Single Reviews

Review: Distance – “No Funeral”

distanceNewcastle, Australia’s Distance are a relatively new entity under the post-hardcore umbrella. And while they may still be a burgeoning act, these two new songs presented as No Funeral, prove they are way beyond their collective age as a band. Their sound, perhaps, isn’t best labelled under the genre we tend to associate bands boasting crunchy post-punk guitars, strong percussion work and vocals fueled by what sounds like rage and anger. For Australian listeners, Distance will probably remind them of lauded acts like A Death in the Family, but for North American ears, you’ll find that their brand of songs could slip off the back of the Avail truck.

There are two songs here, “Temporary” and “Winter Solstice”, and both acquit themselves really well. “Temporary” has a tinge of Samiam to it as the opening percussion/guitar combo crescendos to near perfect melodies. What can be noted from these two songs is the band’s vocal work that at times come across as similar to Chris Fields’ work in Jon Cougar Concentration Camp; rough and tumble-dried in a vat of whiskey and a thousand cigarettes. The second song however, “Winter Solstice”, is really where the band shines. Its mid-tempo reflections and melancholia is draped in soaring choral harmonies, while the band’s adept blend of punk and hardcore comes through in spades. It’s really a terrific song and if it is any indication of where this band will go, then Distance will certainly be one to keep your ears and eyes on.

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Distance’s No Funeral is now available digitally and on cassette tape(!) via Hindsight Records. You can listen to “Winter Solstice” below:

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Culture, Music

The Bitter Reality: “Black Flag” is dead

In a strange but not entirely unexpected turn of events, Ron Reyes has quit/been fired from “Black Flag” once again. In a bizarre on-stage firing at the tail end of their recent Australian sojourn, Reyes was unceremoniously booted with two songs left on the set list. The band of course, was one half of the two “reunited” renditions of the once legendary punk band. In a long and revealing statement, Reyes has stated that the band “fell very short indeed and the diminishing ticket sales and crowds are a testament to that.” But more telling than anything, it seems that Reyes had an inkling this entire project was doomed to fail. In the statement, Reyes says;

[quote]“The writing was on the wall since before we played our first show. So many things went wrong from the start. I was into things like having a good drummer, rehearsing and spending time on things like beginnings and endings of songs, being a little less distracted with tour life and a little more on the ball. You know things that would make our efforts worthy of the name Black Flag”[/quote]

It’s funny and painfully sad to think of course, the once great legacy of a band that influenced so many has fallen into such disgrace. Like Reyes, we expected as much. Back in July of this year, we wrote a piece titled ‘Black Flags and Idol Suicides‘ and in it, Brad Abraham asks the simple question that plagued the formations of both these bands; “why?”. Why did we need “Black Flag” and “Flag”? The truth is, we didn’t, and we still don’t. The farce in which this has descended down to is testament to this notion.

If you’ve had a listen to the new “Black Flag” album (that may be thrown into doubt now with Reyes’ departure), you can hear the sound of a tired, aged, decrepit band struggling to find relevance where it didn’t need to. Abraham goes on in the piece to ask a few more pertinent questions and with the recent turn of events, they are more relevant than ever:

Why subject your fans to this tired display?

Why ruin something that was perfect?

Why bring middle-aged dissatisfaction to youth rebellion?”

Why indeed, for this mess. Speculation is that Greg Ginn will continue the band with someone else on vocals, but it would seem that such action would do little to change the situation. There is nothing wrong with remembering the past, especially one that is so gloriously influential and historically significant to an entire youth movement. But to let it break and burn like this? It’s just sad. Could it be that a small part of this debacle is due to the current climate of monetary possibilities these bands did not once have? Are we all partly to blame? Our culture of famous-now, money-now music industry means one-time cash-starved beacons of struggle and revolution can embark on a new monetized rehashing of their once lauded legacy. There is no stopping that, but don’t expect us not to comment when it disintegrates.

How did Brad Abraham get it so right? How did he nail the whole situation right on its head in one sentence? It is in this case of Ron Reyes, Greg Ginn, Keith Morris and the rest of the parties involved masquerading as the corpse of Black Flag, a statement that bears repeating;

For the aging punk rockers who have carried out this charade, one lesson will be imprinted on them- you can’t repeat the past.

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Interviews

The Warmest Heart Attack: An Interview with Gameface

Vocalist and songwriter Jeff Caudill has spent a great deal of his life writing and recording songs with his band Gameface. They started making a name for themselves with their melody-charged, pop-tinged punk debut Good (1993), before going on to record albums for Revelation Records through the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Unafraid of fusing punk urgency with catchy choruses and heartfelt content, the band proved to be the perfect crossroads between punk, hardcore and the original formation of emo. In 2003, after the release of their Doghouse album Four To Go, the band members went their separate ways but never kept too far away from music.

In 2012, the band reformed to play selected shows and not long after, signed to Equal Vision Records. Now on the doorstep of their first recorded material in years, a new 7”, and a decade removed from their last album, Southern California’s Gameface are back doing what they love most.

You recently said that getting back together as a very natural process, did you all want the same things when you first go back together? Does this feel like the next chapter or starting over?

Jeff Caudill: Yeah, it was natural in that it took a long time to actually happen. It took the last few years to really understand the reasons we gave it up in 2003. We had to put all that to rest before we could pick up our instruments and really move forward. Now we’re all back on the same page and we all have the same expectations. That’s important because that was one thing that destroyed us before. We’re very fortunate to even have this opportunity at all so our only real goal is to make great music again. This band means a lot to us. It’s really a gift to have it back in our lives.

During Gameface’s hiatus, what kept you all busy? Jeff, I know you’ve been writing and performing as a solo artist and in Your Favorite Trainwreck, does this mean those projects are on hold?

Yeah, I never stop. For better or for worse I just can’t stop making music. I’m proud of all that I have done with my solo projects and the YFT album…but Gameface is different for me. Gameface is my guts. I know the other guys feel the same. They’ve done other bands and whatnot but there’s just something about Gameface that couldn’t be replicated with anyone else.

Gameface is my guts. I know the other guys feel the same.  – Jeff Caudill

Equal Vision is a great fit, what was the reasons for signing with EVR? And were Revelation interested in doing new Gameface material?

EVR was at the top of our list from the beginning. They come from the same place in the scene that we do. Their label has found a way to grow and stay relevant and maintain itself for over 20 years and that’s impressive. The label roster is really diverse and the staff is great. We’re really fortunate that they believe in our band like we do.

It’s been a decade since we’ve had Gameface music, are the reasons why you write songs now still the same as back then?

Yeah. That never changes. I write about my life, as a way to deal with things and share and express myself. I write about myself but for others – hoping to connect with people that feel the same things and need an outlet.

Your new song, “Come On Down”, has some personal and important meaning behind it. Did this become the catalyst for the rest of the new material, the creative spark so to speak?

Yeah. I wasn’t sure Gameface was going to write any new material. I figured we’d do some reunion shows, play the “hits” and that would be it. But that song changed everything. An avalanche of new songs followed after that one. It was that Gameface feeling all over again.

Listen to Gameface’s new song “Come On Down”:

 

What are the plans for the next few months, is it all new album or will you be out on the road?

Just recording the album and making sure it’s as great as we think it is. We’ll start playing in 2014.

Have you guys ever been to Australia?

We haven’t but would absolutely love to go someday. If you’re offering, we’re already packing ; )

Looking back at your discography, are there particular songs or albums you’re still most fond of?

There’s a decent list of songs that I feel are the standouts in our catalog. The ones I like most may not be the ones you do but I think there are some obvious ones… “My Star”, “Only Souvenir”, “Laughable”, “Gibberish”, “Mean”, “Friday Matinee”, “Only Chance We Get”, “The Pirate Song”, “Chasing The Sun”, “How Far is Goodbye?”…

This question is a little self indulgent on my part, but the song “How Far Is Goodbye?” has always been a favourite. Do you remember why you wrote this song or whether this was about a particular person or place?

Yeah, as I was saying a lot of the songs are pretty autobiographical and that one is no exception. The song is generally knowing when it’s time to move on from a group of friends that you are obviously not happy being around. I drew references from a few times in my life where I was living somewhere and with people that were ultimately holding me down. I don’t like to be very specific when I talk about my lyrics mostly because I don’t want to ruin anyone else’s interpretation of them. Sometimes their vision of what the song says is way more interesting than mine. But when we get to Australia I’ll tell you all the details about this one.

 

Gameface’s new 7″, Come On Down, is available from Equal Vision Records starting November 5th. A new album is due in 2014. Photo by Kip Terry

 

Bonus video: “How Far Is Goodbye?”

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Music, Sight & Sound

Watch Kid Dynamite from This Is Hardcore

Few bands will mean more to this site’s history than Philadelphia hardcore act Kid Dynamite. Their song, “Never Met The Gooch“, became the inspiration and namesake for the site’s original incarnation as Sound the Sirens Magazine.

Now more than a decade removed, the band have recently broken up (again), but not before performed at this year’s This Is Hardcore festival. The kind folks at Hate5Six.com filmed their entire set in HD so you could see this great band, if never again in person, then at least in film.

They were one of the great modern hardcore bands who never adopted the frills, the terrible metal breakdowns and all that hoopla about being “hardcore”. They just rocked out, wrote short, fast, loud songs and tore up the stage wherever they played without much fuss.

Kid Dynamite is dead, hardcore is dead. Long live Kid Dynamite, long live hardcore.

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Sight & Sound

City & Colour debut new song “Of Space And Time”

Dallas Green has debuted a brand new song under his City & Colour moniker. Fresh from the global success of his 2011 album Little Hell, Green most recently closed the chapter on his previous musical project, Alexisonfire.

The new track, “Of Space And Time”, is the first track revealed from his upcoming fourth solo album.

Yup. Still boring.

 

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Album Reviews, Music

Review: Taking Back Sunday – Taking Back Sunday

There is great cynicism towards Taking Back Sunday– easy targets, drama kings- all are part of the conjecture volleyed towards them in the many years since their breakthrough 2002 album Tell All Your Friends. A band burdened by such weight would normally crumble- and it looked like they did when members Shaun Cooper and John Nolan left just a year later. Yet through the albums that followed, most notably the follow up Where You Want To Be and good portions of their major label debut Louder Now, the band proved every bit capable of turning any/all of the drama into the kind of emotionally histrionic songwriting they’re known for.

That is the crux of Taking Back Sunday– jagged edge rock guitars, post-hardcore sensibilities and that flair for the lyrical dramatics found in etched in your high school notebook over and over again. After seemingly hitting the skids with New Again in 2009, the band’s latest (and first with both Nolan and Cooper back in the lineup) fits somewhere in proximity to Louder Now. Its inexactness comes from much of the songs present as being some of the best material they’ve done since 2002/2004 but with the kind of sonic production that came with Louder Now.

A good many of the songs here rely on soaring choruses (the great single “Faith (When I Let You Down)”), biting dramatics (“Who Are You Anyway”?) and the kind of flair they exhibited in great tracks from their past like “This Photograph If Proof (I Know You Know)”. In fact, much of the album is like one “This Photograph” after another, which in the case of Taking Back Sunday, is a really good thing. Taking Back Sunday strips away the narrow scope of New Again and amplifies the core of what made them who they are into 10 (of the 11) succinct tracks. Only the opening “El Paso” seems like a slight stretch; relying instead on a messy, frenzied palette (look guys, you don’t need to show you “rock hard” at this point).

Sounding like a band truly comfortable in their skin once again, Taking Back Sunday is terrific, proof that growing up musically is terribly overrated. It’s great to hear this band old again. (Warner Bros.)

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Music

Converge start writing new album

Massachusetts metal/punk act Converge have begun work on the follow-up to 2009’s acclaimed Axe to Fall. The band have entered Kurt Ballou’s studios in Salem and tweeted the following update;

This week we commence writing a new album together at God City, get ready world…

Get ready world indeed. The band’s blistering style has put them on the forefront of metal-infused hardcore punk, laying waste to timid ears since 1994. The band’s magnum opus, 2001’s Jane Doe, is considered among the genre’s best.

You can check out the video for title track from Axe to Fall right here.

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