After a long hiatus between albums, Lansing pop punks Frank and Earnest are releasing their new album, Modern Country, with a release show on Saturday Sept. 6 featuring Able Baker Fox, Summerpunx and Braidedveins.
On record, Frank and Earnest is Ben Hassenger (guitar, vocals), Paul Wittmann (bass, vocals), Ryan Horky (drums) and Nick Pierce (guitar, vocals).
Here’s a review.
With their brand of gritty, witty Descendents-esque pop punk, Frank and Earnest hit another home run. There might be a few straggling moments, but they pass the finish line with another great record.
“Paul 5″ is an energetic, bar-room-brawl of an opening track. With a country twang — the intro’s squealing notes, Wittmann’s natural drawl of a vocal and lyrics dwelling on missing an opportunity to meet a girl — the pumping drums, churning rhythm guitar and shouted backing vocals make this a fist-pumping stand out.
“Body Parts” feels a little clunky to me. The quick, choppy dueling guitars and the solo toward the end feels a bit chaotic. Everything else in the song works just fine.
The lone song featuring Pierce on lead vocals, “This is Why I Don’t Party”, is one of the album’s couple standout tracks. Strummed electric guitar chords lay the backdrop while Pierce sings “…Spent all night staring at the ceiling, toss and turn the night away” and it immediately hooks you in. Then the rimshots on the snare come in and it gets better and better. The shout-along chorus — “I remember shaking, all throughout the night/I remember dizzy eyes and crooked sights” is great stuff. Its quick pace and high energy will make you sing along.
“Drink About It” is also a great track. High speed, ringing guitars, tom-tom heavy drums, excellent, hook-laden backing vocals and lyrics about drinking make this a nice track. Good stuff.
“Take the Back Road,” which is musically no different than many of the other tracks (loud guitars, pounding drums, energetic vocals), has something about it that gives it an extra energy. I’m not sure what it is. I guess the quick, driving acoustic intro hooks me in. It’s just a classic F&E track on par with “Mr. Holland’s Otis” or “Addictionary”. I love it.
The album’s last few tracks take the band in a few different directions.
“New Traditions” has a storytelling quality about it. Lots of lyrics, relatively quiet verses with chugging guitars and pounding tom-toms. “I examined the pages of those history books/every speck on the timeline, all the heroes and crooks/but I found a missing figure, a relic overlooked,” Hassenger sings, effortlessly pulling off the first of many wordy verses. The chorus is great with high energy instrumentation and backing vocals. Another catchy, anthemic singalong.
“Paul 6″ is the most country song on “Modern Country” complete with piano, slide guitar, acoustic guitar and topped off with Wittmann’s drawl played up for full effect. The song has a hopping drum beat, lyrics about not going to work — “Bossman calls to see if I’d go to work/Let me think about it/I don’t think so jerk,” and others about drinking are espoused. On one hand, it’s a bit gimmicky but on the other, it’s really genuine. A left turn but a neat and experimental one at that. Thumbs up.
Overall a good LP. Lots of anthemic choruses, loud guitars and just generally good punk rock. If you’re a fan of Descendents or The Gaslight Anthem-like punk rock, this will be right up your alley.
Check this out via their Bandcamp once its released on Saturday Sept. 6.