Over the past few months, I’ve written a bit about the Chicago-based indie act The Hecks. Formed back in 2012 as a duo featuring founding members Andy Mosiman (guitar, vocals) and Zach Herbert (drums, percussion), […]
Formed back in 2012 as a duo featuring founding members members Andy Mosiman (guitar, vocals) and Zach Herbert (drums, percussion), the Chicago-based indie act The Hecks recorded their 2016 self-titled debut with recording engineer and guitarist Dave Vetteraino. And by the following year, Vetteraino joined the band as a full-time member.
Now, as you may recall the band’s forthcoming and long-awaited sophomore album My Star has taken three years to write and record. After recording an early version of the album in 2017, the band started playing live shows with Jeff Grauper (synths, keys). The members of the band found that Graupner’s synth playing added some welcomed heft and swagger to their new material. The band reworked and re-arranged much of the material they originally wrote in 2017 to accommodate Graupner. But while they were reworking the material, the band decided that to completely scrap the early recordings, eventually rebuilding the material to further incorporate Graupner and his skills. And as a result, My Star is reportedly a decided leap forward sonically for the band, as the album’s material draws from Manscape-era Wire, Paisley Park nu-funk, and abstract new wave and art rock.
Album single “So 4 Real” was a jagged bit of post-punk, centered around a motorik-like groove, squiggling blasts of synth and Mosiman’s plaintive vocals. And while nodding at XTC (“Mayor of Simpleton” specifically comes to mind) and Amoral-era Violens, the track was essentially a swooning and soulful love song that sounds as though it should be the part of the soundtrack of a quirky, 80s rom-com. “Flash,” My Star is an angular, neurotic take on XTC-like post punk featuring squiggling bursts of neon-tinged synths, propulsive syncopated drumming and lyrics delivered with an ironic sort of detachment. And yet, it evokes the rapid-fire heartbeat of the anxious and desperately in love.
Produced by the members of The Hecks and featuring a video wall and lamination by Studio Super, the recently released video for “Flash” is a decidedly 80s-inspired, VHS-tape recorded affair as there are references to Flashdance and 80s MTV. It’s a feverish pop fantasy of a bunch of average white guys, who have big dreams — that sadly may never happen. “We stumbled through the whole thing and just leaned in on what was working. The end result reads like the contents of a VHS tape mailed to the president of Columbia Records from some kids from Valparaiso, Indiana, who got grounded right after filming because mom found an empty bottle of poppers in the basement,” The Hecks say in a statement. “Some forgotten relic of an aspiring nobody’s pop fantasy.”
Chicago-based indie act The Hecks formed back in 2012 as a duo featuring founding members Andy Mosiman (guitar, vocals) and Zach Herbert (drums, percussion). Their 2016 self-titled debut was recorded as a duo with guitarist and recording engineer Dave Vetteraino, and by the following year, Vetteraino joined the band as a full-time member.
The band’s forthcoming and long awaited, sophomore album My Star has taken three years to write and record. After recording an early version of the album in 2017, the band started playing live shows with Jeff Grauper (synths, keys). The members of the band found that Graupner’s synth playing added some welcomed heft and swagger to their new material. After reworking and re-arranging much of that material to accommodate their new fourth member, the band decided that it would be scrap the early recordings, eventually rebuilding them to further incorporate Graupner’s skills. And as a result, My Star is reportedly a decided leap forward sonically for the band, as the album’s material draws from Manscape-era Wire, Paisley Park nu-funk, and abstract new wave and art rock.
“So 4 Real,” My Star‘s latest single is a jagged bit of post-punk, centered around a sinuous yet motorik-like groove, squiggling blasts of synths and Mosiman’s plaintive vocals — and while nodding at XTC (“Mayor of Simpleton” specifically comes to mind) and Amoral-era Violens, the track is essentially a swooning and soulful love song that sounds as though it should be the part of the soundtrack of a quirky, 80s rom-com.
Currently featuring Ross Farrar (vocals), Anthony Anzaldo (guitar), Justin Davis (bass), Andy Nelson (guitar) and Jake Casarotti (drums), the Rohnert Park, CA-based punk act Ceremony can trace their origins to 2005, when they formed as a sextet with Farrar, Anzaldo, Davis, Nelson, Casarotti and Ryan Mattos (guitar) under the name Violent World before eventually changing their name.
With the release of their earliest work — in particular, 2005’s Ruined EP and Violence Violence, 2008’s Still Nothing Move You, the band quickly developed a reputation for a relentlessly brutal and bruising hardcore punk sound compared to the likes of Infest and others. Building upon a growing profile, the Rohnert Park, CA-based punk act toured across the world with bands like Blacklisted, Converge, and AFI before releasing 2010’s Rohnert Park.
Shortly before they signed to Matador Records in 2011, the band went through a lineup change with the departure of Ryan Mattos. The following year saw the release of the band’s fourth album Zoo, an album that was a radical sonic departure from the band, as it saw them moving from the bruising hardcore sound of their earliest efforts towards a pre-hardcore, post-punk inspired sound much like Pink Flag-era Wire. 2015’s The L-Shaped Man found the band sonically moving further towards post-punk with a sound that was compared to the likes of Joy Division and others.
The band’s soon-to-be released sixth album In The Spirit World Now is slated for an August 23, 2019 release through Relapse Records and the album reportedly finds the band’s sound further pulling from the post punk influences that’s driven their last couple of albums — but there’s also a bit of a rock influence. And unsurprisingly, the band has managed to evolve their sound while remaining true to themselves as songwriters and artists. Interestingly, the album’s latest single, the hook-driven “Presaging the End” is centered around shimmering and slashing guitars and a motorik-like groove, the song finds the acclaimed punk act sounding much more like The Fixx — in particular “The Sign of Fire” and “Red Skies” but while retaining a punk rock intensity and earnestness.
Earlier this year, I wrote about Numb.er, the brainchild of Los Angeles, CA-based mastermind and primary songwriter, photographer and visual artist Jeff Fribourg, who’s probably best known as a founding member of psych rock/kraut rock band Froth. Now, as you may recall, Fribourg can trace the origins of his love affair with synthesizers to when he was leading Froth, and with his latest project, Fribourg fully explores both his deep love of synthesizers and his wildly eclectic influences and inclinations; in fact with Numb.er Fribourg’s work meshes elements of punk rock, post-punk, noise rock and shoegaze.
Goodbye, Fribourg’s latest Numb.er album was released earlier this year through renowned post punk label Felte Records, and the album’s first single “Numerical Depression” featured elements of 77-era punk, post-punk and noise punk in a way that sonically brought the likes of Wire, Nirvana, The Clash, Bauhaus, without resorting to mimicry and cliches. Interestingly, Goodbye’s latest single finds Fribourg seamlessly meshing 60s psych pop with synth-led New Wave and four-on-the-four drumming in a way that brings British psych rockers TOY to mind, but murkier and more foreboding while retaining Fribourg’s uncanny ability to craft an infectious hook.
Directed by Matt Creed and edited by Chris Rice, the recently released video for “A Memory Stained” employs the use of creepy yet trippy found footage that emphasizes the lysergic quality of the song and its foreboding vibes.
Comprised of an American, an Englishman and two Swedes, the members of FEWS relocated from London to Malmo, Sweden, where they unearthed its creative underbelly while internalizing the impact and influence of their new surroundings — and they immediately began working on the much-anticipated follow up to 2016’s full-length debut Means. Interestingly, the band’s latest single “Business Man,” which will be released by Play It Again Sam, follows a self-imposed hiatus of sorts, one that had seen them writing and demoing new material, using the local studio of producer and friend Joakim Lindberg, while quietly returning to the UK to play a handful of well-received shows in London and Brighton.
Sonically speaking, the explosive song is centered around twinkling Wurtlizer, slashing guitar and bass chords, feedback and distortion, thundering rhythms that fall and tumble around the mix and punchily delivered vocals — and while clearly drawing from Gang of Four, Wire, and Disappears, the song captures the modern day frustration of being caught up in the unending rat race, pointlessly striving for money to buy more shit that you really don’t want, and yet you can’t figure out how to get out the trap. Interestingly, as the band explains, the song “. . . is about people who realise they nee to shape up, get a haircut and suit, and work their asses off trying to please the boss. After a few years, burnout and the realization that the system is completely screwed, sees them lose their shit during the weekends before returning to the conveyor belt of conformity, trudging through the same bullshit week after week . . .”
Led by Luciel Brown (vocals, guitars), the Leeds, UK-based trio Drahla have received national and international attention for meshing anxious and wiry post-punk with krautrock-inspired experimentation, featuring angular guitar chords and propulsive and hammering bass, the track is centered by Brown’s half-spoken/half-sung vocals as you’ll hear on “Twelve Divisions,” the band’s Pink Flag-era Wire-like Captured Tracks Records debut.
The recently released video is fully of erratic jump cuts, flickering lights and flickering imagery, the video is full of absurd and at times repetitive imagery and action. As Brown says of the video, “The video is an abstracted representation of process and routine. This is depicted through the recreation of the cover artwork and repetitive nature of the content used.”
Last month, I wrote about the Brighton, UK-based art rock duo Immersion, and as you may recall, the act, which is comprised of husband and wife duo, Wire‘s Colin Newman and Minimal Compact’s Malka Spigel can trace their origins back to when the duo initially collaborated together in the early 90s on a handful of Colin Newman’s solo albums and later as Immersion. Slated for a June 15, 2018 release, Sleepless is the follow up to 2016’s critically applauded Analogue Creatures Living on an Island and the forthcoming album is reportedly both an extension of its predecessor’s sound and a leap forward sonically. While still deeply influenced by Tangerine Dream and Popal Vuh with a textured, painterly approach, Newman and Spigel have expanded their sonic palette, to incorporate guitars, drums and bass with analog synths; and in fact, the album features the duo collaborating with Holy Fuck‘s Matt Schulz, and Hexenschuss‘ Gil Luz and Asi Weitz.
“Microclimate,” Sleepless’ first single was an lush yet atmospheric composition consisting of gently arpeggiated synths, simmering guitar chords, swirling electronics and a stuttering bass line — and while being meditative and dreamy, the song possesses an cinematic quality, as though it should be part of the soundtrack of a futuristic, sic-fi-leaning drama. The album’s second and latest single “Propulsiod” is a decidedly krautrock-inspired affair, as it’s centered around an appropriately propulsive, motorik groove with squelching and trembling synths and electronics. As the duo says about the song, “The roots of Immersion lie in abstract techno but somehow over the years we’ve acquired the motorik of krautrock without ever consciously deciding on that direction. ‘Propulsoid’ is a kind of propulsive mythical beast, an unholy alliance of Klaus Dinge’s beats and acid squelch filtered through the ever present MS-10. We guess it’s a kind of dance music! The video was made by us in the same spirit as we make the music and write these words. It’s about speed, light & repetition.” Unsurprisingly, the video features footage of relentless transpiration, movement sped up and occasionally in reverse, which emphasizes the sense of repetition and endlessness to it.
Newman and Spigel will be touring to support Sleepless and it includes a July 14, 2018 stop at Rough Trade. Check out the rest of the tour dates below.
Numb.er is the brainchild of its Los Angeles, CA-based mastermind and primary songwriter, photographer and visual artist Jeff Fribourg, who’s probably best known as a founding member of psych rock/kraut rock band Froth. Thanks to a background in graphic design and visual art, Fribourg has developed a reputation for his work being imbued with a sense of architectural composition with angular guitar riffs and analog synths being layered over throbbing drums and propulsive bass lines. And although Fribourg can trace the origins of his love of synthesizers to when he was in Froth, Numb.er finds the Los Angeles-based songwriter, photographer and visual artist fully exploring his eclectic influences and inclinations with the project meshing elements of punk rock, shoegaze, post-punk and noise rock — without committing to a singular worldview and without sounding overly ironic or forced.
Goodbye, Numb.er’s latest effort is slated for release at the end of the week through Felte Records, and the album’s latest single “Numerical Depression” will further cement Fribourg’s reputation for genre-defying sound as you’ll hear elements of classic ’77-era punk, post-punk and noise punk as the song is centered around a propulsive bass line, power chord-based guitar lines played through copious guitar effect pedals and rolling drums — and while sonically the song brings to mind Wire, Nirvana, The Clash, Bauhaus, and others, complete with a similar urgency, and yet the song doesn’t find the band resorting to clueless, self-obsessed mimicry and cliches.