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Dredg – Catch Without Arms

I believe in deja vous. I throw salt over my shoulder and clear my way from black cats. For Dredg’s new album, Catch Without Arms, I found myself in a very sticky situation.



In life, it takes more than once for the receiver to understand a message. Students read and re-read pages of philosophy texts to understand the meaning of Plato or Aristotle. The same can go for music. For me, coincidence happens more often than I brush my teeth. I believe in deja vous. I throw salt over my shoulder and clear my way from black cats. For Dredg’s new album, Catch Without Arms, I found myself in a very sticky situation. To my surprise, this album came to me twice in my life. It is understandable to hear an album more than once when one owns the album already, but when the album arrives twice in the mail then there must be some kind of sign; some unmentionable Dredg ghost that followed me around telling me to listen more closely to Catch Without Arms.

Slowly, the faint sound strings aired out my stale room with a chaotic mixture of quick-hand drumming and guitar chord repeats. My head bobbed and my feet weaved, leaving me in a blind mess of hair and hardwood floors. I danced idiotically around the house; I didn’t pay much attention to the particulars. I moved to the sound of the quick pace, one after the other, wavering from head banging rock to slow ballad- with lyrics that poetically measured out the mysteries of a broken heart. The thoughts of fate and destiny danced in my head again. In the first song “Ode to Son,” I understood why the song was an ode; “It’s gone from light to grey” – the possessive meaning the sun has gone from light to grey. The song is not about how lovely the sun is, but the ability to change the expression of a man, preferably lead singer Gavin Hayes, from sad to pleasant. The lyrics stand out, like the fine lines from their single “Bug Eyes;” “your journey back to birth is haunting you / haunting you / your departure from earth is haunting you…” suggesting the fear of life and death.

The album art is also a feat to admire. Images of different religious deities in a cartoon-like states; striking a nerve with the sacrilegious and somewhat demonic. It’s strange how the album art goes hand in hand with my destiny driven thought-process concerning the album. There are a few songs that mention religious beings ie: God, Buddha, Mary, but there is the feeling of mortality within each tune. It’s not the fundamental base of the songs, but there are some subtle details here and there that suggest some kind of fear of truth. An example of this could be in the song Planting Seeds, which on the outside suggests a return to life after a relationship, but the stanzas, can be understood to be about rebirth; “Look what I have found / a seashell in a sea of shells / I’m good at planting my own seeds / to sprout an endless hell,” powerfully describes how the mistakes in life come easily, but bring serious repercussions. 

As I listened to the last song“Matroshka,” I felt a definite end to a chapter. This song feels like one of those songs that play at the prom when the night is winding down and the feet of the soon-to-be graduates shuffle from side to side staring blankly into the eyes of their dates. It is the end of not only the album, but the end of an era. The song suggests the end of youth and childhood. And I have followed the journey of this album with questions of my own future- like these future scholars who have grown up to become what their destiny prophesized.

(Interscope Records)

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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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