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Friday, December 14, 2012

Face to Face -- Big Choice


During my first first college degree tenure at LSU, the outer rim of campus was a gritty ghost of 70's grandeur. Now it's a corporate mega-beast of shiny strip malls, but back then the buildings were rundown, and few businesses remained. Paradise Records was one of the few survivors, though it shutdown my sophomore year. Paradise had a great punk rock section, and though I've never been through a "phase" in my life, I really, really wanted to listen to little more than punk music during my first couple of semesters at LSU. Thankfully, Paradise Records had a great selection of punk music. Wading through albums with covers full of medical photos of vaginas, broken glass, and people passed out in gutters, I could always find a gem or two. Perhaps the greatest purchase I made at Paradise Records was Face to Face's second album, Big Choice.
People often argue about what constitutes punk music. Some people think it has to be angry protest music by people who never go to the dentist or shower. I disagree. I think punk is simply music with an agressive edge and an "I don't care what you think, I'm going to do what I'm going to do" attitude. That's why I think bands like MxPx or Slick Shoes (also a great Paradise Records purchase) should simply qualify as "punk." They might sing about girls a lot, but they have an attitude absent in popular music. They shouldn't be saddled with the label "pop-punk." That's just silly.
Face to Face don't sing about anything romantic on Big Choice, but they don't sound entrenched in some type of picket line either. There is simply a moral outrage to their music, a "how could you do this to me, you jerk?" sentiment, that, along with the band's aggressively fast tempos, puts them squarely in the realm of punk, at least for this album. The moral anger at unidentified entities is easily seen in the track titles, "Struggle," "I Know You Well," "You Lied," "Promises," etc. A favorite of mine then and now is "A-OK," which unloads on someone who assumes the singer is doing fine, when in fact he is not.

Despite the general pissed-offedness of the majority of Big Choice, Trevor Keith's voice contains a certain empathetic quality that prevents the album from sounding like one big bitch-fest. Instead, it's a fun, fast, angry, and well-performed record, the kind they just don't make anymore (I don't know who "they" specifically is, but they need to get back on the awesome train). Every time I listen to Big Choice, I'm thankful that, for at least a year, I got to experience the old LSU, before the graffiti-ed walls of Paradise Records and its kin were converted into Buffalo Wild Wings and 24-hour fitness clubs.
FINAL NOTE: The bonus track, "Disconnected," contains one of my favorite lyrics of all time. "Trust is something that comes easy/when you've never been a victim." So true.

1994 A & M Records
1. Struggle 3:07
2. I Know You Well 2:42
3. Sensible 2:58
4. A-OK 2:57
5. You Lied 3:27
6. Promises 3:15
7. Big Choice 3:24
8. It's Not Over 2:26
9. Velocity 3:17
10. Debt 2:19
11. Late 3:37
12. (blank)* 1:16
13. Disconnected* 3:20
14. Bikeage* (cover of Descendents) 2:09

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