Skip to main content

100 Albums: "Our Newest Album Ever!" by Five Iron Frenzy


Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Five Iron Frenzy
Title: Our Newest Album Ever!
Released: 1997
Genre: Christian ska-punk


In the mid-to-late 90s, ska became briefly relevant, mostly in the underground and college scene. A few ska bands broke into the mainstream and then disappeared like Reel Big Fish or The Mighty Mighty BossTones, but the most notable remnant of that movement was some ska-adjacent acts like No Doubt, Madness, and Sublime. As I mentioned in the my Christian rock supplemental and the entry for Pspazz, the 90s saw a huge emergent Christian rock movement that generated some actually-pretty-incredible music. Part of this included a ska scene, with a number of bands gaining traction like The O.C. Supertones, Insyderz, and--my personal favorite--Five Iron Frenzy. FIF formed in Denver as a side project by members of a thrash metal band called Exhumator who realized they didn't actually like thrash metal all that much. The side project gained members and morphed into a ska band, played an impromptu set at the Cornerstone Music Festival, and soon were signed to Five Minute Walk records. They even opened for The Mighty Mighty BossTones and Less Than Jake in the local Denver scene before gaining a national following. Their debut album came out in 1996, and the follow-up Our Newest Album Ever! was released a year later.

There's a weird dividing line for me with Christian music, which I've talked about before. Most of these albums are hard to listen to, despite being formative for me, and it really comes down to how much Christianity is part of the message versus how much it's a part of the perspective. FIF straddles that line. They're message-forward, but they have a wide variety of messages, and they have an earnestness that sometimes feels naive but that also keeps them from ever feeling cynical. In addition to singing about Jesus, they go on anti-capitalist rants (Did you know there was a Christian youth anti-capitalism movement in the late-90s/early-00s? Christian-bleeding-heart-liberals is a thing!), lament the slaughter of Native Americans by the United States in Banner Year (the best song on this album, for my money), and they have multiple songs on this album about being a touring band and how hard that lifestyle is. Superpowers (embedded above) digs into some of that with some hilarious lyrics like "We've been given superpowers, ask about our rock and roll" or "Sometimes we have a deadline for writing our songs, five minutes left to write this one, la la-la la-la la-la-la."

They're also unapologetically silly, and that may be why I still have so much affection for them. Where Is Micah? is a song about how the guitarist keeps wandering off. Blue Comb '78 tells the story of the singer's sister throwing his brand new comb out the window when he was five and how still misses it. Oh Canada is an ode to Canada that opens with "Welcome to Canada, it's the Maple Leaf State!" And underscoring all of this is just some really great songwriting. Strong hooks, great musicianship, and some really creative arrangements. Most of the music was composed by bassist Scott Kerr, who left the band in 1998 after losing his faith (it happens, I've been there, man) and there's a noticeable drop in quality that follows shortly.

Further Listening: They've got a fairly extensive oeuvre, but their best albums are their first four. Upbeats And Beatdowns is unpolished but still pretty good. After ONAE! they released the Quantity Is Job 1 EP that has some great tunes like One Girl Army, Get Your Riot Gear, a fantastic cover of ELO's Sweet Talkin' Woman, and perhaps the greatest song ever written: The Untimely Death Of Brad. All The Hype is pretty solid as well. The band went on hiatus in 2003 and then re-formed with Kerr in 2011 and are still touring, but I haven't heard any of their newer material.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

...

21 people are dead that didn't need to be. My children go through active shooter drills at their elementary schools. Because people like you love guns more than humans. You fucking asshole. I'm so tired of all of this. ]{p

Memory Leaks: Contra

🎖️Running with the devil... Contra was the original run-and-gun shooter on the platform that made home video game systems ubiquitous. Originally an arcade game, the 1988 NES port is almost certainly the most famous entry in the entire franchise and one of the most popular third-party titles on the system. It was known for its punishing difficulty. It was also one of the first Nintendo games to employ 2-player simultaneous co-op, which sounds like it should make the game easier, but in practice meant you and your schoolmate would mess up each others' flow and cause each other to die. When you ran out of lives, you could steal one from the other player's reserve. Fortunately, there was widely known "secret" code that gave you an extra twenty-seven lives, and this code no doubt preserved countless friendships. How I Remember It... I had a friend named Bryan, and he and I would play it together a lot. He owned a copy first, and playing his is what got me to beg my paren

Sentinels of the Multiverse: Definitive Edition: A Thoroughly Unnecessary Review

 Time to save the multiverse A couple years ago I was blogging about my love of tabletop games and described Sentinels of the Multiverse  as being either my first or second favorite, depending on what day of the week it was. Then last year they announced a new "Definitive Edition" of the base game with expansion content to follow. This would be a ground-up rethinking and rebalancing that would, amongst other things, be mostly incompatible with the existing content. Of which I have a lot. This has been a "shut-up-and-take-my-money" IP for years now, so it's not like I  wasn't  going to buy it, but I was at first trepidatious. I mean, was this even necessary? And then I saw an interview with the creators where they talked about what they were trying to accomplish with the new edition, and I was on board. And then the Kickstarter launched and more information was available and I got excited. After all, as I mentioned in the above-linked write-up, the oldest Sen