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Flatfoot 56

Flatfoot 56

A Best Live Show Nominee in the 2005-2011 Awards

 

Flatfoot 56 - Tobin Bawinkel Flatfoot 56 - Kyle Bawinkel
Flatfoot 56 - Brandon Good Flatfoot 56 - Eric McMahon
Flatfoot 56

(Photo Credits: Ember)

Looking at FF56’s live show ratings, you may be wondering why a show at one particular festival would be rated differently from the rest of their shows elsewhere.

There are several reasons: First, since the bandmembers are from Illinois, Cornerstone Festival is basically their home festival; because of that, the crowd is much larger and much more involved. And, unlike any other Flatfoot show (even the other ones they play during that fest), the band’s traditional midnight set there is actually themed (one year had a Greek theme, another year had a Mexican one, another was shark-themed, etc.)— complete with costumes and props! — bringing a totally exclusive bit of hilarity to it. Add to that its midnight-or-later start time and the unique atmosphere provided by both that festival itself and the bandmembers’ and crowd’s participation, and you have a show that’s hilarious, rollicking, and just plain fun.

So, by all means, see Flatfoot 56 where you can; but if you can see them at their Award-nominated midnight set at Cornerstone Festival IL., you’re in for a real treat.

Live Show Rating (Cornerstone Festival IL.): 5 & 1/2 Stars. 5 & 1/2 Stars
Live Show Rating (anywhere else): 5 Stars. 5 Stars

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Rumble Of 56

 

Released in 2002, Rumble Of 56 is Flatfoot 56’s indie debut. [This review is a bit shorter and more summary-style than usual, but the reason for this should become clear as you read. ]

The actual music (if not the vocals) in “Great And Marvelous”, “Poem”, and “All The Time” is quite good [foreshadowing what they would become later].

“Changing Times” and “Gutter Town” see a switch in vocals from trying to actually sing (as in the other songs) to a more gritty type of vocal that suits them much better [again foreshadowing their later sound].

Most of the songs on Rumble… are lyrically pretty good (especially “America’s Holocaust”, which is actually a very powerful song that is the best one on the CD).

Rumble also contains an awesome instrumental cover of “Scotland The Brave”, and a hilarious hidden track that features them goofing around in the studio.

Overall, Rumble Of 56 is a fair indie debut that provides an interesting look into Flatfoot 56’s early days. We’d recommend this CD only to die-hard Flatfoot 56 fans who want to hear what Flatfoot sounded like at the beginning of their career (and also to those who want to hear “Scotland The Brave” and the bonus hidden track antics ).

Our rating for Rumble Of 56: 3 Stars. 3 Stars

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Waves Of War

A Best Second Release Nominee in the 2005 Awards

 

Waves Of War, Flatfoot 56’s second indie release, shows a pretty vast improvement in the band all around— lyrically, vocally, and musically.

The album starts off with “The Ode”, a neat battle-song or marching-song of sorts. Without pause it leads into the next track “Thick And Thin”.

“Waves Of War” and “Sons Of Thunder” follow in this battle-theme vein.

“Weary Soldier” is another great song, again using the familiar battle theme that many of the tracks on this CD carry.

“That’s OK” is a fan favorite— fun, funny, and catchy, this song is still occasionally played at Flatfoot live shows.

“Johnny Rumble” is another fan favorite, actually describing a (supposedly) ‘typical’ Flatfoot 56 fan.

And the final track of this album, “Dueces”, talks about coming back home (in more ways than one).

There’s also another great goofing-around-in-the-studio hidden track, where after covering the Star Wars theme (!) they actually start making up some really cool, really catchy music on the spot. (And then after that they cover a famous surfing song and finish off. )

To sum it up, Waves Of War is a very good second album.

Our rating for Waves Of War: 4 & 3/4 Stars. 4 & 3/4 Stars

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Knuckles UpKnuckles Up (Rerelease)

 

BEST THIRD RELEASE 2005 Award Winner!
Flatfoot 56's 'Knuckles Up' - Best Third Release Award Winner

Runners-Up: Disciple (This Might Sting A Little), Further Seems Forever (Hide Nothing),
Pillar (Where Do We Go From Here?), John Reuben (Professional Rapper).
Honorable Mentions: Relient K (Two Lefts Don’t Make a Right… But Three Do),
Thousand Foot Krutch (The Art Of Breaking).

 

Flatfoot 56’s third release is their true debut in a number of ways. [One being its rerelease in 2006, with new artwork and ‘even harder-hitting’ remastered sound, as their first album through Flicker Records which they signed to at the end of 2005.] In Knuckles Up, Flatfoot has completely perfected and solidified their sound. It’s an album that’s definitely worthy of Best Third Release.

Knuckles Up kicks off with “This Town”, a rally cry to clean up the world and bring morals and standards back into the culture.

Following that is “Brotherhood”, a fast-paced, awesome-sounding fan favorite that is one of Flatfoot 56’s all-time best.

“Knuckles Up” and “Breakin’ The Law” are also energetic rockers, each with their own unique lyrics.

“Hold Fast” is another great song and another fan favorite.

“Chi-Town Beat Down” is different in that most of it is actually sung by Flatfoot 56’s drummer, and he sings it fairly rapidly.

“Battle Of Bones” is a pirate story-song that, while having a sorry end for the pirate captain, still somehow makes you smile when you listen to it.

“Blood And Sweat” rebukes those who are or have been hypocrites.

“The Rotten Hand” (its title referring to a hand of cards) is a literally hilarious tune that is really beyond describing here. (If we did, we’d end up giving you a summary of the whole song. Instead, we’re going to leave our ‘description’ at that and let you hear the humor for yourself. )

“Fight To Live”, like its predecessor “America’s Holocaust” on Rumble Of 56, is a powerful song that pleads on behalf of the innocent children murdered by abortion every day.

Flatfoot 56 also includes their excellent version of “Amazing Grace” (featuring Dan Hansen). Beginning with bagpipes alone, adding in the rest of the band for the Punk Rocking main part of the song, and then fading out at the end to guest Dan Hansen’s great acoustic guitar playing, this is definitely one of our all-time favorite renditions of Amazing Grace.

And the final track, a short and pretty flute or whistle instrumental called “Arran Boat” (featuring guest Scarlett Herrin), finishes the album with a flourish.

Our rating for Knuckles Up: 5 & 1/2 Stars. 5 & 1/2 Stars

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Jungle Of The Midwest Sea

Hear Entire Album Online!Hear Entire Album Online!

A Best Fourth Release Nominee in the 2007 Awards

 

With the release of their fourth album, Flatfoot 56 diversified their style just a bit; enough to add more variety in some places and some sound upgrades in others.

“The Galley Slave (Intro)” is a quite cool intro. Lyrically, it’s from the historical point of view of a slave who is chained to the oars of a large pirate or slave ship and forced to row for the rest of his life. Musically it has a great rhythm and sound effects.

“Carry ‘Em Out” is slightly different musically, more of a modern Punk Rock sound (but with a Flatfoot 56 twist, of course ).

“Loaded Gun” is a short track, and it features this album’s first bagpipe appearance. Lyrically, it has “they say”/”we say” contrasts.

“City On A Hill” is even more familiar, yet upgraded well. It points out that you can’t keep going back and forth between the sides of an issue— you’ll eventually have to choose.

“Bright City” is slightly slower (a medium pace), and focuses on hope through dark surroundings.

“Hoity Toity” is a much more bouncy, humorous-yet-serious song; it’s dancy (or should we say jiggy? ), fun, and has a great message. In other words, it’s classic Flatfoot 56.

“Pay Me A Dollar” is a story-song about two different people— the first one works hard unselfishly, the second does just the opposite. It’s another lyrical study in contrasts.

“Chinatown Jail Break” begins with a muted intro, after which the music kicks in at full volume and starts to build. This is another familiar-yet-upgraded track.

“Warriors” uses a lyrical metaphor of cleaning up a terrible mess to honor and encourage everyone who, at any level, is striving to do the same in real life.

“Cain”, as you might guess, lyrically goes through the story of Cain. Musically it features a cool, dark organ (courtesy of Josiah Holland) and a really great, also-dark bass/guitar line unlike anything they’ve ever done before. After this it moves into straight-up, old-school Heavy Punk for the majority of the song, and then back to the great dark music for the final bridge.

“Ollie Ollie” is lyrically a kind of anthem. This one shows off bandmember Josh Robieson’s bagpipe prowess (which is somehow even better on this album) in the bridge near the end.

“Standing For Nothing” includes the age-old warning “(If you) stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything”.

“Jungle Of The Midwest Sea” (featuring Emily Kilborn and Tony Duggins) is yet another track that is musically familiar, yet upgraded quite a bit. It’s also another story-song, this one about the at-that-time completely uninspected and unregulated workings of meat packing plants in the early 1900’s.

And the final track is “Same Ol’ Story”. It begins muted (as if it was an old tape being played), then goes up to full volume for the second verse onward. This track closes out the album with wonderful, heartfelt lyrics, some actual true singing (as opposed to their usual rough vocals), and rhythmic music.

In all, this is another great album from Flatfoot 56.

Our rating for Jungle Of The Midwest Sea: 5 & 1/4 Stars. 5 & 1/4 Stars

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