Falsely Accused – Compression – Album Review
I cannot even begin to express how grateful I am that the opening track on Falsely Accused’s debut record Compression was not in fact, a more grammatically accurate cover version of Van Halen’s megahit from back in the day. This could have gone either way folks…believe me, I’m breathin’ a good ol’ sigh of relief over here…you read about this band being built on the guitar sound, and it makes a guy like me more than a little cautious when heading to push play for the very first time. Okay…I was hyperventilating to be truthful…I can go through a lot things in this lifetime but more Van Halen ain’t one of’em if I can avoid it at all costs. Falsely Accused is much more on the real gritty side of the heavy Rock sound…Black Keys & such…a lil’ Zeppelin sprinkled in…some Queens, some Kyuss…that kinda vibe – which hell yeah, is more than welcome to come on ragin’ through these speakers of mine any ol’ time. I suppose that might even make’em more comparable to something like Them Crooked Vultures all said & done, but I’m sure you get the idea. Falsely Accused is from Boston too eh? They’re certainly cookin’ themselves up a real scene over there, that I can tell ya, even from all the way over here in Canada – as far as the independent scene goes, this crew could rock a show with Heavy AmericA over there and that would make for one seriously kickass double-billing. Call’em up! Get that show on the books for 2022.
Three pieces all bent on meltin’ your speakers, “Running With The Devil” makes it abundantly clear what Falsely Accused is gonna be like to experience & what Compression is gonna sound like. We’re talkin’ BIG tunes here y’all – with real teeth, meaty musicianship, and a combination of some of the most gritty & badass tones you’re gonna hear on a record this year. I’m impressed with the CRUNCH these guys have, you know what I’m sayin’ y’all? “Running With The Devil” puts the fired-up passion of this band on displays in ways we can all hear it…drummer Mike Azzolino’s got a vicious beat on the skins, and his cohorts in Matt Tavano (Vocals/Bass) & Mark Young (Guitar) play their instruments every bit as hard as Mike kicks the crap right outta his drums with such power & precision. Listen to the depth in the TONE though will ya? Doesn’t matter which instrument you choose – pick any of’em – you’ll find there’s real work that’s been put in here to get Falsely Accused the sound they’re seeking out, and mission fully accomplished on that front. Whatever knobs & dials they’ve been twistin’ on their amps or in production are certainly workin’ for me over here, that I can tell ya. On the merits of their sound alone, Falsely Accused puts themselves in a huge position to get your attention & make a lasting impression on ya as a result – you can’t push play & hear “Running With The Devil” and somehow ignore all the intensity that begins to start rippin’ outta your speakers, and Mark can clearly riff out the raddest of solos any damn time he chooses to. You factor in the heaviness of the bass & reliable vocals from Matt and you can hear they’ve got everything they need to keep on surgin’ throughout the years to follow. I’m not arguing they’re recreating the wheel here – “Running With The Devil” is a solid cut, no doubt about that – but they will reveal much stronger material as Compression plays on, I can promise ya that. As far as first impressions go, they make a LARGE and favorable one, right off the drop on their first cut.
I listen to “Hellbound” and kinda just have to marvel at the unified attack these guys are cranking out on their DEBUT record! With Falsely Accused being new to the scene & all, I really don’t know too much about’em yet other than the music I’m listening to, but this ain’t nobodies first band, you following me? They’re coming in sounding like serious veterans of the scene, playing with gripping intensity, loud & proud with confidence and supreme precision…the balance of strengths between them is seriously something to experience & truly noteworthy stuff. You even get a mini-bass solo in “Hellbound!” There isn’t ever gonna be enough of those in this world for my liking, so hell YES I appreciate them takin’ the time to highlight the low-end. “Hellbound” is played on a purely unified front…just shy of three minutes filled with bulletproof musicianship and their kickass gritty grooves. Like…am I crazy? You COULD dance to this, could you not? That’s how thick & rad this track becomes in the heat of its rhythm…fueled by the bass, “Hellbound” has this sleek design that I swear is designed to get your ass right outta its chair. All-in-all, thematically they explore some important themes here, without giving it all away by spelling anything out too plainly…as in, it’s lyrically sparse in the sense that there’s a whole lot more music goin’ on than words comin’ at ya, but everything Matt’s singing about conjures up real imagery we can see. As a Canadian, I think it’s always noticeable how much the US-based bands can tend to dive right into militaristic content…but chances are, if you’re living down south, “Hellbound” hits even closer to home.
I feel somewhat the same about “The Messenger” regarding the danceable content comment I just laid down about “Hellbound” – maybe even more-so here if I’m being truthful…potentially a LOT more-so. I bring it up because it’s not something we really typically associate with a band that rocks as heavy and hard as these guys do…I think it’s a real sign of universal sound & crossover vibes that are gonna connect with the people out there. If I’m being 100% REAL with ya – you could take “The Messenger,” give it to Collective Soul in the mid-90s, and you’ve got yourself a worldwide hit song that’d take radio by STORM – I realize that’s not exactly the ‘heavy’ comparison many might expect in talkin’ about the sound of Falsely Accused, but have a listen to “The Messenger” and tell me ya don’t hear exactly what I’m talkin’ about. Matt himself even has significant moments along the way where he’s almost a dead-ringer for Ed Roland in how he sings this tune, making the most differences noticeable through the added edge that Tavano gives to his voice. So yeah…all-in-all, we’re talkin’ about seriously amped-up good times when it comes to the energy & vibe, deeper content within the contrast of the lyricism if you wanna go that route too – it’s one of those cuts that gives you the option. You can rock right the fuck out with “The Messenger” on the surface & that’ll be freakin’ fantastic for ya, or you can dig even further into the words along with it and you’ll get that much more out of a song like this. Personally, I think it’s just about the very definition of addictive…Matt’s bass is off-the-charts killer here, as is the solo guitar work laid down by Mark, which has this dude playing like he’s come straight from another planet to grace us with the future of badassery via the axe. Accessible beyond words for a band as heavy as Falsely Accused can be and the intensity they generate together – I’d be lookin’ at this as a single without hesitation – “The Messenger” is bound to be a stellar gateway into this record for many listeners, 100%.
Truth be told though, even with all of these great things I’ve had to say so far – I think it was honestly “Stay Gold” that really got my attention in the first half of this set on the initial spin through Compression. There is so much style in this one cut that it defies description – and I don’t think you could have gotten more out of the potential in “Stay Gold” than exactly what you’ll find Falsely Accused has brought to it themselves. Part Black Keys, part Led Zeppelin here for sure – they’ve found the right bridge between those two realms to make the sound work for THEM, and no bullshit, Falsely Accused tears into this track with tremendous confidence in this mid-tempo Blues/Rock groove. Mid-tempo – the arch nemesis of so many artists & bands out there…you see what I’m sayin’ folks? This band has got what it takes to keep ya captivated as they slide, transition, and morph their sound in one direction straight on through to the other side…fast, slow, or in between like you’ll find on “Stay Gold,” they’ve found major ways to keep you locked onto every moment and fully engaged. Matt is CRUSHIN’ it here on the microphone…I think that was the main difference for me here, along with the murky & mysterious sound this has at the beginning and in the instrumental part past the two-minute mark. Vocally, Matt reveals just a HINT of the FACT that he can OBVIOUSLY nail a perfect Robert Plant if he wants to…listening to these guys cover a Zeppelin tune could truly be just like experiencing the real thing in their prime based on what I’m hearing. It’s a real audible line-in-the-sand type tune though, and I think that’s what I dig about it more than anything else…those first three tracks on Compression all play in a very fluid direction that logically progresses, and “Stay Gold” is kind of the curveball that they throw at ya to confirm early on in the lineup that this record’s got a whole lotta versatility inside their Rock-based sound. That main guitar riff from Mark is so dark & deadly…the chorus on this cut hits the mark for sure, but I’d put my money on it being everything else around it that really makes the impact.
I tell ya…they’re really only competing against themselves by the time you get to “Firewater” – I’d say this cut was an A-side on most records, and yet here we are on this particular debut album, and I’m feeling like it’s just shy of having that inspired spark or defining moment you hear on the first four tunes. So give this band some serious credit y’all…there’s no reason to complain about a cut as good as “Firewater” is and I’m not gonna be the guy who starts the trend of tryin’ now – it might not quite have that special something we hear in the others, but there’s a great post-Grunge sound at work here that’s still immensely satisfying to experience. Love the filter on the bass…love the way the guitars have the extra freedom to roam around in the verses and how they all connect to conquer the chorus of this cut – “Firewater” displays a professional balance between the members of this band that money can’t buy. While it’s probably fair to say they’re still rocking with decisively single-worthy sound here to a degree, there’s a steadiness to this track that makes it far better suited to being that track on a record you know you can come back & count on to add strength to the lineup…a great example of a song that never quits digging into the meat of what excellent songwriting & musicianship is all about. They’re always going to be flashy enough because they’ve got tremendous skill and audible passion on display in everything that they do, it’s just dialed back a bit more here. The guitar solo is once again as supremely badass as it gets, the band is exceptionally tight too – I suspect it’s just a matter of “Firewater” not quite having that one major spark or defining moment that would make the four before it more memorable than this cut. Still a great tune by every measure – heck, for some folks out there, you’ll read this review/description of my thoughts on “Firewater” and head straight to it…this might end up being the cut for YOU, and that’s every bit as cool with me y’all. I’m just saying it’s a tougher track to get jump-up-and-down excited about by comparison…but if we’re talkin’ quality, execution, & songwriting, I got no complaints.
Sliding on into “Cry Havoc” with an absolutely addictive grimy guitar tone & crunchy riffs to follow, I was genuinely surprised by how much I actually DID love this tune if I’m being real with ya. Falsely Accused probably knows full-well why that is, on both sides of the fence…they’ll know the comparisons that’ll come their way because they’d be undeniable based on what you hear, but they’ve gotta know just how damn addictive this cut was as well to consider keeping “Cry Havoc” in the lineup despite all that, you follow me? We’re all gonna hear the rumble & roll at the beginning and know that vibe is comin’ straight from the school of The Doors…we’re all gonna get to the simplified chorus of ‘heys, yeahs, and rights’ and feel like “Cry Havoc” could keep slidin’ its way onto No. 4 by the Stone Temple Pilots too, and the notable Black Keys-esque swagger is also a factor in this particular tune. All this being said, the hybrid results you hear kick not just some, but ALL of the ass…and like I was tellin’ ya – what are we supposed to do – resist this? How? Someone tell me how ya go about doin’ that successfully will ya? I found it to not be possible or a thing I was capable of doing, but perhaps you’ll have better luck. For me, I can’t help but admit it…familiarity can be a really effective tool – Falsely Accused isn’t directly taking any one piece of the music or part of the song from anyone else, they’re borrowing from an influence and they’re creating rad combinations like you hear on “Cry Havoc.” As to whether or not a track like this would help in establishing their identity as much as the rest – that’s where we’ve got room to debate…but once again, if we’re talkin’ about accessibility, execution, and a tight freakin’ band – what else could you possibly want than the wicked rhythm & roll through the wild crunch of “Cry Havoc?”
A track like “Westbound” is probably where they lose me a bit and they pick up a whole lotta steam with many of the rest of ya…it’s all executed with as much passion & professionalism as any of the rest, it just ain’t my thing. They’re into that…aggressive-Elvis, or Jet-like terrain here, and that’s where I gotta bow out a little…but at least y’all know where I stand. I’m not faulting the performance, I’m not faulting the way they’ve written it, I’m not faulting anything at all if you’re readin’ this right – I never begrudge anyone out there for wanting to turn up the amplifiers and rock the fuck out however they wanna. We all like what we like and we love what we love – and the reality is, half of you out there reading this just read a comparison to Jet and said “OH YEAH I LOVE THAT BAND” and now you wanna check this record out…and right on, I’m happy to help illuminate another potential gateway in for ya, enjoy yourselves! They’ve got their personality on display here, they’re having some fun whilst rocking the fuck on out, and I’m 100% supportive of Falsely Accused doing exactly everything that they want to do & whatever they wanna accomplish as a band…I ain’t here to stand in anyone’s way. I look at it this way…comparisons CAN be a great thing – we all want them & seek them out even at points in our lives – but each and every time one comes up, that means our ears are focusing in on the ground someone else has previously broken too…and that’s something to consider. “Westbound” ain’t a bad song – but there is noticeably less identity in both this tune and “Cry Havoc” beforehand when examining their sound, for what Falsely Accused is having us listen to THEM for – make sense? With every comparison we make, we trade a bit of the uniqueness from the other end of the spectrum, that’s just the reality of the scenario…it doesn’t make any move right or wrong, and not every song we’re ever gonna write has to be such a defining moment in a career overall – but we do get the choice as to what we choose to pursue. I hear a band that doesn’t need to ride Jet’s nuts whatsoever…I hear a band that Jet would have been lucky to have ever BEEN in! Falsely Accused…”Westbound” is gonna lead to automatic acceptance in the masses listening to the music for sure…but I’m sticking with my gut here – there’s more to you than this.
Personally I find the more they seem to drift towards the Stone Temple Pilots level of fierceness and how they tended to combine Blues/Rock into such meaty and adventurous tunes, the more Falsely Accused seems to find that branch from music’s history extends to reach their pathway forward. Much like with “Cry Havoc,” you could certainly cite The Doors here too, and you wouldn’t be wrong – it’s just a much more aggressive approach on that style of sound, which puts them much closer to the STP take on how that all went down. The more steady & reliable Rock vibe you get from Falsely Accused as opposed to anything dedicated to the Alternative scene is where you’ll find the main differences between them – Falsely Accused makes no bones about the fact they’re a Rock band, through & through, and rightly so. They know their way around the amplifiers and there’s no way any of us could possibly miss that fact – they light up “Phoenix” with heat hot enough to melt your speakers into a pile of ashes, and they’re clearly ready to rise up right outta the wisping smoke to kick the rest of any ass that might somehow be left. It’s funny…being a word-guy & all, you’d think I’d almost naturally rebel against a chorus like “Phoenix” has where the lyrics are sparse and repetition is the key – but it’s really the opposite…or more to the point, I’m all about whatever truly suits the song, and this certainly has all that it needs to make its impact on ya. I dig the verses where more words can be found in “Phoenix” – but if we’re talkin’ about a moment in time that makes a major impression on ya, it’s the attack and sheer sonic punch they put into the chorus of this cut that’ll have you talkin’ about this tune by the end. Riff-Rock at its finest – Falsely Accused gets downright EPIC at parts of “Phoenix” – it’s a hard-hitting cut.
Something like “Rotate” excites me extremely, almost despite its slow-burning mid-tempo intensity – there’s something really rad about this track that reveals many things I like. Particularly, they sound like they could be THE band to take over where Brother Cane left off here, and take that whole edgy-Rock vibe to the next level they were searching for. These are the kind of comparisons that I freakin’ LIVE for – to find a band that can truly continue on a vibe that another had to leave behind, and one that should have worked without question, that the world just somehow missed entirely…that’s pure audio GOLD in my universe if you ask me folks. So yep, you bet – I’d put “Rotate” right up there with my main favorites from Compression…this is the kind of cut that ends up highlighting just how many avenues and paths there are to reach the success they’re seeking out…Falsely Accused is nothing less than completely gripping with how they play this cut. I have my moments with the solo in this tune…sometimes I felt like it worked, sometimes it felt a bit more rushed in design than maybe it should have been – but in terms of the songwriting overall, this is one extremely killer cut that shows the true strength & unity within this band as they play together, with brilliantly written hooks that are executed with equal focus. There are only actually two cuts on this album that push Falsely Accused over the four-minute mark and this is one of’em…both “Rotate” and “Firewater” prove they know how to make that extra space work to their advantage. From the moment I pushed play on this album, I’ve been OBSESSED with the tone and CRUNCH it has in the stunning distortion they apply…and there might not even be a better example I could point to of their sound in action than what you’ll hear in “Rotate” – it just sounds so BADASS at all times, and if you’re anything of an audiophile like I am, the textures of their music will blow your mind.
“Drones” is a solid conclusion for a debut record that truly deserved one. There are NO bad songs on this record, to be crystal clear on that…there’s no doubt about the fact that Falsely Accused has come stormin’ outta the gate as a verifiable force to be reckoned with. Sure I might have my own personal preferences about this song or that song, but in terms of execution, they’ve been nothing but reliable. I had moments where I’d listen to “Drones” and think to myself, ‘that’d be what Zeppelin would be playin’ today if they were still around’ – and I had just as many moments where I felt like I could cite that Stone Temple Pilots comparison again too. Considering STP drew on about a million Zeppelin influences themselves, I suppose it all comes naturally part & parcel like six or one half-dozen of the other. What I LOVED about “Drones” above all of its many elements & reasons to dig it, was the way they transitioned their sound to expose the acoustic in the mix too…you’ll hear it peek through for a moment briefly just past the middle of this final cut, and you’ll also hear them break it down that way to finish the record off on that acoustic vibe at the very end. It’s a genuinely innovative moment inside of this particular track, and a really smart move in the way that it’s mixed in…it’s almost strange for such a low-key part in a song to make such a noticeable impact on us as we listen, but let’s be real here – Falsely Accused has brought it to ya heavy for quite some time in spinning through this lineup – a departure into acoustic terrain for a second or two becomes a really clever way to get noticed, and provides one last great twist onto what’s been a great record from start to finish. For a debut, it’s all-out spectacular…these guys are onto something significant with their band, sound, and style…I’d be keepin’ Falsely Accused on my radar if I were you, and certainly be keeping Compression rockin’ long & strong on your playlists this year too.
Find out more about Falsely Accused at their official website at: https://thefalselyaccused.biz
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