The Foz: The War On Mugs’ – review Stephen Watt



Lou Reed once said “One chord is fine. Two chords is pushing it. Three chords and you’re into jazz”. Not that I have ever considered The Ramones a jazz band, but Dumbarton post-punk outfit The Foz may wonder what one of New York’s finest songwriters would have to say about their miscellany debut album, “The War On Mugs”.

Herein lies a vertiginous record that manhandles the listener by the scruff of the neck and schleps them through a swampy conglomerate of sensations and sounds. Front-man Mark Joyce’s anti-capitalistic stance is the bloodstream throughout this record, from its cover and title to the snarling statements made during significant proportions of the album.

[“….Capitalist war machine,
built to terrify…..
…weapons of mass destruction,
propaganda lies….”]

from ‘State of X’

This mantra ingrains itself on the listener, prickling opinions and tugging at nerves like some vitriolic journalist coursing a headline. From the frantic guitars on title track The War On Mugs to the twitchy, dyspeptic drums and bass during State Of X, The Foz have thrown their cards on the table, lit the proverbial cigar, and left the government in no doubt that they know that they are bluffing.

The melodic metamorphosis into a purer indie sound is prevalent on The Young Knives/Blur shaped Frostbite Fizz and Sticky Fingers.  Bass player David Wardrop’s steady groove is the perfect foil for Joyce’s choppy strumming and sneering. Interestingly, The Foz delve into abstracted, dreamy sounds occasionally using synthesizers and poppy melodies (Medicine Man and Pretty Little Riot) to deliver menacing threats beneath the chaotic din. The album inspissates once more with Wardrop’s bass-shredding on Before Came Zero under Joyce’s wailing, ambiguous vocal

[“I can’t help it,
I can’t save it,
I can’t feel it,
I can’t forget”]

from ‘Before Came Zero’

This ferocious-but-tender song appears to be galloping to reach its conclusion, and with drummer Phil Plunkett on loan from Have Mercy Las Vegas, the trio truly cut particular form and pose questions over who are the intended targets of leading songwriter Joyce. In a rare step towards storytelling, live favourite Psycho MDMA concerns itself with two individuals lying in hospital beds, deliberating over the consequences of the ecstasy alternative. This track is played to a marching beat which Plunkett increases frantically towards the conclusion, until the final guitar note meanders into that of a flat-lining electrocardiogram.

If variety is the name of the game, The Foz’s final two tracks throw a sonic grenade at the listener. Striking rhapsody Damned If You Do exhibits nasally Rotten-esque vocals, dreamy guitars, and intelligent percussion breaks, while album closer Buzz Rush is a surprising reggae-rock number that drifts “in a bubble” until it twists into an elephantine ruckus that would not sound out of place on The Stone Roses’ ‘Second Coming’. A stunning hidden track Your Hell Is My Heaven should not be missed either, and perhaps lends itself to the identity of at least one of Joyce’s targets – a quite beautiful, tender, and bittersweet song that purposely finishes abruptly.

Perhaps Lou Reed was right about three-chord jazz records. If that’s the case then you can look forward to seeing The Foz climbing the Latino Christian billboard charts by this time next week.

Album Launch Party – 10 April, 2015 

The Foz album launch party is free entry at Stereo, Renfield Lane on Friday 10th April 2015 from 7pm, with special guests The Wall of Sound, Detox, and The Red Eyes.

Stereo – listings

Track listing:
The War On Mugs
State of X
Rapid Onset
Frostbite Fizz
Sticky Fingers
Rocket Fuel
Medicine Man
Before Came Zero
Pretty Little Riot
Psycho MDMA
Damned If You Do
Buzz Rush
(Hidden track)

Dumbarton band The Foz formed in early 2011 and consists of Mark Joyce (lead vocals / guitar) and David Wardrop (bass guitar / backing vocals). Gigs at King Tut’s, Broadcast, Stereo and Barrowlands 2 have familiarised the band with Glasgow audiences, with festival performances at Killin Rocks (Perth) and Eden (Dumfries) spreading their brand of choppy punk and contemporary rock. Wall of Sound and Have Mercy Las Vegas musician Phil Plunkett has provided support on drums, both on the live circuit and the band’s debut album “The War On Mugs” which is due for release in April 2015.

Optograms, Launch of Stephen Watt's New Pamphlet The Tron 11 February, 2016
Spoken Word Events in Glasgow

This section: Stephen Watt, Poet.

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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