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Friday, January 18, 2013

Five Iron Frenzy -- Our Newest Album Ever!


Well, here is the recording that introduced me, and I am willing to bet, your average listener, to Five Iron Frenzy. The band quickly followed up their debut, Upbeats and Beatdowns, with an album that is better in every way. Our Newest Album Ever! features better songwriting, more diverse performances, and  production that is leagues improved. Despite the relative ephemerality of ska, horns are a timeless instrument, and this album is just as fun today as it was fifteen years ago. While Our Newest Album Ever! does contain a levity of emotion only a young band can posses, Five Iron Frenzy continue to further the lyrical themes found on their first album. The injustice suffered Native Americans, the importance of God over nationalism, and the plight of the everyday nerd are all explored in depth. Vocalist, Reese Roper, continues to further develop his cool uncool persona, as well, and he employs humor as often as anything. Our Newest Album Ever! might be the only album in history to gather together such diverse topics as subsisting on nothing but beef jerky logs and hot dogs, tying up wayward band members, receiving wedgies, Kitty Doggy creatures, hair implements tossed out of car windows, the foibles of Canada, and the legendary terror of Godzilla.
I mentioned ephemerality above, and my favorite track from Our Newest Album Ever!, "Fistful of Sand," is about just that. It also features more complex horn-work in its middle section than anything the band had done up to that point. It still sounds cool in 2012. Timelessness vs ephemerality. Deep man.

Look at that room full of nerds!

1997 Five Minute Walk / SaraBellum Records
1. Handbook For The Sellout 3:28
2. Where Is Micah? 2:55
3. Superpowers 3:23
4. Fistful of Sand 4:18
5. Suckerpunch 3:32
6. Kitty Doggy 0:41
7. Blue Comb '78 3:04
8. Banner Year 4:13
9. Second Season 3:45
10. Litmus 4:05
11. Oh, Canada 3:15
12. Most Likely To Succeed 3:57
13. Every New Day (includes hidden track "Godzilla") 10:13


Neal said...

Strangely and oddly enough, I didn't connect with this album as much as FIF's first album. At the time I was a little burnt out on ska (my younger brother and youth group probably over-listened to the first FIF, Supertones, and Insyderz) and all I could hear when I heard this album was "more ska and silly songs."

If I forget that this album was that second one, I can easily hear and see how it's better than the first. I can actually appreciate the deeper notes to "Blue Comb," and "Every New Day" is certainly one of the best songs from a great band. I can definitely see why they end most of their concerts (if not all of them) with that song.

Interesting that U2 ended a lot of their concerts with "40," a song that has many of the same sentiments. :) (sorry, Jessica)

Nicholas said...

I lucked up in that no one in Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana listened to or had probably heard of ska. Outside of MTV and skateboarding videos, I had very little exposure to it. The three bands you mentioned were really it for me. I wasn't a big Insyderz fan because I struggled with the vocals, and Supertones, while pretty great, were missing a bit of that metaphysical touch that FIF had.
Also, your U2 reference is perfectly apt, and will still that way as long as Jess is not around to refute it :)

Neal said...

I agree completely that of the trifecta of Christian ska, FIF was the greatest. Apart from the Insyderz's newest album, I could never listen to their stuff or the Supertones for an entire album.

Oh, and apart from Christian ska, there was plenty of "mainstream" stuff going on the radio at the time, so more ska just made me go "meh." I tend to be glad I don't listen to the radio much anymore, it allows me to enjoy new stuff that I find, whether it's being played a lot on the radio or not.

Jessica said...

I'm a little late to the party, but :~P on you-know-what. If that's where the party is, I'll be late more often. :-D

I had an issue with the Insyderz that centered around vocals, too, until their latest album, so the only one I owned was one that I inadvertently stole from someone. (I think I borrowed it and forgot to give it back many, many, many years ago.)

I wasn't as big of a 'Tones fan either, but they did have one album that I thought was pretty tight and interesting that I would listen to all the way through regularly back in the day. I mean, c'mon, what other band needs footnotes in the album liner to explain what some things mean. ;P I mean, it's almost high-brow ska! Right?

Nicholas said...

I did like the vocals on the songs I heard from the new Insyderz...I should probably get on listening to the whole thing.
There are definitely a fair amount of Supertones songs I enjoy, but I think I can boil my thoughts on them down to a single experience:
I was listening to the song "Grace Flood" from Supertones Strike Back for the first time. Through the intro and the verse and the pre-chours, I was like, "Whoa, this song is awesome!" Then the chorus hit and suddenly I said, "Whoa, this song is not awesome." I forgot about the footnotes, though, that was pretty awesome.