[myPod is an attempt to edit down my CD collection as I import my music on to my brand new 160 GB iPod.]
Face to Face
My introduction to Face to Face is perhaps unique among diehard fans, in that I was introduced to the pop-punk group via Ignorance is Bliss. The black sheep of F2F’s discography, Ignorance is an alt-rock record that dips into shoegaze. It’s essentially their Dear You, an album of surreal imagery that just bludgeons you with its otherwordly guitar tone. It’s not exactly punk rock, but it’s alternately heavy and dream-like and pretty dang great.
My next F2F purchase as a youngster was Big Choice. “Oh, they’re a punk band,” I thought. “Cool.” It was like discovering the band all over again, only this time I obsessed over catchy choruses and furious tempos. Big Choice remains one of the band’s best releases, along with Face to Face, which is arguably their catchiest record. Also essential listening: How to Ruin Everything, their supposed swan song before 2011’s Laugh Now… Laugh Later. That one is far and away the fastest and loudest, a real “rage against the dying of the light” record.
This only accounts for about half of Face to Face’s discography, though. The other half, while still pretty great, pales a little. Their debut, Don’t Turn Away, is a solid pop-punk album in the Fat Wreck vein¸ but it’s a dry run for Big Choice. Reactionary, released as damage control for all the fans who hated Ignorance’s experimentation, is a little by the numbers. It’s catchy, but it’s also probably their least distinct release. That leaves Standards and Practices, a surprisingly solid covers collection, and a fun split with Dropkick Murpheys. Finally, Laugh Now, while not the best F2F release by a wide margin, still boasts some good songs.
What attracts me to Face to Face is as follows: Frontman/guitarist Trever Keith writes song that everyone can identify with. The band has been absurdly blessed with bassists; both Matt Riddle and Scott Shiflett laid down thick, hearty grooves. The tempos are almost always blazing. The vocals soar. Some people write off pop-punk for being repetitive. I think they just haven’t heard Face to Face yet.
Factors of Four
Female-fronted Philly punk band that puts on a heck of a show. Their recorded output doesn’t do them justice though.
Sometimes it’s weird outgrowing a band. Sometimes it happens gradually – I’ve found a few records from high school that don’t hold up at 25 – but others just kind of fade away quickly. I was all about Fake Problems’ freewheeling, humorous folk-punk circa 2007’s How Far Our Bodies Go. Then they hit a creative freeze, first by making a record that was too silly (It’s Great to Be Alive) and then overcompensated by making one that was too serious (Real Ghosts Caught on Film). I held on to Bodies for a while, but this most recent listen didn’t do much for me. It’s time to break up.
The Falcon is basically The Lawrence Arms.
Today was pretty stressful at work. But thanks to Fang Island’s self-titled full-length, I was able to suppress my murderous urges through the magic of guitar rockitude. The first three tracks form a sort of suite, culminating in “Daisy,” that centers me. Basically, they’re the indie rock version of Andrew W.K. Their EP Sky Gardens has a similar effect. Man I hope their formula never gets old (unlike AWK).
Jay Farrar and Benjamin Gibbard
The Son Volt/ex-Uncle Tupelo frontman hooked up with the Death Cab for Cutie lead singer to compose a soundtrack to a documentary about Jack Kerouac. The result was a chilled out slice of Americana that heavily references Kerouac’s work without seeming derivative. The album’s a little expensive since it comes with the documentary, One Fast Move or I’m Gone, but it’s still a pleasing listen.
Growing up means discarding your Drive-Thru Records discography. Fenix TX was an early pop-punk band that gave DTR the pull to land future big names like New Found Glory and Midtown, so I’ve always held a sort of reverence for them. But I own too many clean SoCal pop-punk records, and besides, the juvenile humor displayed on their self-titled debut (I have the original version from when they were called RiverFenix) is a little too violent and misogynistic for my taste. Lechuza puts pop-punk tunes next to hard rock ones, which sounded weird then and now.
To celebrate this 50th release, Saddle Creek Records pressed an anniversary compilation promoting all of their acts. It was an essential release for me in high school. I had just gotten into Bright Eyes. Through this comp, I learned about indie acts like Rilo Kiley, Cursive, and Desaparecidos. But the exclusive tracks are kind of ho-hum, and every band on the comp other than the three in the previous sentence sound just like Bright Eyes (Well, minus Azure Ray). 50 was important when I was 16, but I don’t need it anymore.
Fight to Live
Dubious punk band from Doylestown. Their split with Best Thing in Town was solid, but their self-titled debut is hilariously terrible. Of particular note: “Trans,” an anti-love song about a beguiling transvestite; “Don’t Scare the Emo Kids,” about how punk is totally punk; and “Chinatown,” about being so punk that ya got kicked out of an Ataris show.
The Fire Theft
Sunny Day Real Estate is better renowned, but three out of its four members – Jeremy Enigk, Nate Mendel, and William Goldsmith – put on a mighty fine sequel with the short-lived Fire Theft. TFT essentially took SDRE’s dramatic emo leanings, which when last heard had matured into something approaching U2 on The Rising Tide, and continued along that path. The Fire Theft is anthemic and operatic, and while I still prefer SDRE, I also enjoy this quite a bit.