While it’s true that I prefer reviewing full EPs/albums, the digital age of streaming playlists and Bandcamp Fridays have returned us to the Age of the Single™. Thus what I tend to find in my emails and trawling are standalone tracks, and I would probably lose sleep if I didn’t bring some of them to your attention. Therefore, here’s a list of 5 tunes, either released singularly or standing out from their respective albums, that I’m labeling “don’t miss” for March.
With their new album My Last Party, Dark Narrows proves the post-punk revival won’t stop in 2023. I’m calling it: “Second Hand Tears” is going to be the breakout hit from this release. The Maryland outfit assembles everything needed for a pop-goth dance floor banger, from punchy bass and dreamy guitars to the perfect sing-along hook with unexpected, descriptive imagery. I’ve been playing this on repeat for the past four days.
Oh my stars and garters! Martin Bowes and Julia Waller have joined up together again for the first time in 20 years and I couldn’t be happier. Neither have lost their talent for spooky, atmospheric music that chills the spine, but I’m also tapping my feet to this lively production. A lesser act would simply recreate the sound of yesteryear for a quick nostalgia trip, but Attrition instead compounds a lifetime of experience into an expertly constructed romp through the darkest parts of electronic music, leaving me breathless by the end of the recording and desperately looking forward to the upcoming Black Maria.
Last year I appeared on Space Couch and tackled the monolithic task of naming the best up-and-coming industrial acts. Thing is, mentioning Josie Pace as one of them came easily, and sure enough, she found herself performing on TV and opening for an extensive tour with Aesthetic Perfection, gaining a whole new following in the process. She capitalizes on that momentum now with a destructive single that pounds its listeners into dust. Pace continues to prove guitars are optional for industrial, delivering the concussive force of a hard rock power anthem with keyboard alone. Easily-chanted lyrics slowly dissolve into disturbing visions, a catharsis the heavy music gladly delivers.
Wilmington’s Johnny and Angela Yeagher excel at producing efficient, classic-sounding synthpop, and now they try their hands at making a sing-along anthem for all the weird ones in the world. These club hymns often pose a challenge because the lyrics need to be all-encompassing without being meaningless. Dead Cool takes a unique path by transforming a silly joke we’ve all spoken to our fellow black-clad friends and crafting it into the hook over a foreboding synth line. The earnestly sung, “Don’t let the sun blind your eyes,” transforms into the perfect rallying cry, combining the introspection and self-mocking humor that are both cornerstones of the goth/industrial aesthetic.
Despite the fact that I totally look the part, I’m not a huge anime nerd, so I haven’t seen the animation this song references. Furthermore, I’m not usually a fan of songs that try to tell a story someone else has already told, so “A Song of Your Name” had a high mountain to climb before I even listened to it. Luckily, this is Baltes & Zäyn, whose “Apocalyptech,” recounting scenes from Neon Genesis Evangelion, gripped me last year and never let go. Lucian Zäyn delicately weaves the story into a relatable, exposed melody that’s almost heartbreaking, exemplified by Steve Baltes’s cinematic score underneath. I didn’t have “synthpop power ballad about kami-manipulated young love” on my Bingo card for March singles, but apparently I should have.
What about you? What’s on your playlist for March?