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Jimmy Eat World – Futures

The band doesn’t so much sound bored on Futures as they do out of ideas.



The last Jimmy Eat World album, Bleed American, started off with three of the best tracks the band had ever recorded. The blast of well formed angst of “Bleed American” followed by the driving sugary sweet pop of both “A Praise Chorus” (which managed to name check both Joan Jett and They Might Be Giants) and “The Middle.” Their newest, Futures, starts off with three of their worst. Their last album expressed a lyrical maturity that was fitting for the lean, intense pop punk the band was producing. On Futures‘ second track, “Just Tonight…” the band spouts locker room cliché (“put out / put up / or stay at home”), which manages to work perfectly with music that belongs on a Linkin Park album. I don’t think anyone could explain why, but this album just isn’t any good. 

The problems with this album can’t even be pinpointed on one element- they’re all across the map. The song titles, such as “Kill,” “Work,” “Pain,” and, this isn’t a joke, “Drugs Or Me” might give one an idea about their depth, but that would be giving the band too much credit. The lyrical depth of this release is equal to a leaky kiddie pool. “Pain” steals everything but the lyrics from the title track of their last album, Bleed American, but while that song’s lyrics about medication (“I’m not crazy because I take the right pills every day”) were visceral, here they appear to be half-whine, half-excuse (The chorus consists the chant “It takes my pain away!”). The band that managed to transcend clichés here spouts lines that would make Hoobastank cringe, such as “I’ll say it straight and plain / I know I’ve made mistakes / I’ve always been afraid,” from “Polaris.” Love songs can be truly beautiful, and Jimmy Eat World have written some pretty extraordinary ones, but their reliance on clichés ruin each and every generic attempt on this album.

And the music, God, the music. The band doesn’t so much sound bored on Futures as they do out of ideas. Jimmy Eat World have proved on their previous albums that you don’t need a lot of chords to make a memorable riff. This album adds on a key addendum to that rule- you may not need a lot of chords, but you need to make sure they’re the right ones. There is no memorable riff on the entire album- nothing worthy of singing in the shower, or even humming as it’s playing. And even worse, the album is overproduced, with multi-tracked vocals that should be nowhere near any album, much less a Jimmy Eat World album, much less one with as little substance as this one. Pop-punk is fast, immediate music that should not have a wall of sound in front of it. Even the instrumentation is sub-par. There are no guitar solos, a concept that would help break up the monotony of these songs, and the drumming and bass-work are 4/4 punk by the numbers.

The worst thing about this album, really, is not that it’s lousy. It’s, still, in its sorry state, probably the second best mainstream pop-punk album to come out this year, behind the excellent album by Green Day. The album is so entirely frustrating for a different reason: because where their past albums made pop punk that would stay with you, each and every song on Futures is predictable, replaceable, and worst of all for the band, entirely forgettable.

(Interscope Records)


Crossed Keys – Saviors

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



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)

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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.

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