From the Stacks – The Famines – The Complete Collection

26 Apr

From the Stacks is a weekly feature where I grab something out of the library and go more in depth than I’m usually able to. It doesn’t matter if the album is brand new or a re-release of some bygone classic, all that matters is that it be new to me.

The Famines

The Complete Collected Singles


Mammoth Cave Recording Co.

Punk music is not my area of expertise. As a self declared pussy kid I’m more Lily Allan than GG. What little of the genre I do comprehend and enjoy, probably half of it doesn’t classify as punk (The Stolen Minks, The Distillers, etc.). I suppose my tastes would fall more in the realm of garage rock than punk; more distortion less dysfunction. The intricacies of classification aside, there’s something to a poorly played guitar and a screamed lyric that just feels like home. The Famines feel like home to me.

The Famines are made up of former Vertical Struts member Raymond Biesinger and Garrett Heath Kruger of the Wolfnote, another Edmonton indie dynasty. They strike a comfortable balance between lyricism and blaring instrumentals. They understand music and spend time crafting songs rather than passing off lack of craft for the spirit of the genre, which is my main problem with the majority of punk music. That said, they’re a fucking hurricane.

The Complete Collected Singles is a battle. With the majority of the songs coming in under three minutes, it doesn’t take any time off. There are no lulls, no spaces where they’ve neglected to slip something in. Throughout there is either a driving drum beat or a blaring guitar, and it doesn’t let up until you hit “Faux Science”, the last track.

Comparison time: The Famines are what The Violent Femmes would be if they had grown up listening to The Violent Femmes. The Famines absorbed all of the best parts of The Femmes attitude and style and worked it over for a different generation.

As musicians, they’re capable, but not flashy.

As a vocalist Biesinger is passable, but not perfect.

As lyricists, they’re great. Much like the Femmes, they strike a balance between apparently poignant commentary and seemingly irrelevant nonsense that manages to say a great deal.

Still, the album does fall prey to being fairly one note. Though they play and write well, the Famines don’t stray very far from the core sound and each track tends to blend in with the one before and after it.

A solid 3 1/2 ponies out of a possible 5 ponies.


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