Face to Face

Don't Turn Away

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Considered by many fans to be a classic, this debut on Fat Wreck Chords (originally released on Doctor Strange, with only a few thousand copies shipped before the company went out of business) qualifies as a '90s punk must-have. The first (and by far the rawest) of three Face to Face recordings to include alt-rock radio mega-hit "Disconnected," this 13-track disc reveals a band on the brink of punk stardom. Don't Turn Away features original members Matt Riddle on bass, Rob Kurth on drums, and singer/guitarist Trevor Keith -- the one constant in what would become an ever-shifting lineup. Keith demonstrates a powerful, well-defined voice, along with a strong commitment to his material -- carefully avoiding the fake British accent snottiness that many of his mid-'90s pop-punk contemporaries found hard to resist. Providing excellent backing for their leader's trademark creations, the rhythm section stays in control and out of the way throughout most of Don't Turn Away. The band's enthusiasm gets the best of them during slower material that sounds uneven at times, but many fans might consider such caffeinated quirks endearing and forgive the unpleasantries when the trio rips through studio versions of upbeat concert favorites "You've Done Nothing" and "Pastel." A retrospective spin of Don't Turn Away will let new listeners in on something old-school Face to Face aficionados have known since the record's 1992 release: from the very beginning, Trevor Keith and company possessed the instincts to both reinforce and transform punk.

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