Agony Shorthand

Friday, October 03, 2003
FM KNIVES : “ESTROGEN” 7”EP…..Nothing brings a cold, dark shudder across many right-thinking folks’ limbs than the unspeakable horror of “power pop”. 1970s vintage “power pop” has had an inexplicable revival the past few years, and inspired the early 80s, Jeff Dahl-led ANGRY SAMOANS to pen these famous words of verse in their hit, “Are You a Square?”:

“Are you a wimp / A power pop simp / At the sound of loud guitars, does your cock go limp?”


“Are you a square? / What’s the length of your hair? / Are you a nerd? / Just a power pop turd”

Pardon their French, gentle readers, but it’s always worth a reminder of how deeply the power pop virus infected the underground in the years before those words were written. The power pop that inspired these words (The Knack, Shoes, 20/20 etc.) is one thing; the robust, magnificent, hook-driven punk rock of the BUZZCOCKS is quite another. Before you avoid Sacramento, CA’s FM KNIVES, as I have for the past year or so based on reviews, you’ll definitely need to understand which side of the fence they play. They are firmly on the Buzzcocks side of the house, and what a roaring sound they make on their 2002 debut 7”EP – I dare say it’s almost as good as their forebears! This is a great friggin’ single, packed with four two-minute marvels with cranked-up guitar, snot-caked vocals and no fake British accents! “Just Like William Tell” blows by in about 60 seconds, with drumming that just pounds, and propels this thing onto the short list of the best 21st Century 45s thus far. Of course, Agony Shorthand reader/commenter CityHobb was on the FM Knives tip about 5 minutes into their first practice, and implored me to check them out at least 18 months ago. As with so many other things, I should have listened to CityHobb....! All right, so this is all old news for you power punk simps, but this is a bandwagon I’m ready to climb on. There’s an FM KNIVES CD out this year as well -- the kids say that it's outstanding.