Footings latest offering, Resolver, was released on August 4th. The title of the album has a double meaning, as it alludes to Gagne’s attempts to resolve some of his issues, while also re-recording multiple tracks from past releases as part of a continued effort to hone their craft and find their place in the scene. The northeast has produced plenty of great folk rock groups, and more and more post-punk and rock bands love adding in a bit folky flourishes. As much as I may love and appreciate this trend, there’s always something strange about the fact bands from large northern cities and their adjacent suburbs love the aesthetic, so much that they’ll put on a drawl, but not always draw as much influence from the music as I’d like.
That’s why Footings has created something I feel is totally worth sharing. They add the punk–rock flavor to a folk style that has an authenticity so that it doesn’t forget its history, especially the blues. Elisabeth Fuchsia’s viola is a large part of this, as she gives the album an incredible live feeling. They sound like a band I’d hear at one of the breweries tucked away in the mountains of Asheville. Eric Gagne’s lower vocals give a hint of folk/country singers of old, but instead of faking a drawl he tells his story of loneliness and lost romance with a slowed punk delivery.
‘Hopelessly,’ the first track, successfully moves straight into the folk storytelling, with a rocky guitar riff introducing the album as one about energetically missing, yet being “hopelessly without” the person they love.
The plucking of the viola on the second track, ‘Vibration, Too,’ provides a nice softness early in the album, and is one of the most present and beautiful parts of the release. There’s a second layer of viola added later, which serves as a countermelody while also giving the instrumentation a quickness that’s juxtaposed with Gagne’s slower delivery.
This song has a more mournful tone than its predecessor, as Gagne talks about his limits within the relationship. He opens with the question, “You say to go west, but how far should I go?” before going into the next line of “it’s such a long way, it’s awful far from home,” making sure to give the album some sense of locality.
‘Highline’ is another piece that was rewritten for this album, and really stands out from the beginning with its foreboding tone. The multiple layers of viola and guitar form a cacophony of sounds that showcase all the different tones and themes the album had introduced earlier. It almost sounds like it could be a demo off Brand New’s newest release (had to mention it, sorry). The drumming from Dustin Ashley Cote is also on key, as his vivid and accented beats merit his best performance, especially as they seem to control the pace of the song. It’s also Gagne’s best (and quickest) vocal performance. In the vocals, he hits on one of the themes of the piece; locale. He’s far from the West, yet mentions NYC and one of its natural (or “natural” depending on your views) attractions, yet shows obvious disdain for the city. As folk artists should, he longs for his Peterborough, New Hampshire home.
(Other notable tracks: ‘Destroy,’ another reworked piece, for showing Gagne’s personal strength and perseverance and ‘Pollen,’ for bringing the Celtic sounds from somewhere out of the Appalachians)
Possible influences are probably Dylan, Kevin Devine, The Allman Brother’s live album At Fillmore East. Probably much more than I can’t think of right this second…
Folk has always been present in northern cities. Hell, the money and reach of the region are probably what made it so popular. It’s purely American, not a solely Southern or Appalachian creation. And punk and folk have been linked for decades now, because of cities like New York. But in an era where we bend sounds and labels, scenes will sometimes mistake any acoustic guitar or hippie-ness for folk. We need bands like Footings to remind us the vastness of the genre. This album finds its niche as northeastern folk music, truly inspired and encompassed by the Appalachians and New England, meshed with urban-born punk influence.