Lee Resistant is a UK transplant who finds himself currently at crossroads with his past and his future. Originally from the UK and member of short-lived punk band Fletcher (2000-2005), he now resides in Canada and is the front man of this eponymously named band, relatively new and finding a path from its past to its future. Thirteen Years Gone By… is a 4-song EP that sees Lee reaching back into material he wrote as Fletcher by giving it a second look and a distinct polish. You can look at this one way; as an artist finding that it isn’t quite so easy to let go of the past, but you can also see it as an artist giving his work the revisit it deserves.
When you listen to Thirteen Years Gone By… you quickly realize that the music here is anything but old or outdated. Sure, it’s been given a polish, but there is a quality here that made it a raucous listen back in 2003 as it does in 2019. Part blue-collar punk, part punk troubadour- Lee Resistant & The Lost play gruff sounding, melodic punk that’s got a mean blues streak to it. You can point to bands like Hot Water Music as sounds it may draw from; but Thirteen Years Gone By… is more than a band that sounds like Hot Water Music. Tracks like “Least Resistant” (which is a reworked version of a 2003 Fletcher song) and the really fantastic “For the Few” may have similarities to the aforementioned band’s work; but it’s really much more. The latter in particular is one of the best, hard-hitting, melodic punk tracks you’ll hear all year. It’s less downtrodden punk, more blazing rock n’ roll that to my ears, takes cues from the slicked back, rollicking ride that was punk supergroup The Joykiller.
Sonically, the EP sounds fantastic. Production wise the songs sound full, especially in comparison to the original Fletcher recordings. It is in part, another great reason to have reworked and re-recorded these tracks. And while its easy to say this sounds like Hot Water Music (I would argue that Thirteen Years Gone By… is what Hot Water Music would sound like if they were good), but in reality, there’s much more than that- traces of early Alkaline Trio, a little bit of Loved Ones, and that Joykiller mean streak.
While 4 songs is a short outing, they are a very solid bridge from Lee Resistant’s past to what will be his future. The past sounded good, the present sounds great, and I for one am excited to hear what comes next.
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.
Pine – Pine
Pine’s debut album is a kind of hypnotic melancholia
Where did Ottawa’s Pine come from? It’s a question worth asking after listening to their painfully gorgeous self-titled debut album. Pine use the phrase “doom and gloom never sounded so sweet” to describe their sound, and true to that, this 11-track outing is filled with the kind of hypnotic melancholia that became the playbook for a great many Midwestern emo bands that emerged in the late 90s/early 2000s. The biggest difference here is that while Pine have the heartbreak down pat, their musical sense of loss is lifted slightly by the airy, more wistful sounds of their guitar-strewn songs. Sure, there’s a lot that sounds like a great Mineral record or a Gloria Record album, but there’s also traces of Florida indie/emo band The Rocking Horse Winner and at times, bands like Rainer Maria.
Pine are buoyed by the great vocal work of Darlene Deschamps. Her voice soars through tracks like “Memento” and the terrific “Lusk”. The latter in particular is a great example of how Pine lull you into a sense of calm before it explodes in a collage of symphonic distortion and post-rock twinkling. In “Sunder” they ascend to louder, more expansive sounds. The song is a great combination of thick, fuzzy guitars, mid-tempo percussion work, and that pained vocal delivery that gives the song an extra punch in the guts.
The album took an impressive 2 years to finish, and you can hear the trials and tribulations of that gestation period through the songs. There’s pain, sadness, anger and frustration in songs like the intro “Within You” and the more new emo-esque “Swollen”, but also beauty, and as the album concludes, a sense of incredible catharsis. The record SOUNDS great too, with production values (by a production team that includes Will Yip, who has helmed records by Circa Survive, Braid, Saosin, and the Bouncing Souls to name a few) adding to the grand cinematic finish of the record.
For those who love what emo was in the mid to late 90s will find much to like about Pine just as much as those who like Explosions in the Sky and their post-rock brethren. Pine have been crafting their sound over the last few years and while their previous EP Pillow Talk showed a solid foundation, this new self-titled record is the work of a band close to the height of their abilities. Moving, beautiful, and littered with life’s roller coaster of emotions as songs, Pine is definitely recommended listening.