Review of Joy Thieves “Cities In Dust”

Artist: Joy Thieves

Album: Cities in Dust

Label: Armalyte

Hometown: Chicago IL

Members: Holy Shit too many to count 🙂 Please see Facebook link below Chris Connelly , Dave Suycott , Louis Svitek , Ania Tarnowska , Eric Liljehorn , Mike Reidy , Matthew Clark , James Scott , Dan Milligan , Michael Allen , John Fryer , Lana Guerra , Gordon Young , Howie Beno , Mike Czarnik

https://www.facebook.com/pg/TheJoyThieves/about/?ref=page_int

https://armalyte.bandcamp.com/album/the-joy-thieves-cities-in-dust

The Joy Thieves are a massive collaboration with over thirty contributors gathered together by Dan Milligan. When i first heard this EP my initial description was “This is what it would sound like if Clutch beat the shit out of Stabbing Westward with a baseball bat” I still stand by that. This record has a ton of big name Industrial contributors and the Pigface, Ministry, Chicago Industrial sound is prevalent. To me what really made this record shine was the hard rock aspects charging forward which included aspects of industrial. Not the other way around. Dan is a drummer by trade and this percussion fills every inch of space and creates such electric movement. These tracks have melody and catchy hooks, but it’s the teeth that sets them apart. It bites hard, visceral, and does not let you go.

This EP includes remixes and a cover of “Siouxsie and the Banshees” sung by the amazing Ania Tarowska of I Ya Toyah. Her vocals are a fierce guttural homage to the queen of goth punk and pulls off something I had lost hope for. Making a song that was so incredible it had been overplayed into the ground, sound fresh and crackling with energy once again. The musicianship on the guitars make every song sizzle with true foot stomping ferocity of rabid wolves attacking in unison. Every song finds a way to build in succession and find a new voice.

Lets talk about favorite tracks. It is an EP so I will limit to two.

Honeycomb and Silk – This song is a freaking master class in percussion and drive. Thick slashing guitars are chased like wild horses by whip crack snare snaps. The vocals are a driving chant with range and intensity. I just want to play this song and break shit.

Cities in Dust – I hate to use a cover for best tracks but this one is a show stopper. There was so much potential to go wrong covering this song. Cities in Dust has been played at every goth night since the Vandals sacked Rome. Although I love it I almost dread hearing it at this point. Then Dan and company found a way to turn it up to 11. Ania attacks it with a ferocity I think Siouxsie herself would be proud of. Plus the humming guitar lead really cuts through the mix to give a blistering hard rock feel. They made me give a shit about Cities in Dust again.

Overall this EP was a blistering fresh romp through the wild west of hard rock on an mechanical horse. The lineup is so chocked full of talent it couldn’t help but obliterate every target it set sights on. Sometimes you just need to flay with reckless abandon and swing your arms to intense perfect precision drum beats. This is the album to do that to. Turn it on, max your volume, and scream until your neighbors know just who they are fucking with.

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We could separate the art from the artist, but should we?

This past weekend I had the privilege of attending Cold Waves VIII. There, I witnessed many amazing bands but also got to enjoy the company of fellow musicians and artists. The experience was full of beautiful memories in an inclusive environment. I got to meet a lot of veteran big named acts and was pretty blown away how all of them treated me with acceptance and smiles.

That said, when musicians get together it can be a real sewing circle; they talk. There was a bit of a controversial subject that happened on the final night that had my Facebook feed buzzing with hot takes about a t-shirt, and how it was handled. I also ended up in a few conversations about other artists in the industry going through controversy at the moment. Now this is not a “news outlet.” I am not a “journalist,” so I am not going to comment on any specifics that I have not researched. This is also not a gossip rag so I definitely won’t monger any rumors. However, this is something on my mind, so I was curious to get takes from all of you about how stories coming out on artists effect how you feel about their music?

My personal stance is that in 2019 we have an unprecedented level of access to the people that make our music. I pretty much hold David Bowie up as a deity. I literally have a candle of his image in roman catholic style in my window. Yet I remember the recent news story involving him from two young ladies under 16 in the 70’s who described an encounter with him as an adult man. If I heard of the exact same scenario from anyone I know, this would be someone I would immediately confront about how inappropriate this is. It’s not as though stories like this are unique to David Bowie. I just used him as an example because his music is so deeply meaningful to me, yet this behavior is also deeply reprehensible to me.

This debate that effects our current cultural landscape encompasses a plethora of social issues. Goth/Industrial/Punk has always had politics and social movement at the forefront of the art they create. With social media as a platform to discuss artists thoughts anytime and any place, it is harder than ever to separate what you are listening to from who you are listening to.

I come down on the issue here: It’s not too much to ask the artists you love to be basically decent human beings. I think there is a lot of spectrum for how much of your personal morality you expect from them. It’s your hard earned cash to spend on music, and there is too much available from artists that come within a range you are comfortable with to not draw a line. If you make the choice to be a public performer, this is part of the world. For better or for worse, your choices are on display. That is a responsibility that effects others. If someone can’t find it in themselves to care about how their choices effect those around them, I have a hard time respecting that person, and therefore the music they make. Also, if someone does make an effort to grow after a mistake, when does their penance become enough to warrant forgiveness?

Luckily, we here in the goth/industrial/post punk/ect counter culture have a scene that is very open minded, supportive, and accountable on average. So I choose to end this talking about artists I have encountered who were awesome people and are effecting change in a positive way with their art. When someone does wrong, it tends to spread quickly. I think it is equally important to talk about people going the extra mile for something right.

Jim Semonik – Runs Distortion Productions and Electronic Saviors charity organization. Jim is a survivor of colorectal cancer. Now, on it’s 3rd album, Jim has raised more than $70k in donations for various cancer research charities. This is a great guy who has enormous respect in the industry for letting his heart lead in distribution of music. Speaking with him, I am really impressed by how much he cares about discovering new talent, and finding ways to grow their audience.

http://www.electronicsaviors.com/?fbclid=IwAR3liQ1TSOz7B9QUfbM4OE9gONzmfu0SwQNV1BQDCvMZc289U8QgsGlQx3w

Cliff and Ivy – Alaska’s favorite goth couple are wonderful artists I have featured on the page many times. They run a radio program which highlights new artists, and in general do a ton to promote the scene. Last year they put together an amazing compilation for Identity Inc., a charity to provide services for the LGBTQ community in Alaska called Rainbow Goth.


https://rainbowgoth.bandcamp.com/

You need this compilation: GREAT CAUSE ^^^^^^^^

Black Nail Cabaret – Is a wonderful band that has been hitting their stride recently with their intense dark art house pop. They also put out an EP of covers with proceeds donated to Rain forest Action Network during the recent fires. They also have a track on the “Sounds from the Asylum” project which donates all proceeds to MIND and HEAR US charities for promoting mental health.

https://blacknailcabaret.bandcamp.com/

This cover of Pet Shop Boys “Rent” is straight FYRE! ^^^^^^^

Finally, Cold Waves Festival, who just finished year 8 of one of the best festivals in the scene, with big name acts and a sense of community which left me staggered. They give a portion of the proceeds to Darkest Before Dawn, a suicide prevention charity. The people who run it have done a true honor to their lost friend by raising awareness and celebrating what is best in life.

http://coldwaves.net/?fbclid=IwAR0nl5_jKvh_psZY0bv9GROQzhpOgdWh4BVdLQ5obpl-jHPs5tR6tf-B-xQ

The purpose of this piece is to start a conversation. I want to hear about Bands and individuals that are doing the good work in the scene, so we can help elevate them. Also, what is our role as listeners in holding artists accountable for toxic actions? How do we navigate the minutia in a world where everyone is always on display?

Bowie, Jim Morrison, Mick Jagger, Roger Waters, Andrew Eldrich, John Lennon, Bill Leib, Peter Steele, Ian Curtis, I love all the music. The odds I would consider all of them good examples of humanity……..?

A rookie’s guide to Chicago Cold Waves VIII. 9/20/19

In 2012 a musician and sound engineer much beloved by the scene named Jamie Duffy was taken too soon. In an effort to pay tribute and help his family, a group of bands collaborated to create a music festival. Eight years later it has continued to grow and thrive as a celebration of music, counter culture, and dancing. Somehow in those previous seven years I have never attended this festival. This year I am changing that. I figured I would create a preview of each of the four days line up. Then try to share them before I head to Gotham City this weekend. Friday is sold out but tickets are still available for the other days and I would love to share my Cold Waves deflowering with as many of you wonderful people as possible.

Day 2 was the first day to sell out and it is an amazing lineup. I will be charging to the front of the stage like the big goth Saint Bernard while I am dancing like a 42 year old demon in sensible shoes. Lets break down this lineup.

On the Smart bar side Physical Wash from Portland OR. Susan Subtract of High Functioning Flesh does a synth slither dance groove with obscure samples and growling chant vocals. Some lovely heavy pad work here.

Patrick Codenys of Industrial forefathers Front 242 does an EDM DJ set spun by a master of the craft. If this doesn’t get you shaking you might need to hit yourself with the paddles because you are dead.

At Metro Chicago’s own Wing Tips are an amazing retro dream flow of beauty playing a party in the post modern world. The duo of Vincent and Hannah transport you to the dark parts of science fiction and high school melodrama. I’m so excited to finally see them live I may spin myself into a tizzy.

Klack is our most recent review of Madison WI dynamic duo of Matt Fanale and Eric Oehler. They mix fierce dance beats, witty humor, and electric energy with an old school flair and dynamic grinding style. There is a chance I might loose my shit for this so be forewarned and give space.

Just wow, Shannon of Light Asylum is a force of nature. Crackling explosions coupled with the rawness and elegance both of Grace Jones and Patti Smith. The odds of Rachel having a fan girl breakdown during this performance is currently 10/1 and I will not be betting against that action.

When Haujobb had to cancel IVardensphere of Alberta stepped up to fill some big shoes with there pounding rhythmic sonic assault. Furious beats fired at you through a particle accelerator.

Metro closes out with Electronic music deities Nitzer Ebb . I think the last time I saw them was in Chicago in the 90’s and it is a experience which changed my view of music. An engine of burning sound running red straight through your bloodstream . Even if you didn’t save anything this will be a shot of pure adrenaline.

Food trucks are available, lay down a base. Stay Hydrated. Bring your most comfortable footwear. By day two this will be a marathon not a sprint and you will not want to miss a moment.

A rookies guide to Cold Waves VIII Chicago day 1. 9/19/19

In 2012 a musician and sound engineer much beloved by the scene named Jamie Duffy was taken too soon. In an effort to pay tribute and help his family, a group of bands collaborated to create a music festival. Eight years later it has continued to grow and thrive as a celebration of music, counter culture, and dancing. Somehow in those previous seven years I have never attended this festival. This year I am changing that. I figured I would create a preview of each of the four days line up. Then try to share them before I head to Gotham City this weekend. Friday is sold out but tickets are still available for the other days and I would love to share my Cold Waves deflowering with as many of you wonderful people as possible.

Thursday Sept 19th lineup is a monster one. Lets break down who you will see.

http://coldwaves.net/?fbclid=IwAR14BGkA1nBmGq0oS1uPTuQgYd8MRX8U2-4MjDVqu6GiHMih-r8zsMjeaMg

Chicago’s own Panic Priest from Negative Gain records is playing Smart Bar and Jack Armondo will be bringing his honey rich baritone voice over delicious electronic beats and sizzling guitar licks. If you have never had the pleasure of witnessing it live, it is a must see.

This couldn’t happen in Chicago without some old school boot stomping in your face industrial. Sean Payne/Chris Harris and friends doing Conformco will give you that in excess. Get on this dance floor now!

Bootblacks – of New York is a driving post punk electroclash sizzlefest that has to be seen live to truly be appreciated. I saw them play with frequent life partners Actors in Detroit this past year and was floored by the energy and passion of their set. They have a new record coming soon “Thin Skies” produced by Jason Corbett so you might get to see some preview material. Just seeing Panther’s dance moves alone is worth the price of admission.

Far from done here it’s we are still talking about day 1! Curse Mackey with his debut solo album “Instant Exorcism” I have already reviewed this year and it shook me to the core. Curse has a storied history in Industrial music playing with (Pigface/My Life with the Thrill Kill Cult/Evil Mothers) and this personal and powerful record is a ritual charged electronic inferno. I am yet to see him live so I couldn’t be more excited.


Acumen vs 16 VoltAcumen lead by the Novak brothers has been an intense hard hitting metaldustrial band since the late 80s. Their guitarist Jamie Duffy and his tragic passing was the focus that brought this festival together. No doubt making this a very personal show each year. 16 Volt with Eric Powell from LA also lean towards the metal side while adding electronic and synth elements. I’ve always really liked their vocals and cadence. I’m not sure exactly what the combination will sound like on Stage but with that level of talent in one place it is sure to be memorable.

Jared Loche and the Chemlab crew from Washington DC are part of any serious discussion about what Industrial music is. Chemlab has always held that early Throbbing Gristle art piece style of industrial music for me. They push the edge in the best possible way. It’s been a long hiatus since 2012 when they last played. It is a swirling, electronic Pandora’s Box, Like a pressure cooker filled with chaos brimming over into your eardrums. I can imagine what that many years of ideas is going to look and sound like.

Pop Will Eat Itself the UK based dance explosion that has been shaking the cement off clubs since 1986 with napalm bright guitars and electric stage shows and effective rapping. I think it has always been the extreme cleverness of this band that makes it stand out. My dear friend Josh Garman said it best “PWEI is so good they did a diss track of the Jesus and Mary Chain and I still love them” PWEI really deserves it’s own lengthy article about their contribution to the bigger musical picture.

Other important news, WAX TRAX will have a collectors corner set up with both the WAX TRAX documentary film and several rare test press, first press collectors items from the label.

My friends we are only at day one of a four day musical celebration and the names keep this exciting as the weekend goes on. So hydrate, pace yourself, and leave everything on the floor.

Review of Klack: Introducing The 1984 Renault LeCar

Artist: Klack

Members: Matt Fanale, Eric Oehler

Hometown: Madison WI

Mixed and Mastered: Submersible Studios

https://klack.bandcamp.com/album/introducing-the-1984-renault-lecar

https://www.facebook.com/klackmusik/

This is an exciting review to do. It was actually released in Jan 2019 and somehow it slipped through the cracks of my reviews so I will rectify that today. Matt Fanale is fairly well known in the scene through his Industrial project Caustic. Eric Oehler of Null Device. I’m always really impressed when artists have the ability to work at a high level in multiple genres. This dancier , sample infused, Front 242 style aspect really captures something I love about all of Matt’s productions. 1) It is extremely well done 2) It doesn’t take itself overly seriously 3) It makes me want to shake my large hairy form all over a dance floor.

EDM isn’t always my cup of cocoa, so what does Klack do so well? Blending, keeping a driving vamp dance beat and flowing the proper elements in and out to hold your attention. Doing that is a tightrope walk on a razor wire. This record consistently finds that sweet spot. they use samples taken from Star wars to an advertisement from a 1984 Renault automobile. Then they are seamlessly integrated with thought provoking growled out vocals and intricate beat changes. I think a lot of dance music is about causing the listener to become lost in the texture of the beat. Klack achieves this but takes it one step further to keep your mind revolving while you shake that ass. I also really enjoy the variety of tone and speed they use on this EP. Each song has the feel of being made by a different artist so it never feels like repetition.

This album is also an homage. It isn’t just the cover art or concept. The feel of these songs have a wonderful Kraftwork ,retro computer, grainy screens flickering in a ground control station feel. I think that creates this wonderful underground revolutionary feel which i found entrancing.

Lets talk favorite tracks. The EP has 6 and they are all good. However here were my stand outs.

Flowers for Ravers – Incredible opening intro of a young lady talking about the culture of drugs and dance culture. A dark and slithering keyboard line. The layers build and the vocals have this dusky chant building to the chorus “Flowers for Ravers put them in their hair” I grew up in the 90’s rave scene in Detroit and this track is such a nostalgic memory trigger.

Le Car – First track is a burner out the gate. I love the use of the sample and concept of the relationship between humanity and machines. Rapier flick synth swipes and this wonderful trance style beat. Klack the Planet.

Lost Without You – This song really grabbed me for it’s contrast. It’s beautiful with an almost Information Society quality. Really highlighted the singers and shows the talent risen from the mud of electronics and striding to the front naked and unafraid. The melody is a hook that sinks in you deep. This was stuck in my head for days.

Overall this is a wonderfully done EP with a diverse feel, powerful concepts, and seamless transitions. I felt like it really hits on all the things I love most about dance music and inspired memories in my mind like a smell. Treat yourself to this record.

As an added bonus I got to do an interview with Matt about Klack and Eric and his process.

Ken: So you do several projects I love Caustic/Klack/daddybear. I’ve always thought it was cool that you have so many voices you want to express in different musical styles. So tell me how you started the project of Klack in particular and why it was a voice and style you needed to express?

Matt: Klack was really more of a fluke than anything.  My better half in Klack is Eric Oehler of (Null Device). We’d collaborated on things before, but he did a ND remix for the Gothsicles in an old school 242 style and asked me if I wanted to try out a track in that style.  I was totally down and he tossed me 3 or 4 short track ideas, I chose one, came up with some samples and some other sounds to add to it, and Synthesizer came out.  Eric mainly handles the music and production side and I handle samples, lyrics, and “other sounds” for it. It’s the quickest workflow for us, as we get to be “lazy” and only do stuff that’s easier (for lack of a better word) for us.

We honestly did it for our own amusement and knew some of our friends would get a kick out of it, but people really took to it so we started building on some of the other demos and the Do You Klack? EP was the result of that.

Our influences and “voice” were apparent from the get go, as we had the same references– Microchip League, early 242 and Depeche Mode, A Split Second, etc. Eric is ridiculously good at identifying sounds and how to build them, so we went from there and it’s been surprisingly successful.

Ken: : I find when a scene (especially in a smaller city) starts to really take on life it often has someone in a band who is working to drive that. I really see Madison as a place where you are helping something special happen. Tell me about why that city is special for this scene and what advice would you give to people who want to grow the scene in their cities?

Matt: Thanks. I appreciate that.  We had a lot more vibrant scene in the early to mid 2000s when I was booking shows and bands like Stromkern were big, but we’ve definitely been building up again. The club we used to hang out at closed a few years back but a new one, Crucible, opened on New Years Eve, and that’s been a really exciting place for us to all come together again. I like thinking I’m a helpful part of it, but I’m just one person trying to convince people to come out and support this stuff.  If it wasn’t for Stromkern and some of the other bands I wouldn’t have even thought my music could get heard elsewhere, so I hope I can inspire new artists the way Stromkern influenced me to make music

Ken:
What is the next step for Klack? What are you working on and will any French automobiles be advertised by you in the future?

Matt: We’re working on new music presently and will be debuting a new track at Cold Waves in September.  Then we’re opening for Boy Harsher in Madison on October 10th and playing Los Angeles at the Substance Festival (coincidentally with them as a co-headliner) in early November.

As for new stuff we hold our cards close on that, so you’ll know it when we announce it.  No more french car promotion though.  We’re loyal to the Renault LeCar through and through.  Screw Peugeot.

Ken: Q: The alarm rings, missiles are locked on your studio. You have 5 minutes to escape, enough time to get out with one armload of gear. What are you saving?

Matt: I’ll just grab my laptop and Novation Kontrol and Launchpad.  I keep it simple, as I’ve always been more DAW-centric and not a hardware guy.  I don’t have that kind of money to blow.

Ken: You have such quirky and outside the stream song concepts. Tell me about your song writing process, where do you find the ideas you write about and how do you turn that into music?

Matt: I work a few ways when it comes to Klack, since Eric is responsible for the music. Sometimes lyrics just jump into my head, a la DMF off our first EP.  I had the title (which was the name of a goth/industrial night on campus when Eric and I were at UW Madison) but the lyrics popped when I actually locked down on the demo.  Other times, like for With Precision off Le Car, I had a bunch of lyrics but was waiting for the right music.  It all depends.  I’m working off a few other demo ideas right now and lyrics for both came to me when listening to the tracks.

My pools of inspiration for lyrics are different for Klack than Caustic or any of my other projects.  I have very specific lyrical references for Klack, but for Caustic it’s what can fit for the song– I don’t have restraints for Caustic.  I can’t think of a track where I debated “is this a Caustic lyric or a Klack lyric?”  They’re very purposefully different, as the projects have different voices.  I like writing for as many voices as possible, whether that be for Erica in Beauty Queen Autopsy or Eric for Klack.  It’s fun pushing my creativity that way.

Ken: If you could do a music video for any of your Klack songs. You had an unlimited budget. What song would you pick and what would that video look like?

Matt: Oh hell, I’d just hire Anton Corbijn to do a video for Discipline, one of our new tracks. He’s done videos for 242 and Depeche Mode, so he’s hitting our major touchstones.  We might as well stop pretending to be those bands and just use their guy straight off.

Ken: Give me one piece of Klack “Industrial Gossip” which my reader don’t know about?

Matt: Eric has a pouch like a kangaroo and he hides beef jerky in it.