Nomeansno is a band that was started by the bass/drums duo of the brothers Wright. Joining these brothers is Andy Kerr on guitar. This album, released in 1989, seems to be a favorite of many of their fans. Of the two albums of theirs that I have heard, it is the one I prefer. When I shared this album with some friends, I half-jokingly described the band as a mixture of every band I listen to. This music is energetic, and relatively complex rhythmically. The tempi and time signatures seem to be shifted effortlessly by the incredibly tight rhythm section. The band is most often referred to as a punk band, but this doesn’t describe their sound very well. The music speeds by with that sort of punk rock energy, but a lot of the song structures are more fleshed out and less predictable than the “verse/chorus/verse/chorus in one minute thirty seconds” format that is typical of hardcore punk. The different elements also seem to be more independent as well. That is, guitar parts and bass parts and drum parts all fit together, but none are just doing the typical punk rock beat or power chords. They're each doing SOMETHING to add to the song. However, despite their “progressive” tendencies, there is absolutely no pretense or cheese on this record. It’s exhilarating music from seemingly down-to-Earth guys who happen to be very talented musicians.
Track by track, bitches (all ratings of songs value them compared to each other. A 5/5 is a song that I think is one of the best on the album):
1. It’s Catching Up – This tune rocks my socks and introduces the album very well. It starts with some thudding bass notes, which are soon followed by a kick in the proverbial ass.
I like the chorus on this one. It’s catchy. 5/5
2. The Tower – This one is longer, and has elements of storytelling in the lyric. The chorus has ugly screamings. It’s a little bit too long, I think, but it’s cool. 3/5
3. Brainless Wonder – A 3 part instrumental in just over a minute. It’s amazing how they do a cohesive piece with three very distinct and memorable themes in such a short amount of time. Killer bass lick near the end, too. 5/5
4. Tired of Waiting – This is one of the most “punk” sounding songs on the album. Whoever is doing the singing on this one sounds a bit like Ian McKay of Minor Threat to me. The premise is simple: a list of things that the singer is tired of waiting for. Dig the part in the end where the instruments drop out and the vocalist talks for a little while. 5/5
5. Stocktaking – This song is good, but not remarkable. It doesn’t really stick out, but it’s a fine tune overall. It’s pretty jagged with lots of starts and stops. It follows a similar pattern for about a minute and a half, then it has a cool bass part that starts up. I like this tune, but it’s not OH MY GOD good. 4/5
6. The End of All Things – This song is really cool. It starts quick with the drums, then the bass and guitar join in for a cool riff. The vocal melody consists of a lot of long notes. The chorus is really catchy on this one, and the vocalist is joined by a female singer doing harmony. She fits really well. Sounds like an angel, when she sings the lyrics “hear the angels sing, this is the end of all things.” Fitting. 5/5
7. Big Dick – This song reminds me of early Red Hot Chili Peppers. It’s got the funky bass and the sort of rapped lyrics about sex. It’s not my favorite, but it’s still a real good tune, and I prefer it to most Peppers stuff. 3.5/5
8. Two Lips, Two Lungs, and One Tongue – Another pretty punk-ish tune. The time signature keeps changing. It has a strange little part in the middle where the guitar is the only instrument playing, and what it is playing is quiet and slow. Then it goes back into full force punk mode. This is quite weird. 5/5
9. Rags and Bones – This song rocks. Beginning to end, it rocks. It’s got a great, great, bassline. The chorus is catchy as hell. Near the end there is a cool part with lots of layered vocals. 5/5
10. Oh No! Bruno! – This is punk rock. This is one of the tightest bands ever to play punk rock. Even if music isn’t particularly complex, a great band seems to show its talents anyway. This is one such case. The band tears. 5/5
11. All Lies – Starts with a unison part with the drums, bass and guitar all playing the same rhythms. Neat effect. Then the drums do that chugga-chugga-chugga-chugga-CHUGGA-chugga thing. You know, like Danny Carey’s tribal ass.
The music changes AGAIN, and the vocals finally come in. It becomes laid-back and cool. I like how he very nonchalantly delivers angry lyrics. It has an interesting effect. 5/5
12. Life in Hell – This one is ugly. It’s a good ugly, though. I like how the drum part sort of follows the bassline for a while, then when a different bass riff is going on it does something different, then goes back. Weird lyrics, cool vocals. There’s a short little drum solo, then a 3rd bass part for this tune starts, with some mantra like vocals repeating over it. Then we’re back where we started, with that ugly little riff from the beginning. This is a really cool track. 5/5
13. I Am Wrong – This feels like the last tune, which is cool. A lot of times, the last song on an album doesn’t wrap things up real well, but this one does. It makes everything feel complete. It starts out real sludgy with a doom and gloom guitar part. Then silly vocals. There’s quite a contrast between the tone of the instruments and the tone of the vocal, and it’s uncomfortable. When things start to feel more matched, he hollers “I AM WRONG” and it feels comfortably doomy in all accounts. Then things suddenly start to pick up and sings “I feel great, let’s celebrate, it’s a sunny day, let’s dance and play. Never fear, love is here.” Weird as hell, especially since it’s right back to the apocalypse immediately following. That’s the way the whole tune goes, and I think it’s brilliant. 5/5.
I thought since people have been complaining about how I never explain myself, I would write a really long, detailed review of something. I love this album, and I would suggest it to anyone into heavy rock music. Even though it may sound really weird from how I described it, it never relies on its weirdness as a gimmick. Sure, things about it are surprising, but there are genuinely good melodies and energetic playing to go along with it. A lot of the time, really weird music gets played out easily, since once the surprise is gone, you find nothing about it to grab you. That’s not the case here, and that’s one of the best things you can say about this album. It works on all levels.
My final rating is as high as you can go!