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Paramore – Riot!

Riot! is a good album for Paramore, the songs are a little tighter than All We Know Is Falling, and it goes a long way in solidifying the band as a positive outfit in the current pop-rock landscape.



“Young” and “vibrant” are perhaps the two best words to use when describing barely-out-of-their-teens pop rock act Paramore. Having caught the masses’ attention with 2005’s All We Know Is Falling, the Fueled By Ramen quartet have come barreling through the gates with the follow-up Riot! (with extra emphasis). Energy is by no means in short supply either, as opening track “For a Pessimist, I’m Pretty Optimistic” is riff-heavy, and extremely bouncy- with crush-worthy vocalist Hayley Williams making it clear her voice will undoubtedly be one of the album’s highlights.

Musically, they tread similar ground to their previous efforts; melodic, guitar-driven pop rock not too dissimilar from labelmates Cute is What We Aim For and Panic! At the Disco. Songs like “Hallelujah” and the single, “Misery Business,” are equal parts bouncy, as they are sugary sweet and youthful. The latter being the album’s up-and-go ode to The Go-Go’s by way of Banarama as they slip past Blondie. It’s a fun track, and while not all that interested in being too in-depth, is sure to kick start any lagging party. The album’s strongest effort is probably the closer, “Born For This,” which nixes Riot!’s slower moments for more up-tempo, sing-a-long punk rock tones that proves Paramore isn’t all sugar, sweet, and everything neat.

Unfortunately, not all of the album is as vital as its closer. Songs like “When It Rains” plays closer to mid-90s No Doubt with its broken hearted, mid-paced melodrama, while “Crushcrushcrush” sounds a little too much like something that would fit nicely over the opening credits of a Nickelodeon show. The piano-led balladry of “We Are Broken” is a nice example of youthful catharsis, but as expected, more advanced musical tastes will cringe at the tooth-decaying sweetness of it … all very clean, and beaming with high-production gloss and little rawness.

Riot! is a good album for Paramore, the songs are a little tighter than All We Know Is Falling, and it goes a long way in solidifying the band as a positive outfit in the current pop-rock landscape of hacks, has-beens, and never-shoulda-beens. There is plenty to like here, and younger audiences weaned on the Ashley Simpson-brand of rock music will enjoy what’s on offer. It’s not going anywhere near what the title implies (unless of course your brand of rebellion starts and ends of Avril Lavigne), but it has a good time getting there.

(Fueled by Ramen)


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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