Category: New Wave

Rising New York-based post-punk act Bootblacks — Panther MacDonald (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 Barrett Hiatt 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 Hiatt. “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 MacDonald’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.

Advertisements

SPECTRES  is a Vancouver-based post-punk act founded in 2005 by Brian Gustavson. And since the band’s formation, they’ve been popularly cited as being one of acts responsible for kicking off Canada’s renewed interest in the post-punk sound. Interestingly, the band was initially inspired by the British anarcho-punk scene of the late 70s and early 80s, the Vancouver-based post-punk meshed that scene’s ethos with post punk stylings and an uncanny knack for crafting hook driven, catchy material. But over the years, the band’s sound has evolved, increasingly incorporating elements of New Wave and punk.

“The band started as a way to creatively explore 1980s British anarcho-punk and while creatively we have drifted in new directions, this core influence still holds a lot of inspiration for us,” the band’s Zach Batalden  (guitar) says in press notes. Bands like The Mob, Crisis, Crass and Zounds are all still very important for us. From there we took a deep interest in ’80s post-punk and new wave with bands like The Sound, The Chameleons, Theatre of Hate and Modern English, central to the way our sound has developed.”

Slated for release this Friday, through Artoffact Records, the Vancouver-based post-punk act’s soon-to-be released Jason Corbett-produced album Nostalgia lyrically finds the band touching upon the alienation of modern life and the search for hope in an increasingly terrifying world. “Deepening political partisanship, aging, and finding one’s own way through alienating times are common themes the on the Nostalgia LP,” says Batalden. Sonically, the material fnds the band continuing their ongoing exploration of a decidedly post-punk like sound with Gustavon’s plaintive and melodic vocals ethereally floating over chiming guitars and propulsive beats. “For the new album, Nostalgia, we were listening to a lot of Flying Nun bands like The Bats, The Verlaines and The Clean as well,” Batalden adds.

“Years of Lead,” Nostalgia’s latest single is a decidedly New Order-like take on post-punk as its centered around jangling and shimmering angular bursts of guitars, four-on-the-floor drumming and rousingly anthemic hook. Interestingly, much like “Northern Towns” off the band’s “Provincial Wake” 7 inch, “Years of Lead” features a pitch perfect, deceptively anachronistic, era specific production paired with a bittersweet and nostalgic air.

 

 

 

Over the past couple of years, I’ve managed to write a bit about JOVM Matthew Messore, who’s an Orlando, FL-born and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. best known as the creative mastermind behind the rapidly rising bedroom recording project Cathedral Bells. Since the release of 2018’s self-titled EP, which received support from David Dean Burkhart and praise from The Line of Best Fit, Messore has released a handful of singles from his highly-anticipated Cathedral Bells full-length debut Velvet Spirit, which is slated for a March 6, 2020 release through Good Eye Records.

The JOVM mainstay begins 2020 with “Disconnected,” the latest single off his forthcoming debut, and much like its predecessors, the new single continues to cement the sound that has won the attention of the blogosphere, including this site: centered around Messore’s ethereal vocals, delicately shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars and a motorik groove, “Disconnected” is a shoegazer-like take on New Wave that recalls early 4AD Records and others but while possessing a swooning urgency.

 

New Audio: British Indie Act Beat Hotel Releases a Shimmering 80s New Wave-Inspired Single

Split between Brighton, UK and Plymouth, UK, the rising British indie rock act Beat Hotel, which features current and former members of The June Brides, The Loft, The Weather Prophets, Distractions, Mudlow, Mojo Fins and Lolita Storm can trace its origins to when its founding members — The June Brides’, The Distractions’ and The Granite Shore’s Arash Torabi and Paul Pascoe met after a 1988 The Jasmine Minks show.  (Interestingly, many years later, the first Beat Hotel single featured a guest vocal spot from The Jasmine Minks’ frontman Jim Shepherd.) 

Developing a strong live presence in their local scene, the act managed to record a number of demos,  but they didn’t officially release anything until 2013 — the “Best of Our Years”/”The Fire,” double A-side 7 inch, which featured The Loft’s and The Weather Prophets’ Dave Morgan (drums), who then became a permanent member of the band. 

Slated for a January 31, 2020 release through Occultation Records, the band’s long-awaited self-titled EP was recorded at Hove, UK’s Church Road Studios by the band’s Paul Pascoe and features five originals written by Pascoe and a cover of The Wishing Stones’ “Beat Girl.” The EP features guest spots from The June Brides’ Frank Sweeney, who contributes strings and piano and former Mojo Fins member Stephen Brett (guitar), who releases material as a solo artist under the moniker SJ Brett. “Every now and again, we produce something that’s very special to us. These forays into the physical world are usually inspired by a collaboration,” Beat Hotel’s Paul Pascoe says in press notes about the band’s self-titled EP. “This time it was driven by an unexpected creative surge due to the sudden and shocking end of a relationship. I felt like I had to relearn everything about how to be in the world and look seriously at who I actually am. I found comfort in the music that had given me a sense of belonging the first time around. The Jesus & Mary Chain, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Weather Prophets…these songs and songwriters, so familiar to my psyche, were there again to drag me to safety.”

“This collection of songs is about love and near-death and confronting the very worst aspects of ourselves, facing down those inner demons, the fears that haunt us and our deepest, darkest secrets,” Pascoe says of the EP’s material. “And… with one of the tracks beginning its recording journey in 1997 and getting its final guitar overdub and mix in 2019 (in all its 3 minutes 14 seconds of rock’n’roll glory), this record is also a tribute to the awesome power of getting shit done.”

The EP’s latest single “Bury It Deep” is a propulsive and upbeat, hook-driven song centered around layers of shimmering guitars that immediately brings Starfish-era The Church, early-to-mid 80s Echo and the Bunnymen (i.e., Crocodiles, Heaven Up Here and Ocean Rain), The Dream Syndicate and others, as it hints at radio psych rock, New Wave and post-punk in an uncanny period specific fashion. But the song isn’t just another  soulless homage to a classic and beloved sound we’ve grown up with; at its core, the song finds it narrator trying to maneuver a confusing and uncertain world while facing their own demons.

Over the course of this past year, I’ve written a bit about the Asheville, NC-based goth/post-punk act Secret Shame. And as you may recall, the act — Lena (vocals), Nathan (drums), Nikki (guitar), Matthew (bass) and Billie (guitar) — formed back in 2016 and can trace their origins to the desperate need that all of its members felt 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 the band’s dark and atmospheric sound paired with lyrics that thematically touch upon issues of domestic abuse, mental health, political and social dissatisfaction and frustration. 

Secret Shame’s highly-anticipated full-length debut Dark Synthetics was released earlier this year to critical acclaim — while further establishing an enormous, reverb-heavy sound that seemed to be influenced by  Siouxsie and the Banshees and 4AD Records. Interestingly, album single “Calm” was a perfect example of that sound, while featuring driving rhythms, razor sharp hooks and Lean’s vocals slashing through and cutting through the moody and hazy mix. And underpinning the song was an emotional urgency that came from lived-in, personal experience. “There’s not a single word I didn’t write from the pit of my stomach,” Lena says in press notes. “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.”

Building upon the growing momentum the band has received since the release of their full-length debut, the members of Secret Shame have toured to support the new album, which included an apt Friday the 13th stop at The Broadway and a Halloween set that featured Joy Division covers.  Along with that, Secret Shame recently announced a series of remixes of Dark Synthetic material that they’ll be releasing over the next few months, as they return to the studio to record new music slated for release next year. The first remix finds XOR turning the guitar-led “Calm” into an icy and industrial synth banger, centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, stuttering beats while retaining the song’s intensity, vulnerability and ache, and Lena’s powerhouse vocals.

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. 

New Video: METZ Releases an Explosive Take on a Gary Numan Classic

I’ve written quite a bit about the Toronto-based punk trio and JOVM mainstays METZ over the years and if you’ve been frequenting this during that same period, you may recall that their third album, 2017’s Strange Peace found the band pushing their songwriting in new directions with their most personal and politically charged work to date — and while retaining the furious and blistering energy of their live sets, the material managed to capture the anxiety, uncertainty, fear and outrage that many of have felt over the past couple of years. 

Earlier this year, Sub Pop Records released Automat, a collection of METZ’s non-album singles, B-sides and rarities dating back to 2009 on vinyl for the first time — including, the band’s long out-of-print (pre-Sub Pop) recordings. Essentially, the album is designed as a chronological trip through the acclaimed Canadian JOVM mainstays lesser-known material. Interestingly, the vinyl version of Automat included a bonus 7′ single of the band covering three very diverse songs, which will offer fans and listeners a glimpse into their wide-ranging tastes — a cover of Sparklehorse’s “Pig” off a very limited 2012 Record Store Day split single, originally released by Toronto-based record store, Sonic Boom; a cover of The Urinals’ “I’m a Bug” originally released on YouTube in 2014′; and lastly, a previously unreleased cover of Gary Numan’s “M.E.” Today, the three bonus tracks were made available to all digital services. So with that in mind, check out METZ’s explosive, feedback-driven take on Gary Numan’s classic “M.E.” 

Featuring a three-headed Pleasure Principle hydra illustrated by Kirin Booth and animation by Martin MacPherson, the recently released video for “M.E.” is a mesmerizing and hallucinogenic romp.