Q FACTOR, THE: Discography: 12”

Jul 20, 2022

This San Francisco band is the perfect example of the righteous, vulnerable DIY punk that I fell in love with as a teen in the mid-’90s, back when I felt like the only way I could get through was by making a little world with my friends. And this nine-song discography—which pairs Q Factor’s lone EP with a small grip of comp tracks—sums up that little world: a twee Liliput of penpals, nutritional yeast, and touring with the sleeping bag you’ve had since Cub Scouts. The sound is open-hearted and breathless, the best of ’90s DIY: a mix of tuneful, shout-along punk and dynamic emo-core that is made for basement show singalongs. The lyrics are “personal is political,” questioning the pernicious ways capitalism and adult life trickle into DIY youth culture. The booklet full of flyers and liner notes are Mad Libs for this era of the scene, referencing 924 Gilman, Goleta, Sarah Kirsch, wiffle ball, Kinko’s, staying up all night, $5, Crudos, friends for life, and oh did we mention Sarah Kirsch… They evoke the era beautifully and do its idealism a great service by grappling with being middle-aged people who remember this band’s life as a time when they gained the courage and critical thinking skills to face down the world at large. They weren’t young forever, just long enough to get it right and move on before Peter Pan Syndrome set in. It’s confusing to feel nostalgic for something that still influences your life and that’s why it’s hard to review this record objectively. Even though I’d never listened to Q Factor before last week, I take their existence as proof that my friends and I weren’t a desert island but part of an archipelago. This shit hit me right in the ’90s vegan potluck feels and made me cry (not me getting misty to a song called “Coffee Sucks”!). It’s a high school yearbook for ambitious dropouts. It’s an affirmation. And, yo, it rocks, too. –Chris Terry (Extinction Burst)

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