The Faceless (Death Metal/Deathcore)
Akeldama (2/4)- 2006
A 33 minute album should not wear out its welcome, but that’s exactly what happens on Akeldama. The Faceless have talent, and they aren’t afraid to show it, but they’ve also forgotten to write something resembling a coherent song. The lack of variety doesn’t help either.
Fair to Midland (Alternative Rock)
Fables from a Midfly (3/4)- 2007
It’s hard to tell what’s more surprising: the fact that Fair to Midland broke through with a radio hit in 2007 or that Fables from Midfly turned out to be a great album. Combining aspects of hard rock, alternative, heavy metal, progressive rock, and metalcore, Fair to Midland can best be described as a calmer and more accessible System of a Down. Fans of System of a Down would do well to pick this one up, and anyone who enjoyed the surprise radio hit “Dance of the Manatee” would also most likely enjoy Fables from a Midfly, as the full album takes everything that works from that song and creates a unique sound that remains unpredictable throughout. Even for more open-minded progressive fans, this may be worth considering. Not everything they try works, but there’s no doubt that Fair to Midland has created a unique album, as well as musical weirdness that is oddly accessible.
Finger Eleven (Alternative/Pop Rock)
Them vs. You vs. Me (2/4)- 2007
Them vs. You vs. Me is a consistently catchy album, but that’s really about all that can be said for it. There’s very little musical substance, so once the fun wears off, you’re left with nothing more than a derivative pop rock album.
Firewind (Power Metal)
Burning Earth (3/4)- 2003
While generally unspectacular, Firewind’s Burning Earth earns a recommendation solely on Gus G.’s excellent guitar work. Fans of power metal and neo-classical shredding should give it a listen.
Five Finger Death Punch (Metalcore)
The Way of the Fist (1.5/4)- 2007
It’s one thing to be pretentious. It’s another entirely to be pretentious and have no musical skill to back it up. The Way of the Fist is a laughably generic metalcore album that takes itself far too seriously, and puts an emphasis on trying to sound tough. Unfortunately, breakdowns and overused stock riffs don’t help their cause, and neither make for compelling music.
The Flaming Lips (Alternative/Psychedelic Rock)
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (4/4)- 2002
Beautiful in its simplicity and innocence, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots is one of the most incredible albums I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing. It works as a concept album that tells a beautiful store of hope and determination, as well as simply a collection of fascinating psychedelic indie pop tunes, and it’s full of amazing moments that will make tug at even the most apprehensive listener. Even though it’s been just eight years since it’s release, I have no problem calling Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots a classic and an outstanding music triumph.
Fleet Foxes (Indie Rock/Folk)
Fleet Foxes (3.5/4)- 2008
There has been a lot of hype surrounding Fleet Foxes' debut album. Thankfully, the album has lived up to that hype, and in some ways even surpassed it. Not only is this the best debut album released so far in 2008, but it's also one of the best indie rock albums of the year. Influenced by everything from Iron & Wine to Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young to Led Zeppelin, Fleet Foxes' beautiful brand of indie folk sounds incredibly polished for a debut album. There's a large amount of variety between the tracks, and some truly beautiful moments that rank among the best of the year thus far. Fleet Foxes is both accessible and beautiful, and it's one of the most enjoyable releases of 2008. Not all of it is perfect, but even the low points of the album would be highlights in the average indie rock band's discography. Fleet Foxes' debut is a special album, and it's scary to think that this is the only the start of the band's career.
Flight of the Conchords (Comedy/Folk Rock)
Flight of the Conchords (2.5/4)- 2008
Saying that Flight of the Conchords' full length debut is funny is like stating that the sun is bright and Antarctica is cold. It may be an opinion, but one that any rational human being would have a hard time disputing. It goes without saying then, that Flight of the Conchords is one hilarious album. However, this is isn't the definitive way to experience the hysteria that is Flight of the Conchords. At times the album versions of these songs feel overproduced, and those who are used to group's always hilarious improvisational lines will be surprised to find that many of the lines they chose as studio replacements in the songs are lacking in comparision. It's not that new versions of these songs are bad, it's just that none of the songs are really very new at all, and the bits that have been altered are almost always for the worse. Obviously, some glaring omissions have been made to the track list, including the masterful "If You're Into It," but it's hard to argue with what is found on the album. Every track is funny in its own right, as Flight of the Conchords is great when looked at as purely an album on its own. Still, fans of the band have heard these songs and heard better versions of them, and newcomers to the band would be better suited watching their TV series or seeing them live to get a taste of the band at their absolute best.
Flobots (Rap/Alternative Rock)
Fight with Tools (3/4)- 2008
Known mostly for the breakout single “Handlebars,” which received significant air time on alternative rock stations this past year, the Flobots are actually a very different band than advertised. This is a unique political rap group that has much more in common with underground hip-hop acts than alternative rap-rock bands or mainstream rap. No other songs on this album have much of a chance to get radio play, so it’s not something that fans of catchy pop music are going to like. This is serious political rap, and the Flobots never stray from that. Musically, the use of a violin, as well as traditional rock instruments allow them to create tension that goes well with the lyrics and message. Granted, there are a few tracks that either try to do too much or appear forced, but much of it is high quality hip-hop, and it's an easy debut to recommend. The Flobots are one of one of the most deserving groups to get radio play in some time, and this is a great album for anyone looking for hip-hop with a real message.
Flying Lotus (Electronic)
Cosmogramma (3.5/4)- 2010
Cosmogramma is not only the best album so far from experimental producer Flying Lotus, it’s his first album of actual art. While Flying Lotus has always shown a great deal of talent, his overly experimental approach has never really amounted to anything more than and just that- an experiment. With two full length albums under his belt, Flying Lotus has learned from his mistakes and created an album up to his potential. Cosmogramma is as cohesive as an experimental electronic album can be, and the songs have a great deal of tension and build up. Be warned that this album still isn’t all that accessible, but anyone willing to embrace their avant-garde side will be rewarded with an ambitious and creative record that simply cannot be brushed aside.
The Frames (Indie/Folk Rock)
The Cost (2.5/4)- 2006
There’s nothing particularly wrong with The Cost, but it’s one fatal flaw is that it’s forgettable. The best tracks have been re-released as better versions with Glen Hansard’s other projects (especially “Falling Slowly,” which pales in comparison to the Swell Season duet), and often times Hansard just doesn’t sound as motivated as on past Frames album. Again, it’s not bad any means, but it’s also the most unspectacular album of The Frames.
Franz Ferdinand (Alternative Rock/Pop)
Franz Ferdinand (2.5/4)- 2004
Catchy and occasionally witty, Franz Ferdinand’s debut is somewhat unremarkable, but nevertheless a worthwhile album for fans of alternative pop.
You Could Have It So Much Better (3/4)- 2005
The follow up to Franz Ferdinand’s breakthrough debut is easily the group’s best and consistent album to date. It’s just as catchy and far more clever than the aforementioned first album, and can be recommended to those looking for more than another “Take Me Out” type single. “The Fallen” alone is better than anything else the band has done.
Tonight: Franz Ferdinand (1.5/4)- 2009
Instead of building on their success with You Could Have It So Much Better, Franz Ferdinand try to reinvent themselves as an experimental indie rock band. They often seem out of their element, and it unfortunately removes much of the catchy pop that made up the core of their sound. However, the worst part of Tonight is that it’s boring. It achieves very little of what it attempts, and has nothing to fall back on. It may not be entirely terrible, but there’s little reason for anyone to listen to it.
Fuck Buttons (Electronic/Post-Rock)
Street Horrrsing (3/4)- 2008
The full length debut from Fuck Buttons is an interesting album to say the least. On one hand, the combination of Mogwai-influenced post-rock and experimental black metal vocals is one of the strangest mixtures of the year, maybe even the decade. On the other hand, no single part of Fuck Buttons' sound is unique on its own. The Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky influences are clear, and the electronic base is fairly standard. The album also starts to sound the same after a while, even though there is subtle progression within and between each of the tracks that finally leads to a fairly epic conclusion. Street Horrrsing is not necessarily an enjoyable album, but it is one that should be appreciated. Much of it is unique, but it will also be repulse just as many as it intrigues, and for that reason it should be listened to before blindly purchasing. Still, this is an interesting debut album that at the very least has established Fuck Buttons as a band to watch for in the future.
Fucked Up (Punk/Post-Hardcore)
The Chemistry of Common Life (2/4)- 2008
The Chemistry of Common Life is really a pretty standard post-hardcore album. Occasionally glimpses of something bigger shine through, but most of the time this album is split between experimentation and overused punk conventions.