Category: goth

Rising New York-based post-punk act Bootblacks — Panther Almqvist (vocals), Alli Gorman (guitar), Barrett Hiatt (synths) and Larry Gorman (drums) — derive their name from novelist William Burroughs’ description of the dark underbelly of New York. Unsurprisingly, the band’s surroundings have deeply influenced their work both sonically and thematically. “It’s an energetic city and people have all the reasons in the world not to give you the time of day,” the band’s Panther Almqvist says in press notes. “I think our music has been shaped by that in many ways.”

In 2012, the New York-based post-punk released their Jim Sclavunos-produced debut EP Narrowed. 2016 saw the release of their full-length debut Veins, which they supported with extensive touring. Interestingly, 2017’s sophomore effort Fragments found the band expanding their sound with the material becoming more synth-based, more atmospheric and much bigger than its immediate predecessors. And as a result, Fragments received quite a bit of attention, which helped the band earn slots on a number of post-punk/New Wave/goth festivals including Cold Waves, Terminus, Absolution, Wave Gotik Treffen and A Murder of Crows — and the album landed on a lot of year-end lists.

The members of Bootblacks have played at every significant venue in the New York Metropolitan area, sharing stages with Clan of Xymox, Light Asylum, HEALTH and VOWWS. Along the way, they’ve managed to tour across North America and Europe. Of course, like countless acts across the world, the members of the rising New York-based post-punk act had plans — and hopes — for a big 2020, pre COVID-19 pandemic quarantines and lockdowns: they were handpicked to open for Modern English during their North American tour this year. Unfortunately, that tour has been postponed. But in the meantime, the band’s highly anticipated Jason Corbett-produced third album Thin Skies will be released through Artoffact Records and the album reportedly finds the band zooming forward where Fragments left off — with its nine songs meshing dance floor pulse and melodic, brooding post-punk with anthemic hooks. The album’s material also features backing vocals from ACTORS‘ Shannon Hemmett, SRSQ‘s and Them Are Us Too‘s Kennedy Ashyln.

Thin Skies continues the band’s long-held thematic concerns: the loneliness of city life. “Most of the lyrics on the album are about loneliness,” says Almqvist. “Looking back on the lyric writing process there seems to be some connective feeling of isolation and distance present in all of the songs… I’m always hoping that a listener personalizes the song, that’s why the songs never have a narrative but try to embody a feeling.”

Earlier this month, I wrote about Thin Skies‘ first single “Traveling Light,” a brooding yet dance floor friendly track with reverb-drenched guitars that recall The Unforgettable Fire and The Joshua Tree-era U2, shimmering synth arpeggios and relentless motorik groove that made the track evoke sweaty nights on the dance floor and coming across someone who captures your attention and dreams.  The album’s second and latest single, “The Jealous Star” continues in a similar vein as its immediate predecessor — but centered around jittery percussion, atmospheric synths and motorik pulse, meant to evoke the anxious and unsettled yearning of a confused, vagabond heart.

“I was fascinated with this tradition of the wanderer’s poem, like ‘Ozymandias,'” Bootblacks’ Panther Almqvist says in press notes. “I wanted to contribute my own version to this theme, the eternal traveler, the rolling stone. In the last couple of years I experienced that dichotomy, alone on the road, anxious at home. So ‘The Jealous Star’ is about the disorientation of travel. How it forces you to live outside of yourself and makes you appreciate the places and people you leave.”

Rising New York-based post-punk act Bootblacks — Panther Almqvist (vocals), Alli Gorman (guitar), Barrett Hiatt (synths) and Larry Gorman (drums) — derive their name from novelist William Burroughs’ description of the dark underbelly of New York. And it shouldn’t be surprising that the band’s surroundings have influenced their work both sonically and thematically. “It’s an energetic city and people have all the reasons in the world not to give you the time of day,” the band’s Panther Almqvist says in press notes. “I think our music has been shaped by that in many ways.”

In 2012, the New York-based post-punk released their Jim Sclavunos-produced debut EP Narrowed. 2016 saw the release of their full-length debut Veins, which they supported with extensive touring. Interestingly, 2017’s sophomore effort Fragments found the band expanding their sound with the material becoming more synth-based, more atmospheric and much bigger than its immediate predecessors. Fragments received quite a bit of attention, which helped the band earn slots on a number of post-punk/New Wave/goth festivals including Cold Waves, Terminus, Absolution, Wave Gotik Treffen and A Murder of Crows — and the album landed on a lot of year-end lists.

The members of Bootblacks have played at every significant venue in the New York Metropolitan area, sharing stages with Clan of Xymox, Light Asylum, HEALTH and VOWWS. And along the way, they’ve managed to tour across North America and Europe. Of course, much like countless bands across the world, the rising New York-based post-punk act had hopes for a big 2020 pre COVID-19 quarantines: they were recently handpicked to open for Modern English during their North American tour this year. Unfortunately, that tour has been postponed.

But in the meantime, the band’s highly anticipated Jason Corbett-produced third album Thin Skies will be released through Artoffact Records and the album reportedly finds the band zooming forward where Fragments left off — with its nine songs meshing dance floor pulse and melodic, brooding post-punk with anthemic hooks. The album’s material also features backing vocals from ACTORS‘ Shannon Hemmett, SRSQ‘s and Them Are Us Too‘s Kennedy Ashyln.

Unsurprisingly, the album continues the band’s long-held thematic concerns: the loneliness of city life. “Most of the lyrics on the album are about loneliness,” says Almqvist. “Looking back on the lyric writing process there seems to be some connective feeling of isolation and distance present in all of the songs… I’m always hoping that a listener personalizes the song, that’s why the songs never have a narrative but try to embody a feeling.”

Centered around reverb-drenched guitars that recall The Unforgettable Fire and The Joshua Tree-era U2, shimmering synth arpeggios, a relentless motorik groove, an enormous and Almqvist’s plaintive vocals, Thin Skies‘ first single “Traveling Light” may arguably be among the most dance floor friendly yet brooding songs Bootblacks has ever released, as it evokes sweaty nights on the dance floor, meeting some one who captures your attention and dreams — and eventually heading home alone to obsess over what you should have done.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Secret Shame Releases a “120 Minutes” MTV-Inspired Visual for Anthemic and Shimmering New Single

Over the past 15-18 months or so, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering Asheville, NC-based goth/post-punk act and JOVM mainstays Secret Shame. Founded in 2016, the act — currently, Lena (vocals), Nathan (drums), Matthew (bass) and Billie (guitar) has been centered around its members desperate need to create, “If I couldn’t sing or play music, I would tear my skin off.” the band’s front person Lena explained in press notes. Shortly after their formation, the band released their self-titled debut EP, which helped established their dark and atmospheric sound — while the material thematically touched upon domestic rabuse, mental health, political and social dissatisfaction and frustration.

The Asheville-based JOVM mainstays’ full-length debut Dark Synthetics was released to critical acclaim last year — and the album find the band expanding upon their sound, crafting material that seemed indebted to both Siouxsie and the Banshees and 4AD Records. Building upon the growing momentum surrounding the band since the release of their debut, the members of Secret Shame have released a series of Dark Synthetics remixes as a teasers while they were returning to the studio to record new music. 

Throughout their relatively short history together, they’ve developed a reputation for an ever-changing songwriting process centered around a collective songwriting approach. The end result is that it allows the band to not allow themselves to be pigeonholed into a single subgenere of goth or post-punk. Interestingly, Secret Shame’s latest single “Dissolve” finds the band turning towards a completely new sound while managing to evoke the same feeling and vibe of their previously released material. There’s clear nods to Joy Division, New Order, and Echo and the Bunnymen on this one — with a tiniest of nods to The Smiths here: the song features shimmering guitars, rapid-fire four-on-the-floor, enormous and rousingly anthemic hooks and Lena singing with a plaintive earnestness. It’s arguably their most gorgeous sounding song they’ve released to date, but underneath the shimmer, is a hardened bitterness and dark thematic concerns that have won the band attention. As the band’s Lena says of the song, “A cathartic break from a bad situation, but a gateway to something still destructive. What are the benefits of nobody knowing what’s on your mind? What are the drawbacks?”

Visually, the recently released video for “Dissolve” seemed indebted to 120 Minutes-era MTV with tape hiss and nods at Echo and the Bunnymen’s “Lips Like Sugar” and “The Killing Moon,” among others that immediately come to my mind. 

“Dissolve” will appear on a self-released 7 inch that will be release don June 5, 2020. 

New Audio: German Darkwave Act NNHMN Releases a Feverish Visual for “Special”

NNHMN (pronounced as “nonhuman”) is a Berlin-based darkwave duo featuring Lee and Laudrag. Last year, the German darkwave duo released Shadow in the Dark, a six song album that received attention across darkwave and synth music circles for a sensual, propulsive and deeply emotional take on darkwave. Initially released digitally throughk-dreams records, Shadow in the Dark recently saw a vinyl re-released through Oraculo Records.  

To celebrate the vinyl re-release of Shadow in the Dark, the duo released the album’s latest single, the club-banging, early Depeche Mode-like “Special.” Centered around shimmering and rapidly oscillating synths, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, sultry vocals and an enormous hook “Special,” according to the duo tells the story of a borderline personality, who struggles with expressing love. 

Produced and edited by the members of NNHMN, the recently released cinematic yet feverish visual for “Special” draws heavily from Philipe Garrel’s 1972 film La Cicatrice intérieure, which features a similarly damaged main character. 

New Video: Night Dreamer’s Contemporary Take on New Wave and Goth

Deriving their name from a composition written and recorded by the legendary jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter, Night Dreamer is a new collaborative project that combines the divergent talents and musical voices of Smashing Pumpkins’ Jeff Schroeder and Southern California-based classically trained, New Wave multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Mindy Song into one unified, artistic vision. Introduced to each other through mutual friends, the duo can trace the origins of their latest project back to early 2017 when they met up for an experimental session at Schroeder’s Chicago-based studio. . “I had no plan other than to just get together with Jeff and see where things might go,” Night Dreamer’s Mindy Song recalls in press notes. “But then once we got going, it was an immediate explosion of sound and inspiration.”

As the story goes. about an hour into their first time working together, Song and Schroeder came up with “Treasure,” the title track off their forthcoming debut EP, Treasure. Slated for an October 11, 2019 release, the EP was mainly recorded at The Cave Studio with Josiah Mazzaschi, a producer, mixer and engineer, who’s worked with The Jesus and Mary Chain and Built to Spill among others — and the EP’s material reportedly finds the band meshing elements of dream pop, noise, heavy metal, goth and New Wave among others. Interestingly, each individual track is imprinted with a singular sonic aesthetic that came about roughly halfway through the Treasure EP recording sessions.“At first we went down a more traditional route in the recording, with live drums and live bass, but then Mindy asked if she could mess around with those tracks and take it in a different direction,” Schroeder recalls.

Working on her own after Schroeder returned to Chicago for tour rehearsal, Song started to reshape the material through the use of drum machines and synths, which managed to amplify the intensity of Schroeder’s guitar playing. “Usually it’s difficult to blend guitar with electronic music in a way that works,” says Schroeder. “But what Mindy sent back to me was so much more exciting than what we’d done before, and put us on a completely different trajectory.”

Treasure’s first single is the shimmering and mesmerizing “Another Life.” Centered around buzzing guitars, tweeter and woofer rattling 808-like beats and Mindy Song’s expressive and plaintive vocals, the song feels like a subtle modernization of the work of New Wave/goth titans like Sixousie and the Banshees and The Cure — but instead of wallowing in the darkness, the song manages to have an upbeat message of rising above one’s currently shitty circumstances, that things do get better in time.

Directed by John Isberg, the recently released video finds the members of Night Dreamer performing the song in an abandoned loft. Shot in warm yet simultaneously soft light, the video finds the duo escaping into the emotion and message of the song.

New Audio: Reykjavik’s Kælan Mikla Releases Live Concert-based Visual for Industrial Synth Wave-Inspired Single

Over the past handful of months this year, I’ve written a bit about the up-and-coming Reykjavik, Iceland-based synth-based post-punk trio Kælan Mikla. Last year was a breakthrough year for the Icelandic act: they played a set at The Netherlands’ Roadburn Festival, were championed by The Cure’s Robert Smith and toured with King Dude, and as you may recall, all of that happened before the release of Nótt eftir nott. 

The members of Kælan Mikla are currently in the middle of a lengthy Stateside tour that included a New York area stop last night. (You can check out the remaining tour dates below) Sadly, I had to miss that one — but in the meantime, the trio’s latest single off Nótt eftir nott is the brooding  “Hvernig kemst ég upp.” Centered around layers of arpeggiated synths, a motorik-like groove, tweeter and woofer rocking low end, thumping beats, the industrial-leaning, synth-driven track finds the Icelandic act employing a sound that will likely bring early Depeche Mode and New Order immediately to mind. 

Formed back in 2016, the Asheville, NC-based goth/post-punk act Secret Shame — Lena (vocals), Nathan (drums), Nikki (guitar), Matthew (bass) and Billie (guitar) — can trace their origins to all of its members feeling a desperate need to create. “If I couldn’t sing or play music, I would tear my skin off.” the band’s front person Lena explains in press notes. Shortly after their formation, the band released their self-titled debut EP, which quickly established a dark and atmospheric sound paired with lyrics that thematically touch upon issues of domestic abuse, mental health, political and social dissatisfaction and frustration. 

Interestingly, their full-length debut, Dark Synthetics is slated for a September 6, 2019 release through Portrayal of Guilt Records, and from the album’s latest single “Calm” the band will further establish their sound — an enormous reverb-heavy sound that draws from Siouxsie and the Banshees and 4AD Records: shimmering and angular guitars, a sinuous bass line, driving rhythms, razor sharp hooks paired with Lena’s voice slashing and cutting through the moody haze.  Underpinning it all is an emotional urgency — the sort that comes from lived-in experience.

“There’s not a single word I didn’t write from the pit of my stomach,” Lena says. “The entire record- even though the song dynamics change- has one solid emotion, which is the struggle of inner turmoil and being trapped inside yourself. It’s the feeling of holding a scream in the back of your throat.” She adds, “Some people avoid writing music that puts them in a vulnerable place, but that’s the place I’m trying to get into, That’s where you’re your most raw and hopefully people will be able to experience it through you. There’s nothing else like it.”