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The Datsuns – Outta Sight / Outta Mind

The Datsuns’ Outta Sight / Outta Mind is suffering from a serious case of “a bit rubbish.”



Bloody hell, haven’t those Datsun boys got girlfriends yet? Their first eponymous album was full of hormone-drenched laments about how girls don’t like them (tip: wash your hair) and how cool it is to just sit round doing nothing in particular. I wonder how much of the latter the New Zealand quartet did in the making of Outta Sight / Outta Mind, because a lot of it is suffering from a serious case of “a bit rubbish.” The Datsuns of 2002 were a byword for sexiness, all snake hips, guitar licks and attitude. The Datsuns of 2004 resemble your Dad doing a stupid drunken air-guitar dance to old Rolling Stones songs, probably at a wedding. The fact of the matter is that Dolf and his hairy crew obviously spent more time promoting the point that John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin fame produced it than writing the actual songs; instead, opting for lackluster re-hashings of the first album.

It’s not all doom and gloom though; the production is pretty tight, and it’s good to see Dolf retain his testosterone-splashed lusty roaring, one perfectly fitting the music and tone. Oddly titled first single “Blacken My Thumb” raids the Iron Maiden crypts and leaves nothing but that giant skeleton-thing, all vocal harmonising and solos. “Girl’s Best Friend” begins with what sounds like the tiniest bit like (gulp) Dire Straits before dissolving into the soundtrack to the funkiest bar fight in town! “Don’t Come Knocking” is also pretty incendiary, like the stream-of-conscious babblings of a hyperactive child pie-eyed on Sunny Delight and food colorings. But the rest of the album is so cripplingly anodyne it’s almost depressing. “Hong Kong Fury,” apart from being a title that even AC/DC would turn down, is awful; it even sounds like the band are ashamed to be playing on it. It’s a lame reworking of the first albums’ “Lady,” with added complacency. “Cherry Lane” includes some cringe-inducing “I love girls, me!” lyrics seemingly written by a chimp running repeatedly into a typewriter; “A boy is a boy / But a Girl is a charm”? The Datsuns don’t really do subtle, but they could at least have tried in this case. The rest of the music is cast adrift in an ocean of widdly-wah fretwanking, and I wouldn’t send anyone to look for them. It’s quite funny how some of the song titles speak for themselves- “That Sure Ain’t Right,” “What I’ve Lost” and “You Can’t Find Me.” Are you talking about your tunes, Dolf?

The world’s changed a lot since their last album. Bands have risen and fallen, some splitting up, and some unfortunately refusing to. It just seems a shame that the Datsuns are no longer relevant today. There are better bands out there that sound a lot like this (Death From Above for example). It seems like the Datsuns have been beaten at their own game. The first album was good, you can certainly write some great songs if you try, but just work that little bit harder to make album number three great.

(V2 Records)


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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