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None More Black - Icons (Cover Artwork)

None More Black

None More Black: IconsIcons (2010)
Fat Wreck Chords

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:


Contributed by: OverDefinedOverDefined
(others by this writer | submit your own)

In 2008, things seemed bleak for the musical future of ex-Kid Dynamite vocalist Jason Shevchuk. He had moved on from None More Black into LaGrecia, only to have that band implode rather quickly after one well-received album, On Parallels. Shevchuk had even stated that he left the band with the inten.
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In 2008, things seemed bleak for the musical future of ex-Kid Dynamite vocalist Jason Shevchuk. He had moved on from None More Black into LaGrecia, only to have that band implode rather quickly after one well-received album, On Parallels. Shevchuk had even stated that he left the band with the intention of "never playing in a band again." However, instead of packing it in, Shevchuk did the absolute best thing he could have possibly done*: reform None More Black. First it was a few shows and then the announcement that a full reformation would be taking place. Great news for the 'Org.

So how does Icons stack up? As the next step after This Is Satire, it follows in similar musical and lyrical lines. This is most likely because Shevchuk's songwriting in this context (outside of the hardcore confines of Kid Dynamite) is actually pretty unique. His lyrics are personal, but usually convey a kind of disgusted and exhausted take on life (for instance: "You take want you want and give a little, that's the worst."). The poppy hooks, belied by his gruff voice, are atypical and are usually placed in unexpected places. Because of this distinctive style, most of NMB's songs don't quite click on first listen. However, when it might take a few listens for the songs to fully reveal themselves, it usually bodes well for repeat playability, a trait which None More Black has always held as a strength.

While the band has its share of laid-back, lighter moments, like past NMB releases, and on Icons as well, the band is at its best when it's playing fiercely and full-on, like in much of closer, "Budapest Gambit." By the end of that track, the band is pounding away at a mid-tempo groove with Shevchuk getting really intense overtop before finally making it to a full scream: "Blame it on the subtext. Blame it on disease. Blame it on the money. Blame it on the freeze. Blame it on the jester--the one who wears a frown. Blame it on the king, the queen and burn this kingdom down."

Shevchuk's strength in his lyric writing with NMB is his ability to write relatable and personal lyrics that don't quite give enough away to restrict the listener to any one interpretation of the song. For instance, in side B opener, "The Iron Mouth Act," he uses the metaphor of an escapist to explore what I interpret to be the confines of other's artistic expectations of him. However, it could just as easily be about escaping a bad relationship, whether personal or from the confines of a band relationship (LaGrecia?). Either way, by maintaining the balance between the specific and broad emotional ideas, the content remains relatable.

Icons is another solid release from None More Black. It should please fans of previous material as it follows the path previously laid by the band, but does offer enough new approaches to stay fresh, while still maintaining the band's mix of catchiness and intensity.

* - For those that would say the best thing he could have done would be to reform Kid Dynamite, I would argue that is wrong because Kid Dynamite was a hardcore band with a perfect track record and (1) you wouldn't want them to risk ruining that and (2) hardcore bands aren't supposed to reform. It's get in, get out, and make no mistakes. They did that. End of story.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
The Flatliners - CavalcadeThe Menzingers - Chamberlain WaitsThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!None More Black - This Is SatireDillinger Four - C I V I L W A RNone More Black - File Under BlackDear Landlord - Dream HomesIron Chic - Not Like ThisDead to Me - Cuban BallerinaNOFX - The Decline

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
miguel (February 4, 2011)

by far the best none more black record

Alien (December 8, 2010)

Listened through maybe 4 or 5 times now. it's starting to get pretty catchy. and I definitely like the more minor faster songs.

ABedForLiars (December 2, 2010)

Best release of the year.

devianter (November 26, 2010)

lol metalheads lol

devianter (November 26, 2010)

lol metalheads lol

thepopeofchili-town (November 25, 2010)

They are metalheads.

irish_punk_is_gimmickry (November 25, 2010)

the funny thing about this band is that they try so hard to look like metalheads.................................................

wyzo (November 25, 2010)

"hardcore bands aren't supposed to reform. It’s get in, get out, and make no mistakes."

I'm going to remember that. Good description.

Trying to listen to this, but haven''t gotten any time. I kind of fell into hearing LaGrecia, and a record that underwhelms at first but over time, one of the best records of that year, a slow burner, but just consistent, not an album of singles, an album, good stuff. Usually solo stuff ends badly. My opinion of him as more than just the Kid Dynamite vocalist, on his own pedigree went up. Seems like a decent guy. I hate musicians who stay musicians forever. I like bands who have people who have real lives. Fewer and fewer these days.

blanktapesemptybottles (November 25, 2010)

my only complaint is the sudden ending, weird no? could have used more songs, or at least something

jakegreen (November 24, 2010)

i loved this album first listen, so i don't quite get all the "grower" stuff. definitely a candidate for album of the year. but then again i'm watching those menzingers videos rn......... chamberlain waits might have to take it. hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

thepopeofchili-town (November 24, 2010)

Glad this is getting so much love. From the looks of it, this could be "Our Favorite Record from November".

levi-dolphin (November 24, 2010)

This is a great record and will continue to be a great record for years to come. Good stuff the vinyl is great to have as well! : )

woodprop (November 23, 2010)

I'm liking this a lot more than Satire (which was a big letdown for me after the awesomeness of File Under Black). It feels like there's a bit more edge to the songs again. Peace & Love and Budapest are my favourites so far.

thearmpitofnj (November 23, 2010)

Don't think Dana would be down with a Bound reunion.

laurier (November 23, 2010)

On about the 4th listen i'm ready to put this on par with file under black an absolutely great album.

mynameispoop (November 23, 2010)

Awesome album. Took me a solid 6 or 7 listens before I really got into it though. I always wanted to listen to it so it wasn't difficult. I'm not sure if it's better than their other work, but it equals it. I just discovered LaGrecia and I'm gonna give that a listen too. StillSternLange&Norris and Iron Mouth Act are two of their best songs ever.
Sincerely,
Poop

flowerfeeder (November 23, 2010)

I have not had a chance to listen to this record yet, but there are several Stern Show references in the song titles. "Cupcake Wednesdays," "I'm Warning You With Peace and Love" and of course "Stills Stern Lange & Norris."

I take it they're big fans of the show.

scientistrock (November 23, 2010)

xboundx would have been the best thing.

JVoland (November 23, 2010)

I think it's their best record by far, and arguably the best album of the year. This album really sets the bar for punk, you just have to listen to the subtleties.

daved4 (November 23, 2010)

I've been listening to this waaaayyy too much. its fucking excellent.
for example, as im scrolling through todays news i have "when mickey died" stuck in my head.
wasn't satisfied with my mp3 copy burned on cd so i got it 12". worth it.

hayman (November 23, 2010)

Sinatra After Dark is probably the best NMB song I've ever heard. I've always preferred the more agressive songs.

88fl_rules (November 23, 2010)

Great album, probably my favorite of the year so far. I think the slower songs (country?) are well balance with the heavier ones and gives a nice flow to the album

overdefined (November 23, 2010)

Straight from the review submission page:

"Five stars is for the classics; think about whether you can imagine yourself listening to this in five years. Or Ten years. Some albums (like Fresh Fruit for rotting Vegetables or Milo Goes to College) have stood the test of time, and deserve that rating. A band that has been around for five minutes probably doesn't.. . yet."

newlexicon (November 23, 2010)

shevchuk is my co-pilot.

owneroperator (November 23, 2010)

great album. was worth the wait

mikeinflames (November 23, 2010)

first couple times I listened to this I didn't like it that much. but it's fully grown on me now and is easily one of my favorites of the year.

Rastid (November 23, 2010)

Correct me if I'm wrong (for which I will also apologize for), but what you're saying is that anything "totally great" has to be old?

i think he's talking about how it works in practice rather than how it should be.

that said, i think the reason it works that way is that it's hard to tell the difference between a great album and an album hat you will still listen to 10 years later until, you know, a number of years have passed and you are still listening to it (or not). there might well be exceptions, in which case, give them 10 or whatever, but i think that's the general idea, for better or for worse. coming from the guy who just gave the World/Inferno 7" ten stars. call me in 10 years, though, and i think i'll back that one up.

ughlee (November 23, 2010)

I have a hard time with this band, and I'm not sure why. Something about their sound is vaguely schizophrenic. Their sound is unique, but it never really feels like it has a cohesive personality. One minute it's country, the next it sounds like Spinal Tap, the next is weird, mid-tempo punk with a bunch of guitar wankery. I also feel like Shevchuk's voice is kind of out of place with the music, like it's too straight-forward gravely punk. I don't necessarily dislike it, it's just all over the place.

StraightToHell82 (November 23, 2010)

"10s are basically off limits unless it's a classic from the past"

I can't recall the last album that I think even deserved a "10", but that sentence is just stupid.
Correct me if I'm wrong (for which I will also apologize for), but what you're saying is that anything "totally great" has to be old?

overdefined (November 23, 2010)

Boobthemusicindustry - I'm not a fan of rating albums. I think it's necessary, but still it's an imperfect science. That said, I would say 7 is the "safe" rating if anything. You put a 9 on something, you are really really saying something about the record. 10s are basically off limits unless it's a classic from the past.

alpod4 (November 23, 2010)

just fell flat for such an anticipated record.

StraightToHell82 (November 23, 2010)

Said a thousand times already... definitely a grower.
The '8' is spot-on. This Is Satire is still my favorite thing they (and Jason) have done.

I'd estimate this will fall around #6 or 7 on my year-end list.

pricey123 (November 23, 2010)

After playing it through about 5 times it finally clicked with me. I don't know if I prefer it to this is satire though. And I can't get into the last song even though everyone keeps praising it

boobthemusicindustry (November 23, 2010)

Ah, an 8. The "safe" rating.

drugmoney (November 23, 2010)

eh, not anything special

tsiege (November 23, 2010)

I agree with Theeve this album is okay but pales in comparison with their earlier works.

victimofadriveby (November 23, 2010)

Great comeback! I'm probably in the minority who thought that (beside the first 3 songs) This Is Satire was flat sounding and uninspiried. Icons on the other hand has an unmistakable energy from start to finish with the only REALLY weak track being "Here Comes Deveraux." It's awesome to see them writing great music again!

Filbunke (November 23, 2010)

This is possibly their best album yet. You just have to let it grow on you.

half_head (November 23, 2010)

100% good!

stingrayirwin (November 23, 2010)

gotta agree with pope, this album is definitly a "grower" it'll be in my top 3 for aoty.

overdefined (November 23, 2010)

Rastid - I am with you on the country influence thing. I don't really care for it. However, maybe there's something to be said for restraint and not being full on 100% of the time. Good point though.

Rastid (November 23, 2010)

the band is at its best when it’s playing fiercely and full-on, like in much of closer, “Budapest Gambit.” By the end of that track, the band is pounding away at a mid-tempo groove with Shevchuk getting really intense overtop before finally making it to a full scream: “Blame it on the subtext. Blame it on disease. Blame it on the money. Blame it on the freeze. Blame it on the jester--the one who wears a frown. Blame it on the king, the queen and burn this kingdom down.”

this is exactly why i was disappointed with the album. the whole thing was on its heels, country-influenced. these lines were possibly the best closing of an album i've ever heard, and i just felt like, "SEE? YOU CAN STILL DO IT!! WHY DID YOU WAIT UNTIL THE LAST 30 SECONDS??" very frustrating to me, as a huge NMB fan. it's not that the album was BAD. it was pretty good. i can see it cracking top-20 lists or whatever. but it wasn't vicious.

maybe i'm just biased, because i hate this whole folk/country thing that has infused so much of punk.

hobbzoid (November 23, 2010)

it is a great guitar record.

thepopeofchili-town (November 23, 2010)

Album of the year. The very definition of a "Grower".

killdefenses (November 23, 2010)

guess i'm the only one who doesn't like this record at all.

fucktheholymess (November 23, 2010)

This record is excellent. Well worth the wait.

Problematiclogic (November 23, 2010)

I'm not even gonna read the review, this is record of the year pure and simple.

-Strewtho- (November 23, 2010)

Enjoying it more with each listen, will purchase.

thus_spoke_sean (November 23, 2010)

really ugly album art.

Hoping this album is good, I liked Satire a lot.

thevee (November 23, 2010)

this is no "This is Satire" nor "File Under Black", it's not bad either, kinda hopped for more...

Luke12 (November 23, 2010)

Fantastic album, a real grower. Good review too.

makeshifty (November 23, 2010)

Gets better every time.

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