February 7, 2013

CD Review: Hard-core punk mixed with folk? It works for this band

'No One Ever Listens to Me' is a fun and frenetic ride from start to finish.

By RICK JOHNSON

Tiny little Harrison, Maine, seems an unlikely spawning ground for vintage-sounding L.A.-style punk rock, but Harrison is precisely the place Force Fed Failure calls home.

click image to enlarge

HOW IT RATES

FORCE FED FAILURE: "NO ONE EVER LISTENS TO ME"

PRODUCED BY: Jeff Poliquin

★★★

Based on a four-star scale

What's even more surprising is how Force Fed Failure mixes old-school hard-core ... with folk? It's an unlikely combination that works surprisingly well. Jarring on first listen, "No One Ever Listens to Me" is nevertheless a fun and frenetic ride from start to finish.

Force Fed Failure is a one-man band project entirely played, sung and produced by Jeff Poliquin. Production is minimal and primitive, and, in true punk-rock fashion, all 18 tracks on the album are under two minutes long, many of them well under a minute. Even the album's cover art bears the homemade, photocopied look of a DIY handbill stapled to a telephone pole.

But despite all the punk trappings, Poliquin doesn't hit us with the punk right away. Opening track "Gone Astray" sounds like a traditional folk song boisterously sung by a group of drunken revelers in an Irish pub on a Saturday night. "The Clutches of Madness" is a brief snatch of demented carnival music played on what sounds like an ancient Casio keyboard rather than an organ or calliope.

It's on the third track, "Victims of the Modern Age," where the punk smacks the listener in the face with one minute's worth of chugging guitar and Poliquin warbling the lyrics in a style reminiscent of Jello Biafra of Dead Kennedys fame.

"Victims" segues right into the plaintive acoustic strumming of the title track, with double-tracked vocals bemoaning a lack of understanding from one's peers. There's a quick blast of folk-punk from "The People's Song," then the slamming starts up again with "Someone Get Me Outta' Here," which morphs from a Ramones-esque intro riff to a full-on hard-core flail, all within the space of 55 seconds.

Tracks like "Wasted Time" and "The Station" weave a little traditional country and blues into the mix, while "Warm Embrace" almost sounds like a drunken sailor's sea chantey.

The album's most intense track is "The Spotted Shoe," where Peloquin barks out the lyrics over a furious thrash riff, ending with a boot-stomping breakdown that's sure to be the cause of many a mosh pit all over the state of Maine.

With enough intensity and energy to satisfy the combat boots and mohawk crowd, but also just the right amount of introspection to bring the hippies to the party, Force Fed Failure should appeal to a much broader audience than the name or album cover art would suggest.

Download all 18 tracks for free at forcefedfailure.bandcamp.com/album/no-one-ever-listens-to-me.

Rick Johnson is a freelance writer and radio host from Westbrook. He can be reached at:

rjohnson.rock@gmail.com

 

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