Dear Cold and Desolate Land, What Hot New Releases Will Spark My Joy?

This weekend I was suppose to be in Boston for the Dark Spring Festival. Enjoying the warm embrace of meeting new friends and swaying in rhythm to music. Instead here I sit in Michigan at the computer eating curried mash potatoes alone. I do have a tether to this distant world. New music to conjure dreams of adventure from the ether.

Icy Men – Low Light I’ve been taking in snippets of this album leading up to the release today. Another strong offering from Cold Transmission. This Ukrainian band gives me a tie to a world far away. It’s the perfect sound to capture the isolation I am fighting. Everything sounds so open and full of negative space. The songs resonate with grey concrete and oppressive darkness. I am in love with the striking drums and the powerful delivery of the voice. It’s the weight and power of each track that strikes your mind and demands reflection. Dedicated to the victims of medieval inquisition this is not background music. It’s a forceful reflection of the human condition. I couldn’t turn away from how I could not understand the lyrics, but I felt the meaning.

Favorite Tracks : The Captain , Uninhabited Buses, We Shall Be Together

https://icymen.bandcamp.com/album/low-light

Sawtooth – Hostile Design – Massachusetts sinister EDM Sawtooth unleashed this ferocious team up of several guest vocalists each swinging sword cut glitch sounds and boot stomping snare beats. The most challenging aspect of EDM music can be finding range of sound and emotion when releasing an album of 13 tracks. I really enjoyed the different cadence to the poetry spoken lyrics. A real roller coaster of rises and falls.

Favorite Tracks: Devoured, Venomous Whispers, Miss America (Echo Haus remix)

https://djsawtooth.bandcamp.com/album/hostile-design

Iza Grau Vastness Hurts – Italian Post punk full of sharp edges and driving precision from Cleopatra Records. The growl and burning anger just beneath the surface of these vocals really give a fresh feeling among the mellow and blending style of most Darkwave Postpunk. Not that they didn’t find a shade of beauty with tracks like Burn Everything. This was an album I stumbled on but I am really glad I did. It’s ability to twist, turn, and surprise me has left me hungry for more.

Favorite Tracks : Burn Everything , The Grace within Nocturnal Animals, Inviolate.

https://izagrau.bandcamp.com/album/vastness-hurts

FIRES – BitchCorona – Aedra has done it again. It’s a huge swing from her previous album. Complete chaos incineration that really taps into my feelings of frustration of being home bound. It’s just one track, but it’s fun, it’s fierce, and it makes me want to run outside and scream while I spin in circles in my backyard.

https://firesnashville.bandcamp.com/track/bitchcorona

UIU – Acid Joe DavolaSo I am a long time fan of Perth Austrailia’s synth wave wizard Greg Weir. However nothing could prepare me for this bizzaro Kraftwerk style dance jam. An express train to the underground. It’s good to have new music from UIU.

https://uiumusic1.bandcamp.com/album/acid-joe-davola-isomixx

Black Nail Cabaret – No Gold – New EP and Video from my favorite Hungarian electronic band. Emese’s voice is one of those things that brings me joy anytime i hear it. Another track with beautiful pop dance sensibility but such a rich soulful vocal delivery and powerful lyrics. Their videos are such high art as well. They can really do no wrong in my eyes.

https://blacknailcabaret.bandcamp.com/album/no-gold

Antipole – Perspectives II – Karl Morton has returned with the second in the series of his remix albums Perspectives II. For this offering the songs have a vastly different tone. Away from post punk and into a more avant garde texture. Outstanding re imaginings by bands like SYZYGX, Crying Vessel, The Coventry, and European Ghost. I love the feeling of cold remembrance here, the songs have become a spectral haunt of intention that adds such contrast to Antipoles driven and concise style.

https://antipole.bandcamp.com/album/perspectives-ii

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Sometimes the best in what is new feels quite familiar.

Working from home has left me stir crazy with too much time alone. What a perfect time to fire through some quick reviews of what I am listening to at the moment. Tonight I went digging through Bandcamp recommendations for some new sounds. I have been a bit disenfranchised lately with the idea of nostalgia and retro. I’ve been wanting to hear fresh new ideas and not have the same conversation about the same records I’ve had before. Partway through as the things I was hearing had a very retro vibe I remembered. Avoiding the past can be just as bad as staying trapped in it. These record all had something very old and familiar in them. At the same time, the reason some ideas come around again, is because they were great ideas.

Spectres – (Nostalgia ) – The Vancouver band recorded by Jason Corbett of Actors at Jacknife Studio. Brian Gustavson was not trying to be subtle with his intent on this album. It’s like catching a whisper of a bunch of songs you know well, that stick on your head. They aren’t those songs though. Bernard Sumner rips his mask away to reveal it was something else all along. Beautiful and precise in the recording. It’s contagious and familiar in a way you can’t quite hold in your grasping hands. For those of you that want New Order and The Smiths thrown in a blender and spun on REM but don’t want to hear the same album for the 10 thousandth time, this is the jam for you.

https://spectresvancouver.bandcamp.com/?fbclid=IwAR3pE74uVVy34l2l9zOeU3VimY3v69RYbZ0gj0Yc5iXcU59plvFlnpJxAyY

Panic Priest – (Nighthunter) – Ok I love Panic Priest debut album. Jack’s deep rich baritone is the thing of dreams. This new single is a whole new level though. He has found such a cannon of range with his voice and the perfect blend of synthwave and his magnificent rock style. Hearing this song is like being the hero in your own coming of age story in 1984. It’s raindrops on my face and a twitch in my hips. I can’t wait for more.

https://panicpriest.bandcamp.com/track/nighthunter-single

Caustic(Quarantine Tracks) – Matt is back at it again blasting out furious beats to keep us shaking in our bunkers. Some cool low key grooves here as well like Cardiac Unrest. As always from Caustic a great mixture of percussion not found in the standard sound bank that build and rise with a grinding energy. This EP definitely feels subterranean with a unique unlit blend. Have you ever wanted to drink four pots of coffee, and play VR Dig Dug in a warehouse at 2am? I never really thought about that until I heard this album.

https://caustic.bandcamp.com/album/quarantine-tracks

The Birthday Massacre(Diamonds) – So there is a reason that The Birthday Massacre is one of the biggest names in new goth. It’s because it’s bloody brilliant. I admittedly have never written much about them but it isn’t from lack of listening. Maybe I just felt like I was needed more elsewhere, this album is a burner though. Chibi has a vocal style full of such captivating energy and is a master of making goth fun. I think that can be a real challenge because dark sounds don’t make people naturally get up and jump around. These basslines are freight train speed, and the guitar riffs have retro hotrod power. I hear this album and just get lost in it like a labyrinth of subtle turns and walls of sound.

https://thebirthdaymassacre.bandcamp.com/album/diamonds

PHAZER AXE(Synths & Tapes) – What would you hear from a record called Synths & Tapes? About what you would guess. I think this had some really masterful drum fills and keep the feel spicy. This all musical pixel smashing space journey is a fun and glitchy time slide.

https://synthesizer.bandcamp.com/album/318-phazer-axe-synths-tapes

Boy Harsher – (R.O.V. New Beat Edit:Part Time Punks Session )– Two things I love are Boy Harsher and everything PTP puts out. This song is a sleek and sexy ooze across the floor of the club, under the door, and into the night. It’s stripped down and full of crackling menace. I love the powerful Grace Jones feel of their voice here. An inspired oily concept and I am here for it.

https://boyharsher.bandcamp.com/track/r-o-v-new-beat-edit-part-time-punks-session

Loveblind(Sleeping Visions) – Holy fuck this album is a vision plucked out of time and raising the bar of music in 2020. I might be a little bias as this band features Josh Garman (Ex Amaranth Guitarist) as part of it’s super band lineup. However my journalistic integrity need not be swayed because this album is a game changing synthesis of 90’s shoegaze, flowing ethereal modern dream pop, and dark electronic club extravaganza. It’s Ice, it’s fire, it’s sonic texture you can chew on. This album is a filling meal of beauty and heart wrenching human emotion. It’s an early contender for top 10 albums of the year. Must have.

https://saintmarierecords.bandcamp.com/album/sleeping-visions

If you want to be featured on Sounds and Shadows reaching out to me or one of our writers is a great way to make that happen. We love new music.

Katy’s ‘End Of Days’ Playlist (pt. 1)

Many of us are being ordered to stay at home, which sucks in a lot of ways. It’s easy to get stir crazy or bored. Luckily, we’re facing the apocalypse scenario we were never told about: the one with the internet is still available.

So, being stuck at home has its silver linings, I suppose. Today, I embarked on a quest to find some killer new music to rock out to during this time we’ve come to know as, “The End Of Days.” I spent hours digging on Bandcamp to find some truly exceptional playlist material. All of this has come out in the last week or so and varies dramatically.

Van Shed by Vanished

https://vanishedd.bandcamp.com/album/van-shed

Favorite Track: Voyager

VanShed by Vanished

This seven-track chillwave album is just what I needed today to make data entry seem like a Nintendo game. If you like happy, chill electronic albums, this is perfect for you. When I listened, it gave me a happy swelling feeling in my chest. It felt like what I used to call “optimism”. I can’t tell you anything about this artist other than they go by Vanished and live somewhere in Charleston, South Carolina. Whoever you are though… keep up the good work! This album came out on March 24, 2020.

. by Sharker Knife

https://sharkerknife.bandcamp.com/album/-

Favorite Track: Islands 

SharkerKnife

This album is the opposite of Van Shed. It is dark, harsh, thrashy, grimy, and industrial to a tee. Though the album is mildly unsettling, it fits very well with my lifestyle right now. When I listened through this the first time, I kept thinking about how it made me feel like I needed to stay in stealth mode as I gathered my essentials before heading to the nearest checkpoint. The album has a way of conveying the unnerving aspects of isolation. The weird knocks and creeks, the strange distorted noises coming from nearby. It’s almost sci-fi, but more on the mad scientist angle. This album was released on March 23, 2020.

The Artless Cuckoo Vol. II by DJ Scientist

https://equinoxrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-artless-cuckoo-vol-ii

Favorite Track: Rega, Rega, Rega

DJScientist

This EP comes out on March 27 and I’m super geeked. DJ Scientist is off Equinox Records, the German label out of Berlin. Right now, you can listen to, “Rega Rega Rega,” and “Road To Tashkent”.  Both the tracks that are available to listen to right now are bangers and I’m stoked to hear more. I think I cling to this so much because the samples are all over the place and vary in how they are distorted and effected while still sounding like chill soulful songs. This album is a fun one to listen to when you’re dying for a chill beat to bob your head to while out for a nature walk.

EX NIHLO by Grant Ulysses

https://grantulysses.bandcamp.com/album/ex-nihilo

Favorite Track: safety first

GrantUlysses

When I’m outside playing while maintaining my social distancing as instructed by the CDC, I need something a little more driving and poppy. I stumbled upon this new release from March 24th and felt my heart melt. This instrumental dream-pop album by Grant Ulysses from Toronto has the ups and downs that make the world seem like it has a retro camera filter on. Maybe it’s the tone of the guitar, the catchy riffs, and hooks, or maybe it’s the variance in the drum beats, but this album is fun and uplifting in a much-needed way.

pour celles et ceux qui nous croient condamné(e)s by BLATTE

https://blatte.bandcamp.com/album/pour-celles-et-ceux-qui-nous-croient-condamn-e-s

Favorite Track: L’Écuell

BLATTE

When I was scrolling through Bandcamp’s sub-genres under ‘electronic’, I found out about ‘witch house’ music. This piqued my curiosity, so I clicked the first band under the sub-genres tag and was happily greeted by this amazing EP. If you need a beautiful soundscape with shoegaze and post-rock vibes, this is for you. I got lost in the tracks of this album getting hit was ambient waves of distorted keys, guitars, and drums and I loved every second. This album was released on March 23, 2020.

Departure by Rayne Reznor

https://raynereznor.com/album/departure

Favorite Track: Survivors

RayneReznor

Sometimes you need a good sci-fi playlist. For example, currently, when I have to leave my house, I like to listen to really dark synthwave to set the tone for a post-apocalyptic raid for essentials. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still going to pay for my groceries, but if I walk in with a tough face on that says, “I’m all outta bubblegum,” no one gets within six feet of me. This album is fantastic if you’re in dire need of killer retrowave electronic montage music. I’m pretty sure I can say this with confidence… we all always need good montage music. This album dropped on March 24, 2020.

The Love you withhold is the pain you carry by Sunsetter

https://sunnsetter.bandcamp.com/album/the-love-you-withhold-is-the-pain-you-carry

Favorite Track: The Love you withhold is the pain you carry

Sunsetter

When I heard the first second of this albums featured track, I knew I was going to love it. This beautiful bedroom pop album is the first album released by Sunsetter since the 2018 album, “Worrybody”.  Sunsetter is the project of Andrew McLeod from Hamilton, Ontario. McLeod describes the last few years as some of the hardest. After fighting a tremendous battle with his mental illness and spending a lot of time isolated while trying to work through things, he describes being at an all-time low, feeling empty and uninspired. After a year without music, he joined the bands Zoongideewin and Deep Bright which got his musical gears turning and got him talking about music with friends again. This new Sunsetter album is so wonderfully deep. It gives you a pit in your stomach at the same time it warms your heart. This album came out on March 20, 2020.

Paranoia by Tenseventeen

https://tenseventeen.bandcamp.com/album/paranoia

Favorite Track: Tag You’re It

tenseventeen

If you’re craving something darker but still along the electronic vein,  this may be more down your alley. Paranoia is much darker and ambient with a beat driving it along, but soundscapes setting the tone. For example, it’s hard not to feel a little creeped out when listening to the tracks when one of the tones sounds a lot like the ominous wind. This album was released on March 20, 2020. 

I hope you enjoyed this installment of “Katy’s ‘End of Days’ Playlist. I’ll keep my eyes on the web for cool new stuff coming out during our elongated time at home. Stay tuned for part 2 coming to a computer near you soon. Until then, stay safe, stay healthy, and wash your damn hands!

Locked in Isolation with the Dark Thoughts of Others

So today was bandcamp day. When the wonderful people that run the best site for artists to get music to their fans decided to give all proceeds to said bands. I scored quite a few great albums. I am now working from home for the foreseeable future which might give me some time to do some damage on the giant stack of new releases that need reviewing. Here is some of what I am listening to right now.

The Kentucky Vampires from Louisville released the album Crimson Curse. They were featured by Brandon of Sonsombre on our podcast and he got me excited for this record. I feel like it was a huge step forward for them. The production is first rate and really gets back to the original death rock roots of goth. The guitars are humming and full of movement. I’m so glad to see guitar becoming a focus in gothic rock again. Large crashing drum sounds create a cavernous dark under the ground feel. I really enjoyed how varied the vocals feel from song to song. The lyrics are a captivating story with tons of call and echo. Almost like the demons haunting the story teller are whispering from the shadows.

https://thekentuckyvampires.bandcamp.com/album/crimson-curse

Standout tracks: Holy Heretic, Saint Vincent, Die with you.

The Ghost of Bela Lugosi from Australia put out Tales from the Darkside in January. Vin Price is a true treasure and enigma of this scene. If you haven’t heard of one of the best kept secrets modern music has to offer I can’t stress enough how you need to go through his back catalog. This songs are crafted with such precision and understanding of hook and flow. Somehow each one retains an anti-establishment punk rock feel that destroys everything vapid in their path. His voice has a unique cadence which I find captivating and challenging at once. This album like so many of his songs shows the learned study of 80’s new wave song construction. Instead of decadence the tone is filled with clever tongue and cheek Crass and street smart blue collar passion. Whenever I am trying to think of an underground sound to share, I know will wow them from the first track I usually think of TGOBL first. I also love his use of horror movie nostalgia and slashing overlap melodies from a variety of instruments. This album has an innate sense of just what to put to the front. Anthem after anthem of middle fingers to the establishment of music. If you want to be a part of the gothwave revolution this record is a great place to start.

https://ghostoflugosi.bandcamp.com/album/tales-from-the-darkside

Standout Tracks: All of them. If I must pick: Fade Into Oblivion, Laugh Now Cry Later, Nefarious Beings

Black Angel are the LA based goth rockers with a new release The Window that is putting an emphasis on the rock. Matt Vowels has a impressive Ian McCullagh range and clarity. The music has dark shadows but a high energy full band feel that fills the whole sound spectrum. The giant smashing kicks and 10,000 pound fluttering butterfly basslines give Vowels the perfect vehicle to ride that line between post punk and LA rock. This album offers that cleaner connected front of dark music.

https://blackangelmusic.bandcamp.com/

Standout Tracks: Poison, Creeper, Christine

Clone Culture from Italy with their new release Innocense sent to me by the always tasteful Andy of Cold Transmission. This album is a post punk fringe with a primarily new wave flavor. Immediately put me in mind of Aha from their more underground offerings. The vocals are focused and have a sustained beauty. I found myself continually impressed with how the percussion snuck up on me when I didn’t expect it. Really interesting use of panning and sound placement in the speakers to create constant movement. The tempo and raindrop patter of the guitar lines made me want to drive a very tiny car through very tight streets while chased by the authorities.

https://cloneculture.bandcamp.com/album/innocence-2

Standout Tracks: Feed me Tonight, Tearing our Minds to Pieces, Stop Hanging Out

I will keep going through this huge back catalog through the month, what are the new releases that captured your imagination this year?

Reasons To Strive In A Decaying World

I can’t sugar coat this. The world is frightening and hard right now. People are scared for their financial future, their health and safety. Usually in times like these I turn to music more than ever. Even that has not been enough to inspire me. Tonight is the first time I am taking a stab at writing in a few weeks. Looking at the enormous wealth of material piled up in my inbox seems a daunting task. Tonight though, I felt that glimmer again. That need to share with you what is making me shine and feel connected in these dark times. Artists need to feel our love more than ever. Reach out and tell them you are listening. Show them you support them by buying their merchandise. Let them know culture still matters and the beauty of the world is still alive. Here is what touched me lately.

AttritionThe Great Derailer , This EP single from Martin Bowes Feat: Emese Árvai-Illés of Black Nail Cabernet is nothing short of breathtaking. I’m an enormous fan of her voice and style. This razor wire blend of Martin’s sandpaper and her silk to Industrial post modern jazz sounds is so fresh and so nostalgic. I have played this so many times in the last two weeks. Also the video is a must see piece of art on it’s own.

https://attritionuk.bandcamp.com/album/the-great-derailer

I Ya Toyah – Released Code Blue Reloaded: The one woman sonic army has uncorked this series of remixes from industry leaders like Skold, Joy Thieves, Adoration Destroyed, and Xentrifuge to bring re imaginings of 2018 emotional explosion Code Blue. Ania is currently shooting like a rocket to the top of the EDM /Electroclash world with her fearless emotional style. If you don’t know about I Ya Toyah know that your world could be brighter.

https://iyatoyah.bandcamp.com/album/code-blue-reloaded

Joy ThievesA Blue Girl : New release from the Chicago Industrial superband The Joy Thieves. Led by Dan Milligan and featuring industrial titans like Chris Connelly, John Fryer, Ania Tarnowska, Gordon Young, and many more. This album is that seamless place where 90’s electronic industrial meets hard rock and organic excitement to find a blistering percussion express train to shake that assville.

https://armalyte.bandcamp.com/album/the-joy-thieves-a-blue-girl

ELZ and the CultHorrified: The Turkish electronic heartthrob is back with this creeping storm of broken glass and velvet vocals. This song oozes sex appeal and sinister intention. Dance hard and scrawl ancient runes upon thine wall.

https://elzandthecult.bandcamp.com/album/horrified

Caroline BlindThe Spell Between : The first new album from Caroline Blind of Sunshine Blind is about to drop and although too long a wait is well worth it. She has assembled a who’s who of the goth scene from The Wake, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, Switchblade Symphony, Pretentious Moi, Bellwether Syndicate, Muse. Do I have your attention yet. The record has covers and several new songs so full of passion and emotion I got misty several times listening. This is one of the all time powerhouse voices in goth spewing forth decades of ideas in one offering. It runs the range of dance hall burner, to soul baring acoustic Stevie Nicks tear jerker. If you never spent your formative years listening to Liquid, drinking black coffee and smoking cloves you need to embrace this release of all that made goth great. This record stands on the shoulders of it’s own giants.

https://carolineblind.bandcamp.com/track/first

Sopor AeternusIsland of the Dead : Honestly this is one of those bands I am embarrassed I didn’t already know about. I heard this on the Pat 626 show and I fell instantly in love. It’s dark, quirky, and utterly unique. It has a mystical and theatrical quality full of poetry and intensity. Brooding and whip crack sharp with hammer dulcimers and vocal deliver as sharp as a dagger. Music like this is my dark secret passion.

https://soporaeternus.bandcamp.com/album/island-of-the-dead-2020

Antipole – Perspectives II : Another album of steller remixes from Karl and Antipole. This one featuring Actors, Crying Vessel, SYZYGYX, ect. You may think, how does Karl manage to continue getting such incredible artists to remix his songs? Because they are so fracking good. I am hard pressed to think of anyone who has more of a scholars approach to taking the concepts of the past like Joy Division/New Order/Cure then holding that concept and breathing it forth as a new idea. So when you have that dedication to sonic texture, the line of people willing to take those building blocks and mix them into something that inspires them is endless. Prepare for another amazing offering. Starting with the first single by Actors.

https://antipole.bandcamp.com/album/perspectives-ii

Black Angel The Widow: LA is doing a very bringing rock back to dark music thing at the moment. I hear a very psychedelic lizard king vibe happening here in this giant 16 song offering. Lots of steady movement and venom dripping from reverb laced retro amplifiers. I like the concept of a modern goth rock, but going back before Sisters of Mercy or Mission to a 60’s/70’s vide in dark music.

https://blackangelmusic.bandcamp.com/releases?fbclid=IwAR3gQh6WUXsi2R5wzZVDukS1h8od9Kml_PP0G4c2kM6j5IewMwnIHjhkIhw

Panic Priest Nighthunter: A very different feel for Chicago darkwave Panic Priest on Negative Gain. Jack has a deep resonant voice dripping with sex appeal and introspective energy. This new single evokes a very 80’s Depeche Mode stack and build feel. I can’t wait to see what turns this new direction takes.

https://panicpriestngp.bandcamp.com/album/nighthunter-single

Ash Code1981 – Ash Code has released a new video and it is aesthetic and sonic glory. I always feel when i listen to them this ultra sleek coolness full of retro advent guard beauty and slithering excess that transports me and gives you a glimpse into an ultra hip life just beyond my pedestrian fingers. Just listening to this song makes me feel like a part of something more awesome than i am.

https://ashcode.bandcamp.com/

KlackDistancing : Klack is back with a twist on their single to remind you to give everyone a little space in these dangerous times. Love it.

https://klack.bandcamp.com/album/distancing

Goth Covered –  Oskar Terramortis the goth father of Europe has put together this stunning compilation of modern goth rock bands doing old school goth covers. My favorite is Sonsombre doing Nosferatu Dark Angel . The whole thing is magnificent as always. I’m just bummed it didn’t include our Peter Murphy cover

https://oskarterramortis.bandcamp.com/album/goth-covered

I have no shame, I’ll include it now. This is Amaranth‘s cover of Peter Murphy‘s I’ll Fall With Your Knife Feat: Lorelei Dreaming. DON’T YOU FUKING JUDGE ME

Listen Darklings, the world is cruel and promises get broken. That doesn’t mean all hope is lost. Band together, look out for each other, and keep sharing music that inspires you. We will get through this together.