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Category: new wave rock

Singles for 6/23: Prophecies and Bombshells

Been a week since the last collection of singles and short clips here. If you know this blog, you know the drill: click on artist or author names for their webpages, click on titles for video or audio. This week is a real blockbuster: about half an hour worth of listening or viewing, including some major news and a quick five-minute read from Substack.

Let’s start with something really creepy. Clips from old tv cartoons aren’t something you usually find here, but, these are unusual times. If you were watching the Simpsons back in 2010, you might have seen the House Cat Flu episode which has been making the rounds lately. You want predictive programming?

Speaking of which, here are four even more prophetic minutes from the X-Files in 2016, via the irreplaceable Mark Crispin Miller‘s News From Underground.

Here’s the first bombshell: “Dr. Clare Craig Exposes How Pfizer Twisted Their Clinical Trial Data for Young Children,” via Steve Kirsch. “That this study even was allowed to happen is a travesty.” Share this short video with anyone you know who might be considering giving their kids the deadly injection.

Some validation for Team Humanity: a second bombshell from a censored, downloadable Researchgate survey of over three hundred thousand people who did not take the lethal Covid shot. A grand total of less than two percent believed they caught Covid (although those cases were not confirmed). That means that more than 98% did not. You do the math. If you’re wondering about hospitalization, that rate was one fiftieth of one percent, with zero (0) mortality.. Thanks to Dr. Colleen Huber, author of The Defeat of Covid for passing this along

Last but hardly least in news, here’s Dr. Naomi Wolf on the War Room with a clip of Moderna capo and Xi Jinping best-bud Stephane Bancel talking about how he can’t give away his product anywhere in the world. Start the video at about 3:00. Also discussed: how 44 French rats studied for 42 days in the Pfizer trials were the sole basis for the Pfizer claim that their shots were safe; how 28% of 270 mothers and four fetuses in the trials had serious adverse events; and an explosion of stillbirths in children of mothers who took the shot in Canada, Scotland and Israel.

OK – if this was radio, after the news there would be music, so here we go. Gonna keep it short and sweet.

Here’s Tuba Joe Exley doing the Interboro Boogie, a slinky mashup of New Orleans and Spanish Harlem, with a great Stefan Zeniuk claymation video – dig that old 1980s NYC subway map!

Sydney, Australia band Display Homes’ single CCTV is catchy, skronky late 70s XTC meets Siouxsie.. Tragically, guitarist Darrell Holmes died suddenly this month before the album it’s on could be released. A longtime reader in Australia has supplied some information regarding what’s happening down there – more on that here soon. 

Japanese no wave quartet Otoboke Beaver‘s single Yakitori makes a good segue. It’s a primitive tune with a complex message. See, the group have been getting hate in their native Japan for ostensibly being complicit in western cultural imperialism. So the band – who sing in both Japanese and English – started writing sarcastic songs about Japanese food. The metaphor here involves dumping a takeout container in somebody’s mailbox.

Let’s wind up the playlist with Kelsey Waldon‘s hypnotic honkytonk song Sweet Little Girl, “drinking til her head spins.”

A Catchy Free Twinbill in Williamsburg on the 12th

Considering how almost all of the remaining New York City concert venues allowed themselves to be weaponized for plandemic divide-and-conquer schemes and much worse, there’s hardly reason to single any one of them out for special treatment considering that they wouldn’t do that for us during the time when the New York Governor’s office was imposing apartheid restrictions.

“But we had to comply! Otherwise we would have gone out of business!”

No. When someone tries to take your rights away, you stand up and fight. If none of us had complied, none of this ever would have happened.

Be that what it may, right now this group of cowards still run the majority of the spaces for live music in this city. One such is Union Pool, which for years had an on-and-off series of free shows during the summertime, often in the back courtyard by the taco truck. The series is back this summer, although, maybe predictably, there’s been a considerable dip in the quality of the bands. One of the highlights of this month’s shows is on June 12 at around 3 PM with Savak, who play a shapeshifting blend of 90s jangle, 80s postpunk and more indie-flavored sounds. The buzzy 3rd-gen post-Velvets/no wave-ish Messthetics follow at around 4:30.

On one hand, Savak’s vibe is quaintly retro. On the other, it’s very much in the here and now. Their latest album Human Error/Human Delight is streaming at Bandcamp. The band have two main songwriters and guitarists: Sohrab Habibion, whose frequent sense of menace reflects his time fronting Obits, and Michael Jaworski, whose songs tend to be on the brighter side. Either way, Wire is the pervasive influence here. Matt Schulz plays drums; on the record, there’s a small army of guest bassists when Jaworski isn’t playing it.

The great Josh Sinton adds a tasty layer of baritone sax on the opening track, No Blues No Jazz, a catchy, hard-hitting, cynical post Lou Reed number as Marc Ribot might have done it. Track two, Empathy is a wistful blast of downstroke 80s REM clang, followed by My Book on Siblings and its motorik, declamatory take on late 70s Wire.

The group keep the pink flag flying through the next track, Cold Ocean. Nick Sewell’s catchy bass loop anchors the driftingly insistent psychedelia of Set Apart. The group the Obits sound, if a little more quietly, in Oddsmaker, Jaworski’s snapping, strolling bassline underneath the guitars’ distantly lingering menace. It’s the best song on the album.

Trashing the Ghost is an opaquely indie take on the 13th Floor Elevators, then Habibion’s anxious Wire-y chromatics take over in Recanted (Free the Singer). The unease is in the lyrics in the punchy, anthemic Baltimore Moon.

The group work a tersely layered one-chord vamp over a percolating bassline in Adolescence Obsolete, then they hit a gorgeously ringing Fender Twin attack in Dealers, the catchiest track on the record. They close with Dumbinance, which starts out with a surfy nocturnal atmosphere and grows more dense and postpunk.

This blog has never caught Savak live. The last time anyone here saw Habibion onstage, he was flinging out reverbtoned shards during a lusciously evil set with Obits at this very same venue, way back in 2014. Good to see him as vital as ever in this project.

Giftshop Bring Their Catchy, Powerful Tunesmithing to a Benefit for Ukraine on the 30th

Giftshop are a throwback to an era when loud guitar-driven three-minute songs were an art form. This blog has called the band the missing link between Blondie and the Distillers. At this point in their career, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that they’re a crunchier version of the Go-Go’s. Their worldview is sharp, their songwriting is wickedly catchy and retro in a classic late 70s CBGB-style powerpop vein, and frontwoman Meghan Taylor has one of the most memorable, powerful wails of any singer in New York They’re headlining a benefit for Ukraine this weekend at Otto’s at around 9 PM on April 30. It’s a pass-the-bucket situation with all proceeds going to Razom for Ukraine. The Sloe Guns, who have been one of New York’s smartest Americana bands for going on two decades, play before at around 8.

Giftshop also know know something about marketing: practically their entire output since 2012 is up at their music page as a free download, and all of it is worth owning. This is the giftshop that keeps on giving! Their most recent singles are particularly choice. The newest and best one is More Than That, a searing reminiscence of the “wasted time and wasted years” since March of 2020, referencing Big Pharma fearmongering and “weaponized hugs.” It could be the best song of the year so far.

Another good one is Kewl With Me, a pulsing, riff-driven early new wave era-style number and showcase for Taylor’s powerful pipes. Matt Santoro varies his guitar textures from jangle to roar over Damian Eckstein’s buzzy bass and Jordan Kramer’s drums in Stylish Junkie, a snarling, sarcastic slap upside of the head of a girl who puts “the under in underwear.”

Their most recent album, Biginastoria came out in 2019. It’s one catchy, tantalizingly brief nonconformist anthem after another, They open it with We Want You, a sarcastically marching, synthy new wave tune, then Taylor takes aim at narcissistic trendoid groupthink in Same: “The rest of us just don’t buy in,” is the mantra.

They reach an early X-style punk stomp in Stacked, a dig at phony rebels, and then hit a hardcore sprint in Things I Feel, over in less than a minute and a half. They close with a deliciously rampaging cover of the Motorhead classic Ace of Spades – it ranks with the Avengers’ version of Paint It Black.

A Strong, Dark Return From an Individualistic Northern English Band

The Inca Babies are not a cumbia band. They occupy a unique spot in the history of Manchester rock: their darkly kinetic sound was typically more closely attuned to American gutter blues than the gothic and industrial esthetics that surrounded them during their 80s heyday. Over the years, they’ve had some turnover among group members. The great news is that this latest edition, a power trio of guitarist Harry Stafford, bassist Vince Hunt and drummer Rob Haynes have put out a new album, Swamp Street Soul – streaming at Spotify – which finds them more eclectically inspired than ever, exploring all kinds of fresh territory.

They open with the title track, a slow, surrealistically crawling mashup of Lynchian dub and the Cramps, guest trumpeter Kevin Davy a one-man orchestra with his soaring, reverb-iced harmonies.

Track two, Walk in the Park is a horror surf strut fueled by Stafford’s repeaterbox guitar strobe. Hunt turns up the grit on his bass amp for Slingshot, a catchy, impressively funky apocalyptic reflection. They keep the slinky groove going for Dear English Journalists, a knowing chronicle of political blowback: this is what happens when populations are demonized, Stafford reminds as he hits his chorus pedal to let the chill in under the door.

“I think this is the last station before hell,” Stafford relates over scrambling, Stoogoid riffage in Crawling Garage Gasoline, one of the band’s older tunes. Bigger Than All of Us is a surprising detour into brisk, enveloping dreampop, followed by I’m Grounded, a cynical, ba-bump blues tune with roller rink organ from Stafford.

Haynes’ steady Atrocity Exhibition rolls propel the next track, Oh, the Angels How I Bless Them, up to a roaring funeral pyre on the chorus. Stafford anchors his gloomy crime rap with spiky Bauhaus chords in Windshield Gnat, Haynes adding icicle percussion in the background.

Davy’s trumpet returns, backward masked in Mine of Bones. a catchy, stalking noir blues. The trio wind up the album with a pounding dub version of the opening track. After all this band has been through, even before 2020, it’s impressive to see this version of the group still going strong.

Melissa Gordon Brings Her Catchy Purist Retro Rock Tunesmithing Back to a Familiar Haunt

Back in 2017, this blog picked Melissa & the Mannequins as the best new rock band in New York. With frontwoman Melissa Gordon’s calm, uncluttered vocals and purist retro 80s janglerock tunesmithing, the future looked bright. Since then, the Mannequins seem to have left the store window, but Gordon has soldiered on as a solo performer and bandleader. If catchy tunesmithing and big redemptive choruses are your thing, Gordon’s songs will hit the spot. She’s returning to a familiar haunt, the small room at the Rockwood on April 6 at 8 PM. It’s a pass-the-bucket situation.

From the low-key, plainspoken acoustic sketches on her Soundcloud page, it’s clear she hasn’t been idle since the arts in this city were put on ice by the 2020 totalitarian takeover. But her magnum opus so far is the 2017 Mannequins album Mtns​/​Plane​/​Sky, which is still up at Bandcamp.

Beyond her songwriting, Gordon’s biggest drawing card is her nimble guitar work, flinging one catchy riff or flurry of chordlets into the mix. The album opens with Can’t Let Go, a gorgeous intertwine of chiming guitar textures over a low-key backbeat from drummer Oskar Hagghdal, Gordon and guitarist Steve Flakus hit a wry twin-lead break that they send wafting off in a a flangey fog. Then they take a turn into slinky, retro soul-infused funk with All the Time, eventually rising to a cheery, punchy peak over a sleek organ backdrop.

Bliss is a crunchy powerpop tune with all kinds of clever touches, from bittersweet ELO keys to big Bowie-esque flares.. The band shift from funky verse to shiny, swooshy chorus and back in the the next number, Breathe, then tale a memorably moody detour into Lynchian soul balladry with Intruder

Listen, a brisk, gorgeously angst-fueled 6/8 soul tune bristling with layers and layers of guitar, is the genuine classic here, and a high point of the band’s live show. Slip Away is another real gem, with the album’s catchiest chorus: the recorded version reveals the song’s soul roots. The last track is Night in the Park, the synthiest, new wavey-est tune here.

One beef about this album: Gordon is a fine singer, and the places where her vocals were autotuned instantly date this music to a time when the entertainment-industrial complex was trying to wean people off human artistry and replace it with computers. Historians looking back at the early 21st century will shudder at how successful that meme turned out to be.

A Welcome, Long Overdue Return For Oliver Future

“A year at home has left our hands too weak, to grasp at what was coming next,” frontman Josh Lit sings in Phases of the Moon, the opening track on Oliver Future‘s first album in fourteen years, streaming at Bandcamp. “A year at home has left my eyes too dim to see the shadows on the wall.” How appropriate for a band named Oliver Future (say it slowly).

Meanwhile, his brother Noah plays sinuous, keening leads over a stately. late Beatlesque sway, up to a point where all hell breaks loose.

What’s happening here, and with more and more music that’s starting to trickle out, is that artists are wise to the 2020 totalitarian takeover and they’re not happy about it. Like so many albums of recent months, the group recorded this one by exchanging files over the web. Prediction: that meme’s going to be over soon, and we’re going to see bands and artists head back to the studio and the stage with a vengeance. Producer Adam Lasus deserves immense credit for making the record sound as contiguous as it does.

The second track is Flattened, which wouldn’t be out of place on a mid-80s Kinks album, bright guitars over techy new wave keys. “It still feels like the end of days…breathe in, cash out, such a precious thing to waste,” Josh muses.

Bassist Jesse Ingalls’ incisive piano punches over a brisk, tensely pulsing new wave beat in I Can’t Take It, The Great Conjunction – a reference to the epic astrology that began in the fall of 2020 and subsequently? – is the album’s most epic track. With the ensuing loopiness and squall, it’s akin to what Genesis might have sounded like if Peter Gabriel had stayed in that band into the 80s.

With its brooding litany of loaded imagery, Short On Miracles is a psych-folk shuffle in a plastic costume. A rich web of chiming guitars – Noah Lit and Sam Raver – fuels Race to the Moon Again. rising to a funky intensity and back. “Dark as the times that we’re trapped in, over to soon, long live the worst in us all, race to the moon.”

They reprise the theme over a reggae-tinged beat with Race to the Moon Again, Again: “Exhausted probability, is there anybody out there?” Lit wants to know. A jagged approximation of poppy 80s Bowie, All We’ve Lost is a sobering look at where we are now, “Knowing that normal will never be the same.” The hope, obviously, is that the new society we’re working on won’t be a place where “they shut down all the bars, quiet crept in louder than the wind.”

The album’s final cut is Open Ended Spring: “We knows the rules of the day, keeping the wolves at bay,” Lit asserts over steady fingerpicked acoustic guitar before the dystopian vocoder chorus kicks in. He knows this ordeal probably isn’t over yet. Crank this up and get some long overdue validation: in its relentlessly catchy, smartly provocative and quirky way, this is one of the best albums of 2022 so far.

Punchy, Driving Female-Fronted Sounds From Portugal’s Kandia

Portuguese heavy rock band Kandia take their name from a term for blinding light. Their new album Quaternary – streaming at Spotify – blends punchy intensity with trippy keyboards. The riff-centric attack looks back to European acid rock of the late 70s, with a techy sheen from ten years later.

Ominous suspense-film keys and strings rise through the album’s brooding intro, Anthropocene, then the band launch into Obliterate, a swaying mix of metal crunch and sweeping, gothic-tinged 80s sounds.

Guitarist André Da Cruz builds a brief maze of multitracks before frontwoman Nya Campos Cruz brings in a silky electronic atmosphere that disappears just as quickly in the roaring chorus of The Flood: “How long, how long til it gets here?” Her English is strong, and she seems like a perfectly good singer; too bad that there’s autotune popping up awkwardly when least expected.

Bassist Bernardo Lima and drummer Hugo Ribeiro work a jagged Rage Against the Machine style rhythm in Fight or Flight. Then the band blend gravelly growl and an increasingly dissociative ambience in Until the End.

“We are waking up, we are planting the seed,” Cruz wails over a syncopated, machinegunning kickdrum attack in the defiant Turn of the Tide. The group go back to funkmetal guitar and freeze-dried bass, with flashes of death metal and hip-hop, in the next track, Pbp. They follow that with Deathwish, an ill-fated mashup of gritty riffage and corporate urban pop.

Murderers, featuring saxophonist Jorgen Munkeby, is a more straightforward hip hop-flavored metal hybrid. Other bands might do A New Dawn as a roaring anthem; Kandia switch out big chords for a dust-devil dance. “The green has turned to grey,” Cruz observes over plucky, echoey U2 guitars in the final cut, Holocene. “Is this what we are?”.

Moodily Atmospheric New Wave and Lynchian Sounds From Brass Box

Sometimes Brass Box’s album The Cathedral – streaming at Bandcamp – totally nails a David Lynch soundtrack atmosphere. Other times the group totally nail a dark 80s new wave sound. Either way, their songs are catchy and tightly focused, frontwoman/bassist Ammo Bankoff channeling clear-eyed abandonment and despondency over the chilly echo and swirl.

The album opens with the title track, a mutedly galloping Pink Floyd Run Like Hell riff anchoring Neil Popkin and Matt Bennett’s broodingly echoey mix of guitars that explode in a ringing dreampop vortex on the chorus, Bankoff’s searching, anxious vocals awash in the icy mist.

With its resonant, reverberating deep-space sonics and wistful, starry backdrop, the second track, DDM could be the Lost Patrol. Surrender is not the Cheap Trick teen-rebellion anthem but a dead ringer for Siouxsie & the Banshees circa 1982, right down to the watery chorus-box guitar and prominent bass.

They follow the atmospheric, enveloping goth rock tune Latency with the allusively catchy Waves, which rise to some gorgeously Eastern European-tinged vocal harmonies on the chorus. Then they hit a steady, fast new wave groove with Towne, the album’s hardest-rocking track.

The record’s slowest track, Roses, comes across as a dreampop update on the more skeletal material on Unknown Pleasure-era Joy Division. The band go back to Lynchian/dreampop mashup mode with Ivory Skies and close the album with Parting Ways, a song they should have parted with prior to sequencing the record. On one hand, all the sounds that Brass Box evoke have been around for decades. On the other, nobody has figured out how to blend them quite like this.

Bleak Anthems For a Bleak Year From Blackwater Holylight

Blackwater Holylight are one of the most original and intriguing dark rock bands around. They started out as an improbably successful mashup of Black Sabbath and the Cure with a woman out front, then on their second album left much of the 80s behind for a heavier sound. Their third release, Silence/Motion is just out and streaming at Bandcamp. It’s the band’s most straightforwardly dark and quietest release yet, no surprise considering this year’s zeitgeist.

The first track is Delusional: a spare, lingering dirge introduces a venomous, growling, swaying anthem. Frontwoman/bassist Sunny Faris joins forces with guest vocalists Bryan Funck and Mike Paparo for Exorcist gasp-and-rasp over Sarah McKenna’s funereal organ, guitarist Mikayla Mayhew adding simple, single-note leads over drummer Eliese Dorsay’s supple beat.

Faris is a more distant, ghostly presence in Who the Hell, a surreal blend of the Cure at their most gothic and Tangerine Dream, but heavier than either of those two bands. She and Mayhew switch instruments on the title track, Dorsay’s muted martial volleys driving a rainy-day acoustic guitar-and-piano theme toward fullscale gothic majesty, then falling away elegantly.

Imagine Sonic Youth with lithe bass, echoey keys and a competent singer, and you get Falling Faster. Faris and Mayhew exchange axes again for MDIII, a swaying, drifting, desolate theme rising toward gritty dreampop-tinged roar.

Likewise, there’s a late 80s Lush feel in Around You: it’s the closest thing to a straight-up pop song the band’s ever done. The album’s final and most psychedelic cut is Every Corner, built around a catchy, hypnotic raga riff (Faris on guitar and Mayhew on bass) until the band hit an unexpected, increasingly sinister stoner boogie interlude.

Blackwater Holylight are on tour this fall: their next free-state show is January 21, 2022 at Trees in Dallas, Texas, opening for first-class heavy blues/psychedelic band All Them Witches.

Revisiting a Lush, Lynchian Treat by the Lovely Intangibles

The Lovely Intangibles are a spinoff of Lynchian cinematic band the Lost Patrol, one of the most consistently disquieting New York groups of the past twenty years or so. This project features the core of the band, lead guitarist/keyboardist Stephen Masucci and twelve-string player Michael Williams, plus singer Mary Ognibene and drummer Tony Mann. Their 2015 debut album Tomorrow Is Never is streaming at Bandcamp.

The opening track, No Amends, has everything that made the Lost Patrol so menacingly memorable. That lingering reverb guitar, those icy washes of string synth and deep-sky production, and Ognibene’s breathy, woundeed vocal harmonies are a good fit.

The Dust Settles Down is basically a catchy 80s new wave ballad lowlit by ominous spaghetti western guitar: imagine Julee Cruise if she could belt. Opening with dusky guitar jangle, Tell Me When takes on a gusty, string synth-driven ba-BUMP noir cabaret tinge.

Beatlesque riffage punches in and out of the sweep and swoosh of Do As You Please. The album’s title track ripples and glistens, Ognibene’s voice channeling a cool but angst-fueled intensity: the kettledrums and snappy bass are an aptly Orbisonian touch.

Masucci’s icepick reverb guitar and looming bass propel the anthemically waltzing It’s Just Like You. Then the band sway through the gorgeously bittersweet early 60s-influenced Will You Surrender: you could call it Theme From a Winter Place.

The most straight up new wave number here is Divine. They close the album with Relapse, a broodingly twinkling tableau. Play this with the lights out – if you can handle it,after all we’ve been through over the past year and a half.