The incredible Belgian band, Slow Crush, has been making a name for itself in the post-punk and shoegaze scenes for the last few years. They’ve been called “My Bloody Valentine with a post-hardcore edge” by Guitar World and are described as “the sound to a beautiful alternate reality” by Kerrang. Now they’re bringing their dreamy and abrasive sound to the next level in their latest full-length album “Hush”.
I can’t start to tell you how much I love this album. After listening through it the first time, I was hooked. If you’re a lover of pedal driven music, you will too.
This album will take you many places with it’s simultaneous offering of harsh abrasiveness and delicate dreaminess. While the instruments are fluid and the vocals are angelic, the entire album has a pleasing fullness and overarching heaviness that makes even the harshest sounds favorable and welcomed in abundance.
“Hush” is the sophomore album by Slow Crush which exceeds it’s incredible predecessor “Aurora”. With shimmering melodies, soothing vocals by Isa Holliday, noise and chaos added on top, this album brings next-level emotion and intensity. The album was born from the ideas floated around between tour gigs in the beforetimes and brought to life by the worldwide lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s because of these circumstances that the album can both be light and melodic while carrying the weight of the world outside.
Drown: The opening track of the album which sets the tone for the what follows. With shimmering guitars and whirling noises, this song makes me feel like I’m seeing the world through frosted glass. There’s no way to describe how beautiful this track is. With dual vocals, a simple strumming guitar, and keyboard creating a lush atmosphere, I had tears in my eyes and couldn’t wait to hear the rest.
Swoon: This songs pace is a little faster. Opening with a crash of noise and drum fills, this track quickly takes a dark, pulsating turn. Throughout the song, there’s an amazing showcase of grinding guitars, obscure noises, and dissonant vocals that somehow create an absolutely beautiful post-rock track.
Lull: This is the first single released off the album and it’s the perfect track to showcase how heavy and beautiful this band can be. The song starts and it seems like it’s going to be soft and pretty. When the drums and guitars kick in, the song layers up. Without lacking in beauty, the overdriven guitars create a wave of loudness that gives me goosebumps. Check out the video below!
This album will surely make your album of the year list if you love shoegaze and post-punk. With walls of sound, celestial-like vocals, and shimmering instruments, “Hush” will throw you back to your favorite artists like My Bloody Valentine and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, while adding some new spices to the mix.
“Hush” will be available October 22, 2021 on vinyl, cd, and digital download via Quiet Panic. Also, stay tuned for updates on the bands upcoming WORLD tour!
This pandemic has changed things. The world we left is not the one we will return to. Even as vaccination rolls out and tours and festivals start booking. A giant void was left in the fabric of our reality and club Dj’s headed to places like Twitch to fill that void. It wasn’t enough to spin Spotify or Mixcloud playlists. People hunger for an interaction. To have a story told. A “Radio show with a strong visual component” Hate Mior. The people who have embraced this new medium have broken a never before done artform which is creating a modern day electronic salon for music fans from around the world to congregate and discuss culture and music in real time. I will start by reviewing a very special 5 hour show by Toronto Street artists/Clothing creator/and DJ Hate Mior and their show to commemorate the life and death of icon Ian Curtis (Joy Division).
This piece is a journey, a story of one of the most known and tragic figures of our genre. Ian’s words and unique musical style were taken too soon but left a rippling effect which burned hard in the imagination and inspiration of generations to come. It opens with the fitting David Bowie classic “Rock and Roll Suicide“. Hate then appears on the screen with the flat lined supernova readout that is homage to the Joy Division “Unknown Pleasures” album. One of the most recognizable images in T Shirt history. Their face is emotive and playful. Stark in Black and White. Projecting the range of an experienced theater performer. Then The Sex PistolsNo Fun rings out. It’s hard to separate The Pistols from Joy Division. Legend has it the band was formed at one of their early shows.
At the 25 minute mark Hate lays out what the concept of the show is and why it is important. Also the role the visuals play in the story. Because this isn’t a radio program. It’s a multi media experience. They site reference material like “Touching from a Distance” by Ian’s widow Debra Curtis and the film Control. I love how the story starts at the true beginning. The number one hit in England during Ian’s birth “Why Do Fools Fall in Love“. The narritive progresses to Ian’s early family influence and what it was like growing up in a factory town like Manchester. Matching up the video to the film “Jason and the Argonaughts” which was sited as playing a dramatic role in his development. I love this attention to history. It is clear early on this isn’t just a setlist. It’s a biography set to music.
Ian Curtis is best known for the power of his lyrics. It was truly transformative poetry of the depths of the human condition. Here Hate calls out specific lyrics and the impact his early loves played on those later verses. A story then goes into Ian’s love of mime and performance. How this connected to David Bowie. Then the most important part, how it connected back to Hate’s own life and experience in performance. Because the new roll of the streaming Dj is also as a performer who makes a personal connection with the audience. The Dj is no longer the the one who chooses the music, but a part of the story themselves. This brings Kate into their idea of Ian and Debora’s personal mixtape. I think the other aspect worth noting is Kate does not hit play and put their headphones on. They take this journey with you. In movement and facial expression.
“Kate has an unhealthy knowledge of this band. The setlists were weird until I realized where the show was going.” It felt like going through a museum with the best tour guide on their roster. The stories, background, and history allowed you to see the paintings for yourself. Just gave all the best behind the scenes insight to make everyone who watched feel like an expert.
Setlist: PROLOGUE: David Bowie – Rock n’ Roll Suicide John Peel Announcement
: The Death of Ian Curtis Sex Pistols – No Fun Sex Pistols – Pretty Vacant PART 1: Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers – Why Do Fools Fall in Love David Bowie – Sound and Vision The Doors – Light My Fire Neu! – Wave Mother The Velvet Underground – Candy Says Nektar- It’s All in the Mind Mott the Hoople – All the Young Dudes Roxy Music – More than This WARSAW YEARS Warsaw- No Love Lost (early recording) Warsaw – Warsaw Warsaw – The Drawback Warsaw – They Walked in Line Warsaw – Tension Warsaw – Lost Iggy Pop – The Passenger Buzzcocks – Lipstick The Fall – Firey Jack The Drones – Persecution Complex X-Ray Spex – Oh Bondage! Up Yours Delta 5 – Mind Your Own Business Gang of Four – To Hell with Poverty Martin Hannet & Joy Division – Noise Drums Sine Warmup N.F Porter – Keep On Keeping On Joy Division – Interzone Frank Sinatra – My Way
In between the sets you hear the famous Henry Rollins rant, along with a Bill Burr quote. I love the full picture here of adding other voices to how Joy Division effected them. Shout out for the Bootblacks spin who I think has a direct line the flavor and magic Joy Division captured. From here the set veers sharply into a tribute to Joy Division the way it was meant to be heard. 1st pressing vinyl, obscure cuts, and a Martin Hannett homage. Kate calls out the people who support them, which is such an important part of the modern stream. People have a longing to be connected to what they are seeing. The best streaming shows understand this and make the experience interactive.
PART 2 – THE RISE AND FALL OF JOY DIVISION Joy Division – Shadowplay (First television appearance) Kraftwerk -The Man Machine Joy Divison – Day of the Lords Joy Division – Twenty Four Hours Joy Division – Insight Martin Hannett & Joy Division – More N4 Drum Programming Joy Division – Transmission (Arrow Studio 1978) Jou Divison – Transmission (12″ original vinyl) Joy Division – Incubation Joy Division – Dead Souls (live at Les Bains Douche) Joy Divisio – Isolation Joy Division – She’s Lost Control (original first UK press vinyl) The Captain and Tenille – Love Will Keep Us Together Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart Section 25 – Girls Don’t Count Section 25 – Colour Movement Sex & Violence Parts of Ian Curtis’s recorded past life regression therapy (originally recorded by Bernard Sumner) FINAL CURTAIN A Certain Ratio – All Night Party Joy Division – Ceremony (Live at Birmingham University) Joy Division – Disorder Joy Division – Decades Joy Division – Digital Joy Division – The Eternal Iggy Pop – Nightclubbing Iggy Pop – Mass Production Martin Hannett & Joy Division – Atmosphere Buildup MUSIC VIDEO: Atmosphere David Bowie – Warsazawa
The game has changed and Djs haven’t just had to adapt. They have had to create a new medium of art and experience. This was a history lesson, a street performance, and a psychology paper rolled into musical format. If this is the future of streaming shows that the pandemic has made for us. If this is the way the world connects online to become a little closer, a little smaller. I say the future looks bright and is starting to heal the pieces of what this isolation has made. Where will it end?
I’ll work on more stream reviews soon, who are some of the ones you love? Comment below
One million years ago before the internet it was a lot harder to find the greatest new music. We would head down to the record store and buy the latest compilation from our favorite record labels. Cleopatra and Wax Trax were mine. Streaming services made this a bit of a lost art. COP International has started a new series of comps called “Broken Hearts and Robot Parts“. I beam with pride that I got to choose the name. Christian Petke and team have done a smaller more focused spotlight on label bands and future unsigned talent. It’s great to see a label with a storied history and powerhouse producer like John Fryer take an interest in growing new bands for the sake of the scene. This is the future I have longed for where labels fulfil the promise of family and support so many of us dreamed of. Amazing artwork from Greg Rolfes ties together the concept. Let’s dig in to Part I.
The production levels of everything here are outstanding. I love that COP made sure everyone added to this comp where putting their best foot forward and highlighting each band at their best performance. The music has a diverse range but a cohesive idea of guitar focused rock music blended with electronic elements.
Johnny Tupolev – Shot In Black and White – Out the gate with a strong delivery from a COP International artist. The German performer opens with a tension building breathing vocal and then explodes into a crushing crowbar guitar riff. The vocals have expressive Mike Patton flare. I love the hard Alt rock flavor with electronic elements and a introspective message of ego death.
Suicide Queen – Swan – Truly a dripping oily black horror sound held in a white lace glove. The Oakland CA band delivers beautiful New Order keyboard melodies, washed over by Kay Dolores filthy and distinct rasping growl. It creates fierce contrast that leaves you both lulled and unnerved. This track is a rush of wind at your back, pushing your spread wings to a danger you are trying not to face.
Machines With Human Skin – Watch It Burn – The project of our dear friend Adrian Halo of Chicago. A furious cyclone of fire and wind. I love the wispy style vocals and digital drive. Great use of dynamics that cause the chorus to hit hard with fist pump and boot stomp moments. Wicked overlapping guitar solo around the 3 minute mark give an organic blast to the cold electronic swirl.
unitcode:machine – Paper Empires (Regional Adjunct Remix by GW Childs) Dallas Texas cyber wizards set loose this stop and start bleep bloop broken mechanical dance. I love the way Eric is spinning an static buzz story with his voice and the even cadence walk.
The Burying Kind – Falling Over – One thing I will never stop screaming from the rooftops is about the Chicago duo of Dan Milligan (The Joy Thieves) and Scott-David Allen (A Covenant of Thorns) . They both took the leap, trusted in each other and made one of the best Shoegaze albums I have heard in over a decade. This track in particular highlights the romantic gothic beauty of Allen’s vocals and the grey pallet tapestry of Milligan’s production. I love using this as an outro to this emotional journey.
In a shocking twist of fate I finished my May Bandcamp Day reviews a week early. Which means I have time to do a part II of amazing new releases before Friday 5/7/21. As always I have gotten into my tiny goth boat to sail the seas of amazing music from around the world that stirred my heart like a bracing wind on stormy seas. So look with me to the stars as we navigate these choppy waters. Leave some of your great finds in the comments below, and as always keep it dark yo.
Big Time Kill – Recovery – Let’s jump in with a bang to the new EP by Boston based BTK. This EP absolutely floored me. It’s a ear worm blasting blend of catchy intense lyrics flicking through a rollercoaster dynamic ride with glam, electroclash, synthwave, and grunge. The way Adam Schneider and Ben Caccia bounce through effortless transitions is engaging and artistic. To cover so much ground in 4 tracks is a masterwork. I know I am using big shoes here but this journey holds the toothy refinement of Pretty Hate Machine. An early contender for surprise hit of the year.
Favorite track: Cliche’ – Whipping chains of ghost riding fire. Drops away with a crooning desire. The chorus is an expansive hit that taps deep into a feeling any artist in 2021 has looked down the barrel of. Bubbling guitar leads counteract with Adam’s piecing sky splitter voice. “What are you gonna do, when the world keeps coming for you”. Banging guitar solo 10/10 on the pump my fist in the air scale.
Sweat Boys – Adrenaline (feat. Valerie Abbey) – Blistering blaze single from Benny Sweat who has teamed up with Valerie of Abbey Death to tackle goth classic Rosetta Stone’s synth anthem. It’s fresh in it’s violet electric pacing and the wispy beauty of Valerie’s delivery. I love Ben’s gift for taking something untouchable and making it his own. It has reinvented the song as well as his own style. Everything about this cover feels fresh. The flowing keyboards step forward to take the place of the guitar line and turn the dark sky neon. This single is an instant club hit.
Era Nocturna – Hell – Another Boston artist Era has has returned from a 13 year hiatus to release a new single featuring three remixes. Her voice has the stalking power of a giant black wolf, blood dripping from it’s jaws. A sinister ferocity and stalking cadence. The whole sound feels cornered and dangerous while exposing a vulnerability. The lyrics are a poetic journey like Dante emerging from the inferno. It’s hard, it’s mean, and it happens in 4.5 minutes. I hope this spells the return of a powerful darkpop voice. Special shout out to the Lilith My Mother remix which softens the edges and adds blending of the grey hues to the music. This brings a clarity and resilience to Daeva’s voice. I can’t wait to see what style will be her next prey.
Coor Brow-Obles – MacGuffin Baby – Bopping new gothglam single from Gillingham UK. I always love the high range old school croon of Coor’s voice. The tongue and cheek of beauty against S & M concept. Put your hands on me and choke me softly. I think Coor has a true star quality and I want to see the production level find the same heights of cleverness as the songs. A fun ride between Bowie and Syd Barrett that leaves me hungry for more.
Death Loves Veronica – Chemical – The first album from the glorious union of the Texas siren and Cold Transmission Music. I love the crashing tide synth drive and the contrast of warm whiskey sliding down the back of your throat. A ritual incantation and self realization. Every time Veronica announces a new release I am left wondering what new territory her voice will take me. Pre Order is currently available with the first two singles “Burn” and “Spindein“. The power of this album is how instead of you studying the painting while listening. The stalking control and awareness in the eyes of the music is staring back at you. You are the one on display and the tendrils of the music creep towards you and wrap you up.
Favorite Track: Spindein – Such a deliberate, calculated crawl of leather and feathers. When they say a song can get under your skin, this is what they mean. “Nothing dies, the way you do” I love the buzzing guitars at the halfway point. It really adds a second act to the story of the song. Light the candles, pour a glass of wine, get seduced by the power of music.
WeirdWolves – Overdrive – First single from the Austin TX band which combines Raphael Colantonio and Ava Gore (Daughter of Depeche Modes Martin Gore). It’s a nice early 2010’s electrosmasher club killer. Nice duet blend vocals. I had to really force myself to hear it on it’s own merit and not the power of it’s royal blood. Top notch production and some lovely giant mechanical snake sidewind slither. It was a brief but tantalizing introduction. You have my attention, but the bar will be high. I want to see open veins and dynamic power from a full length release.
Dead Animal Assembly Plant – Bring Out The Dead – Another bone jarring hit from our friends at Armalyte Industries. This album is venturing a little closer to the metal aspects of industrial/metal than I tend to go. Sometimes in life you just need music to smash shit to, and that’s what the Portland band is bringing with rapid fire whole sale destruction. What leaves me impressed isn’t the moments it hits hard, it’s in the subtitle intelligence where pulls back and lulls you into a false sense of security just to swing the bat at you again with reckless abandon. Another great highlight is the cover of the folk song “Gods Gonna Cut you Down“. They say when Johnny Cash covers a song he makes it his own. Sometimes though you need to rip it out of his hands and shake the shit out of it with blistering guitars and fiercely whispered vocals by Time Bitch.
Favorite Track: Sacred Disgrace – It’s all the power and fury of the other tracks, with Lulu Black adding an eerie and off putting violin line which makes the vocals spew forth with added vigor. A crushing dirge of power and beauty.
blackcell – Burn the Ashes – Ok this came to me as a hot tip from Michael Smith. Just to discover it is a collaboration of Eric Isbell and Matt Jones. Mastered by Chase Dobson. Dark, dripping, delicious death disco that I didn’t know how much I needed in my life. Take one part Ultravox, one part Cabaret Voltaire, a dash of modern production to sooth the lofi edges and you have the recipe for your next low key sexy dance party. A twisted carnival of Andy Warhol’s most fiendish nightmares made of shadows and spun in technicolor. I was not ready for this and fell deep. Prepare to hear a lot more about this band from me in the future. This gets the where have you been all my life award.
Favorite Track: Creep Like Fire – This is the song playing when John Travolta stumbles into the Black Lodge of David Lynch and wanders aimlessly while a thin man in a suit speaks in reverse.
I have not been great about writing reviews this month. However that has not stopped my compulsive purchase of badass new music. So I am going to delve into my cups as well as the latest in hot new tunes. I invite you to follow my meandering thoughts and broken sentence structure. It is my genuine hope you find something here that will inspire hope for you as the tension of the last year and a half seems to have a light in the distance. As always leave a comment below if you have an artist you would like to see me review in the future.
kenzifires – “Slumber Party” by Ashnikko – The amazing shooting star Æðra Justice Burke of FIRES has started a new WitchHouse project and blew my doors off out of the gate. These slinky flowing hip hop beats crisscross with waves of color and heat. I think the most amazing impact is the ability to stop everything, hang in silence a moment, then pirouette and walk away. I don’t know the original song well, but you can bet your sweet bippy I am looking it up now. Everything she touches is a laser beam right to my heart.
DoppelgängeR – Mercy and Eternity – Currently the hot topic in Post Punk/Darkwave is the amazing icy wind blowing out of Russia. Doppelganger has been leading that charge for a while now. Building an impressive catalog for 25 years and honing an impressive smooth icicle sound with a razor point. Rolling live drums with crisp transitions. Light shard guitar cadence. A bass line the drives the tempo with intuition and an unseen presence. The vocals are subtitle and hold a wisdom. When someone says you have an old soul, that is the effect these vocals create with me. I am kicking myself for waiting so long to find this band and if you haven’t heard them please don’t waste another day.
Dancing With Shadows – A flowing wisp of smoke with quick moving guitars and deceptive transitions. Another power of this band is that it sounds like itself. The vocals in particular could easily get lost in the “Baritone Post Punk” singer trope. It has instead a fresh confident take that is not another Ian Curtis/Andrew Eldrich.
HALLOWS – All That Is True Dies – New single from recently relocated Seattle band Hallows on Cold Transmission Music. In addition to the single you get two remixes by Dead Astronauts and Profit Prison. As well as exquisite mastering by Pete Burn and Slade Templeton. That is an all star team and gets me excited. The first time I heard this band I was struck by the glorious blend of vocal styles. It really creates a story between these voices. Like an other world echo of memory that haunts a home. I love the simple idea layered with tragedy and humanity. This is a song of reflection and immersion. After the banger club hit, that quiet moment when our characters lock eyes and get lost.
Into Grey – Waiting Here – So this is a band from Columbus Indiana that found it’s way to the Sounds and Shadows group and holy shit it is good. I’m working my way through the previous catalog. It is rainy days and water colors. Deep resonant vocals that put me in mind of Golden Apes. Cutting poetic lyrics of longing and doubt. A lot of overlapping busy guitar leads which create motion from an otherwise crushing weight. It’s a nice effect that draws a beautiful contrast. Quickly rising on my list of modern bands making goth romantic again.
Stoneburner – Sell Out – Steven is newly signed to label COP International and broke out the first single. To no ones surprise it is a total banger. It was produced by living legend John Fryer and features remixes by Klack, Stabbing Westward, and Sick Jokes. I love the crushing 100 MPH pop stinger tempo and tongue and cheek clever delivery. “I want to look good in the DJ booth” “You have to sit through my noisy ass shit”. This is a cleaner burning view into the wit and humor that Steven uses to connect with his audience outside of his music. I love the left turn in direction to show the range and endless creativity Stoneburner continues to bring.
Shadow Fashion – One Black Rose – San Antonio darkpop darlings have dropped a new single and this is my favorite of their releases to date. I fell deeply in love with this track. It hits on so many genres and decades in one dark clean insta classic. Huge John Hughes romantic swirling film feels. Patrick’s vocals are crisp and dreamy. It has a modern production with a nostalgic tone. This single really paves the way for a bright exciting future. I’m jaw dropped blown away by how much this track is stuck in my mind when I least expect it. Must have.
Dove Tribe – All In The Waiting – No one is a bigger fan of the artistic exploration of sound by Hide Tepes of Carrion than me. He is on a constant journey to create some of the most cutting edge sound crafting in the modern scene. So when I heard he was doing a new project with a more rock focused old school bat cave sound I knew to expect something exceptional. The song “New Cold War” is a powerful political statement with an emotional delivery that harkens me back to 1959 by the Sisters of Mercy. A track that transports you and paints a picture of strife and rebellion. It shows Hide’s voice in a completely new light that left me spellbound. Currently available for pre order for a 5/15/21 release. I feel like this EP has the raw power to be a game changer in a genre hungry for new sound.
Lyres Of Ur – I Look Good On You – I know, I know, you are thinking Ken are you just reviewing all of your contributors at Sounds and Shadows? No, this new single from Lou Blacksail is pure blazing fire and marks more young talent that is hitting a stride which strikes me deeply. The vocals are a sinister reflection of 80’s pop. I love how accessible the hooks and cascading synths feel while the vocals hint at something secret. A dangerous curl of the lip and arrogance of the eyes. As Lou continues to find his voice, I continue to be more invested and impressed by a future talent in this scene. Show support now for this “It” factor artist.
MORIS BLAK – Irregular Revisions Vol. II – Brand new remix album from Boston EDM wizard Brian Blacknoise. Powerful reimagining from 2019 The Irregularity of Being. This album is a epic dance journey where sounds are sculpted from chaos into form. A masterful job of enlisting vocal performances from the likes of Alicia May, Luna, and Pete Crane to add layers that elevate the intent and narrative. Finding a fresh image in songs you have previously done is no easy task, but this remix album cracks the standard code. It’s a collaboration that takes something wonderful and fires it through a prism.
Favorite Track: I have a tossup here. Between Alicia May‘s vocal delivery of empowerment and grace on Burying Place, and the and the HAEX remix of of Erase Displace. Both brought such a fresh vision to Brian’s vibrating walls of earthquake destruction. Honestly I am hard pressed to find anything here I didn’t enjoy.
ΣΕΘ(SET) – Disorders Of The Heart feat. Morgue VVitch – So this was a powerful and abstract find from Arizona featuring Morgue VVitch. An unnerving and beautiful forest of terrifying Will o Wisp lights. Goblins horror texture blended with dungeon synth adventure. I loved the spoken word intro and the fingers on your spine chime movement. What left me enthralled by this was how unfamiliar and dangerous it felt. A chilling feeling of desperation leaving me hungry for life. I want to explore deeper in this haunting mystery.