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Jimmy Eat World – Invented

Beautiful and stellar, these Jimmy Eat World songs always sound like they’re written amongst the stars.

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Jimmy Eat World have always come across as artists whose authenticity isn’t tangled in the typical blueprints of critical music appreciation. Their appeal, one long standing and global, rests on values outside of these norms (the kind the Robert Christgaus and Lester Bangs of the world harp on about) oft associated with socially affecting music. Yet one could argue that Jimmy Eat World have indeed been on the forefront of a socially viable brand of music. It is because their music is about moments and not about revolution, about heart and not art, that the praise languished upon them is from the thousands of people who fill their venues through an emotional connection and not by some witty journalist with a furrowed brow.

Their music, from Static Prevails and Clarity, to Futures and Chase This Light, is described by the one word critically acclaimed music cannot be; “beautiful.” It is not angular, or blunt or transient. It is patient and refined. Invented, their latest, is by all accounts, beautifully executed sentimentality. Histrionic in its words, its aural accompaniments are all about chasing that uncontrollable chemistry that happens within each and every one of us. The best place to begin is at the very apex- the title track “Invented”. It is the moment in which the long awaited build reaches its crescendo and over its seven minutes plus, the shimmering acoustics and the whispered vocal hum become a firework of sharp guitars, dynamic percussions and that unforgettable emotional incandescence we’ve seen in “Table For Glasses” and to a more compact extent, “For Me This is Heaven”. In “Littlething”, they embark on the kind of lyrical introspection that has become the hallmark for the band. Writing words on frosted windows with lines like; “Just a little thing / buried in the other things / burning away, from inside / could you be with me tonight?” to the backdrop of orchestral harmonies and melodies best suited for moments when snow is falling on your driveway.

“Evidence” plays out like a mid-paced “Big Casino” while the first single, “My Best Theory”, is the band at its most unorthodox. Its skittering beats and rhythmic dissonance is the closest they’ll ever get to angular songwriting. In “Movielike”, they dissect the realities of big city life for all those who seek fortune and happiness within its monolithic walls; “Nothing movie-like / Nothing magic / People just tire to fight the constant battle / Waiting to see a sign? / Then you’ve seen the best already.” And while its content is anything but, the song itself is in sharp contrast to its disappointed outlook, and in essence, very much like its namesake.

Introspection, life and love are the cornerstones of the Jimmy Eat World manifesto. Be it sad heart musings (“Cut”) or recollections on those pioneering instincts of post-school restlessness (“Coffee And Cigarettes”), their connection to listeners continues to be this bond. They are the principal protagonists of their genre and Invented is its most important expression since Something to Write Home About. Beautiful and stellar, these Jimmy Eat World songs always sound like they’re written amongst the stars.

(Interscope Records)

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Crossed Keys – Saviors

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

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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

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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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