Album Review

The Falcon - Gather Up Chaps

Released: March 18, 2016
Lisa Sanchez

Sometimes a band comes along that embodies all the dumb shit you ever wanted to say to your friends, your enemies, or some random girl you may have drunkenly hit on and then made out with, but in a classy way. The Falcon, punk supergroup comprised of Dan Andriano (Alkaline Trio), Dave Hause (The Loved Ones), plus Brendan Kelly and Neil Hennessy (Lawrence Arms) are here to say all of those things for you with their new album Gather Up the Chaps.

The Falcon, originally created as a Kelly-inspired side project, burst onto the scene in the mid-2000s with their first full length album Unicornography, then just sort of dropped off the face of the earth as the members became more involved with their main bands. Now, ten years after Unicornography, The Falcon has graced us with their presence again.

If you’re familiar with any of the members’ other bands, then you know you’re getting into a straight up, unpretentious, rough around the edges melodic punk band. The gruffest thing about The Falcon is Brendan Kelly’s vocals, which sound like someone threw a wet bag of shit into a garbage disposal, which counters well with Andriano’s smooth baritone and Hause's less caustic vocal style.

Gather Up the Chaps kicks off with the appropriately titled “Trash,” which, as a person who listened to Unicornography for two years praying to the punk gods to return The Falcon, doesn’t sound that much different from the band’s first album, but with better production.

Onto “War of Colossus” Kelly lays down dirty, throaty vocals on the intro. It's great to hear, because upon first listen, I couldn't even tell it was him. I really enjoy it considering the song says, “I’m starting to hate that boy too and I don’t care if he knows. Something gigantic is dying tonight.” "War of Collossus" really showcases Kelly's vocal range, especially when the song has multiple layers of the vocalist's different stylings.

“Sergio’s Here” gets The Falcon into their best groove, which is mostly fun and witty admissions about getting high, going to rehab, and Kelly tomfoolery, all framed in a punchy, upbeat rhythm. Then, “Skeleton Dance” leads in with a bending guitar intro. I think it’s important to take this time to describe Kelly’s voice in detail for people who’ve never heard it. Kelly has one of those voices that sounds like an oil tanker scraping against a vat of cats on fire. He doesn’t even pretend to be able to hit certain notes. But, it’s perfect for a band like The Falcon and an album like Gather Up the Chaps. It’s unpretentious, self-aware, and simply more fun that way. This band (and subsequently any of Kelly’s other bands) wouldn’t be as enjoyable without his signature voice.
The Falcon hit their stride in the middle of Gather Up the Chaps with “The Fighter, The Rube, The Asshole,” which is just four dudes alluding to weird personal backstories wrapped in quips and rapid guitar interludes. Next, one of my favorite songs, “Sailor’s Grave” hits with some raspy confessional honky tonk rhymes and rhythms mixed with intoxicating choruses like, “I ain’t clever, I ain’t brave, I got nothing left to say, I am but a sailor, this is but a sailor’s grave,” followed by by “Ohhhs” and “Ahhhs” you can’t resist. Trust me. I tried.
  Although The Falcon hit some high points with “Sailor’s Grave,” “Hasselhoff Cheeseburger,” and “You Dumb Dildos,” the song “If Dave Did It” has to win the proverbial punk song cake. The narrative of the song plays like an avant gard street play where Dave Hause talks about getting ready to beat up hipsters (I can only assume in a bowling alley). It’s an amped up punk rock love and revenge song that at times randomly sounds like it’s coming through a 1980s radio. "If Dave Did It" gets weirder with the instrumentation than other songs on Gather Up the Chaps, and distinctly reminds me of something off of The Loved One’s Keep Your Heart.
Gather Up the Chaps is not the musical masterpiece of 2016. It’s basic, loud, and rough, but it has some real quality appeal. The highlight of the album is how the member's vocals play off of each other. It always sounds like they’re having a conversation. A weird, rambling conversation that probably features dicks. But, Gather Up the Chaps is a great offering, not only for people who love the bands The Falcon came from, but for punk rock and alternative fans alike.