Nearing the end of the year and just in time for Bandcamp Friday we have the latest addition of the S & S chart. November was an amazing month for new music. I found a ton at the Detroit Skull Fest which I will be putting an article out about soon. In the meantime, I encourage all of you to support our scene by listening to these singles chosen by our group of Artists, Djs, Promotors, Reviewers, and Super Fans. Each song here is a single released in Nov 2022 and voted on by our group. If you have a single release in December, or know someone who does, post it in the December poll.
Matt Hart – Terraform
Derision Cult (Feat: Chris Connelly and Gabriel Reeves) – Deaf Blood
ST///LL – Darkened Eyes
Minuit Machine – Follower
Anti-Social Club – Empty
SINE – Je Suis
STAER – Manifold
Mari Kattman – Fever Shakes
Null Device – For You
Mechanical Vein X Moris Blak – Cemetary Wind
MATT HART – Great to see UK artist Matt Hart get the number 1 spot. This single is a banging narrative short film in sonic form. Dystopian sci fi full of underground machinery, perseverance and rebirth. I love the sharp edges and skull smashing mid-tempo beats.
Derision Cult – Deaf Blood – West Chicago Industrial band with an all star contributor list of Chris Connelly and Reeves Gabrels. Slamming drum progression and wicked guitar solo with the iconic Connelly vocals, what is not to love?
st///ll – Darkened Eyes – UK band I wasn’t aware of before they popped onto the chart. Really cool slushy Chameleons meets The Dammed post punk vibes. The basslines here in particular are really infectious. You have my attention.
Minuit Machine – Follower – French based ultra-cold wave with the always amazing Hélène de Thoury of Hante with vocals from Amandine Stioui. An icy gust of winding motion and shimmer. This album is so effortlessly cool. I feel like the slickest version of myself when I am listening to it.
Anti-Social Club – Empty – Really cool project from two group members Pete and Greg. Sweet throwback synthgoth anthem, I love the vocals here, big Peter Murphy energy with harmonies from Rachael Fuhs. This track is the perfect blend of fresh and familiar. That chorus drops like an A bomb.
SINE – I recently got to discuss this single with Rona in an upcoming interview we will be releasing. Slow steps over smoking volcanic earth with whispered vocals that declare I am. I love how this powerful and sensual confidence oozes in waves while making a sound impossible to place in a box.
ST∆ER – Manifold – I was so excited to see electronic texture artist Ian R. Staer crack the singles charts. This isn’t a “typical” single bopper. It is emotional landscape painting in sonic form. Stretching and breathing with a story created in the listeners mind. I really love that our listeners are picking songs this cerebral.
Written, performed, and recorded by Ian R. Staer.
Mixed by Chris Vrenna at Bluebird Studio, Huntsville AL.
Mastered by Eric Oehler at Submersible, Madison WI
Mari Kattman – Fever Shakes – One of my favorite humans in the scene, the amazing burning energy of Mari releases this stomping shadowpop single full of bopping beats and furious delivery. A picture Mari in silver robot armor with a blue electric broadsword carving a swath through her enemies.
Null Device – For You – The mostly Wisconsin based electronic band with this gorgeous old school synth single that puts me in mind of Depeche Mode “Construction Time Again” blended with powerful Annie Lenox style vocals from Sheridan. Powerful and emotive this whole EP is a must have. Which is why I have it
Eric Oehler – Vocals, Synths, Violin, Guitars Jill Sheridan – Vocals, Lyrics, Synths Eric Goedken – Lyrics, Additional Production Kendra Kreutz – Cello
Mechanical Vein x MORIS BLAK – Powerhouse team up from England and Boston for this stabbing cadence with some electro Nu Metal energy. This is a positive banger. Glitchy, bass pounding goodness to set your dancefloor ablaze.
Fans of the movie (and comic book), The Crow, will appreciate this homage to the original soundtrack, courtesy of Distortion Productions. I’m sure for many of us, as well as many of the featured artists, this film was our first taste of some great and seminal music in our formative years. The songs are treated with reverence, but a definite youthful enthusiasm makes them seem fresh again; namely, Enchepalon’s take on the Joy Division staple, Dead Souls. Cocksure kicks the listener in the teeth with their rendition of The Cure’s Burn. I was amazed at how a band like Caustic could draw such a radical departure from Suicide’s (via Rollins Band) Ghost Rider. This is a fun ride that doesn’t sound like a rehash of 1990s alternative music. It easily stands on its own as well as being an excellent companion piece to the original soundtrack.
There are certain movies that change you, that leave an impression. This was The Crow for me in high school. To take the aesthetic and darkness of living outside the culture around me, and make that cool. If only for a moment. Add to that the setting of Detroit where I fled the suburbs on weekends to act out my misspent youth. Although Brandon Lee and his tragic story was an antihero I was drawn to. The real star character of this film was the soundtrack. A tape that lived in my cars tape deck playing over and over driving down Woodward Ave, seeing the passing street lamps, the mystery moisture rising from sewer caps. This soundtrack was an essential building block of who I was. Here Jim has brought together another team of amazing modern artists to fuse new life in the nostalgic images that still hold strong today. I will discuss a few of the 14 wonderful tracks each bringing their own take on a movie that revitalized a subculture.
Cocksure – Chicago Industrial legends Chris Connelly and Jason Novak take on The Cure “Burn“. A song so powerful and image-stirring that Robert Smith can’t remember writing it. Which I think says more about how many great songs The Cure have. Recently I saw Stabbing Westward play a cover of burn at Cold Waves. This version took a much different direction of electronic explosion. Connelly has a range to rival Smith’s and gives a cracking emotional delivery. A powerful beginning to the narrative.
Go Fight – Another Chicago industrial pioneer Jim Marcus takes on the slippery opium fueled slither of Stone Temple Pilots “Big Empty” . Marcus cuts through the haze of the original to season with sharper edges and gritty streets. I loved the clarity he brought with his voice and forceful drum strikes of this bright and cutting interpretation.
Null Device – Madison WI EDM artists Null Device did one of my underrated sneaky favorite tracks on this all star soundtrack “Color Me Once” by Violent Femmes. This ended up being my favorite cover of the many strong offerings. A bold shift from the original haunted folk alternative twang. Shattering strong drum beats and sweeping dynamic changes. Eric’s voice drips with anger and honey, contrasted by the harmonies of Jill Sheridan. I love that he keeps Gordo’s cadence while giving rich and beautiful tone. Sky splitting guitar solo to bring the action to a head. This one hit me hard in all the feels.
Panic Lift – Next up a New Jersey band I owe an apology to. I have criminally under covered them in spite of every time they cross my radar saying this is absolutely astounding I should listen to this all the time. James Frances and company had the unenviable task of taking on Helmet‘s “Milktoast“. Page Hamilton has a special place for me in being an artist who got placed between punk and grunge yet was one of the more complex progressive musicians of his time. So it was going to take a lot to impress me. I was duly impressed. Helmet has such an organic sound and the buzzing rippling electronic energy captured that constantly shifting time and chanting rhythm. I love the spinning siren effect. Softening the edges without decreasing the danger.
Leaether StripRed Lokust and Tragic Impulse – Jim Semonik (Distortion Records) who made this compilation possible teamed up with Claus Larson (Leatherstrip) and Pittsburgh’s Tragic Impulse to sonically assault the My Life With the Thrill Kill Cult song “After the Flesh“. So much happening in this rapid fire stinging whip lash electronic sensory explosion. Wonderful use of electronic drum sounds to create a small club punk rock tone. FIRE IT UP! FIRE IT UP!
ego likeness – Our dear friends Donna and Steven from Baltimore’s Ego Likeness added a dreamy mist sway version of Medicine‘s “Time Baby II“. Donna’s voice is warm and wispy cutting to the front more than the original and adding a nice resonance. The music holds that same bouncing tone from the bottom of a K hole. I expected nothing less, it’s Donna and Steven.
Jim does it again, fusing that place between my youth and the bands I love today. Just like the original soundtrack, this album is a great way to touch base with some of the hottest acts in the modern scene while playing your favorite scenes from the past.
SINE, an Austin based electro-industrial bona-fide rock band, has Control, which happens to be the name of the first and my favorite track of the album, “Desire, Denial and Paramnia”. The music crunches and creaks while lead singer and founder, Rona Rougeheart, shifts and mixes vocal styles, presenting the dichotomy and conflict of her lyrics without over-characterizing or identity segmentation.
And yet, the versatility and range continues throughout the album, not only vocally, but in production, structure, tone color, and cadence. The production is impeccable and Rogueheart wears her influences openly, yet doesn’t fall prey to mimicry or pantomime. Her artistic vision and sensibility remain clear while showcasing a thorough gradient of electro-industial-goth-rock. SINE’s latest foray almost feels like a greatest hits album, yet is showhow a cohesive and fully listenable experience from start to finish.
It is 10:30pm on a Saturday and I am 3am drunk. Let us stumble through bandcamp and seek out what is sparking joy on this fine October night.
COMPACTOR – Tension Crucible – Brand new album from New York City artist. They have a unique creativity to both his music and the formats he releases it in. I am always astounded by his out of the box thinking for the delivery system of his tracks. People use the term Industrial music, but I feel like Compactor really embraces the blue collar concept of found machinery recorded, converted, and repurposed into true Electronic music meant to infuse with the human body. There are no words. This is not poetry. This is working music. Rhythmic, grinding, sparks flying from sheet metal destroyed with power tools. This is grease and grime with clean streaks of sweat. It’s music of inspiration to drive yourself until you can’t do more. To complete the task. Seldom do I review an album with such a clear purpose.
Favorite Track: War of 1312 – I’m not sure what the reference is to. The marching beat, the syncopation, the metal on metal tension building in aggression and machine precision is unnerving as it is powerful. A perfect summary of the tightening of the muscles this album creates. (I learned later this was a reference to the Code 1=A 3 = C 1 = A 2 = B in regards to the street clashes between BLM protesters and police) Added a whole new layer.
unitcode:machine – Themes for a Collapsing Empire – Dallas TX Industrial artist has been on my radar for a while. This new album hits a whole new gear. I remember being at Cold Waves this year and hearing person after person in the know say “Holy shit have you heard this album”. This is a masterclass in marble statue precision craftsmanship in electronic music. The vocals are melodic and driven in a way that haunts your head. I love how clearly the poetry of the lyrics rings out beyond music that fills every wall of a dance club. It follows the template of classical industrial while finding a tone distinctly it’s own. People need to know about this, it needs to be appreciated.
Favorite Track: Falling Down/Drift Away – It’s so hard to choose, because while Falling down is the zenith of everything i just described that makes me love this album. So Eric. Drift away brings in Emileigh Rohn of CHIASM with her fusion reactor bright burn voice over a slower deeper musical concept to break up the runaway freight train of the other tracks.
Slighter – Void – LA electronic songsmith producer with another powerful release. Colin Cameron is an absolute maestro of riding the razors edge between drifting spaceship on the edge of the known galaxy and that hook that gets stuck in your mind for days. The true modern day composer commanding a symphony of expression at the tips of his keyboard. The aptly named Void is a lost soundtrack of space horror like Event Horizon. Cameron has a sexy whisper voice that leads you like a siren into the unexplored darkness. Brilliant use of guest talent like Vocals on “Spill Blood” by R.A. Desilets. Proving again to be at the top of the game while drawing far outside the lines.
Tigersquawk vs. COP International – I love Compilations, I love Tigersquawk, I love COP International. One low price for 36 badass tracks to put you in the know of some of the best EDM Industrial in the world. This is wide in it’s scope. It is mixed and mastered by Slam, with wicked art by Greg Rolfes. So much value in one place where I guarantee you will find 7+ bands that you will immediately follow. The level of quality and diversity here is staggering.
Favorite Track: Ok normally this would be near impossible because there is so much good here. The Batavia is a undisputable jam. In fact everything i hear from them is pure gold. However one track did absolutely destroy me. Gasoline Invertebrate feat: Chris Connelly remixed by Ivardensphere “Scarlet Slip” was a dream team too powerful to overcome. It had Brian’s leg day industrial with Connelly spitting highspeed pew pew poetry and buzzing bass beats. It’s absolutely captivating. One of those tracks you didn’t know you needed until you couldn’t live without it.
COLD WAVES is a celebration of Chicago’s relationship with industrial music, the memory of a fallen brother, and a fundraiser for suicide prevention charities. In the summer of 2012, Chicago lost one of its most loved and respected sound engineers and musicians, Jamie Duffy. His work ethic and ingenuity in the local music scene was a gift to many musicians. His abrupt passing had a profound effect on the electronic and metal music communities he meant so much to. In need of healing and hope, we brought 14 bands together for one magical night that year to raise money for Jamie’s family and say goodbye. But in the end, it was more of an awakening… a rebirth… a breaking wave. The success of the show pushed us to build it into an annual event, stretching over a weekend and moving it to Chicago’s iconic Metro.
Cold Waves means a lot. It is a true culmination of everything great about this scene. People from all over the world coming together to meet and celebrate music, art, unity, and holding each other up through the darkest times. To remember Jamie and everyone who felt lost and alone. A hope that the scene will be there to lend strength to someone else in trauma tomorrow. It’s first and foremost a celebration of what makes life worth living. Music, art, friendship, and empathy. I attended this year Saturday and Sunday. To see old friends and new. To hear music that will lift my heart at a time I need it most. That is what really makes this special, more than a music festival. Especially in this time of pandemic when our online friendships have become something real to sustain us. This four day festival attended by fans and artists from all over the world turns faces on a screen into reality. A summer camp of outcasts that return each year to bask in the glow of music and lights. I previously covered Thursday and Friday so I will pick up on Saturday night.
“You’ll hear the term “family” thrown around Cold Waves a lot. It’s true. For a lot of us it’s the place we all have a reunion. I get to see friends in the crowd and on stage from all over the world, and since it’s in Chicago, the U.S. Mecca of industrial, you’ll see people from the Wax Trax hey day just walking around and chatting with everyone. There’s a real sense and respect for the history of industrial– past, present, and future. It’s always a joy being a part of it, whether performing or as a spectator.” Matt Fanale (Caustic/Klack/Daddybear)
Panterah – Information about this Chicago electronic artists is a tad hard to track down. No bandcamp page, instagram, youtube. You can still find releases of their previous incarnation Fee Lion. Large crowd from the beginning drawn in to these razor nails up your back danger pop. Great set to fill you with intrigue for the future of this project and the future of the night.
Provoker – LA based slushy layered dark alternative casting smoky hues through color gels. Lovely range to the vocals but every part of that spectrum is gorgeous. On a night with so much electronic magnificence it was wonderful to hear this driving fuzzy guitar centered sound. I didn’t know much going in, but I was completely won over and eagerly await the new album.
ADULT. – So I have seen Detroit based ADULT 4 times, shockingly never in Detroit where I am from. Adult is one of those artist that is an experience more than a band. A stage show of bouncing bolts of electricity cascading around the room. Humming electronic waves that create a vehicle for high brow lyrical concepts and husky chanting vocals. I love how through decades they continue to find a way to be on the edge of an evolving scene. The performance sent people running to the stage wondering what is happening and how can I get more.
Barker and Connelly – Two living legends putting aside all pretention and just having fun together shredding the ever loving shit out of a set while the audience stared in raptured attention. Two members of Ministry just smiling and unloading sonic obliteration in a shimmering drift between styles and intensity. This performance was just what you would hope for. They are preforming for the LA Cold Waves and if you have the chance, trust me don’t miss this.
Front 242 – Speaking of living legends. Belgium EBM pioneers brought a performance energy and excitement and 25 year old would be proud of. Including unveiling a new track. It’s madness that in 2021 a band I saw when I was 15 is still unleashing such unbridled energy in a live performance. As Chase Dobson said “Front 242, yes that Front 242”
Before the performance Sunday I got to have another amazing experience. A chance to go have pancakes with Martin Atkins at the Post Punk Industrial Museum. It was a dream come true for the experiences and stories he shared. Everyone needs to see this for themselves.
WINGTIPS – Chicago breakout Dreamwave band I have seen two other times. Never like this though. This performance was another level. It just tells me that they keep growing and elevating. After witnessing some mainstays with decades of performance under their belts, to hear someone open Sunday night full of exponential growth built my excitement for the whole night. In my opinion it was the standout performance of the night. It can be a razor line riding between nostalgia and modern. Wingtips do that with fearless precision and theatrical flare. After just two albums, I hunger for what their future holds.
Riki – LA based song siren who I had shockingly never heard before the festival. I think the best word to describe this performance is vibrant. The music has a very new wave throwback sound and the vocals are delivered with a series of bright and brilliant hues. The call and answer dueling delivery was a dialog full of soul and passion. I was an instant fan. A crackling sexy energy that flows through your limbs and demands movement.
Bootblacks – Brookland post punk darlings are on a rocketship of growth and excitement. They have the look, they have the moves, they have a sound that rings unique in a rising tide of the post punk style. Every time I see them I am watching a better band. Larry is an absolute beast on the drums, maybe the best in the scene. When you build on a base of that much fury and power, it makes everything else ring out with a performance that leaves you changed. The communication between each part is a type of family energy from the band that can’t be faked. The way each transition and timing happens without a pinprick of space between. Panther’s confidence and ownership of the audience has reached a real maturity and control. It feels like seeing Nick Cave, in his ability to make a large room feel intimate. Barrett and Alli are playing a complex match of high speed electric tennis sending melodies and leads back and forth in neon chaos. This is one of those bands people will be saying “I was there that night” ten years from now.
“Getting to play Cold Waves the first time around in 2019, was a huge honor. It’s a perfect blend of some of our favorites as well as a new wave of fresh faces, many of whom we’ve had the pleasure of sharing stages with around the world. But in addition to the show itself, Cold Waves in general is a community of like minded lovers of the scene. Some of the friendliest people we’ve ever come across. We were welcomed with open arms the first time around, but to be invited to come back and play this year felt triumphant. The love we received the whole weekend after 2 years of not being able to play shows, was so reaffirming and desperately needed. Everyone involved, staff, crew, security, organizers, bands, and of course, the fans, all came together and gave us memories that we will hold onto for the rest of our lives. We are eternally grateful. Barrett Hiatt (Bootblacks)
Korine – The Philly based TranceGaze act which are beauty encapsulated in their sound and aesthetic. I had never seem them live before this night and it took my breath away. You can feel the sound pouring over your skin like cool clean water. Seeing that crowd sway in sync with each song, it was a psychic dream and we were all sharing it in that moment. I will never miss a chance to see this band again.
Stabbing Westward – Then a special treat happened. LA’s Electro rock masters SW took the stage and I was transported to my bedroom as a 16 year old kid, mad because some girl done me wrong. Chris’s voice isn’t just preserved, it’s sharper and cleaner. They played a cover of The Cure’s “Burn” and I don’t say this lightly, it sounded better than Robert Smith. I was even blown away when some tech issues arose and Chris shifted into stand up comedian story teller mode and kept the crowd in the palm of his hand. It was dynamic, it was emotional, it was everything you want from a rock show. My knees were shaking, and then they played “Save Yourself”…I tried hard not to be a mark for the single, but I couldn’t stop. I got misty and belted along.
This isn’t just a festival, it isn’t just four days of heat stopping music. It’s a scene coming together for a wonderful cause and embracing each other. Holding each other up in dark times and saying we share something. Music matters and can still be the bond that ties us. If you feel like this has been missing, plan a trip for 2022. We are all waiting for you. We are all ready to be your people.