Artists Not Named Kate Bush You Should Still Be Talking About

It has been a moment since I had a chance to sit down and talk about exciting new music that has come out recently. Bands are starting to go back on the road and that means new releases. Instead of doing a Bandcamp Friday this month instead Bandcamp is donating a portion of proceeds to NAACP for Juneteenth. They continue to be the best way to buy music while supporting artists and important causes. We also had our May Darkscene Singles Chart which is on the webpage as well as new podcast interviews. So check those out to support us, like and subscribe.

https://www.youtube.com/c/SoundsAndShadows

silver walksvarious positions – I met Daniel McCullough near a dumpster behind Cold Waves in 2019 and heard “Lantern” in 2020. Immediately I knew this album was going to be something special. Dan is one of the most underrated song writers in modern electronica. The people in the know, they understand this. I hope this album is what makes that clear to the scene at large. I think one of the first points to strike me, all but one song are over 5 minutes. In a world of short singles, Various Positions is stretching your dance floor endurance. While making EVERY song a banger. Infectious dance beats that ebb and flow in texture, with razor blade twists. You can really hear the patient precision that went into each song’s construction. There is a thematic post apocalypse spiritual journey that makes me close my eyes and get lost in the story, while stomping in time to infectious hooks. This whole album rides a highspeed tightrope between progressive and ear candy.

▶︎ various positions | silver walks (bandcamp.com)

This album also has a spicy list of A + contributors to bring Dan’s vision to light. Stella Soleil , Coral Scere, Tim Heireth,  Marc Heal,  James Francis, Eva X, and many more mixed lovingly by living legend  John Fryer. Part of the testament to this albums power are the names that agreed to be a part of it. Album art & layout // Joshua Mccallister
silver walks logo by Jim Marcus. Eric Oehler wizard shimmers the mastering. Photo of Dan // Kirsten Miccoli I just saw Dan thanked me in the liner notes, so now I am crying.

Assemblage 23 Remix

Favorite Tracks: This is truly difficult. There is not a throw away track on this album. A wise woman once wrote “The first cut is the deepest” So I will choose where it began for me.

Lantern – This track just hits different. I story woven of a time lost in a desert place of which taps into a fury against injustice. The music here is captivating and lives in my head. This song slaps on the level of Gary Numan doing My Name Is Ruin.

Overall: This is a record I will be visiting all year long until December when it comes time discuss albums of the year.

Cyborg AmokCyborg Amok – Self titled release from the New Jersey Father/Son duo which came to my attention courtesy of Michael Nagy. I recently got to interview the band for the Sounds and Shadows podcast. A heavy hitting dystopian future progressive gothic style. I immediately was put in mind of Palais Ideal by the complexity and science fiction concepts. Greg Bullock has a dream whisper voice and a bardic soul. I feel in love with the purity of a father and son bridging generations to find a place of compromise between their influence. Taking that space epic Rush 70’s feel and blending a modern darkscene compression.

▶︎ Cyborg Amok | Cyborg Amok (bandcamp.com)

Favorite Track: Choice Not Taken – This one was just so powerful once I learned the story behind it. The connection between men discussing their trials with candor out front of a powerful spine of percussion.

jluc Courchet aka SPIRYTBLOOD TWINS – Featuring the phenomenal vocals of Kimberly from Bow Ever Down French electronic shadow Cabaret led by Jluc Ciurchet is weaving soul and atmospheric beauty in the smooth seductive style of 90’s trip hop. Unlike the smooth smokey flow of Portishead, the duo ruffles the waves of dark water with unsettling tension that never allows your heart to rest. I love the scope of instrumentation full of color and percussion. Kimberly has a voice that is remarkable for both it’s quality and the honesty of her delivery. Truly spellbinding she needs to be in the discussion of the top women in the scene.

Favorite Track: Breathing In Breathing Out – Again, this whole album is staggering and an inspired blend of two talents in Jluc and Kimberly. This song just hit with a weight of sorrow and depth I found myself staggered by. This is a song of finding steady ground. To look a trauma and terror in the eye. An inspirational energy to face down the darkness that surrounds.

▶︎ BLOOD TWINS | jluc Courchet aka SPIRYT | jluc courchet (bandcamp.com)

Stoneburner / ChantStoneburner​/​Chant King of wolves tour freebie – Speaking of epic and exciting tours which are springing up. Two of the most exciting things happening in industrial music, Steven Archer‘s (Stoneburner) and Bradley Bills (Chant) touring together and unleashing percussion artillery meant to challenge your conceptions and shake your bones. This pre tour pay what you want digital release is the perfect introduction for anyone seeking the exciting new direction that Industrial music has evolved to. It is fierce, vibrant, and epic in scope. Highlighting the talent and different tone of both artists. This is a can’t miss live performance people will speak of in awe years from now

Stoneburner (bandcamp.com)

The Waning MoonThe Waning Moon – Wonderous new collaboration project from Zac Campbell (The Kentucky Vampires) , and Ariel Maniki (The Black Halos). Two powerhouse talents of the modern traditional goth scene forging an alloy of blackened metal which echos with loss and remorse. Unlike their more organic percussion based projects TWM features aa blistering tempo freight train which unshackles Campbell to terrorize the fretboard and Ariel to use a haunting cadence full of ice cold foundation and strength. Only 4 tracks on this EP, but each sets the tone for a future force that fills a need in fans who hunger for traditional goth.

Favorite Track: Talisman – I didn’t go for a deep cut here. This single that accompanies the really sums up the best of what these artists do. An arterial spray of viscera and poetic sorrow which work in harmony, to tell a story of anguish.

The Waning Moon | The Waning Moon (bandcamp.com)

The AmaranthGothtimist – As always it feels weird to review yourself. So I won’t. This track off our upcoming album is special to me. It is the ideals of Sounds and Shadows put into sonic form. That the world is cruel, and promises get broken. Yet we can reach out to our friends in the darkest moments and find hope. This song features an amazing array of guest contributors which blows my mind every time I ready it.

Jason Corbett (Actors) , Jean-Marc Lederman (The The; Gene Loves Jezebel; Fad Gadget; The Weathermen; Rohn-Lederman), Dan Milligan (The Joy Thieves; The Burying Kind), Kimberly Kornmeier (Bow Ever Down), Katy May (Katy Needs A Life), Saphira Vee, Brian Graupner (gothsicles; Gasoline Invertebrate) , Ryan Flint (WitchHands), Matt McIntosh (A Cloud of Ravens). As well as cover art by Albie Mason (Scary Black) and mastering by Pete Burns (Kill Shelter)

Gothtimist | The Amaranth (bandcamp.com)

Draven’s Mixtape​:​1994 Revisited

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.

https://distortionprod.bandcamp.com/album/dravens-mixtape-1994-revisited

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.

https://cocksure.bandcamp.com/

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.

https://gofight.bandcamp.com/

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.

https://nulldevice.bandcamp.com/album/line-of-sight

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.

https://paniclift.bandcamp.com/

Leaether Strip Red Lokust and Tragic ImpulseJim 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!

https://tragicimpulse.bandcamp.com/

https://redlokust.bandcamp.com/

https://leaetherstrip.bandcamp.com/album/ppreciation-v

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.

https://egolikeness.bandcamp.com/

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.

Jim Marcus (GoFight/Die Warsaw) Advice For Writing Songs

I’ve been writing songs for 40 years and have written or co-written over 500 songs that have been released in some way. I don’t consider myself, really, a great musician, a great drummer, a great singer, but I do cling to the idea that songwriting is the core of who I am. even if it doesn’t love me, I love it.

I wanted to maybe list 5 super simple tips for songwriters. I know there are a lot of musicians here and I hope there is value here for some of you:

1. Write at least one song every day. Even if you think it is terrible. The only way to get good at this is to get crazy at this and do it a lot. You can start thinking of songs as throwaways, as ideas that sometimes stick and sometimes get thrown away. Once we stop getting so protective of them, we can let them die, change, grow, or be replaced by something better. I like to write new theme songs for tv shows, local colleges, superheroes, anything. Most of the songs I write are just for cannibalizing for pieces. “Cause I’m the Spiderman, I like to swing, impossibly high cause that’s my thing, Got spider bulge and 6 pack abs, realistic webs come out of my ass” had 14 verses and I have actually used some of them.

2. Conversely, Record everything you do. Writing down notes is helpful. Having a voice recording app on your phone you use constantly is better. Every idea, every riff, every bassline, every small chunk of vocal. Keeping a google doc open ton your phone, too, where you write words you like is great. I refer back to mine all the time. It’s now hundreds of pages and full of lines, rhymes, chorus ideas, etc. Entire verses that I liked have come from it. I wrote a song in the 90s called “Pussy Maybelline” for a friend of mine who admitted she put lipstick on her genitals for a date once. I wrote literally hundreds of verses about what other insane things she could do. That song has really delivered, even though it never came out. If you like a meter, write as much as you can in it. Many songs I’ve put out have had 12 verses written for them. I used the best ones.

3. Find different parts of you I have a habit of splitting myself into different people when I write. I have a person inside who writes dirty songs, one who does mean, angry ones, one who is super political, etc. They have names. It helps when you imagine how someone else would say something. Talk in funny voices, mispronounce words. Try to do something at the top and bottom of your range. Sing at different times of day, find every weirdness. I sometimes walk around talking like a different person, looking for a voice. I wrote a song called “Light it up” trying to channel this guy who comments on my feed who made an allusion to blowing up the middle east. I couldn’t sing that as me. (Maybe you can see | how hard it is for me | to be one voice in a system when it used to be all me | I want the same thing everyone | wants and will not say | to be in the majority, but that just slipped away, so I say Light it up.)

4. But Don’t wait for words and melodies are different. I hum simple melodies all the time and then sometimes match them with words. I sing to things. It would be embarrassing to explain which song I released started as “I love you, spaghetti” Remember that some of the greatest songs ever don’t have words that make sense. Phl Collins was going to replace Susudio, but couldn’t find a word he liked, Maurice White left “Bah-de-dah-de-dah” in “September” by Earth, Wind, and Fire, because that’s just how he liked it.

5. Write over other people’s songs and rhythms. I worked with a really good songwriter once who used to just sample other grooves from songs she liked, loop it, tape the key down, and sing her own songs over it. When you listen to music you like, sing your own song ideas over the songs. I mean, not at the show or anything. But when you are alone. Once you have a good song, you can replace the music under it with anything. The world is full of rhythm, chord progression, etc. And all of it is there to inspire you.

Jim’s newest single in case you had any doubts of his stellar credentials 🙂

Album Art Feature: Part 1

An album is a multi-faceted piece of art. There’s the lyrics, the music (instruments, vocals, effects, mixing), and then there’s the visual side of things. Today, we’re exploring some great pieces of cover art shared in the Sound & Shadows group.

To start off, this is the cover to Automata by Confusion Inc. “The artwork to my Automata album is special to me, because the original image used was a photograph of my mother’s artwork,” Colin Cameron says. “She’s an abstract expressionist – life long painter. I love the stone-looking background here, as well as the several dimensions of glitchy-ness added over it. This is an elegant cover with a heart-warming backstory.

Next up is the cover to The Fire Within by Vaselyne. This piece is a self portrait by Yvette Winkler. The photography here is excellent. It is still, yet in a day dramatic and dynamic. I love how the picture fades so seamlessly into the black void background. It altogether creates some emotion I can’t quite name.

Here’s the art for Plague Garden’s upcoming album. The piece was done by Albie Mason. I’ve got several aesthetics on the tip of my tongue while looking at it. It’s visually striking. There are many elements at play here, but they all form a wonderful cohesion under the vintage-feeling grain. It reminds me of browsing the sci-fi section at an old bookstore tucked away somewhere.

Inertia by We Are Parasols is coming in hot with this rainbow orb! The art was created by Daniel Kopton . This feels like something I could see in a museum. It would make a great desktop background, too. A poster, even. Basically what I’m trying to say is that I love looking at this. The choice of using a bar code instead of text is bold, but I think it works well.

Changing gears a bit, let’s take a look at Sea Lungs. This art was done by one of the band’s own members. It has a slight comic book cover vibe to it, I think, in how perspective and action are both played with. I’ll admit when I first glanced at it, I thought of astronauts due to the suits, the crater-like ground, and the star-like bubbles. I think this ambiguity adds to it, though. After all, space exploration and deep sea exploration are both equally terrifying intrusions into the harsh unknown.

Here’s a shocker. The album cover to Batavia and Their Friends by Batavia. No, you didn’t suddenly get transported back to the 1970s. “Nobody we showed this to thought we would actually use this and risk losing 200% of our goth credibility,” says band member Ed Cripps. “Risk is the spice of life.” That it is, Ed, that it is. I applaud this bold stylistic choice and devotion to an artistic direction here! I love it.

Another strong artistic direction is shown here in the album Leyendas de las Almas Perdidas by Valentina Maurino. “Endăley (fairy of the souls) is the one I portrayed here, the one who tells the stories of the lost souls behind each song, and these lost souls are represented through objects on the little table (it’s a telephone seat), some of these appear in my music videos too, I love symbolism,” Maurino tells me. I absolutely adore the whimsical handwritten wording. The broom-like hands, the table ornaments, the lighting…it all comes together and, I agree, tells a story.

Speaking of stories, let’s go into Another Year Of Rain by Arden and the Wolves. Arden Leigh had a lot to say about this piece.

“I wanted to convey the question that was arising for so many women at the time, myself included – is our sexual objectification and submission hot, or is it violent? Does it depend on who’s doing the choking? How can we be sure of the person’s intentions? Are we getting off, or are we endangering ourselves? As it turns out, in the following four songs on the EP that I would write between 2016-2017, I ended up unearthing and purging all my relationship trauma, and recalling a memory I’d suppressed – one where I was choked in anger by a dominant male partner I’d been financially supporting as his submissive. Through the course of the album writing and recording process, I answered the question “who can you trust” and I learned discernment. When the EP was released in early 2018, we were four months in to the crest of the #MeToo movement, and it was right on time.”

More information about Arden and the #MeToo movement can be read here.

Lastly for today, here’s the cover of Nervous Prayers by Sweat Boys featuring the logo work of Jim Marcus. This piece is serene yet dangerous. The imagery is drowning and, yet, reaching for help all at once. I am reminded of the hand of Adam reaching towards God as the Sistine Chapel.

My goth soul is burning in this Sun, but also from these hot new releases

Add 1 part vodka, 1 part lemonade, 1 part ice tea, 1 part these sweet new sounds. Shake that ass, and pour into the internet to share the party with the world.

Pilgrims of Yearning (Forsaken Lands) I have reviewed a few singles from the Boston witchy harvest dark rock. It’s striking and powerful, hints of Switchblade Symphony with a brighter flowing tang. Juls Garat has an angelic choir of a voice and gets offset by thunder rich basslines from Sean Woodbury. Claudio Marcio does a double duty on bonfire wall guitars and snapping drum sounds. I like the curt furious pace. This album was a long time coming and for an opening salvo it was really worth the wait. I love the Cure Standing on the Beach singles hectic jerk worldview to dark music. They really know how to strip it down and draw you in, then when they have you in the trap they spring the jaws. Favorite tracks: The Besieged , Bachanalia, and The Visitor.

The standard is set for a new force in dark rock music. This is a journey worth taking with a very mystical and stormy feel. They are on my new list of must follows for all future release.

https://pilgrimsofyearning.bandcamp.com/album/forsaken-lands

Also this video is a scorcher

Sappira Vee (My Game/Game Changers) – Rochester NY Siren Sapphira is one of those talents like Hante‘ or Black Nail Cabaret that has such an effortlessly cool sound. It transports me to a hip party I could never get into. Smashing EDM triphop beats interlaced with gentle flamenco guitar sounds. Her voice is breathy and flowing as though she just set a martini down and leaned against a rotulet table in an underground casino in Monaco. Both the album and the brand new remix compilation exude silky sensual elegance. There is a reason why she attracts top talent in the electronica scene to work with her. (Dogtablet, The Joy Thieves, Migraine Robots Sounds, Adrian Halo, and Melodywhore) Iridescent smoke twisting around neon lights. Favorite Tracks from the new remixes: My Game (Dogtablet), Who Will I be Today (The Joy Thieves) , On Your Throne (Adrian Halo).

Both albums are a total hit play and go back to your party self sustained beauty. If you love electronic music you need this.

https://sapphiravee.bandcamp.com/album/game-changers

The Ghost of Bela Lugosi (Square Grouper) Is there anything that Vin can’t do? Just when I think I have his sound fingered out he busts out a new single that is a goth themed 90s hip hop full of scorpion stabbing lyrics. Just pure Vin swagger and perfect backbeats. My jaw is dropped, just fuck. Vin might be the most dangerous man in dark music.

https://ghostoflugosi.bandcamp.com/album/square-grouper

Rosegarden Funeral Party (At the Stake) – Ok so far we did trip hop, rap, dark rock, do we still review goth on this page? Lets give it a try. I have shockingly never reviewed an album from the Dallas TX traditional goth explosion. I’ve heard singles but never dove in head first and I’m not afraid to admit that was dumb. Sinister reverb guitars, blistering transitions, and laser strike vocals. Mikka Vanya Brightheart is a force of raw untamed stormwinds striking out at an unsuspecting world. It’s haunting and full of driving pop hooks. Consider me won, consider me a fan. Favorite tracks : Torture Decline, Fear of Feeling Nothing, Justification.

https://rosegardenfuneralparty.bandcamp.com/album/at-the-stake

Joker Jasper (Turn of My Light) – New single from this Russian American dark pop crooner. I really like the soulful spewing vocals with a melodic feel on spoken cadence. The chorus jumps up with a lot of venom and intensity. I look forward to more from this talented song writer.

https://jokerjasper.bandcamp.com/track/turn-off-my-light-single

I actually preferred this lovely acoustic drizzle and shadowy delivery.

Dissonance (Precipice) – New single from a Dallas talent this one with several remixes from top Industrial talent like Joe Haze and Adrian Halo again. Cat has a rich lovely voice that fills an opera hall of a room. I love the glitch and shift style here that puts you on the ledge of a great city scape looking down. It’s constant motion and full of feeling. Like two great forces pushing in on each other. Beauty and vibrating uncertainty. A great talent who knows how to surround herself with other great talent for maximum effect,

https://dissonanceband.bandcamp.com/

Thee Elder Gods (I Am Satan) Sometimes I need it loud and nasty. I do not apologize for this. Kalamazoo native punk rock explosion keeps it old school furious. In these times of darkness sometimes you just need to grab a can of lawn mower gasoline and pour your anger on the world with slashing guitars, baseball bat smacking bass and napalm explosion vocals. 2 minutes and 22 seconds of walk away while the world blows up.

https://theeeldergods.bandcamp.com/releases

It’s bandcamp day again Friday, pick up some of these new releases, crank them up to 11, and let the neighbors now you are still there while social distancing.