6/18/21 Bandcamp is donating 100% of our share of sales to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund

I have been thrilled to watch as the Goth/Industrial community grows more diverse. Hats off again to Bandcamp for really putting their money where their mouth is to support both bands and the rights people of color. I will go through some of the things I am currently listening to so you can add to your list and support a great cause.

LEATHERSReckless – The long anticipated EP from Shannon of Actors. A unique departure from her other projects and really highlights her essence which is more collaborative in Actors. It’s sleek, it’s beautiful, it’s as light as an angel dancing on a pin. I love the silky billowing synths and how they flow off the shoulders of her voice. The sound is such an immersive dream which slides along the borders of reality. I spend moments dwelling on how something so beautiful manages to remain so relatable.

https://leathers.bandcamp.com/album/reckless

Favorite track: Take your pick, but I will go with Missing Scene. Something about this swooping shoegaze LUSH 4AD vibe. Her voice is reverberating like a tuning fork yet ringing so clearly. I hear this song and even on earbuds I feel like I’m in an old opera house with a towering sound system feeling wave after wave wash over.

October NoirCover Type O Negative: Love You To Death – Loving the sound of this band. Does it emulate the band they are covering in a lot of their sound. Yes. Type O is an amazing sound though. It’s ultra bass Steele vocals. It’s crunching power chords. It’s chest pounding bass guitar. This cover is rich with extra layers and complexity. It feels like a love letter to a band now beyond the veil. You can really feel the time and dedication placed on taking apart and reanimating every aspect.

https://octobernoir.bandcamp.com/track/love-you-to-death

Dea DecayMagic Lantern – This is a beautiful fun romp from Florida artist Dea Decay that came out in December 2020. A spicy club crashing electronic explosion. No vocals but instead a steady stream of adorable wicked anime samples. It’s non stop energetic explosion of adorable imagery and and surreal colors.

https://deadecay.bandcamp.com/album/magic-lantern

Favorite Track: Catronica – A little secret here, when the new netflix She-Ra came out I was blown away. It’s so wonderful and pure. This song really captures that energy and highlights my favorite character Catra. It’s sharp claws bounding around with reckless abandon.

SHIV-RKill God Ascend – Brand new album from the Australian electronic apocalypse know as SHIV-R. I love the expansive fantasy metal destruction fed into a machine brain and turned loose on an unsuspecting populous. Pete Crane is a force of nature in the industrial scene and has a glorious gift for poetic imagery in his lyrics. If you are a fan of the violent industrial power of Front 242 and shaking your body in dangerous convulsions, this is your jam. I’m also impressed by the range shown on tracks like Spark, a truly lovely brain infecting track of pop industrial glory. Or Black Turns Blue a downtempo marching chant of a ballad. This record is a journey. Crane’s voice is one of those charismatic characters that feels at home in every setting the music places it. This is the wonder of modern industrial.

https://blindmiceproductions.bandcamp.com/album/kill-god-ascend

Black AngelPrince of Darkness – I am LOVING this modern trend of returning to guitar driven true gothic rock. Matt Vowels has done it again. This is sizzling and sensual dark driving glory. I just don’t get to make this comparison enough but this album holds that emotive blistering power of Love and Rockets. Deep brooding rich vocals, whip snap percussion, but it always comes back to the V8 power of these guitars. Everything is foot to the floor speed and slides. It’s a non stop action flick of adrenochrome and dark intent.

Favorite Track: Serene – What a gorgeous highway 51 desert hard hitting ballad. The vocals croon and tantalize as the dust rolls by on an empty stretch. I love song for outlaws.

PALAIS IDEALThe Art of Crashing – I’ve been waiting for the follow up to the 2019 release Pressure Points with baited breath. I was disappointed only by the fact it was three tracks and not twenty. This release is a perfectly blended sound of quality crafting, unique flavor, and infectious hooks. It’s one of those releases I can’t imagine who I could play this for and have them not enjoy it. It really has a universal appeal. It feels kinetic, like Depeche Mode “Construction Time Again”. I always enjoy John’s voice, but this EP really highlights how many different things he can do while sounding distinctly himself. It’s the true mark of a singer who has found his themselves and are owning it. The other greatest power of PI is, like all great prog genre, the two components know each other and their instruments so intimately. It really feels like two blended minds working without barrier. It makes the guitar and bass lines dart, bend, and twine together in perfect syncopation. I will be playing this…. A LOT.

https://palaisideal.bandcamp.com/album/the-art-of-crashing

Favorite Track: You can’t go wrong but Results is damn near perfection. From the opening guitar riff, the workout routine bassline, and John’s drive and grit. This song feels like an instant classic from out of time I somehow didn’t hear. It also holds the higher concept lyrics and hope PI always wins me over with. 10/10

Hanging Freud “Persona Normal”

Glasgow minimalist artwave with their sixth album release. I have done a previous review but hitting play 30 seconds in and I already feel this is something different. The tempo is that same patient, anticipation building, tuning fork vibration of keyboard sound. The mix is no longer a dark and swirling murk of life. Instead the water is a clear blue which allows every word to permeate to the surface. Paula has a flickering flame tongue whisper voice which has charged to the front for this record to take a captivating hold. This is an end of the night reflection sound. A secret to treasure, not a proclamation to share. It is a sound just for you in your most personal moments.

https://hangingfreud.bandcamp.com/album/persona-normal

Favorite Tracks:

Antidote – Ok starting with a bit of a deep cut here. It just has that lovely opiate blur sway to it. Mazzy Star soul with a bright lights big city feel. It perfectly captures what this record does so well. Pulls you out of your head with the smallest amount of chaos necessary to grab your attention.

We Don’t Want To Sleep – Lovely transporting intro of life teeming summer days with the buzzing sound of insects growing in a tension of life. I love the bright energy and sleepy tempo in equal measure. It skirts that line line between excitement and dream. This is a musical experience built on delicate balance. I love the effortless nature with which it sits on the head of a pin.

Overall: This is not the album for every moment. It’s specialized, a perfect construct for that lazy eyed moment of introspection in the foggy haze between excitement and dreams. Jonathan Skinner is a master artisan in crafting rich tapestry using efficient material. Paula is a siren holding your imagination as your consciousness flickers between this world and the next. Instead of looking for a sound which is fine in many moments. Seek out a sound which is perfect in it’s own time.

A review of VR SEX’s new album: Cyber Crimes

VR SEX is Andrew Clinco’s California-based synthwave/post-punk project. You might know Clinco better as “Deb Demure,” his androgynous and alien alter-ego he puts on for his band Drab Majesty (alongside Alex Nicolaou aka Mona D). I’ll preface this review by saying that I’ve been a long-time intense fan of Drab Majesty and Deb/Clinco, but for some reason never really got into VR SEX. I wish I could give you an excusable reason why, but nothing comes to mind. I simply never got around to it. And boy, what a mistake that was!

I got word of this new VR SEX album, released April 30th 2021, in the midst of moving, and thus was not able to get to my computer and write this review immediately. But now? Now it’s time!

I listened to Cyber Crimes on loop while driving across Florida, letting it simmer and dwell in my mind. As with anything of Clinco’s that I’ve listened to, this album managed to both encompass and subvert genre. In a desperate attempt to pin it down, I looked at the tabs on bandcamp for the album. It states: “punk, acid-punk, ambient, post punk, synth punk.” Now where does that leave us? Well, there’s synths involved. Jot down “synths,” and we’re halfway there. Post punk works, but, dear S&S reader, at this point I’m sure you’re familiar with exactly how broad the “post punk” label can be. I do like this label of synth punk. Acid punk, post punk, synth punk. Punk is repeated here. And punk is very, surely present in this album. It’s intense. It’s driving. It has hints of rock n roll.

Something else notable and delightful about this album is how it managed to sound both fresh and vintage. I can’t quite pin down what 80s band it reminded me of. Clan of Xymox, perhaps? Some of the less popular Jesus and Mary Chain tracks? Uh…The Damned? Even Sisters of Mercy popped into my head. None of these are apt descriptors. I encourage you to give it a listen and let me know what you think this sounds like. Or, perhaps, it’s inappropriate to try to compare VR SEX to the legends of old. As I said, it’s not just vintage, it’s fresh. Very fresh.

My favorite track on Cyber Crimes has got to be “Rock N Roll Death.” This is a song that I fantasize about dancing to at a club (once the pandemic subsides). It’s hard. It’s fast. It’s danceable. It’s rocks. It rolls.

I also thoroughly enjoyed “Dog Complex.” I know I said comparisons to past bands is perhaps not appropriate, but I can’t help but mention Bauhaus for this one. It’s dark. I’d even dare to say this track is on the gother side of the post punk spectrum. His vocals go a bit harsh here. The song itself is harsh. And I love that.

To finish off my review, let’s talk about this album art for a second! (Note: if you follow me as an S&S writer at all, you’ll know that I’ve got a passion for album art and have a few posts about it to my name up prior). Is vaporwave still a thing? Because I want to call this art “acidic vaporwave.” If that makes any sense. Anyways. The vibe of this art matches the album very well. It’s grainy, divided between a harsh green and a dark black-and-white. There’s meat. Why is there meat? Hell if I know, but it’s visceral, just like the tracks. The pixel-y “VR SEX” around the border comes in clutch with that vintage 80s feel. Honestly, just stare at that album art for 5 minutes before listening to the album and see if you can capture a feeling, a prediction of sorts of how the album will sound. I bet it’ll be pretty accurate!

In conclusion, I’m in love with this album and would absolutely recommend it. Clinco delivers.

It’s Friday and I’m In Love With Bandcamp Day

In a shocking twist of fate I finished my May Bandcamp Day reviews a week early. Which means I have time to do a part II of amazing new releases before Friday 5/7/21. As always I have gotten into my tiny goth boat to sail the seas of amazing music from around the world that stirred my heart like a bracing wind on stormy seas. So look with me to the stars as we navigate these choppy waters. Leave some of your great finds in the comments below, and as always keep it dark yo.

Big Time KillRecovery – Let’s jump in with a bang to the new EP by Boston based BTK. This EP absolutely floored me. It’s a ear worm blasting blend of catchy intense lyrics flicking through a rollercoaster dynamic ride with glam, electroclash, synthwave, and grunge. The way Adam Schneider and Ben Caccia bounce through effortless transitions is engaging and artistic. To cover so much ground in 4 tracks is a masterwork. I know I am using big shoes here but this journey holds the toothy refinement of Pretty Hate Machine. An early contender for surprise hit of the year.

https://bigtimekill.bandcamp.com/album/recovery

Favorite track: Cliche’ – Whipping chains of ghost riding fire. Drops away with a crooning desire. The chorus is an expansive hit that taps deep into a feeling any artist in 2021 has looked down the barrel of. Bubbling guitar leads counteract with Adam’s piecing sky splitter voice. “What are you gonna do, when the world keeps coming for you”. Banging guitar solo 10/10 on the pump my fist in the air scale.

Sweat BoysAdrenaline (feat. Valerie Abbey) – Blistering blaze single from Benny Sweat who has teamed up with Valerie of Abbey Death to tackle goth classic Rosetta Stone’s synth anthem. It’s fresh in it’s violet electric pacing and the wispy beauty of Valerie’s delivery. I love Ben’s gift for taking something untouchable and making it his own. It has reinvented the song as well as his own style. Everything about this cover feels fresh. The flowing keyboards step forward to take the place of the guitar line and turn the dark sky neon. This single is an instant club hit.

https://sweatboys.bandcamp.com/album/adrenaline-feat-valerie-abbey

Era NocturnaHell – Another Boston artist Era has has returned from a 13 year hiatus to release a new single featuring three remixes. Her voice has the stalking power of a giant black wolf, blood dripping from it’s jaws. A sinister ferocity and stalking cadence. The whole sound feels cornered and dangerous while exposing a vulnerability. The lyrics are a poetic journey like Dante emerging from the inferno. It’s hard, it’s mean, and it happens in 4.5 minutes. I hope this spells the return of a powerful darkpop voice. Special shout out to the Lilith My Mother remix which softens the edges and adds blending of the grey hues to the music. This brings a clarity and resilience to Daeva’s voice. I can’t wait to see what style will be her next prey.

https://eranocturna.bandcamp.com/album/hell

Coor Brow-OblesMacGuffin Baby – Bopping new gothglam single from Gillingham UK. I always love the high range old school croon of Coor’s voice. The tongue and cheek of beauty against S & M concept. Put your hands on me and choke me softly. I think Coor has a true star quality and I want to see the production level find the same heights of cleverness as the songs. A fun ride between Bowie and Syd Barrett that leaves me hungry for more.

https://coorblimey.bandcamp.com/track/macguffin-baby

Death Loves VeronicaChemical – The first album from the glorious union of the Texas siren and Cold Transmission Music. I love the crashing tide synth drive and the contrast of warm whiskey sliding down the back of your throat. A ritual incantation and self realization. Every time Veronica announces a new release I am left wondering what new territory her voice will take me. Pre Order is currently available with the first two singles “Burn” and “Spindein“. The power of this album is how instead of you studying the painting while listening. The stalking control and awareness in the eyes of the music is staring back at you. You are the one on display and the tendrils of the music creep towards you and wrap you up.

Favorite Track: Spindein – Such a deliberate, calculated crawl of leather and feathers. When they say a song can get under your skin, this is what they mean. “Nothing dies, the way you do” I love the buzzing guitars at the halfway point. It really adds a second act to the story of the song. Light the candles, pour a glass of wine, get seduced by the power of music.

https://deathlovesveronica.bandcamp.com/album/chemical

WeirdWolvesOverdrive – First single from the Austin TX band which combines Raphael Colantonio and Ava Gore (Daughter of Depeche Modes Martin Gore). It’s a nice early 2010’s electrosmasher club killer. Nice duet blend vocals. I had to really force myself to hear it on it’s own merit and not the power of it’s royal blood. Top notch production and some lovely giant mechanical snake sidewind slither. It was a brief but tantalizing introduction. You have my attention, but the bar will be high. I want to see open veins and dynamic power from a full length release.

https://weirdwolvesmusic.bandcamp.com/track/overdrive

Dead Animal Assembly PlantBring Out The Dead – Another bone jarring hit from our friends at Armalyte Industries. This album is venturing a little closer to the metal aspects of industrial/metal than I tend to go. Sometimes in life you just need music to smash shit to, and that’s what the Portland band is bringing with rapid fire whole sale destruction. What leaves me impressed isn’t the moments it hits hard, it’s in the subtitle intelligence where pulls back and lulls you into a false sense of security just to swing the bat at you again with reckless abandon. Another great highlight is the cover of the folk song “Gods Gonna Cut you Down“. They say when Johnny Cash covers a song he makes it his own. Sometimes though you need to rip it out of his hands and shake the shit out of it with blistering guitars and fiercely whispered vocals by Time Bitch.

Favorite Track: Sacred Disgrace – It’s all the power and fury of the other tracks, with Lulu Black adding an eerie and off putting violin line which makes the vocals spew forth with added vigor. A crushing dirge of power and beauty.

https://deadanimalassemblyplant.bandcamp.com/album/bring-out-the-dead-2

blackcellBurn the Ashes – Ok this came to me as a hot tip from Michael Smith. Just to discover it is a collaboration of Eric Isbell and Matt Jones. Mastered by Chase Dobson. Dark, dripping, delicious death disco that I didn’t know how much I needed in my life. Take one part Ultravox, one part Cabaret Voltaire, a dash of modern production to sooth the lofi edges and you have the recipe for your next low key sexy dance party. A twisted carnival of Andy Warhol’s most fiendish nightmares made of shadows and spun in technicolor. I was not ready for this and fell deep. Prepare to hear a lot more about this band from me in the future. This gets the where have you been all my life award.

Favorite Track: Creep Like Fire – This is the song playing when John Travolta stumbles into the Black Lodge of David Lynch and wanders aimlessly while a thin man in a suit speaks in reverse.

https://blackcell.bandcamp.com/

It’s Wed My Dudes, On 5/7 It Will Be Bandcamp Friday May Edition

I have not been great about writing reviews this month. However that has not stopped my compulsive purchase of badass new music. So I am going to delve into my cups as well as the latest in hot new tunes. I invite you to follow my meandering thoughts and broken sentence structure. It is my genuine hope you find something here that will inspire hope for you as the tension of the last year and a half seems to have a light in the distance. As always leave a comment below if you have an artist you would like to see me review in the future.

kenzifiresSlumber Party” by Ashnikko – The amazing shooting star Æðra Justice Burke of FIRES has started a new WitchHouse project and blew my doors off out of the gate. These slinky flowing hip hop beats crisscross with waves of color and heat. I think the most amazing impact is the ability to stop everything, hang in silence a moment, then pirouette and walk away. I don’t know the original song well, but you can bet your sweet bippy I am looking it up now. Everything she touches is a laser beam right to my heart.

https://kenzifires.bandcamp.com/track/s-l-u-m-b-e-l-i-g-u-s

DoppelgängeRMercy and Eternity – Currently the hot topic in Post Punk/Darkwave is the amazing icy wind blowing out of Russia. Doppelganger has been leading that charge for a while now. Building an impressive catalog for 25 years and honing an impressive smooth icicle sound with a razor point. Rolling live drums with crisp transitions. Light shard guitar cadence. A bass line the drives the tempo with intuition and an unseen presence. The vocals are subtitle and hold a wisdom. When someone says you have an old soul, that is the effect these vocals create with me. I am kicking myself for waiting so long to find this band and if you haven’t heard them please don’t waste another day.

Favorite track:

Dancing With Shadows – A flowing wisp of smoke with quick moving guitars and deceptive transitions. Another power of this band is that it sounds like itself. The vocals in particular could easily get lost in the “Baritone Post Punk” singer trope. It has instead a fresh confident take that is not another Ian Curtis/Andrew Eldrich.

https://doppelganger-ru.bandcamp.com/album/mercy-and-eternity

HALLOWSAll That Is True Dies – New single from recently relocated Seattle band Hallows on Cold Transmission Music. In addition to the single you get two remixes by Dead Astronauts and Profit Prison. As well as exquisite mastering by Pete Burn and Slade Templeton. That is an all star team and gets me excited. The first time I heard this band I was struck by the glorious blend of vocal styles. It really creates a story between these voices. Like an other world echo of memory that haunts a home. I love the simple idea layered with tragedy and humanity. This is a song of reflection and immersion. After the banger club hit, that quiet moment when our characters lock eyes and get lost.

https://hallows.bandcamp.com/album/all-that-is-true-dies

Into GreyWaiting Here – So this is a band from Columbus Indiana that found it’s way to the Sounds and Shadows group and holy shit it is good. I’m working my way through the previous catalog. It is rainy days and water colors. Deep resonant vocals that put me in mind of Golden Apes. Cutting poetic lyrics of longing and doubt. A lot of overlapping busy guitar leads which create motion from an otherwise crushing weight. It’s a nice effect that draws a beautiful contrast. Quickly rising on my list of modern bands making goth romantic again.

https://intogrey.bandcamp.com/track/waiting-here

StoneburnerSell Out – Steven is newly signed to label COP International and broke out the first single. To no ones surprise it is a total banger. It was produced by living legend John Fryer and features remixes by Klack, Stabbing Westward, and Sick Jokes. I love the crushing 100 MPH pop stinger tempo and tongue and cheek clever delivery. “I want to look good in the DJ booth” “You have to sit through my noisy ass shit”. This is a cleaner burning view into the wit and humor that Steven uses to connect with his audience outside of his music. I love the left turn in direction to show the range and endless creativity Stoneburner continues to bring.

https://stoneburnerofficial.bandcamp.com/album/sell-out

Shadow FashionOne Black Rose – San Antonio darkpop darlings have dropped a new single and this is my favorite of their releases to date. I fell deeply in love with this track. It hits on so many genres and decades in one dark clean insta classic. Huge John Hughes romantic swirling film feels. Patrick’s vocals are crisp and dreamy. It has a modern production with a nostalgic tone. This single really paves the way for a bright exciting future. I’m jaw dropped blown away by how much this track is stuck in my mind when I least expect it. Must have.

https://shadowfashion.bandcamp.com/track/one-black-rose

Dove TribeAll In The Waiting – No one is a bigger fan of the artistic exploration of sound by Hide Tepes of Carrion than me. He is on a constant journey to create some of the most cutting edge sound crafting in the modern scene. So when I heard he was doing a new project with a more rock focused old school bat cave sound I knew to expect something exceptional. The song “New Cold War” is a powerful political statement with an emotional delivery that harkens me back to 1959 by the Sisters of Mercy. A track that transports you and paints a picture of strife and rebellion. It shows Hide’s voice in a completely new light that left me spellbound. Currently available for pre order for a 5/15/21 release. I feel like this EP has the raw power to be a game changer in a genre hungry for new sound.

https://dovetribe.bandcamp.com/album/all-in-the-waiting

Lyres Of UrI Look Good On You – I know, I know, you are thinking Ken are you just reviewing all of your contributors at Sounds and Shadows? No, this new single from Lou Blacksail is pure blazing fire and marks more young talent that is hitting a stride which strikes me deeply. The vocals are a sinister reflection of 80’s pop. I love how accessible the hooks and cascading synths feel while the vocals hint at something secret. A dangerous curl of the lip and arrogance of the eyes. As Lou continues to find his voice, I continue to be more invested and impressed by a future talent in this scene. Show support now for this “It” factor artist.

https://lyres-of-ur.bandcamp.com/track/i-look-good-on-you

MORIS BLAKIrregular Revisions Vol. II – Brand new remix album from Boston EDM wizard Brian Blacknoise. Powerful reimagining from 2019 The Irregularity of Being. This album is a epic dance journey where sounds are sculpted from chaos into form. A masterful job of enlisting vocal performances from the likes of Alicia May, Luna, and Pete Crane to add layers that elevate the intent and narrative. Finding a fresh image in songs you have previously done is no easy task, but this remix album cracks the standard code. It’s a collaboration that takes something wonderful and fires it through a prism.

Favorite Track: I have a tossup here. Between Alicia May‘s vocal delivery of empowerment and grace on Burying Place, and the and the HAEX remix of of Erase Displace. Both brought such a fresh vision to Brian’s vibrating walls of earthquake destruction. Honestly I am hard pressed to find anything here I didn’t enjoy.

https://morisblakngp.bandcamp.com/album/irregular-revisions-vol-ii

ΣΕΘ(SET)Disorders Of The Heart feat. Morgue VVitch – So this was a powerful and abstract find from Arizona featuring Morgue VVitch. An unnerving and beautiful forest of terrifying Will o Wisp lights. Goblins horror texture blended with dungeon synth adventure. I loved the spoken word intro and the fingers on your spine chime movement. What left me enthralled by this was how unfamiliar and dangerous it felt. A chilling feeling of desperation leaving me hungry for life. I want to explore deeper in this haunting mystery.

https://subgoth.bandcamp.com/album/disorders-of-the-heart-feat-morgue-vvitch