John Faye – Box Set (review)

John Faye – Box Set / USB Bracelet (It Keeps Evolving) review

Never before has so much great music fit on such a small device

John Faye has been consistently writing melodic songs for over 20 years now. Yet, there’s a good chance you’ve never heard his music. His first band, The Caulfields, were signed to A&M Records for a pair of under-appreciated albums in the mid-Nineties. After that, Faye has largely self-financed his musical endeavors with the help of some of his more rabid fans. He’s just released a “box set” of sorts on his website,, culling together all of his recordings, plus a treasure trove of bonus material.

Okay, it’s not really a “box set” – in fact, there’s no box at all. In it’s place is a nifty USB drive, which doubles as a hipster bracelet (black, no less). What you do get is 130 doses of pure pop pleasure – hours of ear-pleasing enjoyment. In fact, I recently traveled with my family from Ohio to Myrtle Beach, jamming to this set the entire way down. The next morning, everyone had a different Faye song stuck in their head (drat – it’s the curse of the song wedgie!).

No disrespect to bands like the Raspberries and Badfinger, but those guys were never this consistent. From the very first Caulfields’ single, “Devil’s Diary” (which did receive brief MTV airplay), all the way up to a brand new Faye track called “D.N.A.” – there’s great tunes aplenty. For over two decades, Faye has brandished his unique ability to fuse clever wordplay with unbelievably catchy song structures.

For a little taste, check out “Into Philadelphia,” a great track from Faye’s band Ike:

Whether it’s writing angst-ridden rockers like “Deathbed (Na Na Na)” (from Ike’s 2003 album Parallel Universe), pure pop bliss in “Miss Catch 22” (from 1999’s John Faye’s Power Trip), or powerful ballads like “Where to Begin” (title cut from Ike’s 2008 disc), you’ll catch yourself immediately singing along.

For fans who already own everything, there’s still quite a few rarities – including the disc, Fraud, which grabs several Caulfields’ outtakes, and Ike Presents…a live radio performance which features interview segments interspersed with excellent concert footage.

“D.N.A.” is the leadoff single from what is being billed as the first-ever John Faye solo project. If that one song is any indication, we’re in for another great record.

This new John Faye “box set” is cheaper than a tank of gas – and you’ll certainly get more mileage out of it. If you’re a power pop fan and dig bands like Cheap Trick or Matthew Sweet, you will not be disappointed. —Tony Peters