Review: Five Iron Frenzy- Upbeats and Beatdowns

FIF

Some things in life have perfect timing, and as far as albums go Five Iron Frenzy’s 1996 5 Minute Walk Records debut Upbeats and Beatdowns was the perfect album for the perfect time. The album along with The O.C. Supertones debut, which released earlier that year ignited an explosion of popularity for ska in the christian rock scene. As huge as ska became in the mainstream in the mid-late ’90’s, I believe it became even bigger in the christian rock scene. Musically the album was punk leaning third wave ska, that for brief moments branched off into the heavier offshoot ska-core. A few things really stood out about the band, even in comparison to their mainstream counterparts. Lyrically Five Iron Frenzy had no peer. For every goofy, silly track the band, led by chief lyricist and frontman Reece Roper, produced they would write some of the most politically and socially scathing songs. “Combat Chuck” and “Arnold & Willis & Mr. Drummond” were good examples of the former, while “The Old West” was a great example of the latter. The band could also write a good praise song; never cheesy and always genuine. The album’s lead single “A Flowery Song” was a great example of this. The album itself, although not the band’s best by any stretch of the imagination was full of quality song after quality song. “Where Zero Meets 15” and “Third World Think Tank” are just a couple of the album’s gems. For anyone looking to check out the shooting star that was the christian ska scene, I’d recommend starting at the beginning with this album.

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