All supergroups are not created equal. Take Fake Names, the new punk outfit featuring an all-star lineup of current and/or former members of Minor Threat, Bad Religion, Refused, Girls Against Boys and others. With a pedigreed lineup like that, it should be no problem for them to tear your head clean off your shoulders right out of the gate, right? Wrong. Maybe these guys were trying to make a conscious effort not to sound like their other bands, but for some reason, too many of their songs on this 10-track set seem just a few bpms too slow, a few decibels too mellow, a few notes too melodic and a few degrees too clean to cut it in the pit. On the flip side, it’s got no shortage of style and smarts — especially from frontman Dennis Lyxzén — and plenty of good strong hooks to hold up these songs. Even so, it’s disappointingly easy to come away from this album feeling that Fake Names are not exactly the real deal. In fact, they might be the rare supergroup that adds up to less than the sum of its parts.
THE PRESS RELEASE: “Punk rock supergroup Fake Names includes Brian Baker (Minor Threat, Dag Nasty, Bad Religion), Michael Hampton (S.O.A., Embrace, One Last Wish), Dennis Lyxzén (Refused, International Noise Conspiracy, INVSN), and Johnny Temple (Girls Against Boys, Soulside). Fake Names first came to form in early 2016 when Brian Baker and Michael Hampton met up at Hampton’s Brooklyn home to play music together, with no intentions beyond possibly writing a song or two. Friends since first grade, the two guitarists ended up writing a handful of songs that day, and then closed out the session with a spontaneous decision to start a band. When it came to finding a bassist, Baker and Hampton looked to Johnny Temple, a fellow classmate from their elementary school. Later that year at Chicago’s Riot Fest, both Baker and Temple were struck with the sudden inspiration to recruit Refused frontman Dennis Lyxzén as their singer. On their self-titled debut, Fake Names bring their collective history to a 28-minute burst of unbridled energy. Co-produced by Hampton and Geoff Sanoff and recorded at Renegade Studios (a New York City facility owned by Little Steven Van Zandt), the album augments their bare-bones breed of punk with a heavy dose of power-pop, cleanly manifested in the band’s bittersweet melodies and abundant backup harmonies.”