The Upshot: Classic post-hardcore politic-punk that true believers will instinctively embrace.
BY FRED MILLS
Phoenix-based vinyl-only label Slope continues its AZ-punk documentation, this time the fourth LP from the Father Figures: Michael Cornelius (ex-JFA) on guitar, Tom Reardon (Hillbilly Devilspeak) on bass/vocals, and Bobby Lerma (Jeff Dahl Band) on drums. That impressive collective musical resume, however, is scant preparation for the sheer sonic whomp that Heavy Lifting wields.
“Might makes right, but so does acting right/ Don’t you know? Even children know!” are the first, barked, words you hear from the band, against a bold backing of staccato rhythms and sinewy leads. Following “Ego No Ego” there’s “Medicine Ball,” which, in similar declamatory, solar plexus-punch fashion, asserts “This is the ghost of your mind/ Keeping your thoughts at home/ They wander aimlessly,” as if to say, you’re being controlled, people. Toto, we’re in politi-punk territory.
And with that Fugazi-meets-Dead Kennedys welcome, Father Figures embark upon their album-length screed with aplomb. Visions of Minutemen (“Nigerian Prince Crossing”), early Wire (the dissonant “Kennebago”), and even Black Flag (“Hotel San Pedro”—speaking of the Minutemen—has that angular, pre-Rollins vibe, although the fretwork from Cornelius is far more inherently tuneful than the Flag ever was) all zoom past at different points. And it’s worth noting that not a moment is squandered, for each song is fully in the service of impact and inspiration, from both a musical and lyrical point of view. Almost as if the three men are going, here’s what we were trying to say back in the ‘80s, but we didn’t quite yet possess the complete toolbox—now we’ve got the chops, the experience, and the confidence to translate it for a new era.
Ultimately, it’s the kind of classic post-hardcore punk that true believers will instinctively embrace. No heavy lifting required. (Consumer note: The 180-gm. record arrives housed in a sealable outer plastic bag, and the inner sleeve is poly lined. These may seem nominal touches to some of you, but it’s the kind of stuff I (and other record collectors) notice. In terms of protecting both the jacket and the vinyl itself, they represent the efforts of a record label that genuinely cares about its product and wants to give its customers as much value as possible. Download card included, too. Thumbs up.
DOWNLOAD: “Nigerian Prince Crossing,” “Hotel San Pedro,” “Ego No Ego”