NOFX/Frank Turner – West Coast Vs Wessex (Fat Wreck Chords)

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The beauty about splits – maybe the whole point of them – is that they allow fans of one band to discover the music of another. The split EP has been a bastion of the DIY punk scene since forever, because two audiences are better than one when you’re not sure if you’re going to sell all your first pressing. There will be no such concerns about this release, of course, but the concept is the same.

Here you have NOFX covering five Frank Turner songs, and then he returning the compliment – apparently they’re both big fans of the other, and the press release is bulging with mutual back-slapping, as you might expect. Don’t shoot me for saying this, but I had not a single clue about Frank Turner’s back catalogue – Million Dead pretty much passing me by, and having little interest in the ensuing folk/acoustic output – but hearing NOFX do their NOFX thing with his material sent me exploring, and it turns out he’s written some fucking great songs over the years.

Similarly, hearing Frank do some interesting takes on classic NOFX tunes had me slinging on a few CDs I’ve not had chance to play in an age and re-appreciating those old chestnuts as well. Of the two halves of this release, Frank’s is the more mellow and melancholic, but also the most intriguing, due to that unfamiliarity with his deadpan style. So, mission accomplished then: no new compositions, but ten nice tunes, most of them punky; I don’t usually do ‘nice’, but it’s all so very listenable and (generally) upbeat… something to sweep away those COVID-19 blues then. Ian Glasper

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