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Basement – I Wish I Could Stay Here

Basement have fired a warning shot that they are a band on the rise and it’s exciting to think where their next album will take them if their development continues at this rapid rate.

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Here’s a test: How many good British post-hardcore/emo bands can you think of? It’s okay we’ll wait…

Still waiting….

Time.

Yeah, there aren’t too many huh? If we bend the rules we could squeeze in More Than Life, but they’re more straight up hardcore. When it comes to jangly indie rock, Britain is king but British punk rock? Forget about it because there’s not much going on in that department. All of which makes the debut album from Basement, the latest addition to the ever growing roster of awesome bands on Run For Cover Records, all the more fascinating.

Haling from Suffolk, UK, this five piece plays a decidedly un-British brand of rock. Think less Oi Oi Punk and more 90s post hardcore in the vein of Sunny Day Real Estate and Lifetime. However, although Basement’s influences are clear for all to see, they simply aren’t rehashing sounds from a past era; instead they’ve injected their own youthful energy and vigour into the mix.

Such is the quality of the musicianship that it’s hard to believe when listening to I Wish I Could Stay Here that this is Basement’s debut record. “Fading” kicks things off with a bang as pounding drums and loud guitars establish the mood and tempo. Second track “Plan to be Surprised” continues in the same manner with a melody that is all kinds of catchy. Yet despite the strong openers, it is the third track “Canada Square” that elevates Basement above the plethora of similar bands floating around today. Slower and more introspective than the fist two tracks, “Canada Square” showcases the vocals of Andrew Fisher whose performance drives the song and confirms that you’re listening to something desperate and heartfelt.

“Canada Square” symbolises the rapid evolution of Basement. The pop punk of their previous EPs has given way to a softer, deeper sound that is considerably more engaging. “Earl Grey” is perhaps the best example of this transformation while “Ellipses” is a melancholic instrumental track that perfectly transitions the listener into the second half of the record. However that is not to say that I Wish I Could Stay Here gets lost gazing at its own navel. The record shifts gears between fast and slow expertly and never allows the listener to become bored or disinterested. Basement are using a broad palette to write their music that most other bands of their ilk cannot match.

Thematically, Basement isn’t new breaking ground nor are Fisher’s lyrics especially brilliant but they are delivered with the passion and sincerity that makes it all too easy for the listener to be swept up into the energetic melodies.

I Wish I Could Stay Here is an album that works like a virus. It may not immediately grab you on the first listen but on multiple plays its catchy hooks and slow burning vocals will pull you in and before you realise it, it will be the only thing you’re listening to. With this record, Basement have fired a warning shot that they are a band on the rise and it’s exciting to think where their next album will take them if their development continues at this rapid rate. A contender for the sleeper hit of 2011.

(Run For Cover Records)

Reviews

Crossed Keys – Saviors

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

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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

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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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