Connect with us

Music

Gillian Welch – The Harrow And The Harvest

It’s with absolute rejoice then, that The Harrow & The Harvest is easily one of the best pieces of music released this year, and an unconditional artistic success for both Welch and Rawlings

Published

on

Some 8 years since her last album, Gillian Welch makes her long awaited return with The Harrow & The Harvest. Partnering up once again with collaborator David Rawlings, the new album is the culmination of all the songwriting frustration that has built up since 2003’s Soul Journey. This extended period has been labelled by Welch as a difficult time where “we made a few tentative steps at trying to record, but inevitably the heart would go out of it when we realised that we simply didn’t like the material enough to go on with it.”

It’s with absolute rejoice then, that The Harrow & The Harvest is easily one of the best pieces of music released this year, and an unconditional artistic success for both Welch and Rawlings. It’s amazing to hear and feel the emotional connection one can have to music primarily composed of an incredible voice, two or so instruments and the knowledge and thirst for traditional and historic American music.

From the beautiful opening of “Scarlet Town” to the gut wrenching introspection of “Tennessee” and the sullen tone of “Down Along The Dixie Line”, The Harrow & The Harvest is a triumph of everything Americana, blues, Appalachian and heartfelt. And as sparse as much of the album is, it has enough resonance to fill the great depths of the Grand Canyon. The twang of the banjo coupled by her drawl in “Hard Times” is a particularly terrific tune- both wry in its lyrical twists and futility- while the closing “The Way The Whole Thing Ends” boasts the beautiful fragility of spending a pretty Sunday morning at a funeral.

A truly rewarding listen from beginning to end, the album traverses the dusty plains of America’s endless landscapes and mountains, weaving in stories of sadness, anger, pain and humor the only way a whiskey-drenched Tennessee night can. The last time I felt this way about an album, it was written by Loretta Lynn. It seems the very best story telling in music comes from the amazing women of America’s southern lands.

(Acony Records)

Reviews

Crossed Keys – Saviors

Saviors shows the work of well-seasoned musicians finding new energy in old sounds

Published

on

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)

Continue Reading

Music

Every last time: Revisiting Gameface’s “How Far Is Goodbye?”

A glorious sound of a time gone by

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

Popular Things