Top Sounds - F

FACE TO FACE - Protection {Fat Wreck} Back on Fat to celebrate 25 years of cranking out the riffs. The sticker on the album’s cover states this is a ‘back to their roots’ album and yeah, it certainly rocks more than the previous ‘Three Chords And A Half Truth’ but it’s not the raucous blast that is ‘Don’t Turn Away’. Lots of the songs had a similar feel, similar rhythm and some very slick backing vocal harmonies. That said, it’s not a bad album and has plenty of highlights be it opener ‘Bent But Not Broken’ that features frantic bass work, ‘Fourteen Fifty-Nine’ that ups the pace and ‘Double Crossed’ that injects a few dynamics. Highlight is a straight battle between the title track that’s the fastest, gnarliest song here and ‘Middling Around’ that’s got some great harmonies, some great swagger and a bit of a sneer. I’ve long been a fan of FACE TO FACE but this ‘back to the roots’ thing is a bit off; I heard a big latter day DOWN BY LAW vibe here mixed with a bit of BAD RELIGION with the occasional sterile splash of NO USE FOR A NAME. Thankfully, the good far out-weighs the bad and, given time, I think this could be a real grower.  (10.04.16)

FACE TO FACE - Say What You Want {Fat Wreck} Nifty little 7" from these Californian veterans and it kicks of with a track from the recent ‘Protection’ album (reviewed above) that has actually been receiving a steady amount of turn-table time here at the House Of Scanner and yep, it has been a real grower! This track rocks along on a neat stop-start staccato riff and makes for an obvious single choice. The real highlight is the flip - ‘I, Me, Mine’ which is previously unreleased and flies by in about 2 minutes. It’s a distinctly faster track, more direct and brought to mind BAD RELIGION circa ‘No Control’, particularly with some of the backing vocal arrangements. It’s a track should certainly have been on the album too. As always with FACE TO FACE, melody and song structure are at their highest and it’s great to hear the band is still capable of cranking out some Punk jams to match the 1992 released ‘Don’t Turn Away’ album. Check it. (26.11.17)

FALL, THE - Sub-Lingual Tablet {Cherry Red} Ever since I first heard ‘Bingo Masters Breakout’ some 30 years ago, I’ve always thought this bunch of miserable Mancunians to be the most over-rated and monotonous pile of shit outside of Styx and Fleetwood Mac. This is the band’s thirty-fucking-first album of torturous dirge and, while opener ‘Venice With The Girls’ held my attention, I had to skip most of the other laborious sounds within the minute mark just to prevent the contents of my stomach being spat out on the floor. Yeah, FALL fans will probably like this but whether it’s as good as other releases or not I have no idea; it reeks with the same stench as all the others in my opinion. I’ll have to leave you FALL fans to check it out and drone-along-with-Mark. (22.10.15)

FAT MIKE AND FRIENDS - Home Street Home {Fat Wreck} A Punk Rock Musical from the NOFX main-man? I can hear the naysayers’ ridicule already. Have to say, I was a tad skeptical too. Somehow though, Mike has pulled it off; sure it’s not ‘Quadrophenia’ but it’s a cleverly written, dramatic, at times alarming yet humourous tale of Sue, a young girl who has been abused by her father and ends up on the street. She finds friends in the teenage Street Punks and, through them, a sense of empowerment. The story does get a bit lost at times, possibly because the album lacks about 10 songs that are in the actual stage show. The 18 tracks here are performed by a veritable cast of thousands including Matt Skiba, Tony Sly, Stephen Egerton, Frank Turner, OLD MAN MARKLEY and Mike’s NOFX gang turn up on the closing ‘The Agony Of Victory’. The inspiration for the musical goes back to 1999 when Mike and TILT’s Cinder Block spawned the idea and the opening song, ‘Monsters’. From there Mike chipped away at it and the recordings span a period from 2009 through to 2014. It’s not all NOFX ramalama either; among the highlights is the moving, disenfranchised ‘Missing Child’ that is just a piano and plaintive vocal. A totally convincing piece of work that takes a few plays to get into but the extra effort pays off in the clever word play and surprisingly effective musical arrangements. Now, a DVD of the stage show... Maybe?? (06.09.15)

FEEDERZ - WWHD: What Would Hitler Do? {Slope} It’s without a doubt that FEEDERZ is an acquired taste, be it the Anarchist politics or discordant, confrontational music. Gotta say, ever since I heard ‘Jesus Entering From The Rear’ on the ‘...Jellybeans’ comp all those years ago, it’s a taste I’ve come to savour! This wonderful 7" features two tracks on orange vinyl and sees vocalist Frank Discussion joined by former DEAD KENNEDYS drummer D H Peligro. Both tracks are an attack on the Trump regime with ‘Stealing’ pivoting around a stop-start riff, menacing whispered vocals and a revisit to Discussion’s theme of theft. It’s the flip, ‘Sabotage’, that is the stronger track though. Slightly faster in pace with a much more pointed lyric citing civil war and the suggestion of "taking down your empire and turning it into a bonfire" resonating highly. Musically this has much more of a groove than some of the band’s previous work and takes a play or two to appreciate. Production is handled by MEAT PUPPET Cris Kirkwood and its housed in a sleeve that is sure to attract attention as it’s a caricature of Trump in full Nazi regalia and on the rear, an illustration of cops on fire. That alone makes it a must-have! (27.08.17)

FIVE THOUSAND - Monadh {Our Future} Absolutely fucking monstrous four track EP from this band outta Scotland, UK. It’s actually more like four parts of one epic 12 minute track, opening with an instrumental and followed by ‘Part II’ and ‘Part IV’ that have words. Musically, it’s a stunning fusion of TRAGEDY-esque Hardcore, KILLING JOKE brutality, BORN DEAD ICONS bleakness and ANTISECT politics. Somehow, the band members manage to make this sound totally original, devoid of boring, down-tuned chugging metal guitars or belched lyrics. A lot of stuff of this ilk also suffers from production that makes it feel like your listening to mud flowing out of your speakers; this however is bright, clear, balanced and at the same time unforgiving and brutal. Included is a foldout poster featuring a few depressing facts and a pic of actor, Jared Leto in his £5,000 studded, AVSKUM logo’d leather jacket. On the flip are lyrics and further reading and graphics, much of it based around the floods the UK faced in 2015. Killer stuff that not just requires your attention, it should fucking demand it. (22.05.17)

FLAME ON - Corrupt Mind {Boss Tuneage} Hmm... Maybe the BT Retro series has dug a bit too deep here. Y’see this is an 80-min, 32 track comp from a late 80s band outta Stoke-On-Trent, England which, during its four years of existence only released one 7", the three-track ‘Corrupt Mind’ EP on Emotions Records in 1991. It’s an OK fusion of SENSELESS THINGS type stuff if mixed with the guitar damage a’la DINOSAUR JR. The remaining 29 tracks are from three demos recorded in 1990, ‘89 and ‘88. It’s pretty heavy-going to do the lot in one sitting (unless you were in the band) but the ‘90 demo has a good fuzzy tone about the guitars and includes what could be the best track in ‘Hold You Tight’. The ‘89 demo has thin production and includes the dramatic ‘Fashion Conscious’ and the appallingly named ‘Lesbo Pussy Hunt’ while the ‘88 demo is flat and quiet and includes a spirited take on ‘Hanging On The Telephone’. Not too sure how many people this will appeal to - it’s surely something I won’t come back to too often - but it’s a limited pressing and if you wanna chance something a bit unknown from the late 80s... Well... Give it a go. (22.05.16)

FLATLINERS, The - Division of Spoils {Fat Wreck} Monster 23-track compilation of various unreleased gems, b-sides and covers that is, without a doubt, a for-fans-only release. I’m not the biggest of fans but did find a lot of enjoyable tunes here including a couple of unreleased crackers in ‘Hot Trouble’ and ‘This Guy Reads From A Card’ that could actually claim to be the best track here. Other highlights included ‘Wynford Bridge’, a clever cover of JOHNNY CASH’s ‘Cry Cry Cry’, ‘Christ Punchers’ that features a refreshing look at religion (without endorsing it), ‘Broken Men’ and a surprisingly rocking take on a ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT tune. If you ain’t heard FLATLINERS before, think a fusion of GOOD RIDDANCE and IRON CHIC with a bit of Ska (especially the older material) and, oddly, I kept hearing a SOCIAL DISTORTION vibe to some of the guitar leads. A few stats for ya: This includes four unreleased tracks, five covers, the earliest track dates back to a 2002 demo and like all good comps, you get references of when tracks were recorded, where they appeared and full lyrics. FLATLINERS fans - you need this. (29.05.16)

FLATLINERS, THE - Caskets Full {Fat Wreck} Three track 7" here featuring one of the highlights from the ‘Dead Language’ album as the lead track. It’s a rollicking, freewheeling and anthemic track with a soaring vocal - ideal 7" stuff in fact and it doesn’t hang around too long either. Flip the thing over and you get the ‘exclusive’ track in ‘Wynford Bridge’ that’s another snappy track that pivots around an infectiously easy-sounding guitar riff and aided by some clever descending bass lines. The closer is a cover of ‘Fireball’, taken from the tribute to Tony Sly. It’s a bit more sedate than the THE FLATLINERS’ own originals but is aided by a gravel-vocalled delivery from Chris Cresswell. If you are a fan, it’s well worth picking up for the flipside alone. If you are curious and want something physical instead of a shite download, this would seem the ideal purchase. I think there was a limited run on coloured vinyl too if that rocks your casket. (09.03.15)

FLEXX BRONCO - Volume 3 {Self Destructo} It’s been six years since this San Fran quartet cranked out ‘Volume 2’, so the band may be a new name to many. There’s a definite SUPERSUCKERS influence but fused with the swagger of RADIO BIRDMAN and a rocking alt-Country vibe that mirrors DASH RIP ROCK. There are plenty of crackers here - ‘Blondetourage’ could’ve been from a late 70s Aussie Punk band (distinct X and CELIBATE RIFLES feel here), ‘Filthy’s Lullaby’ adds a DWARVES menace while highlight is the wild riffing, freewheeling burn of ‘Big Sky Fire’. Have to say, I did find some of the guitar noodling over the top at times; too often another needless lead solo would appear when all I wanted to hear was more of those monstrous riffs detonating with searing aplomb, and it ruined the closing ‘Emerald City Burning’ which could’ve been the album’s best. Covers a bit of an eye opener too, with a masked and bondaged gimp alone in a desert setting - like a MENTORS album. Production shreds too - this is so crisp and cutting it should come with bandages instead of a download code! (13.12.15)

FLIES ON YOU - Fan-Base Repellent {DIY} Six more of this band’s brand of eclectic, cynical and rather inspirational Agit-Prop tunes and six more slices of sound that have been buzzing outta the Ipod for a while! This six-track EP is available as a free download and is possibly the band’s most experimental release yet. Imagine a fusion of CHUMBAWAMBA (circa ‘Slap’) with some of the darker, bass-driven pop moments of THE CURE and ‘Twitch’ era MINISTRY and you’re close. Opener ‘Moving Stuff’ is totally captivating - all spoken word with electro background; the same song gets a dub-remix further through the release. ‘Property Vacant’ highlights that CURE-style bass but backs it with something I doubt Robert Smith would ever consider while ‘Drought’ (and its remix) could be a lift from ‘Yes Sir, I Will’ if CRASS had ever had ambition to be ‘Ghost Town’ era SPECIALS playing a HAWKWIND spaceout. These fellas have somehow fused a myriad of styles, made it exciting and accessible whilst remaining resolutely Punk in attitude and spirit. Highly recommended. (06.02.16)

FLIES ON YOU - Etcetera {DIY} When I first heard the debut album by this Leeds, UK duo, I didn’t get it. However, as odd tracks appeared on Ipod shuffles (yeah - I’m up with technology me!!), I found myself constantly checking out these impressive songs that I didn’t recognise. More often than not, they were FLIES ON YOU songs. This is the second album and it’s an equally challenging, probing and captivating album only this time, with a bit more direction. Comparisons could be multiple as these dudes mix post-Punk moodiness with New Wave melodies and a sense of electronica that’s virtually futuristic, but think WIRE Punk fused with early CHUMBAWAMBA wit and politics and THE CURE’s sense of drama and poptones. Highlights? The KILLING JOKEish attack of ‘Hangdog’ (about haemorrhoids don'tcha know!!), ‘Mysterious Jill’ that would’ve fitted on ‘Seventeen Seconds’ very well, ‘Our Little Secret’ has all the power psychedelia of Lemmy-era HAWKWIND but condensed into three-and-a-half minutes, the sublime meandering dub of ‘Roofspace’ while ‘Action Stations’ has to be the outright highlight with its sing-a-long chorus of governmental downfall. I’ve really grown to enjoy this band - they’re original, exciting, unregimented and, essentially, GOOD!! A mere £5 will get ya a copy here. (10.03.15)

FRANKS AND DEANS - How Did You All Get In My Room? {Squidhat} Ohhh - another ME FIRST AND THE GIMME DOLLARS novelty Punk cover act. I guess to the credit of these fellas, their ‘art’ at least has direction in that the choice of covers is Sinatra/ Martin type Rat Pack stuff. Like the GIMMES, they include a few little Punk nods in their covers - ‘Lady Is A Tramp’ featured a snippet of NOFX’s ‘The Brews’ which was quite amusing; in fact, there’s a few NOFX rips that are unexpected. Best moments are kinda predictable - ‘Dream Lover’ works great as did ‘Bang Bang’. ‘All Of Me’ has a nice ska touch and ‘That’s Amore’ rolls on a great beat, but it’s probably ‘Minnie Da Moocha’ that has most effect, coming on like WORLD/INFERNO FRIENDSHIP SOCIETY. Really can’t see much point beyond novelty value for this kinda stuff and, just like ME FIRST AND THE GIMME A DECENT RECORD, this debut is fun - but I imagine each release from here will be tiresome and more suited to a circus. (07.03.16)

FREEBASE - Darker Days Are Still To Come {Mosh Tuneage} British Metalcore stuff that bored me fucking silly. Think STAMPIN’ GROUND etc. This represents the vinyl material FREEBASE has recorded for Dry Heave Records since reforming. It’s all double-bass drum beats, chugga-chugga guitar, tough-guy growled vocals, lead guitar lines of epic proportions. There are a few moments of flat out HC that almost please - mainly ‘FAFY’ - but if you put some long-haired wigs on the band and gave them some Satan-loving lyrics they could be SLAYER’s little brothers (lite). They might think they’re some kinda TRAGEDY-CHAIN OF STRENGTH fusion - I dunno - but all I hear is chuggy guitars, breakdowns and metal. Yawn. (24.01.16)

FUGAZI - First Demo {Dischord} Find me someone who can criticize early FUGAZI and claims to be ‘Punk’ and I’ll show you a fake. FUGAZI was, and remains, a stunning example of how to do things correctly and sound fucking incredible while doing it. This 11 track album is, as states, the band’s first demo recording and includes primal versions of many of the band’s most well-loved songs including ‘Waiting Room’ (in which MacKaye proves to be a little too impatient, getting his vocal out a bit early), ‘Merchandise’, ‘Song#1’, ‘Bad Mouth’ and ‘And The Same’ among others. The real attraction though, is ‘Turn Off Your Guns’, a track that has never been previously released in any form. Beyond the music, this is a great package too with hand-written lyric sheets printed on the rear, great band practice and van photos on the inner sleeve and four postcards featuring each member of the band inside the main sleeve. Download code also included. Question is: Do these recordings offer enough variation from their ‘officially’ released counterparts to warrant buying this album? Hell yes!! While some of these versions lack the refinements of the official releases, these also contain a raw abrasion that adds a new dynamic, not to mention Picciotto trying to push his way in to what was envisioned as a trio. Other than that - you’ll have to go buy it - and you should! (14.12.15)

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