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……..?

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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.

Who is going to sift through all the new music in the world to help us find diamonds ?

You might be thinking, Ken, you run a music review page, why would you want to direct people to other pages with the same function? Because I don’t do this for financial gain. I do it to share music that moves me with the world. To help support bands that you need to be listening to. I have continued to try and get better and grow. There are things I feel really good about but the format I do well isn’t everything and isn’t for everyone. I wanted to share some of the pages I am going to and finding great bands and ideas on how I can be better at what I do. In the end we all have the same goal and that is sharing music we believe in to help bands we love get a wider audience. I hope this can also act as a guide for bands looking to share their music and get press. Bands, if you are not sending a copy of your album to reviewers, you are doing yourself a great disservice. I can’t speak for everyone, but personally bands that reach out and interact with me are the ones I am thinking about first. Take the first step.

http://www.obscuraundead.com/?fbclid=IwAR0ngAAcj75grPhZ0FgHHPMm5n0RBslN5UM0g426Q-OkMNS5YsBqm41wuzw

Obscura Undead – I love this site. They are always posting and do a lot in terms of news and happenings. They focus mostly on Goth/Industrial/Synth and keep right on the cutting edge. Megan and Sherri put out some of the best review videos around which are always interesting and have a fresh take. High production values and lots of personality and humor.

https://postgothic.com/?fbclid=IwAR0wD86xZRLpGEtH2aiFCM82aWBGYxNx2tadGC7J58R0NQfu5-0G8Wfb50c

Post Gothic – Run by Oskar Terramortis who has been a part of the European goth scene for ages. This page focuses on Goth and modern traditional in particular. Very in depth and knowledgeable, Oskar knows his business and is a true pro writer. When he says something is good you can feel confident it has been through the paces and proven.

Industrial Island – This is an awesome podcast run by Michael J. Carrasquillo formerly of Wax Trax. Focus is on Industrial which is an area I am never as up to speed on. Michael knows everyone in the business and is always up to date on hottest new tracks. He spent long enough with the label to know it when he hears it.

http://dreadmusicreview.com/?fbclid=IwAR1xKdILuH3VRBf1dFrDKqDolqHzd3ATZyGUDoB5dM3dLRwURbNNAZMZHYk

Dread Music Review – This is a more eclectic page with a pretty wide range from Metal/Goth/EDM/Hip Hop. Really professional look that covers a ton of ground.

https://www.post-punk.com/?fbclid=IwAR0jwHdeGDDTjDNZzz6okDcn1sfzzi1C5VexCGZMGpysx63WQKGws82eYvs

Post-Punk.com – This is a widely followed page run by Alex Baker along with contributors Frank Deserto and Andi Harriman . It’s widely followed for a reason….it’s really good. Great writing and huge reach. A lot of bands do premiers with Alex because the level of quality here gets everything he releases in front of a lot of eyeballs. I had the good fortune to meet him when I was in Berlin and he is a wonderful human who cares about music.

http://catvsbat.podbean.com/?fbclid=IwAR1mlhGfb1kkY1XcKzy6NMCOvyx1Ko-HZI2hLqsuGiBRPU42RP1v8WurOB0

Cat vs Bat – This is a wonderful podcast that does the latest in music reviews as well as discussion or a variety of music culture topics and interviews with artists. Always a lively conversation and I’ve found some real gems listening to the show.

Michael Nagy – Runs an awesome youtube channel that does reviews focused on Industrial but has some goth/metal mixed in. I really like his interview style and they always are shot with a professional look and interesting questions that draw great background out of your favorite new bands.

http://worldofgothmagazin.wixsite.com/goth?fbclid=IwAR2FDOI0mjHql4wgoY5Qz5mRqzo2ofc6GyBXp_Hcen_6TPY5y2Czj1Onuyg

World of Goth – I really like this online zine for the attention to aesthetic and goth culture in addition to in depth reviews. It really comes at the goth scene as a culture rather than just a music style which adds a nice element.

https://www.theinfidelnetwerk.com/?fbclid=IwAR2yX74FPv9HUuS_WJoXIQoZ6T_B1tTDqBoR2cPMDf3etn4GDR0Qm0HyAX0

The Infidel Network – A really cool promotion sharing page with a pretty wide range of styles. Videos, interviews, reviews they really cast a wide net but aren’t afraid to get into some of the more experimental music.

https://luminousdash.be/?fbclid=IwAR0zoHYu3XfbUbvsgLA6hzD8RDRIJTxs9yxN4pcAQvAkiq8AUPMuwATs3sA

Luminous Dash – Cool online zine from Belgium with a focus on Indie and minimalist. They do news coverage, interviews, reviews with a lot of great European stuff I don’t otherwise see.

http://www.elektrospank.com/?fbclid=IwAR004-vjJuFSWG_dzh5CnXtX0706og1z7wqYXsMOi7YBSi0OWnDBzNvlU5o

ElektroSpank – Online music magazine covering Goth/EDM/Industrial. They do a really cool format and their reviews are longer and pretty deep. In fact i should really figure out how he sets this page up 🙂

https://whitelight-whiteheat.com/?fbclid=IwAR0-WgkohSVc5ETdaUp86tQdMoLmpJZAWeSDEwXcBL-BOfYhZ82zgUFAzOc

White Light/White Heat – In a way I think they really set the standard. It looks about as pro as you can get. when i was first starting out i got feedback from them because I really like their page. They handle an enormous amount of content and do a lot of quick hits along with longer pieces.

Dark Music Net – Out of Germany run by my friend Michael. This page was actually the first to share Sounds and Shadows reviews before i got my own page. I feel like we really share a passion for music and doing less pieces but more in depth. Sometimes I think this page is the other side of my coin in Europe, highly recommend


Rule of Three – Incredible mix cloud Show and magazine featuring Pete Burns of Kill Shelter and Christian Schaefer. They focus on Shoegaze, Coldwave, Darkwave, Goth. Both are certified musical experts and they comb through the vast wasteland to bring you the goods. This is a must listen

Sounds and Shadows – Wait, you are already here 😉

Who are the great ladies of the Goth/Industrial scene today?

Music in general has always been a bit of a boys club. Sadly I feel like ladies have always faced an uphill battle particularly as producers and song writers. The goth/industrial scene has had it’s share of amazing and talented ladies as well as a progressive view, but it has never been a 100% fair shake. Since I have been getting back into the cutting edge of new music I have been overjoyed and amazed at the influx of talented female led performers currently putting out wonderful art that adds to the discussion and furthers the diversity of this scene. So I thought I would take a moment to highlight some of my favorite new artists creating music that places emphasis on the female perspective and makes this genre richer. I can’t add everyone I am listening to but i feel excited that it took me just a few moments to have several amazing artists currently enriching this scene. These will be quick hits, but I have more extensive reviews of many of the ladies featured.

Hante – Hélène de Thoury has an amazing voice and textural songs of beauty and effortless grace. She has such an unspoken coolness to her songs that paint a picture in your mind. I am transported every time i listen to her.

Sunshine Blind – Caroline Blind was an artist I grew up listening to that helped shape and mold me and changed my worldview of music. She has continued to make amazing music with the power and beauty of her voice. I always describe Sunshine Blind as a Steel gauntlet in a velvet glove. This is a cover she did of the Swans “Godamn The Sun”. It’s simple, striped down, and amazing.

Black Nail Cabaret – Emese Arva is a freaking force of nature. Her presence and power remind me of the first time i heard Annie Lennox. Her voice is pure raw energy, strength, and beauty. Wonderful range and a revolutionary song writing style that makes me want to charge up a hill and believe in a better tomorrow. I challenge you to listen to this song and not feel inspired!



S Y Z Y G Y X –  Luna Blanc has a voice that feels like a slow drink of whiskey in a club owned by David Lynch. It’s smokey, immersive, and full of desire. Can’t get enough.

Tearful Moon – Sky Lesco from Texas has such a haunting and lovely voice. It redefines barriers and has such an authentic concept and sound. She charges headlong into any subject matter while writing. It is deep, rich, and isn’t afraid to delve into the deepest concepts of the human experience.

Cliff and Ivy – Ivy Silence is a dear friend and all around wonderful human. Hailing from Alaska with her husband they do a sharp edge stabbing dark goth rock full of punk sensibility. Her voice is raw and unapologetic and as it crashes through you with sultry fierceness.

Kaelan Mikla – From Iceland is an amazing female group that hits on every level. It’s driving, fierce, gorgeous music filled with simmering intensity and textural beauty. They are truly a cutting edge sound for the modern age. Every time i listen to them i get lost in the picture they paint with every song.

Corlyx – Holy shit i love this band. Caitlin Stokes has a clear and fearless beauty and style. She really captures the raw sexuality and intelligence of the modern scene. This new album has a filthy glittering glory reminiscent of the 90s but with modern flare and strength.

Audrey Burne – I always love when i can give props to a fellow Michigan band. Lilith Gates of Audrey Burne is a immensely talented and haunting vocalist that has a lovely Natalie Merchant lilt and wonderful stage presence. I’ve had the honor or sharing a stage with her and they have a wonderful driving dark rock feel that really captures a room.

https://firesngp.bandcamp.com/track/show-me-life

Fires- Aedra is a freaking force of nature. She sings with such intensity and burning passion about her experience and her song writing ability really pushes the boundaries of industrial electronic music. This album really changed the game for me this year.

Angel Metro – Soft, sultry, understated glory. Virginia’s Angel Metro does a wonderful blend of subtle dance beats and lilting tender beauty. She really exposes her inner most feelings for every song and this courage lends the tracks a real power.

Schedule IV – Stephanie Strange again from Michigan is a friend and amazing energy on stage. This is perfect precision post punk glory that blends her high range intense vocals and intelligent lyrics to create an entrancing and intimate experience. One of our favorite bands to play with and wonderful people.

Lorelei Dreaming – Laura Bienz leaves it all on the floor every night. I’m starting to reflect on how many of these amazing ladies i actually got to share a stage with. The energy, stage presence and political savvy combines with the intelligence of the lyrics to create a wondrous and unique experience. Do yourself a favor and bask in the fiery glow of this album.

I Ya Toyah – Chicago based Ania Tarnowska brings a fierce and rocket fueled electronic dance symphony of raw sensual strength to every performance. I love these explosive pop hooks blended with crashing dance rhythms.

Leathers – Is the sultry synth dream darkness of Shannon Hammett of Actors. It’s so great to see when a performer in a band of the quality of Actors finds her own voice and shows the ability to create such staggeringly beautiful music like this with her as the center piece. I love how far this reaches from the sound of Actors to really allow her voice to shine because it is one that deserves to be front and center.

Ego Likeness – So Donna Lynch has had a long, successful, and storied career and I could have picked a lot of songs newer than this, but it’s my favorite so I’m going with it. Donna is a hurricane of passion and darkness. She has been taking on intense topics in her art for a decade and creating beautiful songs about the horror which resonates with the feminine experience and having an intimacy of truth for decades.

https://nowherenowrecords.bandcamp.com/track/dragonfly?fbclid=IwAR3QR3MKDGuVWBQoA78u_s_okui5EkkmvAMrpmJBP2_xub88iZ8s3k8ODVo

Bess – Aussie dark alternative rocker Bess Linda is making churning sultry dance beats full of world beat toms and off kilter warm toned vocals to shake a dance floor.

Bones Uk – This recommendation came from Collin Schipper, filthy wide room fresh sounds. It’s pop hook sensible but cutting edge in your face intensity. You aren’t wrong “Beautiful is boring”

Death Loves Veronica – Veronica Campbell is a slow, back beat, sultry drive down a long empty road. It’s effortless tension, and subtle whispers of reality laid barren with brutal honesty.

SINE – I must admit I heard about SINE and Rona Rougeheart  through her collaboration with Curse Mackey. However once i dug into the power of her art for itself I found an intense flurry of disco dance beats underneath powerful vocals and world building soundscapes which captured me and brought me to my knees to beg for more.


VV and The Void – Valentina Veil has a wonderful whispering smoke swirl style. Really great at building tension in her songs to feel like a story.


Dissonance – Cat Hall has such a rich soulful voice with I feel gives a unique flare to her dark dance electronic sound.

I know I have missed so many impressive female artist which drive and push the boundaries of this scene. Just looking through what popped into my head without much through fills me with hope for a brighter, stronger future of diversity of the dark music scene. I hope you find something here you give a try to expand your horizons with.

Kat Squared was kind enough to put all these bands together on a Spotify playlist

Continue reading “Who are the great ladies of the Goth/Industrial scene today?”