Ladies and Gentlemen, it is official. I will never be able to listen to an album the same way again. I used to be somewhat excited and intrigued when placing a disc, one I am to review, in my CD player. Anxious slightly if I had never heard the band before, but like any normal, or not so normal, music fan, I would pray for brilliance but would settle for mediocrity. Still, I hoped for at least an average performance. When I initially looked at the disc artwork for Peaches’ latest record, I was slightly disturbed. Being the open-minded person I have convinced myself I am, I avoided making any judgments based on the art. Yet I must admit throwing out the distinctly negative emotions the artwork evoked was an EXTREMELY difficult thing to do. While I was not completely successful I was able to push aside much of my discontent.
As the album began I was somewhat shocked to hear what sounded like an exact attempt to cover Joan Jett’s, “Bad Reputation”. Quite soon after I made this assumption I was proved oh so wrong. The classic, yet over-used song was abruptly interrupted by the most horrid thing I had ever heard, and as the first two words of the line spat out, “I don’t…” I was appalled. But strangely enough, after the line finished I was rather amused. The song began with, “I don’t give a fuuuuck” superimposed over the Joan Jett cover (I assume it was a cover it may have been the original in the background). I laughed. I really did. My laughter subsided as this line was repeated over and over. Eventually the vocals shift to, “I don’t give a shiiiitt.” I was left confused and speechless. It took me some time to realize that this was no fucking joke. This was a seriously misguided attempt at raucous rebellion. A whole song was made with these two lines, and the yelling of the lyrics was far from alluring. There are some female singers who can yell lyrics and still make them sound appealing. I am even envious of their ability to scream so well. Peaches is NOT one of these in my humble (and infallible) opinion.
Being the hopeful person I am I was unnecessarily optimistic about the next song. Iggy Pop was a guest vocalist and I was determined to find what it was about this Peaches that led him to lend his legendary antics (mostly name, in this case) to this record. So I played the next song expecting the first song to be some sort of fluke. Thirty seconds into the song and I realized that the first song was no fluke and this album’s outcome was (unfortunately) as intended. I was pretty set on my view that the instrumental aspect and vocals were terrible but I thought that maybe the lyrics would boast a few redeeming qualities. One may think that I would have learned from the lyrics in the first song but alas, I did not. So I listened intently to “I U She”, trying to block out the actual sounds as much as possible. The lyrics were as horrid as the first track, but I insisted on listening, for Peaches sake and for Iggy’s. Sadly, this had to have been the most miserable way to spend my time.
I came to these opinions weeks and weeks before I read that Peaches had been a guest vocalist on Pink’s new album. This review is long enough so I won’t drag you into my opinion on that matter. Though I will say this: Thanks to Fatherfucker, I will never be able to regain the intrigue I once had when preparing to listen to an album of an unfamiliar band. I see it nowadays. It takes me two days at least to get over the initial thoughts of potential horror the disc may contain. Quite frankly, I don’t “give a fuck” or “give a shit” what the hell message or attempt at deconstructing gender roles and expectations Peaches was trying to throw out or accomplish. We are worse off for having this album circulating among us. I know for sure I am worse off for having listened to it, as are the bands whose records I must review with my enhanced initial bout of skepticism.
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.