Aggressive, rebellious, and living life on his own terms, would sum up the debut effort of F8, featuring Leif Garrett as lead singer, lyricist, and composer. Garrett, ex-teen idol, has struggled with shedding his pin-up, cookie cutter image of the past. Now, with this new project F8, and the debut disc, he wants to be taken seriously. He is a musician striving for relevance, and self-respect. It’s your call if he has earned it?
Garrett, more recently know for his stint on VH-1 Behind the Music, has battled with substance abuse, a non-existence father-son relationship, and is now trying to adjust to a more positive head space. He wants to be taken honestly as a musician, and this CD will give him an opportunity to prove himself.
F8’s, or fate, if the acronym is spelled out, borrows heavily from ’80s hard rockers like the Cult, with a dash of Van Halen, Lynyrd Skynyrd on the side, only fast forwarded fifteen years later. But the music is somewhat derivative, and not much like anything else being produced in today’s market.
“The new stuff has a little more of a pop rock feel to it, although one’s pretty dark,” says Garrett. And listening to the disc is like being transported back in time to the sounds of the Cult’s 1987 “Electric” album. The guitars are crunchy, with lots of feedback, and distortion. The drums are solid, but definitely not doing triple time.
“Symptoms,” the first track, kicks off sounding like a badass motorcycle. The song seems to have drawn from, “Wild Flower,” by the Cult, complete with solid hitting drumbeats, introducing Chuck Billings on drums. He is hitting the shit out of his skins. Ryan Wrath has recently replaced Joe Gaines, the lead guitarist on this disc. Gaines provides an engaging, lead guitar performance.
“Still I Wish,” also Cult influenced is also a testament to carving out your own path in life. Garrett’s voice is stressed, and strained on this track. The drums are march-like in progression, and aggressive in strength.
“Clear,” probably the strongest track on the CD, is just what Garrett purported by calling this music ‘Pop rock’. The track has a catchy chorus, and is the kind of tune that seeps into your subconscious, and filters into your head when driving a car or showering alone. You just can’t get it out of your head.
“Alive (Today)”, unplugged acoustic guitar version, offers a warmer sounding Garrett. Once again, this is a song that spells out the belief in oneself. It offers the idea that no matter what other people think about you have to reaffirm your own self worth.
“Just Like Me (Live at the Whisky)” a Jim Morrison influenced intro with Garrett doing the narration before the delving into the core of the song. Garrett offers the walk in my shoes for a mile attitude. He presents a hell bent stance in expressing his anger, and displays his resentment toward his father in this tune. The song has heavily distorted guitar, and presents a maniacal propensity to the lyrics in this song including the tag line “Fuck you, Daddy,” at the end of the tune. Anger? Aggression? Yeah, I think so. This song clearly spells it out Garrett’s conflicted feelings toward his father for the world to consume. Lyrically, F8’s tunes appear to be describing ones odyssey in trying to find oneself, and doing things on ones own terms. This is also a common thread throughout the record, and appears to be a theme that Garrett is dealing with his own life.
Basically, Garrett already has a built in fan base. So he, and F8 can rest assured that their loyal fans will swoop up anything they decide to release. And that’s not such a bad thing. But just don’t slide this disc into your CD player, and expect to hear “Surfing USA” or “I was made for dancing.” It’s just not happening.
Garrett is a professional musician seeking acceptance among his peers, but will probably need to produce more material to achieve credibility, and the right target market for his work.