Fake Problems - Spurs and Spokes / Bull > Matador (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Fake Problems

Spurs and Spokes / Bull > Matador (2006)


Whoops, yeah, we've been sleeping on this review for a while. I think it was the honky-tonk chords that open the first track on Fake Problems' pseudo-compilation EP, Spurs and Spokes / Bull > Matador, that really threw me off and caused me to long-ignore the thing. Sure, that stylistic vibe is incredibly persistent throughout the release but what I inexplicably failed to realize is how tongue-in-cheek it is. Does that necessarily make it better? Well, sort of, but it helps that the band more often than not delves into poppy and jangled punk rock with lots of little creative flares and alt-country overtones only somewhat like the comparison you know you were going to find mentioned at least once in this review: Against Me!.

Well, "Heat on the Feet" does find itself shuffling on that same stutter-step pace á la "Don't Lose Touch," and their earlier material surely has that slop-filth tempo and composition. But let's not get crazy; it feels like Fake Problems do have their own identity within the relatively nameless pile of folk-punk bands beginning to sprout up. Sure, even the mere mention of their name conjures of images of Defiance, Ohio's "Petty Problems" for me, but Fake Problems' fresh-faced, snotty approach manages to sit alongside cheeky balladry in a unique way. When Chris Farren snarls "‘I'm not sure I agree with anything you say but I'll defend [it] with my life' -- no, I don't care!," it's a little silly but still poignant, while "Oh, Your Silver Heart" is a twang-inflected lovesick ballad that makes for a fine near-centerpiece.

Here on Spurs and Spokes / Bull > Matador, Fake Problems pair their 7-inch with re-recorded songs from the now out of print Watching the Bull Get the Matador; while Farren does attempt a little more of a whiskey-soaked voice in the second half the whole thing feels cohesive and well-rounded. The way they've progressed Fake Problems seem poised to break out of their shell and explode with their next full-length.

Motion of Ocean
Degree'd or Denounced