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.