This Foul Year
By Greg Hartman
Musical influences used to be easy to identify by region. East Coast Hip Hop, West Coast Punk Rock, and Seattle Grunge are easily identifiable and continue to be a large influence. How an East Coast hardcore punk rock album was written in Grand Junction, Colorado is a testament of the availability of music and a unique music environment. As This Foul Year approach the release of two EP’s that further expand their sound, they are also a great example of the variety of local music.
Lead singer and guitarist Jay Sandstedt moved to the Grand Valley to attend Colorado Mesa University. He quickly recruited bassist Jacob Brown to form a rock band called Cheapart. Four years later, the band was writing their own material and looking at playing more. As often happens, their original monicker was in use in other parts of the country, so Jay looked towards local legend Hunter S. Thompson for a new name. Specifically, the opening line of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas references “This Foul Year of Our Lord 1971”. The last piece of the band’s identity was locked in when Joe Foelker joined on drums.
This Foul Year has become a consistent house show band and has become a go-to opener for touring punk bands. They have shared the same stage with Guttermouth, Agent Orange, and Authority Zero. The band’s straightforward punk rock has built a local fan base, as displayed by their first album Cancer City. The 11 tracks were recorded with Bobby Hodown and could have come out any time between 1979 and yesterday. The album is basically a love letter to the band’s influences, notably early Black Flag and Minor Threat. Lyrics are often shouted and the songs fast and heavy
That a band can have success in a small city with such a particular sound is a testament to the melting pot of the Grand Valley music scene. While reggae rock and jam bands will always be a big draw, the geographic location loans itself to bands taking a break between larger communities. The wide variety of acts that tour along I-70 allows for a variety of music influences and opening opportunities. The dozens of successful bands don’t share a similar sound, genre, or influence. This Foul Year is unapologetically punk rock and are successful for just that reason.
After the release of Cancer City, the band was already looking towards new music. After getting down their initial ideas, they started looking to evolve. Their new CHEAPART EP shows how the band is expanding their sound. Rather than a particular influence, the 5 new songs sound like a punk rock influence blender. Jay is singing and using more melody, while keeping to his same vocal style. Jacob’s bass does more than keep time, becoming a focus on more songs. Joe is shifting up timing and adding in more of his music influences. The group shares their current playlists and musical discoveries and the new variety of influences shows.
The opening track, TFY, brings in pop-punk influences with a hardcore backline. Welcome to Fruita is certainly a heavy song, but the band mixes in more backing vocals and a metal influenced breakdown. The band is certainly coming into its own, with lyrics telling stories and conveying ideas of coming into your own self. There is one politically charged track, but the rest focus on Jay’s thoughts, ideas, and struggles.
After CHEAPART is released, the band has slated another EP to tackle the loss of a close friend. Entitled Skylark, each song is named after a stage of grief felt as the community dealt with the loss of a prominent promoter. Expect that EP to be released early summer and look for This Foul Year playing at a venue bringing punk rock to the high desert.