There is a mystery to Tommy and June. The duo was put together when Fat Wreck Chords founder Fat Mike decided that these two musicians had to be heard. We don’t really know much except that Fat Mike met Tommy in Israel and June on tour in South America. The duo has worked together to produce their first album revolving around the hesitation of growing up, and although a very short album, the boys still manage to get their point across. In saying this, I needed more.
The album has no shortage of harmonies, and most songs lean towards an acoustic sound which accompanies the harmonies well. This is best heard in “Lonely Train”, “Adulthood”, “Better Life Story” and “Young Man Bones”. They all follow a similar pattern of not really having a certain structure, rather they just drift. “New Alive” is the song that stood out as having more of a standard song set up or build up. It has more of a hook and increases as it goes. “Adulthood” is the pivotal song in the album that explains their thoughts on growing up. Putting it simply, they don’t want to.
“Ghost Of Paris” is a short burst that wakes you up. With its fast pace and electric guitar, we see a punk side of Tommy and June. Even though it still falls in and out of the acoustic sound, it is a pleasant surprise to the album. “Black Maze” holds the same entertainment. It is heavier and has a back and forth singing between each other which is amusing. The electric guitar is louder and the drums are more prominent.
“Monogamist” was my favorite song of the album. The instrumentals remind me of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” and features a wild west type of sound. But this song only just hits one minute! I want more! It just begins and at the same time, it is ending. It’s only giving me a preview of what they can produce. Give me more!
I can’t help but feel a little disappointed with this album. I always felt like something was missing from every song. I feel like this would be a good demo to preview your talents, but as a fully recorded album, it lacks excitement. I can’t picture a situation or mood I would choose to listen to this album over others. Music doesn’t always have to be overly complicated, it can be stripped back and use the simplest of chords, but it still needs to be entertaining. In this instance, less is more just wasn’t the case.
Tommy and June have shown us that they are very capable of terrific harmonies. They pair these harmonies with the plucking of the acoustic guitar and it works. Perhaps if the songs were a little longer they could have showcased more of what they are capable of. Tommy and June have been created based on the beliefs that their talents need to be heard, and with a backing like that, I’m sure they can prove that they are not just background music.
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.
Pine – Pine
Pine’s debut album is a kind of hypnotic melancholia
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.