The Foo Fighters return with their much anticipated follow up to their successful LP There Is Nothing Left to Lose. With the promise of a much more rock oriented, hard driving effort, One By One comes across as a mixed bag. The single “All My Life” has permeated radio waves as a fast paced, noisy yet melodic anthem that satisfies the anticipation for a louder, harder release. But as the second track “Low” kicks in, adorned with fuzzy guitars, pounding drums and a low key Dave Grohl, you begin to see the direction in which this album takes. It’s more akin to “My Hero” off Colour and the Shape with a slight “Watershed” sound from their debut LP. It’s loud but lacks the tempo that the opening track displayed. It is a precursor to the rest of the album – while it certainly has the Foo flair, a distinct quality is missing. The third track “Have It All” is packed with typical Fighters feel; moderately paced, mix vocal volumes accented by Grohl’s lyrical touch – “She drains me / when I’m empty … in too deep / she’s spilling over me” and is surrounded by crunchy guitar work by both Grohl and Shiflett.
While the album as a whole exudes musical erudition, it lacks a certain raw passion that they displayed with Colour and the Shape. It isn’t as melodic or pop rock induced as There Is Nothing Left to Lose but it definitely lacks some sort of individuality from the rest of the Foo catalogue. It feels like a mélange of sounds from their three previous LPs – with no real strong personal distinction to set it apart. It’s up tempo, loud, quiet, desperate and plodding all at the same time. Loud enough to rock with “All My Life” while feeling desperate to sound radio friendly with southern rock in “Halo”, One By One isn’t a stellar album but is by no means something that is easily left behind. The track, “Tired of You” seems unnecessary; with over 5 minutes of distorted guitar work accompanying Grohl in an endless backdrop that is reminiscent of Bush’s “Glycerine”. Foo enthusiasts will most probably enjoy the release but will be disappointed by its lack of personality. It certainly is far from the magnificent aura of Colour and the Shape.
In a brief lapse into anticipated promise, “Times Like These” comes across as a beautiful blend of pure heartfelt emotion and melodic rock sensibilities. It is the most complete track off the album and is perhaps the direction and feel that the rest of the album wishes it could achieve. It comes off sounding a little like “Everlong” and like Grohl so passionately sings, “Its times like these you learn to love again”. And with this track, even the most ardent doubters will soon learn to love the Foos again.
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.