Album Reviews, Music

Review: Face to Face – Three Chords And a Half Truth

It’s been a pretty fascinating ride for Victorville punk rockers Face to Face. The band’s trademark melodic punk rock took them from the small California town to the then heights of endless KROQ rotation and MTV’s Jon Stewart Show. They rode their ability to turn melodic punk into a near art form, and unlike their predecessors Bad Religion and their kind, Trever Keith’s song writing leaned more on his emotive lyricism than say political anarchy. His heart was firmly on his sleeve and through songs like “I Want”, “Don’t Turn Away” and “Disconnected”, Face to Face became the preeminent force behind emotionally charged melodic punk that managed to sway clear of the trappings of what eventuated into “emo”. Yet, while they remained on the forefront of this genre, they’ve never really had the stability that comes with finding a long term recording home. Face to Face has been through more record labels than the number of albums they’ve released. They’ve had the goods to break into the mainstream (1996’s Face to Face was as big of a rock album as you were ever going to get without them sounding like Green Day) but have never really quite reached the levels they seemingly wanted to achieve. But through it all, the one thing that has remained consistent is the band’s ability to write great songs in whatever variation of punk/rock they’ve conceived.

Their latest, Three Chords and a Half Truth, finds the band on Rise Records (their 9th), deviating away from the breakneck melodic punk rock their pedigree was built on for a more rockabilly, rock n’ roll twist. And while their post-hiatus album (2011’s Laugh Now, Laugh Later) was a more by-the-numbers affair, Three Chords… breaks away from them into Social Distortion territory with touches of The Clash. It’s clear then, that Keith and company aren’t interested in writing another Don’t Turn Away and instead, ease into an album that could have easily been the follow up to How To Ruin Everything. There are more mid tempo pieces, more blues influences, and more foot-tapping melodies than anything they’ve written before. From the stomping opening of “123 Drop” to the horn-section (yes) infused “Welcome Back to Nothing”, Three Chords… will surely polarize fans expecting something familiar.

They have of course, done something like this before. After releasing their A&M Records debut in 1996, they went and released Ignorance is Bliss, a polarizing record if there were ever one. Three Chords probably isn’t as divisive as Ignorance, but songs like the 50’s swing influenced “Marked Man” and the rockabilly tinged “First Step, Misstep” are actually more contrasting (musically) to “Disconnected” than, say, “Burden” or “Everyone Hates a Know-it-all”. They do delve back into the old playbook once or twice, “Smokestacks and Skyscrapers  is a fantastic melody-driven song that could easily fit next to anything on Big Choice. While singles “Right As Rain” and “Bright Lights Go Down” owe more to their earlier material or at the very least, music from their Vagrant-era.

The most telling aspect of Three Chords is how comfortable they sound with their new material. There was a certain awkwardness to Ignorance Is Bliss (for the record, I do really like that album), and their please-the-fans follow-up Reactionary was even worse. But here, they sound complete; like natural progression. So perhaps the band, having long mastered the style in which they became synonymous for, have found the next logical evolution of their craft. It isn’t as raw as a Social Distortion record, not so whiskey-soaked and down trodden, but there is a real belief here. And while older fans will probably be a little disappointed by its lack of pace, the album is a definite step forward. (Rise Records)



The second song from California punk rockers Face to Face’s new album has been revealed. “Bright Lights Go Down” is the second song from the album, following the release of “Right As Rain“. Again, the song is less veered towards the band’s earlier breakneck speed punk and leans more rock n’ roll.

Looks like the album will be a little more How To Ruin Everything and less Don’t Turn Away. Three Chords And A Half Truth is out via Rise Apil 9th.


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Ah, the sweet sweet sounds of some trusty old chords… Face to Face have unveiled the first song from Three Chords And A Half Truth, out April 9th on Rise.

All is “Right As Rain” as the band tap into their inner Social Distortion on the new track. You can pre-order the new album in endless bundles here and you can grab the single from iTunes here.

Featured, Music

Invincible: Rest In Peace Tony Sly

How does one find the right words? For someone who admired and respected Tony Sly from a distance, the day has been part coming to terms of what has happened and part sheer disbelief. Almost two decades since I first came across No Use For A Name, the music Sly and his bandmates wrote still resonate greatly, and a small part of myself just wanted to do what I’m sure he had done for so long; write down and express the many things that brewed beneath the surface.

Leche Con Carne and their spot on Survival Of The Fattest were my introduction to the band and I was immediately taken aback by songs like “Soulmate” and “Justified Black Eye”, music that could be both urgent and accessible. Their music was and is a perfect blend of aggression and unrelenting melody. It’s my kind of tune.

I can’t profess to know much about him, but from his music I know that he had a daughter, liked Irish music and that he made many friends on the tour circuit. The latter easy to see with so many of his contemporaries expressing their sadness today, and it’s a pretty definitive list of bands I grew up with, loved and listened: The Bouncing Souls, Less than Jake, Face to Face, Strung Out, Bad Religion, The Ataris.

I saw No Use For a Name live twice. Once back in 99/00 at Slim’s in San Francisco when they opened for NOFX, and the second at the Corner Hotel in Melbourne on their Keep Them Confused tour. Both shows were energized by Tony’s enthusiasm; no matter how long it seemed he’d been touring. And I for one, am happy I got to see some of my favorite songs performed from the best place possible; from the pit.

No one would ever call me a musician (one of the bands I was in back in the day covered “Straight From The Jacket” if that means anything) so I guess this is just from a fan. I never got to meet Tony, and I can’t imagine what his family and close friends are dealing with at the moment. But for someone who grew up on the other side of the planet, his music traveled across oceans and through borders and changed the life of some kid he never met. I don’t know why he died and I don’t really want to know, but I wanted to say thanks.

“Somebody get me off this lonely sad parade.
The differences a hundred miles, but a couple months away.
I’m saying hello just to say goodbye.”


face to face debuts new song!

California punk rockers face to face have debuted new material for the first time since 2002. After reuniting and touring the globe, the Victorville natives will return to the recording landscape with Laugh Now, Laugh Later, set for release January 2011.

The song, titled “Should Anything Go Wrong”, is the first taste of the new album and can be heard streaming below. The band has been touring since their reunification in 2008, hitting festival stages and club shows around the world including the entire run of this year’s Warped Tour.

face to face first made waves back in 1992 with the release of Don’t Turn Away. They released and re-recorded (and re-released) the hit track “Disconnected” a billion times soon after.

You can grab the song as a download via Splendid.

It’s good to have them back…



Trever Keith streams Melancholics Anonymous

On the heels of the Face to Face reunion, front man Trever Keith is also hard at work promoting his new solo disc. Titled Melancholics Anonymous, the record sees Keith step away from his most recent production/mash-up work (as one half of The Legion of Doom) to write and record music more akin to his previous efforts. The new record is now available for purchase online for a mere $5- and that not only buys you a great record, but all the prerequisite artwork and lyrics in a handy digital booklet.

A few shows have also been announced in support of the release, tickets for which can be purchased here. But what does the solo disc sound like? Well, the record evokes Face to Face’s 1999 effort Ignorance is Bliss– one often forgotten in their impressive discography and a record initially criticized for its slower pace and gradual build up. However, as years have past, many have seen it as an ultimate triumph- a record that was new generation “emo” before it even existed. It has become of the band’s finest work, and Keith’s new record exhibits similar musical qualities- the pace, the deft songwriting, and the obvious melancholia. No doubt then, Melancholics Anonymous is highly recommended. You can listen for yourself below.

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Face to Face reunites!

Good news for fans of melodic punk; Face to Face are coming back! The California-based punk rockers have reunited for live performances after originally disbanding in 2003. The band’s front man, Trever Keith, wrote a message on his personal website announcing the band’s return;

After almost five years since calling it quits, Scott, Chad, Pete, and I have decided to get Face to face back together to play some live shows. Truth is we really miss it. We all get along well. There is no personality drama or anything. The fans are still out there. And we have a blast playing these songs, so why not?

We couldn’t agree more! While the band won’t be recording any new material Continue reading