Top Sounds - F

FACE TO FACE - Hold Fast {Fat Wreck} Hmmm... This is interesting. FACE TO FACE choose to re-record ten of their most fan-favoured songs acoustically. Great songs in fact, proficiently played but...it just doesn't quite connect. The main reason for the disconnect (Ho! Ho!!) is in the arrangements; they all seem to be of the same pace and structure. It's far from bad, but it's also not as good as I had hoped. Highlights would be 'Velocity' that's slower and more dramatic than much of the album, opener 'All For Nothing' that had me thinking of TEXAS IS THE REASON, a surprisingly effective Skiffle version of 'Don't Turn Away' and the closing romp through 'Bill Of Goods'. It's 'AOK' that's the highlight though, slowed down with a neat M8 it takes on the kind of new life I had hoped a lot more of these songs would display. What this release does emphasize is the quality of Trever Keith's vocal - it's got power, pitch and clarity. The second half of the album definitely seems stronger and the whole record ages well with consecutive plays but... I can't help it... I feel it's a bit under done. (26.11.18)

FAZ WALTZ - Julie {Spaghetty Town} Smart little two-track 7" (on black, red or white vinyl) from this oddly named trio outta Cantu, Italy. Apparently they’ve already released five albums and have been going over ten years - but this is the first time I’ve come across them. Think a Glam Rock collision of THE BOYS Pop-Punk style anthems and CHEAP TRICK Power-Pop rockisms with a big injection of T-REX’s Top Ten singles sound and you’ll be there. Main track, ‘Julie’ is certainly the most evident of THE BOYS vibe, laden with energy, great melodies and a Rock ‘n’ Roll sneer. Flip it and you get ‘I’m Bleedin’’ that’s got a bit more of a swagger about it; you can imagine low-slung guitars and cigarettes hanging out of the corners of mouths while ‘Heaven Tonight’ provides the soundtrack. Another cracking 7" from this Atlanta, GA label that is pretty much nailing it when it comes to Garage Punk and noxious Rock ‘n’ Roll. (03.06.18)

FEED HER TO THE SHARKS - Fortitude {Victory} Oh gawd... Metalcore with those horrible fucking garbled vocals, irritating double bass beats, melodic breakdowns and what sounds like keyboards (ye-gads!!!) in places too. Yawn... fucking... Yawn. Life’s too short to pay too much attention to blustering bollocks like this but for those who maybe interested... FEED HER TO THE SHARKS are from one of the best cities on the planet - Melbourne, Australia. They’re a five piece and while this is as unappealing as the thought (let alone image) of ex-London Mayor Boris Johnson actually mating, I have to confess it’s produced stunningly well - clear, huge and incisive. Still shit though. (17.03.19)

FIRKIN - Into The Night EP {DIY} Three track EP of Folk-Punk from this band outta Hungary. They certainly know their Folk as the lead track, ‘Flowers’, proves with a sedate opening verse that highlights the traditional sound of Ireland before expanding into a wonderful song complete with flute and fiddle. The remaining two tracks up the Punk ante with the title track again featuring those traditional instruments to the fore while closer ‘Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye’ is another take on the ‘Johnny Comes Marching Home’/ ’English Civil War’ song. It’s also the weakest of the three here as it's a tad clichéd. Comparisons? The energy of BLOOD OR WHISKEY played with the class of OYSTER BAND via a hint of WORLD/INFERNO FRIENDSHIP SOCIETY. If you thought Folk-Punk meant shite like REAL MCKENZIES or the risible FLOGGING MOLLY, then check this out. Full album imminent. Quality without being slick, raucous without being sloppy... There is a narrow line between being cool, or being cheesy. For now, it’s most definitely the former. (25.03.18)

FLESHIES - Introducing The Fleshies {Dirt Cult} First album in ten years for these spitting, screaming Punks outta Oakland, California and any fears that they may have matured or mellowed are blown away with the sonic attack of opener ‘Bruisee’. Eleven tracks of guttural, sneering, incendiary Punk follow which rock with the intensity of TURBONEGRO, snarl like GERMS and sneer like STEAKKNIFE with highlights being the sub- two minute blast of ‘Comin’ To Get Our Cousins’, the sub one minute rage of ‘Nomaste’, the more sedately yet twisted Power Pop of ‘Hold Me Up’ which brought to mind GOO GOO DOLLS before they became corporate rock stars, the vaguely psychedelic sludge of ‘Bombs’ that has a vocal as sneering as FYP, the searing Punk and taut guitar lines of ‘Stone Mason’ while highlight could be ‘Like A Pillow’ that opens with a fucked-speaker sounding gnarled bass and opens into a mid-paced cracker with shards of guitar flying in all directions and some heavy duty drumming. A welcome return and, just like the band’s previous, it’s not an easy listen but it’s a rewarding frenzy of warped Punk listen! (15.08.19)
FLOAT HERE FOREVER - Tour The Ruins {DIY} Debut album for this trio outta Detroit, Michigan with opener ‘Cars Crashing’ instantly grabbing the attention in a flurry of guitars and slightly grizzled, maybe even moody vocals. The remainder of the album features another 13 tracks that fuse the guitar drama and melodic bluster of SUGAR, a splish of 90s Grunge and some great male/ female vocal interplay layered over JAWBOX meets BUFFALO TOM moves. Plenty of goodies here too, be it ‘California’s Burning’ that is the best example of those deft male/ female vocal arrangements, ‘Pilot’ that has guitar shards flying over some impressive drumming and ‘Taking Us For Granted’ that comes on like prime-time LEMONHEADS with bouncy verses and a melodic understated chorus while best track could well be ‘Slipping Away’ that bounds along on a SONIC YOUTH circa ‘Daydream Nation’ riff and infectious vocal melody. Songs are generally short and concise without any flab while retaining interesting and inventive song structures. One to watch. (08.06.19)
FOREIGN LEGION - Back To Basics {Violated} These fellas from the Welsh Valleys have been around, off and on, since the early 80s. This is, I think, the band’s fifth album and features 10 tracks which last a mere 25 minutes. It’s solid, traditional UK82 gear too - somewhere between ABRASIVE WHEELS, DEFECTS and ANGELIC UPSTARTS with a bit of early UK SUBS about some of the guitar parts. Of the ten tracks, standouts include ‘Merderer’ that pivots around a snappy guitar riff and en masse chorus, the boisterous and textured closer ‘Start A War’ and ‘Bullshite’ that’s got a chorus that is no doubt a crowd sing-along at gigs while ‘Homeless’ could be the highlight cruising along on a mid-paced beat and a stellar set of lyrics calling for the politicians to address the plight of the homeless. Could’ve done without the rather cheesy ‘She’s A Punk’ however which was more TOY DOLLS minus the humour. I enjoyed this way more than expected and if the sound of ‘82 still makes your heart beat faster, then this is for you. (14.07.19)

FOX FACE - Spoil + Destroy {Dirtnap} PODCAST PLAYED Bit of a departure from the ‘recognised’ Dirtnap sound here - but still a thrilling listen which is itself another trademark of Dirtnap. This is a 12-track album from this femme fronted four-piece outta Milwaukee, WI that fuses the brazen attack of BIKINI KILL (see ‘Girl Hater’ in particular) with a 60s Nuggets vibe complete with a Hammond Organ and the disjointed Punk feel of SLEATER KINNEY playing GUN CLUB. Plenty of highlights here be it the sedate, rolling ‘Hiawatha’, the strutting MUFFS-esque coolness of ‘Standing There’ and the wonderful, fuzzed garage stomp of ‘Boogie Man’ that has a lead guitar line that coulda been stolen straight outta Poison Ivy’s left over CRAMPS leads. It’s the infectious opener however, ‘(What You’re) Good For’ that takes the album highlight title as it blends everything together to make a stunning opening salvo. Most of the tracks are relatively short two-minute blasts, although closer ‘The Moon And The Tide’ nearly hits four minutes. The Hammond Organ certainly gives the album in general a unique sound and when fused with the Punkoid Blues that’s going on, it makes for a genuinely interesting album. (29.05.18)

FUCK! (IT’S PRONOUNCED SHIT) - It’s Pronounced The First Three EPs {Brassneck} 20 track compilation of, apparently, the first three EPs from this side project of Fraser from THE MURDERBURGERS. Most of the songs are under one minute long and fuse SCREECHING WEASEL snotty Punk with WONK UNIT’s knack for sarcasm, particularly when directed towards themselves. Titles like ‘You Look Like I Need A Wank’, ‘Deliberately Stepping In Dog Shit Is My Favourite Hobby’ and ‘My Attitude May Stink But I Smell Fuckin’ Amazing’ should suggest where this is heading. The songs snarl and sneer with guitars that could be on par with early SNUFF and vocally Fraser delivers a clear vocal which is kinda essential given the scathing wit behind the words. Highlights? Obviously this blurs into one a bit too often but ‘Tuesday Morning Staring Match With A Dog’, ‘It’s Not The Size Of Your Penis That Matters, It’s How Big It Is’ and the closing ‘Wank Florida Wank’ all stood out, with the latter two being two of the long tracks on the record. Not a band for wedding receptions! (21.10.18)

FUCKED UP - Dose Your Dreams {Merge} PODCAST PLAYED Latest 18 track album from the maverick, mercurial and visionary Toronto band. This returns to 2011’s ‘David Comes To Life’ and sees that album’s subject as a disillusioned office worker meeting an angel, or homeless woman (most likely both). Kicking off with a sedate piano line, orchestral backing and angelic, female vocal which swells and bursts into ‘None Of Your Business Man’ which is classic FUCKED UP - urgent, inventive, irrepressible - and with brass! From there, ‘Tell Me What You See’ features some great dual vocals between Damian and the ladies in the band coming on like CHUMBAWAMBA gone through a Hardcore blender and shooting shards of splintered guitar in all directions, ‘Talking Pictures’ that pivots around a simple piano line and dance beats while all sorts of guitar jams and noise go on underneath like early NEW ORDER fused with ‘Land...’ era MINISTRY, while the title track has even more evidence of those NEW ORDER-esque beats, if overlaid with a fiddle and ‘Mechanical Bull’ takes MINISTRY to further lengths. ‘Living In A Simulation’ would be a hit single in a perfect world, ‘Two I’s Closed’ puts ‘Pet Sounds’ firmly in a FUCKED UP orbit while ‘The One I Want Will Come For Me’ could’ve been ‘Candy Apple..’ era HUSKER DU and ‘Love Is An Island In The Sea’ even hints at THE BEATLES. Best track? Seems distinctly unjust to suggest any track over another as they all combine to make one fantastical, intelligent, forward looking album but ‘I Don’t Want To Live In This World Anymore’ and ‘House Of Keys’ would be the main contenders. What more can be said about this? It’s lyrically breath-taking, musically progressive without losing any of the band’s trademark Hardcore punch yet bringing in more electronica, dance beats, grandeur and female vocalisation while Damian’s bellow remains omnipresent and production is simply sublime (and a real head-fuck in headphones). Everything you’d expect on a new FUCKED UP album in fact, but much more so with it. In a word, stunning. (26.04.19)
FULLCOUNT - Part Of The Game {Lockjaw} 12 track album from this five-piece outta Quebec City, Canada and if you dig that slick, tight semi-Metal that the likes of STRUNG OUT and to a lesser extent PROPAGANDHI peddle, then FULLCOUNT might be the band for you. Personally, I find songs with a lead guitar widdling all through them to be pretty fucking annoying. Throw on some rapid chugging guitars, lots of structure changes and you’re there. To the band’s credit, they do it pretty well with standout being ‘The Motion’ that includes some seriously rapid-fire riffing and big gang backing vocals. Generally though, I struggled to make it to the end of the album. Have to say, I do rate vocalist Chris Lehoux, his voice carries much more melody than many of this style and comes on like a fusion of the fella in RISE AGAINST and Rob from VANILLA POD. Just a shame that the guitars are but a single step from Metallica and two from Iron Maiden. (08.03.19)

FUTURE VIRGINS - Doomsday Raga {Recess} PODCAST PLAYED Now here is a record I like - a lot!! Imagine a fusion between some of Recess Records’ best movers and shakers - OFF WITH THEIR HEADS, THE ARRIVALS and TOYS THAT KILL and you’re close. The band’s a four-piece outta Chattanoga, Tennessee and this is their third album. Plenty of cracking tracks be it ‘Book Of Balance’ that motors along with a barbed vocal and great guitar run, the slightly menacing ‘Biblical Weather’, the melancholic, acoustic ‘Love Is All You Need’ that’s good enough to be an Alex Chilton/ BIG STAR out-take or the instantly likeable urgency of opener ‘Ex-Pats’. Best track however is a battle between ‘Gilded Youth’ that’s laden with splintered guitars a’la OBSERVERS meets a STIFF LITTLE FINGERS circa ‘Nobody’s Heroes’ feel and ‘The Mutuals’ that fuses all of those three Recess bands to jaw-dropping effect and throws in a sublimely effective 60s-style middle-eight that’s brief but takes the song to a whole different level. The occasional use of clean guitar riffs lends a surf-esque vibe, while the vocals are a perfect mix of snotty arrogance and tune-carrying clarity. Production is spot on, allowing everything room and clarity and at 14 songs, just about the perfect length without a single duffer among them. Yeah, hugely recommended! (10.07.18)

Hit HERE for material reviewed prior to 2018 including:
FACE TO FACE (2 reviews), THE FALL, FAT MIKE AND FRIENDS, THE FEEDERZ, FIVE THOUSAND, FLAME ON, FLATLINERS (2 reviews), FLEXX BRONCO, FLIES ON YOU (2 reviews), FRANKS AND DEANS, FREEBASE and FUGAZI