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Fablefactory – “Freak Out Hard On You” CD 13/37:26
Fablefactory’s release parade continues with a full-length that is a lot less about tinkering and playing around, and more about writing full songs that display more concentration on being louder. The vibe is still intact, however, and it’s just as enjoyable as the other release while showing a little bit of diversity. Xtian
@ www.fablefactory.com

Fablefactory – “We Won’t Rock You” CD 19/46:32
A compilation of B-sides, compilation tracks, and outtakes from an Athens, GA college schlock outfit. The silly/funny/fuckaround approach reminds me of King Missile and They Might Be Giants, and the sound is comparable to those bands or fellow Athenians Elf Power. Story-telling fable-like songs that are upbeat and fun, and for the most part beguiling tunes. Xtian
@ Happy Happy Birthday to Me, PO Box 1035, Panama City, FL 32402 MP3 Download

Fabulous Disaster - "Panty Raid" CD 14/33:17
Solid balls out punk played by four girls who have a lot more spunk than the Donnas. Old school stuff here, with a nice wall of speedy guitars, determined vocals, plenty of hooks, and subject matter that goes beyond the high school "let's get drunk and fuck" crap of other bands. If anything, they're closer to the Muffs in sound, a little bit of garage punk, great harmonies (without the screams) and enough pop to keep your toes tapping. The lyrical focus is relationships, and they've got some real anger they're letting out, but they've also got the throaty vocals and punk attitude to go with it. The songs get a little same-y after awhile, but it's still a good release, along the lines of the Eyeliners. Steve
@ www.pinkandblack.com

Fags - s/t CD 5/19:40
Good loud crunchy pop/rock from this Detroit trio. Closer in sound to the Anglophilic swagger of the Sights than anything, yet maybe not quite as commanding of one’s attention. Shame about the name, too, even if it is being used vis-a-vis the British vernacular. MLH
@ www.idol-records.com

Fairburn Royals - "From a Window Way Above" CD 13/43:47
I feel like I've heard this album a million times before. It's not blatantly bad, but there's nothing meaningful to say about it. Mildly talented college rockers take you through a textbook journey of standard indie influences (Beach Boys, VU, GBV, Yo La Tengo, etc.), and never leave their own mark on the landscape. The guitars are probably the best part of "From a Window Way Above," and that's not saying too much. John
@ www.fairburnroyals.com

Fairline Parkway – s/t CD 11/40:25
This is a nice enough record of pretty little songs built on guitars and tinkling piano sounds, bass and a bunch of different types of percussion. But for some reason Raj Gadhia insists on making his vocal delivery as quiet as possible. He is also fond of repetition; on one track (“Same Cigarettes”) he says, “all of this bores me” over and over again. Which made me think: well, join the club, friend. Maybe I’m being too harsh. This record is not necessarily a bore – but it does have the potential to make you drowsy. Kevin
@ www.lazyline.com

Fairport Convention - "The Millennium Collection" CD 10/50:55
There have been a few of these 20th Century Masters collections put out recently, and although they are great for the uninitiated, for the most part they cover such a narrow timeline of a band that you don't get a good feel for their growth over their career. Fairport Convention is undoubtedly one of the most important British folk bands of the last 40 years, with Richard Thompson and Sanny Denny the most recognizable talents, but this really only covers about 3 years of a long and brilliant career. Still, the songs are can't miss, with lovely acoustic guitars, a few British blues and Irish folk influences, and I'm particularly fond of Sandy Denny's haunting voice. Highlights include "Fotheringay" and "Meet Me on the Ledge" from their first US release, "Genesis Hall" and their waltzing version of Bob Dylan's "Percy's Hall". If you don't already have some Fairport Convention in your collection, this is a decent, if incomplete overview of their best period. Steve
@ www.universalchronicles.com

Fairview – “We’ll Dodge It on the Way Back” CD 16/41:58
When I was a teenager getting into the Ramones, I remember buying the “All the Stuff and More Vol. 1” because I would get more for my buck. This is Fairview’s first release, and includes more bonus tracks than album tracks, which include both live acoustic performances and demos, as well has their unreleased video, all of which appeals to the cost-conscious kid in me. The trouble in this case is that the music isn’t very good. Bland melodies and charmless vocals don’t improve upon generic rock guitar and drums. Now, call me old fashioned, but I believe that before you can release your B-sides, you have to have a couple of A-sides. Pam
@ www.sidecho.com

Fairweather - "Lusitania" CD 13/60:02
Much like the two-faced politicians that inhabit their city of origin, Washington D.C.-based quartet Fairweather's second album is guilty of the sin of not quite knowing where it stands. Superficially, this is riff heavy, crunchy emo-rock lots of hooks and a whiny vocalist (not too far from Get Up Kids). The problem is that their influences manifest themselves occasionally whether it's the feedback laden My Bloody Valentine homage in "Derivative Opener" or the gritty/sleaze rock feel of the Queens of the Stone Age-esqe "I Dread the Time ". Luckily, while certainly not prize-worthy poetry, the lyrics are not typical emo-I-got-dumped fare. From the sounds of it, this band isn't sure whether to go with their hard-rock influences or tap into a successful (but now-dying) genre. Go with the former, gentlemen, you'll last much longer. Scott
@ www.equalvision.com

Fall – “The Real New Fall LP” CD 14/52:23
Folks have been proclaiming this to be the best in awhile, and they’re not kidding, though this release does admittedly have the particular advantage of following “Are You Sure Winner” instead of, say, “This Nation’s Saving Grace”; still, it’s the most consistently listenable they’ve been for the last decade. Follows in their recent style of edgier singalongs, with more of a bite to them this time around (a bit of tinkering with/partially remixing of the original UK release might have helped). If not quite a return to previous form it proves that there’s still life in the old coot (that’s Mark E. to you) yet. David
@ www.narnackrecords.com

Fall-Outs – “Summertime” CD 13/34:08
After a long hiatus, these long time Seattle area garage punks are back. Gone is the near manic style of their earlier records, and there’s a definite darkness to the songs that hasn’t shown up before. I’m not sure quite how to describe the feeling this leaves you with, but when you hear lyrics about flowers dying, rain falling on your face as you walk alone, and other images of desolation, you realize Dave Holmes must have gone through a bunch of changes since the last full-length, nearly 10 years ago. They also eschew many of the punk conventions that they’ve used in the past, with jangly guitars reminiscent of the Byrds on “Out At Sea”, and they use horns to accent the last track “One and One”. They still maintain a garage rock via the Kinks sound on many tracks though, and this solid effort, though not as easily accessible as their previous efforts, should keep the old fans around while bringing some new ones into the fold. Steve
@ www.estrus.com MP3 Download

Faraway Places – “Unfocus on It” CD 9/37:44
The Faraway Places are a pop band from Southern California, featuring some folks who may have at one time had something to do with Boston poppers Papas Fritas (whose self-titled album is truly great if you didn’t already know). The sound here runs some where between the aforementioned Fritas, quirky pop of Elephant 6 minded folks like Of Montreal, and classic California sounds like you might hear from the Byrds earlier stuff or the Mamas and the Papas. Nothing terribly special here, but not a bad listen by any means. Most of the songs tend to blend into the background though, like something you might hear when shopping in one of those hipster boutiques. My only real complaint is the moments when things get a little too “funky”, not a style I’ve ever been partial too. I could imagine good things coming out of these folks after a little more work at it. Jake
@ www.solarsaturday.com/

Farse - “Boxing Clever” CD 13/46:14
Every self-respecting ska band should have a singer named Ollie, don’t you think? Most bands that define themselves with “ska” anywhere in the genre just annoy me to death. This band only annoys me to sleep. So, they must be good. Sharon
@ www.moonskaeurope.com

Fast Cars – “Coming…Ready or Not” CD 17/48:15
How good can rock’n’roll get? Not much better than this, that’s for sure. Fast Cars were a Manchester punk band from the late ‘70’s who were inspired – as their name clearly indicates – by the Buzzcocks. They released only one great single and a few songs on a Manchester compilation, but now the wonderful Detour label has collected their recorded material and released it all for the first time on this CD. Like the music of the Buzzcocks, this is killer punk with infectious tunes, really loud guitars, and undeniable power and passion. It almost amazes me that a group like this, which has definite pop appeal, didn’t attract a larger following, but no doubt their heavy guitars sounded like “noise” back then to weak-kneed fans of commercial pop. Not to be missed. Jeff
@ www.detour-records.co.uk

Favorite Atomic Hero – “Who Will Save You Now?” CD 12/46:56
Sometimes jocks can rock pretty hard…and then sometimes they let their testosterone take hold and make nu cock rock for the latest batch of soccer and pigskin heads. Although I doubt the four men here in Favorite Atomic Hero were gridiron um, heroes, but you never know. I don’t know. Do you? Anyway, the music here is decent head hitting music with a Casio thrown in for extra flavoring. But it has that standard appeal of sleeveless, beer guzzling apes that think Fred Dirst is a “genius” and want to catch the game before heading out and catching this band play. Although their catchiness and dexterity on the songs is something to be taken very serious, it still reeks of locker room boys trying to be sensitive but come across as slobbering cavemen with a bullet head. Even though I liked these guys a lot, I just felt that way. Maybe you won’t… Whittaker
@ www.lonesomerecordings.com

Favors – s/t CD 5/21:27
Punkish-rock, emphasis on the latter part. They probably see themselves carrying on the grand traditions of the Dolls and Heartbreakers, but to be honest it’s all too easy to see them in the late 80s/early 90s trying to ply their wares among all the other would-be tattooed love messiahs on Sunset Strip (minus the extended leads since they’re not in style at the moment). If you ever go down to Paradise City don’t bother taking this with you. David
@ Break-Up!, PO Box 15372, Columbus, OH 43215

Feederz – “Vandalism: Beautiful As a Rock in a Cop’s Face” CD 15/34:15
At long last, this infamous bunch of musical subversives are back, right when we needed them the most. Third album of bile-spewing window-smashing punk, pretty much nusic to “not-take-this-SHIT-anymore” by and least likely to be heard at your next Extreme Sporting event. Includes a “muzak” version of their anti-classic “Jesus Entering From the Rear” (something to slip into elevators everywhere) as well as MP3 versions of every song on here. Let the fur fly (er…) once again. David
@ www.brokenrekids.com

Felt – “Ignite the Seven Cannons” CD 11/36:29
Reissue of the 1985 effort (their fourth studio offering) from Lawrence and friends. Admittedly a bit of a mixed bag (not all of these tunes reward repeated listening) but it comes up with some undeniably gorgeous tunes with guitar work still evocative of the stylings of Mr. Verlaine. Of course most folks will flock to this for the (admittedly atypical) collaboration with Cocteau Twin Liz Fraizer “Primitive Painters” (the whole shebang was actually produced by fellow twin Robin Guthrie), but those who’ll take the time to listen will discover other rewards as well. David
@ www.cherryred.co.uk

Femurs – “The Femurs” CD 16/40:02
A CD written, performed, and recorded by one guy – probably in his basement all alone. This is good stuff: a mix of acoustic tracks and pop-fused-punk. Since it’s just one guy, he can do whatever he wants whenever and not argue about whether or not the style is holding up. However, since it’s one guy writing and performing the songs, the style does hold up no matter what he’s doing. The recording is a little flat, but it’s good enough that I wonder why he doesn’t have anybody to play with. You hear that Rob Schaeffer? Get out of your basement, make some friends, start playing live, go forward, and be fruitful with more of your catchy tunes. Xtian
@ www.cdbaby.com/femurs

Feud – “Language is Technology” CD 9/48:30
Raw, precision instrumental heavy-rock that can hold it’s own with anyone out there. “N finite Rug” and “King Abner Soul Fist” are dynamic and melodic. The horns on “Tidy Sum” lend a Sweep The Leg Johnny” texture. This crew definitely has their chops down. Anthony
@ wwwinsidiousplot.com

Feverdream – “Future Directions” CD 11/35:15
This trio of kids from the Netherlands has 2 prior full-length albums and I just might have to get my hands on them. This reminds me of all the music I love most of all. It has echoes of the DC scene historically (earlier Fugazi) and present (Q and Not U), but with this emotional heart that’s present in a different way from those bands. They’ve got the pretty guitar thing going on, and it might be all about that. Whatever it is, while not entirely unique sounding, this is an incredibly pleasing listening experience. Sharon
@ http://www.feverdream.nl/

Fiel Garvie - “Leave Me Out of This” CD 11/45:11
I’m willing to make a bet that one of the members of this band has a tattoo on their arm that says “I Heart the Cocteau Twins”. Actually that is a little harsh (and a pathetic display at attempted humor on my part), but their music certainly evokes that era of 80’s music. Although not terribly engaging for the entire record, it’s a decent listen and a lot better than most bands trying to pull off this type of sound nowadays. Most of what makes this interesting is lead singer Anne’s voice, and this is especially heard in the best track on the album (and most upbeat one at that) “Talking a Hole in My Head”. Jake
@ www.fielgarvie.co.uk

Fiery Furnaces – “Gallowsbird’s Bark” CD 16/46:43
The only reference points I can provide on this oddball Brooklyn brother-sister duo are Royal Trux, and the rather general trait of being “weird”. The Friedberger siblings have put together a unique record, not so heavy on trite elements such as guitar power. Instead, piano is the lead instrument most of the time, and it coalesces nicely with the female Friedberger’s vocals. The guitar-work of the male Friedberger is wiry, twisted-up, and obviously influenced by the blues. You’re not going to come away from this thinking anything besides how great and completely odd this record is. Xtian
@ www.roughtradeamerica.com

Fifth Hour Hero/Gunmoll – split CD 11/37:54
Yep it’s yet another split CD, with Canada and Florida both represented this time around. Fifth Hour Hero deliver some pretty good non-toxic melodicore with both male and female vocals (Yavercore!). Gunmoll are even better with raspier (male) vox and raspier music. Worth a gander I’d say. David
@ www.noidearecords.com

Fifty Nutz - "The Last Word" CD 11/33:21
There isn't anything special here. The songs are typical of what a number of bands are doing these days; quickly paced pop punk with some extra angst on the vocals. Some people call this emo, some melodic punk, I call it generic. The production on this is a little off too, with guitars lower in the mix and the rhythm section up relatively high, taking away from the limited number of hooks that are here. There is some catchiness to their songs, but frankly all that does is serve to undermine the constant unhappiness of the lyrical content. There are some bands that can pull of this kind of thing and have it work to a degree, like the Get Up Kids or Jimmy Eat World, but they have a little more variety to their sound. Every song on this sounds alike, and it's all dull. Steve
@ www.unionlabelgroup.com

Fighting Chance – “Thus Hope Fades” CD 13/35:41
Lefty blue-collar skins outta Maryland; this is the first working class skinhead band I’ve heard quote famed labor activist and socialist Eugene Debs. It’s about time, working class pride is all about unity, in labor unions not the bar-rooms, in the face of the corporate and government bosses. Not to insert a socialist ode to the worker into this record review or anything, but mentions of Eugene Debs and Harry Bridges should be a lot more common in music that claims to be working class than they are. Musically, Fighting Chance is alright, shouted vocals over fast punk and some Oi. Alright, but I think they may be able to rise to the level of One Man Army or The Strike next record if they take their time and write more solid tunes. Jesse
@ Insurgence, 2 Bloor St. W. #100-184, Toronto, Ontario M4W 3E2 Canada

Film School – “AlwaysNever” CD 4/22:56
This is a nice, pleasant disc of music that the kids might call ‘post rock’. This release isn’t groundbreaking and it probably won’t blow you away either, but it’s still a good listen that I would recommend. Film School is basically the work of Krayg Burton, with a rotating cast of folks that help out in all the other areas. Mellow without ever becoming boring (but let’s face it, if you get bored just listening to an EP of any band then that’s a sure sign that something is wrong), this would make a great record to go to sleep to. For some reason the comparison that comes to mind when I listen to Film School is Jim Yoshi Pile Up mixed with some low key shoegazer stuff. Another great thing about this short player is that it’s a grower; it might not impress you terribly on the first listen, but the more you hear it the more you want to. Jake
@ Amazing Grease, 1501 Plymouth Ave, SF CA 94112

Finders - "Calling Dr. Powerpop" CD 15/42:38
This appears to be the first in a series of releases by the Japan label Wizzard In Vinyl that will highlight late 70's-early 80's era powerpop bands that never found their way to a label. The Finders were a San Francisco based band; playing the famous clubs of the area like the Mabuhay Gardens, and they recorded several songs for possible release, and managed to get a couple of singles out. But before anything got settled with a label, the band broke up, leaving these recording sitting in a vault for 20 years. Talk about unfortunate! These guys were as good as any of the bands of the era, and would have fit right in with the Plimsouls, Romantics, the Flashcubes, the Records and any number of bands that are revered from that era today among fans of the powerpop genre. Great guitars, hooks galore, songs with catchy choruses that could have been the centerpiece of any number of John Hughes' flicks (I would have loved to have seen Anthony Michael Hall singing "Talk To Me" over and over to Molly Ringwald), and drum fills that kill. This is a must for fans of skinny tie powerpop and make sure to keep an eye open for more of these retrospectives from this great label. Steve
@ www.wizzard-in-vinyl.com

Finkers – “Stance” CD 6/14:34
What a fun pop band. This 6 song release has a catchy harmony playing off hard-hitting riffs from the band. And a cover of “Break the Ice” by the Scruffs doesn’t hurt, either! Way too short. Fave cuts are “Cryin’ Out” and “Drugs & Jesus.” RBF
@ www.popboomerang.com

Finkers – “Whole Lotta Fun” CD 21/58:47
If the Finkers’ recent “Stance” mini-release whetted your appetite then this is where you should go next. Wizzard in Vinyl is gracious enough to provide us with a greatest-hits-cum-odds-n-ends collection, featuring tracks taken from various albums, singles, and compilations (as well as an unreleased tune or two). Tribute compilation tracks/covers of Easybeats, Replacements, Gene Clark, and Radio Birdman should give you an idea of where these Aussies are coming from: powerpop where someone, hehheh, “forgot” to smooth out the rough edges. Anyone looking for a good powerpop fix should definitely check this out. David
@ www.wizzard-in-vinyl.com

Firebird Project Suite Band - “Archives” CD 18/69:24
Some of you out there may already be familiar with the Firebird Band, a great and under-appreciated band who seemed to come about after the break-up of Braid by singer Chris Broach. Well, it appears that the band’s history goes back a little farther than that, to 1997, and through two other band names – the Firebird Suite and the Firebird Project. Broach is the only mainstay through all three line-ups, but his voice shapes the sound of the music so much that all three groups sound pretty similar; which is to say, they sound a lot like Braid with the Van Pelt/the Lapse (in fact, Chris Wilson is a part of the first two bands, who I believe to also be Chris Leo of the Van Pelt/the Lapse) and Les Savy Fav mixed in. in other words, music that is right up my alley. I highly doubt any old Braid fans or folks who picked up the Firebird Band’s records will be anything other than joyous upon hearing this album. Jake
@ www.lucidrecords.com

Firetrucs – “Hovercraft” CD 10/43:16
This self-release from a Minneapolis trio will be very pleasing to fans of bands like Creed and Matchbox 20. For those of us that aren’t big fans of Matchbox 20, the extra-heavy power numbers with lyrics that rhyme at the end of each line, will make it difficult to get through all 10 songs. Pam
@ www.firetrucs.com

Firewater - “The Man on the Burning Tightrope.” CD 15/46:59
With every Firewater album, I get a new hope that they’ll finally make a consistent record, and I’m always let down. “The Man on the Burning Tightrope” is no exception, except this time they’ve even cut out the occasional enjoyable tunes. From the almost samba melody of “Too Much (Is Never Enough)” to the plodding “Too Many Angels`” Firewater try their hands at any number of styles and don’t offer any one of them a particularly good impression. The whole thing is herky-jerky enough to make listening to the whole album in one sitting a chore, and the highlights are damn near impossible to spot. Ryan
@ www.jetsetrecords.com

First Class – “Somewhere In The Grey” CD 6/19:03
A Chicago area band, this is their first CD release and the six songs on here all follow the trail blazed by NOFX or No Use For A Name. Yeah, that means there is absolutely nothing groundbreaking here, but the playing is fairly proficient, and occasionally there’s an interesting break in the songs here and there. Of course some of sounds like it’s just for effect so the songs don’t all sound the same, but at least they’re thinking about it a little. Pretty disposable stuff really, but maybe they’ll get a little more creative. Steve
@ www.johannsface.com

First Night on Earth – “No One Knows Anything for Sure” CD 11/47:32
Well, someone’s been listening to their Joy Division. Unfortunately, it isn’t anyone who can do a competent job of aping them. First Night on Earth wouldn’t sound out of place on the soundtrack to an 80’s teenspoitation film, but as a separate band they come up empty. “Misunderstood” which honestly could be a Smiths cover and no one would know, leads off the album, and you immediately know that overwrought vocalist Wes Grasty is going to wear on you. He doesn’t disappoint, particularly on the plodding “The Other Knowers,” which seems like it will never end. Ryan
@ www.firstnightonearth.com

Fischerspooner – “#1” CD + DVD 13/65:49
These folks occasionally get thrown into the “80s revival” but at this point any of said influences have long been incorporated into their “own sound”. These tracks are almost more like soundtracks for the videos (included here on a bonus DVD) than pieces that can stand up on their own, with or without the dancefloor. Still, when they delve into what seems like electro-pop (including their Wire cover), the results are promising enough that one can’t help but hope they’ll explore this direction more in the future. David
@ www.hollywoodandvine.com

Fishbone - "The Essential Fishbone" CD 16/68:19
Is this really the essential collection of Fishbone material, the one that spans and defines the career of one of the most incredible ska bands of any era? That is a question for each fan to answer for themselves. Suffice to say, there are a lot of great tunes here. Each track demonstrates the originality, ingenuity and talent that has put Fishbone far above the crappy ska bands of today. And why is this band so much better than other current acts in the genre? Simple sincerity and real love for the genre helps. Good song ideas and amazing energy contribute. Intelligent lyrics make them completely unique. This ain't a bunch of beer songs. Nuclear war, drug addiction, social conditioning; Fishbone skanks to the pain and beauty of the world as we know it, never turning away from the darkness, always reaching for the light. "Bonin' in the Boneyard", "Unyielding Conditioning", "Party at Ground Zero", "Fight the Youth", "Everyday Sunshine" and a brilliant cover of "Freddie's Dead", these are just a few of the delights to be found on this disc. Put down that Mighty Mighty Bosstones record and try the real deal. You'll be glad you did. Mark
@ www.legacyrecordings.com

Fitness – “Call Me For Together” CD 9/27:28
Ah electro-rock, just like grandma used to make. Wave-influence boppable tunes with male and (post-euro ice-queen) female vox, the latter sounding like they could have backed up Soft Cell circa “Non Stop Ecstatic Dancing” (a few songs indicate that they’ve picked up the lyrical sleaze of said outfit). A bit by-the-numbers in spots, but overall pretty good, with songs like “Chauffer” promising even better things ahead. David
@ www.controlgroupco.com

Five Day Messiah – “New Rock Regime” CD 14/31:13
Starts off with an intentionally-bad techno pisstake that’ll make you wonder if you have the right disc in the player, though it eventually settles into fairly intense fast’n’frantic hardcore, complete with a Creedence Clearwater Revival cover at the very end. Ranges from solid-to-pretty-good; ‘core to get the local pit a-movin’. David
@ www.notbadrecords.com

Five Emprees – “Little Miss Sad” CD 25/59:49
A group from Benton Harbor, Michigan, whose catchy frat rock song “Little Miss Sad” was a local 1965 hit in Chicago, where I often heard it on the radio. The slower, ‘50’s-ish “Hey Lover” is also excellent, and there are several other very enjoyable tracks herein (like “Little Miss Happiness” and “Pretty Face”). On the other hand, there are numerous mediocre covers and these geeky-looking short-haired guys basically had a pre-British Invasion sound. I’m not sure that they entirely warrant such a comprehensive retrospective release, but it’s great to be able to hear the title cut again whenever I want to. Jeff
@ www.arfarfrecords.com

Fizzle Like a Flood – “Flash Paper Queen” CD 11/31:41
Fizzle Like a Flood REALLY want you to hear their single “Like Wind Like Rain” the mere fact that it’s included on this set is noted in the press release, on the cover of the album, and on the back of the album. As if a feeling of overkill hadn’t sunk in yet, two versions of the track are included. And make no mistake, it should be heard – it’s a gorgeous, lifting track that sweeps the listener in from the start (particularly the first, or ‘single,’ version). Despite occasionally overwrought lyrics like “The louder coward powered through as silent as the stars that framed a picture moon,” the track still sounds like Beachwood Sparks at their epic best. However, the song doesn’t give the album a hangover of the same quality – while the rest meanders along a at a pleasant pace, and vocalist Doug Kabourek (who basically IS FLAF) hits all the right notes, nothing sparkles like that first timeless single. Buy it for “Like Wind Like Rain” – you’ll be putting it on mix tapes for years. Stick around for the rest at your own risk. Ryan
@ www.fizzlelikeaflood.com

Fizzle Like a Flood – s/t CD 7/16:34
“I love the fuck out of you,” is the first great line on Fizzle Like a Flood’s latest 7-song release. Overdriven keyboards and liberal distortion coat Doug Kabourek’s earnest white-boy vocals in a Jesus and Mary Chain-esque way, with patient singer-songwriter vibes and melodic changes underlying everything else. A blatant Flaming Lips influence rears its head occasionally (“Rides to Get High”), but for the most part this CD is a sensitive (i.e. borderline emo) snapshot of better-than-average piano pop and indie-electronica. You know, if you’re into that kind of thing. John
@ www.ernestjennings.com

Flamin’ Groovies – “Slow Death” CD 10/38:19
Collection of all the material (demos, a single track, and a swipe at “Roll Over Beethoven” and French TV broadcast) cranked out by the Groovies between 1971-1973. The demos find the Groovies in fine rockin’ form, including a version of “Slow Death” that I’ll go out on a limb and say is even BETTER than the “final” version. There’s also a ’73 version of “Shake Some Action” that seems to bridge the gap between the grittiness of one era and the anglophilia of another. If you’re new to the Groovies you should probably hit “Flamingo” before coming here, but once you do you’ll find some prime garageland tuneage contained within. David
@ www.nortonrecords.com

Flaming Lips – “Finally The Punk Rockers Are Taking Acid: 1983-1988” 3XCD
With their current status as critically-lauded heirs to Brian Wilson’s avant-pop kingdom (or at least his studio), it’s almost hard to remember (and many a new fan probably doesn’t even know) that they were once one of the more outré (if not unlauded) groups roaming dat nebulous entity called the American Underground, circa the 80s. Such folks would surely get an education from these 3-CD retrospective featuring the self-titled debut, Here It Is, Oh My Gawd, and Telepathic Surgery, along with oodles of bonus tracks and liner notes. They still dealt in “psych”, but more in terms of nitroglycerine-fueled rock, probably more interested in expanding the limits of the mind (and the way they played, probably the body as well) than the studio. Of course that’s not to say that the band had perfected its craft at this point; some of these tracks are either dated or the work of a band still finding its way (let’s face it, the best thing about ”Jesus Shootin’ Heroin” was its title), but they managed to reassure folks that the Freakout was not dead, nor the exclusive property of folks in paisley spinning off rote notes. Newer fans might scratch their heads but hopefully for them as well as the rest of us this is a good snapshot of what was happening in the American Underground in the days before Alternative. Even if they were among the bands whom at the time you’d never expect to win a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental (as they did this year!). David
@ www.rykodisc.com

Flaming Lips – “The Day They Shot a Hole in the Jesus Egg” 2XCD 23/139:58
The deluxe reissue of the 1990 release “In A Priest Driven Ambulance”, with a treasure trove of bonus tracks and the “Mushroom Tapes” tacked on for good measure. Seen by many a critic (with the usual 20/20 hindsight) as the point where the Lips’ past and future converged, with the freakouts of the past becoming more structured as they learned more and more about how to use a studio (the fact that they were more successful with “Peace Love & Understanding” than the “Strychnine” part of said medley says something). The 2nd disc offers even more hints of what was to come, especially on tracks such as “Five Stop Mother Superior Rain”. More recent fans might want to come here before checking out the earlier 3XCD “Acid” retrospective, folks who’ve been around for the ride all along will enjoy the bonus goodies contained within. David
@ www.rykodisc.com

Flaming Sideburns - “Sky Pilot” CD 12/38:31
Is this a joke? The latest hunk of same-old from The Flaming Sideburns opens with “Save Rock’N’Roll” a melody-impaired four minutes of retread riffs and labored vocals that appear to draw the most inspiration from Bryan Adams. The rest of the album travels the same path of riffs you’ve heard before(and far better) and riffs that simply never develop. These clowns should be sending the Strokes royalty checks just for their existence. Ryan
@ www.theflamingsideburns.com

Flash Bastard – “Bastard Radio” CD 12/34:49
I was expecting these three guys to be all punk rock and angry yet filled with art school apathy. I was kind of wrong. What Flash bastard produce as a whole is slightly unwoven rock with a sonic twist and plenty of hip shaking antics that made me bop around in my office as I tried to compose this review. I mean, like total dirty rock straight from the smelly basement and into the studio and then into your stereo. Well…at least mine so far. You’ll have to go out and try and find these guys yourself. Which you should because you need giddy and slightly snotty rock like this in your collection, you know, to offset the Enya and Cannibal Corpse. Regardless I bet Flash Bastard is amazing live and I would be there right next to you if I didn’t have more CDs to review. Whittaker
@ www.longshotmusic.com

Flash Express – “Introducing the Dynamite Sound of the Flash Express” CD 11/37:40
The title doesn’t lie – this album certainly does introduce you to the dynamite sound of the Flash Express. I don’t know where they’re from, but they kick out the jams with Motor City-style rock ‘n’ soul. In addition to a slew of lo-fi rave-ups, they work in a groovin’ paranoid number that’d be perfect in a ‘70s drug flick as well as a countrified version of Grandmaster Flash’s “The Message” that bizarrely works. Lily
@ www.hititnowrecords.com

Flashcubes - "Live In Japan - Raw Power Pop" CD 15/49:57
Talk about your power pop fetish bands...the Flashcubes released one tough to find LP in the late 70's, disappeared from the scene, and have been revered by the power pop community ever since. This is a live recording from 2002, and it sounds like they never stopped. The originals are blasts from an era long gone, and their Romantics via Nick Lowe and Raspberries sound still sounds fresh and as radio friendly today as they did 25 years ago. The covers also indicate where this band was coming from; you've got the Flamin' Groovies "Shake Some Action", Eddie and the Hot Rods' "Do Anything You Wanna Do", and a medley that includes "I Wanna Be Sedated" and Lowe's "Heart of the City". The band is in great form, the vocals and just ragged enough to sound authentic and fresh. A great artifact of a great band; they've also just released a new studio full length and I'll be one person rushing out to get it. Steve
@ www.airmailrecordings.com

Flashlight Brown - "All That Glitters is Mold" CD
Three decent pop punk tunes, in the grand tradition of bands like All. The songs are perky and the vocals are tough and with a touch of growl. These Canadians are definitely on the fast track, with their next record due out on a major with production by Rob Cavallo, who has handled the chores for Green Day. Decent pop hooks moderate the punk roar, without undercutting it too much, and these guys have a shot at being a good mix of early Green Day and the Descendents without falling into the goofy punk trappings of a Blink 182. Steve
@ www.flashlightbrown.com

Flashlight Brown - s/t CD 10/26:52
This band does the new school poppy punk dance with a couple of original steps. The songs are sweet and inoffensive, familiar sounding. But the arrangements do occasionally stray, into reggae, 60s pop, a bit of rock n roll. The Monkees come to mind. Still, none of the tracks are as catchy as "Daydream Believer". Not bad, but not terribly exciting. Mark
@ www.unionlabelgroup.com

Flatus – “Crashing Down” CD 8/26:09
Youth anger rock has aged quite a bit. Flatus’ first release came out in 1989, and though it has gone through 7 drummers and 4 guitarists, Ted Shiko has endured on the bass, keeping the band going all these years. He’s had plenty of the time to get the sound of Flatus refined into something tight and slamdanceable, and about as angry as it was in its younger days. The band is still very punk rock, especially the lyrics. 14 years ago you would have guessed this band was from SoCal, though in reality, it calls New Jersey home. Today an ensemble with this sound could have come from anywhere on the map, which says volumes about the influence this style of music had on teens in the 1990’s. Xtian
@ www.flatusnj.net

Fleshtones - "Do You Swing?" CD 13/30:58
The Fleshtones have been upholding the '60s party sound garage, psych, R&B - since the late '70s so it shouldn't be too surprising that the lead vocals on several tracks here sound a little strained. But by golly, they still deliver a twistin' good time and make me wanna head down to Palisades Park to do the woolly bully, even when they're covering Zeppelin's "Communication Breakdown." Solid effort from these New York veterans. Lily
@ www.yeproc.com

Flower Machine - "Chalk Dust Dream Of The Tea Cozy Mitten Co." CD 11/28:16
Hazy, moody, head-expanding tuneage from this Michigan trio, the brainchild of one George Trimmell. Sleeve notes bear sly references to Syd Barrett and Wensleydale cheese, but thankfully Trimmell's muse is more noticeably inspired by the former. In other words, breathy, paisley-draped goodness to be had, especially "L.A. In The Rain", which does the Roback Brothers proud. MLH
@ www.microindie.com

Flux of Pink Indians – “Strive to Survive Causing Least Suffering Possible/Neu Smell” CD 17/41:00
Ah yes, the rekkids that announced Flux as contenders in the realm of anarcho-punk, spitting out shards of jagged agitated agit-prop/anti-pop. Incendiary political punk that, along with the likes of Crass and Conflict, pushed the musical (as well as lyrical) boundaries of punk. If you’ve never heard them before this is the best place to start. (caveat: nice artwork, but anyone looking for lyrics or even indications of who played on the records or when they were originally released will be sorely disappointed). David
@ One Little Indian/Navarre Corporation

FM Knives – “Useless and Modern” CD 13/36:05
Praise Allah, Mike Broken has seen fit to grace us with a reissue of the debut album from this Sacto outfit. Think a Mod-era Who (or is that supposed to be the Jam?) meeting the Buzzcocks, or more likely a more garagey and vital Hi-Fives; either way these lads pretty much guarantee a worthwhile listening experience. No new bonus tracks (just different artwork), but if you missed out the first time then definitely pick this puppy up today! David
@ www.brokenrekids.com

Foamers - s/t CD 13/51:50
British band from the Household Name group of bands (which most famously includes Left Over Crack), The Foamers are frantic yet melodic punk. Pretty good, but nothing to fly to Britain for. Wouldn"t mind seeing ‘em live though... Lyrics included as well, whoo! Jesse
@ Household Name, PO Box 12286, London, SW9 6FE, UK

Folksongs for the Afterlife – “Put Danger Back in Your Life” CD 11/44:32
I’m always leery of records that start with sound effects, so the chirping crickets I heard when I played this record for the first time were kind of distracting. But Caroline Schulz made it all better. She has a great, versatile vocal style that, on the opener, “Reunion`” sounds like Mazzy Star at its best. On other songs she sounds more like Throwing Muses-era Kristin Hersh. Don’t let the band name scare you off: these aren’t folk songs at all, just cool, midtempo rockers. Kevin
@ www.fortheafterlife.com

For Against – “Coalesced” 7/37:13
I believe I remember these folks from back in the late 80s/early 90s, with releases on Independent Project and write-ups in the Big Takeover. Nice shimmering atmo-pop (which peaks on the soaring “Medication” and the title track), the kind you used to hear on better college stations before “alternative” swept the land and made the world safe for Creed. You don’t have to be Jack Rabid to get into this. David
@ www.words-on-music.com

Forces Of Evil – “Friend Or Foe?” CD 11/31:46
I have this love/hate relationship with what we call, “Ska” these days. A bunch of white dudes who listen to punk and carry brass instruments make fun music that frat boys go nuts over. Dude, I have been to so many Ska-Punk shows and every time it’s a drunken brawl with morons wearing visors and their dopey girlfriends sitting in the back waiting for them to emerge out of the pit, high five each other and drive them back to the dorms. The Forces Of Evil play this kind of ska but I don’t want to frame them like that. They seem okay and the songs are actually rebelling against jackoffs like that, so they have that redeeming quality. Plus the tunes are tight and rocking and full of happy happy joy joy, which always makes my toes tap even with the scourge of memories like I just mentioned. Aaron Barrett of Reel Big Fish plays guitar here and does the singing so maybe you fans of his band will like this. Or not. If you like Reel Big Fish, drink “brewskis” and say “its all good” then you’ll definitely get into the Forces Of Evil. A good time will be had by all. Or not. My bad Brad! Whittaker
@ www.theforcesofevil-ska.com

Foreign Legion – “What Goes Around Comes Around” CD 11/37:33
Smaller Oi band from the UK class of 81, Foreign Legion releases a new full-length that’s melodic, razor-thin, and edgy. This could easily have been released on No Future in 1983, it’s that solid of a tuneful punk/oi record. Unlike a lot of other survivors from that scene, Foreign Legion have released a record that’s a good length (only 11 tunes) and that’s not embarrassing at all. Comes with lyrics, this is a really nice package from the Captain Oi Records of Austria, DSS Records. I think this is the best thing that label has put out so far! Jesse
@ DSS, PO Box 739, 4021 Linz, Austria

Forgotten – “Control Me” CD 12/36:54
Third full-lengther (and first for BYO) from this Bay Area outfit featuring solid, if not stellar, street punk. Not as catchy as it should be (especially considering their past track record), but it does shine in spots and they’re able to get by the weaker bits on sheer energy. Not bad, if not their best. David
@ www.byorecords.com

Forgotten – “Out of Print” CD 18/41:16
18 mostly unavailable tunes from San Jose’s most tuneful buncha punx. The Forgotten are tough sounding yet not afraid to add melody and vocal dynamics to otherwise standard 81 UK style punk tunes. Much of this reminded me of The Strike and the Swinging Utters. Pretty decent; if you’re a fan you’ll love it, if you’re not this isn’t a bad place to start being one! Jesse
@ BYO, PO Box 67609, Los Angeles, CA 90067

Format - “EP” CD 5/20:26
As much as I wanted to hate this over-earnest, radio-ready emo pap, it’s just too damn catchy. The appropriately named “The First Single” leads off this disc, the first taste of what promises to be an omnipresent, Elektra-backed promotional blitz. Affiliated with the same unholy sugar whores of the Jimmy Eat World camp, The Format mixes all kinds of punk-gone-soft tactics (piano ballads, layered acoustic rhythm guitars, drawn-out ‘70s choruses) to an undeniably pretty effect. Like crack, only more dangerous. John
@ www.theformat.com

Fosca – “Diary of An Antibody” CD 10/33:11
Just about every song on “Diary…” is propelled by the band’s ever-present keyboards, which make for bouncy and buoyant, yet also very redundant, songs. “Supine on the Astroturf” is a beat-driven highlight, but there’s not much else here to get excited about. Kevin
@ www.fosca.com

Four Square – “Three Chords…One Capo” CD 11/34:02
These Toronto-based guys present a wall of sound pop punk. And while the style is a bit college radio-to-mainstream, they are definitely a band with whom to contend. Their sound is both rough (jangley guitars) and smooth (harmonies), and it’s definitely a groove that can grow on a listener. While I was more so-what going in, as the CD progressed, their sound grew on me. While having an approach that is pretty common these days, their “anthem” sing-a-longness quotient is high, with lots of catchy riffs, while still having a mild rough edge. Sort of Get Up Kids meet Jimmy Eats World. RBF
@ www.badtasterecords.se

Fragments/Modern Machines – split CD 12/31:24
Two bands from Wisconsin doing hardcore/punk with an 80s melodic (as opposed to modern poppypunky) feel to it, kinda like an updated version of some of the bands that appeared on the compilation tapes Aaron Cometbus used to put out. Both bands sound pretty similar to each other – if it weren’t for the vox you could pass this off as being the work of a single band – but this is good enough for that not to matter. Pretty listenable I’d say. David
@ www.newdisorder.com

Frances8 - "Half Whole" CD 11/51:46
I'm so sick of bands with numbers in their name (and the fact that most of them are shitty, like Blink-182, Matchbox 20) that I had to force myself to give this one an open-minded listen. Fortunately, the music is nowhere near the radio pap its name would imply, instead using ethereal female vocals and dynamic instrumentation (guitars, cello, upright and electric bass) to create moody pop with attitude to spare. "Shine" sounds like an '80s Kate Bush outtake, all cheesy guitar effects and soaring choruses. "Reeling" would be a lot more listenable if Nicole Katler's lyrics weren't so generic, but the band makes up for it on the next track, "Breathe In Breathe Out," with deliciously crunchy guitars and electronic squall. Lots of mid-tempo sludge to sift through, but well worth the time if you like atmospheric pop with a healthy dose of dark sonic variety. John
@ www.frances8.com

Francine – “28 Plastic Blue Versions of Ending Without You” CD 13/44:51
Landing somewhere between Beck’s more recent, organic affairs and the commercial pop of adult contemporary heroes Guster, this Massachusetts-based four piece make accessible pop for a discerning ear. Vocalist-songwriter Clayton Scoble sounds at his best at his least disaffected, creating moving vocals melodies over smart four piece arrangements, more Buffalo Tom than Pavement, then. The dry but melodic tone of this record might also fare well with fans of the Shins as well. Scott
@ www.qdivision.com

Frank Bango – “The Unstudied Sea” CD 12/41:59
The only flaw in Frank Bango’s otherwise impressive “The Unstudied Sea” is Bango’s frequently off-putting voice. This is no small problem, considering that Bango is a singer-songwriter - though not one of the lamentable longhair coffeehouse variety. Bango’s ballads sidle up closer to Elvis Costello and XTC, and songs like the brisk “Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?” and the aching “Preston Sturges” are as emotionally striking as they are instantly hummable. So many amateurs bungle this sort of maneuver, ending up too-clever and comically arch. Bango is neither of these, and songs are so wonderfully understated that it sounds like he’s been in the game a lot longer than three years. So the fact that his voice runs nasal is a sort of sick ironic twist, one that makes it hard to take the record in anything more than selected bursts. The longer Bango persists, the more likely it is that he will figure out how to stagger his phrasing and utilize his humble instrument effectively. But right now, after six songs, it runs a bit thin. Take the record in halves, and they make a pair of fine, anglophilic, singer-songwriter pop. J Edward
@ www.sincererecording.com

Frank Black and the Catholics - "Show Me Your Tears" CD 13/41:36
If I'm going to perfectly honest with you I'll have to tell you that I haven't paid too much attention to Frank Black since the Pixies died and he was reborn. But I've heard enough to know this album surprised me and was completely not what I expected. Ride 'em cowboy, there's some almost country music goin' on here. And bring on the cock rock! I didn't know Frank was quite so much fun. Sharon
@ www.spinartrecords.com MP3 Download

Frank Tribes – s/t CD 12/35:57
It would be easy to call Frank a singer/songwriter. It would just as easy to call him a soft rocker. Well, either way it would be inaccurate, unless you included both equally. Using both electrics and acoustics, Frank’s songs belay both angst and reassurance, all with a cynical edge. While his voice is imperfect in just the right way, his vocals lay on top of the music like a married couple. RBF
@ Sen, 8305 W Berwyn, Chicago, IL 60656

Franklin Bruno – “A Cat May Look at a Queen” CD 13/58:26
Franklin Bruno has had to suffer that curious curse of being known as a “literate songwriter”. What this generally means is that the lay indie rock consumer views him as too pointy-headed and lacking the proper irony for general consumption, while the more selective buyer thinks him coy or cloying. Both parties are flat wrong, of course – Bruno is a brilliant songwriter with a knack for words that rivals Irving Berlin. On “A Cat May Look at a Queen” he plies his unmatched wordsmithing against a background of lilting jazz, cowpoke country and delicate pop. Ostensibly a study in American song, the record finds Bruno equally adept at all familiar styles. “Lies on Your Lips” is a thumping country song of the Hank Williams variety, “Bulk Removal Truck” is nimble, soothing balladry. But what is the real catch is Bruno’s verse. The lyrics never upstage the song, but rather serve as cunning complement. They gain depth and power with each pass, and Bruno’s true power as a songwriter is revealed in the sheer number of listens the songs allow. An outstanding record. J Edward
@ www.absolutelykosher.com MP3 Download

Franz Ferdinand – s/t CD 11/38:49
They’re all the rage these days, and it’s pretty easy to tell why. Incorporating influences like the Pixies, Television, Wire and the Talking Heads, among others leads you towards the artier side of indie rock, with inventive and original songwriting. From Glasgow, the opening track starts off with a darkly moving song about the doldrums of office life with a guitar line cutting through it that adds a sense of urgency every time lead singer Alex Kapronos “It’s always better on holiday”, and the disc just takes off from there. Running with dance and disco beats throughout the songs, the highlight of the disc for me is the third song, “Take Me Out” which opens with a great early Who guitar riff before shifting into post punk influenced garage head bobber. The disc does things like this throughout, keeping you guessing at every turn. There hasn’t been as good as this in a long time that mixes post punk dance beats and the Britpop fire of a band like Blur or Pulp, and you’ll never tire of the variety. Totally great. Steve
@ www.dominomusic.com

Freak Parade – “Take Your Place in the Freak Parade” CD 11/74:39
Basically, this is Moogy Klingman’s band. He usta be in Todd Rundgren-led Utopia. To be fair, Moogy’s been doing lots of solo stuff over the years. In Freak Parade, Moogy writes nearly all the music, in some cases with the help of Rundgren, Buzzy Linhart, and Anthony Michael Hall (!?!), written between 1970-2000. The songs are pleasant, highly produced and played extemporaneous pieces that would fit well on any soft-rock station. My only two gripes are that the songs could be expeditiously edited (11 songs over 75 minutes, you do the math), and they’re about as deep as a wading pool. To be more than fair, the styles range from ‘70s rock area rock, to acid, to what can only be described as a sit-com theme (“Crazy World,” the one co-written by Hall). But it’s okay background music for a dinner party. RBF
@ www.moogymusic.com

Freddy Cannon - "The Best of Freddy Cannon CD 25/62:19
On the oldies stations I've heard this guy just doesn't get his due. I think "Palisades Park" (written by Chuck Barris) and "Way Down Yonder In New Orleans" still get played, but a lot of excellent tunes Cannon did are ignored. "Where The Action Is" was the theme of a 1965 Dick Clark TV show that provided major exposure for garage bands. "Buzz Buzz A-Diddle_It" and "Talahassee Lassie" have their roots in skiffle and rockabilly. My favorite of the bunch is "Transistor Sister". This replaces the 1982 Rhino release "14 Booming Hits" in my collection, although Rhino showed excellent judgement in leaving off "Everybody Monkey". Mel
@ www.oldies.com

Freddy & the Four Gone Conclusions – “Wigged Out Sounds” CD 12/40:22
Most neo-'60s bands just don’t get it right. Either they slavishly copy the '60s sounds they’re obsessive about, or they exaggerate the trashy, trebly, raw sound of '60s garagemeisters to an absurd and over-the-top degree. They just try too hard, instead of rockin’ out in an unprepossessing way. Freddy Fortune and the lads don’t make these mistakes. For one thing, he and his bandmates write original material, really good original material. Second, they mix and match super cool musical subgenres – beat, freakbeat, '60s punk, psych – rather than adopting an overly monodimensional approach. Third, the production is both good and entirely appropriate for the subgenres being played, as opposed to being overproduced or underproduced, the usual bane of retro bands. In short, this is as fine a neo-'60s release as I’ve heard in a long time. They actually crank out some memorable '60s punk (like “I’ve Been Waiting” and “Come On Over to My Side”) and freakbeat (“I Can’t See You”) tracks that are every bit as good as some genuine '60s classics, and that’s no mean feat. Jeff
@ www.gethip.com

Free Beer - "The Only Beer That Matters" CD 15/39:45
Reissue of various trax (or are some of these newer, post-reformation songs?) from one of the early “skate rock” bands, i.e. music to have blasting in the background while you and your friends take on the latest emptied pool. They were most definitely hardcore (if not approaching the velocity of MDC) with more of a metal/rock influence, but a far cry from the later Crossover that would later ravage the scene. Not every track has stood the test of time (like too many other retrospective releases this has its fair share of generic period pieces), but you do get the goods in the form of such songs as “My $ or My Car” and, of course, “Pigs in Space”. David
@ www.alternativetentacles.com

Freezepop - "Fancy Ultra - Fresh" CD 12/56:30
Darling electro-pop out of Boston. This album is less for club DJs than for kids who enjoy happy synth beats while playing  Nintendo. Lead vocalist, Liz Enthusiasm, sings about gameboys and crushes with a sweet charm that could melt the coldest robot's heart. Slightly less depressed Figurine fans must own this album! Mona
@ www.freezepop.net

Frenchmen – “Sorry We Ruined Your Party” CD 12/25:30
Talk about a mistitled CD..this quartet from Sacramento can come to my party anytime they want. The influences of Tiger Trap are still obviously felt in California’s state capitol, as well as more than a few of the C86 bands, like Talullah Gosh. With a mix of male (the guy does the deeper than the music Calvin Johnson/Beat Happening thing) and female vocals, all over some great fuzzy indie pop hooks and jangle. You can’t help but want to sing along to the “ba ba ba’s, and you’ll be dancing around your living room for days as these songs get stuck in your head. This is the kind of disc I don’t hear a lot of these days, and it’s a welcome addition to any indie pop collection. Includes a nifty cover of the Flatmates’ “Tell Me Why”. Steve
@ www.clairrecords.com

Frenetics - "These Mistakes Took Years of Practice" CD 12/36:59
This is a pretty cool mix of Clash style punk, Jawbreaker "emo", and indie pop that relies on a bit of lo-fi (intentional or not) production for some of its charm. A couple of songs remind me of the Ted Leo release of last year ("Cold Conclusion" fits that bill the best), with strong vocal work and much more than the standard three chords of your basic punk band. This band out of the Montreal area has done a good job on their first full length coming up with a unique sound that incorporates a lot of influences without aping any one in particular, with lyrics that are a little more adult than your typical teen punk angst. A solid release. Pat
@ www.unionlabelgroup.com

Frenzal Rhomb - “Sans Souci” CD 16/35:16
I have no idea what the appeal is with this stupid band. Their crude, goof-punk shit is so played out. If you’re not exceptional musicians or brilliant idiots you won’t bring anything new to the party, so why bother? They do mention, in “Russell Crowe’s Band”, that Mr. Crowe’s ensemble is “…a fuckin’ pile of shit.” Good to know so I don’t waste any more time wondering about that. Anthony
@ www.fatwreck.com

Friends of Lizzie - "the Answer" CD 14/55:30
This album is a combination of 2 other releases (EP and Summersongs) as well as some demos. It works as a full-length, which isn't always the case when a band tries to mash together several releases into one longer one. I think the demos are the highlight, actually. Poppier, but also more unique. The whole album is lush and layered. But mostly not quiet. And not boring at all. I enjoy it thoroughly. It's a keeper! Sharon
@ www.friendsoflizzy.com

Frisk – “Audio Ransom Note” CD 17/38:01
Yeah, Jesse writes for this here rag, but that doesn’t mean we can’t give him props when he deserves it. Anyway this debut full lengther (after an earlier eight-song slab) finds them expanding their sound a bit, featuring some darker-sounding tunes among the anthemic rabble-rousers. There are admittedly a couple missteps and anyone hoping for Criminals MKII might want to adjust their expectations, but overall I daresay you won’t have to get wasted on Blatz (er…) to find this to be a quality release. David
@ www.adelinerecords.com

From Bubblegum To Sky – “Nothing Sadder Than The Lonely Queen” CD 13/40:32
The “band”, which is really a solo project of Mario Hernandez formerly of Ciao Bella (with a lot of help from others) runs through 13 breezy pop tunes that are more than the lightweight fare you think of on first listen. Hernandez’ high pitched vocals float over guitars, hammond organ, occasional horns, handclaps, pianos, and much more. Taking his cues from everything from the Beatles to some early glam and modern indie purveyors of the pop like the Lilys and Aislers Set, Hernandez incorporates so many styles that it’s sometimes difficult to stay with the disc from beginning to end. Yet, there’ll be a crunchy fuzzy guitar here (“Scorpio”), a nifty northern soul influenced backing vocal there (“The Gurls & Shoo Be Do Wop”) that will hook you right back in. This is one that I wish there were a lyric sheet for; because Hernandez’s voice is rather high pitched and it almost mixes in with the music so much that the lyrics don’t come through. But overall, it’s an enjoyable disc, a nice little lightweight piece of indie pop. Steve
@ www.eeniemeenie.com

From Monument to Masses - “The Impossible Leap in 100 Simple Steps” CD 7/47:39
When I think of math-/post-rock/insert-adjective-here-rock, one of the first bands that leap to my mind is the Bay Area’s own From Monument to Masses. Intricate, melodic, and highly political, FMTM epic songs will range from Dianogah-type noodling to near metal riffs and everything in between. Overlaying all of that is politically charged samples, featuring a wide assortment of characters; name a political activist, and there’s a good chance there is a snippet of them on here somewhere. But don’t take my word for it – the band’s website has plenty of songs to download, so get to it. Jake
@ www.dimmak.com

Fugs – “Final CD (Part 1)” CD 18/72:48
How does one even go about reviewing an album by the Fugs? This wasn’t even a task you really wanted during the era in which the band achieved the climax of both its musical and political importance. Sanders, Kupferberg, and co. have always been too smart and eclectic to assess on the merits of sound alone, and now that the piece has outlived the period it is truly a challenge to give an uninformed reader anything resembling a clue on the subject. That being said, the Fugs continue the tradition of placing themselves all over the musical map, unconfined to the established notions of either protest rock or wit-filled, conscious music. The band writes songs about/in ode to topics ranging from the sadistic state of modern politics to the historical exploits of the Vicar of Bray, and espouses general existence questioning themes throughout the album. Vocalist Ed Sanders kindly gives the listener enlightenment within the liner notes. Take caution: this is what 39 years of activism and music can do to you. Xtian
@ www.thefugs.com

Funch - “Gasping For Air” 14/35:09
Funch is a five piece band from New Jersey. They play a kinda 80's rock/metal/punk sort of thing. It's not bad, but it's not that good either. It's not quite metal enough, nor is it quite punk enough to make up for the lack of originality of the “rock”. I kinda get the feeling that all of these guys are in Top 40 or “Alt Rock” cover bands or something too, and that this is their “original rock project”. I'm also pretty sure that if they do have cover bands, the cover bands are probably way more successful / popular than this originals band, because the originals just aren't that good. The whole album is listenable enough I guess, but its not something that I would put on to listen to again. The most interesting thing I found while doing the research for this review was just how many bands have been named “funch”. That really surprised me because I mean what kind of word is funch anyway? Manny
@ www.funchrats.com

Functional Blackouts – s/t CD 12/30:08
Frenzied garagey punk from Chicago. Mostly they do loud fast snotty rules (as such tunes as “Destroy Hollywood”, “Stupid Face”, and “Stamp Out Techno” attest to) venturing into freakout territory on “Bombs Away” (their version of “30 Seconds Over Tokyo”?). Neato Germs cover (“Land of Treason”) as well. Hunt this puppy down! David
@ www.criminaliq.com

Funeral Dress – “A Way of Life” CD 15/41:43
This Belgian “skunk” band has been at it for a long time, and in a country not known for having a huge underground rock scene. I narrowly missed seeing them play back in 1990 when I was in Brussels, but I did see their graffiti all over. The opening track, “Spirit of the Street`” is an amazing Oi anthem, and the rest of this album is filled with melodic punk and Oi songs with huge hooks and choruses. The only minuses are the occasional eruptions of annoying ska beats (as in “Down Under”). Even so, this veteran band is really tight nowadays, and the production on this record is very powerful. I hope they’re still around the next time I make it to Belgium. Jeff
@ www.dssrecords.com

Further Seems Forever - "How to Start a Fire" CD 10/36:56
Yep, this CD is just as boring and pretentious as the band name and title would imply. Mix slightly sad vocals with ringing guitars, throw in a few flowery phrases, and blend it all together till it sounds thick but weak. Now you have the perfect soft-bake hardcore record. Not hardcore per se, just the kind of thing your mom might think is hardcore. Bleh. Mark
@ www.toothandnail.com

Fuse! – “The Fisherman’s Wife” CD 14/33:04
Spastic, often frantic bursts of lo-fi garage punk threaded with Gang of Four funkiness from this Downey, CA trio. I would’ve liked this a lot, but the screamy male vocals kept hitting notes that started making my left eye twitch in ways Crass never did. Oh, and the similar backing vocals were often so compelling I had to put my hands over my ears. Man, I must be getting sensitive in my old age. Lily
@ www.intheredrecords.com

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