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The Libertines – The Libertines

While not exactly a throwback from the days of The Clash, The Libertines are well on their way to making this dish a masterpiece, known and tried by all.

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Listening to new CDs is like eating a foreign meal; foreign in that you have never eaten it before. You have to chew on it, sometimes more forcefully than other times. You have to let your saliva break it down for the body’s easy processing. Then there is the digestion of the material; sometimes with ease, other times with horrific pain. Once you’ve digested the new experience the piece must diffuse into your veins, and swim through you blood until the final destination is reached. Sometimes it is a lengthy, disgusting process and other times it is a pleasant and amorous process. The Libertines are the most exciting of cultures and their food (music) does not disappoint.

Their name, The Libertines, boasts of freedom from convention. Their music resolves this, deeming them romantics, idealists and hedonists unaffected by the constantly grasping structures of overarching greed, of standards, of rigidity. I know there has been much press and concern over the bands extracurricular activities but this one is about the notes, the songs, and the lyrics. For some reason, bad boy antics don’t appeal to me … instead I end up feeling sad for their suffering. Still, I am a great fan of Richard Hell, Johnny Thunders and the like … for the songs. I have been anticipating, salivating over my acquisition of this album. My taste buds were far from disappointed. They were dancing, they were teasing my veins, they were wishing for more from the moment I had my first bite, “Can’t Stand Me Now.” With a beat to jump around to in your head, your mouth and on the ground, it’s an excellent start.

“Don’t Be Shy” struck a personal chord, one which I will not share because well, it’s none of your fucking business. “The Man Who Would be King” makes me envious. What I would not give, save my sleep and energy, to be able to honestly sing the savory words, “I lived my dream today / and I have lived it yesterday / and I’ll have lived it tomorrow … I lived my dreams today / I lived it yesterday / and I’ll be living yours tomorrow” (so arrogant but so inspiring).

The ingredients and nutritional values read like a familiar dish: lots of dirty guitar parts; a so cool, energetic, cocky, wouldn’t have it ANY other way voice (more of an instrument than a voice); melding and accommodating drum lines with the right speed; a bass that doesn’t distract; and masterful lyrics and songwriting to boot. “They sold the rights to all the wrongs,” “I no longer hear the music when the lights go out / Love goes cold in the shades of doubt.” The lyrics are great from the anticipated first bite with “An ending fitting for the start / you twist and tore our love apart / your light fingers threw the dark / that shattered the lamp and into darkness cast us…” The visual image of light fingers throwing out dark is vivid, intriguing, confusing, and extraordinary.

While not exactly a throwback from the days of The Clash, The Libertines are well on their way to making this dish a masterpiece, known and tried by all. They will then boast of the speed by which their music can be taken into the veins and how mightily and euphorically they swirl through, forcing their notes through red and white blood cells, overpowering them all. Even if their frantic and tumultuous lives and relationships are what contributed to their awesome music, my awesome meal, I wish them the best with the band, with cooking, with rehab.

(Rough Trade Records)

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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