Face to Face - Hold Fast (Acoustic Sessions) (Cover Artwork)

Face to Face

Hold Fast (Acoustic Sessions) (2018)


As angst-ridden young punk rock kids grow up, so do their idols and with that, so does their music – for the most part at least. face to face recently put out a throwback to their scrappy, skate-punk 90’s sound in “Protection” so it’s safe to say the band hasn’t gotten old yet. Instead, they’ve learned how to diversify their sound. The band has deviated from their classic, west coast melodic skate punk sound in the past with the more rock leanings of “Ignorance Is Bliss” and the 70’s punk rock inspired “Three Chords And A Half Truth” so it’s clear they have no issues stepping off the road they helped pave.

“Hold Fast” is born from the acoustic shows the band has put on as of recent for the VIP portion of their “Econo-Live” tour. Realizing these songs have legs as stripped down versions, the band opted to record and release them through Fat Wreck as a ten track record that cherry picks fan favorites from throughout their storied discography and channels them through a more mellow, folky sound complete with steel pedal, harmonium, and mandolin. Fat Wreck brothers Strung Out did something very similar earlier this year to less success, primarily because while Strung Out’s songs embrace the more technical side of punk rock, face to face have always known how to write a hook, an ear-worm. Their west coast, punk rock songs easily lend themselves to these reworking’s. The bones of the songs are, for the most part, simple, catchy pop songs.

Lead off track “All For Nothing” off of 2011’s “Laugh Now, Laugh Later” in its original iteration comes off as a catchy though unoriginal, pop-punk song. Re- recorded for this release really allows the song to bloom and show Trever Keith’s knack for crafting a melody. The inclusion of the steel pedal helps create a haunting melody and give a touch of an alt-country vibe.

Classic 90’s punk rock song “Disconnected” is also revealed to be, stripped down and re-imagined as a pretty, little folksy song at it’s core. “Velocity” still maintains that intro that never fails to excite, only in a much more mellow way. “Velocity”, “AOK” and “Blind” were all written and recorded originally 22 to 26 years ago and the original recordings still hold up today in terms of songwriting. So it’s no surprise that the band were able to turn these melodies into acoustic gold.

Some of the songs don’t kick you in the face as much as others on this record. “Blind” and “Ordinary” are both a little too straightforward but work fine in context to the rest of the record.

The big surprise on the record is the punk goes rockabilly stylings of another face to face classic, the rousing “Don’t Turn Away”. We are treated to full blown pedal steel, galloping drums and some mighty fine, Danny Gatton influenced, 50’s style guitar work courtesy of Dennis Hill. He and Scott Shiflett are the “tasty licks patrol” according to Shiflett. While Shiflett’s bass work continues to propel the band forward to this day, it’s nice to see him get a shot at showing off his prowess on the guitar. His, as well as Dennis’s, playing shines through the entire record while Keith handles the vocals and is able to show off his distinct voice, which is stronger than ever. His poignant lyrics, with their timeless message, have helped create a loyal and dedicated fan-base for the band over their 27 years.

So many of these types of releases tend to feel like a cash grab by a band or a label but with this release it’s apparent that a ton of love was put into reworking all of these tracks. The overall finished product, including the stellar artwork, feels effortless and natural which comes across as a gift to long time fans. Hopefully this sees them find a new audience as well. No doubt, these songs would feel right at home alongside your City and Colours or Jason Isbells. face to face are clearly no longer scrappy little punks but instead the elder statesmen of a sound they helped create.