Face to Face – Standards and Practices

Face to Face
Standards and Practices

This, my friends, is a CD reviewer’s dream – a disc with no pretenses, no stories, and no fancy concepts to unravel. Here we have music in its finest form – a band with no gimmicks playing the songs that influenced them to become the musicians they are today … and for the most part, it works.
By far, the coolest part of Standards and Practices is the fact that Trever Keith manages to sound almost EXACTLY like most of the singers he’s emulating.
The Smiths’ “What Difference Does it Make?” starts off the album, with Trever Keith throwing out a passable Morrissey imitation. Listening to this, one can’t help but realize that any Smiths cover is just going to sound like a Smiths’ song, no matter how radically it’s redone. Jawbreaker’s “Chesterfield King” really sounds like it could have actually been a F2F song in the first place. On a personal note – Damn, Jawbreaker rules.
INXS’ “Don’t Change” is probably the best track on the album, as the song benefits greatly from F2F’s dense guitar sound. Then again, this was a really good tune in the first place, and that always helps. “Sunny Side of the Street” by the Pogues is another faithful, note-for-note cover, complete with a vague Irish accent to it. The Pixies’ “Planet of Sound” is, fittingly, the dirtiest track on the CD, with Trever throwing out a dead-on Black Francis vocal. “The KKK Took My Baby Away” sounds like The Ramones. I mean, really, it’s not like there are a lot of delusions of originality to be had when a known punk/pop band covers the Ramones. Still, Trever’s ‘Joey Ramone’ vocal is killer. The Psychedelic Furs’ “Heaven” is, well, a Psychedelic Furs cover with louder guitars. Damn, Trever’s good – his Richard Butler imitation is spot-on.
Fugazi’s “Merchandise” – hmmmm, see “The KKK Took My Baby Away” listed above. Still, this one sounds awesome. I had to double take on the next song, just because I wanted to make sure that someone hadn’t put a Sugar CD on. “Helpless” just plain rocks – the guitars are a little ‘punkier’ than on the Sugar release, and Trever just about channels the spirit of Bob Mould vocally. I mean, he SERIOUSLY sounds just like Bob Mould – it’s scary. The album closes with a ‘heavied-up’ version of The Jam’s “That’s Entertainment,” showing that while F2F is happy to remain faithful to their idols, they also have no problem giving others the ‘Face to Face treatment.’
All in all, this is a really good half-hour look at some high points of the last 20 years of ‘alternative’ music done Face to Face style. While I really liked the music, by far the coolest part of Standards and Practices is the fact that Trever Keith manages to sound almost EXACTLY like most of the singers he’s emulating. I swear, in 15 years, Trev could make a living in Vegas as a Bob Mould impersonator. Pretty cut and dried here, though – Face to Face fans should really dig this, although it’s really nothing ground-breaking as far as drawing the band new fans. Still, I don’t think that I could make a mix tape that sounded as cool as this, so it’s all good to me.