A rookies guide to Cold Waves VIII Chicago day 1. 9/19/19

In 2012 a musician and sound engineer much beloved by the scene named Jamie Duffy was taken too soon. In an effort to pay tribute and help his family, a group of bands collaborated to create a music festival. Eight years later it has continued to grow and thrive as a celebration of music, counter culture, and dancing. Somehow in those previous seven years I have never attended this festival. This year I am changing that. I figured I would create a preview of each of the four days line up. Then try to share them before I head to Gotham City this weekend. Friday is sold out but tickets are still available for the other days and I would love to share my Cold Waves deflowering with as many of you wonderful people as possible.

Thursday Sept 19th lineup is a monster one. Lets break down who you will see.

http://coldwaves.net/?fbclid=IwAR14BGkA1nBmGq0oS1uPTuQgYd8MRX8U2-4MjDVqu6GiHMih-r8zsMjeaMg

Chicago’s own Panic Priest from Negative Gain records is playing Smart Bar and Jack Armondo will be bringing his honey rich baritone voice over delicious electronic beats and sizzling guitar licks. If you have never had the pleasure of witnessing it live, it is a must see.

This couldn’t happen in Chicago without some old school boot stomping in your face industrial. Sean Payne/Chris Harris and friends doing Conformco will give you that in excess. Get on this dance floor now!

Bootblacks – of New York is a driving post punk electroclash sizzlefest that has to be seen live to truly be appreciated. I saw them play with frequent life partners Actors in Detroit this past year and was floored by the energy and passion of their set. They have a new record coming soon “Thin Skies” produced by Jason Corbett so you might get to see some preview material. Just seeing Panther’s dance moves alone is worth the price of admission.

Far from done here it’s we are still talking about day 1! Curse Mackey with his debut solo album “Instant Exorcism” I have already reviewed this year and it shook me to the core. Curse has a storied history in Industrial music playing with (Pigface/My Life with the Thrill Kill Cult/Evil Mothers) and this personal and powerful record is a ritual charged electronic inferno. I am yet to see him live so I couldn’t be more excited.


Acumen vs 16 VoltAcumen lead by the Novak brothers has been an intense hard hitting metaldustrial band since the late 80s. Their guitarist Jamie Duffy and his tragic passing was the focus that brought this festival together. No doubt making this a very personal show each year. 16 Volt with Eric Powell from LA also lean towards the metal side while adding electronic and synth elements. I’ve always really liked their vocals and cadence. I’m not sure exactly what the combination will sound like on Stage but with that level of talent in one place it is sure to be memorable.

Jared Loche and the Chemlab crew from Washington DC are part of any serious discussion about what Industrial music is. Chemlab has always held that early Throbbing Gristle art piece style of industrial music for me. They push the edge in the best possible way. It’s been a long hiatus since 2012 when they last played. It is a swirling, electronic Pandora’s Box, Like a pressure cooker filled with chaos brimming over into your eardrums. I can imagine what that many years of ideas is going to look and sound like.

Pop Will Eat Itself the UK based dance explosion that has been shaking the cement off clubs since 1986 with napalm bright guitars and electric stage shows and effective rapping. I think it has always been the extreme cleverness of this band that makes it stand out. My dear friend Josh Garman said it best “PWEI is so good they did a diss track of the Jesus and Mary Chain and I still love them” PWEI really deserves it’s own lengthy article about their contribution to the bigger musical picture.

Other important news, WAX TRAX will have a collectors corner set up with both the WAX TRAX documentary film and several rare test press, first press collectors items from the label.

My friends we are only at day one of a four day musical celebration and the names keep this exciting as the weekend goes on. So hydrate, pace yourself, and leave everything on the floor.

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Review of Night Nail: LA Demons

Band: Night Nail

Label: Cleopatra Records

Members: Brandon Robert – Vox/Guitar
Michael Carpenter – Guitar
Justin Regele – Synths/Keys/Programming
Bryan Panzeri – Drums​ Members: Brandon Robert, Justin Regele,

Home Base: Berlin Germany

https://music.nightnail.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pg/nightnailmusic/about/?ref=page_internal

So I had the extreme pleasure of meeting and interviewing this band while I was in Berlin. I am really excited for the footage we got and can’t wait to include it in this review. I feel like it gave a great background to these songs. As I am still working on editing, I didn’t want to put off this review any longer. So be prepared for it to expand.

This album is a narrative. A journey both emotionally and physically. To travel from LA to Berlin, two cities of such different flavor. It’s not a record to throw on in the background and do something else. It pulls you in, and demands your attention. Right away I am struck by the effective use of so many guitar tones. Some have a percussive almost bell like quality. The attention to detail in how they blend together give the texture integrity. A strength from the core of the sound.

Brandon has a deep rich voice that adds resonance to every song. It’s warm and dripping with anguish. The clarity of it really lets every word drift to you across the misty streets of the music. The way it sits so well on top brings the full range of feelings from the poetic lyrics. Sometimes with a gentle whisper, sometimes from the bottom of a well each word finds it’s way to you.

Now we speak of the saxophone. I miss the use of a muted, sexy sax in rock music so much. Night Nail uses the perfect amount to add texture and movement and complete that feeling of wet cold streets in an empty city. The bass guitar is thick and swelling. Not driving as is popular in post punk but a constant wide buzz that holds each song up. The lovely synth pads add the final piece of the puzzle. Varied, emotional, and never detracting. I keep getting drawn back to the idea of perfect construction. The time, thought, and stability of this lovely obelisk standing against a bleak landscape.

Some favorite tracks

Never Dream – Starting off strong with one of the more upbeat pacing songs. That gentle sawing guitar lead is the perfect smooth progression to set up Brandon’s deep echoing croon. The weight of the verse, given a beautiful uplift shift in the chorus. Wonderful effect.

LA Demons- The title track is an absolute simmering scorcher. This slow slinking bass riff with 90s flare right out of The Crow soundtrack. The sax in this song has this cool Pulp “This is Hardcore” sex appeal. This song has so much to unpack. Each time I listen it’s something new.

Shadow Song – This track has such a foreboding build with snapping snares that feel like they are in another room but snap like whips. The vocals are a gentle ghostly whisper with a harmony that makes everything sound ethereal and dangerous. Then that saxophone comes back to build. The drums start crashing like a funeral march and everything charges at you at once. This is song writing done right.

Overall Night Nail has me so excited. I feel like they have a beautiful and unique sound, but also the attention to detail and commitment that really takes a band to the next level. I’m extremely excited to complete the interview I had with them which gives even more background and insight into an already stand out album. Make your night better with this record.

Review of Panic Priest

Band: Panic Priest

Label: Negative Gain

Members:

Jack Armondo – Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Synth, Programming

on record: Toph McNeil (programming) + special guests

https://panicpriestngp.bandcamp.com/album/panic-priest

https://www.facebook.com/pg/PanicPriest/about/?ref=page_internal

A captivating self titled release from Chicago shadow minstrel Jack Armondo hits like a velvet coated brick with it’s power and beauty. As a musician when you ask another musician for feedback of course they are always drawn first and foremost to the thing they play. Therefore when I find a record with a truly gifted and unique sounding vocalist who writes great lyrics I am hooked. That’s how it was with Panic Priest. Jack has a voice that leaps in front of the music and leaves you entranced. You hear familiar elements in the style. A bit of Andrew Eldrich in that dark flowing wail, coupled the grit and soul of Peter Steele, you even hear the sorrowful beauty of Andy Deane. When it all blends together and crawls out of your speakers like a seductive demon creeping towards you, it becomes something of it’s own. This is no pure front man either. Jack is an accomplished musician who takes all of the writing and music on himself. The guitar work is a precise needle bouncing in time with the velvet curtain and rising synth sounds, they shimmer over a dark pool of bass building a story of sound and human frailty. The themes are aesthetic and heartbroken and they drip from a landscape which changes from song to song as quickly as the range in Jack’s voice. I have had the good fortune to share a stage with Jack and it is an incredible experience to witness live. I found myself even more impressed with his guitar playing than his unique and memorizing voice. It’s hard to pick out stand out tracks because the production is exquisite and every song is powerful and elegant. For the sake of whatever professionalism I front at I will try.

I find as time has gone on and I hear this record again and again I am struck by the fact that the sound matches the human making it. That isn’t always true but this album flows with an organic and genuine energy. It is deeply personal and gives you an experience of sharing in someone closest held self when you listen to his music. It’s one of those records you need to sit down alone with to truly appreciate. It is layered, it is lovely, and it unlocks self reflection.

Sideways – The opening track, this song is so catchy it haunts me rather in my ears at that moment or in my head later that day. Jack’s wails a chorus that speaks of familiar heartbreak. “Strange to say, think of me sideways” The drum beat jumps about light and enthralling for a true slow goth club jam. Swing your arms and fling your head about. I could hear this track 1 million times and it would never be enough.

Die Divine – This leans into the keyboards more and lets Armondo croon with a tenderness of a forgotten age while the chiming church bells of the keys fill the room. This is the soundtrack of city street walking in the rain. It bleeds isolation and echos a subtlety that makes you reach for it instead of coming for you.

Velvet Cage – Here you really hear that First Last and Always percussion guitar. The drums have an urgent speed. The vocals wrap it all in that voice which stares into your eyes unblinking. I love the concept of that beautiful cage we place ourselves in.

If you haven’t gotten from my over the top gushing yet, this album needs your attention. This is a band that has the something extra which is both definable and undefined. I originally wrote this review before this page existed and it remains one of the best things I have discovered in the modern dark music scene. I can’t recommend enough.

Review of S Y Z Y G Y X: The Graveyard Compilation

Band: SYZYGYX

Album: The Graveyard Compilation

Label: Cold Transmission

Members: Luna Blanc and Josh Clark

https://syzygy-x.bandcamp.com/album/the-graveyard-compilation

Do you know that feeling when you watch a truly suspenseful horror film? The first time you saw Suspiria, or The Exorcist. When you are gripping the edge of your chair uncomfortable, unnerved, feeling your heart race faster in your chest but you can’t look away. You know this is just a film and not happening to you but are still overcome with a terrifying dread that the world is monstrous and mysterious. That you might not have as firm a grasp on what is real as you thought you did? That is what I felt the first time I heard Washington DC TerrorElectroGoth band SYZYGYX.

SYZYGYX is An astronomical term denoting the disposition of three celestial bodies on a line. This is an incredibly deep and bad ass band name. This album is a compilation of “Broken Mirrors” EP (Burning Grave Records), “Encounters” EP (Cold Transmission), and “Is That All There Is” (Burning Grave Records). ” A very impressive body of work that all has an extremely avant garde tactile feel that creates a wonderful range in style and structure over the course of one collection. There are some elements of this unique sound that really tie everything together. For one Luna has such a wispy sensual voice that is full of haunted beauty. The music isn’t edgy or industrial, it has a medium pace dance beat. With a lot of subtle percussion notes to build tension and add flavor. The synth sounds are so wide ranging and expressive. When Josh adds in contrasting resonant monotone driving vocals it creates a dialog. A superb and fringe effect.

Luna and Josh with Cold transmission

I really enjoy a band that makes higher concepts and chic visual sound feel so effortless. When cool has a sound. How could you get Ladytron and The Goblins to create a soundtrack for a Italian horror film set in the New York club scene? To me that was the clashing contrast of elegance in SYZYGYX.

With 16 tracks that were chosen as standouts from the EPs it’s hard to pick favorites but lets give it a go.

Avoid the Void – Luna’s gentle whisper over this lancing synth sound. The snapping drums. There is something so Siren like in her calling voice. “You’re nothing, you are a waste of skin” I can’t argue. I think this song really struck me for the subtle touches which is what the band does so effectively.

Velvet Lips – What an offbeat and interesting phrasing on the vocals. The drums seem almost at odds with the melody creating this terrifying tension. Shrieking background sounds and subtle hints of beauty to the dark and sinister texture. The bridge change up almost feels like throwing the song in reverse while going 60 mph. It jars me, it captures me, it leaves me transfixed and wondering. The ending drum beats are like metal bars on steel drums and have this infinitely east coast alley feel.

Runaways – The closer is the perfect encapsulation of what this album is working towards. Luna’s voice is bouncing between her sharp stabbing and her breathy soothing. The Synths have a continual build. It definitely feels like running away from something but with no destination in mind. The voices of consequence on your shoulder calling you towards a change. Then the vocals become clear and the synth becomes a spaceship taking the journey to a strange and foreign place.

Overall the album is vast, hard to place in a box, and sinister. That’s what I felt made me love it more and more. Each block of songs stepped outside themselves and the whole of the sound stepped outside of the norm. It’s strange, it’s beautiful, it’s thought provoking. This is music for a private dance party not everyone is invited to. An intimate music. A puzzle to be solved together.

Sounds and Shadows Favorite Dj’s Shows List

So running this review page we end up sifting through a lot of music. Some that a band or label reaches out and sends to me. Some that I just find in the endless traversing of the internet. However another often overlooked source are the hard working Dj’s doing broadcast and mixcloud shows which help sift through the vast abyss of musical darkness and highlight those burning gems that set my heart aflame. I thought it would be fun to give a shout out to some of the shows I listen to regularly. These are people doing the dark lords work out here and following and liking their pages really helps them continue to find the best new music. These are in no particular order and are by no means the end of the list, but I have to start somewhere.

This Handsome Devil is Sunil Khanna

Sunil does a live radio show in Austin TX, one of the world hubs for hot new goth/Industrial music. He has a finger firmly planted on the pulse of the scene. He does a Mixcloud every Sunday called Dj AsuraSunil’s Sunday Seven where he highlights 7 songs from different artists in a wide range of genre. Usually with some theme and no discussion just music. However he is also one of the friendliest easy to know gentlemen you could hope to meet. His show is always a source of sparkling jewels.
Next up is Pat 626 and their show SubCulture Shock. They are out of Charlottesville VA which has a really thriving goth scene. They do club Djing as well as this show every Sunday and I rarely miss it. Pat always finds incredible balance of new music and classics with just the right touch of discussion and background on some of the bands played. Pat also does a nightly feature called “So bad it’s good” where they find the cheesiest over the top song possible. We share this guilty pleasure to the point neither of us is even guilty about it. I also love this show for the live group chat which often has a lively discussion from dark music lovers (often including great musicians in the genre)
DJ Dark Dave does one of my all time favorite shows out of Toronto. However it is also live broadcast on radio-dark-tunnel.net. Dave is always finding and spinning new great music and supporting bands all over the world. He also does a fair amount of discussion and background between sets. Which I love because he is freaking hilarious. Definitely a very light hearted show but his music finds are always spot on.

https://www.facebook.com/theeleventhhourwidr/

Here we have my hometown of Kalamazoo MI’s very own Dj Shadowplay. She does a wonderful show at Wednesdays from 11 PM-12 AM ET on the local college radio station WIDR called The 11th Hour. Lots of great Post Punk/Darkwave/Coldwave and a good mix of backgound and discussion.

DJ WILL Kill and his show Splatterhouse also in Kalamazoo from WIDR handles the Industrial/EDM/Gothic Metal harder edge side of the dark world. He also does a great job traveling to festivals and setting up interviews and guest spots for the show.
The Cold Transmission show put out by the German record label is a standard setter in terms of consistent brilliant playlists from the entire world stage. The genre tends towards mostly Post Punk/Cold Wave/Dark Wave but definitely not as a rule. They also set up a lot of specials such as mixcloud lists picked together with members of popular bands. I actually had the honor of doing a Sounds and Shadows/Cold Transmissions mixcloud list
DJ Kelly A from Pittsburgh PA does this wonderful show. She has been a part of the scene forever and although not exclusively I think does a great job of highlighting great female performers in the goth/post punk/darkwave genre. She has wonderful insight between sets and a warm and pleasant voice.
The lovely and insightful DJ Kelly A
The amazing Highway 7 show by Galit Korni on Ze Rock Radio in Tel Aviv Israel. This show is always on point in both the music played and the wide variety and world wide scope. She also has the most wonderful voice and although the show is in Hebrew and I can understand little of it, I find listening to it quite relaxing.

DJ Sonic Szilvi does Radio Dark Noise out of Portland Oregon. This great show has a wide range to the genre and best of all Szilvi is the most fired up energetic goth Dj I have ever heard. She is on in the morning on Sundays and sounds like she just crushed a vegan smoothie and ran five miles to the studio just be be fired up to spin great music for you.
Dj Subbababa from Rosenheim Germany manages LautFly FM. His new Music Hot but Dark shows are always on point and where I find a lot of the European bands that don’t always get picked up on other American Shows.

Ok this is technically a Podcast but Cat and Bat (Dj Batty Von Batts, and Dj Mistress McCutchan) play a ton of music and give great descriptions. They also have wonderful discussion around issues effecting the scene. Both are veteran Dj’s with worlds of street cred and they always have something interesting to say and a great new or old band I need to hear.

Dj Scott Durand does this great show great show from Lafayette LO. It’s all music and more EBM/Industrial based but he does a ton of new Music. He has a lot of personal contact with big name goth industrial bands and has done wonderful remixes for bands like Adoration Destroyed and Leather strip. He is usually one of the top mixcloud shows every week so that should tell you something
Dead Sound show is another I love by Victor Sevillano. Victor does an all music show as well but has such a vast variety of Goth/Industrial/Electronic. He really does a great job of finding new bands with old school flavor and is just an all around great guy. when I needed help putting together a playlist for Cold Transmission Victor helped me get my order right.
Victor Sevillano Eterna Obscuridad