It seems like every punk band out there is dropping acoustic albums as of late. This facade may come off as lazy or desperate to some, but when stripped down right, it makes so much sense. Still, it is easy to just dismiss them because of how many are out there.
I have to give it to Unwritten Law though who first captured my fascination with the whole punk rock bands doing acoustic renditions of their songs years back. I remember hearing Music in High Places and becoming obsessed instantly. Then Rancid busted out an acoustic set in front of me live once at one of their shows and I adored it. Perhaps this aging punker just enjoys slowing down things a little bit.
When I heard Face To Face was releasing an EP of acoustic versions of their songs over the years, I was nervous. Mind you Face To Face is easily one of my all time favorite bands from my 90s, I was worried that it would not go well, but I couldn’t have been so wrong.
Hold Fast simply is songs from Face To Face’s 30+ years (with a slight hiatus) career put into an acoustic style. Perhaps sparked from their “Econo-Live Tour”, the band decided it was their turn to try. Actually, Face To Face did acoustic sets years back as I remember a friend’s band opening for them and quickly having to learn how to relearn their songs so they could stay on the bill with them – Back to this EP though.
Hold Fast is listed as an EP, but at 33 minutes, it could easily be an album. I was impressed to see 10 songs tracked on the Fat Wreck Chords release and was more impressed with where they call came from on their discography.
“All For Nothing” started off the EP with an alt-country twangy version of the catchy Laugh Now, Laugh Later track that I am sure Lucero fans would totally appreciate. I quickly realized after this song alone the amount of time put in by Face To Face to transformed them into a completely different style.
“Disconnected” was the song I was most worried to hear. This radio-friendly track that caught the most attention on Big Choice was part of the soundtrack to my life in the late 90s and I’m still quite fond of it to this day. I held off listening to this song at first and waited until the album came out to take it in. I had nothing to worry about. This song was perfected transformed from a pop punk jam to an acoustic masterpiece. I loved everything about this song from Keith’s slowed down singing to the backing vocals and even the guitar playing.
I was kind of shocked to hear “Keep Your Chin Up” the EP as it was a new song, but as soon as the chorus started I immediately understood. It fit perfectly.
“Don’t Turn Away” was completely dissected and put together as one hell of a track. The lyrics remain the same, but everything else about it screams alt-country with even some rockabilly qualities to it. This was such an enjoyable track to rediscover though a different genre. Just wait for that guitar solo.
“Aok” was another version I just absorbed and adored instantly. This is one of those other songs that was part of the soundtrack of my life and hearing it on a different caliber was just so appreciated.
I can not say every track on the EP blew me away as some were at status quo like “Ordinary” and even “Velocity”, but I did not skip past a single song. Nothing was completely unbearable which led me to believe the band truly gave it their all.
I truly feel Face To Face did this for the sake of trying something new and not looking for a quick paycheck (leave that to Me First and the Gimme Gimmes). These So. Cal. punks have matured so much since back in the day and clearly have moved past their punk rock roots musically. I really think people who never were into Face To Face are going to hear this and become fans of these renderings. I am also hoping they just decided to make new music in this style. I have the feeling it would be amazing.
Don’t dismiss this EP at all folks. Face To Face is far more talented than you think, especially if you just assume they are just some aging punk rock band looking for a quick payday.