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Broadcaster – A Million Hours

Long Island: bad hockey team, good bands. Broadcaster keep the latter going.

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There has always been something about Long Island, NY. The number of terrific bands that have come out of this stretch of land could fill stadiums a plenty. Three-piece rock trio Broadcaster could very well be the latest in a long line of Long Island bands to really make themselves household names.

Taking cues from terrific prairie rock favourites The Weakerthans and older time punk rock/indie stalwarts Jawbreaker and Superchunk, Broadcaster mix the best elements of Southern-tinged rock with uptempo, emotionally charged punk. Following on from the terrific 3-song 7” Tightrope Walker (listen to the title track, it’s just fantastic) comes their new full length A Million Hours.

From the get to, the band forge their sound in chunky riffs, whoa-whoahs and some good time melodies that bring back some of those great Lookout Records pop-soaked punk days. The song “Jamie” could easily be something Limbeck wished they had written while “Show Me Something New” traverses down a road paved by the likes of Husker Du and to some extent, early Gin Blossoms. Songs like “I Don’t Wanna Talk” have got a little bit of Lucero in them while “Petrified” is perfect for long breezy drives with the window down.

All through the record I kept telling myself, in slight bewilderment, “How good is this??”, and my only serious qualm was the lateness of my arrival to the Broadcaster party. The record has got a distinct sound, one most would find familiarity with upon finding out it was produced by Jawbox’s J. Robbins. The guitars are thick, the percussions distinct, and the fuzz portion of the harmonies all well in tune.

The only thing really missing from the album is the inclusion of the song “Tightrope Walker” as that song particularly, is still the best song the band have written thus far. Nonetheless, A Million Hours closes off particular strong with “Wasting Time With You” and “World Turned Gray”, providing listeners plenty to be excited about going forward.

While Long Island may stand in the shadow of their big city counterparts, the long line of bands that have stepped out from this shade have leapt far higher than a great number of NYC rock stars. There may be something in the water in Long Island, but maybe Broadcaster are just damn good, regardless of where they’re from.

(Jump Start Records)

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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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