All music written and performed by SPANKTHENUN. Lyrics by SPANKTHENUN and Claus Larsen. All tracks mastered by SPANKTHENUN.
It’s some of the harder-edged stuff I’ve heard lately. It makes me think of the days when I’d go see live industrial bands in the basement of old Club Soma in San Diego back in the early 90s. Industrial was still fun and new to me back then. SPANKTHENUN recaptures that feeling. This Dallas duo has been very busy during the lockdown with a string of releases throughout the last year. Their most recent single, ‘Off Beatings’, features their frequent collaborator, Claus Larsen of Leæther Strip. The Bunker Tapes VOL. II, the full album, is due at the end of October. Remixes by Batavia, Eva X, Hostile Architect, John Mirland and Rebel Empire guarantee there’s something here for anyone who wants to stomp the dance floor. It has a raw naked aggression that’s held together with a groove. Should be played loudly.
Today is the day when Bandcamp (The one music streaming and distribution company that seems to care an iota for musician’s) waives it’s fees and gives everything spent, to those making the music. It’s been a tough few months in particular and I am in the middle of Sotember (The month each year where I recharge and drink nothing stronger than Earl Grey tea)
Death Loves Veronica : In The Silence
Newest single from Texas darkwave sultry star Veronica Campbell. This song has a brighter more open tone than previous offerings. It really highlights the elegant purity of her voice. Also included is a beautiful synth rich remix of “In The Silence”. A cascading waterfall of cool crystal sound.
I have been waiting for someone to put raw emotion and sass back into the darkpop genre. This album crackles with mid tempo dance beats to fill the back walls of the club. The lyrics are an inward journey with an 80’s Madonna soul. Beautiful modern layered vocals to create movement and build. It’s one of those sounds that flows through your earbuds and into your nervous system and flexes attitude through your body. I feel like other people can hear these songs through my movements when I listen.
Chicago retro-synth dreamboats Wingtips have done this fitting tribute to criminally underrated 90’s Aussie pop band Savage Garden. I love the interlocking vocal duet here. The frosting sweet swirl of keyboards and chimes on this song make my heart dance with delight.
Firebrand driving doom dance with a nice sprinkle of Industrial guitar and finger firework keyboard work. I really like the effective chanting vocals which hit right on the needle of what I want from a club jam. Extra bonus remix layers on some teeth and glitch for a aggro feel. Stomp your feet and scream obscenity.
Listen to Klack or I will attack, and you don’t want that. A fresh new feel here from Matt and Eric. I really have enjoyed every evolution of this project. This has a Construction Time Again DM flavor. It has clever carefully placed samples. The beats have a real shake that ass groove. The keyboard melody lines are beautiful retro hooks. I really fell hard for these breathy cleanly delivered vocals. It’s something I hadn’t heard from them before and immediately wanted more of. The lyrics really became a strong suit here. This is an album plucked out of the timestream and dropped hard in 2020.
Kim Bell and company have released this lovely shadowpop with misty daybreak darkness. It has a dreamlike quality, with a Til Tuesday retro flow. I really like the front edge of Kim’s delivery on the vocals. This really gets me excited for the future direction of the project. Now on Swiss Dark Nights
I will always buy every GoFight release. I will never regret my decision. Jim Marcus understands the blending of body gyrating dance music in the way an Indian executive chef understands the blending of spice. The layering of elements allows you to get lost in what kind of a song you are listening to. His voice is that perfect growling beauty snapping at your heart with desire and terror. Another single, another home run.
I think this band from Toronto now on Cold Transmission takes the award of the day for something I had no idea I needed and now can’t live without. The scope of tempos here run from blistering car chase to lullaby shouting fuck. Gorgeous dreamy vocals that would make Robert Smith raise an eyebrow. I’m not sure where this was hiding but it just took my 2020 by storm.
Going to try something a little new for our review of the latest release of Death Loves Veronica. Katy and I are both big fans but both come from fairly different backgrounds. So we are going to do a duel review. Listening to the songs separately and not discussing. Then posting our thoughts here to feel this album through a couple lenses.
Katy – I really enjoyed this album from beginning to end. The album is dynamic with different feelings associated with every song. Each track had its notable mentions, but a few really resonated with me in a long term way. Spending a bunch of time in my apartment makes me really appreciate albums that keep me wanting more. Death Loves Veronica is an amazing project that creates some of the best music for the timing of my life. This album was exactly what I needed and I’m so grateful it exists.
Ken – I have been waiting for this record for a long time. I’ve been a fan of Veronica’s work for a while and she really took time with this one. It just bleeds soul and internal honesty. I think what left me so struck was how it had a powerful moody synth feel, but the vocals really showed her Texas style. I heard a real rich story teller feel of Dolly Parton or Patsy Cline. It fills a real void in the current scene and I found my mind often getting lost in the narrative of the songs. It has a moderate pace that grinds and builds and really throws a smokey spotlight on the journey and reflection.
What did it make us feel? :
Katy – Each song evoked a different kind of feeling, but overall I felt fulfilled. Some of the songs made me smile, others made me think deeply because the music or words felt relatable. I found myself gazing at the wall adjacent thinking of my teen years and how these songs feel just as relatable now as they would have then.
Ken- I love the way Katy said it was related to her teenage years. For me I kept finding myself dwelling on a more mature voice reflecting on the wounds and lessons of the past carried with us into modern experience. I think it says a lot about a song writer when she can send an emotion and have the same basic concept touch different listeners through different lenses. These songs felt so solitary and sending communication across the world to someone lost. Obviously this hit hard in the modern world.
Katy- This song has layers. Blood King has a spooky vibe from the riff on the organ to the story being dictated vocally. Generally, the song has a very rock and roll feel to it, the kind that makes your feet move and your head bop despite being minimalistic musically. The first time I listened through it, that’s basically what I walked away feeling. Like, “Wow, that was a fun track!” Then I listened to the words closer and realized how incredibly dark the song is.
Ken – I love the spooky organ on the opening. It really sets up this villainous character . Then the chorus kicks up the drums and torments the protagonist with a spectral voice telling us you can’t escape. Sizzingly buzzy guitars, I love the difference and range between the two vocal styles.
I Came Here For You:
Katy – This song is one of my favorites on the album. I don’t know how to feel when I listen to it. It’s very sexy in one regard, but once again has an overall feeling of creepiness. It’s almost like it’s the standpoint of the predator from Blood King instead of being from the standpoint of the victim. Once again, this song has a rock and roll feel to it that makes you move, but this track has a lot more mischief in its instrumentation. There’s a riff on a bass synth that gives the song more of a feeling or pursuit. The chorus is huge sounding and direct lyrically. Suddenly, you no longer feel like you’re quickly walking down a streetlight lit sidewalk, but in a people filled nightclub.
Ken- Hard agree Katy, this is such a jam. It’s slow and smokey. Those tiny pin prick finger taps crawl on your spine. This really has that sultry sexy soul to the vocals. This is a song of power, stalking, both a fear and admiration. I really heard a story, not of love, but of apprenticeship. I desire to touch danger, not to be with it, but to remake yourself with it’s aspect. That chorus is such a massive hit with the wall of sound on the guitar, but the tempo never increases. It leaves such a striking feeling of being stunned in your tracks.
Katy – This is a slower ballad that revolves around lost, love. This is one of the tracks that makes me remember all those messy breakups from when I was younger. “I can’t dance all night without you.” I get that. I feel that. This song has an overall melancholy tone instrumentally with a heartbreaking chorus. Though it is somber, it’s still a pop song, so the synths add a little glee to the mix. Whether it’s the lyrics or the instrumentation, there’s something in this song to cling to and feel some kind of relatable feeling with.
Ken- That snare is hitting so crisp. Veronica is using a airy and and distant voice in the intro. It really hits with a loveliness. The chorus line of “I can’t dance without you” is powerful and resonates something we have all felt. The forced facing of a memory which stings but also recalls the beauty of that moment. The background glitching static uses a cool sound effect to help add to the narrative. I love how much thought went into the composition of these songs. I am loving how in sync Katy and my take was here. I feel that speaks to how on target this song hits.
Katy- “I am the witch, I will destroy you.” This song has me thinking of multiple movie plots that would all be very great and range from horror movies like “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” to a fierce empowerment flick about a woman done taking shit from some dude! Safe to say, this song gets me amped. It has a slower tempo but has huge synths and guitars making it anthemic.
Ken- I really like the slow mystical groove on this one. Veronica does that wonderful sultry whisper, offset by a call back distorted voice to add broken glass edge. It has this cool LA almost Courtney Love feel, which for me is a huge compliment. I love Katy’s call out of how hard this hits for being a slow song. Use of dynamics to achieve a magical fireball to the face. Just dripping with bad ass feminine energy. This is a total last girl song.
Katy- This song is my favorite on the whole album. It’s so sad! The longing conveyed through this track is so impactful. The synths in the second verse wobble and create that tension and uneasiness, that discomfort… it’s the sounds of how I feel right now. This track also highlights how dynamically ranging this album is. Through most of this album, the songs are driving and poppy whereas this song has an almost lo-fi indie feel. Maybe it’s because most of the song revolves around a simple, but longing-sounding bassline. The things Veronica is saying are so simple and direct that they crush your heart.
Ken- I knew right away why this was Katy’s favorite. Huge dreamy David Lynch vibes here. Almost a sinister surf shoegaze feel. Great transition at 1:30. The way the layers build here is so effective, just adding one piece at a time to keep the drive doing.
Katy- I highly recommend this album. If you’ve been a follower of Death Loves Veronica, you should be excited. If you’re new to her work, check it out because it’s an incredible range of sound and influence. Death Loves Veronica has always been amazing at telling a story and really selling a scene and I’d debate this is the best landscape of those talents so far. Like I’ve said already, this was exactly what I needed right now. It’s not an album of the same thing over and over. When the world feels like it’s falling apart, it’s reassuring to know that there’s anything to make it feel any better. Right now, there’s a ton of amazing art and music being made and we’re so incredibly lucky to be able to listen and share it.
Ken- Hard agree, as someone who is already a fan of her work this album was my favorite so far front to back. It’s all the things she does well, done better. The concepts are direct and narrative. The vocals a slow drink of premium whiskey. More than anything though the way she uses a minimal amount of sounds to layer perfectly to add flesh and blood to the story of her words. I hear a lot of the soul power of a Chelsea Wolfe, with an electronic and intricate design. Doing more with less to tell the story of a journey to the past and back again.
About a year ago I had an awakening. I had spent many years wrapped in the music of my past. I clung to the same mainstay bands I had been enjoying and had given up a bit on finding something new that inspired me. Then something happened, I found this band from Texas. Two young men that created something so familiar and so fresh at the same time. Twin Tribes album Shadows spoke to me, filled me with hope for a future of dark music that took what had built my passion with intricate snake charmed guitar, thick driving bass lines, and romantic sensual vocals that transported me to another place. A place still full of magic and mystery. I decided I needed to share this feeling and started the music review page Sounds and Shadows. Since then I have discovered a whole universe and wonder in modern music. It all started with that first review of Shadows by Twin Tribes. I even got a chance to play a show with Luis and Joel and saw the same thing in their live show I first heard that first time I spun the record. Tonight I finally get to publish this long awaited interview with these talented artists. I hope it gives you a glimpse into their process and how I have also come to love the people behind that beautiful music.
Ken: Your live show and album captures such symmetry of sound and stage performance. Two people who know and care about each other. How did you meet and how does that history come through in the music you make?
Joel: – We met through a previous band we were in. Luis joined as our keyboard player, and we kind of went from there. We both learned a lot through our separate experiences in music, and with other projects. When Luis first showed me the demo for Shadows, I was instantly hooked. I told him as much, too, and made sure to let him know I was there in case he ever needed a bass player, or my help in any way. When he reached out and we came together for Twin Tribes, we were adamant about not making the same mistakes we had in the past. We have given of ourselves equally into making the music that we dearly love, and I think we can both agree that our friendship, and respect for each other, has grown in this last year working together.
Ken: Shadows is an album I play constantly and love to tell people about. It is deeply personal and stirs emotion. Tell me about how you write songs together, what is your process?
Luis: – I think the writing process differs. Sometimes I can come up with an idea/riff, record it and send it to Joel and he will give me feedback or add to it. But also sometimes we get together and create a song from scratch with both of us in the same room. Then after we have structured the song we’ll leave the lyrics for the end.
Ken: You have had such success in 2018 with the album, are you surprised by this? What is your goal for 2019?
Luis – We’re definitely surprised by the success the album has had and just the positive reaction it has caused in general. When we created Shadows we had no expectations. We simply wanted to create an album from our inspirations and put it into tape. We had no idea we would end up working with labels and releasing it on vinyl. It’s still surreal for us.
Joel – Our goal for this year is to release another album, tour, and make so many new friends along the way. Honestly, I’ve met some amazing and interesting people in our travels, and it’s one of my absolute favorite things.
Ken: Doing music as a career is a difficult journey. It takes great will and desire. What drives you to keep on and making music?
Luis: It definitely is a difficult journey, especially balancing it out with our careers on the side. I think the love for the music is what keeps us motivated. After this year, our motivation has only increased to continue, and we’re excited to share the new music soon.
Ken: You have gotten to play with some incredible bands lately. I know when we played with you it was intimidating, wanting to be our best. Is there anyone you played with that intimidated you because you respected them so much?
Luis: Getting to meet and play with other talented artists is one of the best things that Twin Tribes has brought us. I’ll always get nervous whether it’s playing by ourselves or playing a sold out show with a famous band. Just to name a few that made us feel that way were Zanias, Indradevi, Mr. Kitty, Spectres, Altar de Fey and Second Still.
Joel: All of those bands that Luis mentioned. I’ll add that the Actors, Creux Lies, Bootblacks bill we just played was especially nerve wracking. When you’re surrounded by so many talented musicians, you can’t help but feel a little nervous. It’s a humbling feeling.
Ken: I’ve listened to your LP many times and have a lot of favorite tracks but “Portal to the Void” sticks with me. What was your inspiration for this song and how did you bring it to life?
Luis: Portal was created with our Roland JX-3P’s sequencer. We used that for the main synth riff, and then started adding layers to it and the song was born. It was inspired by a clairvoyant character from a show called Penny Dreadful.
Ken: When you came to Detroit I took you to Lafayette Coney island at 1:33 am to have a true Detroit Coney. On your tours and travels what is the most amazing thing you got to eat?
Luis: This question has been asked several times and I will say it again. My most memorable moment from that tour was having hot dogs with everyone that night. I found it so funny when our friend Jack, from Panic Priest, almost killed me for putting ketchup on my hot dog, lol. That Detroit Coney was the best.
Joel: I’ll be honest, we had some pretty amazing BBQ at Smoke and Fire in Kansas City, but the one that still sticks out for me is La Chaparrita in Chicago. I ate a huarache, and tried some fermented pineapple juice for the first time. So delicious. Shout out to Benny Hernandez and his lovely wife for taking us there!
Ken: Your sound obviously plays homage to previous sounds (The Cure, Depeche Mode, My Bloody Valentine) if you could play with any band living or dead who would it be?
Luis: Part of our sound was inspired by the early 80’s albums by The Cure and Depeche Mode, of course. I would have loved to live in the decade of the dark 80’s and play with obscure bands like Asylum Party, Carmody and Samedi, just to name a few.
Joel – One of my personal Heroes and inspirations, David Bowie. Cue that song now.
Ken:For my gear head readers, your sound has a unique feel. What piece of equipment could you not have made this album without?
Luis: The gear we used is what gave us our sound aside from the hours of creating patches. Definitely the Roland JX-3P, Korg Poly 800, Roland TR-707, Roland JC 120 and the LinnDrum.
Ken: If you could download the ability to play any instrument, like in The Matrix, what would it be to enhance your sound?
Luis: I would definitely enhance my synth playing skills since it’s not my main instrument. The little I know is mostly self taught. Maybe even drums because my coordination is garbage.
Joel: If piano is the red pill, and drums are the blue pill, I’m throwing blinding powder at Morpheus and taking them both. I’m “The One”, dude, I do what I want.
Twin Tribes are currently prepping for a west coast tour. If you live in that area and love yourself at all you will witness that show.