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Art Vandelay – The Human Comedy

The fact that Art Vandelay is able to so easily traverse musical styles without getting lost in the whirlwind is quite an achievement.



Ordinarily you’d assume that a post-hardcore band that derives its name from a Seinfeld character wouldn’t be much chop, but as Kramer would say “You might think so, but you be wrong!” After listening to The Human Comedy, the debut album of Brisbane three-piece Art Vandelay, what stands out as most impressive is the album’s sheer diversity and scope whilst maintaining a high standard of quality. Art Vandelay proves itself to be rather flexible as they effortlessly move across genres to create different sounds. Yet they never fail to stamp each song with their imprint to ensure the audience always knows what they’re listening to.

Track number three, “There’s More to Life Than New Curtains and a New Window,” is a song that can hold its own against any hardcore outfit, as the vocals and crunchy guitar explode from the outset, before spiraling out of control. While “Donec Floruit” and “Hope Still for the Penguin” go down a more post-hardcore route; darkness and brooding stand side by side with melodic and catchy breakdowns that will have even the most jaded punter singing along. The middle track, “Epicentre,” changes gears yet again. A slow burning love song, “Epicentre” almost loses its way but instead builds to an epic crashing symphony at the end that just about steals the show on an album filled with highlights.

Bassist Josh Coxon does a stellar job on lead vocals. Coxon has the difficult task of having to switch from the angry, guttural screams of “There’s More to Life…” to the soaring choruses of “Hope Still…” yet he manages to rise to the occasion, hitting every line with a raw emotion that leaves the listener enthralled.

Even after listening to this record several times, it’s still hard to fathom that this is Art Vandelay’s debut album. It sounds more like the work of a more seasoned outfit that already has three albums under its belt and is now looking to rejuvenate their repertoire. The fact that Art Vandelay is able to so easily traverse musical styles without getting lost in the whirlwind is quite an achievement. The Human Comedy is an album that every post-hardcore fan should check out and marks the arrival of a band that could do great things in the not to distant future.

(Skull and Bones Records)


Crossed Keys – Saviors

Saviors shows the work of well-seasoned musicians finding new energy in old sounds



Crossed Keys Saviors

Philadelphia’s Crossed Keys are an interesting intersection between melodic hardcore and punk, taking an earnest approach to the sound that made its way from the underground in the late 90s and early 2000s. This relatively new outfit is the result of Kid Dynamite and Samiam in a blender- in the best way possible. The Kid Dynamite influence may be a given since Crossed Eyes features KD’s drummer Dave Wagenschutz, but the band’s pedigree also includes members of bands like Zolof the Rock & Roll Destroyer and The Curse, all backing the melancholic vocal work of frontman Joshua Alvarez (Halo of Snakes). So while Crossed Keys are somewhat new, its members have been cutting their teeth within their respective circles for years, and their new EP Saviors shows the work of well-seasoned musicians finding new energy in old sounds.

Saviors is backboned by the furious urgency and energy that Kid Dynamite showed through their history, but while Jason Shevchuk’s vocals were beautifully abrasive, Alvarez takes a more restrained, wistful approach to singing. Songs like the opening “Times of Grace” are musically up-tempo percussions and razor-sharp guitars, but are buoyed by Alvarez’s more melodic vocals. His vocals rest at a good place between Samiam’s Jason Beebout and that NYHC tone exhibited by bands like Token Entry and Grey Area. In songs like “R.J.A” and the closing title track, Crossed Keys find more success with their brand of blistering speed meets harmony- slowing down only for the kind of melancholic punk that made Samiam a noted name. While much of Saviors is built on pace, it wasn’t always this way for the band. In fact, their 2017 EP, I’m Just Happy That You’re Here, leans closer to Samiam than it does to Kid Dynamite (the song “Jeff Pelly vs. The Empire” is particularly fantastic), so there’s been an uptick of urgency with Saviors.

For fans of any of the aforementioned bands here, there is plenty to like with Crossed Keys and plenty to like in Saviors. It’s succinct, to the point, but filled with ample reflection and exploration that gives the EP depth and resonance. Any band that has found influence from Kid Dynamite is most certainly OK by us (this site is named after a KD song after all), but Crossed Keys does more than just tip their cap. This one’s a really good one, and worth your time.

(Hellminded Records)

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Every last time: Revisiting Gameface’s “How Far Is Goodbye?”

A glorious sound of a time gone by



Southern California’s Gameface were always a band that seemed perfect just below the cusp. Their brand of pop-tinged punk was somewhere in between the melancholy driven emo of the early 1990s to what would become of radio-friendly punk bands evolving from the Jimmy Eat Worlds of the… world.

I loved this band. It was songs like “My Star” and “When You’ve Had Enough” that captured my attention. They didn’t fit in with the punk explosion of the mid-90s and had more melodic chops than those that remained in the underground with bands like Quicksand and Texas is the Reason (the latter being the most musically similar).

To this day, I count their track “How Far Is Goodbye?” as one I can listen to on any given day and still feel the same way about it as I did years ago. It’s a glorious sound of a time gone by, and Jeff Caudill, who has been the backbone of their songwriting since the beginning, has still got the chops his ilk can only dream of. There’s a tinge of melancholy that conjures up a certain sadness, a scene in a movie where the protagonist is making their exit into the distance as the scene closes. Something about the song, the sentiment, and the lyrics that always reminds of driving away while looking at the rear view mirror.

Five years ago Gameface released a new album, Now Is What Matters, an album that perfectly encapsulated their ability to write with emotion, melody, and magnetism that only a select few seem to possess. I interviewed frontman Jeff Caudill before the album came out to chat about the band, an interview I think still holds up. Caudill has been busy since then with a lot of solo material, while the band themselves have been releasing music sporadically (mostly singles) since 2014.

While their catalog is deep, there’s one song I keep coming back to, and that’s “How Far Is Goodbye?”. Originally released on the split 10″ vinyl with Errortype: 11 in 2000, the song received an update in 2018, which you can hear below.

Gameface photo from Gameface facebook page.

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