Tag Archives: new wave

Spike Vincent’s Self-Titled EP is Well Worth Settling Down With

Spike Vincent, S-T EP (Burger; Dinosaur City)

Spike Vincent – pictured above with a glorious coiffure exuding an Italia ’90 Rudi Voller or Hard Target-era Van Damme vibe – hails from Hurlstone Park, Sydney, Australia. After releasing a couple of 7” singles on local label Dinosaur City Records, Vincent recently exhaled a self-titled EP chock full of shimmering, emotive indie guitar pop.

Where previous singles were self-produced, the EP sees Vincent backed by a full band as part of a live, in studio recording. The intimate, unpolished “live to tape” process serves as the perfect setting for the bruised romance of the EP’s six tracks. Highlights abound: “Lie in the Dust” swoops and darts – but never quite alights – like a long-lost The Church single (Vincent’s tone, particularly in the lower register, calls to mind that band’s Steve Kilbey); “Get Over It” is a luxurious internal monologue debating the merits of a relationship’s ‘next step’; closer, “I Like You” a somewhat tortured love note with a sing-along chorus and lines like “if I like you/will my soul turn into gravel/…will my life start to unravel”.

Vincent’s self-titled EP is available now, via Dinosaur City and Burger Records in the US. You can grab a copy on his bandcamp while having your data pilfered on fbook (too soon?) and instagram.

Portland’s Lithics Sign to Kill Rock Stars, Have New Album Coming, Share “Excuse Generator”

The venerable Kill Rock Stars label recently announced the addition to its roster of PDX-based quartet, Lithics.  The band’s forthcoming new album bears the mental-image inducing title of Mating Surfaces, and they’ve shared lead track, “Excuse Generator” (listen below).

The track is a delicious soft-serve swirl of punkier, art-pop new wave and post-punk, seamlessly blending the insouciance of the former with the jittery agitation of the latter.  Kicking off along a “Teenage Lobotomy” intro, vocalist Aubrey Hornor recalls Patty Donahue if she fronted Bush Tetras or a more restive XTC.  This push-pull of the melodious and the discordant makes for an intriguing whole, placing them amongst the best of the current crop of bands that includes Omni and Shopping.

Mating Surfaces is due May 25 from KRS, pre-orders up here – get psyched for release day.  Lithics are also going on a US tour starting later this month, supporting aforementioned tgh faves Shopping on the west coast, followed by a swing through the midwest and east coast supporting Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks.  You can also follow the band on instagram.

Album Review: “Rot”, by Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys

Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys, Rot (What’s Your Rupture?; R.I.P. Society; Agitated Records)

Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys are a four-piece hailing from Sydney, featuring members of bands including Royal Headache and Red Red Krovvy.  Following on 2013’s great debut, Ready for Boredom, the group released Rot this past November, and it’s amazing.

Rot finds the band barreling through an 11-song, 30 minutes and change set of fuzzed-out power pop that recalls folks like Wreckless Eric or a punkier Replacements.  The combination of the raw, strained emotion in singer Joe Sukit’s voice over the grin-inducing melodies crafted by guitarist Ben Warnock is a potent one, and the band pulls off wry piss takes like “Expanding Horizons” and “Company”, and wistful reflections like opener “Away” and album highlight, “Device”, with equal aplomb.  As closer, “Turn of the Page” ascends to an extended call and response between saxophone and a crunchingly beautiful solo worthy of ‘Starry Eyes’, the album leaves you with a hopeful sense that, despite leaving some scars, its titular degeneration is clearing.

Rot is available now, courtesy of a trio of labels: What’s Your Rupture? (US/Canada), R.I.P. Society (Australia, New Zealand) and Agitated (UK/EU) – pick your fave currency and buy a copy.  The group also have a few tour dates coming up down under (sorry) – you can find them on the band’s fbook page.

Highlights include:  “Victoria”; “Away”; “Device”.

Preoccupations Announce “New Material” (Literally); Share “Espionage”

Site fave Preoccupations recently announced that their new full-length – cleverly titled New Material – will release March 23, courtesy of Jagjaguwar and Flemish Eye (in Canada).  To tide us over until then, the band have also shared the Nathan David Smith-produced video (below) for new track, “Espionage”, which incorporates the album’s artwork, by Calgary-based designer Marc Rimmer.

The track itself feels typically unsettled, structurally calling to this mind a kind of industrial-edged Heaven 17.  The lyrics feel desolate (singer Matt Flegel has described the album as an “ode to depression and self-sabotage”), with a defiant call and response between lead and backing vocals rising to a persistent call for “change”.  Whether this defiance brings catharsis or is a mere kick out against the pricks is open for debate.

You can pre-order New Material now, and make sure to catch Preoccupations on one of their forthcoming tour dates.

Review: “Candle Power”, by Rat Columns

Rat Columns, Candle Power (Upset the Rhythm)

Rat Columns is the project of NYC-by way of Western Australia’s David West, whose previous work with bands such as Total Control, Rank/Xerox and Lace Curtain, as well as his solo material (most recently, last year’s great Peace or Love), explored different musical territory, from noirish post-punk, new wave imbued rhythmic explorations and dazed and confused psych.

Candle Power, his latest release with Rat Columns, finds West stitching together these various elements into a seamless and truly wondrous indie pop gem.  “Blinded by the Shadow” expands on the Hot Chip (and their 80s antecedents) stomp of Lace Curtain, burnished with the addition of backing vocals from bassist Amber Gempton (featured throughout) and the inspired use of violin to add texture.  “Northern Soul” weds the jittery, gothic post-punk of West’s work with Total Control and Rank/Xerox (I also kept hearing Lords of the New Church) with hazy psych.  The album is shot through with moments of sublime, pop bliss.  Opening one-two, “Someone Else’s Dream” and “She Loves the Rain”, jangled perfection in the spirit of classic Flying Nun on through to The Byrds. Closer, “Dream Tonight” a dancefloor ready mashup of New Order and Prefab Sprout (“Time’s No Vessel” also reminds of a less blissed-out Sprout with a shot of Orange Juice).

A dreamy, sepia-tinted melancholy hangs over the album, showcasing West’s ability to coalesce wide-eyed melodies with urbane, sometimes caustic lyrical takes on love and relationships, which are at variously “like driving a motorbike straight into a wall” (“Is This Really What You’re Like?”), an ephemeral, ‘did that really happen?’ experience (“Someone Else’s Dream”), and portentous “dark cloud that rains down from above” (“Time’s No Vessel”). It’s brilliant.

Candle Power is out now, on Upset the Rhythm.  You can follow along with all things David West on his bandcamp and fbook page.

Highlights include: “Someone Else’s Dream”, “Time’s No Vessel”, “Blinded by the Shadow”, “Dream Tonight”.


Makthaverskan Announce Return with III, Share Lead Single “In My Dreams”

“In My Dreams” cover art.

Makthaverskan haven’t released any new material since 2015’s “Witness” 7”, but that all changes now.  The group has shared a new track, “In My Dreams”, and announced that a new album – the numerically appropriate, III – will be released in October.

“Dreams” finds the group continuing to mine the kind of swirling, cathartic melodies found on their previous work, but with a fuller sound.  Reverbed guitar jangle, an increasingly active bassline and propulsive drumming engulf and elevate vocalist Maja Milner‘s plaintive upper register, now rounded out with more lower tones and a wordless purr at the 2:27 mark recalling Siouxsie. Headphones revel tubular synth notes, which add to the overall depth.  The track positively shimmers, and we can’t wait for the album.

According to the band’s fbook page, III was recorded at Svenska Graommofonsutdion with the help of Hans Olsson-Brookes, and is due October 20, courtesy of Swedish label Luxury Records and US-based Run for Cover Records.

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.