Vinyl Vlog 641

Vinyl Vlog 641

Saturday, 23 March 2024
The Drowns – For Family And Flag Volume 2 – “Just The Way She Goes”

A deeper look at the grooves pressed into the For Family And Flag Volume 2 LP. While it took a little longer for Pirates Press to return to their For Family and Flag series than anyone likely expected [Volume One of the comp was originally released in 2020 –ed], there’s no question that the label couldn’t have picked a more opportune time or angle of approach for a return, as one scans the track list on For Family And Flag Volume 2. Since the inaugural release of FFAF, Pirates Press has released a series of particularly excellent albums by a host of good bands and many have contributed cuts to this new comp – but the cool thing about it is that it also offers a glimpse at some new directions that the artists included might be headed with a collection of previously unreleased songs.

The A-side of For Family And Flag Volume 2 opens strongly with the sort of punky soul of “Bring Back The Weekend” by The Inciters before dipping into “solid B-side” territory with The Slackers’ “New York Berlin” – which really hope to hit on “gee whiz!”-level novelty as a selling when the band released the song on a picture disc in 2022, but fell short of having any lasting appeal. The power increases again with the inclusion of Territories’ “Hello Outsider,” but diminishes AGAIN with the inclusion of “Hogmanay” – the only average-to-forgettable cut that appeared on Billy Liar’s Crisis Actor LP. The running improves again as The Drowns’ “Just The Way She Goes” hits upon a sugary, poppy note that is a lot lighter-of-foot than the material on this year’s Blacked Out album and just feels more fun in general, and manages to hold that energy through DeeCracks’ re-recording of “Where We Belong” before closing smoothly with Teenage Bottlerocket’s very Ramones-y “So Dumb”.

Now, the critic in this writer really wants to complain that, as good as “So Dumb” is, it was really placed improperly on this record – it should have been the opening cut on the B-side f the album; the song is just so energetic and plays so well that it could have been a most accessible vantage point to really get listeners hooked hard on the second side – not just amounting to a bright flashbulb before the record wants flipping. It just feels like a missed opportunity which requires mention, when one runs front-to-back with the comp.

With the above information in mind, that Flores Y Fuego opens the B-side of FFAF Volume 2 just feels like a bad move. Granted, the song’s worrisome, ominous, descending chord progression is a great hook, it just sets entirely too dramatic a contrast to “So Dumb,” and that it’s followed by the very NOFX-ish melodic hardcore of Starving Wolves’ “Sister” just leaves it stranded as the dark spot between two lights. “Sister” deserves attention, but feels destined to be forgotten – thanks to where it’s placed on the album.

The B-side continues to set contrast after contrast as it plays, and some of the cuts included amount to well-arranged turns while others are simply jumps in sound and style that are too great to keep from hobbling the trip through. The street punk growl of The Complicators’ “Another Round” is capable of rise to many defiant sneers, but listeners may nearly trip over themselves when Suzi Moon’s “Animal” follows with an equal amount of attitude and only a fraction of the tempo. In its original context (on a 12” single) “Animal” is a fantastic and crunchy rocker – but plays just a little too slowly here – sandwiched between the street punk of The Complicators and the fury of Noi!se (who’s song “What We’ve Gained” plays well with a lot of low end but is pushed over the top with the unrelenting three-minute live wire rhythm that powers it), and Sweat’s “Pure Display” has difficulty cutting through its own static because the vocals on the song are nearly unintelligible and the high end causes the structure of the song to crumble when combined with its brevity. On a personal note, I know these songs well because I reviewed the albums that each of them appeared on – and it could easily be contended that removing them from the context in which they originally appeared might cause each song to falter but, happily, each still manages to exert a strong presence here. In that way, the comp successfully does exactly what it was intended to do: bait listeners into discovering the full length albums that Pirate’s Press has already released by these bands. [Bill Adams]


Further Reading:
Various Artists – For Family And Flag Volume 1 – Vinyl Vlog

For Family And Flag Volume 2 is out now. Buy it here, directly from Pirates Press Records.

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