Category: post-punk

New Video: Mexican-Panamanian Singer Songwriter and Multi-instrumentalist Michelle Blades Releases a Topical Post Punk Anthem

Michelle Blades is a Mexican-Panamanian singer/songwriter and self-taught multi-instrumentalist, who grew up in a family of salsa musicians — and as a result, a young Blades soaked up notions of her heritage, studio life and production. When Blades was seven, her family fled Panama as a result of the vestiges of violence and unrest left by Manuel Noriega, eventually relocating to Miami, where they all learned English and lived in different recording studios and apartments. 

Ironically, music was all but forbidden at home and many of Blades’ artistic aspirations were halted by the family patriarch until she moved out when she turned 16. She then spent time juggling a number of different jobs including — being a journalist for the local CBS affiliate, producing a biweekly show, Focus on South Florida, selling smoothes, working for MIA Skatepark, and pursuing a passion for film and video by producing skate videos for her website 2TEN AM Productions. Interestingly, this love of film would wind up being important for her aspirations and her career, as it paved the way for her to direct and produce music videos for several artists. 

After buying a ukulele with her first paycheck, Blades relocated to Arizona, where she immersed herself in Phoenix’s and Tempe’s DIY scenes, learning guitar, drums, synths and bass, eventually recording and releases EPs under her own name and with the noise punk trio North Dakota. Along the way, Camaraderie Limited Records, a small Paris-based label invited Blades to go on a month-long tour of house shows and while discovering Europe for the first time, she also made friends, who would change her life. As the story goes, during her third tour of France, Blades befriended the team at Midnight Special Records — and it prompted a move to Paris, where she created the bulk of her work to date, collaborating with the label and artists in a familial sort of collective of like-minded souls. 

Since relocating to Paris, Blades has been rather prolific as she has released 2015’s Ataraxia, 2016’s Polylust EP, and 2017’s Premature Love Songs EP, written music and arrangements for Laure Briard, played bass in Fishbach, put together a Transatlantic band Michelle Blades y Los Machetes, and directed videos for Clea Vincent’s “Retiens mon desir” and “Chateau Perdu” among a list of others. 

Slated for a March 29, 2019 release, Blades’ forthcoming album Visitor continues the Mexican-Panamanian multi-disciplinary artist, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist’s ongoing collaboration with Midnight Special Records. The forthcoming album’s third and latest single “Politic” is a remarkably topical song that to my ears sounds like a seamless synthesis of campy B52s-like garage rock/garage pop, angular and neurotic More Songs About Food and Buildings era Talking Heads-like post punk and Fever to Tell-era Yeah Yeah Yeahs as the song is centered around arpeggiated synths, looping garage rock guitar lines, a propulsive groove, an infectious hook and lyrics delivered in wild yelps, squeals and howls. At its core, the song expresses an anxious, existential frustration — with everything. The recently released video is centered around live footage of Blades and her backing band performing the song shot with trippy filters and colors and strobe lights galore. 

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Live Footage: Up-and-Coming Belgian Post -Punk Act Whispering Sons Perform “Alone” on “Muziek bij een”

Initially formed in 2013, the Brussels, Belgium-based post punk act Whispering Sons, comprised of Fenne Kuppens (vocals), Kobe Linjen (guitar), Sander Hermans (synths), Tuur Vanderborne (bass) and Sander Pelsmaekers (drums) received attention nationally with the release of their debut EP, 2015’S Endless Party through Wool-E-Tapes with a vinyl reissue in March 2016 through Minimal Maximal. The following year, the band won one of their homeland’s most prestigious music competitions Humo’s Rock Rally, which they followed up with two 7 inches, 2016’s “Performance”/”Strange Identities” and  2017’s “White Noise.” 

Building upon a growing profile across Belgium, the Brussels-based post-punk quintet released their full-length debut, the Micha Volders and Bert Vliegen-produced Image through Cleopatra Records here in the States and Smile Records throughout the rest of the world last year. Recorded over a ten day period at Waimes, Belgium’s GAM Studios, the album finds the band attempting to capture their live sound — and more importantly, the sense of anxiety and alienation that each individual bandmember felt when they relocated to Brussels.  Now, as you may recall Image’s second single “Alone” was centered around shimmering and angular guitar lines, a propulsive and sinuous bass line, thunderous and mathematically precise drumming, an arena rock-friendly hook that’s derived from a cryptic bit of dialog spoken during Twin Peaks’ first season and Kuppens’ Ian Curtis-like vocal delivery.  And while naturally drawing some comparisons to the likes of Joy Division, Actors, Deathlist, True Moon, Second Still and others, the song bristles with an icy ominousness. 

Check out this incredible live footage of the up-and-coming Belgian act on Muziek bij een on EEN Belgium’s Dutch language station. 

 

Now, over the past handful of years of this site’s eight-plus year history, I’ve written quite a bit about the Canadian post-punk act and JOVM mainstays Preoccupations. And as you may recall, the band which is comprised of Matt Flegel (bass, vocals), Mike Wallace (drums), Scott Munro (guitar) and Daniel Christiansen (guitar) initially formed under the name Viet Cong — and by the time their 2014 self-titled full-length debut was released, the members of the band found themselves in the middle of a firestorm centered around cultural appropriation and the usage of terms, names and symbols associated with historical groups and actions that evoke the horrors of war, despotism, authoritarianism, fascism, genocide and the like. Ultimately, the band decided to change their name before the release of their sophomore album — and to re-issue their self titled debut with another name.

Released earlier this year through  Jagjaguwar Records, Preoccpuations’ third album New Material further cements the bands growing reputation for crafting dark and moody post-punk that touches upon themes of anxiety, uncertainty, creation, destruction and futility while being “an ode to depression. To depression and self-sabotage, and looking inward at yourself with extreme hatred,” the band’s Matt Flegel said in press notes. Much like their sophomore album, the band met without having much written or demoed beforehand — and according to the members of the band, it was arguably one of the most collaborative writing sessions they ever had as a band, with the sessions being extremely architectural in nature, with some ideas (proverbially speaking) being built up while others were torn down to the support beams.

Initially they didn’t know what the songs were about or where they were going with them, they had resolved to let the material show and not explicitly not tell; however, the writing and recording sessions reportedly led to a reckoning for the band’s Flegel. “Finishing ‘Espionage’ was when I realized. I looked at the rest of the lyrics and realized the magnitude of what was wrong,” says Flegel. In fact, the murky and angular  Manchester/Joy Division-like first single “Espionage,” while being among the most danceable songs they’ve written and released, focuses on a narrator, who has finally become aware of a disturbing penchant for self-sabotage in every aspect of his life. “Antidote,” New Material‘s second single was centered around propulsive, industrial clang and clatter meant to convey a sweaty anxiety; however, the song is actually about how humans forget that they’re walking, talking, shitting animals — animals that have an infinite amount of knowledge within their fingertips but still manage to repeatedly make the worst possibly choices. “Disarray,” the album’s third single was meditative and slow-burning single featuring shimmering guitar chords, an angular and propulsive bass line, organic drumming and boom bap-like drum machine work during the song’s bridge. And while superficially nodding at Turn On the Bright Lights-era Interpol, the song captures something much darker and uncertain — as it was centered around someone, who from their perspective, views everything they’ve ever known to be a lie. The album’s fourth single “Decompose” was an angular and propulsive track that featured twinkling synths, buzzing power chords and an eerie sense of melodicism that underlies the song’s danceable vibe.

The JOVM mainstays will close out a busy 2018 with a co-headlining tour with long-time friends Protomartyr that will include a November 28, 2018 stop at Warsaw — and you can check out the rest of the tour dates below. And to celebrate the announcement of the tour, the bands have released a split 7 inch in which each band covers the other. The split 7 inch’s latest track is Preoccupations subtle reworking of Protomartyr‘s “Pontiac 87,” that features a slightly sped up tempo and a lush, studio sheen.

Tour Dates:
Fri. Nov. 23 – Toronto, ON @ Lee’s Palace *
Sat. Nov. 24 – Ottawa, ON @ 27 Club *
Mon. Nov. 26 – Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall *
Wed. Nov. 28 – Brooklyn, NY @ Warsaw *
Thu. Nov. 29 – Washington, DC @ Union Stage *
Fri. Nov. 30 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Foundry *
Sat. Dec. 01 – Columbus, OH @ The Basement *
Mon. Dec. 03 – Buffalo, NY @ Mohawk Place *
Tue. Dec. 04 – Ann Arbor, MI @ Blind Pig *
Thu. Dec. 06 – Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall *
Fri. Dec. 07 – Omaha, NE @ Waiting Room *
Sat. Dec. 08 – Kansas City, MO @ Record Bar *
Mon. Dec. 10 – Denver, CO @ Bluebird *
Wed. Dec. 12 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Metro Music Hall *
Thu. Dec. 13 – Boise, ID @ Olympic *
Fri. Dec. 14 – Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios *
Sat. Dec. 15 – Vancouver, BC @ Venue *
Sun. Dec. 16 – Seattle, WA @ Crocodile *
Tue. Dec. 18 – San Francisco, CA @ Independent *
Wed. Dec. 19 – Los Angeles, CA @ Regent *
* w/ Protomartyr

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.