Those of you who are not familiar with Sidewalks And Skeletons are at a disservice. This UK band has been making compelling sonic cascades for nearly a decade. ‘Exorcism’ is the newest full-length addition to their catalog (courtesy of Re:Mission Entertainment) and… Well, I supposed that S&S mastermind Jake Lee puts is best himself:
"'EXORCISM' is an album that explores the frailty of human existence,
and the harsh realities of the world. We all start the same way -
Innocence among chaos. We are all thrust into this existence and
left to find our way. And YOU have ended up HERE. So this is for you.
This is your Exorcism."
Guest vocalists are featured throughout these 14 songs, with Ferngazer, Goo Munday and CASHFORGOLD lending their heavenly voices to supplement the soothing yet catchy synth lines.
The remaining tracks change gears, the track Cybercrimes is an example, so there’s never a chance for any one hook to get tiresome. And believe me, this one is LOADED with tasty hooks. ‘Euthanasia Daze’ and the title track are also examples of the diversity; the beats border on hip-hop territory at times while the ghostly vocals keep the song aloft.
There is something for everyone on this record; whether you just want to tap your foot (the song ‘Holy’) or bang your head (‘Name in Blood’). In fact, it’s very clever how the breakdowns on tracks like ‘Name in Blood’ jump genres entirely.
‘Exorcism’ is a record that defies pigeonholing and is hard to categorize. And that’s a good thing.
It is once again time to release the Sounds and Shadows Darkscene singles chart. Ok admittedly I am behind as always and this is the chart from Feb. As always these are singles released in Feb voted on by our members of Bands, Djs, fans, and reviewers. Representing the fan picks for the month in all genres of the darkscene. (goth/Industrial/Synthwave/Darkwave/EBM/EDM/ect) This month featured a few sad stories, because two bands that were chosen are no more 🙁 . I love what this chart has come to represent. Songs chosen by the people who love and support this scene regardless of label, influence, or history.
Dead Cool – Game of Trust
Massive Ego – Fake Star
Sapphiria Vee Feat: Roger Ebner – Not Meant For Me
Dead Lights – Doom Doom Trash
The Palest Grey – Suicide
Lorelei Dreaming – Of Stars (Daddybear Remix)
Secret Shame – Hide
Sidewalks and Skeletons Feat: Goo Monday – Shadows
Moris Blak xx Moaan Exis Feat:Grabyourface – State Rejects
Junksista – Fuck Your Pretty Face
DEAD COOL – Game of Trust – Wilmington, North Carolina stellar splashing synthwave goodness full of mystery and mayhem. Ringing front striking vocals and cascade keys. The husband and wife John and Angela Yeagher create a sinister story that is always driving forward. Awesome cover art to complete the image by Morgan Elizabeth.
Massive Ego – Fake Star – This was a happy/sad story. The London based dark synth act released this single and EP which is a sizzling assault of tongue and cheek satire and blood pumping dance chaos. Sadly the band has decided to call it quits to focus on health and personal concerns. We are left with this buzzing shadow storm electric single.
Sapphira VeeFeat : Roger Ebner – I love this bold crackling new energy from Sapphira Vee. As I state often on this page the addition of saxophone adds depth and sex appeal to everything. Roger Ebner (Pigface) give a muted perfect accent to these whispy tendrils of emotion and poetically delivered vocals.
DEAD LIGHTS – Doom Doom Trash – UK Batwing EDM kicked out this absolutely banger from their upcoming March 2022 EP. It’s tight lightsaber fencing lunge and parry to make your dancefloor burn with desire. This album can’t come soon enough. Rain down ask and destruction on the writhing forms in leather and lace.
The Palest Grey – Suicide – Florida based deathrock newcomers comprised of members of Obscura Undead. A lurking and spine tingling promise which sadly will not go forward. The band completed this EP and then went their separate ways to pursue other projects. We are left with this driven and frantic single of old school bat cave croon and danger. We can only hope that the individual member continue on in future projects.
Lorelei Dreaming – Of Stars – daddybear Remix – Chicago EDM Fantasy weaving Queen released this remix album with several wonderful re imaginings from top talent in the scene. This one a burning firework display by Matt Fanale (Daddybear). I love this bracing breathy barrage of bardic inspiration pushed from the battlefield onto the dancefloor by one of the masters of the genre.
Secret Shame – Hide – Asheville, North Carolina driving dark alt band is just disturbingly good and continues to leave me floored with every single release. Rifle crack drums, polycolor slush pedal guitars, and ringing chat vocals with inspire and cast emotional magic. Hit after hit for this band.
Sidewalks and Skeletons – SHADOW[ᴡɪᴛʜ ɢᴏᴏ ᴍᴜɴᴅᴀʏ] – I recently had the pleasure of interviewing this UK band as well as upping my witchhaus education. This single is a pulsing shot of pure adrenochrome tempered with the gorgeous chime wave vocals of Australia’s Goo Monday. I started with this single and fell deep in love with this record.
MORIS BLAK, Moaan Exis, grabyourface – State Rejects – Ok, there is so much to unpack here from Boston EBM darling Moris Blak’s new single. For starters it absolutely slaps. It features the most selected singer in the history of this poll Marie Dragontown of Grabyourface. It also features fellow French explosive rage dance band Moaan Exis. Somehow these immense artistic talents come together in creative cause to spew napalm chaos glory into your eardrums. I am staggered, I am spent, holy shit.
JUNKSISTA – Fuck Your Pretty Face – German electronic whisper punk from Diana Noir released on COP International is a raindrop blue hue builder full of menace and danger. Throwing a burning brand at the concept of the value of beauty standards. I love the boxer weave drum beat and snarling challenge.
So the world is in turmoil with war and pain. It has seeped into our scene and cast a wicked shadow over our lives around the globe. In addition the news that Bandcamp has been bought by Epic Games. A large company known mostly for Unreal Engine and Fortnite. I don’t pretend to know what this will mean for the future of independent music. Generally speaking in my experience involving a big company in something doesn’t make it better. However the technology of Bandcamp has not really progressed much in the past few years as it has grown. Perhaps the resources and tech of Epic will improve the experience of Bandcamp while maintaining it’s independent opportunity . For now I shall remain optimistically terrified and keep writing reviews of the glorious new darkscene music I am finding.
Sidewalks and Skeletons – Exorcism – I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Sidewalks and Skeletons for the webcast and was really excited to expand my knowledge of the “WitchHaus” genre. When I first decided to dive in I reached out to a few friends: Kenzi Burke (FIRES) and Hunter Hunter (W/O) for suggestions. Sidewalks and Skeletons of England was one of the first suggested. I suppose going in I had some pre conceived notions of what “WitchHaus” meant, but I have to say I was presently surprised by the texture and diversity of sound on this album. From track one “Exorcism” a glitchy sliding bass beat slither of technomancer energy tendrils, to “Shadow” feat: Goo Monday with it’s throbbing electronic club pulse, this album rings with a clarity and precision that tells a winding story of internal energy. I kept being struck by influences I never expected to encounter like shoegaze and ethereal which gave the entire journey a slick and winding synthesis. I am always impressed when in 2022 I hear something new. A fresh blend of ideas from a chemist taking previous concepts and making new science. It doesn’t happen enough. It is happening here.
Favorite Track: Eternal Rest (With CashforGold) – This is what I was searching for with WitchHaus. Violet mist rising from a concrete floor. Ice rink backbeats sliding effortlessly around strobing lights. I was also introduced to the breathy beautiful vocal stylings of CashForGold who I learned was a Detroit native. Subtle electronic textures you can feel.
Morgue VVitch – Lore – New three song EP from Tara Saavedra who I got to see at 2021 Cold Waves in Chicago. I feel like the buzz around this talented artists continues to expand with every telling. Much like the title of this new EP their Lore is being whispered around the scene like a guarded secret we cannot help but share. These tracks are a transportation to a garden of shadow dreams. A spinning layer of veils and enticing vocals that remind me of Tina Root with their charismatic enchantment and alien foreboding. A dark Grimm fairytale of electronic texture. Experts Production by Tara, as well mastering by Francisco Mendez. The future is so bright for this project.
Favorite Track: Lore – The title track is such a haunting and dynamic resonance of phantom images. I love the way drums/synths/vocals all sit in the mix in even measure until you are captured in a virtual sonic reality.
Dread Risks – Automated Disappointment – “GiddyYip this DeathRock Electro Cowboy shit!” A wise man once said about Texas IndustroDoom band Dread Risks. That wise man was me. Releasing 3/25/22 on ReMission this album is a return to the meaner barb wire aggression of industrial music. As an evolution from the past this aggression is no longer aimed outward but directed at addressing and concurring personal trauma. I love the molten glass cutting attack and melodic beauty of the vocals. The overhand bastard sword swing of the drumbeats. Berserker rage in clean focus. This is the next great wave in electronic musical concept.
Récipe Morado – Re•Habilitación – The Oscura Festival introduced me to Venezuelan post-punk band Recipe Morado, and I was immediately entranced. Relentless basslines follow you like a bloodhound while Siniestra’s spectral vocals ripple like an aftershock Even with a limited understanding of the lyrics I felt the pull of emotion and energy. The snare beats snap with crisp intensity on “Vueltas en Sante Fe” pushing the pedal to the floor with 90’s dark rock flavor. I love the bounding chaotic style changes throughout the album. A darting shadow always changing form. The Central/South American darkscene is a rich and fertile land I must continue to explore.
Snog – Eight Offerings For The Undead – From Australia artist Vince Valentini of Fate Razor places you in an intimate craft and pushes you a pole at a time down a winding River Styx. Leaning into crafted poetry and slow grinding rhythms. This is a whispering demon of Nick Cave void seeking sensuality blended with the clean complexity of Robyn Hitchcock story telling. With track 4 “Domesticated” the tone does a hard turn into slow sewer sludge industrial crawl. I love the twists and turns of this journey. An introspective thought piece that follows the journey rather than steers the course.
Favorite Track: (I Am Not) An Algorithm – A beautiful oscillating electronic pulse with overlapping vocal melody repeating a self actualizing chant . Hands reaching out to touch reeds on still water. I felt like this track connected all the parts reaching for light in the combined concept.
Ashes Fallen – Stand Your Ground – Always impressed by the ever expanding range of Cali goth rockers Ashes Fallen. They also seem to always be actively seeking ways to address the pain and injustice in the world. Here with a new single with all proceeds going to Direct Relief for their humanitarian mission in Ukraine. I love the punchy Dave Vanian snarl to James vocals. As well as the blended harmonies from Michelle and Jason. A very throwback Synthpunk edge which feels relevant to the world situation. A bonus remix by The Axiom Divide to cast a shadow against the fire.
Sever The Servants – Brand new collaboration that sprung from the Sounds and Shadows group. A world grinding doom tank apparatus rolling through a nightmare hellscape of Hide Tepes and Mike Nolen imagination. Stone walls on all sides as Hide starts filling the room with dank modular synth water. Mike who doesn’t usually do vocals hisses out a poisonous danger that left me floored and impressed. I hungrily await the future offerings of this project. A perfect synthesis of styles to form a stronger bond.
ERIC OBERTO – Closer Than Ever Before – Brand new single from ex Tungsten Coil star reborn. I had Eric on for an interview which will release tomorrow 3/4/22. I loved hearing the story of him coming back into the music scene with an emphasis on horror film soundtracks. This single is a glitchy prayer of longing into a dark starless sky. I defiance of mortality through acceptance. The track comes with a cinematic video co directed with Erik Gustafson of ADORATION DESTROYED.
Ever since I heard the dark classic “These Remains” by the Thrill Kill Kult, I have been hooked on that sinister sound. It’s not quite dance music, but it’s not “not” dance music is it? It always made me feel like I was a character in a movie that snuck their way into the VIP room at the club only to find they stumbled into some modern pagan ritual, ala the masked ball from Eyes Wide Shut, but with the classical music soundtrack replaced by something akin to Skinny Puppy fronted by Chelsea Wolfe.
Take a ride with me and let’s listen to some of the artists that I think are exploring some of these same sonic pathways today…
Cult of Alia – The Only Angel – This new track from Cult of Alia, the side project of David Wright from Creux Lies, gives me the feeling of a being in a 80’s vampire flick where the blood junkie in question stalks his prey from across the crowded dance floor. They lock eyes and the hunt begins. Great synth sounds and the pulsing beat gets your butt moving… Definitely looking forward to more from this project!
Bara Hari – Weapon– Samantha Franco hits us with Weapon! Inspired by her experiences with the exploitative men in the music industry, she delivers an all too important (and honestly all too familiar) reminder that we need to get our shit straight and be fucking decent human beings to each other. But let’s be clear… This track is a serious jam. I love the video concept and I can totally see her kicking ass like the Bride in Kill Bill.
Owl Theory – Heaven in Reverse – This E.P. of dark, seductive, electronic pop came about from Jarod Gibson of Odonis Odonis doing a gothic / darkwave take on Harry Styles song ‘WOMAN‘. That track anchors a collection of dark pop that flows from the ambient soundtrack stylings of the title track, to the trip hop vibes of the track “Spin”. I love this record… once I start playing it I get lost in the sound and before i know it, it’s over and I gotta spin it again!
SØLVE – SVNT LACRIMÆ RERVM – Atmospheric synths paired with punishing industrial beats. This dark and powerful track is steeped in cinematic ritualism… Every time I listen to this song, it lingers in the corners of my mind and teases me with its aftershocks, making me want more.
Sidewalks & Skeletons – ETERNAL REST – This track, featuring frequent collaborator Cash for Gold, throws shades of Crystal Castles for me, but they pair it up with some thick urban beats and blazes a dark path of its own. I love how they can take an airy synth typically found in traditional dance music and make it heavy enough to smother you.