The Franceens: Stepford Smiles – album review
The Franceens ‘Stepford Smiles’ (TNS Records)
Released 9th December 2013

Debut album from The Franceens; the York based three piece who with ‘Stepford Smiles’ have unleashed a salivating beast on a largely unsuspecting pubic – this really is a glorious racket.

The Franceens are so young, it must of only been last week that they picked up their guitars and collectively set out to make the loudest snottiest noise they possibly could – opener ‘Nothing’ harks right back to the Sonics; tough garage punk, loud choppy guitars, strident vocals battle with crashing cymbals which lead you into ‘Alarm’ a frenetic head rush with harmonising that Paul Revere & The Raiders would of been proud of; its crude – it’s exciting …’Bomb’ with its stuttering start that suggests more attitude than proficiency before colliding with Gen X’s ‘King Rocker’ – the drawn out “if you like uuuuuss’ is sublime, whilst ‘Attack’ powers along…primitive bass beats, utterly raucous lead, and howling lupine vocals into a breakdown with barely intelligible moaned voices from another room…’Alright’ has crash landed direct from 1960 – the aggression of Vince Taylor coupled with 77’ era punk rock; a dangerously joyous mix!


The Franceens have no desire to understand finesse; they haven’t got time – even the track titles are all single word offerings…these boys and girls are motoring way to fast, they are careering down the highway, wide-eyed, lights blazing banging out tunes to match the roar of their 59′ Chevy; the entire album charges along, relentless hook laden tunes slappin’ you round the head – enjoy the pain for you will be wishing for more and with a hidden track that just what you get; every other track clatters to a halt at around the three minute mark…my CD display was suggesting ‘Pledge’ was some sort of 10+ minute wig out, no such fear…it screeches to a feedback drenched halt some 4+ minutes in, ideally allowing time to draw breath before a slow burner rails against the curse of pay to play, building around larynx shredding vocals finally dissolving into the mix.

Granted a couple of the tracks ‘Gone’, ‘Attack’, and ‘Pledge previously appeared on the self-released ‘Duck And Cover’ EP but hey they deserve the exposure and support TNS will provide; this is real raw, scuzzy rock n’ roll – the ideal anecdote for all the other Christmas tat coming your way over the next few weeks.

Track list:

1. Nothing
2. Alarm
3. Bomb
4. Attack
5. Gone
6. Alright
7. Wrong
8. Goddit
9. Pledge

The Franceens – Tour Dates:

Friday, 13 December 2013 – Vampire, Bradford
Friday, 20 December 2013 – The Woolpack, York
Saturday, 28 December 2013 – GoGo Club, Oldham
Tuesday, 31 December 2013 – Fulford Arms, York
Friday, 3 January 2014 – The Boulevard, Wigan
Saturday, 11 January 2014 – Carpe Diem, Leeds
Saturday, 18 January 2014 – Star And Garter, Manchester
Friday, 7 February 2014 – Santiago’s, Leeds
Saturday, 15 February 2014 – The GoGo, Oldham
Thursday, 6 March 2014 – Brudenall Social, Leeds

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Phil Newall is 47, from The Wirral - he earns his living not writing about music nor playing music...though sorely wishes he could. He was fortunate enough to see many of the first generation punk bands when they played the U18's matinee shows at Eric's, Liverpool. As an attendee at Eric's he was exposed to punk rock, dub reggae, art rock, and all manner of weirdness; as a customer at Probe Records he was variously served and scowled at by Pete Wylie and Pete Burns - he has written for Record Collector, Whisperin & Hollerin, and Spiral Scratch and wanted to write a book detailing the Liverpool punk scene; however with 'Head-On' Julian Cope beat him to it...and frankly did a much better job.


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