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Six Days and 20 Years of Explosions in the Sky

When I’m stone cold and just want to feel something, anything, Explosions in the Sky and “Six Days at the Bottom of the Ocean” is what I turn to. I never want them to let me go.

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My friends know me as the guy that listens to angry, heavy music where people scream at each other. It’s a simplistic description but a description that has some truth to it nonetheless. So whenever I introduce my friends to Explosions in the Sky, a band that I constantly listen to, they always stare at me with a face of deranged confusion.

When I tell them that EITS don’t have any vocals yet still create the most emotionally intense music I’ve ever heard, their level of confusion reaches new heights.

I then play them “Six Days at the Bottom of the Ocean”. At first, their confusion continues to rise, “It’s weird because there’s no singer,” is a common first response. Then about three minutes in something amazing happens- they slowly start to get it. They’ve been mesmerized by the sheer majesty of this Texan wonder group. The ebb and the flow, the push and the pull, the moments of peaceful tranquility and the moments of dark contemplation that are abruptly swept away by frenzied storms of action.

The band have reached a personal milestone, celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, an impressive achievement for any band. They’re celebrating by heading out on an extensive tour and if you’ve been to an EITS show before, you know it is an incredible experience.

But If I’m honest “Six Days at the Bottom of the Ocean” isn’t my favorite EITS song- that honor goes to “The Birth and Death of the Day”- but “Six Days at the Bottom of the Ocean” is without a doubt the most emotionally draining song I’ve ever heard. The final four minutes of this track is both uplifting and shattering all at once. Listening to it makes me glad to be alive knowing that things as beautiful as this song exist in a world that is often confusing and painful, yet I’m simultaneously filled with great sadness such is the depressingly melancholy nature of the track. I’m stretching to embrace life with my left hand and reaching for that jar of sleeping pills with my right.

My friends know me as the guy that listens to angry, heavy music where people scream at each other. “Six Days at the Bottom of the Ocean” is the heaviest, most emotionally intense song I know. When I’m stone cold and just want to feel something, anything, Explosions in the Sky and this song is what I turn to. I never want them to let me go.

Listen to “Six Days at the Bottom of the Ocean”:

Reviews

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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