Once Again Into the Breach My Friends. Time To Review Some Music.

Another Friday night finds me tipsy and alone behind this keyboard. However I am never truly alone when I have great music and all of you to share it with. I have all my latest Bandcamp purchases, a few of which are absolutely smash hits. Please leave a comment below of who you would like to see me review in the future.

Twin TribesAltars – The beautiful lads of TX have released a remix album. Now I will always buy anything Twin Tribes put out sight unseen. I have to say this collection of remixes by some of the hottest names in darkwave was a special treat. The songs were big departures from the standard Twin Tribes style, but Luis voice still kept each song familiar. It included tracks from both previous albums placed lovingly up for sacrifice on the Altar to be transmuted and given back to the world.

https://twintribes.bandcamp.com/album/altars

Remixers Include: Skeleton Hands, Geometric Vision, Luz Futoro, Ash Code, NITE, Wingtips, Matte Blvck, Dave Parley, She Passed Away, Bootblacks, and Creux Lies. Yes you read that right. I think the power house of performers here really speaks to the immense effect Joel and Luis have had on this scene in such a short time.

Favorite Tracks:

Upir (remixed by NITE) – Damn this is gorgeous. This slow drifting synths remind me of a quiet corner in a buzzing high energy club. The beat then kicks in with a lovely synth line. Just such a bold shift from an already amazing song. This is the most I can ask for in a remix. I true homage while breaking a new vision.

ShadowsMatte Blvck remix – Shadows was the song that started my deep love of Twin Tribes. It holds a very personal place in my heart. To have it transformed in this way and still hold such an intense emotional impact is something glorious. This is that secret cult but no longer around a ancient tree but now in a lush modern club. Full of velvet and burning incense. A beautiful and dangerous collision of past and future.

Overall Impact: Generally speaking I am not a huge fan of “just remix” albums. I really love remixes included with an EP or something fresh. However as is often the case Twin Tribes have become the expectation that proves the rule. They took songs I love and collected most of the top names in modern darkwave. If you don’t know some of the bands here, you need to let this album lead you back to them. It’s very accessible and has a nice variance of sound. General fans will enjoy, fans of Post Punk/Darkwave will love.

the DramedyAnd The Light Goes White – New album from Dave Dramedy, who I recently saw playing bass for Caroline Blind in Detroit. This was a strange and experimental album that never left me bored. Dave surely has a power and range to his voice that rides the line of Mark Burgess and Iggy Pop punk edge. I really like the blend of rhythmic acoustic and harder driving bass guitar sounds. This is an album that grows on you. It seemed to get better with every listen. Like a favorite film where you notice a new detail every time you watch and always feels fresh.

https://thedramedy2014.bandcamp.com/album/and-the-light-goes-white

Favorite Tracks:

Parasite: It’s hard to put my finger on it. The inflection in the vocals. The ring of the drums. The chopping downward acoustic guitar. This song although having a very dark edge, carries a vibe of 60’s Height Ashbury psychedelia. Of the Mamas and the Papas. It covers a lot of ground stylistically. The vocals are full of piss and vinegar for how beautiful and resonant they are. This song is a jam that is hard to place in the box. Other than the box of I love this fuking song.

What’s left To Say – Just stabbing sun shard energy right out of the gate. Total bop feel with flaming guitar lines, biting vocals, and late 90s Brit Pop hooks. I just couldn’t stop my leg shaking on this one.

Overall Impact: This album is so full of twists and turns. A definite nostalgia feel, as well as a region one. I really felt the California connection in every song. I think this record is very accessible despite the complexity. It is a hard sound to describe but if The Church were being yelled at by Iggy pop to stop changing time signature and just play bops. That’s what I feel.

Christian DeathSpectre (Love Is Dead) Kill Shelter Remix – This song is a classic. Probably my favorite CD track. So how do you re-imagine something iconic? Give it to Pete Burns. Pete is such a master of the sonic scalpel cutting away tiny bits until you are left with such a precise and streamlined modern wave beam. If I had it in my heart to toss a grenade over my shoulder and purposefully stroll from a collapsing building, this is the track I want playing. It’s pure energy and dangerous intent. 10/10.

https://christiandeathrozz.bandcamp.com/album/spectre-love-is-dead-kill-shelter-remix

Overall Impact: Everyone will love this track. It’s very fresh, it’s very way back. It’s just a slamming banger from start to finish.

Deadlight HolidayBlood // Body – Our dear friends from West Michigan uncorked this badass single with some slamming sounds of Nu Metal and sizzling tempo Stabbing Westward vibes. Great production in the breakdown swirl. Loving these scratchy tear your head off vocals blistering past the crunching guitar. Also a gasoline covered dead man’s dance remix by Angelspit. I sense big things on the horizon from these young folk and I look forward to sharing a stage with them again soon.

https://deadlightholiday.bandcamp.com/album/blood-body

Raichyl SinversaYou Tell Me (Re​-​Mastered) – Remastered single from Raichyl of Philly. This is a nice crooning darkpop head bopper with an empowerment edge of 90s grunge. The guitar work is napalm scorched earth to contrast the lovely lifting vocals. A little bit of southern sass in the tone puts a nice edge to this “I’m not falling for your shit again” boot stomping driver.

https://raichyl.bandcamp.com/track/you-tell-me-re-mastered

Aesthetic PerfectionAutomaton (feat. Sebastian Svalland) – Ok I have a confession that will not win me any goth points. Aesthetic Perfection sort of happened right in the moment between when I gave up on discovering new music and the time I listened to nothing but. Daniel Graves has become a leader of the modern dark scene for a reason. So getting to hear this new single without much context is a really interesting way to stumble into the band. This track is a bop. With firecracker exploding chain guitar work by Sebastian Svalland. It is also produced by Front Line Assembly legend Rhys Fulber. So I went in blind expecting cold razor precision on the production. Which is exactly what I got. What I was pleasantly surprised by was the range and voice charisma of Graves. It oozes with thick viscus grime and light footed cadence that keeps the energy constant and focused. The song also gives a tight compressed poetry of lyrics that convey a relatable idea in the modern era without an abundance of words. There is a special anticipation when you discover a band with a rich history later in their career and get to work your way back. I may have to do some of my reaction videos to some Aesthetic Perfection classics. Put your favorites below in the comments. Also buy this track immediately because it is a slam.

https://aestheticperfection.bandcamp.com/track/automaton-feat-sebastian-svalland

Redwing Blackbird: Fire Cleans Everything EP 

 Fire Cleans Everything EP originally released on Election Day (11/04/2020) immediately grabs you with a sense of the tension across the U.S. in 2020. 

The opener and title track Fire Cleans Everything the sophomore release from Redwing Blackbird (Denver Based Band, by way of Phoenix, AZ) picks up almost as soon as the song starts with the steady rumble of the drums and driving bass line that, just as easily could have been released in 1984 as today to be answered in turn by the slow whining drone of the guitar.

Paul Bakers vocals on this release reminds me of the first time experienced Red Lorry Yellow Lorry’s Nothing Wrong. 

This screams post punk protest music with the restraint of a stalking jaguar as Paul Chants, “FIRE CLEANS EVERYTHING”

This momentum continues on in the liquidity psychedelia of Space Bridge. Something in this track pulls in thoughts of cult band Slint’s  Album Spiderland. 

Powerful yet just understated enough to become a cult classic.

RW/BB bring things down a notch with Rake, a down tempo neon ballad laced with the echo of western guitar. This track exposes so much aurally that the story becomes visual, as Paul crones Well I use to wake/ Run with the moon/Live like a Rake in such a way that could have just as easily come from the mouth of Nick Cave or Michael Gira, and take you on a journey down the highway heading away from the chaos of the city, even if it is just for a moment in a seedy hotel

.

Closing this brilliantly composed EP is the chillingly upbeat yet apropos Guillotine, bring me right back to that Red Lorry Yellow Lorry experience. The smell of decaying card board of the Used Trax, and the head phone encapsulating me in some dark embrace that will last for years. 

This is a modern Post Punk Classic in Waiting.

Redwing Blackbird (bandcamp.com)

Images courtesy of Sarah Martinez

Sing Me Songs That Make Me Feel Something

Red wine and a shining moon. Here I sit once again after a long and chaotic week. I reach out for the solace of other peoples dreams and thoughts in music. The world is waking up from a long nightmare. The scene is wonderfully awash with exciting new talent and ideas. Here are some of the glorious sounds I am hauling into my boat.

ChiasmMissed The Noise – Always excited to see amazing art created by a fellow Michigander like Emileigh Rohn. This album is arranged by legendary producer John Fryer. There is nothing better than two top talents forming a bond and producing something better than the sum of the parts. Emileigh has a voice that gives you a gut punch of energy with every phrase. This feels like the montage scene in a film where our heroine levels up her power. It feels like actualization with every electric build and feint. The music is so finely honed, each song a story that digs it’s hooks in and allows the charisma of the vocals to shine like a beacon.

Top Tracks:

Noise – The glorious workout of crackling electric light. This song just blasts in wave right out of the gate. The vocals are power animal bright light. If I had to pick one word to describe, inspiring.

Missed – A total shift to darkpop drifting glory. The opening chimes and quacky sounds. I think you strangled my sweet mind. This is such a dynamic and visual sound. Windblown flowing silk in a posh apartment watching the worlds spin past. This song really puts on display the powerful teamwork of these musicians. Again with the powerful mantra of self actualization. Those deep vocal contrasts really add a noticeable line between the experience and viewpoint.

https://chiasm.bandcamp.com/album/missed-the-noise

Overall appeal: This is a album for everyone. It has lots of delicious pop and feminine power with an expert craft and emotional energy. Highly recommend.

Hide Tepes/ BlakmothFilther – The back and forth rocking sonic duel of our own Hide Tepes and Maryland’s Blakmoth. A wonderful collaboration of oily sonic darkness. There is a wisdom achieved at a certain point in life where you realize you can no longer walk the journey of those making music at the absolute cutting edge of modern music. If you listen though, you still know when you hear it. That difference when someone is truly taking the adventure for you and exploring new and terrifying ground. That’s the feeling inspired by this subtitle and and creeping Synth driven psychological terror. It’s music that grabs your hair and smashes your face in a mirror. Leaving you exposed to gasp at the bloody mess and the terror in your own eyes. This is not a casual listening album. It’s a test of your empathy and fortitude.

https://blakmoth.bandcamp.com/album/filther

Overall Appeal: This is not a pop album for easy listening. It’s a blending introspection of abstract thought and feeling. Enter at your own risk. If you do find yourself of a courageous heart and an open mind. This is the cutting edge music of tomorrow.

Nuclear*SunCouldn’t Have Said It Better Myself – So cover albums are a tricky thing, often you are getting someone at a lower experience level trying to find new space in an established song that meant something to them. Tal Kliger has brought a talent and hungry energy to covers of friends as well as inspiration. The overall sound razor skates that place between EBM and Industrial with a highspeed light footed agility. Bouncing vocals skipping between a growl and a ringing clarity. You can really hear the love and devotion to the musical process in these tracks. it’s blazing heat and energy that captured me and left me hungry.

https://nuclearsun.net/album/couldnt-have-said-it-better-vol-1

Top Tracks:

February War – A cover of Rabbit Junk. This was driving punk rock stinging beats and glitchy vocals. Stabbing and edge of control flavor. I love the guitar bends and smashing drums. A poignant assault on the senses and emotions.

Insurgence – A cover of Sean Payne but with smashing and razor sharp execution. Grab a bat and start smashing. Hard leaning Front Line Assembly vibes full of high concept and obliteration. I loved the parking lot fist fall energy and dark streetlight tone.

Overall Appeal: If you like it hard and nasty with a familiar feel this is your jam. Fans of Industrial/EBM/ Metal edge will find red burning glory here.

Bow Ever Down Lost In The Woods Kimberly Kornmeier sizzling darkpop from 2020 which left me swaying and captivated. The synthy star sparkle spins are a wonderful atmospheric journey. Their voice is an icy and bracing powerful clarity. They have a honesty and power that rings forth with every delivered line. It’s vulnerable and indomitable at the same fine. The music has a soulful and serious tone. A shattering crystal castle of faced disillusionment growth and regret. I also love the use of samples to set stories that allow the vocals to show the emotional range of the story portrayed.

https://boweverdown.bandcamp.com/album/lost-in-the-woods

Top Tracks:

Bury my Body – This song is full of that glorious smashing glass effect. It’s as beautiful as it is cruel. A challenge with sharpened blade to anyone that would dare step inside this protected circle. Kimberly’s voice is emotive and clear as ice.

Grey – More raw wound self introspection. Intense and powerful vocals delivered with beauty and subtilty. The concepts are timeless and modern. “I’m a monster and I’ll kill you from the inside out”

Overall Appeal: Definitely pop hook appeal. Definitely has soul. A nice organic quality added by the vocals. If you like darkpop with a strong female protagonist these are stories you can relate to and drive down a dark road summoning your strength.

A Cloud of Ravens Another Kind of Midnight – New album from Brookland band ACOR, which has left me immediately captured and ready to dive into this deep pool. This record is a perfect blend of the homage to the past and the modern construction of the future. Well deep power and resonant vocals carry these stalking shadow woven songs. It’s concrete wilderness and Peter Murphy poetry. Ringing guitars and driving basslines carry a heroic journey through a desolate land. The power of this story is to make the situation always seem so bleak but leaves a glimmer of hope in every song. We have an interview coming out soon that provides a glimpse behind the curtain to this emotional hand quivering delivery.

https://acloudofravens.bandcamp.com/album/another-kind-of-midnight

Favorite Tracks: All of them

Overall Appeal: Fans of old and new school goth will find a beautiful blend in this release. I feel into it’s grasp deeply and had a huge replay factor.

Mark E MoonOld Blood – Old and sinister music and vocals from Cold Transmission and the Isle of Man. I have been a fan or Mark E Moon for a while but this new record is a huge step forward in shadowy transmission and feeling that rips open your skull and pours raw unhinged emotion directly to your mind. It’s stomping, unforgiving and full of truth. I picked this record up and couldn’t find a way to put it down. Released on April 2nd you can get two tracks now with preorder. It has a sense of poetry and theater that has been lacking in the modern goth scene. It rides the line between beauty and grit. I can’t remember the last time I heard a band take such a monumental step forward from a previous album I enjoyed.

https://markemoon1.bandcamp.com/album/old-blood

Overall Appeal: Huge, if you love goth and darkwave this is exceptional execution with poetic and romantic lyrics. It’s fresh and furious with driving guitar lines that set a standard for future genre releases.

Ash CodeFear – Dark and dangerous new EP from the always impressive Italian act Ash Code. More racecar raw energy and city slick metro tone. I also feel a lot more edge in these tracks that the warmer synthesized last release. This just dropped yesterday and already is calling to me for constant playtime. Wonderful blending of vocals and sound. I hate to use another car metaphor but when you have a perfectly tuned engine and everything is humming just right. That is the sense of craftsmanship and streamlined beauty of Ash Code. The movement and transitions are effortless and graceful. It’s an effect that feels perfect in a club or at home over a bottle of wine. On top of that they pulled out all the stops having the songs remixed by top name artists like Clan of Xymox, Molchat Doma, and Forever Grey.

https://ashcode.bandcamp.com/album/fear

Favorite Track:

Indifference – Beautiful whispered vocals behind rapid fire heavy bass line. The rising synths are walls of color on a grey ground. I find myself getting lost in the beauty of construction. Listening to Ash Code makes me feel cooler than I am. That’s the true power of this band. To transfer some of their effortless appeal just by listening.

Overall Appeal: Immense, this is for fans of Post Punk/Darkwave/Synth but really has a relatability to fans of any dark music. It’s just well done. This is a band at the top of the game in their genre.

Giant Waves/Karluv Tyn, Pilgrims of Yearning, Navigator Project, and Monoplan

Giant Waves/Karluv Tyn

Giant Waves is a gothic post-punk/darkwave group formed in 2004. Originally formed under the name The Imaginary Stigma, they claim to be one of the “oldest groups in Russia” in the genre. Through their decade of existence, they have worked with legendary bands such as Skeletal Family and toured with Soviet Soviet. They currently are signed by Sierpen Records, which also boasts Molchat Doma.

Their newest release in 2020 was “Мерцание,” put out under their side-project Karluv Tyn (fun fact- they took this name from that of a twelfth century gothic castle). They describe the album’s music as “cold-pop” or Russian “apocalyptic-pop.” The Intro track has the sounds of church bells and choir, definitely a reference to their name inspiration. The album manages to be dark without being too overbearing or heavy. An upbeat rhythm, clear vocals, chorus-y guitar, and smooth synths all blend together to make something mid-energy and perfect for light, casual listening.

Its members are Iliya Volchansky (voice, guitar, synths, lyrics), Andy ‘Avalanche’ Fomin (synths, drums), and Michael Kirilenko (recording, engineering).

A new Giant Waves release in the works. If all goes according to plan, expect to see this upcoming single in the next two months. Additionally, they are making a video for the song “Love is a Lie”. Finally, there will even potentially be a new album put out halfway through the year.

Producer and artist Vitaly Sanych reports that they have changed their sound slightly, citing both hardships in the local music scene and a desire to continue developing their style.

Pilgrims of Yearning

Pilgrims of Yearning’s music, specifically their 2020 release Forsake Lands, has been covered once before by S&S.

In spite of live venues being canceled, this band has been prolific in attending online streaming events including Gothicat, Arg!, Goth for Sanctuaries, and some Latin American events such as Real Under Fest and Festival Under Latinamericano. In the future, expect to see them at the upcoming Leather & Lace fest on January 31st.

Originally from Chile, they moved to Boston and will soon be again moving to the sunny city of Miami. Their current lineup is Claudio Marcio (Guitar, Sequences), Juls Garat (Voice and Lyrics), and Sean Woodbury (Bass).

Pilgrims of Yearning is working on new material, both singles and videos, to release later in 2021. Vocalist Juls Garat expressed the band’s desire to retain the “exploratory and eclectic” traits of their first album, but also follow a natural flow of evolution and exploration. 

Navigator Project

Navigator Project, according to their Bandcamp, is a synthpop/darkwave band from Naples made up of Amir Sabljaković (vocals, synth), Daniel (drums), and Caroline (lyrics, melodies).

There are four releases on their page. Spellbound, a single posted August 3rd, Follow the Light, a full album posted on October 16th, In the Spiral (Klonavenus Remix), a single posted on December 13th, and In the Spiral (Lost Messages Remix), another remix single posted on December 29th. I gave them a listen. Navigator Project makes dynamic, active-sounding music with intense, almost nostalgic synth lines that I’d love to hear at the local club. Sabljaković’s vocals are clean and relaxed yet focused with, if I’m correct, a slight accent that is quite enjoyable to listen to.

I reached out to Sabljaković inquiring about any future material. He told me that, in light of the pandemic and pause in concerts, they’ve taken advantage of the situation to work on another synthpop album.

Monoplan

Monoplan is a Russian synthwave band composed soley of Dmitry Philippov. S&S briefly covered them once already last February.

So, let’s get an update! Since then, Monoplan has put out three releases: The Game (March 2020), Promzona (October 2020), and Beneath The Sky of The Sleeping Cities (November 2020).

I reached out to Philippov for more information. He describes Monoplan’s music as “a soundtrack to the bleak dystopian cityscapes where ghostly figures dance on the rooftops of abandoned houses to the beat of an old drum computer and eerily pulsating synths,” and that’s honestly perfect. What an image! Regarding genre, Monoplan is “a lo-fi mix of post-punk and cold wave, sometimes steering off to gloomy disco or punky reggae.” If the ghosts-on-rooftops didn’t catch your attention, how’s gloomy disco for you? Definitely something unique!

Do you have any future albums in the making/planned?

Yes. My most recent release, the Pod Nebom Spyaschikh Gorodov EP, was initially planned to be an album. But I had not much time to finish it properly, so it came out as a 4 track mini album. There are a few songs left, plus some new tracks in the making. I think I’ll return to them in spring.

Catching Up with The Cult Sounds: New LP “Death of a Star”

Dark rock band The Cult Sounds has been covered by S&S before, such as in this introductory interview and this review of their Halloween compilation.

https://thecultsounds.bandcamp.com/

Their lineup is Bennett Huntley (vocals), Ryan McBride (lead guitar), Jordan Hageman (rhythm guitars, keys, programming), Wyatt Eagen (bass), And Justin Riley (drums).

Fortunately, we’ll see much more of them in the future. Their newest LP, Death of a Star, is scheduled to release sometime in 2021.

McBride tells me that, compared to their previous works, this one will be more “ambitious.” “We definitely weren’t afraid to take risks and incorporate different musical styles or genres when writing,” he tells me. “Also, this year has given us nothing but time to make everything just how we wanted, then listen to it over and over and go back and make any changes we felt the songs needed. If we were finding our identity with the first ep, then on this record we’re seeing how far we can take it.”

Hageman seconded this. “We really pushed our songwriting even further and experimented more. He continued by saying that “this record takes more of our inspirations and influences than we got to explore on the first EP – we brought in bits of things outside of Post-Punk and Goth to add to the palette of sounds and textures.”

Bouncing off that note of genre elements, McBride states “moving forward, we’ve woven a lot of heavier elements into our already atmospheric sound, both musically and conceptually. Right from the onset of the album, fans will notice a marked difference in our approach to the album and it only goes up from there.”

Finally, Huntley pitched in. “Overall, it’s a huge step forward for us, in terms of what we felt capable or comfortable doing compared to when we first put out our debut EP, and even as far as what I think any of us has been a part of musically up to this point. It’s a complex record and I’m really excited to see it released. I still struggle when people ask me what kind of band we are, because I’m not even sure. Day to day, song to song, we take influences from everywhere and it’s constantly changing and forcing us to evolve our sound. The full-length format has given us the chance to explore that, to stretch our legs, and 2020 gave us the time to really mature and improve as songwriters. It’s a natural growth from our earlier material but also there’s plenty that I think might surprise our followers.”

I was given access to four tracks off it: “What Gets Done in The Night,” “Pale White Horses,” “Ritual Scars,” and “Afterlight.” Right off the bat on the first track, I can see the almost metal-styled speed, power, and aggression. “Pale White Horses” is a bit softer and could perhaps be qualified as a ballad. “Ritual Scars” picks the hard energy right back up and runs with it. This is a song I would happily scream-sing along to while driving a car down a highway. Finally, “Afterlight.” It starts with a strong guitar riff that reminds me of 80s hair metal in a good way. The vocals are intense, and the energy is still nice and high.

I asked if there was any such retro influence for that particular track.

Hageman responded, telling me “as far as Afterlight goes I think there’s always some retro influences because we are influenced by a lot of music from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s as well as the music we grew up with like AFI, Alkaline Trio, Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, Type O Negative, My Chemical Romance, etc. We never consciously go into a piece of music with a preconceived notion of wanting to capture a decade or a sub-genre since we plot the songs as we go in writing them pulling different ideas for each section wherever that inspiration comes from at the time.”

There’s also an accompanying music video for “What Gets Done in The Night.”

It’s incredibly cinematic and smoothly shot. After almost two minutes of tense introduction, the band comes into view. As they play, we see various props around the room such as candles and an animal skull. They’re playing in a vividly painted room, which the camera gracefully pans across. The band toasts with glasses of an unknown liquid. Together is makes for an almost eerie or occult vibe, in a subtle way. This nicely accompanies the repeated lyrics concerning the devil.

I asked about the occult aspects, and Hageman confirmed my assessments. “There’s definitely some occult imagery in the video to go along with the concepts of the song’s metaphors and we also were heavily influenced by 70’s horror films and wanted to do as much of that as we could.”

I wondered if this occult theme goes through the rest of the album, too.

Huntley responded that “I think some of those references to the occult appear naturally in most of what we do. It’s a big part of what inspires us across the board, whether it’s from music or movies or literature. Black candles, rituals of the flesh, devils and demons, that’s what rock n roll is all about!”

“The title “Death of a Star” can be taken many different ways,” Hagemen added, “and each song explores the concepts of death in different facets and aspects in our everyday lives and in our culture.”

So, that concludes things. Death, rock, and a mini film- all things to look forward to with this new material!