In 2019 at the beginning of my goth renaissance UK producer Pete Burns released the album “Damage” in response to the trauma he was experiencing over the passing of his mother. He wrote the lyrics and music to each song while bringing in a different up and coming vocalist for every track. The result was a magical instant classic which became my top albums of the year for this review page. Damage was so far ahead of the game in what would become the new standard for both collaborative possibilities as well as a defining new tone in goth/post punk.
All songs written by Pete Burns except The Necklace – words by Johan Lange, music by Pete Burns
Backing Vocals by Lynsey Burns Concept and Artwork by Pete Burns Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Synths and Programming by Pete Burns Produced, Mixed and Mastered by Pete Burns at The Shelter
Fast forward to 2021 when Pete collaborated with one of the great guitar wizard of the modern Post Punk era Karl Morten Dahl of Antipole for “A Haunted Place“. A textural sonic painting where Pete took the helm of his own vocal duties. A flash negative exposed shadow dance. A beautiful departure with a focus on tone and abstraction.
Welcome to present day. Kill Shelter releases their third album Asylum, and the world has started to catch on to the soft-spoken genius setting the standard for this new wave. Featuring a slew of the biggest names of the scene: Stephan Netschio ( Beborn Beton) , Valentina Veil (VV & the Void), Karl Morten Dahl (Antipole) , Emanuel Åström (Agent Side Grinder) Alessandro Belluccio (Ash Code), William Faith (The Bellwether Syndicate), Ronny Moorings (Clan of Xymox). An impressive list of talent and experience which speaks to the respect Pete has catered as a producer and song writer. This album tackles an even darker theme of trauma and the most shocking pain of the human experience. Casting a light through a wide range of vocal prisms. The completion of a journey started just after Damage in 2019 and meticulously refined over four years.
One of the powerful aspects of Damage was how it used the vehicle of a record to expose new listeners to collaborators with projects that all demand attention. I found several new bands that helped bridge my way into the modern Darkscene. Previous to creating Damage, Pete partnered on a blog with Christian Schaefer called (Rule of Three) to discover cutting edge bands and share them with the world. I am going to explore some of these standout tracks and the singers with the compilation feel this album has.
In this Place: Featuring Beborn Beton – Singer Stephan Netschio of the German darksynth band has a voice that coasts the perfect line between grit and ice. Unnerving tension meets guitar percussion that staggers and ripples. I love the way it builds and expands without increasing in volume or speed. A masterclass in emotional impact with subtle elements.
Queen of Hearts (Feat: Valentina Veil) – Domestic violence is a difficult topic to address. Clashing fronts of synth and percussion is given gravitas by Valentina‘s overlapping vocal performance. A disassociated wispy dream with retro energy of Projekt Records. The entwined guitar lines feel like two rippling ropes shaken in alternate succession by someone working out. The spoken word section delivered in another tone solidify the duality of concept. Valentina was meant to be on Damage, it is so fitting she finally makes an appearance on a Kill Shelter album.
Buried Deep (Feat: Antipole) – This track could have been on “First and Last and Always” with it’s bottom of the well bass resonance and shadow ripple guitar leads. In that vein Pete summons a cyborg Eldrich delivery both haunting and frozen as it faces a heavy weight too much to bare.
The Necklace (Feat: Agent Side Grinder) – Swedish synthrock darlings with dance club scintillation and unique vocal tone/cadence that I could always pick out of the lineup. ASG vocals always feel like chorus vocals, but I have no reason to confirm. The same spotlight production that sounds on another level. This track has a switchblade danger to it’s tone that stands the hairs on my arm up.
Feed The Fire (Feat: Ash Code) – The shooting star Italian Darkwave band that has become a scene force in record time preparing is for a tour of Central and South America collaborated on this sleazy shadow disco track. Explosive rising synth spell strikes and particle accelerator guitars. The vocals capture the effortless cool dynamic Ash Code are famous for. Another heart wrenching concept done with razor sharp execution.
Cover Me (Feat: The Bellwether Syndicate) – If you were to ask me who gives off the most live rockstar energy in the modern darkscene, the answer is William Faith. This is another true club jam that will send folks charging to the floor. William‘s vocals are sheer romantic goth perfection. The lyrics are a darker poetry which helps form the complexity of meaning. William is a legend and Pete gave him an Aston Martin as a vehicle to drive to the front of the club and shine.
All Of This (Feat: Clan of Xymox) – To say Ronny Morning was a definitive voice in the scene is a vast understatement. One of the inventers of darksynth post punk. This jam is a charging quartet of apocalyptic horses. A culmination of dark tides eroding an unforgiving shore. The progressive time changes and subtitle phrasing are a work of genius and emotional impact that hits you when you least expect it.
Overall: Kill Shelter has done it again. Creating a personal emotional journey through post-traumatic stress with expert production and collaborative vocal performances that shine a light on some of the top singers in the scene. I can’t wait to release and rare upcoming interview on the Sounds and Shadows youtube page. We dig deeply into the process and feelings of one of the most important artists the modern era. When we speak to future musicians who are in the know about what influenced them in our time. Kill Shelter will be the Joy Division like name that trend setters were appreciating in the present.
It is once again time to reveal the winners of our monthly darkscene singles chart chosen by the Sounds and Shadows collective. Each month we take submissions for the top single releases in Goth/Industrial/Darkwave/Coldwave/Shoegaze/EDM whatever. Then votes our cast by the Artists, Djs, Fans, promotors, reviewers in our group. This month of course since my band Amaranth had a single in the chart, I am way behind. This chart seems to always elevate the cutting edge in what is happening in our scene. Below you will find the chart and a link to all the bands that won in June. If you have a release in July, make sure to post it in our Facebook group.
Dead Cool – Send Me An Angel (Real Life Cover)
Blood Dance – Wicked King
The Amaranth – Gothtimist
Kill Shelter (Feat: Agent Side Grinder) – The Necklace
Vaselyne – Here To Begin
Silver Walks – Albatross
Bellhead – No Dead Horses
La Muerta – Headhunter
Spankthenun – I Self Me
Sea Lungs – Truffle Pig
DEAD COOL – Send Me An Angel – From Wilmington, North Carolina the darkwave duo of Johnny and AngelaYeagher made this broken glass glittering on concrete version of the 1989 Real Life dance classic. A cool take on the original with much more menace to change the feeling. The band continues to be a fan favorite with our listeners and a number 1 single win speaks to their bright future.
Blood Dance – Wicked King – Having the Mexico City Electro Goth make #2 on our chart is a big deal to me. Casting a light on the incredible Latin darkscene movement has been a major goal of mine this year. Seeing our members embrace this sinister blend of traditional goth and cold wave atmosphere fills my heart with delight. Only a few singles out for the band so far and already they are turning heads in the scene.
The Amaranth – Gothtimist– Now it is always awkward tooting your own horn. This is the first time our band Amaranth from Kalamazoo MI has had a song in the chart. This one is really special for me. It is the idea behind Sounds and Shadows in sonic form. Bringing together an enormous crew of guest musicians, artists, producers, and friends. To create a song which speaks to the importance of our friends in the scene listing us up when times are darkest.
Jason Corbett (Actors) , Jean-Marc Lederman (The The; Gene Loves Jezebel; Fad Gadget; The Weathermen; Rohn-Lederman), Dan Milligan (The Joy Thieves; The Burying Kind), Kimberly Kornmeier (Bow Ever Down), Katy May (Katy Needs A Life), Saphira Vee, Brian Graupner (gothsicles; Gasoline Invertebrate) , Ryan Flint (WitchHands), Matt McIntosh (A Cloud of Ravens). Cover Art: Albie Mason (Scary Black) Mastering : Pete Burn (Kill Shelter)
Kill Shelter (Feat: Agent Side Grinder) – The Necklace – Speaking of Pete Burn the incredible Scotsman who made the #1 album of 2019 “Damage” has returned to that core concept with the latest single. Much of Pete’s work features guest vocalists. This first single off the upcoming 7/15/22 album Asylum has world renown Swedish Post Punk band Agent Side Grinder. Crashing and slashing with emotion and runaway train basslines. The melody here is infectious and twists suddenly through old city streets. To say I am waiting for this album with baited breath is an understatement. We have an upcoming interview with Pete. If Kill Shelter isn’t firmly on your radar they need to me.
Vaselyne – Here To Begin – From Amsterdam, Netherlands this is the second month in a row the COP International band has had a single high in the charts. Yvette Winkler and Frank Weyzig have another soulful organic that harkens to early Projekt record sounds. Crashing waves of sound and salt battering the rocks in an endless struggle that feels epic in scope. I feel like Frank takes all the right turns here. Including a blistering solo around 3 minutes. Yvette gets to show her vocal range and soul on this track. I see a widow on the cliffside tearing at her hair in anguish, waiting for a ship she knows is never making it back to shore.
silver walks – Albatross – New resident of New York Daniel McCullough has assembled an Avengers team of electronic talent to release this long awaited album. This month’s single is another textural story delicately crafted. This psychedelic electro goth just stands out fresh against the backdrop. I love the politically charged themes beneath the historical feel. This record is an early contender for top albums of the year.
Silver Walks is Dan Mccullough with Tim Heireth, Ian Staer, Eva X, Stella Soleil, Marc Heal, James Francis, John Jacobus, Ryan Mast, Coral Scere and you
Bellhead – No Dead Horses – Special release from Chicago double bass duo Bellhead on Give/Take records. I really like the theatric dark indie style here. Karen and Ivan always know how to find a new swing to their core concept. This single has some Nick Cave meets Jesus and Mary Chain vibes set in the south-west desert wasteland. They have a brilliant chemistry of call and answer vocals that reminds me why i fell in love with the Pixies.
LA MUERTE – Headhunter – This Belgian band has been a part of the scene a long time. In June they released a new album on COP International which features this cover of the Front 242 classic. This is a great call in of legendary industrial classic to create a fire wizard space rock version of the chant. La Muerte is smashing walls to get back into your life or opening a door to find an underground classic for the first time.
spankthenun – I Self Me – Incandescent post apocalypse burner from Texas Industrial guru Eric Hanes. Badass sledgehammer smacks on the Depeche Mode dance club. I love the filthy edge that Eric soaks every delicious pop hook in. An innovator and hat aficionado you need to be aware of.
Sea Lungs – Truffle Pig – An amazing new Australian super band with another smash single. This is a criminally underrated band with a unique throwback shadowy madness that darts between ahead of it’s time and raw with nostalgia. Ant Bannister does a masterful job of mixing to create a strange stomping Syd Barret fighting The Damned in an Ed Wood film sound. Is that description as strange as it feels. Good, unique sounds should feel that way. Jarrad Robertson and Andi Lennon are a song writing force that needs attention.
I continue to see the importance of putting out this monthly chart. One that is unique in our scene. I hope other people appreciate the songs chosen here for their quality. Every track here is voted on by Dj’s, Bands, Reviewers, and Superfans that represent the pulse of modern dark music.
Leathers – Runaway
Black Angel – Look Me In the Eye
The Cassandra Complex – Old Boys Network
HexHeart – Erase Yesterday
Moris Blak/Daddybear/GrabYourFace – Crimes Of Passion
Vaselyne – Shame
Iamnoone – The Need
Sever The Servants – Get In The Grave
Iamtheshadow – Remind Me
Kill Shelter (Feat: Agent Side Grinder) – The Necklace
LEATHERS – Runaway – Another gorgeous smash hit from Shannon Hemmett of Vancouver. As part of the darkscene darlings Actors this synthy dreamwave project continues to grow and impress with every release. Masterful execution with a personal delivery.
Black Angel – Look Me In The Eye – We have an upcoming interview with LA transplant Matt Vowles about the band putting the rock back into gothic rock. I love this slow grooving The Cult style flavored single with some sinister smokey backup vocals from Manheesha Jones. Absolute banger.
The Cassandra Complex – Old Boys Network -After 20 years the pre goth legends The Cassandra Complex dropped a new album and a scathing punk rock rebuke of modern post capitalism. This song has been sitting the top of the DAC chart as well all month long.
Hexheart – Erase Yesterday – Seattle WA sleek voodoo synth had this single to set the road for their 6/17/22 release “Funeral Flowers“. I love the smooth electronic soft serve retro feel. The lyrics have a wonderful Ducky in the rain poetry. This album will be a day one buy for me.
MORIS BLAK x DADDYBEAR x GRABYOURFACE – Crimes of Passion – Three heavy hitters of modern EDM/EBM who have teamed again to take our singles chart by storm. Each time they have gotten together it is an absolute banger offset by Marie’s crime croon vocals. This belongs on dancefloors everywhere.
Vaselyne – Shame (PJ Harvey Cover) – Early single release for the 6/3/22 EP “The Sea Says” is a cover of the mistress of raw alternative PJ Harvey. I love the percussive twang present throughout. The Dutch duo on COP International do a lovely vocal volley. I love the dusty humidity of the tone in this homage. Leaves me excited to review the album.
Sever The Servants – Get In The Grave – Another song on this chart from the partnership of Hide Tepes and Mike Nolan on their horror hue nightmare fuel project on Produkt 42. Normally I don’t answer orders to jump into the grave soil, but this charismatic call gets under your skin.
IAMTHESHADOW – Remind Me – Another gorgeous underground bop from the best baritone in modern goth Pedro Code. The Portuguese darkwave act continues to be the flagship of Cold Transmission. A darkwood ship rising and falling on synthetic waves.
Kill Shelter – The Necklace ft Agent Side Grinder – Finally the eagerly awaited master producer and composer Pete Burns returns to form with a single from the upcoming July album “Asylum” using guest vocals from the Swedish Synth star Johan Lange of Agent Side Grinder. This is an emotional tidal wave and leaves me ravenous for the full release. Pete is a wizard of drawing the best out of already talented people.
2019 has been quite a year for my dream. It has found it’s tar dark wings and started flapping them to places I never imagined it would go. I have new writers like Collin, Katy, and Adrian. I have 4 times as many followers. Made new friends which I have come to love and value. Traveled to distant lands. Started a podcast. In general it gets me excited for the future that so many people all over the world have shared with me this love of what is happening in modern music.
Unlike last year when I did a top albums review all alone I know had a wine drenched democracy of shouting voices sitting in a room and debating what had moved them in this years music. It was an amazing feeling I had forgotten. I wanted to make this list hold weight. So we made hard cuts and decisions to get our list down to 4 genres and 10 albums per genre. Everyone had input and voice and no one 100% agreed. I love that. This was never suppose to be about me but about the celebration of art. I hope you find something new here. I know I did and it fills me with hope for places a song or album can still move me. We split it into 4 parts 1) Post Punk/Goth 2) Industrial/EDM 3) Synthwave/Darkwave/Coldwave 4) Wildcards
First up is Post Punk/Goth. This one is my primary wheelhouse so I took point here. There has been a true resurgence in this genre and this was a hard list to choose. The albums listed here are all amazing but we fought long and hard to try and pick some form of order. Here is what we found.
10) October Burns Black (Reflections) – London superband and Traditional goth act from London put out this amazing record this year. James Tramel (The Wake) has composed this album with Rod Hanna (Vox), Lars Kappeler (Guitars) and Tommy Olsson (Guitars) Simon Rippin. It is so full of flowing sinister goth sounds. It really holds true to the sounds of yesterday while forging new ground. Every song is an emotive blast.
9.5) Ritual Howls (Rendered Armor) – I know, i cheated. I just can’t leave this record off. We debated and argued so hard to get this list to 10. This album is just such a world beater. It’s Nick Cave putting on the armor of Echo and the Bunnyman. They are even Detroit fam. They are keeping a flame burning for a sound that cannot be forgotten.
9) Frozen Charlottes (Wax Venues) – Santa Ana post punk doom weavers Frozen Charlotte released this beautiful album in November of this year. I have been in love with Chandler Grace, Janell, and Sky’s savagely dark spit and vinegar punk goth style since their previous incarnation. With Wax Venus they really found a way to refine that edge to a razor point of intensity, Waxing and waning like the moon in a flowing dance around the fire witchcraft ritual.
8) La Me’canique (Dernier Voyage) – This is such a lovely record from Cold Transmission that really embraces the post punk ideals. It’s wide, flowing, and full of landscapes. It feels large and comes through the lens of a distant camera. I think of 80’s Duran Duran and the way they transported you to another place while listening to the songs. A vacation in musical form.
7) Mark E Moon (Refer) – Another exceptional album with a lot of traditional goth elements. Another Cold Transmission band on this list who has a wonderful vibe of old Peter Murphy but with a modern edge full of poetic lyrics and Mark’s deep resonant vocals. Lots of balance and pop hook in this record. I want to peel the layers of this onion and find the core of it’s art.
6) Crying Vessel (Illusions) Slade Templeton is bringing the glam razzle dazzle back into dark music. His dark rich voice climbs and slide around an impressive range. I found it in my heart, and building a place in my head. I had the wonderful opportunity to see them live in Germany this year and it really gave this record another plateau of range. A perfect mixture of previous styles and modern technology this record is a must have.
5) Golden Apes (Kasbek) – Berlin based post punk Golden Apes have been making music for a long time. To find an album of this power and depth of idea deep in a storied career is a noteworthy achievement. Peer Lebrecht has a voice so full of soul and power that it wraps you in it’s world. The music is a masterclass in what post punk can achieve in movement and embrace. I will finally get to see this played live in Boston this year for their first US tour. If you don’t know about this record plunge head first into one of the genres most exciting artists.
4) Antipole (Radial Glare) – Karl Morton Dahl of Norway holds the distinction of being the most reviewed artist on Sounds and Shadows. I feel moved by every album he has made. This one found a way to hit a special new level for me. Antipole is everything you love about post punk music like Joy Division and New Order. Karl is a true historian of the genre, but finds exciting new ideas about how to use modern technology to make the concept sharper and more intense. This record was such a wonderful tribute to his homeland. A record that transports you to that reflected, glittering place of dark ice. Paris Alexander and Eirene of Young and Cold records have added perfect vocal compliments to create one of this years stand out records.
3) The Dream Collision (The Certainty of Forever) – This album from Pedro Code of IAMTHESHADOW was a piece of art that left me changed and moved. Pedro has possibly the most beautiful and sensual voice in modern dark music. This record was so stripped down and exposed I found myself unforgettably moved. It is powerful and tender like Nick Cave but with the beauty and elegance of Ian McCullah. A truly moving offering.
2) Twin Tribes (Ceremony) – With their recent transition to Negative Gain Joel and Luis of Twin Tribes hold a special place here at Sounds and Shadows. Their Debut album “Shadows” was the inspiration for this webpage. They are bringing the concepts of spiritual post punk into the modern era. This sophomore offering was not a lull but a leap forward in concept, depth, and power. Rich and full of energy each song is a ritual to summon forth an intimate experience in the listener. You probably need this one on vinyl. Also they do a must see live show, find them in your town and bare witness.
Part II is the best Industrial/EDM – I grew up on industrial. It was my punk rock. My scream at the world release. Somewhere along the way i just drifted to other avenues. This year was a huge one for me to rediscover Industrial. Adding in Adrian and Collin to the family who are both stronger on Industrial than me have really helped me find this world again. The albums that have come out this year and bringing it back front and center for a lot of people. These were our top picks.
10) Klack (Introducing the 1984 Renault Le Car) – Matt and Eric are workhorses. They had a Daddybear album, Null Device, and another Klack album all this year which could have easily made this list. This album rose to the top for me. It’s perfect blend of retro and fresh feel with dance beats and unique concepts has become a go to for my listening parties. New ideas for the new industrial.
9) Lingua Ignota (Caligula) – I just found this through Adrian. Wow. It was like nothing I have heard. This is a sound so frightening and intense it gives The Goblins nightmares. It is the sound of a priestess ripping out her own eyes and bleeding from the sockets. Do not listen right before bed unless you want to be haunted by disturbing dreams. I speak from experience.
8) Kid Saint Nothing (Above_Below) – What a treat that I get to add a dear friend from Kalamazoo MI to this list. They belong here. This album is a raw heartfelt therapy session scream set to catchy dance beats. It’s wide and intense and needs to be played constantly on your listening device.
7) Dogtablet (Feathers and Skin) – Industrial music lords Jared Louche (Chemlab) and Martin King have worked with others to create this massively powerful record of animalistic spirit totem sounds. It feels like a creature speeding free under a moonlit sky. This album came late in the year but has been my constant companion ever sense.
6) FIRES (All My Dreams Are of This Place) – Aedra is a force of nature. Her intensity and vocals have really pushed the edges of the Industrial genre. This album has a tight mixture of early 2000 emo and electroclash force. Whenever I need to find my inner tiger to face the day this album is where I reach first.
5) Moris Blak (The Irregularity of Being ) – This album is a force of creative expression and cyber blending technology. Lots of amazing guest vocalists like Pete Crane, Amelia Arsenic, and Angel Metro. A true tapestry of electronic sound woven and blended with dance hall beats and shattering brash power. This needs to be in heavy rotation of every club you shake your ass at.
4) Curse Mackey (Instant Exorcism) – Curse has been a huge part of the industrial scene for a long time as Evil Mothers, Pig, Pigface, ect. This album represents his first solo offering and it is nothing short of breathtaking. This album has such a focus on lyrics with a true William Burroughs literary quality. Full of slashing beats and laser focused vocals. I own it on LP. You need it on LP.
3) Bones UK (Bones UK) – More of a big label offering but a straight burner. This album is on the top of Collin’s list this year. I love the ladies getting representation in this genre and this album cooks from front to back. Lovely pop hooks to really add some mainstream club vibe, and we unapologetically love that.
2) Stoneburner (Technology Implies Belligerence) – This record changed the game for me. It made me fall back in love with Industrial music. It has that same old school flavor, but takes such incredible chances. A thinking persons industrial with a concept and follow through. Steven Archer of Ego Likeness has unleashed something transcendent and powerful and managed to save enough in the tank to follow the record with another this year “Massdriver”. Both are incredible pieces of art you need to explore but you never forget your first love. This record was that for me.
Go Fight (Anthem) – Jim Marcus and Die Warsaw were a part of my first obsession with Industrial music. A titan in the genre and one of the great humans who holds this scene together. This record is all covers of the 80’s songs that helped build his musical life. It’s perfectly crafted. It’s full of soul. It finds a way to make something of the past connect with my present. I mean any time i can hear two of my favorite things in this life Go Fight and Shriekback happen simultaneously consider me hooked. Nothing on this record doesn’t immediately send my body into motion. This is the work of a master crafting a love letter to the things that built him.
Next up is Synthwave/Darkwave/Coldwave: Another brutal list to try and widdle down to 10 albums with everything wonderful released this year. As genres have expanded and new ground was broken the resulting art which is dreamy and beautiful has grown with it. This is a list of our favorites.
10) Lilith My Mother (Her Fall) – Beautiful dance magic with clear pop beauty infused with midnight dark lyrics and fallen angel vocals. Every song fills me up and has me asking questions. Do not sleep on this amazing artist.
9) Corlyx (In 2 the Skin) – Sexy LA sludge grunge is my weakness and this album is the cure. It’s sensual, powerful, and forces your body into motion. Caitlin has a voice that wraps around you and stirs that hairs on the back of your neck. Doesn’t your party deserve to be this hot?
8) Standalone (Standalone) – Steven Seibold of Hate Dept has unleashed this solo project so delicious and stripped down with beautiful synth sounds crafted with a wizards touch. It’s so personal and easy to relate to at once. The vocals are smooth and elegant and hold your heart with tender timing. So underrated.
7) Boy Harsher (Country Girl Uncut) – The feels of this record. It’s a smokey dimly let exclusive club that would turn me away at the door in music form. It’s efficient in the use of layers and sounds and has gorgeous imagery in the lyrics. I love everything about the crafting done on this record.
6) Agent Side Grinder (A/X) – Oh the delicious post punk infused stabbing drum beats. The dynamic vocals have a dark tone and emotional delivery. It’s full of songs that always feel like they are moving faster than they are. It’s that energy and crackling synth pad sound that makes ASG have such a unique sound. This album builds on everything that makes them one of the biggest names in the genre.
5) Sweat Boys (Nervous Prayers) – This record off of Give/Take strikes a special chord with me. Sitting in my room listening to Yaz “Upstairs at Erics” was such an impact on me. Waiting to hear a synth driven album that captured that same purity and exposed feeling has been something i have searched for a long time. With this record my search finally ended. It’s beautiful, electric, and makes me jump up and down like only a 260lbs man on a pogo stick can. If yuo care at all about synth pop you need this in your ears.
4) Drab Majesty (Modern Mirror) – Drab Majesty off Dais records isn’t just an album, it’s an experience. Knowing the exact amount of every sound to use to get a perfect blend is such a difficult art form. The harmonies, and flowing lush beauty. They are like aliens operating at another level from us common music plebs. This album is staggering and unique in it’s beauty and darkness.
3) Mr.Kitty (Ephemeral) – 31 tracks, all of them good. Take that in for a moment. This album was such a memorizing accomplishment. It’s an artist exposing themselves and making it sound lovely and pure. I played this record so many times this year I feel like I have a personal relationship with the artist and I have never spoken to them. If you don’t have this you need to make that a priority.
2) Hante (Fierce) – The soundtrack to a film of a better life lived than mine. Just listening to the gorgeous vocals and visual sounds on this record fill me with hope. The creative force unleashed here is an epic achievement. It makes you think, it makes you believe.
Wingtips (Exposure Therapy) – Look I can tell you what I love about this music. To me the real power of this album is that so many great musicians I know all talk about how much this record meant to them. It has been mentioned and picked on our podcast by almost everyone we have interviewed. It’s perfect, nostalgic, fresh, and full of texture and intensity. Every track is a banger. Every line is a poem. This was our combined number one pick out of one of the hardest categories to judge.
Final Catagory Wildcards: This was all the things too far out of the box to fit anywhere else. In a way I feel like it made it really exciting and definitely some of my top overall picks.
10) Scary Black (Shadow Dwellers) – Kentucky sinister darkness Scary black released this shadow storm full of familiar elements and fantasy sparkles. It’s full of dangerous dreams and lovely rich vocal melodies. I really look forward to their future.
9.5) Vlimmer (XIIIII) – German sound wizard Alexander continues to spew forth the most gloriously textured collections of sounds with pull heart strings like a horses reins. It baffles me how good every single release is.
9) The Purge (Rain) – Strange winding electronic storms. This album feels like weather shifting and changing. It has a flavor of trauma and young love lost. Thomas does a beautiful job using his vocal range to tell stories and build tension. It’s my sad rainy day music.
8) Girl Band (The Talkies) – Strange twisting and powerful. I really liked the chant of this band and the abrupt changes. This one came courtesy of Katy. Really intense sound.
8.5) The Joy Thieves (This Will Kill That) – Again a little bit of cheating here but this EP needs to be on the list. Such a perfect blend of hard rock and industrial with some of the biggest vocal talent in modern industrial. It’s smash everything in this room music because you are happy. I first described it as Clutch beating the shit out of Stabbing Westward with a baseball bat and I stand by that.
7) SYZYGYX (Fading Bodies) – One of the fastest up and coming bands in the scene. On both Negative Gain and Cold Transmission Luna and Josh are a sonic experience full of sexy dark disco grooves you would find in David Lynch’s private club at 3am. It breaks every mold and is always in my rotation.
6) The Ghost of Bela Lugosi – Ok technically not an album, but my house my rules. Australian based Vin Price has released about 12 singles this year and everyone of them is straight fire. It’s so punk rock, so raw, but so melodic and beautiful. It touches every part of every genre and I am here for all of it. It won’t play by the rules and that is part of it’s power.
4) Hide (Hell is Here) – Sheer unbridled power with a meaningful message. This is like nothing you have heard. Raw, intense, full of power tools. The vocals have more spit and acid than most metal. This album changed my world view
3) ELZ and The Cult (Psychodrama) – Visually, sonically, sassily, there is nothing about this album that does not completely enthrall me. It’s filthy, beautiful, it’s a horrible dream of a broken world that i can’t escape or look away from. I find a new layer to it every time i listen. You must have this.
2) Palais Ideal (Pressure Points) – I have been waiting to make this one of my top albums of the year all year long. This record broke all the boundaries of post punk. It’s thoughtful, precise, unique, and tells a story of some of the best science fiction I read in any novel. A thought provoking example of the power of music. Have this on LP and feel it’s warmth and glory as it was meant to be spun
Mesa Luna (Feel Nothing) – This one came to our attention courtesy of Jason Corbett (Actors). We didn’t have enough shoegaze representation here and this album was a stunner. #1 pick from Katy. It’s haunting, diverse and full of life. Take a journey with this record.
I had about 40 more albums this year that could have made this list. Maybe I will do an honorable mentions. I’m shredded though. There is currently a glorious revolution happening in music. Be a part of it. This list is a great place to start. Happy Holidays from us at Sounds and Shadows.