wikipedia surfing: Foreign Legion

wikipedia surfing: Foreign Legion

Surf's up, one...more...time! ["Wipeout" drum solo begins] We're wrapping up our week of Wikipedia surfing with Harmony Woods (for the still-uninitiated...that's pasting "Special:Random" in the Wikipedia search bar and clicking until you see a page related to music, then listening to the music)...Mexican-American roots rock...Serbian post-punk....WHAT WILL WE LISTEN TO NEXT??? Well read on and you'll find out...and if you find yourself inspired, try some Wikipedia surfing for yourself, it's super fun. I just did it again, and it took like twenty clicks to hit the debut EP of the band The Naked and Famous, halfway there I got the page for this order of bivalves...hmmm...

Okay take it home, Harmony!!

This is the third installment in a series where I find random Wikipedia articles that are in some way related to music. This lets me look at music that I would never look at before, allowing me to widen my horizons in ways I wouldn’t do otherwise and sometimes opening my eyes to things I would have never learned existed before. For this installment, the randomly chosen article was about the Welsh punk band Foreign Legion. They have an expansive discography across decades, and I listened to most of their work I could readily find online. 

Foreign Legion (band) - Wikipedia

Speaking generally about their work, I really admire some of the guitar work. A lot of the melodies and repeated motifs used are really appealing to me even though they can sometimes be extremely simple.

One of my favorite examples is in the song "Take A Look" from their album Death Valley, featuring a really nice instrumental section where you can hear the guitar making a noise that almost sounds like it’s gurgling (it’s better than it sounds, I swear!). The rest of the band is happy to give the guitar space to show off and exude its brilliance. In many of their songs the vocals will take a substantial break every few lines to let the instrumentals show through and this is something that I think really lets those instrumental bits come through unhindered by the vocals on top. 

They wear their punk allegiance strongly, with many politically aligned songs such as "Rat Race" (also from Death Valley) criticizing the modern capitalist environment especially the ‘rat race’ to get ahead and the unequal distribution of work between managers and lower-level workers. This celebration and advocacy for the working class is a constant theme throughout their music. Their anger is illustrated in the aggressive vocals and guitars, and you can really tell that this band believes in what they’re singing and in the revolutionary punk ethos.

Personally, these messages resonate with me and I respect this sort of music a lot. I think I respect punk more than I actually listen to or like it, but this band in particular is very raw and aggressive in a way that I enjoy in moderate doses but struggle to listen to in long stretches. To put it as simply as I can, I get a headache if I listen to them too long. This isn’t meant as a slight to the band—I think this band sounds like a pretty good punk band, and if you enjoy that sort of thing, you will likely love this band. It’s just not quite the style I would necessarily choose to listen to much on my own. This is definitely still a band I’m glad I listened to - I haven’t explored punk as much as I’d like and this band sounds pretty good. 

One of my favorite songs from them is the less serious song "On The Piss Again," the closer on their album Always Working Class. This song does not have these political themes, at least not explicitly. The meaning of the lyrics seems to be about getting drunk and having to go to the bathroom repeatedly. However, in the middle of the song there’s a really interesting complete change in style into a reggae-inspired section. The first time I heard it, it completely took me aback and it honestly just sounds really good. Despite the somewhat juvenile topic of the song, I think that instrumental break carries the song to excellence. The transition from the classical punk style to the reggae style and back is seamless. 

My second favorite song from them is "Strange Town," another song from Death Valley. It opens with a really nice languid Western-esque instrumental section that leads into a more typical punk section. It seems to be about the narrator feeling lost in a town and not feeling like he belongs, asking repeatedly about what is he doing there. The guitars sound quite good here, and are given multiple opportunities throughout the song to take the lead and show off their might with repeated instrumental breaks. The song ends on a fadeout with a repeating section where the vocalist chants "Strange Town" every few beats, and you can hear each part slowly fade out until the only part remaining is the repeated guitar riff. I really like this fadeout (despite my general lack of enthusiasm for fadeouts), and I’m not fully sure why. I might just really like that section because I think it just sounds good and want to hear as much of it as I can!

absolutely wild amount of former band members

Death Valley was the first album of theirs I listened to and I think it’s still my favorite album because it seems (at least to me) that it goes a little lighter on the aggression than other albums of theirs and the guitars are doing things that interest me more. It’s definitely the one I’ve found myself revisiting the most and I think when I listen to this band in the future (not if—I think I definitely will be listening to them when I feel like I want to, to put it bluntly, fuck shit up), I will be likely choosing to listen to this album. I would also recommend this album to anyone who wishes to get into the band.

Harmony Woods (she/her) is a transgender mathematics graduate student currently living in Arizona. She adores listening to pop punk and emo music, among a wide array of other musical interests. Her favorite artists are rock group Waterparks and electronic music artist nanobii. When she’s not focusing on coursework, you can usually find her playing Magic the Gathering or playing around with data. 

Thanks for reading this series! This was so fun! If you like I Enjoy Music, go tell a friend.