Friday, 4 March 2011

REVIEW: Far-Cue - 'Over And Out'

In 2001 I started regularly visiting pubs as me and my mates grew bored of getting drunk at home, which led me and my mate Jon to a Melksham pub, the Parson's Nose which we discovered had a great jukebox and was often the place where the small section of Melksham's 'alternative' people would gather. I'd heard talk about this funny punk group who had a singing drummer who said "ta!" after every song, but the night I first witnessed Farcue is one I won't forget.... that singing drummer belching, drinking and smoking his way through the fast, tight and enjoyably fun punk rock, a drunken old woman throwing shapes at the front of the crowd while the band played 'The Ace Of Spades' and the police turning up at the pub door, prompting the band to launch into a version of their 'Pop Up Toaster' song with the lyrics revised to "fuck off copper" instead.

The rest is history. Over the last 10 years I've watched Farcue countless times as well as enjoyed their gritty recordings, my favorite of which is their 2004 album 'Always A Pleasure, Never A Chore'. This record and their awesome live performances won them the attention of Step One records who offered them a deal to release an album... 'Another Day At The Office' was the result of this, and while some of it represents some of the group's best material, you could tell some of it was rushed as the band encountered pressure from their label. The making and release of ADATO at times must've made the band feel like they were no longer playing for their own amusement, but to try and promote their album and make a name for themselves, which must've took a certain degree of fun out of the group. It should also be noted that guitarist Steve Eaton is also of course a member of psychobilly legends Frenzy, and touring commitments in that group halted a lot of Farcue's action for a while, as drummer Badger busied himself with his love of bikes and bassist Guy joined another band.

For a while Farcue were non-operational, and it seemed like there would be no more, with the band declaring they had become bored of "playing the same songs to the same people"... but within a year or two the band were quietly re-grouping every so often to play occasional local gigs, and after watching the group's live return you could tell some of their energy had returned, and before too long they were even working on new material.

And with that, the band entered the studio for what must've been a matter of days, possibly less, to record their first new album for over half a decade. So here it is:

So with the presumption that most people will just want the music in whatever form, the CD comes in a see through plastic sleeve with a simple typed tracklisting on a piece of paper. No frills indeed. This record is so back to basics, it doesn't even have a title, but it would make a lot of sense to just call the album 'Farcue'. And it's not just the packaging that sees Farcue go back to basics, as the first few tracks demonstrate. You won't find difficult structures or experimentation here, just no-nonsense punk ditties that take the world with a pinch of salt and remind you to enjoy the simple and sometimes silly things in life. Taking influences from Sham 69, The Business and a touch of Snuff, the tracks don't show a wide diversity or any sense of progression, and that's just the way Farcue like things. But it's their inability to take anything seriously that provides a refreshing contrast to the hard-hitting politicised punk that a lot of British punk groups have embraced...... In the world of Farcue, giving lectures on society will always come second to enjoying a nice cup of tea.

A snotty, raw production sound gives the impression that these songs were bashed in about an hour or less, and it wouldn't surprise me if they were. This album is the sound of a band who are having fun again. Opener 'Anywhere But Here' is classic Far-Cue, the most simple of riffs and straight-forward lyrics yet somehow it has a charm that adds up to more than the sum of its parts. 'The IT Man' sees Badger dreaming about unobtainable girls before deciding to just settle for making a cup of tea and "a biscuit, and try and finish this song". 'Mid Air Crisis' has an energy that comes across as effortless, yet very enjoyable while 'From Where' has a great retro post-punk sound and lyrics reflecting how money continues to control life. A bizarrely hectic cover of Soft Cell's 'What?" and the fierce pound of "Yes To All" are followed by the Rancid-esque 'Over And Out' and the utterly no-nonsense blast of 'Same Old Same Old', which I imagine will sound brutal live. Another one of Eaton's melodically fierce riffs adds quality to 'Obscure', where Badger declares how "i wanna wipe my arse with a brillo pad" and "pierce my cock with a staple gun". Despite such silliness, you can't help but hear an underlying sense of yearning in the music... OK so the lyrics may not exactly demonstrate sensitivity and subtlety, but 'Obscure', like 'Anywhere But Here' comes across with a feeling of wanting to get out of the drab every day mediocrity of your home town and escape to sunnier climates. And 'My Home' sees Far-Cue continuing to battle for that title of Britain's most english punk band....

So ten impressive tracks, and there's two more. but we'll ignore those.

OK, we won't....

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Their rousing rendition of 'Daydream Believer' is great fun when they do it live, but it falls flat here. Maybe it's something to do with not being at a gig amongst loads of nutters. Then finally we have 'Free For All' that lyrically sounds like a celbration of dogging, while musically is a rather interesting amalgamation of Gary Numan's 'Cars' and Far-Cue's own unique interpretation of 'The Hokey Cokey", complete with a charming chorus of "tits out, rah rah rah".... Personally I would've left these last two tracks off the album, as firstly they seem a tad out of tone with the rest of the songs and secondly because they are just unnecessary. However I doubt very much that Far-Cue give a shit what me or anyone else thinks about the consistency of their albums, and if they did then they wouldn't be Far-Cue.

This humble, noisy batch of songs (even the last two) will make you smile, make you laugh and make you want to check out what this lot do live, because although this is a pretty good album, it's on the stage that this band truly come to life.... 7.5

UPDATE - the album is in fact called 'Over And Out' and since the above review was written the band have uploaded it to their Bandcamp page. Stream the whole thing below...

Hear a few tracks from the album in this video....

And hear 'Mid Life Crisis' (including it's creation) here....

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