Review of Sonsombre: One Thousand Graves

Band: Sonsombre

Label: Cleopatra Records

Home: Northern Virginia

https://sonsombre.bandcamp.com/album/one-thousand-graves-2

https://www.facebook.com/pg/SonsombreUS/about/?ref=page_internal

2019 brought the release of one of the most exciting things to happen to the goth genre in the last decade. Sonsombre‘s “The Veils of Ending” was the album I had been waiting for. Goth music has always drawn it’s mystique from history. The Sisters of Mercy, The Mission, The Chameleon’s created a darker romantic form of rock music that explored the macabre which seemed hard to find again. After those gothfathers everyone wanted to reinvent goth music into something else. It got further and further from it’s form. I feel like the time has finally come for Sonsombre to bring things back to the roots. It leans in and captures that cemetery vine hanging from a forgotten temple aesthetic. With “One Thousand Graves” they have pushed through further beyond that veil into something dark and beautiful to challenge the senses and unlock the dark recesses of our hearts.

Brandon is Goth as Fuck, you can tell because he has the widest hat brim since Andrew Eldrich

This album really shows a band finding themselves. I feel like the success of TVOE really gave a confidence to embrace more of what they are. The guitars are a giant black furred wolf growling with hair standing on end. The bass is a thundering storm bellowing out a foreboding prophesy of an uncertain future. The keyboard is rushing wind stirring the leaves on a damp autumn morning. Brandon’s voice is a dangerous and sinister whisper full of echo’s making a spectral challenge. These lyrics are a forgotten poetry of Byron and Poe singing to that darkest part of our nature. I know this review is starting to get pretty metaphorical but poetry demands poetry and Sonsombre makes me want to embrace the dark poet in my own heart.

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Top Tracks: Fuck me how to choose. Ok lets try

Slumber: I love the tolling bells opening this song. An ominous ringing to play herald to Brandon’s anguished cry. Stinging buzzing guitar. A true power balled for the ages that reminds me of Sisters of Mercy 1959.

Lights out: This anthem of dark power and midtempo drive keeps you on the edge of your own mind. “With the Lights out we can share the sorrow, we can live like no tomorrow”. I think this promise of hope in the face of so much darkness in Sonsombre’s songs is what really captures me every time. Gentle pin prick fender jazz tube amp walking guitar. Like vampires stalking in a New Orleans graveyard hunting for my eardrums and sinking in their teeth.

No Warning : One of the things I have come to associate with Sonsombre is the sheer breakneck speed while the low end owns the tone of the music. It burns with a violet fire. This song makes your heart race towards your own demise. The bassline is enormousness and always driving. Dance Club jam!

The future is dark again, the past is reborn in fire, and I am a believer in what Sonsombre means for the future of goth rock music. Buy this album and become a believer that goth is real and alive in 2020.

Review Colors Bleed by Crooked Ghost

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Band: Crooked Ghost

Label: Crooked Ghost Records

Home Base: Asheville, NC

Website: https://crookedghost.bandcamp.com/

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I listened through this album over and over trying to think of what to say about it and it truly left me speechless. It’s incredible. I think it is beautiful. To say that it’s dreamy is an understatement. It’s absolutely mesmerizing.

The first time I listened through this album, I simply listened to it. I thought it was great! The album sounds upbeat with really pretty vocals. There are lots of layers and lots of reverb. The album has a lot of post-rock and shoegaze elements splashed in, but it was really hard to pinpoint genre-wise. The vocals are huge and captivating with lots of harmonies and layers. I got lost in them. I couldn’t shake that I was missing something bigger about this album though, so I checked out their Bandcamp page to see if they had lyrics posted. They do!

These songs are heartbreaking, sometimes even kind of creepy. The second time I listened through I read along. I realized the depth of each song and the intensity of each word. Where minutes before I was dancing around my bedroom thinking how awesome this album would probably be to run to, I was suddenly fixed to my futon, listening intently trying not to miss anything.

By the time I got to the white noise at the end, I was floored. How is it possible to write so well? How is it possible to put something out there that’s probably so specific and yet so relatable? It’s difficult to write about this without creating blurriness around their incredibly crafted sound.

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Some favorite tracks

Sinew In Red– Remember earlier how I said that some of the lyrics were a little creepy? Sinew In Red starts with a twangy guitar solo. When the keys and drums kick in, the song starts sounding like a dreamy desert night. The lyrics are hard to understand, but they’re the darkest on this album. In order to really understand without giving it all away, a sinew is a piece of tough fibrous tissue uniting muscle to bone or bone to bone. It faintly reminded me of Nick Cave and the Bad Seed’s, Do You Love Me (part 2).

Golden Blue– This is probably my favorite track on this album. The story that’s happening lyrically is one of despair and heartache, but you don’t need to know the lyrics for the emotions to come through. The instrumentation never seems to stop building until it suddenly resolves. I can’t listen to it without having a level of excitement form in my chest while simultaneously wanting to cry.

Bright White Noise– This song made me feel very sad and lonely. For that, I love it! When the guitars and vocals come in, they convey such emptiness. The guitar plays a melancholic riff throughout that made me feel like a lost little kid looking for someone who wasn’t there. As the song progresses, the instrumentation becomes more chaotic as the singer sings, “big static bright white noise”. Then it dissolves into the guitar and then into static. It is perfect.

When I listened through this album the first time, I loved it. When I listened to it again, I felt really connected. It’s not every day that you hear something new and it almost brings you to tears the more you hear it. Yet I am trying to fill a hole in my heart I never knew I had.

I’d recommend this album to anyone who likes dream-pop, indie-shoegaze, post-rock, or post-punk. Heck, I’d recommend this to anyone. It left me feeling like I wanted more and I’m sure it will do the same for anyone who gives it a listen!

 

Review Lash by Mesa Luna

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Band: Mesa Luna

Album: Lash

Label: Afterlife Music ltd.

Website: https://mesaluna.bandcamp.com/

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When I listened through, Lash, the debut album by Mesa Luna, I fell in love. It has pretty much everything that I need to be obsessed with an album. Lash is the perfect union of chillwave and shoegaze. The lyrics are relatable and impactful in such a soul-crushing way it will skyrocket you to the love you lost when your heart had never been shattered so badly.

Mesa Luna is a duo from Vancouver, BC consisting of Justice McLellan and Jason Corbett. This album has a central theme of trauma and definitely feels at points like you’re reading over their shoulders while he writes a deep and thoughtful journal entry.

Like every great shoegaze album, Lust, has great hooks throughout both lyrically and instrumentally. This is one of those albums that is psychologically soothing on a few different levels. Beyond it being a very pretty and listenable album, it delivers on what’s expected out of each song without being predictable. It’s definably interesting without being indigestible.

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Some favorite tracks

Woronoco– This was one of the singles released right before the albums release, so you may have already heard this one. I love it! There isn’t much to not like about this somber breakup song. It’s blunt and beautiful as a story of empty promises and heartache unfolds. Though the message of the song is sad, the build-up and resolve is exciting. It kept me captivated the whole time.

Sarve– This song is absolutely gorgeous. It starts out really gentle with a soft guitar and keyboard creating a really warm atmospheric vibe. When the dual vocals kick in, it’s like they’re in an endless room. The beat is really relaxed, but still a head bopper.

Never Steady– This song is heartbreaking from the beginning. Though it starts out with a catchy beat and hypnotic synth, the lyrics spell out a sad scene of someone trying to move past something difficult. The builds in this song make your heart swell, but also leaves you feeling forlorn. Right when you think you get the flow of the song, all the instruments fade out and you can clearly hear what Justice is saying and it’s so god damn relatable. I would quote the line, but you just have to hear it yourself. When everything else kicks back in, it gave me goosebumps. This song stood out to me after listening to the whole album because it was one of the songs with less going on instrumentally, but still hit me just as hard as the walls of sound I’ve been expressing through this review.

I had a hard time writing this review because I found myself listening to this album over and over again finding new things that I loved and didn’t know how to explain. This album is definitely worth listening to if you’re into dream-pop, shoegaze, chillwave, or good music. I’d highly recommend if you like the artists: Jack Stauber, Primitive Radio Gods, and/or Youth Lagoon.

 

Exciting new releases to cling to as the world slides into oblivion.

Here I sit again with a tequila in hand sifting through all the glorious new sounds that crossed my electronic desk in the past few weeks. Already 2020 has promised to be an adventure of new music.

Sonsombre – “Lights Out” The hottest band in traditional goth revival have done it again. Fresh off their groundbreaking album “The Veils of Ending” Brandon Pybus and company have released a new single with that beautiful breakneck paced goth glory building anticipation for a new album. I love the staccato guitar pinpricks and Brandon’s deep rich croon. A promise of a world emerged in darkness waiting for you to join in this reborn culture outside the sun. This track makes me so hopeful for the future of goth music.

https://sonsombre.bandcamp.com/track/lights-out-2

Caroline Blind (Sunshine Blind) – “Heaven” – The third single from goth/Industrial royalty Caroline Blind. Continuing on with this acoustic shadow witch Stevie Nicks vibe of her recent releases. Caroline’s voice is a beautiful gift full of emotion and nostalgic blanket wrapping warmth. Ritch W of (The Wake) provides these driving rhythmic acoustic harp strike guitars to propel Caroline’s angelic vocals. While the winding dream of David Wolfenden (Red Lorry Yellow Lorry) electric leads wrap like tendrils on your sleeping mind. I keep being more and more impressed with each new single.

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

Dilk – “Hardship” – Sassy new release from our friends at Cold Transmission. Spanish based DILK has a breakneck electronic drum beat that put me in mind of Devo or Sigue Sigue Sputnik but with this rich darkwave edge to the vocals that held a melodic beauty keeping these sizzling dance beats in check. Something fresh and glorious to spice up your Saturday darkness.

https://dilk.bandcamp.com/

Helvete Inc. – “Filth” I loved this fierce mouth punch industrial tire fire from Baltimore. It has a definite NIN Broken feel with dangerous themes, slashing electronic noise attacks, and sinister counter culture poetry. I listened to this before going into work to dwell on my own hypocrisy. It’s sexy, filthy, and unapologetic with songs like “Goddess Heathen Fuck Machine”

https://hymnsovgolgotha.bandcamp.com/album/filth

Klack – “Move Any Mountain” Industrial dance gurus Klack doing The Shamen’s hit which is the most remixed song of all time. This scintillating dance drone with Eric and Matt chanting away to the cascading waves of retro synth glory. Yes please, every time.

https://klack.bandcamp.com/album/move-any-mountain

Dread Risks – “Errorcode” (Remix by Adoration Destroyed) I speak from experience when I say Erik and Ritch of Adoration Destroyed do the best remixes. This track is sinister, sultry, and full of snap beat attacks. The vocals are a whisper growl of agony full of broken glass and torture while the keyboards flow in lovely melody. Dance floor this now.

https://dreadrisks.bandcamp.com/track/errorcode-adoration-destroyed-remix

Electronic Substance Abuse Feat: Caitlyn of Corlyx – “You are safe here” This is a fearsome dance jam with vocals from the lovely and talented Caitlyn Stokes. It’s a floor destroying audio assault full of velvet and exploding sparkles. Turn it to 11 and stomp your feet.

https://esangp.bandcamp.com/

Review pf Glass Apple Bonzai : The All​-​Nite Starlite Electronic Café

Band: Glass Apple Bonzai

Album: The All-Nite Starlite Electronic Cafe’

Label: Artoffact Records

So my first introduction to Glass Apple Bonzai was through this collaboration and I immediately fell in love. This song is beautiful, deep, and textured in a way that pays respect to the past. Yet was fresh and original. I had to apologize to Daniel. This album came out in 2019 and somehow just slipped through my fingers. So I started listening tonight and Holy shit, this is up there with the best Synthwave albums I heard in 2019. It’s passionate, it’s powerful, it’s crafted by a master of Synthesizer architecture. The idea of Synthwave music is such a carefully formulated construction of building blocks in perfect precision that even to a rookie it is so easy to hear when something is out of place. On this record nothing is ever out of place even for a moment. Daniel is an artist who uses every sound, every effect, every word to razor wire effect.

Sometimes in 2020 it is easy to get caught up in the fact that artists are creating music on the shoulders of artists 20-30 ect years gone. That we have this pressure to re-invent the wheel and say that we are doing something fresh that isn’t effected by the things we loved in the 80’s that came before us. I think one of the most entrancing aspects of this record is the unapologetic way it embraces it’s homage to the past while finding it’s own voice. The concepts, sounds, even vocal patterns pull heavily from 80’s pop music. Yet the concepts here are fresh. The vocals and lyrics are heartfelt. The technology allows for new possibilities. It’s like Daniel traveled to the past, had modern tech not available to musicians then, then wrote about life in 2019 within that framework. It’s not easy to pull this off and Daniel is a craft person who pulled together a difficult idea.

Favorite Tracks:

Radio: Gorgeous synth magnificence straight out of a John Hughes movie. It’s expansive, it’s beautiful, and it burrows into your head with lovely pop hooks. I can’t never get enough of this track.

Stormy Weather: I love the sensitive power of this track. It has a wonderful lyrical poetry. It builds and uses harmony like a synth itself. This was 80’s Duran Duran at it’s best and yet a song I never heard and wanted to.

The Fire (Of Giant Red Stars) – I love the change up here. The beats are off kilter and the background takes a dark tone in spite of the bright music. This song has wonderful layers. Reminds me of Pet Shop Boys in the hurtful intensity of the lyrics against the bright synths and dance beat.

Overall I can’t believe I never dived into this album in 2019. It should have been on my top 2019 list but I am making up for lost time. Find this record and play it often.