NOFX & Frank Turner – West Coast VS Wessex (Album Review)

NOFX and Frank Turner – West Coast Vs Wessex
Released: 31st July 2020

NOFX Line Up:

Fat Mike // bass, vocals
El Hefe // guitar
Eric Melvin // guitar
Erik Sandin // drums

Frank Turner Line Up:

Frank Turner // vocals
Ben Lloyd // guitar
Tarrant Anderson // bass
Matt Nasir // piano
Nigel Powell // drums

NOFX Online:

Official Website

Frank Turner Online:

Official Website

Split EPs are clever in many ways, it requires less musical output from each band/ artist, possibly save on costs, allows you to work with and be associated with people you admire, and you can access a wider audience. This is particularly the case with West Coast vs Wessex, a split in which American punk rockers NOFX cover English folk-punk singer songwriter Frank Turner’s songs and vice versa. It’s an exercise in getting Frank Turner’s introspective lyrics to the mass of NOFX fans, and NOFX’s brashness to Turner’s fans.

West Coast Vs Wessex starts with NOFX covering five of Frank Turner’s songs. ‘Substitute’ starts slow, with a ska guitar track before kicking into a punk rock gear a la NOFX. Similar treatment is given to ‘Worse Things Happen at Sea’, with a dollop of melancholy thrown in. ‘Thatcher Fucked The Kids’ is given a ska makeover. ‘Ballad of Me and My Friends’ is turned into a fast pace and frenetic punk rock song. While ‘Glory Hallelujah’ is a jaunty chant along, that includes vocals from many guests, before the final 30 seconds turns into a wall of punk rock.

The songs are elevated from your typical NOFX fare, with Turner’s lyrics allowing NOFX to layer their music with some quality backing vocals and some great guitar riffs. Taking someone else’s songs and making them your own seem to allow NOFX to do what they do best; craft some memorable kick arse punk.

The latter part of the EP starts with Frank Turner, and his backing band, The Sleeping Souls taking on ‘Scavenger Type’, giving it a British folk punk twist. While ‘Bob’ is stripped back, turning it into what one would expect from a Frank Turner song. ‘Eat The Meek’ has an 80’s goth, new wave vibe. While the juxtaposition of the cheerful, merry music with the dark lyrics of ‘Perfect Government’ gives the song a new depth. The EP finishes with ‘Falling In Love’ with its haunting mood and echoes.

Frank Turner’s ability to turn each of NOFX’s songs into something different and varied is a feat in itself and reflects his skilled musicianship. He has taken some very well known and loved songs and made them his own.

Your enjoyment of this EP will directly correlate to your allegiance, do you prefer NOFX or Frank Turner? That in itself will dictate which part of the split you will hammer. On a whole it is an interesting exercise, especially if you are familiar with one or both artists originals. If you are a fan, make sure you check it out.

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NOFX and Frank Turner – West Coast Vs Wessex Tracklisting:

  1. Substitute
  2. Worse Things Happen at Sea
  3. Thatcher Fucked The Kids
  4. Ballad of Me and My Friends
  5. Glory Hallelujah
  6. Scavenger Type
  7. Bob
  8. Eat The Meek
  9. Perfect Government
  10. Falling In Love

Rating: 7.5/10
West Coast Vs Wessex is out this Friday via Fat Wreck Chords. Pre-order here
Review by Carys Hurcom @CarysWos

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