Reviewed by Lori Fox
Jungle of the Midwest Sea by
you have a flair for the unusual, or just love quality wherever it's
found, check out Jungle of the Midwest Sea."
But you gotta understand there is a struggle between doing what you want, and doing your own thing. (From the song “Hoity-Toity”)
Jungle of the Midwest Sea is Flatfoot 56's newest album, and boy is it good. Flatfoot 56 is a hardcore punk rock band with a light Celtic influence and is proud of their Christianity. Irish bands are known for their devotion to their homeland; Flatfoot 56 brings that same devotion to their home land of Chicago.
The opening song “Galley Slave” speaks about a Christian slave in Rome, sentenced to rowing unless he denies his faith---which he refuses to do. Between the sound of waves and the beat of the music, it really gives the impression that they're out there on the water struggling for their beliefs.
You would expect a song that embodies such gravity to be followed by something deep or sinister. With lyrics like They're knocking down the wall they're kicking down the doors, the hooligans are coming they're coming back for more, “Carry 'Em Out” may sound pretty intense, but they let you know at the end it's not. In fact, this song was written about a prank three of the band members played on their bagpiper by kidnapping him on his birthday. I'm sure he thought it was pretty intense, but it makes for an energetic and fun song afterward.
Flatfoot 56 is brutally honest, and they won't play nice. In “City on a Hill” they use lyrics as explicit as "whoring out the truth”. “Line in the Dirt” has the appropriately direct line “standing for nothing, you'll fall for anything”. “Chinatown Jail Break's” aggressive beat hides the slightly more obscure message about spiritual bondage. It's been played often on a secular Paddy Punk station, and I often wonder if the station really understands what it means. The band intended it to represent a man who chooses to be bound in his own sin because he is too blinded by it to see the escape wide open before him.
The only song on the entire album that disappointed me was the last song “Same ol’ Story”. It might be a little edgy for fans of contemporary music, but for these guys it's downright tame. Their words are strong, but the music leaves something to be desired. It seems to be done for effect as it's about a young man who goes astray and comes back to the loving arms of his Lord; surely it's meant to draw attention to the words. But as a fan of the style that they carry throughout the rest of the album I'm a little off-put by the change. It would have translated better if it had been included as a bonus or hidden track. Still, that's the only fault I could find in the entire album.
Flatfoot 56 is brilliant with their words. Their talent and skill is appreciated in this obscure genre. They hide nothing and yet have managed to attract a loyal following among secular fans of punk, as well as the Christian. If you have a flair for the unusual, or just love quality wherever it's found, check out Jungle of the Midwest Sea. God gave them an incredible gift, and they're using it to the full.
Lori Fox is a freelance writer who is working on her first novel as well as writing reviews for TitleTrakk.com. In addition to writing, she enjoys reading, making jewelry, and taking as many trips to Walt Disney World as possible with her wonderful husband Kyle. Visit her online at her website.