NOFX and Frank Turner Are a Match Made in Heaven on 'West Coast vs. Wessex' Covers Album
Published Jul 30, 2020It is hard to underestimate the level of influence NOFX has had on punk in the span of their 30-plus years as innovators and purveyors of the genre. From raunchy early albums that resemble something like a South Park episode set to music, to the boundary-pushing 18-minute punk rock opera The Decline, and through to the political albums that rally against war criminal presidents and their administrations, NOFX haven't been afraid to progress with, experiment on and hone a signature sound that has become indicative of the genre as a whole.
But after nearly 35 years, NOFX have settled into creating consistently good albums and singles that, although still a testament to the accomplishments of the band, might not catch the attention of new audiences the way their early efforts did. Where is there left to go?
Enter Frank Turner, who, on the other hand, began his career in music a few decades after NOFX were already a household name. And although Turner's musical sensibilities fall closer to folksy London-set ballads, the throughline of anti-authoritarian, countercultural politics unite the two. Which, while they seem like an unlikely pairing to release a 10-song cover album of each others' songs, results in an undeniably fun, catchy and — at times — surprisingly profound collection of tracks.
Turner's signature songwriting style, through the lens of NOFX's fast-paced and energetic instrumentation, breathes new life into NOFX's sound while still maintaining their own distinctive characteristics. Turner's covers of NOFX classics like "Bob," "Scavenger Type" and "Perfect Government" are refreshing nostalgic joyrides through the annals of punk rock history. However, it is Turner's stripped-down, haunting cover of "Falling in Love" and the driving, bassline-centric "Eat the Meek" that not only showcase the depth of NOFX's songwriting brilliance but also allow Turner to highlight his unignorable ability to inject his own creativity and life into tried-and-true hits.
What looks like an odd couple cover album at first glance turns out to be one of the best matched and executed collaborations of which either group have been a part. (Fat Wreck Chords)