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Friendship Nation

By Foot Village. Tome Records.



It's okay to want to get naked. In fact, I would encourage every one of you to give in to that urge, that natural instinct that Foot Village evokes through their latest release Friendship Nation, in what may be the very nexus of acoustic hardcore and scum-folk, if there has indeed ever been one.

There are few simple words fitting to describe Foot Village. "Feral" could be one (sort of), "cathartic" another, and "awesome" definitely counts, if that gives you any impression of what you're in for. But I think it's best in this case to go with an analogy. Assuming we're all familiar with Arcata's Redwood Park, imagine, if you will, a crew of smelly and abrasive youngsters, the so-called crust punks, mercilessly beating up the carefree so-called hippies of a drum circle, subsequently making off with their djembes to wage a total noise war in the dark of the otherwise-silent woods. Add pot-and-pan blast beats, guttural hoots and hollers and a ridiculous sense of humor; now you're close.

Stripped down and devoid of any electronic enhancement or digital manipulation, Friendship Nation is an experiment, like every FV release, in avant-group dynamics with Citizen Lee on drums, Citizen Miller on drums, Citizen Taylor on drums and Citizen Rowan ... on drums. (The former two are both involved in noise act Gang Wizard.) The harmonies are tonal and unintended, rhythms are blunt (in a good way) if more complicated than they initially appear, and the lyrics are aggressively confrontational; all the necessary components for the purest kind of full-frontal assault.

Relying on the impressionistic nature of music so that listeners may form their own interpretations of the album, Friendship Nation, while initially born of a fixed narrative in the minds of the Citizens, takes on a life of its own as something abstract, hilarious, savage and far from preachy. Howling about public urination ("don't you look at me when I pee"), narc parties, governments, God and the 1998 apocalypse, every moment is the stuff of high-energy captivation, only departed from briefly to incorporate a sound-clip of an out-of-control piƱata-beating party, a wholly appropriate activity for listening to this album. Other suggested endeavors: arson, mud-wrestling, nose-picking (either your own or your friend's), fist-pumping, head-banging and/or utterly destroying your computer/iPod/cellphone because Foot Village is, after all, a primal and post-technologic incarnation. Mind you, these are only suggestions.

As foreshadowed above, concurrent with every Foot Village release is the band's running narrative that the world ended in 1998, at which time the band came together to form their own post-apocalyptic nation (the band's namesake), based on a little bit of anarchy, a little bit of savagery and "hardcore physical castle building," neither utopian nor escapist, and with which their songs occasionally deal.

Essentially, upon hearing Friendship Nation and discerning the complexities and absurdism intrinsic to its existence, it's impossible not to realize that something has gone right. It's face-first, it's purgative, it's unapologetic, and even contains (if you're open to it) some simple wisdom and insights into what is otherwise the hopeless, bubbling cesspool of our shared social-reality: "Where ever you want, whenever you want, you have the right to go pee." Amen.

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