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The Spill Canvas – Sunsets and Car Crashes / Caterpillars / All Hail the Heartbreaker (demo)

It is okay to feel.

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“So I’d collapse to the grass with your notes ringing in my head / let the rain fill my mouth / and in a couple hours I’ll be dead”

“And incase you were wondering / you’re like a sunset to me / you’re all kinds of beautiful as you end my day / and you sweetly retire as the stars chase you away” 

The words of the young soul are endless wonder, caught in the elements between the certain makeups of life’s long turn and the uncertainty of early-borne vitriol. We were all once so wide eyed, so entrenched in the beaming enthusiastic glow. Yet, we often find that once the calendars become faceless, so does this once bright gleam. Replaced with the slow smolder of routine and consequence, we are but compelled to oblige with bitter tongues and casual imprudence. We don the faces of others, hiding colors we so want to shine and in turn, bask in the camouflage of grey; our favorite shade of irrelevance.

And in fear, we are at our most vulnerable; until time itself, graces us with the presence of a deeply buried thought. The very glow we covered under the thick cold is once again whispering, a faint but calling hand, a reach we are so dying for. And it is but a passing moment, because as the sparkle is blinding, the colors slowly recede; and in time and words and wealth; it is sure to fade to grey. Now as the sound is but a whisper, The Spill Canvas is that faint tapping, enveloped in soft spoken youthful appeal and acoustic burdened naiveté. 

From the twilight fleeting of “Sunsets and Car Crashes” to the distorted hum of “All Hail the Heartbreaker”, the wonderment is but timeless. It hides not its simplistic veneer, crafted merely to touch, to move – not to change. It is reminding us that during this arduous and often lifeless flight, we tend to let our guard down, showing our weakness and vulnerability; but as Nick Thomas’ hallowed voice echoes amongst the unadorned auditory souvenirs, it reminds us that it is okay to feel.

(unreleased)

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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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Pine – Pine

Pine’s debut album is a kind of hypnotic melancholia

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Pine

Where did Ottawa’s Pine come from? It’s a question worth asking after listening to their painfully gorgeous self-titled debut album. Pine use the phrase “doom and gloom never sounded so sweet” to describe their sound, and true to that, this 11-track outing is filled with the kind of hypnotic melancholia that became the playbook for a great many Midwestern emo bands that emerged in the late 90s/early 2000s. The biggest difference here is that while Pine have the heartbreak down pat, their musical sense of loss is lifted slightly by the airy, more wistful sounds of their guitar-strewn songs. Sure, there’s a lot that sounds like a great Mineral record or a Gloria Record album, but there’s also traces of Florida indie/emo band The Rocking Horse Winner and at times, bands like Rainer Maria.

Pine are buoyed by the great vocal work of Darlene Deschamps. Her voice soars through tracks like “Memento” and the terrific “Lusk”. The latter in particular is a great example of how Pine lull you into a sense of calm before it explodes in a collage of symphonic distortion and post-rock twinkling. In “Sunder” they ascend to louder, more expansive sounds. The song is a great combination of thick, fuzzy guitars, mid-tempo percussion work, and that pained vocal delivery that gives the song an extra punch in the guts.

The album took an impressive 2 years to finish, and you can hear the trials and tribulations of that gestation period through the songs. There’s pain, sadness, anger and frustration in songs like the intro “Within You” and the more new emo-esque “Swollen”, but also beauty, and as the album concludes, a sense of incredible catharsis. The record SOUNDS great too, with production values (by a production team that includes Will Yip, who has helmed records by Circa Survive, Braid, Saosin, and the Bouncing Souls to name a few) adding to the grand cinematic finish of the record.

For those who love what emo was in the mid to late 90s will find much to like about Pine just as much as those who like Explosions in the Sky and their post-rock brethren. Pine have been crafting their sound over the last few years and while their previous EP Pillow Talk showed a solid foundation, this new self-titled record is the work of a band close to the height of their abilities. Moving, beautiful, and littered with life’s roller coaster of emotions as songs, Pine is definitely recommended listening.

(No Sleep Records)

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