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Weezer – Blue Album [Deluxe Edition]

This Weezer Blue Album Deluxe Edition and Video Capture Device DVD really reminded me of how much Weezer has influenced my musical tastes from a decade’s past.

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My first memories of Weezer are very fond; the kind of musical memories that defines a person. They were one of the first bands that really encouraged deeper exploration of rock music. It was during my 6th grade year and my musical tastes fluctuated between Nirvana and Snoop Dogg. As much as I got pleasure from listening to Kurt and Snoop, my musical taste buds were just thirsty for something else. That was when I unlocked the door to Weezer. The Blue Album was rock and roll; it was upbeat, catchy, quirky yet solemn, and most importantly, fun.

The Blue Album Deluxe Edition boasts the original ten tracks from the original 1994 release. All the favorites from “My Name Is Jonas,” “Buddy Holly,” “Undone (The Sweater Song)”, and “Surf Wax America,” are present in the same glory they had ten years ago. It is actually quite remarkable to think that this album is ten years old. Even listening to this album a decade later, I can almost pick a new favorite song each time I listen to it. There is honestly nothing I can say about how great this album is. The Blue Album is one of those albums where it is quality in its entirety. How rare is that today?

The Deluxe Edition includes a second disc entitled Dusty Gems and Raw Classics where fourteen rare B-sides fill the air. Rivers Cuomo and friends are known to have plenty of B-sides floating around, and they have dusted off a few here. Two B-sides that really stand out are “Susanne” and “Jaime.” Not eye-catching song titles, but high-quality music to the ears. You also get a taste of some live versions of Blue Album charms; “My Name is Jonas,” “Surf Wax America,” and “No One Else.” These B-sides are probably worth the price of admission alone.

As solid as this deluxe Blue Album edition is, it is the DVD that will really tickle your fancy.

The video portion offers over three hours of Weezer footage as a DVD chronology that actually doesn’t feel that long when you view it. What makes this music DVD really stand out is how well organized and structured it is. The layout is down-to-earth yet engaging. Most music related DVDs are sloppily put together, jump all over the place, and tend to get boring. You can watch this DVD straight through, or by easily choosing a specific feature from the main menu.

The DVD can be credited to Karl Koch; longtime friend of the band and, in this case, the person behind the scenes. With the insane amount of footage, one must think that Koch was filming every little thing the band has done over the years. There is footage of everything from Weezer jamming, concerts, and random antics. The footage offers an insightful and illuminating glimpse into the brains and heart of the band in an almost documentary fashion. It also includes every Weezer video ever released as well as some unreleased music videos that the band created themselves. Nothing is left out.

One part of the DVD that shows how much of a wizard Koch really is has to be his videotape of a tribute concert to friends of the band, founders and leaders of the Weezer fan club–Mykel and Carli Allen. They were killed in a tragic car accident while on their way to a Weezer show in 1997. This is definitely a tear jerker that was really pieced together in a neat way.

After seeing how this was done, I feel as if this is the model of how it should be. There is no wasted space, no down time, everything is interesting and informative and laid out for you in an orderly fashion. It is a high quality piece for a high-class band.

For me, this Weezer Blue Album Deluxe Edition and Video Capture Device DVD really reminded me of how much Weezer has influenced my musical tastes from a decade’s past. Listening to the album and watching the DVD reminded me once again how good it feels to listen to the music that was part of you so many years ago.

(Geffen 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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