Tag: post punk

New Audio: House of Light Share Anthemic “NYC”

Since the release of their full-length debut, 2017’s Nervous System, rising post punk outfit House of Light have been busy: They’ve toured across three continents, opening for the likes of Pete Doherty, Lydia Lunch, The Drones and others. And in an interview by The SmithsAndy Rourke, the band was described as “evoking the romanticism of the 80s & darker turn of the 90s.”

Building upon a growing profile within the global post punk scene, the Aussie band’s sophomore album 21st Century Prayer was released earlier this year. Sonically, the album is a sleek, dark and hypnotic blend of shoegaze and post punk while further cementing their reputation for blending elements of the 80s, 90s and today. “This album is a reflection of our journey – it’s a nod to the past, a recognition of the present, and a step into the future,” the Aussie outfit explains. “We’re thrilled to share this with the world.”

21st Century Prayer‘s latest single “NYC” is a breakneck, post punk anthem built around an alternating quiet-loud-quiet song structure featuring an angular and propulsive bass line, plaintive vocals, swirling shoegazer-like guitar textures paired with rousing, shout-along worthy hooks and choruses. Sonically, “NYC” brings back found members of the 00s NYC scene — in particular, Turn On The Bright Lights and Antics-era Interpol, The Black Magic Show-era Elefant but with a sleek, contemporary sheen.

New Audio: New Jersey’s Stare Away Shares 80s Inspired “My Cathedral”

Stare Away is a brand new post-punk-inspired outfit that can trace its origins to the amicable breakup of Night Gallery earlier this year: During Night Gallery’s three year run, the band released a handful of singles that gained some attention in the post-punk scene. That led to shows with fellow New Jersey-based bands The Happy Fits, Phoneboy, and The Spins, which they followed up with their full-length debut, last year’s Caught Hiding.

The New Jersey-based newcomers specialize in a sound that attempts to revenge the ties between late 70s post-punk and 80s New Wave. Their latest single “My Cathedral” begins with wailing organ intro before quickly morphing into a Joy Division-inspired bop built around a propulsive bass line, explosive drum crashes, glistening synths, a seemingly disaffected baritone paired with a remarkably catchy hook. While “My Cathedral” wouldn’t sound out of place on the Stranger Things soundtrack, it does possess a subtle modern production sheen that pushes the beloved sound into contemporary territory.

New Video: Eleanor Kelly Shares Sleek and Anthemic “Sentiments”

Eleanor Kelly is a New York-based singer/songwriter and musician, who has spent stints in Belgium and Israel. “Fueled by coffee, cat cuddles, 80s synth and metal,” Kelly has been writing and performing songs from a young age. Those songs have frequently featured lyrics inspired and informed by her personal life and her immediate environment — especially in a politically-charged environment like Israel.

When Kelly turned 13, she submitted a song to Eurovision Song Content. That song received positive feedback but was eventually declined because it was deemed “too political.”

After playing a variety of roles in a number of different music projects throughout her life, Kelly stepped out into the spotlight as a solo artist with the release of her debut single “Daisy Chain” earlier this year, which showcased an artist influenced by Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, Garbage, Deftones with subtle nods to European and Middle Eastern music.

Kelly is currently working on her debut EP, which is slated for release next year. She’s also preparing for a series of live shows around the New York Metropolitan area. But in the meantime, her latest single “Sentiments” is a sleek and slinky number built around a sinuous bass line, swirling shoegazer-like guitar tones and glistening synth oscillations paired with Kelly’s sultry delivery and an enormous, remarkably catchy hook. Sonically, “Sentiments” channels a synthesis of It’s Blitz-era Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Garbage and Dum Dum Girls among others, while displaying a seemingly effortless craftsmanship.

Created using AI, the accompanying video uses 90s Anime and follows a female protagonist desperately trying to survive through a series of evil and bad scenarios and cartoon baddies.

“‘Sentiments’ was written as a song of empowerment. I originally wrote these lyrics as an outlet for my frustration with the current state of the world, which also has a major impact on my personal life as a young woman on this planet (as well as that of many others),” Eleanor Kelly explains. “The lyrics deal with a faltering reality, where it seems hard to find the positive things to hold on to, and to find the ability to make a change. When it came to the instrumentation, the writing started out with a funky bassline and was built from there. I wanted the listener to feel more energized and empowered as the song went on. To do so I chose to use various synths, fuzzy guitars, a deep bass, and loud drums, building up to the last chorus, which is layered to produce the most energizing moment in the composition. While all my previous songs have been produced solely by me, I worked with co-producer, Harper James, on the final stages of this song. Harper also mixed and mastered the track.

“When thinking about the music video, I wanted to emphasize the message that ‘Sentiments’ presents,” Kelly adds. “Using AI, which is currently a controversial topic in most creative fields, I decided to present the lyrics in the form of a 90’s vintage Anime – an ode to my childhood, which felt like a simpler and more innocent time. The story follows a lead female character, haunted by various bad scenarios in her existence on Earth, which are represented by the shifting characters that chase her through space and time. Fed up with this reality, she decides to fight back, eventually destroying the bad with her own inner power. The ability to do so through animation, which unfortunately, I do not have the power to do in real life, complemented the empowering aspect of the song.”

New Audio: Sleaford Mods Give RVG’s “Nothing Really Changes” a Dance Floor Friendly Remix Treatment

Acclaimed and rising Aussie outfit and JOVM mainstays  RVG — currently Romy Vager (vocals, guitar), Gregor’s and Hearing’s Reuben Bloxham (guitar), Rayon Moon‘s Marc Nolte (drums), and Isabelle Wallace (bass) — have released three critically applauded albums:

  • 2017’s A Quality of Mercy, which was recorded live off the floor at Melbourne’s iconic rock ‘n’ roll pub, The Tote Hotel. Initially released to little fanfare, the album, much to their surprise received critical acclaim both nationally and internationally, landing on a number of end-of-year Best of Lists. 
  • 2020’s Victor Van Vugt-produced Feral was released by Fire Records globally, excluding Australia and New Zealand, where it was released by Our Golden Friend. The album received breathless praise nationally and internationally, with Rolling Stone Australia calling the album “the record of a lifetime.”
  • Their third album Brain Worms, which was released earlier this year through Fire Records globally and Our Golden Friend in Australia and New Zealand.

In the lead up to the album’s release, I wrote about four of the album’s released singles:

  • Nothing Really Changes,” an angular, 80s New Wave-inspired track rooted in enormous arena rock friendly riffage, paired with the Aussie outfit’s long-held penchant for anthemic hooks and choruses and Vager’s lived-in, heart-worn-on-sleeve lyricism: The song features a narrator desperately missing someone while confronting the lingering ghosts of their relationship — with frustration, despair, anger and a begrudging acceptance. As the band’s Vager explains, the song “started off as a songwriting experiment to write something catchy with an obnoxious riff, a cross between Divinyls and ‘Smoke on the Water.‘ It’s a song about missing someone but protecting yourself from being hurt.”
  • Squid,” a rousing arena rock friendly anthem that brings Heaven Up Here-era Echo and the Bunnymen and Starfish-era The Church to mind: Swirling and shimmering guitar textures are paired with angular guitar attack, thunderous drumming, shout-along worthy hooks and choruses. But while rooted in an absurd, Kafkaesque-like nightmare in which the song’s narrator imagines what might happen if they were to go back in time, step on something and become a squid, Vager’s delivery is so desperately earnest and urgent that it feels very real.
  • Midnight Sun,” an urgent, hurtling ripper built around Vager’s defiant, furious delivery, jangling guitars, and a thunderous and propulsive rhythms action paired with the band’s unerring knack for rousingly anthemic hooks and choruses Fittingly, the song deals with matters of disbelief, and what it feels like to live in a culture — and a world — that often prefers to argue about semantics rather than save the world from burning. If it hits close to home, it fucking should. It’s our current hellscape, where we constantly deal with a seemingly unending and pervasive, cynical, self-serving stupidity and myopia. 
  • Common Ground,” a shimmering and anthemic ballad rooted in heart-worn-proudly-on-sleeve earnestness and lived-in personal experience. And at the center, Vager’s commanding presence, delivering the song’s lyrics with a mix of heartache, weariness, resignation, yearning, acceptance that can only come with the recognition of a relationship being irrevocably and irreparably over. “Common Ground” is in many ways about heartache and those moments of begrudging acceptance in our lives; but it’s also about the resolve to defiantly and proudly dust yourself off and figure out what’s next. If you’ve been there — and I have been many times in my life — the song speaks of the experience with a profound wisdom, unvarnished honesty and deep sense of hope.

As the acclaimed Aussie JOVM mainstays are in the middle of a headlining national tour, rising British duo Sleaford Mods give “Nothing Really Changes” the remix treatment. But before, I talk about the single, some much-needed background on the band. The British duo have become one of the UK’s cult bands of the moment, known for being unapologetic champions of working-class anger in a post-Brexit, austerity-era landscape. They’ve had three UK Top 10 albums in the last four years. And building upon a growing profile, they’ve collaborated with Leftfield and The Prodigy, while making Iggy Pop one of their highest profile fans.

With their remix, Sleaford Mods slow the tempo down a bit and turn the song into a funky dance floor friendly bop that transforms the original’s heartbreak and despair into something a bit more hopeful, upbeat — and dare I say, blissful. “This is a brilliant song. From a brilliant album. It’s been more than an honour to be associated with it in some way,” Sleaford Mods say.

The rising British outfit’s remix is the first single from the Nothing Really Changes (Remixes) EP slated for an October 20, 2023 release through Ivy League Records.

Andrew Bishop is a grizzled Vancouver music scene vet, who over the past decade has contributed his talents as a guitarist and/or singer/songwriter to a number of local outfits including Alex Little & The Suspicious Minds, Twin River and his own country-infused solo project White Ash Falls.

The Vancouver-based artist’s latest project WAASH sees him merging his prolific songwriting skills with a passion for expansive shoegaze soundscapes, marking both a culmination of his musical career and a fresh start. Initially started as a solo recording project, WAASH has gradually evolved into a full-fledged live band.

WAASH’s self-titled debut Colin Stewart co-produced EP is slated for a November 20, 2023 release. The EP’s five meticulously crafted tracks showcase Bishop’s departure from his long-held, conventional songwriting process: Instead of relying on guitar, he explored beats and baselines as starting points. For him, this approach allowed him to delve into minute details, crafting lyric and melodies that intricately fit each song. The EP was recorded with Bishop’s Alex Little & The Suspicious Minds bandmates at Afterlife Studios and further refined at The Hive with Colin Stewart. Over in East Vancouver, Bishop added ethereal keyboards, harmonies from Louise Burns and perfected the EP’s reverb-soaked aesthetic.

The forthcoming EP’s latest single, “There’s Never Enough Voices” is built around glistening, reverb-soaked guitars, and a pitch tight, motorik groove pared with Bishop’s plaintive delivery and carefully crafted, anthemic hooks and choruses. But brooding despair, confusion, regret and unease swirl just underneath the sleek, arena rock friendly surface. As Bishop explains the song is about trying to come to an understanding about the intentions within your actions and the realization of your past mistakes.

With the release of 2020’s Interzone through London-based psych label Fuzz Club, the Brooklyn-based psych duo and JOVM mainstays The Vacant Lots — Jared Artaud (vocals, guitar, synths) and Brian McFayden (drums, synths, vocals) — crafted an album that saw the duo seamlessly blending dance music and psych rock while maintaining the long-held minimalist approach that has earned the duo acclaim across the global psych scene. 

Clocking in at a breakneck 23 minutes, last year’s eight-song Closure was written during pandemic-related lockdowns, and continues the Brooklyn-based psych duo’s “minimal is maximal” ethos, while being a soundtrack for a shattered, uneasy, fucked up world. “During the pandemic the two of us were totally isolated in our home studios,” The Vacant Lots’ Jared Artaud says. “I don’t think the pandemic directly influenced the songs in an obvious way, but merely amplified existing feelings of alienation and isolation. We found ourselves writing in a more direct and vulnerable way than ever before.”

The Vacant Lots’ fifth album Interiors is slated for an October 13, 2023 release through their longtime label home Fuzz Club. Recorded over many sleepless nights and amphetamine-fueled mornings in the duo’s isolated Brooklyn-based bunker home studio, Interiors reportedly sees the duo synthesizing their past work while pushing forward into the future: They go deeper into their long-held minimal is maximal aesthetic but with nods to 70s and 80s punk and nightclub music like Joy DivisionDepeche ModeNew Order and The Idiot-era Iggy Pop

Throughout the entire album, ethereal, metallic synths and blistering electronics are paired with disco-on-downers dance beats, gutter rock guitar riffs and icily detached vocals singing concise, lacerating lyrics. “I like writing songs you can dance or zone out to”, Artaud says: “That duality of individual listening and music played in a crowd has always attracted me. A cross between the club and headphones. Music for loners and lovers.”

“Evacuation,” Interiors‘ latest single is a brooding and trance-inducing, club banger built around Giorgio Moroder-like synth oscillations, industrial clang and clatter, bursts of slashing guitar scuzz and anthemic hooks and choruses paired with Artaud’s icily detached yet vulnerable delivery. Much like its predecessors, “Evacuation” would sound perfectly in place with Power, Corruption & Lies-era New Order, early Depeche Mode and others.

“’Evacuation’ is about internal conflicts and the duality of love and loss within a relationship,” The Vacant Lots’ Jared Artaud explains. “Looking inward and carving out the pain was a mantra for the whole album. You get this moment in time and space to translate complex feelings into the work. It cuts both ways. You’re creating something out of necessity that can also be shared with other people to inspire them or make them feel less alone. That’s what I’m after.”

Brian MacFadyen adds: “This track immediately resonated with both of us early on in the ‘trading demos’ phase of writing the record because of its primitive and raucous aesthetic. It taps into the original DNA of the band.”

New Video: The Church Shares Haunting and Dream-like Visual for “Realm of Minor Angels”

Founded back in 1980, the Sydney-based ARIA Hall of Fame inductees The Church — currently founding member Steve Kilbey (vocals, bass, guitar); longtime collaborator and producer Tim Powles (drums), who joined the band in 1994 and has contributed to 17 albums; Ian Haug (guitar), a former member of Aussie rock outfit Powderfinger, who joined the band in 2013; multi-instrumentalist Jeffery Cain, a former member of Remy Zero and touring member of the band, who joined the band full-time after Peter Koppes left the band in early 2020; and their newest member, Ashley Naylor (guitar), a long-time member of Paul Kelly’s touring band and one of Australia’s most respected guitarists — was initially associated with their hometown’s New Wave, neo-psychedelic and indie rock scenes. 

Over the course of the next couple of decades, they became increasingly associated with dream pop and post-rock: Featuring shimmering soundscapes, their material took on slower tempos while built around their now, long-held reputation for an uncompromising approach to both their songwriting and sound. 

Their 25th album, 2017’s Man Woman Life Death Infinity was released to critical praise from the likes of PopMatters, who called the album “a 21st-century masterpiece, a bright beam of light amid a generic musical landscape, and truly one of the Church’s greatest releases.” 

The highly-anticipated follow-up to 2017’s Man Woman Life Death Infinity — and their 26th album! —  The Hypnogogue was released earlier this year release through Communicating Vessels/Unorthodox. 

The Hypnogogue is the band’s first full-length concept album: Set in 2054, the album follows its protagonist Eros Zeta, the biggest rock star of his era, who travels from his home in Antarctica to use the titular Hypnogogue to help him revive his flagging and moribund fortunes. “The Hypnogogue is set in 2054… a dystopian and broken down future,” The Church’s Steve Kilbey explains. “Invented by Sun Kim Jong, a North Korean scientist and occult dabbler, it is a machine and a process that pulls music straight of dreams.”

The Hypnogogue is the most prog rock thing we have ever done,” Kilbey says. “We’ve also never had a concept album before. It is the most ‘teamwork record’ we have ever had. Everyone in the band is so justifiably proud of this record and everyone helped to make sure it was as good as it could be. Personally, I think it’s in our top three records.”

In the lead to the album’s release, I wrote about three of its singles:

  • The album’s expansive and brooding title track and first single, “The Hypnogogue.” Featuring the band’s swirling and textured guitar-driven sound paired with Kilbey’s imitable delivery, the song introduces listeners to the album’s characters — Eros Zeta and Sum Kim. The song follows Zeta, as they’re traveling to meet Kim, to go through the titular hypnogogue. But during the toxic and weird process, Zeta winds up falling in love with Kim. As Kilbey says, “. . . it all ends tragically (of course . .. as these things often do). 
  • The jangling and deceptively upbeat “C’est La Vie,” which continues the album’s narrative. Zeta’s agent warms him not to mess with the hypnogogue. “His manager has heard some bad rumors about it, and he doesn’t want his boy all strung out on this unknown thing,” The Church’s Steve Kilbey explains. The song ends with a gorgeous, shimmering fade out. “Musically, the song is a fast-paced rocker very much initiated by our guitarist Ian Haug. But it has plenty of twists and turns and ends up fading away in a delicate and winsome way.” 
  • No Other You,” a glittering glam rock-like ballad with some Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie guitar work and a cinematic quality paired with Kilbey expressing an aching, almost desperate longing. “No Other You” may arguably be the most straightforward and earnest song of the band’s extensive catalog. The song continues the album’s narrative — but on a more personal level: The Church’s Steve Kilbey explains that the song is an “ultra-romantic song that Zeta writes for Sun Kim Jong, who is the inventor of The Hypnogogue. It’s a heartfelt song about an irreplaceable woman. And the Church gets to explore a slightly glam rock feel to boot.”

The band will be embarking on a second leg of their North American tour to support their 26th album during the fall. The tour will see them playing dates across the West Coast, Southwest, Southeast and Illinois. The band will be offering a limited number of VIP packs on the tour’s second leg, which will include the show ticket, early venue access, an invitation to the band’s soundcheck, a special meet and greet with the band, exclusive merch and the ability to watch a portion of the show from the side of the stage, where available. Tour dates are below. 

Coinciding with the fall tour, the acclaimed Aussie outfit recently released a digital deluxe edition of The Hypnogogue that will include material originally cut from the 13-song album.  

The deluxe edition will include “Realm of Minor Angels,” a slow-burning and gorgeous, torch song-inspired ballad featuring shimmering mandolin from Ian Haug and slide guitar from Ashley Naylor paired with Kilbey’s crooned delivery. Sonically, “Realm of Minor Angels” wouldn’t sound out of place on Starfish or Gold Afternoon Fix

“‘Realm of Minor Angels’ is without doubt one of my favorite singles The Church has ever released,” The Church’s Steve Bilberry says. “From the moment [guitarist] Jeffrey Cain started playing the opening riff, I was hooked. The singing and lyrics are my own subtle homage to the torch songs of the ‘60s and check out Ian Haug’s mandolin lines and Ashley Naylor’s slide work!”

Directed by Clint Lewis and featuring additional footage shot by Danial Willis and Randall Turner, the accompanying video for “Realm of Minor Angels” stars Carol Larsen as Sun Kim Jong and Selma Soul as Eros Zeta. We see Laren’s Sun Kim Jong discovering Soul’s Eros Zeta strung out and nearly comatose. Through what seems to be flashbacks or perhaps a vivid hallucination, we see Kim Jong and Zeta slow dancing together and other tender moments. Televisions flash all around them in the room, and we see the members of The Church performing the song from the studio. Much like the preceding videos, this one has a haunting, dream-like quality.

Going beyond the initial storyline told in The Hypnogogue, The Church will be releasing Eros Zeta and the Perfumed Guitars, a companion CD that will serve as a continuation of the storyline. The limited-edition CD will only be available at merch tables on the tour.

The original dream-pulling storyline,” as Kilbey explains, “follows Eros Zeta, the biggest rock star of 2054, who has traveled from his home in Antarctica (against his manager’s advice) to use the Hypnogogue to help him revive his flagging fortunes. In the midst of the toxic process, he also falls in love with Sun Kim and it all ends tragically (of course, as these things often do).”

Eros Zeta and the Perfumed Guitars expands and builds upon the mythology of The Hypnogogue. As the band’s Kilbey explains: “Eros Zeta and the Perfumed Guitars were formed in 2048 in Antarctic City in Antarctica. They had many hits including ‘Realm of Minor Angels’ and ‘Sublimated in Song’ and in all released six collections of music. They toured the postwar world incessantly during the early 2050s and were capable on a good night of selling out concerts in most countries that still had gigs. The band were troubled with personnel and substance problems culminating in Eros Zeta’s addiction to Sky and his subsequent inability to write new songs.

“In 2054, he journeyed to Korea where he used the Hypnogogue to create new music. After the disastrous effects these songs created, he died in a traffic accident whilst on his way to the airport to return home. The songs were thereafter prohibited in most places. In recognition of his services to Antarctican music, a statue was built to honor him in the Australian Quarter of Antarctic city. The band continued on without him but to little success which led to them disbanding in 2057.”

New Audio: OMEARA Shares Sleek and Anthemic “Take It Back”

Montréal-born, German-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jasmin O’Meara can trace the origins of her music career to when she was a teenager: A 14-year old O’Meara removed a guitar off of her uncle’s wall and declared it her own.

The Canadian-born, German-based artist is an autodidact, who went on to join Montréal’s indie scene and collaborated with several different bands and experimenting with a multitude of genres. Taking a break from music to study design, a chance encounter in London led O’Meara back to music — and to playing bass in English bands Temposhark and Kill Electric.

Between 2008-2014, O’Meara played bass in synth pop outfit Zoot Woman. Writing and performing and under the moniker OMEARA, the Canadian-born, German-based artist stepped out into the spotlight as a solo artist with the release of her debut EP Desert Heart, which was released earlier this year. The EP sees O’Meara singing and performing all the vocal parts and almost all of the material’s instrumentation with the exception of harmonica on one song.

Thematically, Desert Heart examines the uneasy and harrowing quest of navigating love in the 21st Century, set to a richly layered and modern take on the music, which shaped her life — and is informed by her own professional experience in post punk, synth pop and indie rock bands.

Desert Heart‘s first single “Take It Back” is sleek post punk-inspired song featuring a relentless motorik-like groove, a supple bass line, gauzy guitar textures paired with rousingly anthemic hooks and choruses, a dance floor friendly bridge, and the Canadian-born, German-based artist’s punchy delivery. While sonically, “Take It Back” reminds me a bit of The Stills, The Killers and others, the song is rooted in deeply personal, lived-in experience — one that should feel familiar to anyone, who’s attempted to maneuver the awkwardness of human relationships.

“The song is about telling your lover that you never really loved them, that you felt pressured into saying ‘I love you’ back, and yet feeling no remorse about revealing this information,” O’Meara explains. But at its core, the song reveals a remarkably self-assured artist, with a penchant for crafting incredibly catchy, anthemic hooks.