Painted a hallway listening to this record. Then, later, did a bit of gardening. In one moment, you’re sanding a wall, ridding the surface of any old texture, getting ready to prime, “dragging your knuckles on the floor of hell,” as Edmonton, Alberta’s Home Front might put it. Soon, in the evening, you’re watering the succulents, trimming away extant yellow leaves, and you “feel the heat from a solar flare.” The music is a sunny winter.

Oi! being a response to art types and intellect in ’70s U.K., made mostly by the working class and fútbol fandom, remains a music genre that reflects both the hammer and the kick. But when the working class have nowhere to work, what do they do? Several thousand musical projects have sprung from or were conceived during the pandemic, Home Front being one of them.

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As people streamed through their lives, stuck inside with every possible form of digital entertainment at their disposal, Graeme MacKinnon (vocals/guitar/bass) and Clint Frazier (synths/drum programming/percussion) started making music, pulling visions from various eras and genres of subversive stuff they loved growing up: “Cough Cool”-era Misfits, G-funk, even early Bay Area hip-hop legend Too $hort.

Less often, we find bands sprouting from the punk/hardcore scene taking a rugged approach to synth music. If you go way back, you first hear it in bands like the Screamers or the Units who often used synths to elevate madness—true freaks, and you can feel that in the music: unhinged. Still, in every new band there is something novel that makes it exciting. It can be something as simple as how one of the players moves up and down the fretboard or how their fingers touch the keys. Home Front have that interesting quality of being simultaneously fresh and nostalgic—a callback to the old in a new way. Certainly, just like Bach, and terribly just like Bach, it occurred to me that there would be only one version of this music unique to itself.

What are you gonna do, man? Would you stage dive to this? Would you pit? None of you pit.

With that beautiful cerulean blue, Home Front’s second release, Game of Power, seems reminiscent of a Gang of Four single from afar, but up close it becomes more their own, thanks to the artist Euan Retallack and his angular compositions. Releasing both their debut EP, Think of the Lie, and Game of Power, label La Vida Es Un Mus (Public Acid, the Chisel, Diät) has continued to put out true punk magic and has “nurtured the band to do their own thing.” Yet, Home Front orbit a few key players who polish and fine-tune the group. Nic Kozub (Shout Out Out Out Out/Cleat)recorded, mixed, mastered, and co-produced the album, while supplying an extensive collection of vintage synthesizers to work with, and they used them plenty. There’s a beautiful anthology of sounds in every moment. Tight yet airy drums, choruses with shoulders, and you can hear (listen closely) Graeme’s thick Canadian accent on certain tracks.

If you’re a punk and you don’t read the news, or have lived upside down and in the jungle, you may not know the name Jonah Falco, and of course, we pity you for that. Jonah is a long-standing member of the punk/hardcore community for more than two decades, playing in bands like: Fucked Up, Career Suicide, Boss, and Game, among others. When Jonah asked Graeme what he’d call this new multicolored sound, he replied, “Bootgaze,” followed by Jonah’s response: “Are you fucking kidding me?” One strong moment, and this may be felt due to eponymy, comes when words illuminate and transfix the main dilemma of this madhouse we’re living in. All of our social makeup, every institution we are forced to interact with as modern people, they all rely on power negotiations. From the title track: “Army Air Force...superior firepower...police-force politicians.” Game of power indeed.

Home Front
Riffs so good, there are times when even they get a little too excited. Photo by Eric Kozakiewicz

What are you gonna do, man? Would you stage dive to this? Would you pit? None of you pit. You may hear the obvious Blitz Second Empire Justice era or New Order’s Low Life, but it took a lot to get to that level of mastery. Graeme tells a story of him trying a Run-DMC-style “Hard Times” vocal approach and Jonah telling him he “sounds like a coked-out gym teacher giving a pep talk at halftime.”

Going through some old notes back in February: “Did Donna Summer ever dig Alan Vega?” Which is analogous thinking to what Jonah asks on their Bandcamp: “We may have only dreamed that Tears for Fears might have been going to see GBH on the weekend or that Annie Lennox spent her evenings sewing Crass patches to her Wrangler Blue Bell Jacket....” And they did, all those musicians were smiled into a generation, not to say they didn’t hate each other too at times. Well. You can catch Home Front with Poison Ruïn in the U.K. and mainland Europe at the end of October, beginning of November. Rock ’n’ roll.

Thanks for reading CREEM. This article originally appeared in our Fall 2023 issue. Explore the full mag in our archive, buy a copy here, and subscribe for more.




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