ALBUM REVIEW: Fake Names – Expendables


Think of high-profile collaborations and what springs to mind? Self-indulgent widdling like the simply dreadful Dylan & The Dead live album, Sting, Bryan Adams, and Rod Stewart‘s unwanted ‘All For Love’ for the movie The Three Musketeers, Phil Collins and Phillip Bailey, Korn, and Skrillex? I’m sure there are many other offenders out there but you get the picture, ideas that may have sounded promising on paper but ultimately should have remained there. 


Fake Names on the other hand is a different prospect altogether especially when you consider the calibre of its participants which consists of numerous Hardcore legends such as Brian Baker (Minor Threat/Dag Nasty/Bad Religion), Michael Hampton (S.O.A./Embrace), Dennis Lyxzén (Refused/The [International] Noise Conspiracy), Johnny Temple (Girls Against Boys/Soulside) and newest addition Brendan Canty (Fugazi/Rites of Spring).


The band formed in 2016 and Expendables marks their sophomore full-length release following 2020’s self-titled debut and 2021’s self-titled EP. The album’s sleeve notes point out this latest album sees the band “dialling back the distortion and leaning into the melodies”. 


Nowhere is this more evident than the opening track ‘Targets’ which reminds me of Lyxzén’s work with The [International Noise Conspiracy] and has nods to early eighties Power Pop during the choruses ala Cheap Trick. Fun, catchy, and considering the ages of the band’s members the energy displayed is impressive and infectious. Expendables is a little faster along the lines of Dag Nasty’s brand of pioneering melodic post-hardcore/proto-emo, Vocally and musically I was also reminded of Vic Bondi and Articles of Faith, a band which doesn’t get near enough acknowledgment truth be told, it even had me thinking of Uniform Choice‘s more melodic Staring Into The Sun. For these very reasons, I was blown away. 



‘Delete Myself’ is pretty decent late seventies Brit punk, think Eddie and The Hot Rods and The Damned while ‘Go’ has a definite nineties alt-rock/jangle-pop Gin Blossoms vibe to help give the track a nostalgic charm to listeners of my generation (born in the late seventies) who will remember laddish UK sitcoms such as Game On. ‘Don’t Blame Yourself’ again will please Power-Poppers with its massively catchy choruses and ‘Can’t Take It’ is flamboyant glam punk in a similar vein to D Generation and The New York Dolls, there is a strutting spirit that is omnipresent in both those bands. 


‘Damage Done’ is a little more standard post-hardcore than you would expect, when you consider the band members’ collective histories. There is a pace to it but it’s hardly blistering Cryptic Slaughter/DRI warp-level speeds, which will make it far more accessible to fans with an affinity for the mellower end of the genre. ‘Madtown’ is a much slower number that during parts reminded me of The Smiths as well as Paisley Underground outfit Green On Red and demonstrates the band’s diversity and willingness to experiment.


‘Caught In Between’ vocally recalls Dave Vanian‘s Goth theatrics and there is an element of post-punk that had me thinking of The Sound or The Church, with a more light touch than those bands perhaps. ‘Too Little Too Late’ concludes the album on a garage rock high by way of relatively more contemporary bands such as The Vines


Expendables is not usually the kind of album that I would be jamming on a regular basis, but that’s probably because I’m something of a miserable so-and-so and gravitate towards the darker side of music (Death Rock/post-Punk, etc). That said the album is short, to the point, and doesn’t feel laboured in the slightest. Incredibly well put together, played, and produced, it results in one hell of a fun listen.


Buy the album here:


7 / 10