My Brother Got me a $100 Bandcamp Gift Card For My Bday! What did I get so far?

It is like the whole goth community got a birthday infusion. I am on a reckless spending spree of new music. Here is some of what I am listening to right now. As always if you have a band you want to see reviewed, comment below.

Lyres Of UrEscape From Modern Man – New single from our talented young contributor Lou Blacksail with cover art by Joshua McCallister. I continue to be impressed by the passion and vision of this young songwriter. A raw and bass driven wind tunnel of echo’s and sinister carnival keyboards. I can feel the snarl curled lip in every delivery. Sometimes when I hear a mix that has a raw feel, I am taken out of the moment. In this single that way different aspects charge to the front adds a boldness and bravado. I feel like this is an artist the shines with potential and leaves space to grow. The emotion and natural intuition for form and hook are unmistakable. I am more impressed by everything I hear.

https://lyres-of-ur.bandcamp.com/track/escape-from-modern-man

Suzi SabotageNazi Goths, Fuck Off – With everything facing our scene I am amazed no one has released a track like Finnish siren Suzi Sabotage that takes the blunt power of a barb wire baseball bat that attacks the worst aspects of goth with unbridled fury. A slinky dark synth build with a razor edge message that pulls no punches. The new generation of goths demand an anthem of political passion and Suzi has delivered. A perfect punch the masses can rise behind. Nazi Goths Fuck Off.

https://suzisabotage.bandcamp.com/track/nazi-goths-fuck-off

Precious BonesMAGNA FRACTURA – I love the name, the concept, and sound of New Jersey barb wire rockers Precious Bones. Antoine Poncelet & Guy Tetro unleash an Iggy Pop/New York Dolls late 70’s chaos venom. A tight coil of front edge intensity and pulsing electricity. I love the call and answer style of the vocals which put me in mind of the Vaselines. It flows through the pipe of uplifting joy and angry edge. This whole album is such a runaway stage coach sparking cobblestones in a tight alley chase. The organic slicing fury mixed with dangerous violent stories that has a real murder ballads feel. I love how this tale keeps changing speed and turning. I never want to look away. Horror punk with a retro feel. August 2021 release. This album is dedicated to the memory of founder Guy Tetro, a tragic story and impressive release.

Favorite track: Mysterio – Thick pulsing baseline. Start and stop reckless abandon. The vocals are the perfect volley of story telling dialog. It’s engaging and edgy without trying to sound that way. It’s one of those tracks that hits perfectly on it’s intent while the listener is left feeling it was a perfect storm with no destination in mind.

https://preciousbones.bandcamp.com/album/magna-fractura

StoneburnerSpectrum – Another face blistering hurricane wind blast from Steven Archer. This time taking a revealing and visceral offering about mental health to offer connection through the turbulence. I love the wide prism of colors in tone for the single and remixes. When I think of Steven’s sound I use words like focus, contrast, and intensity. This track is a softer and varied concept which shows range and subtilty. The bsides Bahr Bela Ma and Open Letter redirect back to the percussion assault and rhythmic chant vocals I associate with Stoneburner. This unity with COP International continues to let the wolfcore off the chain and give a fertile field for raw creative energy to foster. John Fryer has once again found a laser prism to channel the emotion of Steven’s art.

https://stoneburnerofficial.bandcamp.com/album/spectrum

CarrionShatter the Seals – New two track EP on Brutal Resonance from the charred angels of Carrion. I love the new direction. The monster is no longer lurking in the darkness, it’s sinister intention a slow whisper behind your back. Now the monster is charging towards you full speed with teeth barred and howling your doom. The vocals are a striking snake hiss. The drum beats are frantic and marching. Biggest of all this guitar distortion is clean, mean, and red eye glaring at you. The seals have truly been shattered and the demons unleashed on this plane. I’ve never heard Hide lash out with such unbridled intention. Buy this album, bath in blood, smash your meaningless possessions with a baseball bat.

https://brutalresonance.bandcamp.com/album/shatter-the-seals

Ratio StrainCentury Of The Self – San Diego band I am just finding from the drummer of W.A.S.T.E. This release came out in January 2020 but i am glad to discover it now. 8 songs of mind shattering hard industrial which is going to hurl a challenge in your face like a gallon of moonshine to the eyes. The vocals are sample laden and I will admit made me blush several times. This is music intended to cause discomfort. It’s also slick tight dance beats that had my head bopping while I stood in fear and awe. The panning of the drums was an expertly done effect and really makes the room spin to the napalm explosions. You think, you dance, you shake, you break.

Favorite track: Objectify – This song made me wildly uncomfortable and unnerved. A real blinding light held up to the misogamy prevalent in he world. It is not a soft message and hurled with such strength and aggression it left me speechless. (Warning) Not safe for Work 🙂

https://ratiostrain.bandcamp.com/album/century-of-the-self

VlimmerMeter b​/​w Kartenwarten – Alexander is back again, with a new two track EP and again stretching the range of one of the great sonic sculptors of our time. This is shake your ass club thump. The open expansive feel of the synths, the thunderous driving bass, I couldn’t help throw my hands in the air. Beautiful syncopation and vocal cadence. Track one Meter has a Blondie Atomic energy while pulsing in hues of violet and crimson.

Favorite Track: Kartenwarten – The glorious sway and slide of this track. I’m on a cliff staring at the sea, feeling the slow shifting power of dark water. So many textures and concepts bleeding together in harmony. A true work of beauty.

https://blackjackilluministrecords.bandcamp.com/album/meter-b-w-kartenwarten

Lorelei DreamingFuture Fables – Long have I awaited this 6 track EP complete with wonderful remixes by Chicago dystopian pop princess Laura. It’s so clear and textured from their previous release. Laura’s voice breaks through the wall and takes it’s rightful place on center stage. The album opens with an absolute banger in Of Stars. I’m loving the rippling synth sounds to add a fantasy feel. Each song is a striding step forward for an armor clad paladin facing down the demons surrounding her. This album was so worth the wait and every song is an adventure. The remixes are a brilliant contribution with the likes of Kanga, Sawtooth, Eva X, Angel Metro, and more. I love seeing so many top tier ladies involved.

Favorite Track: To Leave This Heaven – Sparkle explosion of dance delight and spinning cyclones. A real Violator Depeche Mode swagger with silk swirling gentle touch.

https://loreleidreaming.bandcamp.com/album/future-fables

Actors – “Acts Of Worship”

There is a shift that has happened in modern music, of how music is released. A focus on speed and constant content of singles in the streaming world. The art of tension and anticipation between releases has become an artform which has fallen by the wayside. In 2018 Actors released “It Will Come To You”. It captured the imagination of the scene which propelled them as a modern voice for a genre based in nostalgia. Three years later that title that won over new wave of Post Punk/Synth fans has come to ring all the more true. The slow gleaming trickle of singles leading to the promise of a sophomore album have fallen like individual raindrops on the thirsty tongues of their growing fanbase. The addition of a new bass player Kendall Wooding adds another element to the chemical reaction. The patient crafting of new songs which hold that emotional connection, while growing in complexity and range. The story of Actors has always been one of communication and relationships within the human experience. “Acts of Worship” elevates that connection to explore the spiritual macro concepts which bind us together.

Acts of Worship | ACTORS (bandcamp.com)

Kendall Wooding

Going to do something a little different for this review because I am so invested. A song by song breakdown of my impressions:

Love U More – A delicate symphonic intro that opens the curtain. Jason’s voice is sorrowful and and ripe with longing. The chorus is a perfect way to display this fresh sound of collaboration. A true harmony of individual styles. Shannon’s vocal’s fire forth with a confidence and balance that leaves you looking up to the sky. I love the clear heavy footed walk of the bass. The flickering electric street lights of the guitar lead. This track is here to set the scene. To re-introduce beloved characters and place them in a new adventure. The most striking aspect is how much the concept of the song feels uncharted. The genre is familiar. The style distinctly Actors. The texture and melody feels like the future. Something we have yet to hear.

Like Suicide – It can be hard to separate an artist from art. When people hear “The Joshua Tree” by U2 these days the first thing that pops to mind is a Bono joke. The impact that album had with it’s ballads in particular. A voice so dripping with mystery and unfettered passion. A romantic beauty in a time of consumerism. That lost concept is what stirs within me in this soul barring heart dancer. It’s a catchy croon that glows with soul. That place where what is pleasing to the ear and painful to the heart go to share the struggle and triumph of life.

Cold Eyes – A forceful driver of city lights blurring as a they pass by the passenger window. Love this overlapping guitar part between muted crunch and crackling lead. The singing has a voices in your head surrealism. A hallucination effect that leaves you questioning what is real. I think this song has a classic Actors feel which helps connect “Acts of Worship” to “It Will Come To you”. This is the preservation of continuity song.

Obsession – This song felt personal for me. We all have felt this isolated time to dwell on people or things we are missing. Swirling shadows in the water, violet hues and reflected neon light. Jason’s voice takes on that airy Ian McCulloch beauty. Letting you sink within your own destructive thoughts and lose yourself between the water and the mist. One of the deepest most revealing moments of honesty. This song in particular felt like a real look behind the bands eyes.

Photo by Pedro Santos

Death From Above – What a glorious tone shift. I found myself transported like a World War 2 fighter pilot blazing towards a synthwave animated landscape. The hook and harmony of this track is captivating. The strong down strike percussion that personifies the aerial assault. The record player effect of the vocals enhanced the vintage feel to create a sharp contrast against the digital soul of the music.

Killing Time – Strong opening of magnetic fuzz on the guitars. The shifting polarities kept me bouncing around the room. The last two years has seen time slipping past us. Days bleed together and we need to force ourselves into these moments. I love the tension breaking shouts of “Hey” to stir a unity and freeze frame. An anthem to stop the push and pull of life and hold us in this moment until the pull sends us back into a volley. I am impressed by the ambition of this track. It pulls off the difficult task of complexity without sounding complex.

Photo by Pedro Santos

Only Lonely – The bouncing funky bass line of this track has huge John Taylor emotions. Jason swings into a husky whisper on vocals. A secret that pulls you in and sets you up for the call and answer chorus. A much brighter and meringue peaked dessert tone. The lyrics still deliver a pang of longing to add shape and depth to one of the most tender fashion walk singles on the album.

Strangers – Another engulfing single on an album full of singles. Strangers hits on all cylinders. The lyrics paint a picture in beautifully blended water colors. The music is that razors edge of expansive synthetic beauty and sizzling rock energy. I feel like this is Jason’s strongest vocal performance. Utilizing everything he does well at it’s highest peak. It is decisive, emotional, and resonates with a concept which relates and challenges. This is the type of powerful track lost in the modern age full of poetry and delivery. A true modern classic. My top track on a top album.

End of the World – A nice tension building intro for a cosmic journey watching the world grow small. The radio announcer crackle effect on the vocals creates weight and acceptance of a world slipping away. That progressive keyboard line pushes to center stage and sets the tone of emotional longing for La petite mort. As life hurtles towards uncertainty we take a journey of acceptance. This was one of the most musically powerful tracks. A haunting tone of post apocalyptic hope in a desolate moment.

Photo by Pedro Santos

Once More With Feeling – The ending of a journey of one of the most complete records of the modern era. To say it leaned into the epic and expansive is an understatement. This song has a true OK Computer emotional range and scope. We have witnessed the end of the world, but are left with a resurrection and resilience. To push on, to survive while towers of magma shoot into the sky of a new world. I love that instead of going out on a single, instead we are played out into a promise of future adventure. A glimpse on the horizon of a world to come.

Acts of Worship” Is going to change the standard. Rather than think of it as an album out of time. Hear it as the type of puncturing emotional thought pieces we talk about as nostalgia from a previous era. I choose to see the hope it promises. To be a place where those that remember the past, and those that are blazing new ground in the future meet. Where they say this was the moment where the music we talk about twenty years from now with a new generation is remembered. It’s a powerful feeling that you can be apart of now.

A review of VR SEX’s new album: Cyber Crimes

VR SEX is Andrew Clinco’s California-based synthwave/post-punk project. You might know Clinco better as “Deb Demure,” his androgynous and alien alter-ego he puts on for his band Drab Majesty (alongside Alex Nicolaou aka Mona D). I’ll preface this review by saying that I’ve been a long-time intense fan of Drab Majesty and Deb/Clinco, but for some reason never really got into VR SEX. I wish I could give you an excusable reason why, but nothing comes to mind. I simply never got around to it. And boy, what a mistake that was!

I got word of this new VR SEX album, released April 30th 2021, in the midst of moving, and thus was not able to get to my computer and write this review immediately. But now? Now it’s time!

I listened to Cyber Crimes on loop while driving across Florida, letting it simmer and dwell in my mind. As with anything of Clinco’s that I’ve listened to, this album managed to both encompass and subvert genre. In a desperate attempt to pin it down, I looked at the tabs on bandcamp for the album. It states: “punk, acid-punk, ambient, post punk, synth punk.” Now where does that leave us? Well, there’s synths involved. Jot down “synths,” and we’re halfway there. Post punk works, but, dear S&S reader, at this point I’m sure you’re familiar with exactly how broad the “post punk” label can be. I do like this label of synth punk. Acid punk, post punk, synth punk. Punk is repeated here. And punk is very, surely present in this album. It’s intense. It’s driving. It has hints of rock n roll.

Something else notable and delightful about this album is how it managed to sound both fresh and vintage. I can’t quite pin down what 80s band it reminded me of. Clan of Xymox, perhaps? Some of the less popular Jesus and Mary Chain tracks? Uh…The Damned? Even Sisters of Mercy popped into my head. None of these are apt descriptors. I encourage you to give it a listen and let me know what you think this sounds like. Or, perhaps, it’s inappropriate to try to compare VR SEX to the legends of old. As I said, it’s not just vintage, it’s fresh. Very fresh.

My favorite track on Cyber Crimes has got to be “Rock N Roll Death.” This is a song that I fantasize about dancing to at a club (once the pandemic subsides). It’s hard. It’s fast. It’s danceable. It’s rocks. It rolls.

I also thoroughly enjoyed “Dog Complex.” I know I said comparisons to past bands is perhaps not appropriate, but I can’t help but mention Bauhaus for this one. It’s dark. I’d even dare to say this track is on the gother side of the post punk spectrum. His vocals go a bit harsh here. The song itself is harsh. And I love that.

To finish off my review, let’s talk about this album art for a second! (Note: if you follow me as an S&S writer at all, you’ll know that I’ve got a passion for album art and have a few posts about it to my name up prior). Is vaporwave still a thing? Because I want to call this art “acidic vaporwave.” If that makes any sense. Anyways. The vibe of this art matches the album very well. It’s grainy, divided between a harsh green and a dark black-and-white. There’s meat. Why is there meat? Hell if I know, but it’s visceral, just like the tracks. The pixel-y “VR SEX” around the border comes in clutch with that vintage 80s feel. Honestly, just stare at that album art for 5 minutes before listening to the album and see if you can capture a feeling, a prediction of sorts of how the album will sound. I bet it’ll be pretty accurate!

In conclusion, I’m in love with this album and would absolutely recommend it. Clinco delivers.

It’s Friday and I’m In Love With Bandcamp Day

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 KillRecovery – 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.

https://bigtimekill.bandcamp.com/album/recovery

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 BoysAdrenaline (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.

https://sweatboys.bandcamp.com/album/adrenaline-feat-valerie-abbey

Era NocturnaHell – 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.

https://eranocturna.bandcamp.com/album/hell

Coor Brow-OblesMacGuffin 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.

https://coorblimey.bandcamp.com/track/macguffin-baby

Death Loves VeronicaChemical – 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.

https://deathlovesveronica.bandcamp.com/album/chemical

WeirdWolvesOverdrive – 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.

https://weirdwolvesmusic.bandcamp.com/track/overdrive

Dead Animal Assembly PlantBring 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.

https://deadanimalassemblyplant.bandcamp.com/album/bring-out-the-dead-2

blackcellBurn 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.

https://blackcell.bandcamp.com/

“I took out my credit card to see you giving head” Male Tears review by Eddie LaFlash

Now that a have your attention (all credit to my favorite lyric in this album), welcome! Today I’ll be reviewing an album that I instantly wanted to sink my wiener into as soon as it was sent to me.

Male Tears is a synth pop duo consisting of James Edward on vocals and synthesizer and Spencer Jackson on keyboards. The duo makes synthpop that reminds me of Culture Club and OMD mixed with the soundtrack from this SNES game I used to play as a kid called Plok. You see, Plok is this small yellow man throws his fucking limbs at enemies and travels to different islands looking for his flag. Some heartless asshole took Plok’s flag and boy is he pissed off. Well, I’m getting sidetracked here. So let me jump back into this review.

https://maletears.bandcamp.com/

My Dude Plok

Overall, this is a solid fucking album. Each song has an early impact even though each track is compact. Songs are well structured and don’t overstay their welcome. They pummel you with catchy synth hooks, just the right amount of marimba leads and tickle you with these 80s pop vocals. Also I want to note that the drum programming here is phenomenal. A little goes a long way with drum programming. For example in the song “Let’s Pretend“, the drums are mostly a rock beat with some analog drum flair, but in the pre chorus, the back beat switches from 2 and 4 to the snare hitting on 3 which I geeked out about because it really broke up the flow of the song and kept it interesting.

Human Errorz” is another example of a synth pop classic that breaks from the albums electro thudding and gives you this off-kittler rhythmically stunning example of what Male Tears is giving you. Some of the drum patterns here remind me of Steve Gadd’s intro to “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover“.

Did I mention hooks? Each song is layered with the classic 80’s production tropes you’d expect and does it so well in a way that none of the tracks feel too busy. You’ll come across thicc Italio-disco bass lines with gated stabby sawtooth chord progressions and glassy pads, but on top of all of that are these absolutely baller melodies that act like those old filters at the bottom of swimming pools. Instead of overwhelming you, they keep you glued to each track. Future X has a hook that only shows up only in the fade out, which I thought was dope.

If I had to pick a favorite from this album I couldn’t, so here’s two. “Creep Distance” is a winner for me. The vocals really stand out in this track and the all around groove made me keep coming back to it. Also it reminds me of that Cars song that plays in the scene in Billy Madison where the principal gives Adam Sandler the card where he says he’s horny. “Adult Film” is also a winner for me and also where the title of this review comes from. This track is so fucking catchy and it has some straight forward erotic lyrics that I’m always a fan of.

Every song on this album is worth checking out if you want retro synth jams loaded with hits and erotic themes. My only critique is that sometimes the vocals get lost in the mix with all the reverb, bit fuck it. Its still a fantastic album. I’d love to see Male Tears put a more modern twist on their next release to keep things fresh as well. This album was released on Valentines Day the cassettes are already sold out, so get some more of those available because I want one.

https://pacificplaza.bandcamp.com/album/male-tears