Normally, I'd rather not be reminded of college.
But The Franchise's CD, The Sound and the Furry,
reminds me of college.
But with less angst. And that's good, because I've been college-angst-free
for nigh unto a decade now, or so I keep telling myself.
The Franchise is a Washington DC area band. They call their
music "geek rock." This is why I'm reviewing them on RevolutionSF,
and it's an appropriate categorization. But I'll get to that
in a minute. Or however long it takes you to read until I get
to that part.
The Franchise's songs all have a raw, under-produced sound.
But this isn't acoustic schmaltz for the sandal-with-sock wearers
(Either put on shoes or don't, people). There instruments are
plugged in. They use them for playing short, wordy singles.
So they defy a "college-rock" stereotype — they're not a jam
band. At least on the CD, their songs last a few minutes each,
and then they move on.
So they defy several college-rock stereotypes, yet they remind
me of college. What's that about? The songs on the CD remind
me of sitting around a tiny bar after classes, but they contain
little of the gut-twisting angst that one drowned in liquor
during those years.
On most of the CD's tracks, their lead singer sounds like David
Byrne, who wore the big suits in Talking Heads. This is a good
thing, because usually newer bands sound like whatever is on
the radio right then. The Franchise, musically, sounds much
more like what was on the radio in the mid- to late-1980s.
The Franchise's strength is their clever lyrics. The CD has
two straight-up geek-centric songs, "Vorlon" and "Ender." Now,
I'm not that well-read on Babylon 5 episodes, but I
don't really recall the Vorlons being into abduction and probing.
But I appreciate the name drop. "Ender" on the other hand, is
a musical Cliffs Notes version of Orson Scott Card's Ender's
My favorite track on the CD is "Lojack." I hummed it for days.
Then I found out what the lyrics were. "Little chip in your
back, makes you easy, easy to track." Funny stuff.
The band's sets include more dork-check songs that aren't
on the CD: Their Web site (www.listentothefranchise.com)
lists "Geek Chic," "Rorschach," "Superhero ", and my personal
favorite title, "Post-Apocalyptic Love Song."
The CD The Sound and the Furry is definitely worth
a listen. Sure, The Franchise could rock a little more. A little
louder, with a tad more yelling. But not every band is a Kiss
tribute band, and we're just going to have to get over it.
I'd like to hear more of their geek-centric music. Led Zeppelin
didn't take out references to The Lord of the Rings,
and the groupies and mud-sharks still coveted them. But there
are bigger gigs out there than comic book store openings, so