I like it when bands mature, rather than spin their tires in the same musical donut for their entire career. On Always On, Gameface continues to show us the depth, breadth, and songwriting skill that they brandished on Every Last Time, while still infusing each track with the incendiary energy that typified their early releases. As on Every Last Time, the songs here are mostly more capital-R rock than punk, but melodic and catchy as hell. To wit: "Anyone Can Write A Song" both proves and refutes the track's title postulation by being a fairly straightforward lyrical piece that's wrapped around an über-pop arrangement that's sure to get stuck in your head for at least a week, more likely a month. Since Every Last Time, vocalist Jeff Caudill has brought his guitar skill to the 'face, and the band really does benefit from the layers and thickness that that extra guitar adds. Jeff also seems to be getting more comfortable with his singing, as well, as there's a new confidence felt here. And of course, Todd, Steve and Paul are...well, they're always on. (MHo)
(Revelation Records -- P.O. Box 5232, Huntington Beach, CA. 92615-5232; http://revelationrecords.com/; Gameface -- http://www.gameface.net/)
It must be a good sign when your dog eats a CD that you have to review, and you still like it! Grey Area doesn't just enjoy making noise, they enjoy playing songs; these guys have a good sense for heavier and more serious pop melodies. Really good playing all over the record -- particularly nice guitar work. Intelligent songwriting (but then, I'm a sucker for music that tries to say something). Overall they sound best when they're keeping the guitars loud. When they try to be heavily melodic it starts to bog down a little -- sounds a little derivative of some questionable sources.
These guys are best in their less poppy moments -- that's when they're not trying to top the charts but just communicating something to us. Some of their grand gestures are a little overheated. When things get more restrained they sound more poppy than they're comfortable with, but when the guitars go again they're on top of it again. They've definitely got the idea, and with a little more polish they could go a long, long way. (HM)
(Victory Records -- 346 N. Justine, Suite 504, Chicago, IL. 60607; http://www.victoryrecords.com/; Greyarea -- http://www.greyarea.net/)