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.
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.
This is episode 1 of the Sounds and Shadows podcast. Here we feature artists in our scene choosing three bands they find meaningful and important in modern music. We then discuss three of their songs. In this episode Collin and I talk with Jason Corbett of the band Actors and Jacknife Studios from Vancouver Canada. We discuss three bands he has recorded Frankiie, Gang Signs, and Mesa Luna. We also drink sugar free Red Bull and spout off about life on tour, the modern post punk revolution, and whatever came to mind.
So I just did the piece on new Industrial which I admitted is a bit out of my wheelhouse these days. However the modern resurgence of Post Punk is right smack in my center. So we have had a lot of great releases in the past few months so I figured I would also catch up on some quick reviews of these. Post Punk is so rooted in the past. Sacred mainstays of the 80’s still rule this scene. I think a lot of the new bands I love pay a lot of respect and homage to that. However what we have in terms of technology and access to good recording has really opened the door to push this genre further than ever before. Here are some examples of people taking that post punk sound and cranking it up to hyperspeed for 2019.
Kicking off with a review far overdue. Norwegian Post Punk all stars Antipole released “Radial Glare” in September of this year. I have done glowing reviews of Karl Morten Dahl’s last two albums. He is a true post punk historian who has an intimate understanding of Post Punk roots. The tones, effects, and mood are perfectly constructed in the vein of Joy Division, New Order, The Cure, and The Church. I don’t say this lightly but i feel like the clarity and texture of what he achieves goes beyond what those legends had at their disposal. This newest offering is pure frozen crystal that conjures such beautiful images of icy castles of fantasy rising against a desolate land. The vocals from frequent contributes Paris Alexander, Eirene & Marc Lewis charge to the front in a way Antipole never has before and I feel like it was the final piece in the evolution of this band. Karl is an artist that loves listening to music as much as making it. It really shows in the art he makes. If a writer wants to write better they read great writers. Karl is a great song writer because he is always listening to great songs. This album is available in a mint green limited Vinyl and it is 100% the way to hear the nuanced layers he has constructed.
Next up are those beautiful boys from Texas Twin Tribes and their new album “Ceremony“. This is the sophomore offering from one of the fastest rising stars in this genre. Their first album “Shadows” was basically the reason I started this review page. It was going to be a tough act to follow, but they have not missed a beat. The perfect ritual like intimacy of these songs reminds me so much of The Cure. The connection between their instruments of Joel’s driving foundation on bass creating a floor for Luis’s nimble fingers to dance on with guitar. I found an instant connection to the lyrics on Shadows but Ceremony has really focused on a poetry which might be the hardest thing to recreate of early Post Punk. Each song is beautiful, sorrowful, and unique. These lads are truly destined for greatness and if you haven’t heard them drop what you are doing and get them in your ears now.
I can’t believe this is the first review I am writing about the shadowy melancholy dream that is Chicago’s Wingtips. I had the extreme pleasure of seeing them at this years Cold Waves festival and their stage show is a powerful vision. The new album Exposure Therapy off Artoffact Records is the type of romantic beauty and chic attitude I miss in this genre. They tell luscious stories that are intense and self involved in a way that speaks truth. I think it is this genuine anguish that makes it feel so authentic and nostalgic. This is an album that you listen to in your living room and feel like the artists have joined you for tea. Trust me you want Hannah and Vincent at your next tea party.
Ok to be fair this album from Iceland’s Kælan Mikla released November 2018 but somehow I never reviewed it and that is a freaking crime. I feel like they have a lot of the check marks of post punk. Driving basslines, dark themes, rising keyboard leads, slushy guitars. This album Nótt eftir nótt is so hard to put in a genre box. I can’t understand the lyrics so it feels like placing your hand on a burning hot rune stone and summoning a pack of raging Scandinavian Fae who assault you with powerful rebukes and Peter Hook bass lines. Maybe I’m not painting the picture of how glorious that is but it is an effect I have never heard replicated and an amazing one. If you ever feel like no one is breaking any new ground in post punk music you need to dive into this band deep. Trust me you haven’t heard it before.
Closed Mouth is the amazing project from Yannick Rault who put out an album titled One on Cold Transmission in May. It was mastered by the amazing Pete Burns (Kill Shelter) who also mastered us. I think what is so ambitious and wonderful about this record is the scope of it. It has a very Killing Joke feel, but all the incarnations of Killing Joke at once. The synthwave, the post punk. It drives, it grinds, it’s a shimmering adventure of sonic possibilities. It’s one of those albums you can pick up anywhere in the 14 songs and always get a different feeling. Yannicks vocals are distant and haunted and reach you from a million miles of painted texture. This album is a deep dive.
October Burns Black is a bit of a supergroup with James Tramel of (The Wake) they definitely delve more to the darker Chameleons side of post punk. The newest album “Reflections” is a master class in dark, sinister, emotional groove. I love the slow winding power of these expertly crafted whispers pulling you down the river Styx. High on my list of must see bands.
I could go on all night about the wonderful post punk resurgence happening right now but i have to draw a line somewhere. If you have a favorite I have not listed or reviewed please leave it in the comments below.