False Positives is a punk band from Oakland, California that was born from the ashes of the locally known Weekender. Their prior release, also on Def Cow Records, was an EP titled Departures. If you are already familiar with the album, you will be excited to know that this full-length is absolutely more of what you want, but even better. It’s more mature; they really got creative with this one. Maybe it’s because this band is so close to my heart. You might say because we are so close, this might end up being the most biased record review I will ever write.
When they started playing some of these songs live, my band was on tour with them. Because of this, I had the unique perspective of watching these songs develop from the outside. As with most songs that are new, it was rough. I was used to them sounding a certain way and, at first it, threw me hearing the skeletons of these songs that were slightly different. But like all the songs False Positives write, they had such a solid foundation and melody. They were growing as a band and each time they played them they got tighter and more defined. I am not sure how aware they were of this, but I watched from afar and heard them many times so I noticed small details they would fix or tweak for the next night.
It was really a beautiful thing to watch these guys polish up these songs and make them shine. Once I got to hear the finished product, entitled Letters From the Wall, I was blown away. Patrick, who owns and operates Earthtone Studios in Sacramento, did a fantastic job with the recordings and mastering. The album flows well and the songs are so masterfully crafted that they will get stuck in your head. While Kevin’s guitar hooks and riffs ring clear with a Midwest pop punk influence, you can still tell that this band is from the East Bay.
One of my favorites on this record is the track”Ole Key,” a fast paced song that is short and sweet. “Letters” is a dynamic anthem, which became a sing along of mine almost immediately after the first time they played it live. “Better Ways” slows it down a bit, but the song gives you a pleasant surprise when it launches into a gallop. Dan, the drummer who normally takes mostly a back up vocals role, takes the lead for several songs on this album in songs such as “Need Nothing” and “Forgotten Bottle.” The lyrics are heartfelt, relatable and I know from seeing them onstage they mean every word.
Now here is the part that I find most enjoyable to discuss, the bass parts. Chris and I both jokingly rag on each other as bassists, whether it’s arguing over fridge cabs or one of us heckling the other while playing onstage. I can honestly say that these bass lines are solid and I really enjoy listening to the creativity that Chris put into these songs. While we disagree on tone a lot of times, I really like the tone of the bass on this record as well.
I am incredibly blown away at these guys for making this record. I feel so lucky to have seen Letters From the Wall become the amazing thing that it is, in all its steps and phases. It’s really an album they should be proud of and I am very proud of them. Give it a listen, you won’t regret it.
The album in streaming on the Def Cow Records’ Bandcamp site now. It’s really worth your time.