Category: post-punk

Comprised of Sólveig Matthildur,  Margrét Rósa and Laufey Soffía, the Reykjavik, Iceland-based synth-based post-punk act Kælan Mikla have had a breakthrough year so far: they played a critically applauded set at this year’s Roadburn Festival, were championed by The Cure’s Robert Smith and toured with King Dude — and all of this before the release of their forthcoming album Nótt eftir nott, which is slated for a November 9, 2018 release through Artoffact Records.

The members of the Icelandic post-punk trio will be playing an album release show on November 8, 2018 at this year’s Iceland Airwaves but before then, the album’s first official single is the chilly yet dance floor friendly, synth-led track “Nornalagið” — and the track, which is centered by a motorik groove and punctuated by piercing wailing manages to be both eerily atmospheric and cinematic, evoking a storm rolling across enormous skies.

 

 

 

 

 

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Led by songwriter/producer and founder of Ice Queen Records and founding member Joseph Lekkas, the Nashville-based indie rock act Palm Ghosts can trace its origins back
to when Lekkas lived in Philadelphia. As the story goes, after spending a number of years playing in local bands like Grammar Debate! and Hilliard, Lekkas took a lengthy hiatus from writing and performing music to book shows and festivals in and around the Philadelphia area. Initially began as a solo recording project and creative way for Lekkas to deal with an incapacitating bout of depression and anxiety after discovering that music was his only way out the mire. So Lekkas spent a long Philadelphia winter recording a batch of introspective songs that he dubbed “sun-damaged American music’ that would eventually become the Palm Ghost debut album.
After a short tour in 2013 to support the Palm Ghost debut album, Lekkas packed up his belongings and relocated to Nashville, enticed by the city’s growing indie rock scene. Once he settled in to his new hometown, Lekkas set up a small home studio in the guest bedroom of a rental house on Greenland Avenue in East Nashville, where he eventually wrote and recorded the sophomore Palm Ghosts album, last year’s Greenland, an album that found him employing elements of electro pop, folk and indie rock that was influenced by his new hometown’s long-held song-is-king culture. Last May, the Palm Ghost founding member began working on the third Palm Ghosts album Architecture, an album heavily influenced by the sounds of the 80s — in particular, Cocteau Twins, Peter Gabriel, Dead Can Dance, New Order and The Cure among others. The album’s first single “Turn the Knife” is a hook-driven bit of 80s post-punk that will recall New Order, Echo and the Bunnymen and others but centered by the two part male/female harmonies, angular guitar chords, a propulsive rhythm section and a bitter sense of betrayal and distrust.
As Lekkas told me via email, “‘Turn the Knife’ is basically a song about betrayal in love — or a one sided relationship that ends badly. It was written and recorded in my studio here in Nashville. My influences are all over the map but I’m an enormous fan of 80s post punk and New Wave music, so perhaps that shines through to you in the song? Basically, The Cure, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Chameleons and The Jesus and Mary Chain are big influences.”

 

 

 

With the release of their debut single “Fourteen,” the Gothenburg, Sweden-based trio Beverly Kills quickly received attention for a decidedly post-punk inspired sound; however, the act’s latest single “Melodrama” find the band’s sound leaning a bit more towards a dream pop-take on the familiar and beloved post punk sound as the Swedish trio pair jangling guitar chords, a propulsive rhythm section that included four-on-the-floor drumming, soaring hooks and a shimmering coda. And while revealing a band with an ambitious approach to their songwriting, the song sonically sounds as though it could have been released during 4AD Records heyday.

 

 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays A Place to Bury Strangers Release a Wild Lysergic-Tinged Visual for Album Single “Execution”

I’ve written quite a bit about long-time, Brooklyn-based JOVM mainstays A Place to Bury Strangers throughout its 8 year history, and over that same period of time, the band currently comprised of Oliver Ackermann (vocals, guitar), Dion Lunadon (bass, guitar) and its newest member Lia Simone Braswell have developed a reputation for an unwavering and uncompromising commitment to unpredictable live shows — and for being one of the loudest bands on the planet. They’re also known for never writing an actual set list, for writing new songs in the middle of their sets and for deliberately provoking and sabotaging sound engineers in a variety of cruel and innovative ways — and as a result, they’re arguably one of the most exciting contemporary live bands you will see.

Dead Oceans will be releasing Re-Pinned, a remixed record featuring re-imagined and re-worked A Place to Bury Strangers tracks from Slowdive, Trentemøller, No Age, METZ, Eric Copeland, Roly Porter, Davy Drones, and TBO. And to support the remix album and their latest effort, Pinned, the Brooklyn-based trio will be embarking on the second leg of their world tour with a NYC area date at the Doc Marten’s Union Square location — and you can check out the tour dates below; but before that, “Execution” is the latest single off Pinned and it finds the band adding subtle elements to their sound: scentered around noisy squalls of feedback,  a motorik groove, Ackermann’s pained, gritted teeth-like vocals and industrial clang and clatter, the song manages to feel much more tense and chillier while still remaining almost defiantly them.

Directed by Black Math’s Evan Fellers, the recently released video for the song is centered around jarring neon-tinged visuals thrown into an equally surreal  backgrounds and reality, creating a wildly lysergic visual mix. As Fellers explains “It was a blast to craft this dark nugget of visual energy for this edgy track by APTBS. Fueled by the contours of potential meaning found in ‘Execution’, a free-form fall into defining this world resulted in 70% confused trip, 26% weird brain juice on the run, 3% humor & 1% whatever the hell you want it to be.”

New Video: Up-and-Coming New York Indie Act A Very Special Episode Explore the Paranormal in Visuals for “Gravity”

Deriving their name from the TV term for a specific sitcom episode that discusses heavy and/or more serious topics relative to the typical content of a broadcast network sitcom, the New York-based indie act A Very Special Episode was founded by its primary songwriting duo and core members Kasey Heiser (vocals) and Patrick Porter (guitar) back in 2016, and despite a series of lineup changes throughout their short history, Heiser and Porter have cited television — particularly sitcoms — as influencing some of the thematic concerns of their work. Sonically though, their sound draws from shoegaze, post-punk and 90s alt rock while centered around Haiser’s powerhouse vocals and enormous, arena friendly hooks. 

The band’s debut effort Censored Dreams was drawn from a series of home recordings, written over the course of several years, inspired by their own personal lives, including being artists struggling with the tedium of day jobs, personal and romantic relationships, Internet drama and many of the frustrations of daily life. So far 2018 has proven to be a big year for the band: they signed to Knuckle Down Records in April, and their sophomore EP Cut For Time was officially released today — and interestingly enough, the band’s new EP reportedly finds the band shifting towards a faster and more aggressive tempo while still retaining the atmospherics and intricate guitar work of their previously released material.  As the duo explain in press notes, “The goal of the EP was to create definitive versions of several of our songs that started as bedroom demos, along with a couple new ones.”

Featuring an arrangement of enormous, arena rock power chords played through feedback, delay and other effects pedals, thundering drumming, heavily down-tuned bass, equally enormous arena rock meets pop hooks — but while ensuring that Heiser’s attention-grabbing, power house vocals are at the forefront. Sonically, the song seems to find the band drawing from Paramore, My Vitriol, My Bloody Valentine and others simultaneously — but with a modern and incredibly self-assured take. As the band mentions “Gravity” is one of their oldest songs, and is among the first they’ve written, and while largely inspired by Stranger Things, the EP version is played with a faster tempo and higher, cleaner production value — while thematically, focusing on directly experiencing the paranormal. 
Shot and directed by Emma Shalaway, the recently releaysed video further emphasizes the paranormal — and perhaps paranoid — vibes of the song, as it focuses on the existence of parallel yet strangely similar universes, and the subtle yet gnawing sense that we’ve experienced something inexplicably odd yet can’t quite put to words. 

Comprised of an American, an Englishman and two Swedes, the members of FEWS relocated from London to Malmo, Sweden, where they unearthed its creative underbelly while internalizing the impact and influence of their new surroundings — and they immediately began working on the much-anticipated follow up to 2016’s full-length debut Means.  Interestingly, the band’s latest single “Business Man,” which will be released by Play It Again Sam, follows a self-imposed hiatus of sorts, one that had seen them writing and demoing new material, using the local studio of producer and friend Joakim Lindberg, while quietly returning to the UK to play a handful of well-received shows in London and Brighton. 

Sonically speaking, the explosive song is centered around twinkling Wurtlizer, slashing guitar and bass chords, feedback and distortion, thundering rhythms that fall and tumble around the mix and punchily delivered vocals — and while clearly drawing from Gang of Four, Wire, and Disappears, the song captures the modern day frustration of being caught up in the unending rat race, pointlessly striving for money to buy more shit that you really don’t want, and yet you can’t figure out how to get out the trap. Interestingly, as the band explains, the song “. . . is about people who realise they nee to shape up, get a haircut and suit, and work their asses off trying to please the boss. After a few years, burnout and the realization that the system is completely screwed, sees them lose their shit during the weekends before returning to the conveyor belt of conformity, trudging through the same bullshit week after week . . .”

New Audio: Acclaimed Act Thrice Releases An Anthemic Prog Rock-like Single

Comprised of founding members Dustin Kensrue (vocals, guitar) and Teppei Teranishi (guitar) with siblings Eddie Breckenridge (bass) and Riley Breckenridge (drums), the Irvine, CA-based rock band Thrice can trace their origins to its founding members meeting in high school and playing in a local band Chapter 11. When it came to starting their own project, Kensrue and Teranishi recruited Teranishi’s skate park buddy Eddie Breckenridge to play bass, and Breckenridge then brought his brother Riley to play drums, completing the band’s lineup. As the story goes, before their first show they realized that they needed name, and hard-pressed, they decided on going with Thrice, an inside joke between the bandmembers out of desperation. Although they had intended the name to be a temporary one, they began to gain fans and people started to associate them with it, so they were forced to stay with it.

In 1999, the band released the First Impressions EP, which was recorded during a twos-day session at A-Room Studios with Brian Tochilin. Only 1,000 copies were made and the individual bandmembers sold them out of their cars. Working with Death by Stereo’s Paul Miner, the Irvine, CA-based quartet recorded 12 tracks, which eventually became their 2000 full-length debut Identity Crisis, which was released through Greenflag Records. A portion of the album’s proceeds were donated to Crittenton Services for Children and Family, and with growing local buzz, the quartet caught the interest of Hopeless/Sub City’s Louis Posen, who eventually signed the band, and reissued Identity Crisis. To support the album the band toured with the likes of Samiam, Midtown and Hot Rod Circuit.

February 2002 saw the release of the band’s Brian McTernan-produced Hopeless/Sub City debut, The Illusion of Safety. Much like its predecessor, the band donated a portion of the album’s proceeds to a non-profit youth shelter in South Central Los Angeles, A Place Called Home, with the label matching all donations. The album received generally positive reviews and after tours opening for Further Seems Forever and Face to Face, followed by their first headlining tour, Thrice won the attention of several major labels, including Island Records, who signed the band, after agreeing to match the band’s charitable donations in the same fashion as Hopeless/Sub City. After signing with Island Records, the band toured with Hot Water Music and Coheed and Cambria before returning to the studio.

Interestingly with the release of 2002’s Illusion of Safety and 2003’s The Artist in the Ambulance, the band developed a reputation for a fast and punishing math rock-like sound centered around heavily distorted power chords, rapid time signature changes; however, with 2005’s Vheissu, the members of Thrice began incorporating synths, electronic beats and a much more experimental approach to their songwriting that continued through 2007 and 2008 with the release of The Alchemy Index, two albums that actually consisted of a 4-part, 24 song cycle, with each of the four 6-song EPs featuring significantly different styles based on the classical elements of fire, water, air and earth both lyrically and musically. 2009’s Beggars and 2011’s Major/Minor found the band continuing to refine their experimentation and exploration of their sound; but after the release of Major/Minor, Thrice announced a final tour and a hiatus.

In 2015, Kensrue and Teranishi decided to reform the band, and by the following year, they released their first album in four years, 2016’s To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere.  Slated for a September 14, 2018 release through Epitaph Records, the band’s tenth full-length album Palms is their second post-reunion album, and the album which was co-produced by the band and Eric Palmquist reportedly finds the band’s sound encompassing everything from post-hardcore to piano-driven ballads, making it arguably the most sonically expansive album of their careers to date. Interestingly, the album’s latest single, the prog rock-like mid-tempo “Only Us” is centered around pulsating synths, enormous power chord-led guitar riffs, an arena rock friendly hook and Kensrue’s plaintive and earnest vocals. As the band’s Dusin Kensrue explains in press notes. “‘Only Us’ came from thinking about how easily we’re so divided into ‘us’ and ‘them’ when really we have an inherent ability to care for those in our group, and the parameters for who falls into that group are extremely flexible. It’s about how the things that we think separate us are actually inconsequential, and if we could broaden the idea of ‘us’ to include all people, it would help us build a more loving and civil society. “

Over the course of last year, I wrote about the  Los Angeles, CA-based post-punk act Sextile and since its formation back in 2015, the band has earned a devout following thanks to a reputation for an explosive live show and non-stop touring as either a headliner or opener with the likes of A Place to Bury Strangers, Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, The Soft Moon, Ought, ADULT., The Chameleons, Modern English and others — and they’ve played sets at Bersekertown, Cloak & Dagger and Levitation Festivals.
Now, since I’ve last written about them, the act has gone through a massive lineup change that finds the act as a duo featuring Brady Keehn and Melissa Scaduto. And as a result of the lineup changes, the project has shifted towards a decidedly minimalist approach with the duo of Kehn and Scaduto favoring the use of synths over guitars — although with their forthcoming self-recorded, forthcoming EP3 the duo employ the use of a KORG MS-10, a sequencer, a Fender Stratocaster, a LinnDrum and various other percussion-based instruments. The duo also cite futurist Luigi Russolo’s The Art of Noises as an influence on their approach, as their sound and songwriting is meant to evoke and mirror the chaos and brutality of the industrial era; in fact, the EP’s latest single “Spun” is centered around explosive squealing bursts of guitar, scorching synths, thumping beats, industrial clang and clatter and a motorik-ike groove, and it some way the song finds the band meshing the aesthetics of Gang of Four and classic DFA Records (i.e., LCD Soundsystem and The Rapture) — although the song subtly hits at Bay City Rollers‘ “Saturday Night,” thanks to its punchily delivered vocals.  Sonically, the song manages to evoke a civilization gone absolutely mad, inching itself closer to apocalypse — but dancing on its way to the end.

 

The duo of Kehn and Scaduto will be on a lengthy tour to support their new EP. Check out the tour dates below. .

Tour Dates
09.13 Glasgow, UK @ Broadcast
09.14 Newcastle, UK @ Underground
09.15 Manchester, UK @ Soup Kitchen
09.16 Birmingham, UK @ The Cuban Embassy
09.18 London, UK @ Electrowerkz
09.19 Brighton, UK @ The Hope & Ruin
09.20 Portsmouth, UK @ The Edge Of The Wedge
09.21 Le Havre, FR @ Mc Daids
09.22 Angers, FR @ Levitation Festival
09.23 Lyon, FR @ Le Farmer
09.24 Limoges, FR @ El doggo
09.25 Landgraaf, NL @ Oefenbunker
09.26 Antwerp, BE @ TRIX
09.27 Paris, FR @ La Station
09.28 Hamburg, DE @ Karatekeller
09.29 Berlin, DE @ Urban Spree
10.02 San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall ~
10.03 San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall ~
10.12 – 14 Moreno Valley, CA @ Desert Daze

 

 

New Video: Introducing the Atmospheric and Brooding Sounds of Stockholm’s Sweden

Mark Ephraim is a Detroit, MI-born, Stockholm, Sweden-based producer, singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and the creative mastermind behind post-punk project BadSkum, a project that features Ephraim collaborating with a rotating cast of local musicians, which when asked, Ephraim says “I stopped keeping anyone in a band with me too long because they always end up dying or plotting to kick me out.” Interestingly enough, the project can trace its origins to Ephraim relocating to Sweden after spending 16 years in New York as a producer and artist, developing his sound.

Ephraim’s latest single “Super Moon” is a slow-burning and atmospheric track that recalls Forget Yourself, Uninvited, Like the Clouds and Untitled #23-era The Church, as its centered around looping, shimmering guitar chords, and a propulsive yet somewhat easygoing backbeat and Ephraim’s crooning vocals.

Shot, directed and edited by Stellan Von Reybekiel, the recently released video was shot on an old VHS camcorder using an old tape that had old Friends taped on it; in fact, you could see a brief glimpse of Ross a the end. As Ephraim says of the video, “style plays a big part in the visual aspect of BadSkum. Every video is a bit like a comment on my past travels of experiences.” For “Turnstile Lovers,” he wore a Sudanese high school uniform he picked up from a friend who lived in Khartoum, and a handmade leopard track suit from Amman Jordan for “Proud Mary.” In this video, the Detroit-born, Stockholm-based producer, singer/songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist wore a sale rack Century 21 suit he had purchased to attend the Grammys, after receiving a nod for this work on Eminem’s Marshall Mathers LP. Throughout the video, we see Ephraim preening and getting himself together and brooding over grainy and shaky VHS tape — and it manages to add to the song’s eerie air. 

Now, if you were frequenting this site back in 2016, you’d recall that I had written quite a bit about the Whittier, CA-based punk rock quartet Plague Vendor. Comprised of Brandon Blaine (vocals), Luke Perine (drums), Michael Perez (bass) and Jay Rogers (guitar) the band formed in 2009 and in a short period of time, they developed a reputation across Southern California for raucous and frenetic live shows. And through reputation, their live shows began stacking up and along with that their material. Unsurprisingly, those live shows led to their 2014 debut Free to Eat, an album that has largely been described as terse, dark and thrashing post-punk.

The Whittier, CA-based punk rock quartet’s 2016 Stuart Sikes-produced sophomore album Bloodsweat landed at #2 on this site’s Best of List that year, and from album singles like “ISUA (I Stay Up Anyway)“, “Jezebel” and “No Bounty,” was furious, frenetic and anthemic punk full of piss and vinegar and undeniable swagger. Two years have passed since the release of the impressive Bloodsweat and before joining renowned producer John Congleton to begin work on their untitled third album, the members of Plague Vendor, along with Brett Gurewitz and engineer Morgan Stratton entered Sunset Sound Studio 2, where they spent a furious two days writing, completing and recording two songs in two days — and the and and first single from that session is their first bit of new material since their sophomore album, the raw, volatile and stomping “I Only Speak in Friction.” Sonically, the song feels and sounds anxious, and to me at least, it evokes a desperation of men at the end of their rope.

As the band’s Luke Perine explains writing and recording “I Only Speak in Friction” helped to revitalized the band and restore their focus. “As a band, we grow anxious—often depressed to some degree—during our downtime,” says Perine. “Having these two days to get in the studio ahead of working on the next album released a lot of that tension. It became a more productive two days than we expected, as we were only planning on recording one song. I think we are reaching a higher level of focus together as we go into this next album.”

Plague Vendor has a handful of upcoming shows, including festival appearances at Ohana Fest and Aftershock. Check out the tour dates, below.
PLAGUE VENDOR TOUR DATES

Aug 14 Pomona, CA – The Glass House w/The Kills

Sep 29 Dana Point, CA – Ohana Fest

Oct 14 Sacramento, CA – Aftershock