sam”), and the short but extremely powerful instrumental “The Night Nothing Became Everything” that leads the way to the militaristic assault of “I Think You Know” which cannot be grasped in words. It can hardly be called a song, and the shouted vocals and apocalyptic ‘chorus’ are probably an acquired taste, but it certainly is something nobody had done before. And then there’s the album closer, “Joyful Reunion,” a glorious 4 minute racket with some of the best drumming I ever heard (I don’t know if it’s technically advanced, but I do know it’s so propulsive and all over the place it creates an enormous blast of energy), until I heard the next album, probably. While at least four or five of the songs on this album are simply some of the best loud rock songs I ever heard, there are also a few that are excellent when compared to almost other bands, but not yet classic compared to “Now” or “Everyday I start to Ooze,” for instance. After the adrenaline-rush of the first four songs, “Mary” is some sort of resting point, while “When Putting It All in Order Ain’t Enough” is entertaining as hell, but also a bit directionless. Finally, there’s the one track that’s not at least impressive: “Ghosts”. By far the longest track on the album (approaching 8 minutes), it somehow doesn’t fit in with the rest, lacking the magic the rest of the album does have. Luckily that’s compensated by the terrific “Joyful Reunion.” So I may be overrating this a bit, I don’t know, but the fact remains that the largest part of this album still amazes me to this day, many many listens after that day in 1991 (gosh, I’m feeling old). Tell me I’m right, do tell me!

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Why Do They Call Me Mr Happy? (1993)

7.5

The Land of the Living / The River / Machine / Madness and Death / Happy Bridge / Kill Everyone Now / I Need You / Slowly Melting / Lullaby / Cats, Sex and Nazis

why do they call me mr happySomewhere after 0 + 2 = 1, guitarist Andy Kerr (who was never mentioned by name on any of their albums) left the band to pursue other goals. Fortunately, Rob Wright can also handle a guitar himself, so the brothers recorded the album entirely on their own. Listening to the album, it once again becomes clear that a guitar never really was that dominant in NMN's music, but also that it was never really missed. The bass playing and drumming contained so much power, variation and subtleties that they became excellent replacements, and because of this, with a calmer approach and lengthier songs (10 songs in an hour?), Why Do They Call Me Mr. Happy? is the least aggressive of their albums, showing hardly any instances of their former punk fury, and sounding almost like some sort of minimal prog album. “The Land of the Living,” for instance has a great repeated bass-line that leads the band through the quieter parts of the songs (while there are also instances where they show their prowess) and the prominence of keyboards was a nice idea. Much more impressive is “The River,” that boasts simply incredible drumming by John Wright who basically repeats the same similar pattern for six minutes, but the variety in intensity, combined with one of Rob’s best vocal performances and bass playing turns it into a slab of sheer power and an absolute album highlight.

Other highlights are the lengthy (8:02) “Kill Everyone Now,” of which the muddy bass sound during the brooding verses is a nice contrast with the sudden shifts to the full-on rage of the “grab the handle”-section that prepares for the delirious chorus. Album closer “Cats, Sex and Nazis” must be one of their most recognizable songs, with familiar topics (“Lies can often give you power” as opening line) and an unbreakable groove that’s maintained for almost eight minutes. It’s also cool to check out the references to other stuff (Henry Mancini’s “The Pink Panther,” Faith No More’s “We Care a Lot,” “Smoke in the Water” and allegedly also The Residents). The playful “Madness and Death” is characterized by typical start/stop-dynamics, while the slow “Machine” goes on for too long (and ‘starts’ only after one and a half minute). I read somewhere that the LP version of the album doesn’t contain “I Need You,” “Slowly Melting” and “Lullaby,” and I must admit I would have enjoyed this album better without them, as they’re unnecessarily stretched out. “I Need You” and “Slowly Melting” are quite good, the first one is the closest they’d ever come to a normal ballad, while the second incorporates lots of pop elements that make it easily digestible. “Lullaby” is quite superfluous (ouch), as it doesn’t add anything to the album, despite the references to “Dancin’ in the Street”. Why Do They Call Me Mr. Happy? is a bit of a weird and transitional album, that certainly has its share of impressive tracks (“The River” is an absolute classic in the band’s catalogue), but few that sets the album really apart, like the previous two albums. Maybe it’s also due to the more cohesive sound that does create an even listening experience, but also detracts from the band’s former creativity. Also lyrically the album’s less fun than before, but anyone who can come up with lines such as “I lied when I said that honesty was dead, I really believe all the things I say to you, it’s just that none of them are true” is OK in my book. Compulsory stuff for anyone who’s really interested in the band’s catalogue, but those who are looking for a first taste are better off with the two previous albums. Amen.

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One Down and Two to Go (1994)

7

Intro / Red on Red / Who Fucked Who / Pigs and Dogs / Widget / More ICBMs / Blinding Light / I’m Doing Well / This Wound Will Never Heal / Real Love / Remember / Baldwang Must Die / Victoria / Sitting on Top of the World / Canada Is Pissed / Burn

One down and two to goA mishmash of tracks recorded after Andy Kerr left the band (in ’91), with some songs from their formative years (dating back to ’79 and ’80) thrown in for good measure, One Down and Two to Go is as incoherent as possible but despite this, it also contains some excellent stuff, that is easily good enough to appear on ‘proper’ studio albums. The compilation also shows the brothers have come a long way since their early days, of which the music doesn’t have much in common with their ‘90’s output any more. Of the five ‘old’ songs included, “More ICBMs,” a quirky, piano-led track, is the most enjoyable, while the cheap-sounding “Canada Is Pissed” shows how dominant the Ramones were at the time. “Burn” and “Pigs and Dogs,” on the other hand don’t impress, despite the massively distorted guitars, while “Baldwang Must Die” shouldn’t have seen the light of day in the first place. Fortunately the newer stuff is more interesting, and offers a mix of charged punk rock, more complex prog punk and some special stuff, like Rob playing an acoustic blues during “I’m Doing Well” or only accompanying himself with super-heavy electric bass during the plodding but somehow also captivating “Sitting on Top of the World.”

“Red on Red” is one of their best straightforward punk songs, and it has a great sound, while both” Blinding Light” and “Remember” have rather silly-sounding choruses, but get such a tight execution that they obliterate everything in sight. “Who Fucked Who?” and “Widget” are lengthier, more complex and suffer from schizophrenia, and while that’s an advantage in the former case, the latter is more impressive than lovable. The slow “This Wound Will Never Heal” proves that Nomeansno’s excellence is not only limited to either ultra-complex prog punk or point blank-hardcore. Simple and repetitive, filled up with just enough notes, it’s one of the most directly emotional songs the band has ever come up with. The compilation for some reason also includes a version of “Real Love” as covered by a band called Swell Prod. (I presume they’re related to Nomeansno), and while their speedy version is actually quite good, it’s not nearly as intense or impressive as the original version. Finally, there’s also a version of The Kinks’ “Victoria,” as done by The Hanson Brothers, the difference being that the song isn’t about Queen Victoria, but the guys’ hometown in Canada, with hilariously altered lyrics (“I was born in a place, where the cops spray their mace, on the kids at the gigs, and they act just like pigs, beat ‘m up, knock ‘em down, Victoria, what a town”). With few superfluous songs, but also few really outstanding tracks, One Down and Two to Go is way too fragmented to appeal to those who are remotely interested (I presume), but is of course a nice treat for those who just can’t get enough of Canada’s finest (and yes, I have heard The New Pornographers, Sloan, The Tragically Hip and Paul Anka too!).

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The Worldhood of the World (as such) (1995)
7.5

Joy / Humans / Angel or Devil / He Learned How to Bleed / I’ve Got a Gun / My Politics / Lost / Predators / Wiggly Worm / Tuck It Away / Victim’s Choice / State of Grace / The Jungle

The Worldhood of the worldThe first album Nomeansno recorded as a trio since Andy Kerr’s departure after their masterpiece 0+2=1, The Worldhood of the World (as such) introduces guitar player Tom Holliston, who’d already played with the Wright Bros. in their side-project The Hanson Brothers. Holliston proves he ain’t no slouch, as the sound of the band doesn’t change that much and is punked up a few notches after the relatively mellow Why Do They Call Me Mr. Happy? Many people consider this record the ultimate Nomeansno-album, but I disagree for the simple reason that the second half of the album simply isn't a match for the excellence of the first half, which offers one slab of mutant punk bliss after the other, although in the NMN-catalogue “punk” means something different than what you might expect, as even their most direct and simple rave-ups bear witness of their immediately identifiable bass-heavy sound and twisted sense of humor. This time, their lyrics are once again full of contempt and hatred for humanity (the mock-dumb “I love to hate, that’s fucking great” in “My Politics” says it all, while human beings are consecutively compared to monkeys, predators and worms (while 0+2=1 they still were beetles).

After the harmony-heavy silliness of “Joy,” we immediately have to deal with “Humans,” which has a great infectious melody, switches effortlessly from punk to ska and back and will have you singing along so quick it’s no wonder it ended up on the recently released Nomeansno-anthology The People’s Choice. Rob pulls an Ozzy during “Angel or Devil,” just singing along with the bass guitar (and everybody knows his bass in Sabbath’s guitar), while the foot-to-the-floor freight train rhythm of the song obliterates everything on its way. The momentum is kept goin’ with the stunning “He Learned How to Bleed” that has a massive chorus mainly courtesy of John’s powerful drumming, once again proving he’s an incredible underrated powerhouse drummer capable of combining relentless power, swing and finesse (if necessary). The chopping chorus of the song prepares for the short energy blast of “I’ve Got a Gun” that boasts a riotous chorus (“I gotta gun, I’m gonna finally be someone”), while the absurd nihilism (“I got no special love for reality, I got no views on foreign policy”) is once more backed by the most rampant punk of the North-American continent. The most lauded song of the album, “My Politics” is another candidate for the band’s database of ridiculously grand epics, containing several well-connected sections, with especially the middle part switching from one genre (funk, punk, ska, you name it) to the next more fluidly than the average band switches from one crappy semi-interesting song to the next. But enough bile, enough hatred and venom: there’s still one kick ass song left: the fairly catchy and swinging “Lost” (gotta love that “I wanted it all”-line), written at a time when Kerr was still in the band. If this had been the final song, The Worldhood would have been a short but absurdly excellent 7-song album of roughly 25 minutes. But no, six more songs have to be endured. It’s not that these are abominable efforts that should’ve been on some outtakes compilation, but WHY THE HELL DO THOSE ALBUMS HAVE TO BE 52 MINUTES LONG WHILE 30 WOULD DO JUST FINE??? “Predators” is all about that droll ascending/descending bass-line, but there’s need to stretch it out for five minutes, while the hurried and angular “Wiggly Worm” is technically impressive, has nice call-and-response vocals, but isn’t that interesting overall. The same goes for the schizophrenic “Victim”s Choice” that doesn’t have a worthwhile melody or catchphrase to set it apart. OK, “Tuck It Away” kinda does the trick by offering swell but by-the-book punk rock, and “State of Grace” has its epic moments that recall “The Tower”, but the final Peters verdict is that they missed an opportunity to put together another tremendous tour de force by adding too many less-than-spectacular songs. But those six mofos are still more entertaining and adventurous than most bands’ complete catalogues, of course.

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Dance of the Headless Bourgeoisie (1998)
9

This Story Must Be Told / Going Nowhere / I’m an Asshole / Disappear / Dance of the Headless Bourgeoisie / The World Wasn’t Build in a Day / I Can’t Stop Talking / The Rape / Give Me the Push / One Fine Day

Dance of the Headless BourgeoisieAnother 9 (well, the third one) might come as a surprise, and I gotta admit, I even surprised myself with it. People often argue that such a high score should only be rewarded to albums that click immediately, like those other innovative, genre-bending masterpieces that let you know from the first note onwards you’re dealing with classic material. Not so with this one. I’ve had it for a while, listened quite a lot to it, tried to review it a while ago (after I’d done The Worldhood of the World), didn’t know how to start off and went on with One in the meantime. Now, I’ve literally forced myself to listen and listen again, just in order to formulate an opinion, and after a few listens it dawned upon me. Dance of the Headless Bourgeoisie is for the most part an unquestionable jazzcore masterpiece: inaccessible, uncompromising and very draining, but also incredibly tight, smart, funny, intense and repeatedly mind-blowing. It’s a lengthy prog-punk epic that’s nearly as good as Wrong, while lyrically being even more interesting. If you’re only in it for slogans and simple messages, then Nomeansno’s wordy songs won’t become your favorites, but if you do like literate stuff with your music, then Dance will be your best friend. Perhaps you’ll even enjoy reading the booklet without the music, like I do.

The problem with Nomeansno’s music is that it’s extremely hard to pin down. They’ve got a very recognizable style (so far, no one has even attempted to imitate their unique approach), but how often can you repeat “a challenging blend of punk’s energy and velocity, with prog’s astonishing versatility, with a powerhouse drummer, stomach-turning bass and a guitar player who lays a foundation just to tear it up again, and all this covered in dense lyrics combining the surreal with the disturbing, howled by a paranoid with a PhD in insanity”? Right. After a bunch of albums you’d expect them to take it easier (they’d already been in the game for more than 15 years at this point), but if anything, it’s the bleakest album they’ve released yet, while the louder parts are really loud and menacing. However, the opening trio basically continues the “gentler” tendencies of before (Why Do They Call Me Mr. Happy?). “This Story Must Be Told” starts off with a great unison bass/guitar-attack and an intensifying second part that leads to a grandiose finale. “Going Nowhere” is the album’s lightweight song, basically a jagged tribute to the Ramones’ sing-along punk, while “I’m an Asshole” alternates fast, three chord-punk, with more complex sections completely propelled by Rob Wright’s insanely catchy bass lines and John’s awesome drumming, while Holliston does something that I can only describe as “funky chicken-scratchin’ from hell.” That’s when the party can really take off: “Disappear” contains one of their most memorable grooves ever, adds piano along the way, and culminates in a mocking ending that’s the perfect link to the demented title track. This song is probably one of the most insane 8 minutes I’ve ever heard on album. Blasting from the speakers with a violent aggression, before transforming in another bass-monster, “Dance” is basically the ransom note of a kidnapper, telling a guy they’ve got his wife, son and daughter and are more than willing to blow up their heads, if he doesn’t meet their requests. Not that spectacular by itself, but Rob’s vocal performance is totally insane, with spit flying in all directions and neck veins bulging as he growls about his need for cash to finance his political beliefs and how he’ll cut off the daughter’s pinkie and will “shove it up your ass and call it stinky.” It’s dense and completely fucked up, but also something that goes way beyond the traditional confines of rock. You may also call it sick, of course, certainly because the last two minutes of the song suddenly switch to something like an instrumental funk-polka.

The level of intensity returns in “The World Wasn’t Built in a Day,” basically a near-10 minute narrative backed by a throbbing bass and the occasional decibel outbursts during the choruses. As for the lyrics, they’ll make you scratch your head as you’ll probably come up with the idea that it might be a depiction of a dream about some dystopic world of uselessness, aimless actions and a language that’s too hollow and meaningless to capture anything with essence. After this feverish nightmare, the madness is continued with the playful “I Can’t Stop Talking,” the kind of song that fans of Primus will like: angular, funky and weird, with Wright’s insistent ramblings being the icing on the cake. “The Rape” is equally manic, a confusing tale about physical, verbal and psychological abuse wrapped in a filthy blanket of outraged, mocking and accusing voices trying to outdo each other. This all sounds rather nonsensical, I know, but I simply don’t know how to say it otherwise. A bit more accessible, but every inch as intense, is the hard-rocking “Give Me the Push,” a song with multiple climaxes and a stunning showcase for John’s drumming. Just pick up around the four minute-mark and start drooling. It’s the worst thing you can listen to as an aspiring musician. Finally, album closer “One Fine Day” – the only minor slip - recalls Sabbath’s doom, while Rob laconically promises nothing will stand in his way, once he’ll get out of his chair. As proven above, it’s nearly impossible to offer a sensible description of Dance of the Headless Bourgeoisie (or any other Nomeansno album), simply because you’ll lack reference points. Because of its wilfully dissimilar character and peculiar nature (oh, there are loads of bands who are much more extreme – with vocals and music, but few are this good at it) it’s perfectly possible that another open-minded music fan will tell you that it’s a lousy, meandering album that’s nothing but a punked-up version of Rush, but to me, the most successful songs and parts turn majority of these 60 minutes into some of the most exciting and unique music ever committed to tape.

Reader comments:


Phil Ritchie:
on your review of dance of the headless, by nomeansno, you forgot the vinyl tracks youth and life like.
they are worth a word.
especially life like. amazingly ground breaking, even for nomeansno


 

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One (2000)
9

The Graveyard Shift / Under the Sea / Our Town / A Little Too High / Hello/Goodbye / The Phone Call / Bitch’s Brew / Beat on the Brat

OneAnd just when you thought the band had used up all its resources, they come up with a ninth studio album like One. Jesus Christ, now this isn’t exactly what I’d call “easy listening.” Apart from the album closer, all the songs on here are genuinely epic, often stretched out beyond the 6-7 minute mark (“Bitch’s Brew” reaching 15 minutes), and – contrary to the earlier albums – it’s mostly a mid-tempo affair. The schizophrenic genre- and tempo-changes are omitted in favor of a less forced and weird approach, but one that’s no less adventurous. Nomeansno doesn’t make music for the masses. Since the early days, their albums have been crammed with bleak songs, of which the titles often said enough: “Forget Your Life,” “The End of All Things,” “The Valley of the Blind” etc. Of course there’s also the Orwellian 0+2=1 and the numerous metaphors and comparisons that are used for people. On One, we’re again faced with a bunch of unsettling stories: of people enjoying the graveyard shift (“It’s quiet, I can read all night”), about towns where “murder happens everyday,” about phone stalkers going through hell, etc. The most surprising track of ‘em all is probably a cover of Miles Davis’ “Bitches Brew,” which also gets fittingly opaque lyrics full of references to physical violence and mental instability.

Never has a Nomeansno-album sounded better than this time around, and never before has the band’s interplay reached such heights. I only needed one listen to be blown away by the sheer force of this trio. They no longer need sudden accelerations and rhythmic shifts to prove their musicianship, as they’ve reached a point where their interplay seems to be hypnotic. Bludgeoning bass lines crawl along for several minutes or are suddenly replaced by flexible melodies that can only come from Rob Wright, while guitarist Tom Holliston delivers concrete riffs, makes his guitar shards sound like sonic shrapnel and squeezes the most wicked sounds out of his instrument (“A Little Too High”). In the meantime, the central point of the album stays John Wright, an incredible powerhouse drummer that tears through these 63 minutes with an exciting creativity. As for the songs, it’s quite useless to discuss them all into detail and separately. The years that Nomeansno abided by the rules have been over for quite while: there are verses and choruses, of course, but the band is not their slave. Once again, they’ve also released an album that’s basically genre-defying. Oh, they may well be a punk band, but after hearing these guys, your notion of what punk can be is definitely altered. As for a few striking moments: the bass/guitar-intro of “The Graveyard Shift” immediately sets the tone before transforming into this massive rhythm. The playing stays impressive throughout, but the band’s precise stretching out near the end tops it off. “Our Town” is basically based on a recurring bass line, but the band overcomes the traps of repetition by typically unsettling lyrics and shifting the accents now and then. One of the album’s highlights, and a classic NMN-song in my book, is “A Little Too High” that just has it all: stunning interplay, bizarre lyrics (“Lizard brains and mucus stains and greasy little dove’s thighs, broken wings for eyebrows over glaring, multi-colored eyes”), and an angularity and playfulness not encountered since Captain Beefheart & Co. were still around. The song’s nothing short of a sonic blitzkrieg and a descent into the mind of a brilliant lunatic.

After the last original, the near 9 minutes of “The Phone Call” that will alter your notion of “intensity” once and for all, the band comes up with two covers: one of “Bitches Brew” and “Beat on the Brat” by The Ramones. Who else but Nomeansno would dare to cover “Bitches Brew”? Luckily, they pull it off. In my opinion at least, and I’m not really into music studies. The song is basically divided into two long parts, both of which are introduced by a similar intro that shows these guys can use their instruments for something else than three-chord punk as well. Rob Wright’s deep bass immediately sets a dark tone through the song, while his invented lyrics during first verse is already a foreboding of weirder things to come. It’s hard to decide what exactly is going on, as Wright seems to have cut out half of the lyrics, but it benefits the feverish atmosphere and enigmatic nature of the song. Basically, it’s quite simple, but there are moments where the band head into unknown territory that are just perfect. During the second part the fusion-aspect of the song is stressed, with the inclusion of electric piano and congas, after which they get back to the part introduced during the intro. I have no way to describe this. Maybe I’m just not capable of it, or otherwise Nomeansno just defies clear dissection. They’re aurally challenging without sounding too pretentious, they sound smart without becoming self-satisfied, and there’s always something cool going on in their songs. Weirdly enough, the only problem I had with this album was their dragging, near-mechanical cover of “Beat on the Brat,” that nearly beats all the fun out of the songs, but maybe that was the point. As it is now, it somehow doesn’t fit in with the rest. Anyway, with One Nomeanso has once again come up with a challenging release that proves you can mature with style and vision. Several of their albums are marred by too confusing or less impressive stuff, but when you can capture them at their peak – during most of Wrong, 0+2=1 and One – they prove to be one of the most impressive contemporary bands, one that has the capacity to alter your views on music by ways of the sheer force of their imagination, and didn’t some poet say that imagination is “the most essential piece of machinery we have if we are going to live the lives of human beings”?

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The People’s Choice (2004)
10

Now / Sex Mad / Theresa, Give Me That Knife / Body Bag / Angel and Devil / Rags ‘n Bones / I Need You / It’s Catching Up / Humans / I Can’t Stop Talking / The Day Everything Became Nothing (live) / Dad / The River / Victory / Give Me the Push

The People's ChoiceReal Love
The Tower
The Fall
Everyday I Start to Ooze
Joyful Reunion
Kill Everyone Now
Cats, Sex and Nazis
Red on Red
I’ve Got a Gun
Disappear
Dance of the Headless Bourgeoisie
The Phone Call

None of these songs are included on this compilation. All of those songs are brilliant. It goes to show how rich the Nomeansno catalogue is, and they didn’t even pick songs from their debut album or 2000’s One. What you DO get are one or two songs from each album in between those two, with one pick from Live and Cuddly, one from the early You Kill Me EP (a version that sounds different from the one I have, though the liner notes don’t mention whether it’s an alternate version or so) and a live version of “The River” that’s simply INCREDIBLE. Whereas the original album version is already a song of monumental stature, mainly because it’s carried on by some of the most thunderous drumming ever, this version includes TWO drummers. By consequence, it’s a song of gigantic proportions, almost impossible to fathom. The remaining songs offer a perfect overview of the band’s capabilities. Even though some of their albums were slightly flawed because they were too long or a bit uneven (especially the ‘80’s albums), they also contained a handful of songs that were terrific and occasionally mind-blowing. I’m not going to discuss these in detail (check out the shitty reviews above if you want), but their scope is breathtaking and worth pointing out. There are slashing punks blasts that are intense beyond comprehension (“Theresa, Give Me That Knife,” “Dad”), schizophrenic rock songs that are all over the place (the eternal favorite “Rags ‘n Bones,” possibly the highlight on their most lauded album Wrong; the irresistible “Now,” one of the best songs of the ‘90’s, by any band), epic monsters (“Victory,” “The River”), brilliant/disturbing nonsense (“It’s Catching Up,” “The Day Everything Became Nothing”), stuff that can’t be defined at all (“I Can’t Stop Talking” – skafunkjazzpunk?) and even a lost ballad (“I Need You”). Granted, most of their songs display a very unsettling worldview in which violence, frustration, pent-up aggression, fucked-up politics and madness are rarely absent, but it’s never at the cost of the music’s impact. This band has it all: unstoppable bass-led grooves, irresistible hooks, terrific drumming, smart and often hilarious lyrics, straightforward punk explosions (or something that vaguely resembles it), songs that flirt with near avantgarde-ish elements, blazing guitars (both from Andy Kerr (with the band until 1991’s 0+2=1) and Tom Holliston (the last three albums)) and a whole lotta energy, baby. Granted, their vocals are hardly “beautiful,” but they employ registers, ticks and fitting harmonies like no other band. It’s not possible to mistake this band for any other one - and that doesn’t have to imply their sound is their worst enemy -, as they carved out their little own niche in rock music. Nomeansno is not only Canada’s greatest export product (maple syrup, my ass), they also wrote one of the most wonderful chapters in recent rock ‘n roll history. They’re adventurous, fierce, dedicated, innovative and totally unique (yes, I’m well aware I’m running out of satisfying adjectives), and The People’s Choice already goes a long way to prove all of that. It’s what the masses have been craving for years. It’s essential.

Note: In typical NMN-fashion, the liner notes won’t make you much wiser about the band’s nature, intentions and actual history, but there are some nice photos included, several of them taken in the Netherlands. I hate to say this, but if that’s where the band felt comfortable (Live + Cuddly was also recorded there), those Dutchies got good taste after all.

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