Top Sounds - F

FALL, THE - Re-Mit {Cherry Red} Second album on Cherry Red for this long-running bunch of Mancunians fronted by the irrepressible Mark E Smith. I’ve never got into the band; Smith’s dour vocal has always annoyed me and musically I’ve always heard too much Indie stuff in the rather self-indulgent musings. This is, apparently, the band’s 30th studio album!! Man - sitting through that lot would be torture. Anyway, this has done zero to change my opinion of this rather pompous and pretentious band. I’ll give credit to ‘Sir William Wray’ that was quite rocking (at least, for this eternally drab band) but everything else seemed to wallow in Smith’s rapacious ego. Time to hang up the attitude maybe, Mark? (18.07.13) 

FILTHY HATE/ MIDWAY STILL - Break The Images Of Making Nonsense EP {Break The Connection} A sexy blue vinyl split 7" that reminds me greatly of those excellent Snuffy Smile Recs splits from twelve or so years ago. The UK's MIDWAY STILL is first up with two of the most accessible sounding songs I've heard from the band yet. There's still a noticeable DINOSAUR JR vibe but the poptones now infuse THE POSIES into the mix. The first track, 'Don't Wanna Feel Anymore', pivots around a killer chorus and laid back vibes. The flip sees Japan's FILTHY HATE fly outta the speakers, grab ya throat and throttle the fuck outta you with their GAUZE meets E.N.T attack on 'Five Signs Of Death'. From there, things get more interesting with disc highlight, 'What You Said' being slower with catchy dual female/male vocals - similar to SIGNAL LOST in fact. Their final track, 'Filthy Hate Pt II' fuses both styles into a killer track of relentless Punk but holding enough of a tune not to be bludgeon. Neat insert too. (25.07.14) 

FP - L’anima al Peus {Hang The DJ} First time I’ve heard this solid 4-piece outta Spain and if the band has recorded something better than this ten track album, then it must be a pretty fine record!! There’s a real vintage sound and feel about this - kinda like ESKORBUTO mixed up with NO HOPE FOR THE KIDS but channelled through BAD RELIGION at a ‘77 kinda pace. The band sings in its native Catalan, so I’ve no idea what they are going on about, but it’s a solid, bruising sound with highlights being ‘Combustio Espontania’, ‘El Cami Directe’, ‘Fills de la Plana’ which really highlights the quality of the rhythm section and the disc closer ‘Nomes Cendres’ that has a certain menace about it. Production is solid, balanced and rough around the edges without sounding cheap or half-hearted. And in a fraction over 21 minutes - it’s all over!! Impressive stuff with enough ideas and textures to raise it well above the Punk Rock plimsoll line. (08.11.2013)

FRANCEENS, THE - Stepford Smiles {TNS} Never heard of this trio outta York, UK before, but a couple of the songs in had me checking to make sure they weren’t actually from some beer-belt US state. Y’see, these two guys and bass-playing gal have done something few British bands manage - make a really convincing Garage sound that is vital and modern but fuse it with greaser Rock ‘n’ Roll. I can hear a lot of Dirtnap’s recent releases in this - think LOW CULTURE, SONIC AVENUES etc but played with the destructive style of SHITTY LIMITS and the reckless abandon of NEW BOMB TURKS. You get nine tracks, the highlight of which must be the lurching, relentless ‘Attack’ that could be EDDY CURRENT SUPPRESSION RING if they had a cheese-grater gaffer taped to the base of their collective spine, and the swaggering, confident swing of ‘Wrong’ that typifies sneering, gum-chewing arrogant cool. A very un-TNS sounding record in fact - but one that probably works well for both band and label. Definitely my kinda ear-honey - garage rock ‘n’ roll that shoots from the hip and doesn’t over think matters. I’m still wondering though... Are they really from York?? (08.05.14)

FRANTIX - My Dad’s A Fuckin’ Alcoholic {Alternative Tentacles} 23 track retrospective of this early 80s band that lurched outta Aurora, Colorado. The band only released two singles: ‘Face Reality’ in 1982 and ‘My Dad’s...’ the following year. Both were four trackers, but this baby is filled out with a 1983 seven track demo and a surprisingly excellent sounding unreleased live recording from the ‘80s. FLIPPER is an unavoidable comparison, if mixed with a ‘Damaged’-era BLACK FLAG blast as the EPs prove, be it the excellent ‘Face Reality’ or the sludge-fest that is ‘Sharin’ Sharon’. ‘My Dad’s A Fuckin’ Alcoholic’ was often covered by MUDHONEY and is a clear highlight. The live recording is vastly superior to the EPs in clarity; the fuzz-drenched guitar is sharp enough to cut glass while the bass hits with a crisp punch instead of a weighted elbow. The demo tapes adds at bit of GEARS like Garage goo in ‘Dancin’ To Punk’ and ‘FM Ear’. Good fact-filled and photo-laden booklet too. A most welcome and recommended addition to Alternative Tentacles’ ‘Reissues of Necessity’ series. Fact fans maybe interested to know that some of the band went on to be in early Grunge sensations, THE FLUID. (29.06.14)

FROGS OF WAR - All Said And Done {Boss TuneageAn excellent 17 track retrospective of this band from Leeds, UK that recorded but one album back in 1990. This comp takes that album (as in the title) and adds the four song ‘Gunpowder Plot Noodle’ cassette from the same year and another four song session from ‘91. It’s a band I remember - who could forget a name like that! - but my only musical crossing with the band was on the ‘Floor 81’ album. Soundwise, think quality HDQ meets INSTIGATORS Punk with a splash of DAG NASTY for added measure. The ‘91 session is really good - bright production, rocking songs and good lyrics. The album contains more than a few crackers too - ‘USA’ and ‘Washing Your Car’ in particular. As always with Boss Tuneage’s Retro Series, you get full lyrics, band history, flyers and all other odds and sods. Really strong stuff that has stood the test of time better than many others. It’s been a big player in the House Of Scanner - it should be in yours too. (22.07.13)

FUCKED UP - Glass Boys {Matador} Faint, twinkling bells open the fourth studio album for Toronto’s infamous FUCKED UP. As always, it’s a visionary slice of how Hardcore can progress without going metal or wimping out. That said, this is a little less guitar-heavy than before, with more experimentation and less instant appeal. Often, I heard hints of the damaged psychedelia of HAWKWIND (check the guitar solos and swirling keys of ‘Warm Change’) if mixed with the darkest of BOB MOULD moods (see one of the highlights ‘DET’). There is plenty of greatness here - the title track is an epic piece of stunning sound while ‘The Great Divide’ provides a relentless and addictive melodrama of guitars and enraged vocals. ‘The Art Of Patrons’ could be the stand out, propelled by a dominant and insistent bass with a refrain that’s as melodic as it is inspired. The album is let down a bit by the production. It seems the band has been a bit too arty for its own good with the expected multi-layered guitars augmented by four simultaneous drum tracks - two at normal speed, two at half speed. It sounds muddled with no space for individuals. A FUCKED UP album is always a contender for Album of the Year and this is no different; however it is not the obvious classic that 2011’s ‘David Comes To Life’ was. Special vinyl edition includes a bonus album of ‘drums-at-half-speed' version. (16.07.14)

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