Category: post punk

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.


New Video: JOVM Mainstays Ganser Returns with a Contemplative Visual for Brooding Single “Emergency Equipment and Exits”

I’ve managed to write quite a bit about the Chicago-based post-punk outfit and JOVM mainstays Ganser over the past couple of years — and as you may recall, the act can trace its origins back to when its founding members Nadia Garofalo (keys, vocals) and Alicia Gaines (bass, vocals) met while attending art school. Bonding over a mutual love of The Residents, outsider communities and the work of John Waters and and David Lynch, t he duo developed a hands-on DIY craftsmanship that eventually carried over into their band — with the band’s members, which also features Brian Cundiff (drums) and Charlie Landsman (guitar) sharing writing duties and closely collaborating one all of their music videos and album art, as well as crafting visuals to accompany their live show. 

With the release of 2018’s full-length debut, Odd Talk, the Chicago-based post-punk outfit developed a national profile with the album receiving widespread praise for sound that some critics have compared favorable to Sonic Youth and Magazine paired with incisive lyrics critiquing larger social issues. Odd Talk thematically focused on communication breakdowns, the difficult of being understood, intimacy and avoidance. 

Building upon a growing profile, Ganser’s highly-anticipated sophomore album Just Look at That Sky is slated for a July 31, 2020 release through Felte Records. Thematically, the album finds the band probing the futility of striving for self-growth during chaos. The  songs evoke an all too familiar maniac worry  and dread and a generalized and overwhelming sense of doom with a sardonic specificity. The world as we know it is breathing  its last gasps and we haven’t a clue as to what will be beyond this.  The songs also acknowledge that we’re online all the time and that any given moment we’re inundated with too much  information about other people and other situations. We’re all generally a tweet, a status update or an Instagram post away from truly knowing what our followers and others really think about us. Shrug and laugh — even if it’s completely mirthless. And then admit that you’re emotionally and mentally drained. 

Earlier this year, I wrote about Just Look at That Sky’s first single, the tense and explosive album opening track “Lucky.” One part, Midwest noise-rock, one part post punk and one part art rock centered around rumbling low end, discordant blasts of angular guitar, thunderous drumming and Garofalo’s desperate howling, “Lucky” may arguably be the most urgent and uneasy songs they’ve released to date.  Interestingly, “Emergency Equipment and Exits” may arguably be the most atmospheric and brooding song they’ve released, as its centered around incessant and breakneck, four-on-the-floor, atmospheric synths, explosive blasts of angular and distorted guitars, a gorgeously plaintive melody and an enormous hook. 

Directed by the band’s Alicia Gaines, the recently released video follows Gaines as she just gives up and walks as far away she could from it all. We see Gaines as she walks out of Chicago and to the country — with her thoughts as company.While the video explores the possibility of finding greater clarity beyond our immediate reality — it also asks the viewer: What if you gave into that urge to walk away? What would happen?  “Sometimes everything gets too close, even when things are good, and you get this screaming desire to run away,” the band’s Alicia Gaines. “The song and video are both about feeling estranged from reality and choosing nothing over too much– the floor drops out, and you only have yourself to deal with.”

“It was very strange to be focused on not only the video direction, but also safety precautions during this time.”  

New Video: Rising Swedish Act Spunsugar Releases a Mischievous Visual for Brooding “Happier Happyless”

Last year, Spunsugar, a rising Swedish indie act, led by Elin Ramstead released their attention grabbing, genre-bending debut EP Mouth Full Of You, an effort that firmly established their unique genre-bending sound and approach, which features elements of industrial electronica,  post-punk, noise rock, shoegaze and dream pop — while also earning airplay from BBC 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq. 

Slated for for a fall release through Adrian Recordings, the band’s highly-anticipated full-length debut Drive-Through Chapel reportedly finds the band seeking to emulate the sounds of Cocteau Twins, Slowdive, and others — but while simultaneously crafting some of their hardest hitting material to date. “Happier Happyless,” Drive-Through Chapel’s brooding latest single is a perfect taste of what listeners should expect: shimmering synth arpeggios, propulsive industrial beats, swirling guitars, and a soaring and rousingly anthemic hook paired with Ramstead’s ethereal vocals evoking an aching yearning.  While clearly indebted to 4AD Records, goth and shoegaze, the industrial element to their sound finds the rising Swedish act adding themselves to a growing crop of contemporary shoegazers, who are actively pushing the genre’s sonic boundaries — including acts like Lightfoils, BLACKSTONE RNGRS and countless others. 

“’Happier Happyless’ is a sour and sweet song, tackling subjects of pining, happiness and revenge,” the band explains in press notes. “Having a fittingly slower pace than former Spunsugar singles, this song is also an homage to the shunned 2001 slasher movie Valentine, released a little too late in the post-Scream era. Written with the aim to have’ ‘a memorable hook, a thumping synth bass line and a gazey chorus,’ this is a good introduction to the bands debut album, because of the constant switching of emotional tonality.”

The recently released video employs a relatively simple concept — perhaps inspired by our current period of quarantines: the visual primarily features the band’s Ramstead dancing and singing the song in front of white screen or white wall. A  series of colors — red, blue, yellow and green are projected. At various points, we see her bandmates, who throw balled up pieces  of paper at Ramstead, or they just show up to goof off.  So while the song may be brooding, the video reveals a bit of playfulness. 

Kopper · Fake It

Kopper · How Can You Be Sure

KOPPER is a rapidly rising London-based post-punk trio, who have begun to receive attention across the blogosphere for a primal yet melody-driven clashes of power chords and thunderous drumming paired with seemingly off-the-tongue, politically charged lyrics, inspired by the likes of Girl Band, IDLES and Protomartyr.

Last month, the British post-punk trio released the Dion Lunadon-mastered double A-side single “Fake It”/”How Can You Be Sure?” Centered around the sort of arena friendly power chords and thunderous drumming reminiscent of Foo Fighters, “Fake It,” seethes with fury and disgust, yet is probably one of the most ironic songs I’ve come across over the past few months. Based on the grifting, phoniness and influencer culture that created Fyre Festival, the band explains in press notes “We were inspired by the idea of corporations faking wealth to acquire wealth, and how few people question this.” Additionally, the song points out that there’s an overwhelming conformity in the music business, in which the presentation and appearance of the artist wind up being more important than the actual art of the artist. And if you’re doing something unusual or different from the norm, you’ll be fighting an Sisyphean battle for the attention of others.

“How Can You Be Sure” continues in a similar vein as its predecessor — but without the irony, as it’s a incisive commentary on human behavior and moral norms with the song pointing out the spectrum of shifting morality within people, when it serves them and their needs. Certainly, in the age of Trump, “How Can You Be Sure” should feel uncomfortably familiar, as we see some of our leaders’ mores and values shift whenever it’s politically necessary. But it also loudly points out that we should always be distrustful of these leaders and public figures. Fiery and forceful, both of these tunes find this rising band kicking ass, taking names with a self-assuredness and fury that sets them apart from most of their contemporaries.





New Video: JOVM Mainstays Dream Wife Releases a Riotous Visual for Mosh Pit Ripper “So When You Gonna . . . “

Deriving their name as a commentary on society’s objectification of women, the London-based punk rock trio and JOVM mainstays Dream Wife — Icelandic-born, London-based Rakel Mjöll (vocals), Alice Go (guitar, vocals) and Bella Podapec (bass, vocals) — can trace their origins to when the trio met and started the band back in 2015 as part of an art project conceptualized around the idea of a band born out of one girl’s memories of growing up in Canada during the 1990s.

2018 saw the band release their self-titled, full-length debut to critical acclaim. And as a result, the band built up a profile as a must-see live act, playing at SXSW, opening for Garbage, The Kills and Sleigh Bells, which they followed up with sold-out headlining tours across the European Union and the US — including a stop at Rough Trade with New York-based genre-defying artist Sabri. Adding to a growing profile, the band had their music appear in the Netflix hit series Orange is The New Black. But at the core of all of that is the trio’s mission to lift up other womxn and non-binary creatives with empowering messages and a “girls to the front” ethos.

Slated for a July 3, 2020 release through Lucky Number Music, the London-based trio’s Marta Salogni-produced So When You Gonna . . .  may arguably be the most urgent and direct call to the action of the rising act’s growing catalog. Thematically touching upon some of the most important and sobering themes of our sociopolitical moment including abortion, miscarriage and gender equality, the album is centered by an “it’s a now or never” immediacy in which the listener is directly encouraged to stop waiting, get off your ass and start doing something. The album’s title also plays on its central idea. “It’s an invitation, a challenge, a call to action,” the band’s Rakel Mjöll says in press notes.

So far, I’ve written about two of the album’s singles:  the bombastic, maximalist, tongue-in-check “Sports!,” which recalled Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!and Freedom of Thought-era DEVO, Fever to Tell-era Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Entertainment-era Gang of Four with an exuberant, zero fucks given air — and the achingly nostalgia “Hasta La Vista,” a mid-tempo track that focused on the tight familial bond the band has developed through a shared experience of life on the road, the aching nostalgia for the people, places and things from home you miss while away, and the odd feeling that things have changed in some way that you can’t quite put a finger on when you get back. 

So When You Gonna . . .’s third and latest single, the infectious and anthemic album title track “So When You Gonna . . .” is a most pit friendly ripper featuring bursts of angular guitar chords and punchily delivered lyrics. Proudly continuing their girls and womxn to the front ethos, their latest offering is sultry, in-your-face challenge in which its narrator displays her bodily autonomy and desires with a bold self-assuredness that says “Well, what are you waiting for? We both know what we want. Let’s get to it!” 

“It’s a dare, an invitation, a challenge.  It’s about communicating your desires, wholehearted consent and the point where talking is no longer enough,” the members of Dream Wife explain. “It promotes body autonomy and self empowerment through grabbing the moment. The breakdown details the rules of attraction in a play by play ‘commentator’ style, inspired by Meat Loaf’s ‘Paradise by the Dashboard Light.”

Directed by Aidan Zamiri, the recently released video for “When You Gonna . . .” is shot from the first person POV perspective of the inside of someone’s very hungry mouth. The viewer follows the mouth as it attends a sweaty and raucous Dream Wife show that captures the energy of their live show — and most important, the excitement of strangers suddenly bonding over their love of their favorite band. And like a lot of shows, our protagonist meets and kisses a bunch of attractive new friends, and interacts directly with their favorite band. Seeing your favorite band at some dark, sweaty, booze soaked shithole is a profound experience that simply can’t be manufactured or replicated and for me, the video for “When You Gonna . . .” reminds me of the things I desperately miss. 

“For the video we worked with our favourite elf prince Aidan Zamiri who filmed around a free sweaty, sexy, gig we did for our fans back in January – shot as a first person POV from the inside of a mouth,” the band says of the new video. “Performing live is the beating heart of this band and we miss it, so please take this video as a little love letter to the rock show.”

New Video: Halifax’s Like a Motorcycle Releases a Forceful and Timely Anthem

Since the release of 2016’s full-length debut High Hopes, the rising Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada-based post-punk act Like a Motorcycle — Michelle Skelding (drums, lead vocals), Kim Carson (bass, vocals), KT Lamond (guitar, vocals) and David Casey (guitar, vocals) — have muscled through a number of obstacles that would have busted up countless other bands: substance abuse, internal break-ups, health issues and a former label that nearly sunk them financially. And yet, despite all of that, they’ve managed to boldly keep on, building a reputation for crafting post punk anthems for disenfranchised rejects, who are working minimum wage jobs while maneuvering five-figure debt. 

The rising Halifax-based post punk quartet recently signed to Cadence Music Group’s rock imprint Known Accomplice, who released “IDOLS,” the band’s first bit of original music this year, as well as their latest single, the rousingly anthemic “Wide Awake.” Centered around angular bursts of guitar, thunderous and propulsive drumming, an enormous mosh pit friendly hook, and punchily delivered lyrics the song finds the band sonically bringing JOVM mainstays Ganser — while offering a bristling commentary on a capitalist system that allows rampant exploitation for personal gain. “Although ‘Wide Awake’ was written some time ago, its sentiment rings true now more than ever. ‘Wide Awake’ is about waking up between a past stained with unhealthy choices and a future of bleak dystopian uncertainty,” the band’s Kim Carson explains in press notes. “Where do we go when leaving the past means potentially losing everything we’ve worked for? Can we break vicious cycles and bad habits without losing the people and things that comfort us? How does change and its uncertainty make us feel?”

Directed and edited by the band’s KT Lamond and Cat Hennnigar and shot in Lamond’s apartment, the video is centered around the use of a green screen and background sourced rom Unsplash Free Stock Photo. While capturing a life constrained to one’s four walls, complete with the boredom and unscheduled hours of endless Netflix watching, the video shines a light of what might happen when people aren’t constrained by a daily routine designed for the benefit of capital and capitalism; a life in which people have the free will and desire to make a life of their own design. 

New Video: Savages’ Jehnny Beth Releases a DIY visual for Sultry and Slinky “Heroine”

Camille Berthomier is a Poitiers, Vienne, France-born, London-based singer/songwriter, actress, author and musician, professionally known as Jehnny Beth — and as the frontwoman of the Mercury Prize-nominated, critically applauded act Savages. With Savages, the Poitiers-born, London-based singer/songwriter and multi-disciplinary artist has developed a reputation for a unique lyrical perspective and a powerful stage presence that has captivated audiences across the world over the past 15 years.

Beth’s solo debut, To Love Is To Live was originally slated for release  last week through Caroline Records — but the album was pushed back to June 12, 2020, as a result of Beth’s desire to support local, independent record stores by ensuring that the physical album could come out at the same time. “Record stores are where I found myself as a teenager, digging through albums that ultimately shaped who I have become,” Beth says in press notes. “To release my first ever solo album in a way that would leave them out felt wrong to me; luckily, we were able to find a date that would allow us to release the physical and digital album at the same time.”

Recorded in Los Angeles, London and Paris, To Love Is To Live finds the longtime Savages frontwoman boldly stepping into and claiming the spotlight as a solo artist, and collaborating with an eclectic array of producers and artists including Flood, Atticus Ross, longtime collaborator and Savages bandmate Johnny Hostile, Adam “Cecil” Bartlett, The xx’s Romy Madley Croft, IDLES’ Joe Talbot and Golden Globe-winning actor Cilian Murphy. Thematically, the album sees Beth tapping into and accessing the darkest and least comfortable parts of herself to craft material that’s cathartic, abrasive, fearlessly honest and vulnerable, making the material a dark and cinematic meditation on the very strangeness of being alive.

So far I’ve written about two of the album’s singles: the brooding and atmospheric “Flower,” a track that was reportedly written about a pole dancer at Los Angeles’ Jumbo’s Clown Room and seethes with a feverish and obsessive lust  — and “Innocence,” a dark ad sultry track that evokes the uneasy feelings of isolation, loneliness while ironically living in a big city surrounded by seemingly endless people. “Heroine,” the album’s fourth and latest single is centered around a similar, slinky off-kilter motorik groove as its immediate predecessor, rapid-fire four-on-the-floor, shimmering synth arpeggios, brief blasts of horn, twinkling keys and an achingly vulnerable vocal performance from Beth, the track probes deeply into the dark recesses of her psyche with a fearless abandon.

“When I think of this song, I think of Romy from the xx strangling my neck with her hands in the studio,” Beth recalls in press notes. “She was trying to get me out of my shell lyrically, and there was so much resistance in me she lost her patience. The song was originally called Heroism, but I wasn’t happy because it was too generic. Flood was the first one to suggest to say Heroine instead of Heroism. Then I remember Johnny Hostile late at night in my hotel room in London saying ‘I don’t understand who you are singing about. Who is the Heroine? You ARE the Heroine’. The next morning, I arrived early in the studio and recorded my vocals adding ‘to be’ to the chorus line: ‘all I want is TO BE a heroine.’ Flood entered the studio at that moment and jumped in the air giving me the thumbs up through the window. I guess I’m telling this story because sometimes we look around for role models, and examples to follow, without realising that the answer can be hidden inside of us. I was afraid to be the Heroine of the song, but it took all the people around me to get me there.”

The recently released video is split between footage that the Savages frontwoman and Johnny Hostile shot and edited  — including footage of her walking and vamping in a London tube station, of Beth glistening with droplets of water and in a murky pool, as well as footage of Beth as a little girl, shot by her family, which creates an eerie and intimate look into the artist and her psyche. The DIY nature of the video manages to bring the songs message of self-belief and resilience into a deeper clarity. “We couldn’t plan that the current worldwide circumstances would push us to make this video entirely ourselves at home but sometimes working with constraints is the best fuel, and it fits perfectly with the positive message of self-belief and resilience of the song, pursuing childhood dreams and destiny,” Beth explains in press notes.