• Fretblanket
  • Junkfuel (Atlas) 1994 
  • Twisted EP (Atlas) 1994 

William Copley’s angry, raw-throated vocals and Clive Powell’s grunge-guitar attack mark Fretblanket as one of the first British groups to reflect the worldwide influence of Nirvana’s Nevermind. But Junkfuel, with its rampaging hardcore rhythms and pop hooks, owes at least as much to Jawbreaker and the Descendents, and Powell’s lyrics showcase a bright new talent with ideas of his own. Like Fretblanket’s American cousins, much of the Stourbridge (near Birmingham) quartet’s oeuvre reflects the angst of a befuddled generation: “She just wanted someone who’s free,” Copley roars in “Twisted,” but adds, “How could that be me?” When his raspy howl transforms the hooky chorus of “Song in B” (“We don’t seem that happy now”) into a slacker anthem, the whole affair does begin to smell like “Teen Spirit,” but Fretblanket redeems itself with the high-energy punk attack of “Direct Approach” and the introspective sadness of “Curtainsville.”

[Jim Testa]