Fake Names

Washington D.C. Punk Rock band Fake Names comes together for a fast paced, bratty statement on their self-titled debut album.

The super group, comprised of guitarist Brian Baker (Minor Threat, Dag Nasty, Bad Religion), guitarist Michael Hampton (S.O.A., Embrace, One Last Wish), vocalist Dennis Lyxzén (Refused, International Noise Conspiracy, INVSN), bassist Johnny Temple (Girls Against Boys, Soulside) and drummer Matt Shultz (vocalist for Cage the Elephant), combined musical aspirations in 2016, after Baker and Hampton met up at Hampton’s residence to play music together, with no intentions beyond that day’s sessions. 

Instead, the two guitarists — who have known each other since childhood — ended up writing a handful of songs that day and then closed out the session with a spontaneous decision to start a band.

Released May 8, the lean album, consisting of 10 tracks finishing in just under 30 minutes, uses Pop-sensible choruses against a bare sounding Punk backdrop to sound off on the maladies plaguing typical human lives.

Opening the album with an upbeat drum attack, “All for Sale” — a lament against the toxic effects of Capitalism — is a song about how people are controlled by banks, which are then controlled by corporations. 

“We’re slaves to debt and to our jobs, and we’re brainwashed to believe this is the only system that works,” Lyxzén explained to Apple Music upon the album’s release.

“Driver” is a great example of the synergy the band shares when they play — particularly between guitarists. Lyxzén with melody and brattiness, expresses lyrics such as, “Constructed death economy creating a divide to great to see manufactured petty selfish needs ... Gotta feel the disconnect, gotta feel the disconnect,” while Baker and Hampton dance around each other’s foot work. 

From solid rhythms, to complementing harmonic flourishes while the other solos, the Baker-Hampton guitar combo sound strong and familiar in their varying Punk Rock guitar arrangements.

If the aforementioned track best describes one reason for listening to the group, the song “Brick,” should be noted for best encompassing the feeling/message of Fake Names. The song, with classic pulverizing Punk guitars and a fist-pumping chorus, contain revolution-tinged lyrics about taking down the names of the people and institutions that have done you wrong.

Experimenting within the confines of an established sound with capable musicians can often yield exciting results, much like the song “Darkest Days,” where the group gives off hints of the atmospheric, haunting ’70s band Joy Division, an act that made Dark Pop that still resonates with listeners 40 years later. 

Pulsing bass and steady drums mix over the reflective words, “Here we storm into the darkest times, stole our souls then they drained our minds, an epidemic of stupidity. Left us here left us all to bleed, I wanna breathe I wanna live, not just waiting for something to give. Here’s to hope just a little spark, to light a way out of the dark,” leaving the listener with a sense of hope.

After playing shows for four years and finally recording an official album, Fake Names have released a work with enough energy and aggression to give the Punk scene a jolt.

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