Category: synth rock

Darren Jackson, is a Bison, SD-born, Minneapolis, MN-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, whose solo recording project Kid Dakota partially derives its name as a loving homage to Jackson’s home state and a play on Kid Rock. In 1999, Jackson along with long-time friend and producer Alex Oana, wrote and recorded the five songs that would eventually comprise his 2000 self-released EP So Pretty before permanently relocating to Minneapolis.

Interestingly, Jackson’s debut EP caught the attention of Low‘s Alan Sparhawk, who offered to release the EP on his label Chairkickers’ Union under the condition that Jackson expand it to a full-length album — with the full-length version of So Pretty being released in 2002. Sparhawk’s label released Jackson’s sophomore effort, 2004’s The West is the Future, which continued the Bison, SD-born, Minneapolis, MN-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumetanlist’s collaboration with Oana while featuring Low’s Zak Sally. However, his last two albums — 2008’s A Winner’s Shadow and 2011’s Listen to the Crows as They Take Flight was released by Graveface Records.

Jackson’s fifth, full-length album Denervation can trace its origins to a brief summer vacation at his parents’ house in the Black Hills in 2014 that turned into an extended nine-month stay convalescing in a hospital bed, after fracturing his pelvis in a horrific bicycle accident. The blunt force trauma from the accident also caused severe nerve damage, which made it extremely questionable whether or not Jackson would ever be able to walk again without a brace. And naturally, he found himself in a rather dark place. To cope with crippling depression, Jackson began writing the material that would eventually comprise Denervation, which will be released by Graveface Records on February 9, 2018.

After making some rough demos, Jackson sent them to his longtime friend and producer John Kuker, with whom he has collaborated with on several Kid Dakota recordings. And as the story goes, Kuker recognized the material’s raw potential and suggested that the Bison, SD-born, Minneapolis-based artist record the album at famed Cannon Falls, MN-based studio Pachyderm, which Kuker had recently purchased and renovated. Along with that Kuker suggested that Jackson enlist Birthday Suits‘ Matthew Kazama to play drums on the album. Jackson agreed and flew out to Minneapolis in late 2014 to meet with Kazama — and the duo spent several weeks woodshedding the material before heading to the studio in early 2015. After three days of tracking, the duo planned to record the album at Kuker’s studio that spring. Tragically, however, Kuker died from a heart attack in early February 2015, and the album’s came to a standstill. And understandably the album’s material was linked both with Jackson attempting to come to terms with the trauma and aftermath of his bicycle accident and the death of one of his dear friends.

Interestingly, it was only after Jackson got married and returned to Minneapolis from a stint teaching music in rural South Dakota and his Ph.D. studies in philosophy and film at Virginia Tech that he began to find the fortitude to finally finish the album he had started with his dear friend two years prior. And when he went to the studio, he enlisted the help of an All-Star cast of friends and collaborators for the Denervation sessions including Martin Dosh, Andrew Broder, Alan Spearhawk, Johnny and Molly Solomon, Jeremy Ylvisaker, Jeremy Messersmith, Todd Trainer and Dave Simonett. And as you’ll hear on the album’s first single “The Convalescent” the material possesses a feeling of loss, as the material focuses on loss from similar although different perspectives. Whereas some of the album’s songs focus on the potential loss of the use of a limb and its subsequent sense of helplessness, this particular song focuses on the loss of someone close — and as a result, their lingering and inescapable presence. Sonically speaking, the song pairs precise, math rock-like, angular guitar chords and drumming with arpeggiated synths, and arena rock-like hooks, evoking an uneasy, tense vibe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comprised of Mark Ryan, a member of bands like The Marked Men, High Tension Wires and Radioactivity, along with Baptist Generals‘ Peter Salisbury (synths) and The Marked Men’s Mike Throneberry (drums), the Fort Worth, TX-based synth punk act Mind Spiders is a decided sonic left turn from each of the individual members’ various projects  — with their forthcoming album Furies, reportedly being the project’s most electronic leaning album to date. And as you’ll hear from the album’s first single, album title track “Furies” is an urgent, post apocalyptic industrial rock track, complete with layers of buzzing synths, propulsive drum programming, howled vocals and a mosh pit worthy hook reminiscent of Ministry and Nine Inch Nails; but underneath the urgency of the song is a healthy sense of panic and dread — the sort of panic and dread of our impending doom, as a cabal of dangerous and greedy idiots fuck up everything we’ve ever loved or valued.

Look for the album on January 26, 2018 through Dirtnap Records.

New Video: Up-and-Coming Swedish Duo White Birches Release a Politically Charged Primer On Resistance In Our Fraught Times

Comprised of Jenny Gabrielsson Mare and Fredrik Jonasson, the Swedish synth pop/dark wave duo White Birches formed back in 2013 and with the 2014’s debut EP Stands of White Birches and 2015’s full-length debut Dark Waters, the Swedish duo quickly received attention across Scandinavia for a sound that has been compared to Depeche Mode, Cocteau Twins and The Sisters of Mercy, as the up-and-coming duo craft moody songs based around piano, angular guitar chords, analog synths, eerie yet pop-leaning melodies and dark lyrical content; in fact, their debut effort received a Best Synth nomination at the Swedish Indie Grammy Awards, Manifestgalan. 

Gabrielsson Mare and Jonasson signed with Progress Productions, who will be releasing their sophomore effort When The Street Calls on February 9, 2017, and the album’s latest single “Howl” will further cement the duo’s growing reputation for crafting moody synth-based goth-inspired dark wave, as the duo pair layers of soaring synths with propulsive drum programming, angular guitar chords and a rousingly anthemic hook — and while sounding as though it could have been released during 4AD Records heyday, the song possesses a punk rock urgency.

The recently released video for “Howl” features animation by Jenny Gabrielsson Mare that not only is politically charged but serves as a call to arms for anyone, who wants to resist the cruel realties of racism, inequality, war and so on — while also serving as a primer on how to survive and thrive in our incredibly tense times. 

Live Footage: Brooklyn-based JOVM Mainstays NØMADS Release Buzzing Synth-based Mediation on the Fear of Loneliness

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the Brooklyn-based JOVM mainstay act NØMADS. And if you’ve been frequenting this site you’d recall that the duo, primarily comprised of Nathan Lithow  (vocals, synths, bass) and Garth Macaleavey (drums) spent the better part of last year writing writing and recording the material that would eventually comprise their sophomore album PHØBIAC, a concept album in which each song focuses on a different phobia, approached in an abstract, almost clinical fashion. Naturally, the material captures and evokes the innermost thoughts and anxieties of someone in the grips of a deeply crippling fear; but at its core, is a cautionary message for our heightened and uncertain times — that whenever we succumb to the irrationality of our fears, chaos and self-destruction will be the result.  

Throughout the course of the year, the duo have released new singles off PHØBIAC every month but recently the duo announced that they’d be splitting the album into two separate EPs — the organic instrumentation-driven PHØBIAC Part 1 and the synth-driven PHØBIAC Part 2. Last month’s single “Phasmophøbia” featured drummer Brian Wolf, who’s best known for his work with David Byrne, St. Vincent and the legendary Dap Kings, and focuses on the fear of the paranormal and of ghosts — both literal and figurative. Recorded live in Pittsburgh in the murky shadows of an abandoned Catholic school’s furnace room in one full take with no edits, “Phasmophøbia”  consists of a fast and loose, improvised jam-like arrangement featuring swirling and twisting synth chords paired with boom-bap hip-hop-inspired drumming which evoke a sweaty, nauseating paranoia. That shouldn’t be surprising as the song focuses on an ex-lover, who perpetually haunts the street of the paranoid narrator’s daily world; and in fact, the song’s narrator recognizes that his past is sickeningly inescapable.

PHØBIAC Part 2’s latest single “Autophøbia” focuses on what may arguably be the most prevalent and shared fear of all clinical phobias — the fear of being alone or isolated, as though you may be the last person on earth or being so misunderstood that you can’t find any common ground with anyone. Certainly, the fear of being alone influences our behavioral patterns, our relationships and our concept of what constitutes a happy, organized, successful life. Continuing the group’s ongoing collaboration with Brian Wolf, the track features twisting and turning synths paired with rolling and propulsive drumming while lyrically, the song’s young narrator gazes into the future through a picture of himself a lonely old man, who knows that death is imminent and unavoidable and while tinged with an underlying sense of regret, there the creeping realization that his worst nightmare will come true — that he’ll die alone, forgotten and obsolete. 

Much like the previous single, “Autophøbia” was recorded live and in one full-take with no edits within the murky shadows of an abandoned Pittsburgh area Catholic school furnace. 

Niko Antonucci is a Prague, Czech Republic-born, Los Angeles, CA-based multi-instrumentliast, singer/songwriter, producer and electronic music artist, who can trace the origins of her music career to when she received piano lessons when she was 6. As teenager, the Prague-born, Los Angeles-based artist began stealing her father’s guitar as a teen — and when she turned 15, she had cut her first demo and began singing and playing in a number of local bands for a number of years. But at a young age, Antonucci recognized that in order to get the exact sound she wanted, she would need to do it herself and she began producing herself.

With her solo, downtempo/industrial electronica project Resin, Antonucci’s sound is inspired by many of the influences that have been a part of her creative life including Nirvana, Portishead, Nine Inch Nails , The Cure, Chelsea Wolfe, as well as ambient electronica and classic music, while thematically focusing on spirituality, dark magic, being an outsider. and so on. And with “Hoarse,” the first single off her self-produced full-length effort Fidget, Antonucci pairs swirling electronics, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, stuttering drum programming and a soaring hook with her sultry yet achingly vulnerable vocals — and while clearly nodding at Nine Inch Nails and Portishead, the single also manages to remind me of Version 2.0-era Garbage.

 

New Video: The Brooding Visuals for Beliefs’ Buzzing and Abrasive, Industrial-Leaning Single “Comb”

Currently comprised of founding members and primary songwriters Jesse Crowe and Josh Korody, the Toronto, ON-based indie rock duo Beliefs have released two well-regarded full-length albums over the course of their seven years together — 2013’s self-titled debut and 2015’s Leaper. And although the band has gone through a series of lineup changes throughout their history, the band can trace its origins to a shared love of late 80s and early 90s noise pop and shoegaze. However, the recently constituted duo’s forthcoming, third full-length album Habitat, which is slated for a September 22, 2017 release through Hand Drawn Dracula Records. The album, which was engineered by the duo’s Josh Korody and mixed by Holy Fuck’s Graham Walsh features guest spots from Leon Tahenny, who’s played with Austra, Death From Above 1979 and Owen Pallet on drums and reportedly finds the band completely destructing, remaking and remodeling their self-conscious shoegazer-based sound to pursue an uncompromising new sound and vision, a a way for the band to find their own unique voice and sound. And interestingly enough, the period in which a band finds their own sound and voice may arguably be one of the most exciting and pivotal periods for any band. “I hope that’s the case,” says Crowe. “That’s always how I feel about bands, too – when you listen to something and it seems like it’s leading to a whole other element of a band, when you feel like you’re in the hallway about to open the door to a whole other space that this band is creating. And I hope that that’s what happens with us. We have no real plans at this point. We don’t want to be a ‘shoegaze’ band anymore.”

Interestingly, Habitat was the first time that the band’s founding duo had written an album together, and as Crowe continues, “we wrote 80% of it in a room in four days wth no previous material. It’s as spontaneous as can possibly be” — with material being derived from extensive jam sessions. Adding to the spontaneous nature of the material, the album was recorded and tracked in 16 days and was recorded with no grand design or plan at play; however, interestingly enough the material manages to be influenced by each individual member’s unique interests and obsessions while gravitating towards unfamiliar instruments and instrumentation. Lately, Korody has had an increasing interest in modular synths and avant industrial  sounds, partially influenced by his solo recording project Nailbiter while Crowe had been listening to a great deal of 90s hip-hop — in particular, Portishead‘s Third.  “It’s a dark record, for sure,”  Crowe says of their new album. “I feel like we were drawing a lot more from, like, me being a Goth teenager and Josh only wanting to listen to Aphex Twin and me only wanting to listen to Portishead’s Third for the last year and stuff like that. But also it was time to embody the elements of being a ‘wall-of-sound’ band with some space and the idea of being able to be quiet when you should be quiet, and you can’t do that with three guitars. There’s no space. It just becomes all push and no pull.”

Now, as you may recall I wrote about album single “1994,” a sleek and atmospheric Xiu Xiu, Antics-era Interpol-leaning single that was reportedly a sort of sequel  Leaper‘s “1992,” thanks in part to a song that eschews a traditional song structure; in fact, much like Antics, the song is focused on creating and sustaining a particular mood than whether a chorus should be placed in a particular part of the song or not. “Comb,” Habitat’s latest single is a noisy and abrasive, industrial and mosh pit worthy track consisting of layers of buzzing synths paired with forceful and propulsive drumming and shout worthy, nihilistic lyrics. And while nodding at Nine Inch Nails and Ministry, the song has an almost dance floor friendly stomp at its core. 

Directed by Andrew Matthews and Ivy Lovell, the recently released video for “Comb” features Crowe and Korody with the members of their touring band performing the song  at Toronto-based music venue Baby G under shadowy lighting and strobe lights. 

New Video: Watch Game of Thrones’ Lena Headley Party with King Richard III in Hilarious Visuals for Kasabian’s Swaggering New Single Ill Ray (The King)”

Currently comprised of founding members Tom Meighan (vocals), Sergio Pizzorno (guitar, vocals), and Chris Edwards (bass) with Ian Matthews (drums), the Leicester, UK-based indie rock/dance punk act Kasabian initially formed under the name Saracuse and  derive their name from Linda Kasabian, a member of the infamous Charles Manson cult. As the band’s Chris Edwards explained in an interview with Ukula, their former guitarist Chris Karloff had been reading up on Charles Manson, and the name Kasabian just stuck with him. “He thought the word was cool, it literally took about a minute after the rest of us head it . . . so it was decided.”  And although the band has gone through several lineup changes — at one point being a quintet before settling on its current lineup, the band can trace its origins to when its founding trio met while attending Countesthorpe Community College. 
The founding trio along with a rotating cast of studio drummers recorded their Scott Gilbert-produced demo EP,  which was finished in December 1998 and featured three songs “What’s Going On,” “Life of Luxury” and “Shine On.” After making their first live appearance to celebrate Edwards’ 18th birthday, the band was signed to BMG by London-based DJ and producer Sam Young, who took over managerial duties for a period of time before both sides had a massive falling out. Since then the band has released six studio albums — 2004’s self-titled debut, 2006’s Empire, 2009’s Pauper Lunatic Asylum, 2011’s Velociraptor!, 2014’s 48:13 and For Crying Out Loud, which was released earlier this year — all of which have further cemented the Leicester-based act’s reputation for crafting a sound that’s been described as a mix between The Stone Roses, Primal Scream and Oasis and for a critically applauded live show. Along with that, the band has managed to be commercially successful in the UK as they received a Brit Award for Best British Group in 2010, won two Q Awards for Best Act in the World Today in 2010 and 2014, as well as one Best British Band at 2007’s NME Awards. 

Produced by the band’s Sergio Pizzorno and recorded at his Leicester-based studio the Sergery, For Crying Out Loud has proven to be commercially successful, as it’s the band’s fifth #1 album on the UK Album Charts, thanks to the success of its first two singles “You’re In Love With A Psycho” and “Bless This Acid House,” both of which continue the band’s reputation for crafting swaggering, arena-friendly rock with shout worthy, crowd rousing hooks. Interestingly, album opening track and latest single “Ill Ray (The King)” is full of hip-hop inspired swaggering braggadocio paired with club-banging beats, buzzing guitars, rousing shout and stomp friendly hooks with a surprisingly disco/psychedelic house-inspired bridge — and as a result, it possesses a riotous “we’ll stomp the shit of you” vibe, reminiscent of Queen’s “We Will Rock You.” 

The recently released video was written and conceived by the band’s Sergio Pizzorno and features three-time Emmy Award-nominated actor Lena Headley, who’s best known for playing Queen Cersei in Game of Thrones. The video follows Lena’s character as she meddles with the occult in a weird ploy to bring King Richard III, who was buried in Leicester, back from the dead. And in case you ever wondered what it might be like to drink way too much with a British royal, who has been dead for over 500 years, this video may be your primer.