Tokyo Damage Report

NOMEANSNO, (again)



No band is as good as nomeansno..
That’s it.
No lecture.
No theories.
Here’s how shit goes:
That is it.
That is the sum total of homo sapiens’ contribution to aural satisfaction.
Well, fuck it. You honestly thought I could stop having opinions on the internet?
What? Did you think Chuck D could stop fighting the power, too?
you hockey puck!
Nomeansno is – along with  Opeth,  – one of the only bands that scores across all categories:
Heavy – check.
Catchy – check.
Moves your emotions and fucks with your head – check.
Synchopated and with different rhythms unique to each song – check.
Innovative and breaking all boundaries with each new album  – check.
Technical as fuck – check.
Full of James Brown-ish repetition and crazy hits – check.
Plus, Nomeansno has this going on, too:
Rad lyrics about shit that matters – check.
Replete with singalong parts AND driving creschendos – check.
Sense of humor – check!
 I remember the first time I heard their shit – on my friend’s boom-box at his mom’s house back in high school.
Homey was the guy – one in every suburban scene – whose parents had divorced and no one gave a fuck about the kid, so everyone could congregate at his house and do drugs. I never did drugs but I did check out that tape, it was SEX MAD. As soon as I heard that shit I was like WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS SOMEONE TELL ME NOW. That shit was like nothing I had ever before heard on Earth. That combination of anger, punk velocity and hatred combined with jazzy rhythms and crazy technical know-how, weird scales that were neither "metal" nor "happy", but had kind of eerie and dissonant mood . . . . and singalong choruses.
What the fuck? This was miles away from anything. I prided myself on being openminded to the weirdest shit – from Zappa to the Buttholes to My War side 2 – but this was something beyond my wildest expectations.
Every subsequent album, I rushed out and bought it. And EVERY SINGLE TIME I was disappointed. I was like, “Oh shit, they lost it. They went too far. They got all wanky.” And then I’d listen to it again. And be like, “OK, maybe there is something to this.” And then a week later: “Wait, this makes sense. This is the same hardcore shit but deeper and more eerie and fucked.” And then a fourth time: “Fuuuuck! This is even better than the last shit!”
A lot of bands claim to be “growing musically” and “challenging the boundaries” and shit, but 99% of the time, the ‘boundaries’ being ‘challenged’ involve boundaries of  guitar solos and love songs (Metallica, SSD, FAT BOYS, CELTIC FROST, I am looking at you). But NOMEANSNO are one of the rare bands that, every release, push shit farther in a legitimately unique direction.
That is MUSICAL RULE #6: bands that give you exactly what you want are rad , but bands that give you shit that takes 3 or 4 listens to get a handle on it, that shit IS EVEN BETTER because it makes you grow the fuck up, and it takes you deeper into their little world. Unfortunately with free mp3s on the internet, I never listen to an album twice anymore, so shit that – 10 years ago – would have made me think and grow, nowadays if i heard it, I’d be like, "OK, file in the ‘weird’ folder, next album." Old people who are reading this – is that true for you as well?
Anyway, back to my point : changing your style SUCCESSFULLY is hard. That’s the difference between legitimately rad bands like NOMEANSNO and bullshit bands like SONIC YOUTH. In one case, you already like the band and further listens give you a new level of appreciation for shit you already dig. In the other case, you hate it and only listen to it again because rock critics tell you ‘it’s too difficult for the average poser to understand, but if you listen to it enough you will eventually realize how cool it is.’ Well, fuck you , rock critics. SONIC YOUTH and all those arty New York bands were never cool, and never will be cool. NOMEANSNO always were cool, and only change their style up when it is time to kick ass at a more deeper level.
They started out all jazzy (on the first album, MAMA) , then got Andy Kerr on guitar, and went mad jazz-punk (the albums YOU KILL ME / SEXMAD), but what set them apart from other jazz-core bands at the time  (Victims’ Family, Plaid Retina,  Naked City,  Deep Turtle,  Raped Teenagers, Minutemen, Rhythm Pigs, Mexican Power Authority, Th’ Inbred) was this: Psychoanalysis.
All the early NOMEANSNO stuff was littered with explicit and subtle references to one Herr S. Freud. They took the knee-jerk misanthropic nihilism of punk but gave it a strong Freudian foundation: not just ‘people suck’ but ‘people suck BECAUSE  we are seething cauldrons of hideous repressed urges." NOMEANSNO would try to portray the hidden through symbols: the father, the barrel of a gun, the mother, an all-consuming black widow spider, the child, a scheming sniveling rat.
Also of note, their take on Freud was very anti-man, pro-woman, which was, to put it mildly, an unpopular stance in both the feminist AND psychology movements in 1980.
 Consider the title track for the first album: MAMA’S LITTLE BOY:
Come the night, come the night
All the man want to fuss and tight
But not me, not me
`Cause that’s not what i want to be
Cause I’m Mama’s little boy

Mam tells me everything she sees
Well it may scare you but it don’t scare me
Cause I’m Mama’s little boy
I like what i want to see

All day long she watches her dancing sons
Come the night she picks the tallest one
But I’m Mama’s little boy
I’ve nothing to hide

All the Gods, the Gods of the sun
They’re just bastards sons
Daddy, Daddy, come and see
The onslaught of insanity
Cause I’m Mama’s little boy
And I’m mad

There’s a place where I want to be
And it’s dark there, there’s nothing to see
And you’re alone, there’s nothing you can do
Something’s coming, something’s coming to you
You are- you don’t know where you are
You are- you don’t know who you are
You are-you don’t know what you are
You ae helpless, you are helpless
That’s where I want to be, there’s where I want to be
Cause I’m Mama’s little boy
I feel, I can feel

 WTF – they came straight out of nowhere with an anti-rape slogan for a name and a first album about the Oedipus complex, and no guitar player. How ambitious was that?!?
And, from the same album, anti-gender anthem NO SEX:
It’s the holy trinity, Mom and Dad and little me
It’s the holy trinity, Mom and Dad, Mom and Dad, Mommy
What you are is what you see
What you are is just a little funny
You’re somebody’s fantasy, like Mom and Dad, Mom and Dad

There’s no sex, only fucking

Janie’s growing little tits, Jimmy’s learning to repress
All his female tedencies
Like you and me, you and me, baby
There’s no out there is no escape, if you want to copulate
You must learn the masterplan
It’s-be like I am, be like I am

There’s no sex, only fucking

I am man, you said I am
And she’s a girl, her hair is curled
We’re not the same, it’s very strange
We walk in line, we dance in time
No one wants to break the rule cause if you do
The rules will break you

If you use the verb `to be`, you refer to how you pee
And if you choose to sit not stand, Janie you are not a man
There’s a door you can get through, the other is not meant for you
Little Dickie, use your eyes, it means no penis need aplly

There’s no sex, only fucking
Everyone’s got a hole and everyone’s got stiff little fingers
You don’t have to know
You don’t have to be so particular

 But, like I said, most of their feminist songs combine politics with a big dose of symbolism:

We got together because it was so fucking cold
And we knew the answer wasn’t in the stars
Or in the soil, it was in blood
In a bloody run down to the sea, in a bloody run
Down to the sea, in a run down to the sun and the sea

H u nt the She Beast
She-bear, she bears the furies
Hunt the She Beast

Now I own everything and I have all the answers
Kingdom come like my father before and my son after
And it’s power that has brought me here
Brains and power and the fear
The fear you’ve got to control
You’ve got to keep the women down below
Cause them was something here before
The fear you’ve got to control
There is something down in that hole

Now we don’t need no prophets of doorn
We need prophets of the womb
Deny your cruel mythology
Your fear inspired symbology
The circling arms of mother night
Will craddle your small fire light
From now on when I hunt to see
She – what do I see?
From now on when I hunt to see
She – what do I see?
A single
Human Being

Foolish girl in swelling woman
Here’s a blunt knife for your bosom
Here’s the devil’s hand to shake
Watch what the other’s trying to take

Can you not distinguish pain?
Red nail and red shame

Woman, world in one complete
Your heart’s awake, your mind’s asleep
You spread your inner sun to make
A den for some sly, basking snake

Which burns stronger?
I can’t tell
Thw glowing sun?
Or fiery hell?

Aaaand then there are a whole bunch of songs that are just plain man-bashing:
Like a monkey in the zoo
You’re half gorilla too
When you pound it with your fist
And make it real stiff
Big dick
Gotta cover your mistake
Your bloody outtakes
So you dip it in the wine
And make a holy sign
Big dick

Big dick! Come quick
Big dick! Come quick

Well you’re running up a tree
You’re trying not too sream
But you are pounding on your chest
Like you wipped the best
Big dick
The rivers of blood
You’ve spilled have turned to mud
Now the flies are buzzin’ round
Don’t it make a loud sound
Big dick

Big dick! Come quick
Big dick! Come quick

It won’t be long
Till those bad bits are gone
It won’t be long
Till those bad bits are gone

Now we are sitting by the fire
But daddy’s getting tired
`cause hes drunk the whole crock
now he’s got a limp cock
Big dick

Big dick! Come quick
Big dick! Come quick


I want to squeeze your living flesh
Oh, to be buried in your chest
Or steamy breath and gripping bone
I may be lost but not alone
I’m going in riot coming out
I’m going in not coming out
I’m going SEX MAD
So they would pound your face in with their punk but at the same time they would deconstruct your personality with their lyrics. Double prank! As Lyle would say.
Then they got weirder.
They had this knack for writing songs where each riff SOUNDED LIKE WHAT THE LYRICS WERE ABOUT. 

That song SMALL PARTS ISOLATED AND DESTROYED – check it out! The parts about the rock star are deliberately written to be cheesy arena-rock riffs, the parts about whiney fans SOUND whiney, the parts about parties SOUND like a party. Same with songs like SELF PITY or METRONOME or STOP IT or LONELY or RED DEVIL.
Since the first LP they had certain songs where the bass would play one riff the whole way : LONG DAYS or METRONOME or MOMMY’S LITTLE BOY or STOCKTAKING . . . but the drums would always make the song interesting by doing a ton of different beats over the one bassline.
But by the 5th album, something changed. What should have been one of their best songs ever  (0+2=1) fell flat.
The song 0+2=1  had some of the dopest lyrics and a sick sludgy-yet-mathy bassline, it even had gratuitous moog noises. But it fell flat because the drummer didn’t do any variations. Weird. And I think in some way that was the turning point of the band. Everything after that was more ponderous and self-indulgent. And every ‘one-bass-riff’ song after 0+2=1, the drummer does only one beat – it’s like he just gave up.
After 0+2=1 they would succhumb to the power-mad antics of the bass-player. He would say “Hey, guys! Check out this new prose-poem I wrote! It’s only 17 pages long! Let’s all play one simple, boring riff whilst I read the whole poem! It will take 20 minutes to get over it! But it’s worth it because of how much I love to hear my own voice! About Philosophy and shit! Yeah! It’s my latest masterpiece! Can you roll with that?” and ever since Andy Kerr left the band, no one has been able to keep the bassist in check. Everyone rolls over and says, “OK, sure, Rob. Another masterpiece straight from your mouth to 18 minutes of tape. What a bargain. OK, we’ll just sit back and accompany you while you journey to the depths of your tortured soul. Whatever, man. One , two, three , four.”
But, fuck it. I mean, six albums of genius is 5 1/2 more albums than most other bands ever wrote. Any single NOMEANSNO song from the first 6 albums is worth
a)      the entire Beatles catalog
b)      b) the entire Rolling Stones , Dylan, Germs, or Who repitoire combined
c)       the entire Minor Threat, Jay-Z, Prince, Seven Seconds, Samhain, and Jimi Hendrix catalogs rolled up in one ball and thrown at the face of a fat clown on a dunk-tank.
d)      Fuck you.
f)       Biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii


12 comments Tags: ,

12 Comments so far

  1. Stephen October 29th, 2009 5:53 pm

    Please do a Morrissey rant, there is no way it could possibly fail.

  2. admin October 29th, 2009 7:15 pm

    @stephen: I’m aware that he’s bad and he’s not helping, but honestly I don’t care enough to diss him. But, perhaps this will fix your little red wagon:

  3. Frank October 30th, 2009 4:29 pm

    Oh no! All this time of being impressed with your musical knowledge, but you had to ruin it by mentioning the dreaded “O” word! And not once, but TWICE! I don’t believe in nuthin’ no more!

  4. admin October 30th, 2009 4:51 pm

    @FRANK: the “o” word? what is that?


  5. woooah October 31st, 2009 7:09 am

    Opeth, maybe

  6. admin October 31st, 2009 8:03 am

    @wooah: naw, there is no way that anyone can dislike Opeth. I have math to prove this. It must be Oprah.

  7. Pierre-Juan October 31st, 2009 9:40 pm

    Mama’s Little Boy remains a classic album, the kind od stuff that we will keep listening in 80 years.Well, hope so.

  8. Karl November 1st, 2009 7:45 pm

    Dear Abby,

    My buddy has invited me to go see these dudes live with her next week. Are they week sauce now or should I go?

  9. admin November 1st, 2009 10:43 pm

    @karl: fuck yes. You need to learn how to rock when you turn 70.

  10. andy November 2nd, 2009 2:04 am

    Must check this out. Are you gonna see Opeth in November? I need to think of things to scream in Swedish when they`re tuning their guitar and the venue goes dead quiet.

  11. admin November 2nd, 2009 4:56 am

    @ andy : FUUUUUUUUCK! i didn’t even know about that shit. thank you so much for telling me.

    If you want to yell something, yell “Martin was a better drummer!” but you should yell in Spanish, i guess, not Swedish.

    99% of the foreign bands that play Shibuya o-nest or summer sonic or loud park or whatever. . .99% suck so I don’t even bother checking the listings. Last time i saw them was like 10 years ago, it was a little dissapointing to tell the truth because their albums had like 10 layers of overdubs, and there was only like 4 guys in the band. But their new material is a bit more stripped-down, and they added a keyboardist, so it should be more authentic-sounding this time around. But opeth without martin lopez is kind of a bummer. But still, FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCKKKK.

  12. andy December 4th, 2009 2:07 am

    Were you at the show? Mikael is still hilarious on stage and handles the awkward silence pretty well. Nomeansno is fucking awesome. Do you know Wipers?

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