It would be too easy to write off Teddy Geiger and his debut full-length album Underage Thinking before one even gets the chance to listen to it. Being that Geiger is opening for teen sensation Hilary Duff and Jesse McCartney, so-called music gurus will want to throw the 17-year-old Geiger under the bus before his music career even takes flight. While most have also seen Teddy on their televisions on the much too short-lived show Love Monkey on CBS, the stereotypes of him being a commercial powered young robot used to capitalize on America’s youth with his blue eyes and long hair, all puts Geiger in the position where he needs to prove himself.
That is a lot of pressure for such a young kid.
Well, with the deck stacked against him from the start, the youngster lets his music do the talking on Underage Thinking. Aside from age, Geiger has nothing in common with Hilary Duff. His music shows he is well beyond his age and his singer/songwriter style mixed with pop-rock flair, offers a refreshing sound to the genre. The best way to deflect the critics is knock them back with your music, and that’s what Geiger achieves on his full-length. With the talented youngster displaying his musical versatility by playing guitar, bass, piano and some of his ownpercussion on Underage Thinking, you almost forget he is just 17-years young. The kid is simply a musical phenomenon and he even gets everything right with his lyrical content where most young artists fall flat on their face.
While some like to compare Geiger to John Mayer, I find the comparison appalling, as his music already has more layers of depth and honesty than the man who made us all gag with his referencing to female bodies as a wonderland. Where Geiger really hits the nail on the head, is with his lyrics. He stays away from boring us with all his songs centering on puppy love, by wooing us with words that display his growing pains of every day life. While he still manages to get soft about the opposite sex here and there, his main focus is the path and journey of a young man growing intothe world. This is best displayed on the track “Thinking Underage:” “So soon to say it’s over / Let’s see what happens later on / I’m 16, my world just opened wide / I’ve got a pocket full of change / I’m tired of thinking underage / Cut this string and let me fly / Say goodbye.”
While the album is loaded with tracks that have radio and TRL potential, there is enough variety of songs that sway from upbeat to soft and subtle. Geiger will almost definitely appeal to a younger audience on several different levels, however, its safe to say that music fans that appreciate a young talent growing into his own, will also be keeping close tabs on him. For being so young and releasing such a solid full-length, the future for Geiger is unquestionably bright. Hopefully those guiding the youngster will not steer him to just the TRL generation as he has the talent and sound to propel him to much higher ground.
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.