Standards And Practices
By: Eric G.
Worse than the ubiquitous ska cover is the campy pop punk cover. We've all turned on our local college radio stations only to hear some silly punk band covering "Eye Of The Tiger" or "Turning Japanese" out of tune and three times too fast. It's almost like a rite of passage- the obligatory new wave cover is for underground punk bands. Face To Face takes it to a whole new level, though, with its Standards & Practices, wherein the band offers a whole album of covers ranging from quintessential new wave hits to punk classics. The result is harmless enough, if a tad predictable. Pop punk is a frivolous genre to begin with, so a covers album by a pop punk band is like eating icing covered icing- tastes good at first but makes you sick pretty quickly.
Face To Face tries to be faithful to each of the songs. The band obviously reveres the music it's chosen and shows some respectable taste, which automatically separates it from the typical punk act out to piss on some obscure 80's hit. Honestly, though, this album sounds like Social Distortion doing karaoke. Trever Keith's voice is gruff, but he can hit the notes easier than Mike Ness can. This takes away from some of the songs, particularly Fugazi's "Merchandise." Remember the Motley Crue video where its playing "Anarchy In The U.K." live in some stadium? It was so slick and cheesy and out of place, but the Crue just ate up the adoration from the gaggles of hicks, who were no doubt oblivious of the song's origin. Face To Face doesn't shame itself that badly here, but it'll make you cringe, if only slightly.
After the recent and rather disappointing Pixies tribute, any Pixies cover is overkill, and Face To Face doesn't really add much to "Planet Of Sound"- a poor choice to begin with. The band shows a soft spot for effeminate new wave with its decision to tackle both INXS' "Don't Change" and The Psychedelic Furs' "Heaven." Both are so painstakingly rendered here that all Face To Face would need is some Loreal hair gel and a Roland to turn back the clock seventeen years. Keith does his best Richard Butler imitation. I suppose Mr. Butler would be flattered, but I'd just as soon listen to him sing it. Tackling The Smiths takes some balls, particularly for a band with an audience largely comprised of meatheaded slam dancers, and musically Face To Face brings out the latent rock in "What Difference Does It Make?"; Keith's voice, however, does not do Morrissey's vocal line any justice. And for God's sake, if you're going to cover something by Bob Mould, how about a Husker Du song? Sugar? Please…