Tag Archives: new wave

Check Out “Oído Absoluto”, the Debut Full-Length from Madrid’s Rata Negra

Rata Negra, Oído Absoluto (La Vida Es Un Mus, 1/25/2017)


Violeta (bass, lead vocals), Fa (guitar, vocals) and Pablo (drums) make up Madrid-based Rata Negra.  Following 2014’s Corasones EP, the band released their brilliantly confident full-length debut, Oído Absoluto, in January.

I think Oído Absoluto, in english, means something roughly equivalent to ‘perfect pitch’ (or having an ear for music/tone), but I don’t trust online translation and I don’t speak very good Spanish, so apologies if I’ve missed the mark.  In any event, by whatever name (or any other name) the album is a killer set containing elements of skate punk, late 70s punk and new wave, even some surf and power pop, with an opening one-two punch (band manifesto “Ratas”; “Gente”) among the best you’ll hear this year.  Visions of early Blondie (“Aguas Negras”), Buzzcocks (“Ellos Dicen”), and Agent Orange (“Lo Oscuro”) funning about, but with a darker production sheen underscoring lyrical themes of discontentment, alienation and death, surrounded by (actual and metaphorical) rats.  The frustration conveyed through the shout/sung lyrics, and reflected in the stabs of guitar and cracking snares is palpable but unlike, say, the roiling indignation sometimes heard in hardcore, this anger feels more born of desperation; of observing and feeling but seeing no change.  Possibly less visceral, but no less affecting, it should appeal to those who like their punk aggressive and those who like it with smart, tightly-crafted melodies.  Why not both?

Oído Absoluto is out now, through a collaboration with Madrid-based Beat Generation and the great, UK-based La Vida Es Un Mus.  You can worship at the altar of the black rat on fbook, and check out their other releases on bandcamp.

Highlights include: Ratas, Gente, Aguas Negras, Lo Oscuro.

“Fire Dance” Brings Together Members of Wall, Parquet Courts and Merchandise

“Fire Dance” 7” (Wharf Cat)

Sam York, Austin Brown and Carson Cox (of WALL, Parquet Courts and Merchandise, respectively) have joined under a groove to bring us “Fire Dance”.  York’s dead-eyed vocals ride a churning rhythm that calls to mind the downtown, honky punk-funk of Liquid Liquid (the break during the second half reminded me, at least, of the sample from “Sing Sing Sing” used in Mantronix’s “Big Band B Boy”, but that’s prolly just me), while layer upon layer of squelching synth leads worthy of early Cabaret Voltaire and Art of Noise launch the track into overdrive.  Described as Cox’s “ode to downtown New York”, it seems both an ode to the city as it was – searching for “lost memories” of things that “came before”, even though you’d “hoped for more” – and a call to break free of such nostalgia and “search for more”.  Fantastic.

What might, back in the day, have come out on a label like Celluloid now sees the light courtesy of the reliably great Wharf Cat Records, who will release it January 6.  You can pre-order the vinyl here, and/or a digital copy here and on iTunes.

Make Contact with Rose Elinor Dougall on “Stellular”

Artwork for "Stellular", the new album from Rose Elinor Dougall.

Artwork for “Stellular”, the new album from Rose Elinor Dougall.

Rose Elinor Dougall, “Stellular” (Vermilion)

We’ve made no secret here at thegrindinghalt of our admiration for Rose Elinor Dougall (it’s been mentioned here, and there).  It’s embarrassing, really.  Except it isn’t, damn it, because she’s just that good.

Dougall’s voice has an effortlessness that’s enthralling.  It reminds of singers like Tracey Thorn – ostensibly pop singers, the restraint in the vocals provides an extra dimension/gravitas/oomph (call it what you will) that elevates from the typical boring and overworked pap on the radio (insert music critic diatribe re: “popular” music in 3, 2, yawn…).

Which brings us, then, to her new solo track.  “Stellular” – which serves as the title track/lead single to a new album – is a heady, uptempo blend of new wave, Motown and psych that matches the extraterrestrial vibe of the lyrics (and official video, which you can watch below).  It’s deserving of a close up – and radio play.  Make it so.

“Stellular”, the album, is due in January from Vermilion Records, and is available for preorder from Rough Trade here (in the UK) or on iTunes.  In the meantime, Ms. Dougall can be followed on many of the usual points in our collective social ether.  She also has a show upcoming at The Victoria in London, if you are fortunate enough to live in the area.

Listen to “Black Plate”, by Profligate and Elaine Kahn

Profligate, “Black Plate” (Self-Released)

Profligate is the alter ego of Noah Anthony, a producer/composer of sparse electronic music containing elements of experimental new wave, industrial and techno.  He self-released a very good EP earlier this year entitled Abbreviated Regime, Vol. 1 (“Enlist” being a particular fave), which I discovered after being blown away by his latest offering, “Black Plate”.

“Black Plate”, a collaboration with poet/vocalist Elaine Kahn (who also records as Horsebladder). is a terrific slice of new wave noir.  Opening with a strong beat that recalls the likes of Cabaret Voltaire, the track soon settles into a sinuous groove – Kahn’s hushed voice dead center amidst an elegiac synth melody and a come hither, new romantic bassline – that manages to come off simultaneously opulent and seedy; silk sheets under a black light.  Though the track speaks of ‘desire’ (and there’s a lustfulness in the composition), lines like ‘touch what’s/sweet like/there’s no one home’ over an intensifying buzz feel more like a decoupling. The tension is compelling.

Hopefully, there’s more in the works.  In the meantime, click away through Profligate’s discography yourself on Soundcloud and Bandcamp.

Quick Thoughts on “Contact”, the New One from LA’s Froth (New Album, Outside (briefly), Due Next Year on Wichita Recordings)

LA's Froth announce new album, Outside (briefly).  (Image taken from Froth's Facebook page).

LA’s Froth announce new album, Outside (briefly). (Image taken from Froth’s Facebook page).

Froth, “Contact”

LA-based Froth (whose 2015 release, Bleak, we drooled over at length) is back!  The ink drying on their new deal with esteemed Wichita Recordings, the band have announced a new album, Outside (briefly) (check the Saville-esque artwork, above), and shared the video (courtesy of the good folks over at The Line of Best Fit) for new track, “Contact”.

“Contact” is, at first, a bit of a departure from the more raucous swirl and burn found throughout much of Bleak.  It’s more downtempo – low-end synth burbles loom over a steady, robotic drum beat, creating a heady, detached psych feel.  After that ominous beginning, though, the fog gradually lifts at around the 3:45 mark, revealing an absolute rapture.

Wichita Records will release Outside (briefly) on February 17 – it’s available for preorder here.  Froth can be found on the fbook, and you can make contact (sorry) with their earlier work on Bandcamp.  The band also have some tour dates coming up (more are listed in their page feed) – here’s hoping for more when the album drops.

Washington DC’s Flasher Shine (Darkly) on Debut, Self-Titled EP

Flasher, S-T EP (Sister Polygon)

Members of Washington, DC's Flasher.

Members of Washington, DC’s Flasher.

Flasher are a three-piece project involving members of several current members of the new Washington, DC DiY scene (I’ll refrain from collapsing them all into the ‘punk’ category).  Their debut, self-titled EP for Sister Polygon records is a thrilling journey through a panoply of late 70s and early 80s indie sounds.

Goth, death rock, new wave.  Those willing to reduce these genres to Dippity-do’d hair, corpse paint and Tiger Beat pin-ups, whose bloated corpses are reanimated on throwback radio and by tribute bands, miss the point (we dig Rio as much as the next blog, but there was more to it than that).  This was (largely) meant to be music for an uncertain future and, at its best, the attendant razorwire nervousness underpinning much of the musical output reflected the feelings of anyone actually paying attention to what was going on in the world at the time.  Small wonder, then, in the current climate, that so many newer bands are turning to this brooding, greyscale music as a framing device.

Flasher nails that feeling of unease right from the off on opener, “Tense”, with its tightly coiled, nervily picked guitar lines and short stabs of siren-like synths, and doesn’t let go.  In fact, it’s quite difficult to tease out one particular track here, as the whole EP plays more like a series of movements than individual songs.  For a band who, according to a write-up in WAMU’s bandwidth.fm, are still settling on a sound, it’s remarkable the way their energies fuse, the feel and texture of the tracks seem fully realized.  Highly rec’d.

Flasher’s self-titled EP is out now, digitally and on cassette, through the band’s Bandcamp page.  Sister Polygon Records will release it on vinyl November 18 – preorder your copy here. The band is also on tour (dates below):

Oct. 24 – Quebec City, QC @ Le Cercle w/ White Lung

Oct. 25 – Ottawa, ON @ House of TARG w/ White Lung

Oct. 26 – Toronto, ON @ Lee’s Palace w/ White Lung

Oct. 27 – Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle w/ White Lung

Dec. 7 – Philadelphia, PA @ PhilaMOCA w/ Swim Team

Dec. 8 – Allston, MA @ OBrien’s Pub w/ Swim Team

Dec. 9 – Washington, DC @ Black Cat w/ Swim Team

Dec. 10 – Queens, NY @ Knockdown Center w/ Parquet Courts

Highlights include: “Tense”, “Throw It Away”, “Destroy”

Washington DC’s Flasher Shine (Darkly) On Self-Titled EP

Flasher, S-T EP (Sister Polygon)

Members of Washington, DC's Flasher.

Members of Washington, DC’s Flasher.

Flasher are a three-piece project involving members of several current members of the new Washington, DC DiY scene (I’ll refrain from collapsing them all into the ‘punk’ category).  Their debut, self-titled EP for Sister Polygon records is a thrilling journey through a panoply of late 70s and early 80s indie sounds.

Goth, death rock, new wave.  Those willing to reduce these genres to Dippity-do’d hair, corpse paint and Tiger Beat pin-ups, whose bloated corpses are reanimated on throwback radio and by tribute bands, miss the point (we dig Rio as much as the next blog, but there was more to it than that).  This was (largely) meant to be music for an uncertain future and, at its best, the attendant razorwire nervousness underpinning much of the musical output reflected the feelings of anyone actually paying attention to what was going on in the world at the time.  Small wonder, then, in the current climate, that so many newer bands are turning to this brooding, greyscale music as a framing device.

Flasher nails that feeling of unease right from the off on opener, “Tense”, with its tightly coiled, nervily picked guitar lines and short stabs of siren-like synths, and doesn’t let go.  In fact, it’s quite difficult to tease out one particular track here, as the whole EP plays more like a series of movements than individual songs.  For a band who, according to a write-up in WAMU’s bandwidth.fm, are still settling on a sound, it’s remarkable the way their energies fuse, the feel and texture of the tracks seem fully realized.  Highly rec’d.

Flasher’s self-titled EP is out now, digitally and on cassette, through the band’s Bandcamp page. Sister Polygon Records will release it on vinyl November 18 – preorder your copy here.  The band is also on tour (dates below):

Oct. 24 – Quebec City, QC @ Le Cercle w/ White Lung

Oct. 25 – Ottawa, ON @ House of TARG w/ White Lung

Oct. 26 – Toronto, ON @ Lee’s Palace w/ White Lung

Oct. 27 – Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle w/ White Lung

Dec. 7 – Philadelphia, PA @ PhilaMOCA w/ Swim Team

Dec. 8 – Allston, MA @ OBrien’s Pub w/ Swim Team

Dec. 9 – Washington, DC @ Black Cat w/ Swim Team

Dec. 10 – Queens, NY @ Knockdown Center w/ Parquet Courts

Highlights include: “Tense”, “Throw It Away”, “Destroy”

Enjoy the Hazy Bliss of “Seeing Is Forgetting”, by Bella Union Debutantes The Beat Escape

You? Who are you?!

You? Who are you?!

The Beat Escape, “Seeing Is Forgetting” (Bella Union)

The Beat Escape are a Montréal-based synth pop/electro duo, recently signed to the formidable (in a nice way) Bella Union.  “Seeing Is Forgetting” is their first single, and it’s a slow burning epic.

“Seeing” is blissfully hypnotic.  A caterpillar’s smoke trail of hushed vocal, melodic bass line, persistent, metronomic beat and analog synthesizer melody. Meditative lines – “looking to forget the time at hand/…underneath a spell of repetition/…hoping for a chance to understand/…waiting for the sun to reappear/…time away from home can give you shelter” – complete a dreamlike effect.  Something akin to Architecture & Morality-era OMD holding hands with The Orb while slow dancing with (fellow 80s-inspired new jacks) Lust for Youth.

“Seeing Is Forgetting” will be released as a 12” single by Bella Union on October 21 – pre-order your copy here.  The Beat Escape can be found on fbook and instagram.

Ride the Emotional Rollercoaster of “New Ways”, from CC Dust

CC Dust, “New Ways” (Night School (UK/Europe); Mystery Club (US))

The first breath of “New Ways”, b-side of the new single from Olympia’s CC Dust (VEXX’s Maryjane Dunphe and co-conspirator David Jaques), is a chilly one.  The duo’s follow-up to the stirring “Never Going to Die” (which we loved) proceeds along a rumbling, Joy Division-y bass line and a detached, whiplash-crack of a drum track – all portent.  Maryjane’s Lene Lovich-like croon speaks of waking in a “nuclear spring”, “bizarre fates”, a “crack in the self” – the feel of changes that could be the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, or the oncoming train.

But then, the track slowly reveals itself to be of a more hopeful disposition, the mood lightening as Jaques’ bassline moves to a higher octave, pastoral synths enter and Dunphe sings of a return to the “old land”.  If “Die” was outwardly physical, “New Way” feels turned inward, more ruminative.  Chilly, perhaps, but there is space here wherein to to find warmth.  It’s an emotional rollercoaster, and I can’t wait to see where the band take us next.

The new single, “Shinkansen No.1/New Ways” is out October 7 in the UK and Europe on Night School.  In the US, Mystery? Club offers both a digital and cassette version.

“The Pressure”, Roxanne Clifford’s New Single As Patience, Is a New Wave-Inflected Jewel Box

The "Jewel Box", a cluster of stars in the Southern Cross - see what we did there?

The “Jewel Box”, a cluster of stars in the Southern Cross – see what we did there?

Patience, “The Pressure” (Night School, 9/30/2016)

Patience is the musical alter ego of Roxanne Clifford, formerly the lead singer of – amongst others – the underrated Veronica Falls.  Following on the spring release of debut single “The Church”, her new single is “The Pressure”, and it’s a glorious, new wave-inflected tune recalling Yaz(oo) and early Depeche Mode (think Speak and Spell).  So, basically Vince Clarke, I guess.

Whatever the source material, the song itself is a gem.  Starting with the sound of a receiver tuning – back to the future? (Ed:  ok, stop now) – Clifford’s lightly maudlin voice encourages an ardent former love (and/or, perhaps, herself) to “move on” from the past, while crystalline multi-layered vocal and synthesizer melodies punch shafts of light through the clouds.  It’s enough to make you want to stretch out and twirl ‘round, and it’s fantastic.

“The Pressure”, together with its b-side “Wait for You” (a Roky Erickson cover), is due September 30 on the excellent Night School Records (UK home of CC Dust).  Find out more about Patience here, here and, inevitably, there.  There’s also a great interview with Clifford over at Brooklyn Vegan that’s worth a read.