Future of the Left

godisinthetvzine.co.uk
godisinthetvzine.co.uk

Future of the Left formed in 2005 with Andrew Falkous, Jack Eggleston, and Kelson Mathias in Cardiff, Wales. Mathias later left the band, and Julia Ruzicka and Jimmy Watkins joined creating the current lineup. The first album of theirs I heard was The Plot Against Common Sense. The songs certainly stood out rather quickly. Falkous’s lyrics are witty, satirical, and most importantly (to me) relatable and meaningful.

Sheena is a T-Shirt Salesman for example is obviously a reference to the Ramones’ song Sheena is a Punk Rocker. The song really embodies the way I see Future of the Left and Falkous’s writing. To me, they represent a new form of punk that is emerging in my generation and one that is not painfully embarrassing or merely copying the past. As you could predict, this song talks about the commercialization of punk rock and probably the bands I am referring to who are painfully embarrassing. In the last stanza of the song Falkous writes, “This song is dedicated/To the merchandise manufacturers/Who made it possible/With their hard work, talent, application/And love of tote bags.” I didn’t realize how much I wanted to come across a band like this until I did. A band that recognizes that so many other bands are becoming businesses and focusing on the money as they let their music turn to (or remain) complete shit.

I cannot help but see the relation of this song and Falkous’s ideas to the Fugazi song Merchandise. The lyrics, “Merchandise keeps us in line/Common sense says it’s by design/What could a businessman ever want more/than to have us sucking in his store/We owe you nothing/You have no control/You are not what you own” are very much along the same lines as what Falkous writes. Merchandise and the perception of a band as more of a salable commodity than an artistic endeavor was definitely a problem during the time that Fugazi was together, but it seems as if it has become an even bigger problem today. This is not a rant against selling t-shirts and other sorts of merchandise, but it is difficult to deny the businesslike aspects of bands that engage in activities such as creating music videos for the purpose of drawing more attention to themselves and paying companies to shove their music under all sorts of people’s noses like college radio stations and people who are said to know what they are talking about when it comes to music. I see the transformation of a band (or any other artistic endeavor) into a business as a bad thing because businesses focus on what people demand, and art focuses on what is going on inside the mind of the artist. I also find it hard to believe that every single band that has produced music videos had a fundamental artistic vision and drive to do so and was not motivated by the desire for more money and attention.

I see Future of the Left as a band that could possibly be an inspiration for others who want to focus on the music and not impressing the right people or drawing a certain amount of attention. They certainly do focus on the music too. If they are an example of what is to come in this post-punk (there’s no decent name for it) genre, then I am very excited. Beneath the Waves an Ocean, on that same album, has a bass line like none I have ever heard before. As Falkous shouts, “You’ll never find peace with the name they gave you,” I always start pondering what he means and usually come to the conclusion that we must redefine ourselves and our surroundings if we are unhappy or frustrated with the current state of our experience. Goals in Slow Motion has another great bass line, and Notes on Achieving Orbit is trance-inducing.

These songs are all on the third album, and there is a new one that was recently released called How to Stop Your Brain in an Accident. I have finally heard it, and it sounds tremendously heavy in the best possible way. The first song, Bread Cheese Bow and Arrow, is a fantastic first song for an album and does a good job of getting the listener in the mood to keep listening for what will come next. The Male Gaze is such a pleasing song and also lyrically interesting. French Lessons stands out in that it is slow and quieter, while Singing of the Bonesaws is a beautiful public service announcement (with a killer bass line) with lines like, “I cannot identify the bloodied bodies of my loved ones/they were killed whilst watching a new television show/on the MTV network/one where Kim Kardashian is chased through woodland/by a giant bear wearing a mask which carries the visage/of recently deceased film director Michael Winner.” And also, “the production team behind the show all simultaneously/come to the same horrifying conclusion/They have wasted the precious gift of life which has been/given to them by science!/They start attacking themselves with the nearest available/objects, breaking off camera tripods to ram them bloodily/into each other’s eyes, climbing up the highest branches/of trees to fall face down onto the pulsing earth.” Maybe this is what will happen when those making reality television realize just what exactly they are doing. It is certainly amusing to contemplate, and I’m glad Falkous is having these idealistic visions of the future.

I agree heartily with what this band has to say, and I am a huge fan of the way they choose to say it. I hope to come across many more bands that are still performing today who are just as original and who have equally important ideas to convey to those willing to listen. My only real negative thought is that I have not seen them live yet. If the opportunity ever arises, I will not hesitate to be there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lungfish

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http://s3.amazonaws.com/

When you first hear a song by Lungfish, it makes you stop and wonder what it is that you are hearing. The normal song structure and conventional thinking do not apply to Lungfish. The first word that comes to mind when hearing them is repetition. There is a lot of that.  The repetition creates something that transcends what we have come to think of as a song. It creates a throbbing atmosphere that pierces everything around it. They are what some may call heavy.

Lungfish is a band from Baltimore that formed in 1987. I found out about them because they are on the DC label Dischord. Their first album came out in 1990, and the last, Feral Hymns, was released in 2005. The band is Daniel Higgs, Asa Osborne, Mitchell Feldstein, and Sean Meadows.

There are some metal aspects to them, but there is so much more in addition to that. Due to their being on Dischord, I cannot help but think that punk is involved somehow in their music as well as their way of life. Higgs’s lyrics for example are poetry and not at all what you might expect from a heavy sounding band. The lyrics take on an incredible importance because they are what changes the most within the songs since the music only changes maybe a few times throughout the songs. It is also not very difficult to understand them except perhaps when he breaks into a moment-induced scream. His screams are not for the sake of screaming. Rather, they only seem to occur when they must.

The first Lungfish song I heard was Wailing Like Dragons off the Feral Hymns album. It caught my attention because it was just this immediate explosion of sound that kept repeating in a way that was not boring or annoying. Instead, it puts you in a trance or makes you daydream or something like that. Another thing it does is make your head move up and down. Listening to a lot of Lungfish may make your neck hurt, but it’s worth it. One of the reasons I like them so much is because listening to them is not too different from meditating. Concentrating on the lyrics and the incredible music lets you work out all sorts of things in your mind. If neck pain is the only price, I’ll take it.

I just recently purchased Feral Hymns from Dischord’s website, but I’d like to dig much deeper into their music. There is certainly still much more for me to explore even though they stopped playing in 2005. I would encourage anyone looking for a departure from the normal structure of songs to try out Lungfish.

 

 

 

 

Another Lungfish review:

http://dangerousminds.net/comments/the_cosmic_post_hardcore_of_lungfish

 

Parquet Courts

http://pitchfork.com/
http://pitchfork.com/

I know it’s been a while, and I’m sorry about that. Anyway, Parquet Courts is a band that a lot of people know by now, but if you don’t you should. In my opinion, they are a great example of what some punk sounds like today. They combine a little noise, angry and meaningful lyrics, and simple guitar riffs.

Now based in Brooklyn, Parquet Courts is Andrew Savage, Austin Brown, Sean Yeaton, and Max Savage. Their debut was American Specialities, but it was Light Up Gold that got them a lot of attention from various places. It is indeed a solid album, and I even decided it was worth spending money to own a physical copy (that doesn’t happen every day).

One of the songs that really caught my attention was Borrowed Time. It has a little of that simple indie (or whatever people call it, I know that’s a stupid name) sound with a distinctive hint of punk due to that same simplicity as well as the lyrics. I could very well get into a discussion of what indie and punk are right here, but I think I will save that for later. Borrowed Time is one of those catchy punk songs, I think. Like Lexicon Devil by the Germs or I Drink Milk by the Teen Idles (although slower).

N. Dakota has a great opening and the bass is great throughout. I guess one of the things I like about Parquet Courts is their descriptions of current times. I’ve been listening to all of these older punk bands, so it’s cool to hear what punk bands are saying now about the world. “Anti-meth murals color the ghettos of N. Dakota.” The song Careers in Combat is particularly interesting to me. All of the jobs that are no longer available because of the economy and humanity are listed, and then he says “but there are still careers in combat my son.” This is great because it’s true. The military prays on those who think they have no other options. There will probably always be careers in combat, but I’m glad someone is addressing what the military does. I’m definitely sick of this widespread feeling that the military is this highly respectable institution that makes good citizens out of troubled youth. We should not be ignoring the fact that these kids are learning how to kill and develop a blind faith in what is really just a big company looking out for itself. Die for your country? What the hell is a country anyway? Is it the government? The land that we stole? I will always have respect for people, but I will respect them no matter where they are and no matter what group of idiots is claiming to represent them.

Yeah, so I guess that song means a lot to me. Picture of Health, the last track, is like some sort of noise punk song. It’s dirty and upbeat and angry and I love it. So you should really check these guys out is what I’m trying to say.