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The Pale – Gravity Gets Things Done

The Pale come off as nothing more than a destitute man’s Death Cab for Cutie. And even that is stretching it.

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The following review was originally slated to appear in a fine print magazine. However, due to circumstances out of the writer’s control, the magazine has decided that the review has no place in the issue – perhaps the result of all or any of the following reasons:

A) The persons behind Gravity Gets Things Done advertise in said magazine.

B) The album “isn’t the sort of music covered” in the magazine.

C) The review itself lacks any meaning, merit and/or is far too hateful without any real balance to it. (Which never really bothered us anyway)

So in the world of music publishing, like any business in the world, good practices are proven groundwork for a long and successful publishing run. And it doesn’t have to meander into the kiss-assery of SPIN or Rolling Stone; it merely has to be careful in the selection of material that it prints – with that, this writer fully respects the decision of the magazine to exclude this piece. So perhaps in the interest of potential advertisers, we will sugar-coat our assessment of The Pale as generically, and as mundane as possible:

“The Pale write pop songs with sufficient talent and style to illicit comparisons to Death Cab for Cutie and at times, warrant radio airplay with their accessible, light and fairly innocuous music.”

That however, would be bending the truth – because The Pale do not really have “sufficient talent,” and in no way shape or form is their “innocuous” brand of music even slightly entertaining or interesting. To be quite frank, Gravity Gets Things Done is perhaps “the worst pop/rock album in recent memory” – flaccid, boring, insipid, and painfully derivative … the picture is clear. And as not to let written work go to waste, here is the original review of The Pale’s recent atrocity:

“Sharing the stage with both Coldplay and The Flaming Lips ought to inspire a significant level of musical stimulation that if not results in mildly interesting work, should at the very least provide a certain benchmark to strive for. Yet The Pale trundle through their autumnal sound with great tedium. The most interesting thing about The Pale could be that Wayne Coyne may have once waved in their general direction. Their résumé reads no longer than that one appearance and a few extremely tepid full lengths, and they’ve been trying to fill it out since 1994. The amount of schmaltz saturating Gravity Gets Things Done is unbearable, enough to fill a landslide of cheap valentine cards while the lifeless whirr of the album’s bloated finale would vindicate criminal behavior. Vocalist Gabe Archer does his best Ben Gibbard imitation throughout, but in the end The Pale come off as nothing more than a destitute man’s Death Cab for Cutie. And even that is stretching it.”

(SideCho Records)

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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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