Sounds and Shadows Top Postpunk/Synthwave/Darkpop albums of 2020

Part 3 of this series might have been the toughest to write. There was such a wealth of great new albums in this genre I found myself at a loss to pick and choose my favorites. However tough choices need to get made. These are all records released in 2020 and not singles. I feel like everyone on this list did something very profound.

Black Rose Burning – Open the Gates – George Grant is doing amazing things using stripped down elements of dark post punk concepts. His voice has this scintillating David Bryne expressive lilt. It harnesses such energy with an acoustic guitar and a percussive gate. It’s romantic, not like a relationship, but the way Star Trek is romantic about the love of stars and exploration. I find myself constantly lost in the beauty of it.

https://blackroseburning.bandcamp.com/album/open-the-gate

SceniusEnough Fears – I found this album at the very end of the year but I have a feeling this will be on my heavy rotation the next few months. The Leeds band is a bending maze of emotion and turns that I found myself deeply immersed in. The vocals from Fab Nau were so original and cutting. Perfect dark trance resonance and endless builds. This is a band I will be paying close attention to in 2021. I feel the beginning of something beautiful starting.

https://scenius.bandcamp.com/album/enough-fears

Vlimmer – XIIIIIIII – This series of albums reaches it’s conclusion in glorious and staggering fashion. Alexander Donat has an amazing gift to take emotion and transfer it into sound seamlessly. Taking a tiny burning ember of idea and gentle blowing on that fire until it swells into a blaze. Truly a criminally underrated talent in modern artistic expression through sound.

https://blackjackilluministrecords.bandcamp.com/album/xiiiiiiii-18

White Mansion – Human – Arkansas brings us this strong front to back traditional post punk. I love the bold transitions here and open air vocals. I think the name Human was perfect for this record because it is all about relationships. You can really follow the story. It’s organic, full of heart, and makes a connection.

https://whitemansion.bandcamp.com/album/human

The Secret French Post Cards – Colors – More glorious post punk darkness this time mixed and mastered by Pedro Code (Iamtheshadow). This record is so understated and comes at you in subtle ways. Olli Ohlander has a ringing and smoky delivery that chews up scenery like a master actor. Blended reverb and echo makes the guitar build tension that pulls you into the moment. Paint a picture in your mind with this record. Another Cold Transmission band.

https://thesecretfrenchpostcards.bandcamp.com/album/colours-2

Danny Blu – The Pale Horse – Crackling energy and neck grabbing hooks from NYC. Personal soul threaded into club kid sleek trance. This record is everything cool I want to give off. The smoky saxophone trills add a beautiful contrast note. The cadence they lyrics are delivered with are an extra percussion and rhythm. It leaves me longing for more.

https://dannyblu.bandcamp.com/album/the-pale-horse

Elz and the Cult – Bloodlines – Elz is one of those beautiful and unique humans that takes their internal light and bleeds it into every track they make. It has such a genuine and soulful flavor which modern darkpop is so hungry for. It is a record of personal intensity that stands out in the landscape. A true gamechanger record that everyone should experience. On Cold Transmission Music.

https://elzandthecult.bandcamp.com/album/bloodline

Korine – The Night We Raise – Philly based band that is taking the scene by storm for good reason. They have such a glamourous beauty. While the lyrics are full of edge and venom. They truly have mastered the idea of taking two things you wouldn’t think would make sense together and then synthesizing it perfectly. It’s elegant, profound, and makes you feel like you are on the inside of secret. Also it has that glorious shake that ass factor. You will dance to this record all night long. On Born Loser Records now.

https://korine.bandcamp.com/album/the-night-we-raise

Panic Priest – Second Seduction – Chicago based Jack Armondo finds himself once again on my albums of the year. This sophomore album uses his rich and powerful baritone to great effect but softens the edges of the guitars in the first album. Putting the synths forward really captures the neon industrial aspects of his city. I love the way he captured the concept of isolation in the middle of a populated concrete jungle that became so relevant to us all in 2020. An impressive offering both in connection and execution on Negative Gain Records.

https://panicpriestngp.bandcamp.com/album/second-seduction

Soft Kill – Dead Kids R.I.P. City – Portland postwave glory with gorgeous and rich vocals and rainy flowing waves of synth sound. This record is so efficient and full of intention. This is one of those records it’s never a bad time for. It has that voice of a generation The Smiths sound but with a speed and energy of the modern era.

https://anopendoor.bandcamp.com/album/dead-kids-r-i-p-city

Idles – Ultra Mono – I love this album for the punk side of post punk. It’s intelligent, political, smash your fucking teeth in complex blasting rock. It has the true core of Fugazi. I wasn’t quite sure where to put this under but it belongs on some list.

https://idlesband.bandcamp.com/album/ultra-mono

Kiss of the Whip – We’re Not Here – Baltimore is doing some amazing things in the current scene and KOTW are near the top of that list. There is an amazing feeling when someone has such a wizardry of an instrument that it transcends and lefts everything in the song around it. That’s how I feel when Tristan Victor plays keyboards. The wide open textures and landscapes that flow through your mind at razor speed. His melodic whisper growl vocals really draw you in and let those complex synth changes do their work. I continue to be impressed with every new growth.

https://kissofthewhip.bandcamp.com/album/were-not-here

Spectres – Nostalgia – Sometimes I want a record that really pushes the edges of a genre. Sometimes I take comfort in bands that do a familiar sound with perfect execution. This album is so full of feelings that transport me back. Each song is original and new but the pallet of colors is brilliant with New Order, The Smiths, Echo and the Bunnymen. The heartfelt homage to the music I grew up on cleaned and washed and sent straight to my heartstrings.

https://spectresvancouver.bandcamp.com/album/nostalgia

Loveblind – Sleeping Visions – What happens when a traditionally shoegaze label like Saint Marie Records puts together a superband of Shoegaze talent to make a darkpop album. In this case what happens is one of the most textural beautiful records of the year. Dorian Electique has a stunning and haunting vocal quality that floats on the waves of slushy wave crash guitars and striking drum beats. Every time I play this record I picture silk scarves flowing in my wake. it just makes life a little more beautiful.

https://saintmarierecords.bandcamp.com/album/sleeping-visions

Black Nail Caberet – God’s Verging On Sanity – This band from Hungary has been on my constant playlist. They had an album in my top list of 2019 as well. I love that they don’t sit idle and instead explore a new aspect of darkpop. Emese has a remarkable strength and depth to her voice that reminds me of Annie Lennox. The dance beats are a force to be reckoned with and are like a shot of energy in the arm. When I need to find a little something extra within myself this is the record I reach for.

https://blacknailcabaret.bandcamp.com/album/gods-verging-on-sanity

Algiers – There is No Year – If you have never witnessed Algiers live, once the world reopens that should be the top of your to do list. They are the best live show I have seen in the past 20 years. It’s breathtaking to behold. They are another band hard to put in a box in the most amazing away. Notes of Motown/Gospel/Post Punk/Electronica. It’s all thrown in the blender and spun to a smooth creamy glory. The lyrics are poignant, fresh, and delivered with a voice sorely lacking in this scene. This record is such an up and down journey through culture, injustice, and personal revelation. I really can’t stress the importance of this band enough.

https://algierstheband.bandcamp.com/album/there-is-no-year

Then Comes Silence – Machine – Swedish based dark rockers put out this album in March and I listened to it many times in it’s entirety. The single We Lose the Night is such a perfect jam it has to be my most earworm song of the year. Just walking through the world I found it constantly popping into my head. This record has what I think of as true Post Punk vibes. The bass is thunderous and driving. Vocals are enchanting and full of warm and captivating feeling. Also the track Ritual feat: Karolina Engdahl is a perfect duet to blend beauty and razor cuts. I was an instant fan for life.

https://thencomessilence.bandcamp.com/album/machine

Bootblacks – Thin Skies – NYC post punk stars took a giant leap forward in their evolution for this album. It truly takes it’s own life and direction. Adding on Jason Corbett (Actors) to chisel and magnify a sound that already had such a unique and dangerous flavor. It is sleek, mysterious, and is my number one soundtrack if I ever pull an elaborate jewel heist and car chase in the heart of New York City. I think the most magnificent part of this album is that it really took “Post Punk” someplace new. It’s easy to get hung up on nostalgia, and there is some of that here. There is also a sound so sensual and fresh. I can just smell the musk of this album. You need to feel it on your skin.

https://bootblacks.bandcamp.com/album/thin-skies

Our interview with Bootblacks

Empathy Test – Monsters – This album was my most played on bandcamp this year. I just couldn’t stop coming back to it. It holds a beauty and quality that touches on so many genres. It’s personal and full of imagery that transports you into a movie. Isaac has one of those once in a generation voices that speaks right to your heart. This record just struck a chord inside me like the first time I heard Radiohead The Bends. That feeling of dramatic intensity that makes me think of youth while the refined craftsmanship spoke to my changed perspective. This is a young band, and their potential to grow and make art on another level seems limitless.

https://empathy-test.bandcamp.com/album/monsters

Our Interview with Empathy Test

Final Bandcamp Friday of the Year!

So the final Bandcamp day of 2020 is upon us. This whole year feels like an absurd blur. I continue to beat the drum hard for all Bandcamp does to support artists all year round. This day each month has become something I cherish as it usually leads to several new releases. As usual I am up at midnight firing through whiskey and trying to share some of the new music that is filling my heart with fire. As the possibility of Facebook turning away from artists sharing their work I urge you to follow the page and comment below the review music that is inspiring you that I might put it in future reviews.

Codename: Lola – Lets start out with this badass cover of one of my favorite bands Ultravox in one of their more underrated songs. The single features fireball vocals from Gothzilla frontman Tim Jarvis. It’s got a glorious walking gansta style and a wailing guitar solo. Just blistering energy that never lets up and fills me with excitement for the future of this project. Currently it is free on bandcamp and is a must grab.

https://codenamelola.bandcamp.com/

Vlimmer: Alexander has done it again. His ability to crank out albums at the highest quality in record speed leaves me speechless. This latest release “XIIIIIIII” has his textured emotive stark imagery. Opening with an urgency and seamless blend of guitar slush with cascading keyboards. It’s gorgeous, immersive, and never disappoints. I am always shocked by how far from the previous concept each release leaps. This one highlights the vocals and has a brighter indie rock sensibility. I’m in awe, how does he have so many ideas that always sound so fresh.

https://blackjackilluministrecords.bandcamp.com/

The Funeral March of the Marionettes – New single from the Illinois post punk band called “Useless”. It’s brash and melodic with 80s Killing Joke feel. That driving bassline that never lets up and chanting devil may care vocals that add weight by floating on the wave of sound.

https://thefuneralmarch.bandcamp.com/album/useless-a-foolish-arrangement

Dissonance Feat: Kurt Larson: If there are three things I love it is 1) Kate Bush 2) Kurt Larson (Information Society) 3) The soulful smokey croon of Cat Hall. It’s a song that has seen covers before but this one is special for the vocal duet and digital downpour of sound falling on us while we are running up that hill. A special release from one of the most underrated voices in this scene. This single comes off an amazing compilation of cover songs by electronic artists called “Numbers Covered”. A great value here but if you have to check just one track it is this.

https://emergencyhearts.bandcamp.com/album/numbers-covered-a-benefit-album-for-numbers-night-club

Vertical Patrols – Another single from the San Diego synthwave artist. It’s warm and puts me in mind of catchy New Order Technique until the vocals drop with a unique accented feeling of frustration and loss. It grabs hold of your lapels and shakes you furiously searching for it’s own answers. It’s one of those bands where I hear what is coming, as much as what I am hearing. This single paves the way for something exciting in the future.

https://verticalpatrols.bandcamp.com/track/again-tonight?fbclid=IwAR3ah6WZyYPvZg5tTK9e6fh5BTTwaI5nWSuknlxN1F7tdSVoV2J5X8oUfNM

Damien Done : My fellow Michigan native has released 3 new demos songs in November. It’s always a great experience when you have an artists that you have followed the evolution of their sound. Moyal has had an impressive career with a wide range of styles. His voice really has so many tricks in the bag and shifts from album to album and even within single tracks. An impressive talent and lyrical storyteller that drenches each canvas with rich and immersive imagery. My favorite of the three tracks was “Always On Fire” with featured this beautiful harp sound. His voice takes on a rich Brendan Perry (Dead Can Dance) lilt. Then shifts into a powerful growl at just the right moment as a booming trip hop drum beat sinks in. A Master of the song writing craft Damien does not disappoint. The blistering guitar solo in the outro is a scorching flame on oil soaked waters. Powerful.

https://damiendone.bandcamp.com/album/demos-from-the-year-2020

Dead Astronauts: New release out of Seattle from Cold Transmission Music called “Silhouettes“. This one is a pre order not available until January but it already has me bubbling with excitement. First single is “Chauffer and the Flame” ok to start with I love that song title. This is hungry and sensual. It features a beautifully matched duet vocal that creates duality and tension. These drum beats come from within you and burst out of your chest. The sleek electronic style feels like I am in the Tron stadium racing in a light motorcycle with everything on the line. It’s hot, tantalizing, and leaves me hungry for more.

https://deadastronauts.bandcamp.com/album/silhouettes

Modal Citizan : New album Control Alter Deplete from chaos dark grunge out of Virginia Beach. So this was admittedly a little closer to metal edge than I generally venture. My first inclination was to kick it over to Collin or Adrian. However I found it growing on me as I played it more and more. The thick as fuck crunching guitars took me back to Bad Motorfinger from Soundgarden. The vocals while full of screech and growl, also found tones of gentle beauty which rode that razor edge never quite crossing over into something to hard for me to relate to. It was one of those records I kept expecting to want to get off the ride, but found myself clutching the bar and feeling myself pulled deeper. I always know something is impressive when it is obviously out of my wheelhouse but I keep coming back to it. Even now I am not sure how I feel, other than I was never bored or lost. I think this is a record I will find me daring myself into exploring again and again in the future.

https://modalcitizan.bandcamp.com/album/control-alter-deplete

Sapphira Vee: Ok there are a lot of reasons I am excited for this album “The Mask” due out 12/15/20. One of which are the bevy of awesome collaborators including Spankthenun, The Joy Thieves, Melodywhore, and yes Amaranth. I even do a bit of guest vocals on the track “World My Voice“. Sapphira has a voice and energy that fills a room. It’s dangerous and calls you like a siren from the rocks. These tracks are so personal and really tear her open as she holds out her heart in her hand. I love the throwback tone of dropped beat triphop. It really highlights the power of her controlled elegance. It’s music that gives you a shiver. A tension in the air. An inhaled breath with every roll of the dice. In a world of darkpop about escape, this album demands your focus. It’s hard pressed to pick a favorite track, but “Mask of Happy” is such a creeping and subtle jam you don’t realize has ahold of you until it is too late. A powerful release that belongs in your collection.

https://sapphiravee.bandcamp.com/

Grabyourface: French ultraviolet blade runner who has just signed with Negative Gain records will release an eagerly anticipated new album 12/18/20 called “Sea“. This record is gorgeous from the get. The spoken word poetry style is engaging and draws attention to the lyrics. It’s a drowning plea cutting through an ocean of depression, trying to break the water. The music is a slow electronic cascade weathering down the rocks. I really found myself getting lost in this. Sonically it’s like the other side of the same spectrum as Mr.Kitty. My pick for favorite track was “So”. The mixture of piano sound and florescent fog synths give a beautiful setting for the melody rap poetry. Overall this is an impressive offering and one I will definitely be getting preorder for.

grabyourface (bandcamp.com)

Caustic: Matt Fanale also of Klack released a new 5 song pandemic club massacre ep. Rhythmic robot signal beamed into your brain guiding your body as a marionette. My jam was Tu Madre. It was so hard to stop my feet from stomping and waking the house. The AI efficiency of the music is memorizing. There is so much movement with so few different sources carrying it. Around 2:50 the blasting toms start and kick the floor from under you. You also get Matts clever humor in songs like Stale Seman, Shame, and video games. The whispered secret, and old school dancedustrial beat are a delicious combination. Matt is really one of the leaders in the charge of current industrial/edm.

https://caustic.bandcamp.com/album/a-succession-of-repetitive-beats

Remember to drop your favorite new bands you got on bandcamp day for future reviews.

Katy’s “End Of Days” Playlist (Vol. 3)

A week from this last Friday was the second day Bandcamp waived their artist fees. Since then, there’s been a burst of new music posted that ranges from one-off projects bred from quarantine boredom to albums that have been in the works for the last year.  Some artists have re-released old albums that were never released digitally while others have chosen archived songs that aren’t new but haven’t been released before.

I’m pretty much saying Bandcamp is rad right now.

There is so much great music out and more coming out every day. It was hard to pinpoint my top favorites, but I’ve spent the last day narrowing my latest playlist to my top six favorite new releases.

Mogwai

ZEROZEROZERO

Scotland, UK

https://mogwai.bandcamp.com/album/zerozerozero

Mogwai

I’ve always been taken aback by Mogwai’s soundscapes. There’s a vastness in their music that can create such a sad, lonely feeling in my gut. It’s crazy how without words, they can say something so well that it brings tears to my eyes. ZEROZEROZERO is the score to the show on Amazon Prime with the same name exploring the inner workings of the cocaine trade. This album gives the story light as it creates action and tension with massive builds and soundscapes.

Favorite Track: Fears of Metal

X

Alphabetland 

Los Angeles, CA

https://xtheband.bandcamp.com/album/alphabetland

Alphabetland

When X announced last January that they were going to be releasing a new album, the punk scene stirred. What would the first album release in 27 years by an iconic punk band be like? Great news, everyone! It’s awesome. X spent the last 18 months writing and recording 11 new tracks that are relevant and hype to hear. When the band hit the scene in 1977, they quickly become prolific for their unique sound. Duel vocals, an homage to multiple rock genres at once, ripping guitars, and attitude. That’s X. This album was released on April 22, 2020.

Favorite Track: Water & Wine

Vlimmer

Pulmo 

Königs Wusterhausen, Germany

https://blackjackilluministrecords.bandcamp.com/album/pulmo

Vlimmer

Vlimmer is a music-making machine! This album is dark and ambient with a drive behind it. Though it’s utterly haunting instrumentally and vocally, it’s breathtakingly beautiful simultaneously. Instrumentally, you’ll hear sounds that make the hairs on the back of your neck stand, but then there are these huge vocals and harmonies that hypnotize you. There’s chaos built into the structure of the songs that give you that feeling of tension without pushing you to discomfort.  This album was released on May 1, 2020.

Favorite Track: Phantompflug

Secret Shame

Dissolve b/w Pure

Asheville, NC

https://secretshame.bandcamp.com/album/dissolve-b-w-pure

SecretShame1

When I heard the song, “Dissolve” by Secret Shame, I felt refreshed and excited for more. I heard homage to bands I love like New Order. It literally felt like I was listening to a song by The Cure recorded for 33 1/3 rpm but played at 45 rpm.  This is the perfect cross of post-punk and goth rock. You can feel how much fun the band had creating this EP. It’s because of this that the music that creates a deeper connection with the audience. I’m very excited to hear the other half of this EP when it’s released June 5, 2020. 

Favorite Track: Dissolve

Tabloid TV Darlings

Demo EP 

Melbourne, Australia 

https://tabloidtvdarlings.bandcamp.com/

TabloidTVDarlings

In 2019, four 15-year-olds came together in Melbourne, Australia to form the rad indie-grunge band, Tabloid TV Darlings. The group is heavily inspired by ‘90s alternative rock, specifically grunge. The singer sounds almost exactly like Kurt Cobain, but the band has melodic feel with fuzzed-out guitars and cool vocal harmonies. This group of teenagers has me jealous of their songwriting ability and has me super excited for their future releases. This album was released on May 3, 2020.

Favorite Track: No. 1

Dummy

Dummy EP

Los Angeles, CA

https://notdummy.bandcamp.com/album/dummy-ep

Dummy

Dummy from Los Angelas, CA is a dreamy shoegaze band that echos the sounds of legendary groups like Kraftwerk, Stereolab, and Cluster. Their marriage of rock genres ranging from krautrock to post-punk is enough to give it a unique sound. They take a minimalistic approach to their work but build huge soundscapes within the composition. Each song has it’s own range that builds the album into somewhat of a cinematic-feeling piece overall. This album was released on May 1, 2020.

Favorite Track: Slacker Mask

I know I was a little late to the game by writing these days after Bandcamp waived it’s artist fees, but there’s still amazing music being released every day! There is so much to still be excited about on Bandcamp. Whatever support you can offer to your favorite new artists is always appreciated even if it’s only $5.

I’ve been hearing so much great music these last few weeks and look forward to the time when we’ll all be able to go to shows again and experience music together. Until then, I hope that you’ve enjoyed this segment of “Katy’s ‘End of Days’ Playlist”.

Bandcamp Day was a smashing success. What was hot?

So during the current pandemic when artists are taking a hit from an inability to tour and play out, Bandcamp the music distribution platform that seems to actually care about artists waived their fees for a day. Honestly the fees they charge are pretty fair but anything to get people excited to support bands. So here is some of what caught my fancy on the first day of May.

Panic Priest (Second Seduction) what a strong second offering from Jack. This album really took the sound in a sleeker, stronger, synth driven new direction. His voice remains one of the strongest baritones in the scene but here it is piled on layer after layer of textural experience and the experience is amazing. Extra Credit for the cool fan sourced music video on the single Lonely City.

https://panicpriestngp.bandcamp.com/

Blood and Dust – (Compilation) This is such an awesome comp put out by out by TG Mondalf of Venus Aeon. I was just talking to Brandon of Sonsombre on the podcast about the connection of southern sound and goth…which i call Outlaw Goth. This comp is absolutely jam packed with fire tracks of some of the hottest names in new goth rock doing southern style. October Burns Black/Sonsombre/Black Angel/Raven Said/Cliff and Ivy/Guillotine Dream and many more. A cool concept and great execution.

https://venusaeon.bandcamp.com/album/blood-dust-a-gothic-western

Delphine Coma(Secondary Eyes) Long awaited EP from Ashe Ruppe. Two tracks and two remixes with that true deep darkwave sound. Rolling baselines and Ashe’s deeper than then earths core voice ringing icy and clear. Yes please.

https://swissdarknights.bandcamp.com/album/secondary-eyes

Orcus Nullify – (Pandemonic ) A poignant track for the current situation. Much more stripped down and electronic feel for doom rocker Bruce Nullify yet holding true to that buzzing noise sword guitar. This one strikes hard and takes no prisoners.

https://orcusnullify.bandcamp.com/track/pandemonic

Vlimmer(Pulmo) Shadow Sound architect Alexander Donat continues to spew forth such a steady stream of quality material at a rate that defies imagination. Here he stays between tighter lines than some of his more psychedelic offerings. The drum beats are tight and the guitars are cold vibrating lasers cutting through the dark din. I really like how the bass walks in track two Sonnenspeer.

https://blackjackilluministrecords.bandcamp.com/album/pulmo

The Black Capes – (Lullabies For The Dead) Old school gothic rock from the land of history Athens Greece. Like a big black wolf snarling and writhing these crushing beats and vicious growling vocal delivery is the sound of night creatures baying. It has tender moments of light strings and contrast. Another band embracing the glory of the past to create a dark future. The sound put me in mind of the wild rural parts of my home in Michigan. The land of Iggy Pop.

https://theblackcapes.bandcamp.com/album/lullabies-for-the-dead

Ashes Fallen(Thy Will Be Done) Sinister guitar lord James Perry put out a new single today full of a lot more menace than the last album. I feel like Michelle and Jason have really had an effect on the tone for this single. The guitar and baselines still include a lot of movement and technique. The keyboards fill the space to give those hard down strokes more accent. The vocals are not a clean alternative romanticism I heard and enjoyed on the last record.. They are dark, full, gritty, and not what you want to meet in a dark alley. Love the direction.

https://ashesfallenmusic.bandcamp.com/track/thy-will-be-done?fbclid=IwAR3BuaA3tjcyuKJLP42cPJspG6gQeMmdYw3vbS_lY30355dxCup4ZqGT5uo

Pilgrims of Yearning(Forsaken Land) – Pre release of the June 5th album offers a first track and single The Visitor. Juls Garat has a clear and slicing voice which knows how to shine light through every crack in the dark and driving bass wall. This was a taste that gets me excited for the whole meal and the future of an exciting sound.

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

Plague Garden – (Left in The Grave ) – Ok important question, how the fuck did I not know about Plague Garden? Paul Barker of Redwing Blackbird (who i love) is involved in this project. This is gorgeous, sinister, old school artistic almost Tones on Tail lo fi drone goth. Great use of changes and making every sound count. Goth with clinical efficient effect.

https://plaguegarden.bandcamp.com/releases

Caustic(The King of EBM) So if Matt Fanale has a new EP and the title sounds like a play on Run DMC best believe I am here for this. Of course it is just what you would think. Look it is not an overstated boast to say The King. Infectious beats drive your body like a bolt of electricity from the sky awakening dead flesh. It’s Alive! It’s Alive! It’s blue collar, it’s high ideal, it’s everything I love about punk, and EDM and nothing I hate about either.

https://caustic.bandcamp.com/album/the-king-of-ebm

A Cloud of Ravens(The Earthen Call) New York darkwave duo with a new single out. I really want to listen to this while doing ritualistic magic in a secret underground lair. Not that doing that doesn’t sound cool all the time, but to this song in particular. Love the walls closing in guitar for an otherwise traditional darkwave song. Gave the whole feel flaming wheels.

https://acloudofravens.bandcamp.com/track/the-earthen-call

Raven Said(Beyond the Darkest Hour) Ok, I have a confession/moment of self reflection on Raven Said from Russia. I have had 3 reliable people all tell me to listen to this record and just hadn’t gotten to it. I get a little full of myself sometimes from writing this page and start to think if it was really that good I would have found it right? Holy shit this is good. I hate myself for the moments I wasted not knowing about it. It’s driving through haunted woods chased by a ghost luxury automobile full of specters and demons on a foggy night. It bounces on tight coils like post punk but it has the soul of really spooky quirky bat cave. So don’t be dumb like me, buy this immediately.

https://ravensaid.bandcamp.com/album/beyond-the-darkest-hour

From The Mouth Öv Belial(Defied and Devoured) Have you ever wondered where modular synths go after they die if they have not lived a good and pure life? Adrian can show you. This is disturbing sonic nightmares given flesh. In fact I might have to write one more review just so this isn’t the last thing I hear before I pass out. Honestly he should have wrote the soundtrack for the Suspiria remake instead of Thom York.

https://fromthemouthovbelial.bandcamp.com/track/defied-devoured

Mindless Faith(Insectual) Washington DC based electronic robot invasion music that makes me long for humanities inevitable collapse at the hands of our metallic superiors. I suppose it is easy for me to think of Rick Furr as part of Steven Archer’s posse. Here with Jason Sevanick, Paul Green and Chris Sevanick they have unleashed soulful energon cube filled landscape of precise mixing and slapping beats. I got half way through writing this and realized it came out last year, but somehow skipped past my notice. An endless tide of automation integrating your mind.

https://alterculture.bandcamp.com/album/insectual

Well I didn’t come close to writing about everything I listened to this Bandcamp day (My new favorite holiday) I wrote a lot though. It’s a strange and scary world full of uncertainty. Listen to new music. Support the artists who make it. I suppose it is time for a little shameless self promotion.

Tiny Gods Who Walk Beside Us – I made a compilation, to save my cat. Beyond that it is really good. I honestly astounded how good. If you like Goth/Industrial/Post Punk/Darkwave/Coldwave A lot of the hottest new talent is here. $10 for 25 songs.

https://theamaranth.bandcamp.com/album/tiny-gods-who-walk-beside-us

Tiny Gods Who Walk Beside Us

These tiny beings that we let into our lives change us in ways we cannot imagine. The relationships we build are the supporting blocks of our existence. That which gives it perspective and texture. When my three year old cat Freyja was diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer in her leg the full power of how much we invest in our tiny companions really struck me. My fear of a future without her and the big questions of how to proceed. What that would mean weighed heavy on my soul. Cats were once worshiped by the Egyptians and many cultures as deities. There is no other creature save humans that truly embodies the idea of pride and love. When I created the review page Sounds and Shadows I found in my love for new music the power in hearing and understanding the lives of the artists who make it and shared that with people around the world. In these dark moments with Freja’s life hanging on a knife edge these artists who I had woven a connection with reached out to me and ask “How can I help?” This was an affirmation which touched me to my core at a time I needed most to believe in the importance of those around me. From around the world they came together in collaboration and kindness to offer their time, their art, and their charity. Freyja required an amputation of her leg which was successful and I am happy to announce saved her and left her the same glorious, loving ball of warm energy as she was before, albeit on three legs. The cost of her operation was quite substantial but it was a sacrifice worth making for my tiny goddess. Buying this compilation of songs contributed by dear friends is directly funding Freja’s care and operation. Any additional funds beyond direct medical costs will be donated to a non kill shelter charity to help other animals in need. A special thank you to Pete Burns for the immense task of mastering the compilation. Cate McFarland for the wonderful cover art which I feel really captures the concept. Slade Templeton for releasing it. Collin Schipper for being my rock and helping me put it together. As well as William Zimmerman for helping me promote. To anyone who has ever written a song, recorded it, and released it, you know how much effort goes into each one. How much love I have for all the artists below is hard to put into words. I never could have imagined something so beautiful and powerful could arise from this dark event. I hope it’s power touches you and reminds you to pay a special homage to your tiny God today.

Much love,

Ken Magerman

https://theamaranth.bandcamp.com/album/tiny-gods-who-walk-beside-us

Order Here 🙂

Also Here is the podcast Part 1 where we discuss the first 8 tracks

I wanted to do a quick breakdown of all the artists who contributed a song to save my baby. When I look at the list of the amount of talent here it is a bit staggering. We had submissions from all over the world and quite a few collaborations of people who never knew each other before this project.

  1. Lorelei Dreaming – (Edge of the World Dj Senseless mix) Chicago based dystopian electro dance. Comprised of Laura and AJ remixed by Madison WI’s Dj Senseless. This song is such a different sound for Lorelei Dreaming, it was the perfect opener with it’s emotional swell.

https://loreleidreaming.bandcamp.com/

2. Amaranth – (For Freyja) Goth/Industrial/Synth Rock from Kalamazoo MI. That’s us 🙂 I had some really deep emotions that needed uncorking with this song. Collin wrote a great song way out of our normal wheelhouse including Derick on a mandolin and Kam with some very delicate brushwork. It’s the loudest I ever screamed in anguish on a song. Hope you enjoy it.

https://theamaranth.bandcamp.com/

3. A Covenant of Thorns the lovely sweeping romantic goth synth from near Chicago. What an amazing voice with this song remixed by Chicago Rock/Industrial super group The Joy Thieves. This is my favorite ACOT song and I don’t know how I could have liked it more. Enter Dan Milligan, this remix found another level of what I already loved in beauty and clarity.

https://acot.bandcamp.com/

https://armalyte.bandcamp.com/album/the-joy-thieves-a-blue-girl

4. Corlyx – England by way of LA and Berlin glitter grunge electronic duo remixed by EDM Industrial noise mechanics Electronic Substance Abuse (ESA). This song Deform is such a wonderful combination of both styles. Caitlin’s voice is ethereal and airy, floating through the void when the creeping digital build starts burrowing into your mind.

https://corlyx.bandcamp.com/

https://esangp.bandcamp.com/

5. Antipole – Norwegian post punk revivalist of Karl Morten Dahl. Ft Paris Alexander and Eirene are experts of taking what is glorious of the past and making it rise again into the present. They are the most reviewed band in Sounds and Shadows history and true masters of the music craft. This song is such a different flavor for them and one I immediately fell in love with. That same signature Karl guitar but with this crisp sizzling dance beat. Together with Eirene’s smokey sultry voice it’s a real burner.

https://antipole.bandcamp.com/

6. Ego Likeness – Maryland dark rock industrial duo of Steven and Donna have been such an important part of this scene for decades. This Dräcos Deep remix by Sombre‘ of the song Darkness really places a cool highlight on Donna’s voice and a crisp dance beat.

https://egolikeness.bandcamp.com/

7. Machinery of Desire – Traditional goth rock of Adrian Auchrome. I trade music back and forth with Adrian often. I say as no light sentence I think this is the best song I ever heard from them. I was touched beyond belief that they shared it with me for the compilation. The vocals really cut loose and highlighted their unique and romantic darkness. Gentle crawling guitar lines of piercing intensity.

https://machineryofdesire.bandcamp.com/

8. Adoration Destroyed – The glamour gloom stars of Austin TX remixed by Philly’s Authentic Impulse. I really liked the way Erik’s voice sits on the bouncing glitchy effects and pounding drum beats. AD does such a great job on remixes themselves it was really cool to see what William was able to do with their song.

https://adorationdestroyed.bandcamp.com/

https://authenticimpulse.bandcamp.com/releases

9. Crying Vessel – Swiss dark glam star Slade Templeton gets a double credit here. Both for this amazing song remixed by Dead Agent, but also for helping me release the compilation. Ed Finkler (Dead Agent) did a sizzling breakneck dance song and let Slade’s voice ride on top like the crest of a wave. Such wonderful movement and balance. This was a beautiful team up that happened for the first time on this compilation.

https://cryingvessel.bandcamp.com/

https://deadagent.bandcamp.com/

10. I Ya Toyah – Chicago’s one woman sonic explosion Ania has been remixed here by Arcontas Blank for her single Code Blue. This sizzles with her intense soul and some intricate and beautiful synth pad work. I really love how varied and dynamic the different sounds used here are.

https://iyatoyah.bandcamp.com/

11. Twin Tribes – (Dark Crystal) The lovely princes of Texas darkwave. Twin Tribes was the first band we reviewed for Sounds and Shadows and they remain one of the bands that inspires me in the modern scene. This track is a beautiful, swirling ritual of emotion and pageant. The future is so bright for this band.

https://twintribes.bandcamp.com/

12. Radiograph – (Catnipped) This is the solo project of John Edwards Palais Ideal in the Netherlands. I love this sizzling disco prog synth with a early New Order guitar line. Palais Ideal is always finding ways to step outside the box of what post punk could be.

https://palaisideal.bandcamp.com/

13. Caustic – (Fuck that Fascist Beat) Silverwalks Remix – Madison WI old school Industrial/EDM brings an intense shoulder tackle political hailstorm. Remixed in a smoother synth slither dance style by Pennsylvania based Silver Walks. This track slams so hard both in your mind, and in dat ass.

https://caustic.bandcamp.com/

https://silverwalk.bandcamp.com/

14. Seven Federations – (Syzygy) – North Dakota based goth Industrial full of rolling bluesy soul and electronic glitch. I love how hard it is to classify what I am hearing. This song has a really cool sample/spoken word effect that reminds me of 90’s VAST.

https://sevenfederations.bandcamp.com/

15. Vlimmer – (Schnittstelle) – Alexander’s Berlin based ambiant darkwave project is a masterclass in structure and sound creation. The rate and quality of the music he puts out never ceases to amaze me. This song is a intense and terrifying well of emotion and abstract prism to twist the mind.

https://repartiseraren.bandcamp.com/album/angststand

16. Dogtablet – (Showtime Melodywhore Slave Remix) – The project of industrial titans Jared Louche (Chemlab) and Martin King (Test Dept) created this wondrous album based on the concept of totemism. Every track feels like a different creature embodied. This track is a sultry triphop prancing creature of grace and agility. It has a very feline quick quality.

https://dogtablet.bandcamp.com/album/feathers-skin

17. Kiss of the Whip – ( The Pain is Ours) – I have been a fan of the Baltimore based retro synth weavers on Cold Transmission for a while now. Beautiful familiar feels with modern edge and a layered beauty. This track is a roller coaster of peaks and valleys gliding though a rainbow landscape of color.

https://kissofthewhip.bandcamp.com/

18. Steven Archer – (The Showroom) – The amazing artist of (Ego Likeness and Stoneburner) appear once again showing his range in this synth prog builder. I really love how different his vocals come across in this song. Theatrical and with a Nick Cave flare. What is it he can’t do?

https://stoneburnerofficial.bandcamp.com/

19. Cliff and Ivy – (Will to the Power) – Alaska’s darkest couple have been creating batcave punk fueled witchcraft for over a decade. It is raw, fierce, and intelligent. I love the drive and bloody claws of this track. Ivy and Cliff really show the power of two people in perfect lockstep making eachothers art stronger.

https://cliffandivy.bandcamp.com/album/the-best-of-cliff-and-ivy

20. Orcus Nullify – (March of the Lost) – South Carolina’s Bruce Nullify creates a brand of unapologetic terrifying rumble of old school death rock. I love the over the top imagery and slashing guitars. I feel like this track perfectly captured that style but with a focused clarity which added extra weight and power.

https://orcusnullify.bandcamp.com/

21. Ritchual – (You Lied) – Austin TX based Ritch Napierkowski of Adoration Destroyed and Nimbus has done this synthwave solo project and it is absolutely lights out. This song could have been a missing track on Depeche Mode “Sounds of Faith and Devotion” Just a delicious dark ear candy jam.

https://ritchual.bandcamp.com/

22. Sister Sarin(Split) – Baltimore Percussion specialist Hemlock has done this solo project where she weaves intricate texture and pulsing drum beats to create lovely isolated sonic paintings. This song has a driving dance beat and saber slash keyboard melodies to create an instrumental full of movement and dynamics.

https://www.facebook.com/SisterSarin/

23. Swansect – (Clovermouth) – Norwegian noise artists Adrian Kjosnes of Missfit Toys and writer for Sounds and Shadows unleashes this terrifying and avant garde solo project. It has this brimming intense Goblins feel of sinister noise and stealthy builds. This track is a haunting horror movie soundtrack to grab your nightmares with it’s claws and leave you screaming for more.

https://swansect.bandcamp.com/

11 Grams – (DNA) Half Washington DC half Australia the industrial electronica dance floor lords have been a part of this scene for a long time and always bring the highest level of precision and technique. This track is a slow dark builder that crackles with life and a whisper that draws you in.

https://11grams.bandcamp.com/

Sombre’ – French post punk with a very cool organic world beat feel. They always remind me a bit of the Happy Mondays. Cedric has a resonant and soothing voice and the baselines always really drive. Here he does a wonderful remix of Ego Likeness. I really love how Donna’s vocals are highlighted here.

http://www.sombre-official.com/?fbclid=IwAR1a_8Enr6qCrdl7VbWjx5hnHqKXgNJVtY7ETw5-HtOqJUa0rWtZIaafzsk

This entire compilation was mastered artfully by Pete Burns of (Kill Shelter) with cover art by Cate Mcfarland. Released by Slade Templeton.

https://killshelter.bandcamp.com/