New York Music Daily

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Category: art-rock

Turfseer’s Majestically Tuneful Protest Song Playlist Reaches Epic Proportions

Turfseer is arguably the world’s most prolific protest songwriter. Queens-based, theatrical art-rock tunesmith Lewis Papier, who records under that name with a rotating cast of characters, began offering sonic solace and validation for the noncompliant starting in the late spring of 2020. He hasn’t stopped since.

The first time this blog visited his Scamdemic Collection at Soundcloud, there were 33 songs on it. The playlist has since grown to 47. That’s impressive by any standard, let alone during a time when musicians were officially locked out of studio space (and some were too fearful to go inside until NPR assured them it was ok). Considering the consistent quality, relentlessly cynical humor and boundless stylistic breadth of Turfseer’s output, that’s an Elvis Costello/David Bowie-class achievement.

The review here from February 2022 called Turfseer “the missing link between Jeff Lynne and Jello Biafra,” and referenced both the Alan Parsons Project and the New Pornographers. What else is new here, or that hasn’t been covered before?

A lot of his songs turn plandemic “guidelines” inside out, and The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street, a distantly 50s-tinged ballad is typical. “We trust our experts all the way, no time to question, we must obey.” The fleeting soul guitar-and-organ break toward the end is tantalizingly delicious.

The Beatlesque piano ballad The Scam takes the mass psychosis a step further:

Keep your six feet distance to the inch/Isolate, no contact, it’s a cinch!
Everything must go without a hitch, as long as you are certified a snitch

Turfseer has a vaudevillian side, and that’s front and center in Fact Checker, a vindictive mashup of Brecht/Weill dark cabaret and 70s Supertramp. My Mystery Cult is a very subtle orchestrated pop broadside that connects the dots between plandemic compliance and climate change hysteria. Just for the record, New York Music Daily was once in the global warming cult and wishes to apologize for spreading that unscientific bullshit in past years.

The women in the band also sing All the King’s Horses – a brooding art-rock original, not the Erica Smith classic – offering rapt homage to a “Dr. Doom” who keeps falling apart and somehow his cult members keep putting him back together again.

Masters of Fear is one of Turfseer’s most successful keyboard-fueled mashups of late 70s ELO, Carl Newman powerpop and noir cabaret. It’s all about “winning the war without firing a single shot.”

Over a dynamically shifting chamber pop backdrop, Turfseer takes a witheringly sarcastic look back to the Thanksgiving 2020 fad du jour in The Testing Trap. The best jokes in The Great Reset are not lyrical but musical – the bombast is irresistibly spot-on.

In addition to ornate 70s rock, he has a thing for country, and Just Too Good to Be True is a prime example, an understatedly harrowing look at the psychology of denial. For all the orchestration and flashy flourishes in the rest of these songs, this is one of the best of the bunch.

There’s a return to glittery, emphatic neoromantic piano in The Back of the Bus, a coldly scathing analysis of the newest Jim Crow. Cardboard Cutouts in the Stands, a swaying C&W tune, looks back to the aborted 2020 baseball season, a chilling reminder of how quickly the national pastime was transformed into fear porn.

Lush orchestration and melancholy, insistent piano pervade Perchance to Dream, a guy/girl duet about a girl in a coma. The rape metaphors in are just as offhandedly chilling in You Didn’t Recognize Me, a lavish psych-pop song that could be Amy Rigby.

Turfseer found a dramatic, forceful frontguy to go over the top in front of nimbly scrambling piano and electric keys in Expert Opinion. More recent songs have tackled issues beyond the plandemic, notably Walking in the Woke Man’s Shoes, a brisk, ridiculously funny Kelley Swindall-style country tune sung from the point of view of a poor girl whose guy suddenly decided he wasn’t one after all.

The Dish is arguably Turfseer’s most macabre song, a musical counterpart to painter Sasha Latypova‘s research into lethal batch-by-batch variations in the covid shots. Where Have You Gone Tiffany Dover?, a goofy ragtime tune, addresses a question which has become clearer now that mockingbird media are airing actresses pretending to be the country nurse whose late 2020 death on live tv made her the poster child for the Pfizer shot.

The final track on the Soundcloud page – as of today, anyway – is My Polyanna Summer, a snide warning to keep our eye on the ball whenever restrictions are relaxed. To keep up with Turfseer: you might want to bookmark his Substack, where his latest releases usually appear first.


The Best Twin Peaks Cover Band in New York Slinks Into Bushwick

Of all the extreme niche cover bands in the world, one of the best are Fuck You Tammy. The bandname is a reference to the most recent iteration of Twin Peaks. The group – a spinoff of the similarly cinematic but more techy Scam Avenue – dedicate themselves to playing music from every incarnation of David Lynch’s iconic film noir franchise: the first two network tv seasons, the brief cable comeback series and the Twin Peaks movie.

They released their lone single so far, a lush but hauntingly intimate and psychedelic version of True Love’s Flame, in February 2020, barely a month before the lockdown. The good news is that they’re back, and have a relatively rare hometown show coming up on March 15 at 8 PM at Alphaville. The venue is one of many in (increasingly less) trendy Brooklyn neighborhoods who’ve fallen for the goofy dollars-and-cents online ticketing fad (which may be a condition of taking Trump plandemic loans). What that means for customers, assuming that whoever’s working the door isn’t making change, is that it will probably set you back an even $14 cash.

This blog was at Long Island City Bar in February of 2018, where the band drifted through a lustrous, lusciously lurid set. Unfortunately, that show didn’t make it to the web, but a shorter show from the Bell House from a couple of weeks later did and is up at youtube. And it’s every bit as good: the Queens gig was more instrumentals, while this one focuses more on vocal numbers.

What’s best about this band is that they add subtle original touches, when they’re not doing a stunning job recreating these cult classics note for note. They open the show with a vigorous punk jazz-tinged take of The Pink Room, the creepy Black Lodge stripper theme from the movie, propelled with a stalking pulse by bassist Julie Rozansky and drummer Nate Smith as saxophonist Anthony Cekay fires off jagged, smoky accents. Then frontwoman Devery Doleman – who has much more powerful pipes than Julee Cruise – takes over in front of the band and turns in a similarly pouncing cover of Floating

Keyboardist Bill Ferullo and guitarist David Andreana open Falling with the Twin Peaks title theme: just as at the Queens gig, the effect is a lot more stark and sinister than the plush, saturnine studio sound of the original score. Then Doleman shimmies in her red dress and goes way up into Cruise-ing highs for Rocking Back Inside My Heart, the wistful pop ballad from the comeback season.

Rozansky, who has a softer voice, takes over the mic and keeps the sad 50s vibe going in Just You, Andreana firing off spot-on reverbtoned jangle and whipcrack behind her. Then the band bring the menace back with a brisk take of Into the Night, eerie echoey electric piano against spare guitar jangle and an unscripted, smoky Cekay sax solo. It’s the high point of the show.

Little Jimmy Scott’s version of Sycamore Trees is impossible to beat, so the band reinvent it with more of a cliffhanger guitar noir edge. They go back to slow, distantly pensive 6/8 retro ballad territory with The World Spins as Rozansky punches in with her treble up behind Doleman’s angst-fueled vocals, and then max out the mystery as they wind it out with a dead calm. The two frontwoman sing disconsolate harmonies in the closer, a meticulous recreation of The Nightingale. Where Tom Csatari’s Twin Peaks covers focus more on the menace that a band can find outside the lines, Fuck You Tammy max out the red neon inner core.

Darkly Ambient Americana Instrumentalists Suss Headline an Enveloping, Inviting Brooklyn Triplebill Tomorrow Night

In 2018 this blog called cinematic instrumental group Suss “the missing link between Brian Eno and Ennio Morricone – or the Lost Patrol without the drums.” They were a quintet then. Tragically, they’ve been whittled down to a trio after the sudden 2021 loss of keyboardist Gary Lieb, but they keep putting out frequently mesmerizing, sometimes Lynchian deep-sky themes. Their latest album is a double-cd release comprising both their Heat Haze southwestern travelogue suite and their even more nocturnal Night Suite along with new material.

They’re headlining a great lineup tomorrow night, Feb 8 at around 10 PM at Public Records, that shi-shi monstrosity in the former Retrofret space north of Gowanus. As a bonus, deadpan and often hilariously lyrical new wave pop spoofers Office Culture open the night at 8ish, followed by the trippy electroacoustic trio of saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi, bassist Paul Bryan and drummer Jeremy Cunningham. Cover is pretty steep for a show like this, presumably $24 since the venue is one of many in Brooklyn who seem to be oblivious to the rising popularity of #cashalways and are still trying to make it with the goofy pennies-and-nickels online ticketing fad.

Both Suss’ Night Suite and Heat Haze got the thumbs-up here. The new tracks – the first several of which you can hear at Bandcamp – are just as drifty and evocative. Beyond Jonathan Gregg’s resonant pedal steel and spare dobro, it’s impossible to tell whether that’s Pat Irwin or Bob Holmes on the many other guitar and keyboard tracks. The first is a miniature, Winter Is Hard, rising from a delicate little piano figure to a flaring slide guitar peak and then out.

The band blend keening ebow textures, slow doppler effects, stalagmite piano drips and icepick reverb guitar incisions in North Wind. The most lingering thing in Linger is the gentle, precise acoustic guitar and the reverbtoned steel over the puffing, echoey loops in the background. Everything Is So Beautiful is steady and sad and Lynchian, and over too soon.

By now, the band are working variations on that initial crystalline three-note theme, notably in the rising and falling icy/hot textures of The First Thaw. Then they reprise Winter Was Hard with some unexpected timbres like autoharp and some gritty mechanical whirs.

At this point, you will have to switch to yucky Spotify to hear the rest of the record. Across the Horizon is aptly vast but peppered with warmly anticipatory fragments of blues and C&W riffs. The band warp the sustain a little in Ranger as a solitary acoustic guitar surveys the great plains, then in Shimmer (Reflection) they bring back the delicate quasar pulse: a distant Blue Velvet galaxy.

Holmes breaks out his mandolin and slowly works his way up in the mix in That Good Night. They waft their way out with the gentle phrases in The Open Door, shifting slowly through a characteristically twilit tableau.

The World’s Most Cinematic Guitarist Continues His Dark Dynasty

It was the spring of 2016, and cinematic instrumental trio Big Lazy had just finished slinking their way through a slowly simmering, increasingly macabre, chromatically slashing crime theme. The Brooklyn bar was packed, and people were dancing, notwithstanding the band’s somber, noir-drenched sonics.

Then guitarist Steve Ulrich took the mic and led the band through a brisk if somewhat wistful new wave song. Half the audience did a doubletake: a Big Lazy song with lyrics, in a major key, no less!

But fans of Ulrich’s signature blend of nocturnal bristle, deep-sky twang and white-knuckle improvisational scramble know that he has a completely different body of work. In addition to Big Lazy – the first band to top the best-albums-of-the-year lists here twice, in 2014 and 2019 – Ulrich does a lot of work in film and other media. His soundtrack to the artworld forgery documentary Art and Craft ranges from his signature, shadowy style to more lighthearted terrain. And now, he’s finally released a compilation of some of his most vivid and surprisingly eclectic soundtrack work from the NPR series This American Life, due to hit his Bandcamp page. Ulrich is celebrating the release of the album with a characteristically epic night on Feb 4 at 7 PM at the Sultan Room, playing a set with a string quartet, then bringing Big Lazy in to close the evening. The venue is easy to get to from the Jefferson St. stop on the L; like a lot of the trendier Brooklyn joints, they’ve become enamored of weird online dollars-and-cents cover charges, meaning that $26 cash should get you in.

On one hand, this is the great lost Big Lazy album. On the other, it’s more texturally diverse and slightly more lighthearted: the increased use of keyboards is a newer development for Ulrich. Typically, he’ll lay down a simple, muted riff and then judiciously add layers.

The first track, Earthly begins as a klezmer-tinged, lithely pulsing, delicately disquieted cha-cha, drummer Dean Sharenow spacing out his playfully counterintuitive hits, keyboardist Thomas Bartlett channeling a deep-space cabana with his lightly processed piano. Ulrich orchestrates bass and lapsteel into the mix as well.

The group slowly straighten out into a dark, wry strut in Handheld as Ulrich’s layers of skeletal guitar and resonant lapsteel mingle with Bartlett’s occasional roller-rink organ. In track three, The Swell, they trace a similar light-footed path, following a familiar Ulrich pattern, shifting almost imperceptibly out of the shadows into a sunny pastoral theme and then back.

Fellow Traveler is not a Chinese army song but a syncopated waltz with hints of dub and classic country, courtesy of Ulrich’s baritone guitar work. Surprise, Arizona is a Big Lazy concert favorite that first took shape in the wake of a 2019 tour, a stern Appalachian theme that diverges into mysterious sagebrush.

Ulrich’s sense of humor tends to be on the cynical side, but Rinse Cycle – the loopiest number here – is irresistibly funny and a good example of how far afield he can go from Big Lazy noir when he feels like it. He begins Housebroken as a forlorn bolero over Sharenow’s shuffling snowstorm beats: it’s the closest thing to Big Lazy here and the album’s creepiest song.

The most jazz-inflected tune here is If and When, a classic example of how Ulrich can take a whimsical theme and turn it inside out in a split-second, Bartlett shadowing the unfolding menace with his airy fills. The most brisk tune here is Unpretty, which is actually very attractive, in a delicate, melancholy vein

Bookworm turns out to be an apt coda, a bouncy swing tune where Ulrich flips the script on his usual trajectory. It’s still January, but Ulrich just might have given us the answered to the question of what the best album of 2023 is.

Legendary/Obscure Klezmer Art-Rock Band From North of the Border Plays a Rare Two-Night Stand in Williamsburg

Back in the zeros, Black Ox Orkestar emerged as the klezmer spinoff of Godspeed You Black Emperor. They put out a couple of records and then by the middle of the decade they were finished. Fast forward to 2022: they’re back, with an absolutely haunting, otherworldly new album, Everything Returns – streaming at Bandcamp – and a two-night stand at Union Pool on Dec 16 and 17 for slightly more than $24 (guessing that cash customers may have round up a few cents to $25 at the door). Avant garde trumpet titan Matana Roberts opens the first night at 8; as of today, it looks like Black Ox Orkestar have the second night to themselves.

They open the new record with a gorgeously somber old liturgical theme, Tish Nign, pianist Scott Gilmore punching in hard as violinist Jessica Moss and clarinetist Gabriel Levine float and shiver eerily and Godspeed bassist Thierry Amar maintains a distant, hypnotic, saturnine pulse.

That pulse picks up with a cinematic tension in Perpetual Peace, perfectly encapsulizing this band’s appeal: epic sweep, haunting minor melodies. The sound is much larger than you would expect from a four-piece augmented by Pierre-Guy Blanchard’s terse drumming; Levine’s multitracked bass clarinet along with his standard issue-model are an especially tasty touch.

Likewise, Gilmore blends pitchblende piano and cimbalom textures on Oysgeforn, the plaintively drifting introduction to Bessarabian Hora. As the pace picks up, Craig Pedersen’s trumpet takes centerstage in a regal, Middle Eastern-flavored melody over the twin-tuba drive of Julie Houle and Julie Richard. From there the band follow a ghostly segue into Mizrakh Mi Ma’arav, another absolutely gorgeous, haunting theme awash in low resonances and fleeting riffs from throughout the band as Moss and her bandmates exchange Yiddish lyrics.

There’s a similar sepulchral quality to Skotschne, Gilmore’s stately cimbalom over Levine’s gentle acoustic guitar and the soaring web of strings overhead. It wouldn’t be out of place as an instrumental on Neko Case’s Blacklisted album.

Gilmore shifts back to piano over buzzy, drony clarinet for Viderkol (Echo), a spare art-rock waltz that wouldn’t be out of place in the Botanica catalog. Epigenetik, a spare, angst-fueled, wintry guitar-and-strings ballad, is much the same.

The skies brighten for Moldovan Zhok, a puffing, rustically orchestrated, somewhat vaudevillian-flavored diptych. The band wind up this improbable and often spellbindingly beautiful record with a hushed, guardedly hopeful nocturne, Lamed-Vovnik.

A Rare Scheduled New York Appearance by Haunting Turkish Rock Balladeer Niyazi Koyuncu

Conventional wisdom is that anyone who could have gotten out of this city did a long time ago. The reality is that there are still a lot of entrenched indigenous and immigrant communities who are still here. That includes Turkish New Yorkers, who numbered approximately eighty thousand according to the 2010 census. Since that time, the primary hub for Turkish music here has been Drom in the East Village, which opened in 2007 and since then has probably staged more North American debuts than any other venue in town. That includes a lot of rare American appearances by Turkish rock acts.

Turkish rock has a lot of flavors, and as you can imagine some of them can be American Idol cheesy. But there’s a strong psychedelic streak in Turkish rock that goes back to a golden age of underground protest songs in the late 60s and 70s. There’s also a long tradition of brooding balladry that features haunting classically-tinged melodies, Middle Eastern flourishes and instrumentation, and allusive lyrics with frequent themes of being on the run from adversaries. One of those songwriters, Niyazi Koyuncu is playing Drom on Dec 16 at 11:30 PM; you can get in for $30.

Koyuncu’s music is not as ubiquitous on the web as it deserves to be, although his 2016 Liva album (which is not a concert recording) is streaming at Soundcloud. The first track, Uryan is a slowly swaying, moody minor-key anthem spiced with spare oud and piano over a lush bed of acoustic guitars. Lyrically, it’s paradigmatic, a metaphorically loaded tale of wartime abandonment.

Ağlama Bebeğim (Don’t Cry, Baby), a lullaby as escape anthem, has flute wafting over spare acoustic guitar. Yol (The Road) is a loping, flamenco-tinged lost-love ballad with strings. After that, there’s Kalbime Yağan Kar (Snow Falling in My Heart), a lingering art-rock duet with chanteuse Ceyl’an Ertem.

Koyuncu revisits a shadowy wartime tableau in Duman (Smoke), a surreal mashup of tricky Turkish dance rhythms and heavy rock, like a Near Eastern Jethro Tull. Verane has tasty bagpipes, Middle Eastern-style call-and-response and more tricky dance beats. The sweeping strings return alongside wistful accordion and piano in Gönlünün Kıyısı (The Heart’s Shore).

There’s a gorgeous kamancheh solo along with a spiky bed of guitars, baglama and orchestration in the pensive Sigara (Cigarette). Koyuncu finally picks up the pace with the rapidfire, scurrying rock tune Al Eline Fener (Carry the Torch)

Ayrılık (Far Away), a sweeping anthem with the guitars, orchestra and kamancheh going full force, is the album’s most exhilarating track. There’s also a surreal psychedelic tableau with slide guitars and bagpipes, and an imaginatively arranged Balkan reggae tune.

Obviously, a lot could change between today and the day of the show, in terms of venues being open without restrictions, but if the club is still open, this could be a great night for fans of haunting, lyrical sounds that don’t often make it to this country.

Robin Holcomb Brings Her Loaded Imagery and Tersely Crystallized Songcraft to Roulette

Few songwriters have the ability to crystallize a troubling image and build a tableau around it as memorably or tersely as pianist Robin Holcomb. She’s enjoyed a cult following since the 90s; she has an environmentalist streak and prefers shadowy melodies that draw as deeply on 19th century American front-porch folk and balladry as Charles Ives.

She had to go to the free state of Montana to find a studio to record her new solo album One Way or Another, streaming at Bandcamp. She’s playing the album release show on Nov 10 at around 9 at Roulette. Her husband, keyboardist Wayne Horvitz (of Presidents of the United States of America fame) opens the night at 8 in a duo performance with the brilliantly thoughtful bassoonist Sara Schoenbeck. You can get in for $25 in advance.

Holcomb’s new record is a mix of intimate versions of older songs, material from a couple of theatrical projects and a couple of covers. If anything, the songs are crystallized to a finer diamond finish than before: most of them clock in at under three minutes, some considerably less.

She opens with the title track (an original, not the Blondie hit), a spare spacious, gospel-tinged reflection. “Remember learning to crawl as you stagger out under the weight of the world, one foot it starts to fall,” Holcomb intones with her usual graceful understatement.

Track two is simply titled Waltz, Holcomb building a a distant sense of foreboding with her sparse, modal melody and imagery to match, a big-sky tableau with “nary a place to bury the bones.” Holcomb reinvents Stephen Foster’s Hard Times Come Again No More with tightly clustering phrases that bring to mind Dawn Oberg.

Doc Pomus’ I’ve Got That Feeling comes across as minimalist Carole King, at least until Holcomb really pounces on it after the second chorus. She shifts between gospel resonance and Carol Lipnik phantasmagoria in Once: the Steely Dan references and the trick ending are spot-on.

Likewise, Holcomb works uneasy Carla Bley harmonies over a jaunty Appalachian dance beat in A Lazy Farmer Boy, playing up the underlying grimness in the rustic tale. She builds the album’s most hauntingly allusive narrative in I’m Gonna Lose Again: the way she brings the story full circle will give you chills. It’s one of the best songs of the year.

“Don’t confuse me with my laughter, I won’t return the morning after,” Holcomb reminds in Copper Bottom, a key track from her Utopia Project about early 20th century cults.

“The mirror allows what the darkness divides,” she reveals in Rockabye, a subtly venomous, Tom Waits-ish lullaby for a drunken abuser. The darkness and regret is buried much deeper in the hypnotic circles of Shining.

Holcomb goes back to waltz time for Electrical Storm: the devil’s also in the details for that one. She mutes the absence and sense of sheer abandonment in the light-fingered Britfolk cadences of another Foster song, Old Dog Tray. The final cut, The Point of it All provides a wary, broodingly detailed coda for this inviting and often haunting record.

Every Day Is Halloween Now: Singles For Pre-Election Week

Halloween is over but the mood persists. Today’s page is about half an hour of snarky memes left over like extra candy corn, plus a couple of short, powerful videos, plus some good tunes. As usual, click on artist or author names for the webpages, click on titles for audio, video or just a laugh at some authoritarian’s expense.

The big news today is that the New York Police Department has joined Ring Neighbors, the citizen surveillance network built around Amazon’s Ring spycams. Add facial recognition technology to that and we are in trouble. Hoodies and shades aren’t just for celebs now.

In terms of sheer craft, Mark Oshinskie is one of the best writers on the web. He has a novelist’s eye for detail and a Kafkaesque sense of irony. He’s also a painter. Here’s what could be the best Halloween lawn decoration of the year.

Check out the Paul Pelosi and Justin Bieber Halloween costume memes via 2SG on Substack, too funny

Doug Brignole was a bodybuilder. He told people to take the Covid shot. He challenged everyone who was saying that it was dangerous to prove him wrong. If it killed him, we’d be right.

Well, it killed him. Here’s Texas Lindsay‘s 3 minute 59 second video with Dr. Peter McCullough. If there’s a sudden unexplained death, we have to assume that it’s the shot, “Until proven otherwise.”

Next, in two minutes, here’s Dr. Sucharit Bhakdi on how all vaccines are being pivoted to a deadly mRNA genetic engineering platform. The takeaway: the focus has been on the spike protein in the Covid shot, but the mechanism of how mRNA shots reengineer your DNA is far more deadly.

Emerald Robinson asks, with some ridiculously funny memes, “Will America rid itself of the Biden regime before the Biden regime rids the world of America?

Liz Truss’ reign as UK PM may be destined for Trivial Pursuit footnote-dom, but we have PTE Geopolitics’ pricelessly funny rap pastiche as a memory.

Democrat Minnesota Rep. Angie Craig tells the camera that “I will never stop standing up for Big Pharma and standing against my constituents!” Thanks to Jeff Childers of C&C News for this.

Now some tunes:

Death Valley Girls have a new album due out in about a month and a new single, What Are the Odds. “We are living in a simulation world and we are simulated girls:” Blondie X the Cramps X early Madonna.

Alexandra John‘s Lock Me Down is basically the Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony with a woman on the mic. And it gives you pause: could this be a propaganda piece, or just satire? “Maybe it’s time you locked me down…better watch out for the smoking gun.”

Caitlin Rose‘s Getting It Right, with Courtney Marie Andrews on bvox is front-porch folk reinvented as hazy backbeat quasi-Americana.

Mary Middlefield‘s Band Aid takes the pensive drifting atmosphere into more spare terrain.

We get quieter with Fiona Brice‘s Henryk Gorecki-esque art-rockscape, Nocturnal 

Let’s close out the evening with Follow the Cyborg, by Miss Grit, a hypnotic motorik theme with an intriguingly dystopic video

Crone Fire Off a New Album of Dark, Hard-Hitting European Art-Rock Anthems

Despair and towering angst but also moments that reach for transcendence pervade German band Crone‘s latest album Gotta Light? streaming at Bandcamp. There are actually no women in this band, a darkly tuneful project sprung from the ashes of long-running black metal band Secrets of the Moon. This is an apt soundtrack for a population staring down a cold winter of VAIDS deaths, electric grid blackouts and fascist plandemic restrictions orchestrated by World Economic Forum puppets. Who knows, maybe famine. If you think New York has it bad now, be grateful you’re not in Europe.

They open the album with No One Is Ever Alive, a brooding, swaying, vampy dirge, Frank Flight gone down the well into gothic Britfolk. Track two, Abyss Road is a lickety-split, stomping mashup of acidic late 90s Versus downstroke rock and New Model Army dystopic battle anthem. It’s the big hit.

Hope emerges in Gemini. with Christian Schmidt’s layers of brassy synths, swoosh and swirl, and frontman Phil “sG” Jonas’ impassioned vocals. “This world is burning slow…let’s play God,” he muses in This Is War, the band finally picking up with a stampede into inevitability. Can anybody say prophetic?

From there the band segue with a rumble into track five, They: three minutes in, lead guitarist Kevin Olasz finally get a chance to channel his inner David Gilmour with his aching flares over drummer Markus Renzenbrink’s precisely leadfooted stomp.

Towers Underground comes across as enigmatic late-period Psychedelic Furs with more explosive guitars. Then the group pick up the pace and return to ominous New Model Army territory in Quicksand, with a whipsaw bassline and a terse, High Romantic piano interlude.

Waiting For Ghosts is a rip of Pink Floyd’s Breathe with a little Bowie thrown in. Silent Song also has a hypnotic Floyd pulse, but with walls of guitars where Rick Wright’s keys would have provided the ambience: the icily strobing analog chorus-box guitar solo is a delicious touch. They segue into the closing instrumental, Kenosis, a theological term meaning to surrender to the divine. The rattling downtuned bass hints at the band’s heavier origins beneath an increasingly ominous web of spacerock riffage that decays like a dying star. Assuming there still is a working internet at the end of the year, you’ll see this on the best albums of 2022 page here.

A.A. Williams’ Grey-Sky Symphonic Rock Perfectly Captures the Emotional State of the World, 2022

A.A. Williams‘ new album As the Moon Rests – streaming at Bandcamp – perfectly captures the zeitgeist of the past thirty months. It might be an overstatement to call this the personal as political – a concept that’s been weaponized to the most evil ends – but she really nails the relentless gloom so many of us have felt since March of 2020. This is where she vaults herself into the realm of the world’s elite tunesmiths: it’s one of the best records of 2022.

Although the tempos are slow, this is her loudest, most epic and finest album to date, with her signature resigned, nuanced vocals over layers of distorted guitar, spare keyboards and a lushly symphonic bed of strings, elegantly anchored by her husband Thomas’ bass and Geoff Holroyde’s drums. This album is best appreciated as a cohesive whole. Pretty much all the songs are in the six- or seven-minute range. Whatever you’ve suffered, Williams feels your pain – at length.

“I must love myself above anyone else,” she admonishes herself in the opening track, Hollow Heart, a burning, immersive dirge that rises to a towering, symphonic peak. “It does not bring me any comfort anymore.” It’s hard to see beyond your own pain threshold.

Williams’ spare piano raindrops filter through the dense wall of distorted guitar in the second track, Evaporate. Is this an escape anthem or a death wish? Both? You be the judge. It ends cold.

Williams intones about regaining “some control from you” in Murmurs, adding layers of feathery but fanged tremolo-picking mingled within the smoky battlefield resonance. She reaches for hope against hope in Pristine, following a steady, doomed trajectory up from spare electric fingerpicking to a vast, ominous panorama.

Williams reaches for a vengeful understatement in Shallow Water, a gorgeously textured, intricately balanced and unexpectedly hopeful theme that rises with a grim wave motion. She opens For Nothing with a lingering, suspenseful Pink Floyd-style intro, rising and falling until she finally brings the heavy artillery in. With its long trail of distantly menacing chromatics, it’s the best song on the album.

Golden is even more allusive, with a late 80s Psychedelic Furs blend of digital drizzle and swirl. The clouds break and the stars gleam, a little at least, in The Echo. Then Williams returns to the spare/jangly verse vs. explosive, cumulo-nimbus chorus dichotomy in Alone in the Deep. It’s the closest thing to metal here.

“All I can see is my only chance to get away,” Williams intones gently over a spare web of acoustic guitar in Ruin (Let Go), the album’s most unexpectedly delicate moment. She closes the record with the title track, an expansive mashup of Nick Cave and Siouxsie at her early/mid 80s peak.