Album: Exhume Vol II
Lable: Negative Gain Records
Members: Maria Joaquin and Kyle Craig
So this is an album from Alberta Canada’s post punk/darkwave act Strvngers. It’s another band from Negative Gain records and I feel like maybe I am giving that label too much face time in my reviews but they just keep putting out great music so screw it I’ll keep reviewing it. A couple other strange things from the albums I usually review on this page are that it is covers and remixes (I prefer a focus on new original material) but I can tell you it screams and scintillates with fresh takes and original sounds. While it has an obvious dark tone I have to say this album is not gloom and doom. It’s fun, upbeat, and made for the club floor. The production and drum beats are searing fire and full of movement. Joaquin’s vocals are pure energy and have a beautiful pop quality while showing a great range of styles and colors. This album is a true death disco of spinning lights and weaving textures. The production is all seamlessly blended full of complex synth tones to create a cyborg automation of moving metal. It’s also diverse and challenging, every song finds a new voice which keeps the listener challenged. It’s sexy, it’s fierce, and it is proof that dark music doesn’t have to be sad bastard whining. If a DJ rolled out this album as playlist I would dance my ass off and not be sad.
I remember in my jaded youth being deeply into the dark brooding of goth and the testosterone driven angry Industrial and seeing Die Warsaw the first time and thinking this music can be more. It can be fun, and bursting with life and warmth. That’s what I hear from Strvngers. Ever track is a shot of adrenaline straight to my cold withered heart. It’s beautiful and wraps you in a welcoming hug that says we are all a part of this scene together. It’s industrial with a message of hope.
Dancing with Myself (Billy Idol Gen X cover) – Ok this opens with that signature guitar riff but in a bright synthesized form. The tempo seems only slightly sped up but it feels more energetic. I love me some Billy Idol but the straight Adrenalin energy and beauty of the vocals makes this dance classic modern and uplifting.
Party all the Time – (Eddie Murphy Cover) This keeps the 80s retro flavor of the original but more of a Killing Joke sound than an Eddie Murphy one. The tone definitely has a feminine flavor of ladies taking over the dance floor which changes the whole meaning of the song. It’s a fun anthem with a really cool breakdown of bleep bloop madness and a giant wall of sound chorus.
This is not a Phase (remix) – The original song has a very 2000’s emo feel. However this remix does a beautiful job of adding a darker tone. The vocals come from the bottom of a well and chant out a teenage rebellion anthem. I’m not sure if it is a shout out to one of my favorite 80’s horror movies Return of the Living dead but it serves well in that way of a driven almost punk scream.
Cry Little Sister – (Gerard McMahon cover) This is an incredible homage to The Lost Boys using perfect samples of lines from the film with an edgy vocal feel. The sustain vocals on the whole album are brilliant and uplifting but on this song they are really turned loose.
Overall this album is just plain fun. I had a hard time picking favorites in the covers. They are all a glittering explosion of stop motion dance in a dark wave world of intense foreboding. This record was not afraid to just enjoy itself on the surface without trying to plus the depths of human emotion and I found it refreshing. It shakes, it bleeds, it needs to be in your next dance party.