Frank and Earnest – Old Francis

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Frank and Earnest

Old Francis - Bermuda Mohawk Records

Every once in a while you get a CD that comes out of nowhere and blows you away. Because they’re not be the biggest name around, they may not be at the tip of your tongue since not everyone’s talking about them; but somewhere, deep in your memory, that band always remains. There’s always an itch to go back and replay it – over, over and over again until it becomes an all time favourite. Last year I had two of those types of records: Over Stars and Gutters’ Consider This Your Curse and Friends of Friends’ Deep Search; and both ended up in my year end lists.

Frank and Earnest’s Old Francis may not have the intensity of Friends of Friends or the raw power of Over Stars and Gutters but so far this year, Old Francis is the album that has come out of nowhere to knock my socks off.

Gruff and worn, Frank and Earnest may be from Michigan but would fit right in with the bearded punks that take over Gainesville every year at The Fest. This is good stuff – melodic without being poppy, catchy without being irritating, energetic without being forced. The eight songs on Old Francis are straight forward punk-pop but there’s something unique in it’s delivery that enables them to stand up above the crowd and avoid becoming another nameless face in an ever growing scene.

The EP starts off with the more punk oriented songs – like Addictionary, an homage to drinking and partying like all their “Fat and Vagrant heroes,” and Political Songs For Ben Hassenger to Sing, which is  simultaneously the fastest and catchiest song on the EP (with one of the best outro-sing alongs of the year).  But unlike most bands, Frank and Earnest, keep it fresh and don’t simply regurgitate the same tired formula song after song.  The trio of vocalists alternate lead duties, each giving a unique spin in their delivery.  Whether it’s the Hot Water Music-esque BFF or the slower, Lucero-like CleverFrank and Earnest mixes it up while never delivering something so jarring that it’s unnerving. Instead, it all just works.

Lyrically, the band offers a nice tongue-in-check lyrical style in such a way that you’ll often be reaching for the lyric booklet to memorize your favourite turn of phrase.  Their clever in their wording, like renaming “Mr. Holland’s Opus” to “Mr. Holland’s Otis” and their neologistic use of the word “Addictionary.” These turns of phrases – such as Clever’s opening verse of “So I flew away/ To a place no one goes to with signs posted “Population: Just You” or Additionary’s bridge of “Beer for breakfast, beer for lunch, reprehensible dinner / If this is hell, then let me sin, let me sin, let me sin” – shows a band having fun but avoiding cheap comical gimmickry.

Old Francis comes through as a pleasant surprise. A deservedly strong Midwestern punk album for sure, Old Francis is an album that will surely entice most listeners to hit the repeat button again and again, I know I sure have.