Top Sounds - F

FACE VALUE - Rode Hard, Put Away Wet: Clevo HC 89-93 {Smog Veil} Excellent package of this Cleveland HC band’s finest years. Totalling 31 tracks that go by in a 71 minute blur of incisive riffs, inventive tempo changes and arrogant, old-skool vocals. This compiles the 1990 ‘Coming Of Age’ 7", 91’s ‘Price Of Maturity album, four cuts from 93’s ‘Kick It Over’ album and the original ‘89’ demo. Soundwise, the band mixed YOUTH OF TODAY, JUDGE and UNIFORM CHOICE HC but threw in some distinctly Rock-influenced chops. Guitarist Anthony Brown could certainly give any Thrash Metaller of the time a run for their money - check out the lead work on ‘Open Wound’! Although Rock infused the sound, FACE VALUE never went the all-out Metal-Crossover path (even if the riff heavy ‘Kick It Over’ tracks came close!). This package not only includes the 31-track CD but a 15-track DVD. The footage is, obviously, fan-filmed on a single camera with varying audio quality but all of it is smoking, chaotic, Yank HC action. It’s packaged in a fold out sleeve along with an excellent poster of notes from vocalist Tony Erba. This is an all-you-need account of an unsung USHC band that, as collections go, Smog Veil has made this something special. (18.12.09) 

FACTORY, THE - s/t {Acetate} First time I’ve come across this band from DC. That’s not surprising really as it dates from 85/86 and never officially released anything. The ten tracks here are culled from three demos and, while DC was basking in the sounds of Revolution Summer, these fellas were digging out their ROLLING STONES records for inspiration and injecting that with the back-combed glitz of HANOI ROCKS and early AEROSMITH. With the exception of two tracks from the second demo (over produced and sterile that could almost be Bon fucking Jovi), this is a fun Rock ‘n’ Roll strutter. The better gear is on the first demo (engineered by one Don Zientara who did the same job on many early Dischord releases) with ‘Where The People All Gone To’ being a particular HANOI-esque highlight. The third demo recalls the spirit of that initial release but with an added NEW YORK DOLLS meets FACES feel on ‘Girl That I Want’. I’m sure these songs could’ve been a tad faster, a bit more degenerate and sneering but, as it is, it’s a neat filler between REPLACMENTS and ROLLING STONES and an interesting time capsule to a different side of DC in 1986. (09.11.10)

FAINTEST IDEA - Ignorance Is This {TNS} Was the guitarist absent when this cocktail was mixed?? I can only imagine he was as the guitar sounds as thin as Kate Moss after a 24-month crash diet. Even when he isn’t battling the over-loud brass section, as on the intro to ‘Dead Future’, it sounds like he’s playing through a 15-watt practice amp during a powercut. It’s a shame too cuz this, the band’s second album, has some fine Ska-Punk moments. There’s a discernible FILAMENTS feel here and lyrically it’s a socio-political diatribe about so much that is screwed up in today’s society. Highlights are plenty, be it the CONFLICT-esque bile of ‘Rational Pride’, the invigourated political Ska of ‘This Is The System’ or the closing sing-a-long disclaimer toward those who believe in the ideal of ‘Two Years Conscription’. The ten tracks skip by in under 30 mins and visually it reminds me somewhat of an ANTI-FLAG album - which should be no surprise as the political bent of both bands is similar. Another TNS cracker - just a shame about the tin-pot guitar sound. (24.09.10)

FAITH - Subject To Change Plus First Demo {Dischord} Originally released back in 1983, this eight track EP gets the Dischord re-issue treatment with a total remaster and the addition of 11 demo tracks recorded in 1981 (many of which would appear on the classic split with VOID). For those who don’t know, FAITH included Alec MacKaye on vocals (yep, Ian’s bro). The EP saw the addition of guitarist, Eddie Janney, and a new dynamic to the sound; while opener ‘Aware’ is as caustic as anything on the aforementioned split, the likes of ‘Say No More’ and the title track certainly display a more melodic direction and the pace has slowed a touch. Juxtapose the EP with the demo and you’ll hear the earlier recordings are even more raw than on the split, although ‘In The Black’ does hint at the atmospherics that were to come. FAITH has always been one of my favourite Dischord bands and this record stands up to any of the more elevated classics the label was releasing at this time. Also, this record could be viewed as the bridge between the early HC releases and those that came a few years later in the shape of DAG NASTY and RITES OF SPRING. A classic that should already be in your collection. (18.12.11)

FALSE ALARM - Learning Is Impossible {Stromboli Sounds} Recorded before the album below, this seven tracker features previous vocalist, Paul Aragon, who has a voice similar to Leonard outta THE DICKIES but, unfortunately, he doesn’t always hit the mark. The songs are spritely, sneering Punk tunes that flow in more of a hectic HC direction (especially the title track) than those on the disc below. Highlights include ‘Even Though’ and ‘Government Has A War’. The big draw card here though is via a guest performance from one Fat Mike who, you may recall, is in a small time beatnik combo called NOFX. The song is actually recorded back in 1983 and it’s certainly the fastest of the tracks and sounds like it was recorded on a Walkman in the toilets of The Masque! Haha!! Totally Punk Rock! (17.02.11)

FALSE ALARM/ YOUTH GONE MAD - Split {False Alarm} Album-a-piece from these two closely linked bands outta LA. Both bands do a variation of NYC Rock ‘n’ Roll with both enlisting the services of a NYC Punk legend. FALSE ALARM is up first with the ‘Fuck ‘em All We’ve Already (Now) Won’ album featuring DEAD BOYS’ Cheetah Chrome. The sound is the sleazier, nastier DEAD BOYS vintage although I kept hearing a clear D.O.A vibe (check ‘My Destruction’ and ‘Day Is Night’) with hints of WIPERS (‘In My Mind’) and even the barroom bop of the REPLACEMENTS (‘No Choice’ and ‘Can’t See The Sun’). Cheetah throws in the DEAD BOYS classic, ‘High Tension Wire’ and lays down some slaying lead guitar work - just listen to ‘I Could Care Less’. Other guests include Rick Wilder (BERLIN BRATS and MAU MAUS) and De De Troit (UXA). YOUTH GONE MAD features FALSE ALARM’s guitarist and drags in a legend known as one Dee Dee Ramone. In fact, this is reputed to be Dee Dee’s last recorded work. It’s an oddity too, taking elements of the sound of DEAD KENNEDYS (‘Bego Bego’ and ‘Yellow’) while Dee Dee adds that classic RAMONES rock. ‘I Gotta A Right To Love Her’, ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Vacation In L.A’ and ‘False Alarm’ all provide highlights. Then there’s the bizarre country-fried (yes, fried) freakout of ‘Stinky Punk’ that’s evocative of MEAT PUPPETS gone bad! It ends with ‘Dee Dee Deceased’, seemingly written and recorded in late 2002 after Dee Dee passed away. It’s not a sentimental slushy track; it’s fitting to who and what Dee Dee was. Both albums are entertaining and essential for the NYC Punk aficionado. FALSE ALARM has the edge for me (much as I adore anything RAMONES). The disc is dedicated to the memory of FALSE ALARM vocalist, Dylan Maunder who passed away in 2005. (13.01.10) 

FISHBONE - Crazy Glue {DC-Jam} I’ve never been a fan of these funky rocker dudes. They’ve always seemed more Chili Peppers than BIG BOYS to me, so I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this seven track disc that’s been released to celebrate the band’s 25th year and to coincide with a documentary film, ‘Everyday Sunshine’. That Chili Peppers thing is still there (especially on the guitar histrionics overload of the appallingly titled ‘Gittin’ In That Ass’), but it’s mixed up with the blissed out, earthy vibes of ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT - especially on the dub-laden lead track and the quasi-Hip Hop of closer ‘Weed, Beer, Cigarettes’. Both ‘Flutterbutter’ and ‘Deep Shit Backstroke’ prodded my interest but much of the rest simply failed to register. Considering I thought this was gonna make me gag all the way through, then two outta seven ain’t bad. If ya dig the funk of da ‘BONE already, I’m sure this will live up to expectations. Nice digipack sleeve too. (29.12.11)

FIST OF THE NORTH STAR - Here’s To An Early Grave {Stikman} Another Stikman band I can tell you little about. What I can say is that band name conjures up images of a bunch of Shoegazers - something these fellas certainly are NOT! You get 11 tracks that thrash by with some distinct Metal afflictions. It didn’t really work for me; while ‘We Are Legion’ and the excellent ‘I’ll Fight You Right Now Baby Jesus’ sped along with the fury of COMMON ENEMY, other parts just seemed laboured with too many Metal licks and riffs. Vocally Edwin (who also drums) has a voice akin to the ravages of gargling with battery acid, chilli seeds and deep fried glass shards! It’s a ferocious delivery but one that doesn’t quite fit and he has a penchant for the joys of boozing and the evils of religion. At its best, this is some vehement ‘core that touches on the greatness of BREZHNEV. Unfortunately, there’s too many allusions to horrible Metal buffoonery. Less can sometimes be more! (13.08.10)

FLATLINERS, THE - Cavalcade {Fat Wreck} Don’t recall crossing paths with this Canadian quartet before. I always assumed they were some weak-kneed Ska-Punk band, so the furious opening barrage of ‘The Calming Collection’ came as a total but pleasant surprise! This is the band’s third album and combines an AVAIL power with the passion of OFF WITH THEIR HEADS to stunning effect. There’s not a duffer on here, but highlights have to be ‘Here Comes Treble’ that is as tight and muscular as RISE AGAINST, the dubby groove of ‘He Was A Jazzman’, and the tumultuous ‘Shithawks’ which, for a second, I actually thought TIM BARRY was singing. Lyrically, this also lays in OWTH territory being personal, slightly down beat but defiant and perfectly phrased. There’s a veritable festival of guests too, including DILLINGER FOUR on ‘Bleed’. Production is also top notch; the guitars are to the fore with each player clearly distinct and the vocals are gruff but resonant and buoyant. This has been a big player in the House Of Scanner and is a clear contender for Album of the Year. (24.09.10)

FLIPPER - Love {MVD} Let’s face it - FLIPPER was never a band to which you could happily tap your foot and this, the band’s first album since 1993, doesn’t change that at all. Krist Novoselic (who used to be in little-known combo NIRVANA) comes in to replace the departed Will Shatter and does a commendable job at those depth-charge notes of sludge the band is renowned for. Bruce Loose is still a provocative, antagonistic vocalist but not quite the confrontational Punk of ‘Generic Flipper’. Highlights would have to include the relatively jaunty opening pairing of ‘Be Good, Child’ and ‘Learn To Live’, ‘Triple Mass’ sees that damage-inducing guitar wave of noise of Falconi’s at its most effective while the epic closer ‘Old Graves’ could easily fit onto ‘Gone Fishin’’. While comparisons to the band’s original couple of albums is unavoidable, it could be a great error to blindly dismiss this. As an album ‘Love’ stands up admirably in its own right as a slice of strident sub-sludge Punk Rock that old fans will accept -willingly. I sure did! (25.07.09) 

FLIPPER - Fight Live {MVD} "We’re a band, are you an audience? About two of you answered - the rest of you are bystanders," spits Bruce Loose before this new live album starts with a crushing ‘Way Of The World’. A lumbering, petulant ‘Shine’ follows that’s riddled with Ted Falconi’s sledgehammer swaths of swampy guitar noise and takes us back to ‘Generic Flipper’. The last 25+ years evaporate. Of the remaining seven tracks, four are from the album above including a colon-contorting ‘Triple Mass’. This was recorded at two shows in 2007 with Krist Novoselic doing a decent job on the likes of ‘Ha Ha Ha’ and the grinding, bilious closer ‘The Lights, The Sound’ while Loose is his obnoxious, belligerent self. As with the above, this is produced by Jack Endino (he did NIRVANA’s ‘Bleach’) and he captures the jagged, seemingly spontaneous waves of noise with suitable aplomb. After the disappointing ‘American Grafishy’ these two discs show a return to form for one of the most individual and out-there bands of USHC. One oddity though is the absence of ‘Sex Bomb’. Bar that, you may not find a better introduction to the band for the FLIPPER-curious. (25.07.09) 

FLYBOYS - Crayon World {Frontier} To help celebrate 30 years of releasing hot-rockin’ tunes, Frontier has re-released its first ever record. Originally released back in 1979, this nimble little 7" has aged incredibly well. A-side ‘Crayon World’ is an up-tempo two-minute joyride of prime, snotty New Wave cool, not unlike THE DICKIES. Flip it over and ‘Square City’ is a tad moodier bringing in elements of WEIRDOS and even the STRANGLERS on some of the keyboard runs. The whole sound is obviously very authentic of that early LA Punk era, retaining basic song structures but injecting enough adrenalin and attitude into the execution to align it with something far outside of the mainstream. It’s wrapped in a high quality gatefold sleeve and pressed on fantastic, lurid pink vinyl. To put this release in perspective, it does represent a piece of Punk Rock history - especially considering how important Frontier Records went onto be - and it is now available once again to all - and NOT for a hefty collector’s price tag! Go get it!! (13.02.11)

FORMER CELL MATES - Presented As A Work Of Fiction {Boss Tuneage} Third album from this British trio and, like the previous two, I failed to listen to it all without falling asleep - in fact I only got to the fifth track! My second attempt (loaded with coffee and a bit of nose candy) proved more successful but no more enjoyable. I know a lot of people whose taste in music I respect rave over this lot of beardies but I just don’t get it. There’s some acoustic tracks, some rockers... Could be a Led Zep album for all I know. Oddly, I kept hearing Sting during his Police-era in a lot of the vocals - ‘Soulless By Design’ and ‘Have I Grown On You Yet?’ especially. Highlight? Umm - OK - ‘American English’. Production is clear and it could be the band’s best but all I hear is Led Zep meets Teenage Fanclub with Sting on vocals. Pass the valium... (03.06.11)

FOUR LETTER WORD - Follow As The Crow Flies {Boss Tuneage/ Newest Industry} Fourth album from what is not only on of the UK’s most underrated bands, but one of the country’s very best. This album replaces the blind fury that its predecessor, ‘Like Moths To A Flame’ had, with an assured confidence and depth that frequently brought to mind AVAIL at its peak. The songs here, as with most of the band’s out put, really connect on many levels, be it the self-deprecating wit of the rampant ‘Bargain Bin Of History’; the spot-on disgust of both ‘Breakthrough Song’ and ‘20,000 Leagues Beneath The Scene’ that attack those transient, limelight seeking fakes who use Punk as a stepping stone to mass appeal; or the autobiographical tales of youth, defiance and gritty realism represented by ‘Kid Against The Wall’ and the closing ‘Street Where I Grew Up’. Vocalist Welly sounds as biting as ever but this time his vocal attack displays a broad range while the band drops dramatic arrangements and killer riffs at will (check out ‘The Claw’). To me, FLW has always defined all that is great about Punk Rock: intelligence, dogged determination, stunning songs and sincerity and this noxious slab of Punk heaven continues those traits. If you’re looking for an album of genuine Punk Rock that panders to no fashion, makes you think AND is fucking good, look no further! (09.08.10)

FOUR LETTER WORD - Staring Down The Barrel {No Idea/ Newest Industry/ Damaged} No matter who plays in FLW, as long as vocalist Welly is at the helm, you know you're gonna get barbed, gnarled and tip-top quality Punk Rock. This 4-track 7" is another cracker in the armoury of what is arguably the best band in Britain. Opener ‘Some Cautionary Tale’ features a great melodic vocal line which erupts in a rage. ‘To Be Confirmed’ attacks those who use Punk for the quick buck before shipping out. The flip is the highlight with ‘Bible Black’ railing against the bible and its translators who use the book for means of war. Finally, ‘Punk Rock Ghetto’ reworks ‘Rich White Ghetto’ from the ‘A Nasty Piece Of Work’ album and, again, Welly’s observations on Punk as a commodity as opposed to something original, biting and political are spot on. As ever, the graphics accompanying the (white) vinyl are exceptional, adding depth to the words and displaying a genuine care that the finished product is something to provoke and savour for the listener - not something a downloaded MP3 can achieve. Another FLW release - another mandatory purchase. (19.06.09)

F.U.A.L. - Fuck Up And Live {Boss Tuneage} A timely reissue for the only album this excellent Irish Anarcho band recorded. I remember buying this second-hand in the early 90s and being gutted for missing out on the band in 1990 when it was released. Lyrically the band was incredibly political, questioning/ attacking soft drink corporations, child abuse, the troubles of Northern Ireland, passivity, green issues, animal rights and a great deal more. Musically it’s a mix of early CHUMBAWAMBA (ironic as the opening track ‘20 Years On’ has a dig at CHUMBA for not fully understanding ‘The Troubles’), MOB subtleties and an early 90s HC approach similar to the excellent JOYCE MCKINNEY EXPERIENCE. Highlights have to be ‘Suffer Little Children’ which is bitter, passionate and includes some stunning drumming, the thrash fest that is ‘Soft Drinks’ and the morbid, realistic sobriety of closer ‘Rest In Pieces’. Besides the album, you get the ‘Veganic Wind’ demo from ‘89. It’s all been remastered and packaged with a great booklet filled with lyrics, graphics and a historical overview. Another hugely impressive BT reissue and essential for those who remember the band or loves the sound and ideals of Anarcho Punk. (25.07.09)

FUCKED UP - David Comes To Life {Matador} Never a band to take the easy route, FUCKED UP - for their ‘difficult’ third album - release a sprawling and stunning 80 minute concept album. Yep, concept as in ‘Tommy’ and ‘Zen Arcade’. The story (unsurprisingly) pivots around David and, over four individual plays each containing four or five songs, we are witness to a morality tale of love, lost love, depression, guilt, deception and insanity as the inner psyche of David and those of Veronica, narrator Octavio and Vivian, are revealed. Musically it’s a million miles from the likes of the ‘Baiting The Public’ EP and instead builds on what the preceding two albums have put down. The guitars spiral and collide and contort in absolutely mesmerising style while Pink Eyes roars that bilious vocal in perfect synchronicity. Although a concept album, it’s also packed with standout songs be it the massive guitar arrangements of ‘Running On Nothing’ and ‘Serve Me Right’, the embittered ‘A Little Death’ and the album-stealing ‘One More Night’ that’s laden with power and sees Pink Eyes trading vocals with Jennifer Castle to heart-wrenching effect. A truly colossal album that, again, sees FUCKED UP broadening the boundaries of Hardcore without going Metal or wimping out. Excellent packaging too. #1 contender for album of the year. (05.07.11)

FUCKED UP - The Chemistry Of Common Life {Matador} Second album from this visionary Toronto HC band. It took a few plays to grasp; it’s obviously not the full-on HC of the early singles, nor the bombastic revelation that the debut album, ‘Hidden World’, was. But after six plays the caustic, piledriving power of the songs ingrain themselves not just in the ears but in your guts. Religion is attacked without compromise on over half the songs with opener ‘Son The Father’ and ‘Days Of Last’ being particularly scathing. Highlights elsewhere include ‘No Epiphany’ (which, apparently, features 18 guitar tracks!), the HC psychedelic mysticism of ‘Royal Swan’ and the colossal closing title track. There is probably not a band in Punk/HC besides FUCKED UP that could make an album this musical, adventurous, powerful and confrontational and remain so relentlessly HC in what it does; the band make the limits of HC seemingly boundless. And while the band is making statements like those in ‘Twice Born’ and ‘Days Of Last’, all I can say is carry on fucking things up, FUCKED UP. "Was it always this simple and obvious, we were only held back by faith-based malaise. The hubris of the fallacy that only God can judge me, was it only arrogance or were we simply that naive." (20.04.09)

FUZZTONES - Preaching To the Perverted {MVD} I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Rudi Protrudi and his psychedelic garage rock revivalists - ever since I saw them support THE DAMNED back in the mid-late 80s in fact. I was surprised to see this appear though - I thought the band had split up long ago and while it doesn’t reach the levels of ‘Lysergic Emanations’, it does have enough to hold the attention. Highlight for me was ‘Invisible’ that had a few parallels with ‘Strawberries’ era DAMNED. In fact, a lot of the album brought to mind THE DAMNED’s alter-ego NAZ NOMAD AND THE NIGHTMARES with a bit of SEEDS thrown in, along with a SOFT BOYS Rock ‘n’ Roll feel via the likes of ‘This Game Called Girl’ and the driving ‘Set Me Straight’ while other parts evoked the haunting melodrama of the best of THE DOORS. Production is surprisingly clear and, for all the late 60s psychedelic garage retrovision, this is a rich album that clearly pilfers from the past but regurgitates it with enough excitement and arrogance to warrant additional plays and praise. (07.08.11) 

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