With a third member added to the band, DZ Deathrays are here to impress us with new sounds, new ideas, and a whole lot of classic DZ bangers. There’s quite a hype in every song, and the energy is always at a high. Welcoming Positive Rising: Part 1 is “Hi Everyone”. It’s a gradual build-up to the full potential of this album. The first hint of electric guitar warms your insides and as the song assembles your excitement levels are elevated. “Still No Change” just gets straight into it. No build up or suspense, it’s pure DZ Deathrays with a rawer than usual voice and a constant fast pace, we are warmed and ready to go for the third song “IN-TO-IT”. And here is the point where you can picture the mosh thrashing their heads around. The bass drum grabs the attention of your heart beat and sends you racing throughout the song.
“A Lot To Lose” has an explosive beginning and a strange ending. The song explores a fuller sound, which makes sense having added third member Lachlan Ewbank to the show. The chorus is bordering on punk-pop which doesn’t necessarily tickle my fancy.
“Snakes” is a definite stand out of the album. It has a merciful intro that turns into a real heavy song. It’s high-volume and high-paced which attracts your attention and keeps a strong vibe. Make sure you listen to “Nightmare Wrecker” for the epic guitar riffs! I enjoyed this song because it shows a slight change to their usual sound but is still such a punchy song… just wait until 2 minutes in! Absolutely delicious guitar work.
“Year Of The Dog” features The Bronx frontman Matt Caughthran and it certainly does not disappoint. Beginning with a rumble of the drums we see the grungiest side of DZ Deathrays. A croaky yelling voice adds a harsh element to the song and hooks you in with the bridge. The album ends with “Silver Living”, a calmer, pop sounding tune. It focuses more on the lyrics rather than the thrashing of instruments.
DZ Deathrays really pack a punch. They are a frenzied and restless band and it’s great to see that they are keen to expand and improve without losing their integrity. The boys are here to entertain their listeners, and it’s quite evident they base a lot of their music on the live experience it will bring. Positive Rising: Part 1 is something to be very proud of. Now the question is… what will Part 2 bring us?
Crossed Keys – Saviors
Saviors shows the work of well-seasoned musicians finding new energy in old sounds
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.
Pine – Pine
Pine’s debut album is a kind of hypnotic melancholia
Where did Ottawa’s Pine come from? It’s a question worth asking after listening to their painfully gorgeous self-titled debut album. Pine use the phrase “doom and gloom never sounded so sweet” to describe their sound, and true to that, this 11-track outing is filled with the kind of hypnotic melancholia that became the playbook for a great many Midwestern emo bands that emerged in the late 90s/early 2000s. The biggest difference here is that while Pine have the heartbreak down pat, their musical sense of loss is lifted slightly by the airy, more wistful sounds of their guitar-strewn songs. Sure, there’s a lot that sounds like a great Mineral record or a Gloria Record album, but there’s also traces of Florida indie/emo band The Rocking Horse Winner and at times, bands like Rainer Maria.
Pine are buoyed by the great vocal work of Darlene Deschamps. Her voice soars through tracks like “Memento” and the terrific “Lusk”. The latter in particular is a great example of how Pine lull you into a sense of calm before it explodes in a collage of symphonic distortion and post-rock twinkling. In “Sunder” they ascend to louder, more expansive sounds. The song is a great combination of thick, fuzzy guitars, mid-tempo percussion work, and that pained vocal delivery that gives the song an extra punch in the guts.
The album took an impressive 2 years to finish, and you can hear the trials and tribulations of that gestation period through the songs. There’s pain, sadness, anger and frustration in songs like the intro “Within You” and the more new emo-esque “Swollen”, but also beauty, and as the album concludes, a sense of incredible catharsis. The record SOUNDS great too, with production values (by a production team that includes Will Yip, who has helmed records by Circa Survive, Braid, Saosin, and the Bouncing Souls to name a few) adding to the grand cinematic finish of the record.
For those who love what emo was in the mid to late 90s will find much to like about Pine just as much as those who like Explosions in the Sky and their post-rock brethren. Pine have been crafting their sound over the last few years and while their previous EP Pillow Talk showed a solid foundation, this new self-titled record is the work of a band close to the height of their abilities. Moving, beautiful, and littered with life’s roller coaster of emotions as songs, Pine is definitely recommended listening.