Every day is St. Patrick’s Day with Flogging Molly. So bust out the Guinness and line up the shots of Irish Car Bombs because our favorite Ireland rockers (who are actually from L.A.) are back and with their finest release to date. I didn’t think it would be possible to top their previous release, Drunken Lullabies, but Flogging Molly have hit their prime musically with their newest release Within a Mile of Home.
If you want a taste of Flogging Molly, don’t go grab yourself an Irish brew kids–use your head and imagine the setting of an authentic Irish pub (no, not one called the Irish Rover with a dog above the door) with a different crowd like a bunch of punk kids sporting mohawks and plaid pants. That’s the best way to describe the music and mannerisms of Flogging Molly. They take subtle Irish music and kick it up to notches unknown with an incredible swiftness and speed infused in the music.
I’ve never heard an accordion, violin, fiddle, tin whistle, mandolin and banjo sound so fucking rock ‘n’ roll. Yeah, that’s right; those instruments are rocked out on this album next to chanting, folksy vocals. The energy exuding from the album puts you in an uplifting state. Drums never stop thumping from the opening till the end of the album. The pace is set extremely brisk for each and every song. You can easily envision sitting in a bar and having everyone singing along to clanking of beer mugs.
Dave King expertly compliments the music with reflective lyrics with hope for a brighter future while using the past to grow and learn. King also pinches your arm by giving everyone a wake up call to live life like there is no tomorrow and to enjoy each and every passing day. He often becomes reflective and melancholy on this album, especially on the title track, “Within a Mile from Home” (Worry o’ my worry has it been that long / The whistle keeps on blowin’ but the tune’s long gone / His empty frame cannot explain there’s nothing left inside / So sing to me a song from yesterday / When laughter filled the tears that we now make).
Flogging Molly has fused together traditional Irish music with punk rock and the outcome is an incredible trip–this from a non-Irish. You know what though, it doesn’t matter if you’re Irish or not, because Flogging Molly makes me want to wear green, drink Irish beer, stand up on the bar and dance and scream to their Irish-punk ballads all night long.
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.
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.