I’m getting sick of your attitude. You know who you are. You hip scenesters with your Urban Outfitters clothes, messenger bag, dyed black hair in your face, and significant other who shares the same taste in haircut. Well guess what, I’ve been here covering bands since you were still in your nu-metal (or Backstreet Boys) phase, and yeah, I’m female and I may be wearing a sweater, but I’m way more pretentious than you are.
Indie rock has become a backstabbing, quick to judge, league of hypocrites built on snobbery, ironic tees, and the blood of virgins. “Indie,” which used to simply define independent music, is now a mere fashion statement camouflaged as a lifestyle. The thrill of discovering a new band has given away to the thrill of finding that perfect pair of retro sneakers. Insulting someone’s lack of indie quality is now commonplace on college campuses and in dirty rock clubs and record stores. Pretentiousness has become a source of pride.
There is no room for this elitist attitude in rock; it destroys the significance of music.
The indie league does not like to be judged by their “thrift store” clothing and perfectly-mussed jet black do, but if I go to a record store after work in my office-monkey uniform, I get glares and chuckles. I feel all eyes, peering through thick-rimmed glasses, focused on me as I flip through Clash and Beatles records. I know they’re making excuses as to why I’m there; I cannot be a musical equal! A girl in pink cannot possibly have a vinyl collection! Apparently, wearing khakis takes away all knowledge of seminal punk bands, up-and-coming British imports, and Led Zeppelin.
If I buy the latest issue if Spin at the local convenience store, one pretentious clerk must say something sarcastic to the other pretentious clerk while ignoring my ability to hear- generally something along the lines of “That Bright Eyes is like the best songwriter ever!” or “The Killers are amazing. I saw them on TRL last week and was BLOWN AWAY” to insinuate that I am a misguided wannabe buying Spin as my new bible to becoming indie. Little do they know, I occasionally buy Spin because I am in love with Chuck Klosterman. It has nothing to do with the band on the cover. Besides, I know these guys probably have a two-year subscription each – they wouldn’t want to miss out on the next Strokes.
If a band makes it big after being nurtured in the underground, indie hipsters are no longer allowed to listen to them or even admit their artistic merit. They must reject this band and anyone who likes them; this band has sold out. Call me optimistic, but I believe a band can grow, improve, and gain exposure without bowing to MTV and the almighty dollar. It may not happen often, but it can. Hipster thinking, however, is dependent on the maintenance of the most obscure, and therefore superior, tastes. It’s all about how they look to others. Once a non-indie type has heard of a band, they have lost what made them superior.
Enough is enough; screw this “indie is a lifestyle” crap. Check your elitist attitude at the door and leave the pettiness and superficial judging to the cliques at your local high-school. Indie is a type of music, and those who enjoy this music should focus on just that. It is fine if you no longer listen to an overexposed band, but you cannot take away their artistic merit or pretend you never liked them in the first place. Listen to what you like, keep digging in the underground for something new, stop buying overpriced faux-vintage clothing, and save your attitude for “the man.”
I’m not the enemy.
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.