The Frankl Project - Pirate Radio (Cover Artwork)

The Frankl Project

Pirate Radio (2006)


To many naïve music listeners, punk music is just a few chords repeated over and over again in a mind-numbingly fast fashion. According to the original punk "doctrine" solos don't belong in punk either. Not to mention the fashion must-haves: the Mohawk and leather jacket (don't forget your Docs!). To the non-initiated (sorry for the surprise!) I present: the Frankl Project. Oh, did I mention that they actually play their instruments well? Or that they jam during their sets? Or that they play some ska? I find it intriguing and trailblazing. Punk tends to invite less talented musicians (ask most of the people in bands in Cinncinati why they started to play punk instead of rock music) and the "formula" spawns songs that leave little room for experimentation. Many people would laugh if they were told a punk EP (nonetheless) contained a blues solo (check out "Tail End of a Movement") and would heckle the Frankls with cries of "HIPPIES!" when they read the band's socially conscious lyrics.

Pirate Radio is a diverse collection of songs featuring everything from ska upstrokes to heavy guitar riffs to ambient noise (see the intro and outro of "Ethiopian Sundance"). Lead singer Jake Tippey's political concerns are carried by the soft underbelly that are the harmonious backing vocals of insanely talented drummer Joe Frankl and equally capable bassist Paul Schroder. The rhythm section is always on the spot, whether it's Paul hammering out smooth dub bass lines, or Joe using his entire kit (oooooh, ahhhhh!) to bang out tight beats that drive the Frankl Project's eclectic approach to punk music. Tippey's guitar playing switches from distorted to clean with ease and at the just the right moments, whether it is at the end to add just the right punch to "Mikasmine" or at the crescendo of "California Burnout."

The five songs on this EP are beyond solid. I swear this band gets better and more amazing every time I see them. This CD in no way does their live performance justice. The production is all done DIY, and it shows a little. Yet the music is all about balancing the Frankl Project's strengths. They are socially conscious (but not preachy), a reggae/ska band (but also a punk band!), hippies (well, okay, you could say that!) and all around amazing musicians. With better production and a little bit more funds that could be used to record a professionally done full-length, the Frankls are a force to reckon with in this city.

I don't care; if liking the Frankl Project means I'm a hippie -- then I'll wear my tie-dye with pride.