Review Summary: A Defintive post hardcore/emo classic from Jonah Matranga and his compadres from Sacramento. Approaching social commentary with both relevance and a stylish wit this album is a must have for fans of the genre.
Remarkably I discovered Far and hence their finest album Tin Cans With Strings to You
from an interview with Tom Delonge
of the Blink 182
fame where he cited Jonah Matranga’s legendary post hardcore band as one of his driving influences growing up. I’ll leave it to you to figure out quite how there is any notable Far influence on Blink’s albums as I myself fail to see it. While I have really outgrown Blink in the past few years I owe a considerable debt to the Angels & Airwaves
front man for introducing me to one of the finest albums in my collection and a band as unique as they are influential. Far’s sound is quite a complex affair with the band drawing a strong influence from the Seattle grunge era that preceded them but at the same time they sit nicely with the Mid-West Emo movement. They mix elements of Sunny Day Real Estate
but a heavier sound not too far from what Glassjaw
would come to achieve half a decade later, but at the same time fans of the Deftones would find this record equally enjoyable and hailing from the same city of Sacramento its not hard to find parallels in both bands driving melancholy rock. While 1998’s Water and Solutions
is certainly not without its charm but Tin Cans with Strings to You
of two years previous is most certainly the bands crowning achievement.
As with a great many bands the most memorable point in Far’s music is their front man Jonah Matranga. His voice is no doubt an acquired taste and takes a while to get used to but their really is something incredibly likable about his voice. He ranges from extremely emotional screams to a low croon as well as managing a really catchy tone somewhere in the middle of the two extremes. Equally his lyrics stand up to just about anyone. On Job’s Eyes
, Jonah vents his fury at organised religion telling the vague story of Noah’s Ark and delivering a damning judgement on the seamless fury of the god of the old testament, "Those people, they had families. Their families don't have them, you’re not any god I believe in, I hope the rain ruins the work you did."
The song has a post-rock feel to it akin to Explosions in the Sky
at a stretch. The layers upon layers of guitars grow into a powerful wall of sound before exploding into a finale of pure emotion both vocally and musically.
“The birds would laugh at Job, their song would torture him. Always, a steady rain fell, soaking and chilling him. He could always see a dry, light place on the horizon. He would walk for miles, muttering, "I'm sure this rain won't last. I'm sure its time is up. Though it's pouring down, I'm sure this rain won't last."
Opener What I’ve Wanted to Say
and the following song Love, American Style
are both more straight up bursts of post hardcore fury. The former starts of with a few natural harmonics before kicking into a wall of down-tuned guitars. Jonah vocal performance is almost beyond words and as essentially depressing as the music feels it for some reason always has an uplifting effect on me, it also feels very cathartic with Jonah seemingly purging himself of all his pent up emotion with every line on he sings. The aforementioned Love, American Style
tells the story of a child killer, “I know you, she said, you're that guy from my TV! You're that guy that killed all those kids!”
rolling over what he has done in his own mind and this is interchanged with a backdrop of mind numbing US talk shows. Girl
is a slower number which has more in common with typical emo/indie bands like Texas is the Reason
. Jonah sings in a high pitched voice over a brooding repetitive riff. Once again the song is not for the faint of heart and the lyrics are about the death of a young girl and the same girl questioning her killer. Although the song is surpassed by stronger material on this album it is still an excellent tune especially when listened to with the song lyrics in hand.
Far of course paved the way for countless modern post hardcore bands, the direct influence Jonah Matranga’s various projects have had on say Thursday
is clear for anyone aware of both bands. Where as some bands can be said to have been extremely influential but with retrospect hugely overrated, take Saetia
for example, this is just not the case with Far. Tin Cans with Strings to You
is an album that I will listen to for quite some time to come and sounds as meaningful and as relevant as ever. The album does ever so slightly drift off towards the end and of course had little impact outside of its small birth but within its field it is a genuine classic.