Supergroup’s debut album reminiscent of ’80s classics
Fake Names indisputably garners the title “supergroup” as their debut album Fake Names drops in early May of 2020. An accumulation of prominent and influential punk names dominates Fake Name’s composition. In early 2016 Brian Baker (Minor Threat, Dog Nasty, Bad Religion) and Michael Hampton (S.O.A., Embrace, One Last Wish) met for a jam session turned epiphany that led to the two famed musicians’ decision to start a new band. By the end of the year, the band had inducted two additional members—bassist Johnny Temple (Girls Against Boys, Soulside) and Swedish vocalist Dennis Lyxzén (Refused)—to perfect their punk-pop revivalist vision. Baker, Hampton and Temple have ties reaching back to elementary school, and with the addition of Lyxzén (discovered as a fellow Riot Fest Chicago 2016 performer), the band encapsulated a variety of long-time punk-rock experience.
The band’s self-titled debut album Fake Names is, therefore, the result of over a century of combined international punk rock practice, and it shows. The band, signed by the esteemed Epitaph Records, recorded their first album at New York’s Renegade Studios and deliver a perfectly mixed 10-track release in a brief 28 minutes. With Baker and Hampton on guitar, Temple on bass and the Lyxzén as a vocalist, the band includes both American and European punk pioneers. Fake Names illustrates the founders’ power-pop and punk influences and continues those ideas throughout this album. Fake Names is uninterested in conforming to louder modern-day punk sounds, rather combining their collective skill to produce an album reminiscent (but not nostalgic) of ’80s and ’90s punk rock classics—a true passion project. The band diverges from the use of looper pedals, synth and special effects in place of a sound that is truly live in essence.
As a whole, this album is a work of maturity and precision. It runs with a nearly soundtrack-like essence, and viewers can easily imagine Fake Names playing on the car radio in ’80s classics like Pretty in Pink or The Breakfast Club. However, nothing about this album is cheesy. From the opening track “All For Sale” to closer “Lost Cause” the album reels with intricate guitar work, powerful bass lines and catchy vocals without losing any punk sentiment. From discussing international battles against capitalist structures to internal struggles about growing up, the lyrical content of Fake Names is angsty but sincere. The band seamlessly intertwines major and minor bass lines and striking guitar riffs with clear and strong vocals mixed with the skill of a learned hand. To the listener, this album portrays a fun and spirited image of Fake Names. It’s clear that the group is banded in their vision for each and every track. Songs like “Driver,” “Darkest Days,” “Heavy Feather,” “This is Nothing” and “Weight” are easily danceable tunes with choruses that are begging to be shouted by throngs of moshing punk fans—and the listener can imagine the band doing the same.
Though some skeptics may think that the type of music offered in Fake Names is outdated and appealing only to middle-aged folks with a hankering for the “good old days,” they fail to realize the masses of young listeners who idolize early punk anthems and will be thrilled to hear a modern rendition of these beloved “oldies.” This album is nothing but pleasant and enjoyable to the listener and to the band themselves. All of the instrumentals show age-perfected skills, and the vocals are fresh and clear. One can see this album producing some very memorable hits and this band becoming significantly relevant in the coming years.