Tag Archives: industrial

Settle in and Submit to the Debut from Taiwan Housing Project, “Veblen Death Mask”

Taiwan Housing Project, Veblen Death Mask (Kill Rock Stars)

Thorstein Veblen was a late-nineteenth, early-twentieth century economist known for coining the term ‘conspicuous consumption’ (not, sadly, ‘priming the pump’) and lending a name to a “Veblen good”, one whose demand corresponds with its high price – a status symbol.  So, basically, Veblen was an early identifier and critic of the douchebag economy.  Which brings us – hard segue – to Veblen Death Mask, the debut long-player from Philly’s own disrupters, Taiwan Housing Project.  We’ve previously extolled the virtues of this particular project following release of their fantastic self-titled EP in 2015, and Veblen does nothing to mute this adulation.

As a statement of intent/table-setter, you’d be hard pressed to do better than “Salt Sugar Fire”, as Kilynn Lunsford’s multi-tracked, warbled and distorted voice projects the album’s overarching feel of an image deconstructed and rearranged in a room of fun house mirrors.  Threads of punk, no wave, glam, industrial, jazz; Wire, PJ Harvey, Diamanda Galás, Girl Band – core duo Lunsford and guitarist/feedback shaman/dial-up modem impersonator (“Authentic Alien Perfume”) Mark Feehan fleshed out the group with new members and new instruments, including violin, synth and everyone’s new/old fave, spazzy tenor sax grunts.  “Authentic Alien Perfume” is a heady brew of Cramps-y strut over a Peter Gunn rhythm, “Ideal Body Alignment” a fuzzed-up take on Pink Flag-era Wire, dissolving into a cacophonous rush of a chorus.  It’s a stunner from beginning to end, a series of disorientating soundscapes seizing control of the transmission to your TVs, smartphones, tablets, etc., that, despite flirting with the oft-derisively used “arty”, never succumb to self-indulgent wankery.  In fact, a less cruelly bland musical universe, the ‘rip her to shreds’ glam-stomp belter, “Multidimensional Spectrum” would be your go-to summer hit.  Request lines are open.

Veblen Death Mask is available now from Kill Rock Stars.  According to the press release accompanying the album, THP will be on tour in the US in July/August and in Europe in October/November.  In the meantime, you can stalk the band on fbook and the twitt and check the video for the title track, above.

Highlights include:  “Authentic Alien Perfume”, “Multidimensional Spectrum”, “Ideal Body Alignment”, “Eat or Be Eat”.

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.

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.

Debut Mini-LP from Glasgow’s Anxiety Is Satisfyingly Unsettling

Cover Art for Anxiety's Self-Titled MLP

Cover Art for Anxiety’s Self-Titled MLP

Anxiety, S/T (La Vida Es Un Mus, 6/29/2016)

Amidst the soul-crushing mix of braying (sorry, “commenting”) jackasses and unwanted personal hygiene pop-ups, it’s nice when the internet coughs up something new and interesting.

Such was the feeling a few weeks back when stumbling across Anxiety, a new “let’s just call it punk even though it’s more complicated than that” four piece out of Glasgow.  As far as I can tell – after some admittedly flimsy research – the band formed last summer, the members hailing from other Glaswegian bands.  Youtube also provides evidence for a particularly robust live set.

The record itself is a richly dark slab of 80s-leaning hardcore, which also packs elements of early, rawer post-punk (particularly on opener, “Dark and Wet”), crust and industrial into a tightly rolled and ready to explode package.  The rollicking, acid hoedown ring-a-ding guitar of “Human Hell” and “Sewer In My Mind” recalls Dead Kennedys; elsewhere, the band tap the experimental aspects of bands like Flipper and the visceral thrust of crust titans like Crass and Rudimentary Peni.  The vocals slap like the hoarsest, most out of fucks to give version of Rollins circa Damaged, at times using effects that recall early Butthole Surfers and even Ministry.  Musically, the songs teeter just on the edge of spiraling out of control – the brilliant “Sewer” being a prime example – held together by some very good guitar playing and a tight rhythm section.

Deeply moving in its stark unsettling vibe, tales of outsiders giving up and general disillusionment – pieces not fitting (a feeling mirrored by the cover art, above).  With titles including “Dark and Wet”, “Addicted to Punishment” and “Sewer In My Mind”, it’s fair to say this isn’t an “up” album, but as a wise man once said “anger is an energy” and there can be light (or, at least, catharsis) mined from bleak sources.

Anxiety’s debut is out now, on La Vida Es Un Mus.  You can also follow the band on Tumblr and Bandcamp.

Highlights include: “Delayed”, “Sewer In My Mind”, “Dark and Wet”, “Human Hell”.

New Music: CC Dust, Never Going to Die

CC Dust, “Never Going to Die” (Perennial/Night School)

CC Dust is a project involving MaryJane Dunphy, lead singer of frabjulicious Olympia, WA punk band Vexx, and David Jacques.  With “Never Going to Die”, she brings the energy and passion of that band from the pit to the dance floor.

Dunphy here sounds a bit like a combo of Alison Moyet and Lene Lovich, croon-whooping over a long lost 4AD track, with Jacques weaving a Hooky baseline.  The deep echo and reverb overlay on the bass and vintage-sounding programmed beats cloak the song’s glistening new wave bedrock in a bit of a goth and early industrial chill – whatever you want to call it, it’s a well-crafted track as good for dancing to as it is for just being with.

As it is with Vexx, Dunphy’s voice inhabits the song.  Moving from gutteral to delicate and back, it’s physicality caroms around, over and through the melody in a way similar to Dunphy’s live presence (check the video below), further animating the already dramatic arrangement.

Recorded last year, “Never Going to Die” is taken from a forthcoming, 5 track 12” ep, due soon(?) from Perennial (US – preorder here) and Night School (Europe).  Speaking of Europe, CC Dust is playing dates therein (venues included where I could find).


5 – Osramhuset, Copenhagen (DK)
7 – Hamburg (DE)
8 – De Gym, Groningen (NL)
9 – Butcher’s Tears, Amsterdam (NL)
10 – Au Picolo, Paris (FR)
11 – DIY Space, London (UK)
12 – Hope & Ruin, Brighton (UK)
13 – Undertone, Cardiff (UK)
14 – Tenterhooks, Dublin (IRE) 
15 – Barcelona, Sala Almo2Bar (SP)
18 – Valencia (SP)
19 – Logroño (SP)
21 – Leeds (UK)
22 – The Poetry Club, Glasgow (UK)
23 – Servant Jazz Quarters, London (UK)
24 – Soup Kitchen, Manchester (UK)
25 – Berlin (DE)
27 – Klub Famu, Prague (CZ)

New Music: The December Sound, Real Reign

The December Sound, Real Reign (self-released, 3/11/2016)

Fantastic news that this long dormant Boston band has once again resurfaced.  Real Reign is a new, two-track release from The December Sound:  here’s hoping it’s a sign of more new things to come.

Lead track, “Speaking From Tomorrow” is a typically noisy cloudburst of a track.  Showcasing the band’s aural fission of shoegaze, industrial, drone and even a bit of britpop, the track thrums with a narcotic drumbeat, wall of noise guitars, and whispered vocals in the vein of Robert del Naja.  Second cut, “Just Let Go” shows a softer side, a psych drone and slow burning bassline reminiscent of Spacemen 3 or Loop slowly moprhing into a kaleidoscopic churn of, er, looped guitar effects and a mantra-like repetition of the titular refrain.

Real Reign is available now through on the band’s bandcamp.  In addition, you can – nay, should – now order The December Sound’s excellent 2007 debut, The Silver Album, directly from the band by messaging them via their Facebook page.

New Music: Fat White Family, Whitest Boy on the Beach

Fat White Family, “Whitest Boy on the Beach” (Without Consent)

New single from one of our favorites, taken from forthcoming new album, Songs for Our Mothers.

“Whitest” thumps and bumps it’s way through the consummation of an unholy matrimony of groups like Throbbing Gristle (the band pic promoting the single bears more than a passing resemblance to this), Suicide, Plastic Bertrand – triumphal, synthesized horns invoking Sparksian levels of quirky art pop, thundering o’er a ‘Heart of Glass’ shattering bassline.  As ever, there’s more than a hint of menace lurking beneath the glitter ball, singer Lias Saoudi rolling around on the trash and glitter strewn floor of a deserted disco, cooing lines like “who’s the weakest link in the chain?”.

Songs For Our Mothers is set for release January 22 on the band’s own Without Consent label – purchasing a copy is the easiest resolution you’ll ever make.  Tickets are on sale now for their UK tour – you can find all dates on their Facebook page.

Spotlight Dance: Girl Band

I’ve been onto this band since last summer.  No excuse why it’s taken me so long to get ‘round to writing something about them, but my recent good fortune seeing them absolutely destroy the stage opening for Viet Cong had me at least attempt to get some thoughts on (virtual) paper.  These guys are a breath of wonderfully sweet, stale, fetid air drifting forth from a newly opened basement, and should be experienced.

Girl Band are a four-piece hailing from Dublin (Ireland, not Ohio) who make an insanely appealing racket.  The music is tightly wound, claustrophobic, often without a cathartic chorus or change of key to relax the mood – you sit there, fidgety yet transfixed, until it stops.  Noise built around chaotic rhythms tripping over words that start out mostly stream of consciousness and then dissolve into yelps, howls and shrieks; guttoral discharges often signifying much about the emotional impact of the songs themselves.

The Wonderful and Frightning World of…-era The Fall, Ideal Copy-era Wire, the Throbbing Gristle of “Discipline (Manchester)”, elements of techno, drone, no wave; newer bands like Prinzhorn Dance School or Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster (RIP) – a swirling eddy melting through a cacophonous gloryhole of sound into your waiting brain.

Their earlier, self-released singles have been collected and released (cheekily, given the band was “founded” in 2011) as The Early Years on the fabled Rough Trade, which will also release their debut full length later this year (September, possibly).  Highlights include the churning, chugging “De Bom Bom”, “Lawman”, and their cover of Blawan’s techno slice “Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage”.  If you can still find a download of the singles, the b-sides (particularly “Heckle the Frames”, from “Lawman”) are also splendiferous, as are earlier songs like “Busy At Maths” from France 98.  Gotta catch ’em all!

Challenging, rewarding.  Not often you can say something is overly “unique” these days – this is one of those times.  If they’re playing out anywhere near you, do yourself a favor and go see them – footage (courtesy of Youtube) of them playing in-studio for KEXP below for your aural and visual pleasure.

Go like them on Facebook and support them on Bandcamp – now!  Website here.

Album Review: Viet Cong, Viet Cong

Viet Cong, S/T (1/20/15, Jagjaguwar)

Fantastic, debut long-player from Calgary, Alberta’s own Viet Cong, a group featuring former members of Women.

Having previously made some noise with the Cassette ep in 2014, the full length feels a much different beast, altogether.  Where Cassette sounded a bit like Television if they recorded on Stiff Records, Viet Cong – having been saddled in many places with the now de rigueur ‘post-punk’ tag, which (while at least partially accurate) seems reductive – sees the band running through a whole host of influences and sounds:  here Joy Division or (if you prefer) early New Order, there shards of (um) Television, Wire, The Fall, Killing Joke, kraut rock, new wave and danceable industrial, totally not danceable No Wave, here and there pastoral psychedelia and Syd Barrett vibes; hell, the breakdown around the 7:00 mark of epic closer “Death” sounds almost metal.  Singer/bassist Matt Flegel’s vocals are placed in the middle of the mix, themselves a melange of Berlin-era Bowie, Fad Gadget, a less croony Ian McCulloch or Peter Murphy, even the singer from Longwave.

If this sounds like the aural equivalent of a Jackson Pollock splash and drip painting well, maybe it is; however, just like Pollock, Viet Cong have a purpose and a design behind what might otherwise be a total shitshow car crash of styles and tastes.  The band’s ability to slither in and around their collected influences throughout (indeed, through the course of each track) is truly impressive – this is a tight sounding unit and, for all the sonic touchstones on display here, they manage to carve out something unique.  Highly recommended.

Visit the band here and catch them on tour if you are fortunate enough to reside in a city on the itinerary (I, sadly, am not).

Highlights include: Bunker Buster, Continental Shelf, Death.

New Music: The Soft Moon, Black

The Soft Moon, “Black” (Captured Tracks)

New music from The Soft Moon (the alter ego of multi-instrumentalist and producer Luis Vasquez), ahead of new full-length, “Deeper”, due March 31 on Captured Tracks.  You can pre-order the album here.

Where previous output largely worked within the grey scale of post-punk and gothic new wave, “Black” is shot through with bursts of obsidian.  Dark rumblings of the kind of late-80s, dancier (but no less menacing for it – think early Ministry and Skinny Puppy) industrial heard also in new bands like LA’s great Youth Code.  The track opens with a throbbing bassline and martial drum tone that grows closer like a descending fog.  No cat paws here, however- more like an army of Terminator machines from the year 2029 – the song bursting through with peals of air-raid siren synthesizers and the repeated phrases “I don’t care what you say/live life my own way” and “I don’t care what they say/live in life your own way” (or something to that affect).  This kind of thing can easily devolve into pantomimed angry disaffection, but the quality of the arrangements and the urgency of it all makes this a very strong single.