More then a week ago, a new compilation emerged out of the alternative underground. A compilation that caught people off guard because of the beautiful representation of cold-wave, post-punk and experimental selections – including a wider variation of genres. Featuring both unrepresented artists and those who are not. First off are Excuses, the solo-project by Matthew Rowe whose debut was put out on the now defunct label Function Operate, back in 2012. This self-titled release featured five songs but his contribution to the compilation was with the track “We Are Fuel“. It is a raw track which lets a dodgy atmosphere with shoegaze fill out the sound-scape, together with the ambivalent riffing you’d only find within darker post-punk. Although his vocals on this song isn’t up to par with the rest of the landscape of sound, it is held up by the general mood that he delivers with sincerity. I just wish it was coupled with a better vocal representation because right now it sounds too cheesy. But I must say that it is a good opener which sets the bar for the rest of the compilation higher up.
Haunting is the first word that comes to mind when La Fete Triste and The Harrow join forces, releasing a split together with the title “Giant / Axis“. The solo-project La Fete Triste is the enigmatic and sorrowful new-wave project by Gabriel Brero, one of the men involved with aufnahme + wiedergabe, based out of Berlin (now in Hamburg). His twisted synthesizer and drum-machine-driven project derive inspiration out of both minimal synth and post-punk, coating his arms with a new-wave overlay that deliver the greatest sadness with melancholia at the middle, together with melodies that will ensnare you imminently. Add to that a guitar with concrete rhythms that adds a touch of your own dismay in the mix. Before this release, he had put out a single called “Lèvres Froides“, and he also did a split-release together with Lebanon Hanover, titled “Lebanon Hanover / La Fete Triste” where four tracks were put out. A lot of people have apparently been longing for new material for quite a while, three years to be exact. Together with The Harrow, he delves into this split-release with the track “Giant“. An at first ballad-esque track which soars through the landscape of sound with a post-punk sound with an almost anthemic touch to it. The mournful and depressive vocals with a German intonation at the end makes it a lot more impressive, because it builds up to a magnificent track because of that. An interesting anecdote is that Justin Stephens (Passion Play) is doing back-up vocals on this track, he’s produced and mixed it as well.
The Harrow, on the other hand, had delivered their first official self-titled debut on the now defunct label Function Operate last year. Even though some of their sound isn’t that emotive for me to begin with, I must say that I am impressed when I hear “Axis“, a track which breathes the otherwise so scarcely atmosphere that had been lacking before. It’s got more warmth than the earlier release of theirs, and to add insult to injury – Vanessa Irena‘s vocals attract you to their post-punk sound even more, as she adds another dimension to an otherwise good track. Making it even greater. The Harrow have been interesting in several ways before, but they haven’t really made anything that have been as great as this. Here, they show their true potential as craftsmen. Bringing their music to a whole other level together with their minimal approach to post-punk, with goth undertones that make you take it in even more. Everything is emotionless, but at the same time very emotive. A good paradox to be written upon their release as it is. Looking forward to hearing more of this kind of sound, in future releases. An interesting sway into the right direction. Stream both tracks down below and wait until you can buy the physical edition on vinyl on the 18th of May on aufnahme+wiedergabe.
The Harrow. A band that simply showed up in the catalog at Function Operate, last year. Having just released their self-titled EP, their first offering from the realms of shoegaze meets coldwave and post-punk. It might actually sound like a great combination, and it might also be commonplace – but somehow, The Harrow is something different. There is something about their music that is so eloquent, that is so simple, but it feeds into something different. It’s pretty easy to say that something is different, when there are so many bands and different constellations out there. But I’m telling you that they are. Most of the members, if not all of them – come from different constellations. Frank, who plays the bass, synth and program their drum-machine – have that background. He’s also been in numerous different bands. I asked him about different topics, ranging from art itself to the band, but also New York and what it’s like to be a band in the Big Apple. I sincerely hope that you enjoy this interview.
To everyone’s delight, I’ve snatched myself two songs from The Harrow – with their permission of course. Their dampened dream-pop would make any shoegazer go up in arms, and their post-punk would make a goth sob instead of trying to be misanthropic. These New Yorkers have both a literary connection, but also a musical. Consisting of Vanessa, Frank, Barrett and Greg – whom themselves come from varying musical backgrounds. I spoke with Frank, whom I’m going to have on this site in the near future, too. He lent me the two tracks “The Fall” and “Milk And Honey” from their latest, and currently only, EP-release on Function Operate. Since it was hailed by so many people, we’re going to let you download those two tracks for free. So you can head on over to Invisible Guy‘s soundcloud and download those tracks, free of charge. The EP itself is great and so are these two tracks, so I advise you to stop reading this gibberish and head on over to download them.
Whenever I see that name, perfection cannot be far away. In my mind, perfectionists make up the group that is Tannhäuser Gate. They’ve currently released a new EP titled “Tannhäuser Gate (EP)“. An avid experience, into the deepest wiring of the brain. Testing the limits with Pavlovian beats, primitive lines á la sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. But aiming it into a totally different sphere, namely; sex, money, crime. Wrecking havoc with electronic body music, industrial and minimal synth. Clinging to other obscurities, keeping a wide-ranged field of electronic inspiration in the landscape of breaking down. Some of it packs a severe punch, in other ways, it also breathe with acidic textures. Echoing the decay of a life, body and mind. Venture into the tunnel of Tannhäuser at your own risk, as your susceptible mind will decipher the signals differently. Phasing out your facade, drilling deep into your consciousness. Serving you a raw dose of virtual reality, with a pulsating body of arrangements, slowly moving forward. As always, it’s the label Function Operate that have been releasing great artists upon great. This four-tracked EP feature the songs “Sex, Money, Crime“, “Obsession“, “Concrete Island” and “Automatic Lover“. Pick your doses down below, inject and digest – this mayhem on the mind.
Hey, hey, hey! We’re at it again. You’re getting used to the presence of Thee Showcase. If you’re not, I’ll have to hypnotize you into thinking about it. Well, first up this time is the band lié which consists of three people from Vancouver, Canada. I actually chose to cover their “Demo” this time around, since I like it more then their self-released and self-titled cassette on Function Operate. This is the kind of punk we all want, the one that goes by the predecessors whip and conjures a post-punk feeling. Calling it “dark punk“, as it is called may be an apt description. It feels like cold wave and post-punk morphed into a crazy whirlwind of teargassed punk. It’s punk you really can’t have your eyes open to see, it is punk you simply must hear. Dwelling in the concrete dungeons of larger cities, symptomatic of that particular angst. It feels like they’re trying to convey the feeling of aridity. In general, their music is much more gritty, since its from their demo-sessions of the same tracks. At times it also feels like punk has left the building to get to know its replacement. Or, could it simply be a new form of punk? Might just be the aforementioned. Everything isn’t tight as it should be, it’s at times sloppy and draggy, which has a charm in itself. Vocally, outspoken and dangerously cold-hearted, is a new punk formula that might not be a replacement, as said before, but an understatement of the same. Pressurizing, tenderizing and materializing. Three words that can be describable, but might not actually be it. Well, fuck it, this is hard. But it is a great listen all-in-all. The three demo-tracks featured are “Muse“, “Pressure” and “Fossoyear“, released on the 29th of January by lié themselves.
As usual, I almost always miss great things. That’s why my blog sucks so much. Or, yeah, it might not suck – but I’m not always up to date. Time to feature the artist Joanne Pollock from Toronto. She’s released a smaller album with four tracks, which goes by the name of “December“. It is quirky, IDM-driven splendor which fuels my mind with a colorful entrapment. You’re drawn into it by the interesting use of everyday objects, or so it seems, when you listen to it. I might not even know if it is, but it surely sounds like it. This could’ve been featured in a Japanese anime, in any scene that involved a large-eyed youngster seeing his or her first carnival or the likes of it. One thing that is good, is that you simply cannot categorize it, even though you need to at times. It’s a slab of IDM here, a brick of ambient there and an experimental vein that never seems to stop its own flow. Nevertheless, every detail must be remembered and is remembered. That’s the fascinating thing about Pollock and her music, or at least this release. No tone goes unnoticed. It can go from simply minimalistic, to bombastic and grandiose in seconds. The rhythmic and arrhythmic sense of belonging fuels the grace of her music and puts it in a cup for you to drink up. Think of a sensational meal you had, but make it transgress into music and I can assure you that this is what it sounds like. It provokes an emotional reaction that is hard to stray away from, since you bob your head to the music and think: “Ah, that’s where she put it!” when suddenly, out of nowhere, a sound comes out and grazes you with its virtual appearance. Four tracks are featured on this release, ranging from “Home“, “First Night In“, “Quiet Places” and the last track “How Fortunate“. It seems like she released this herself.
Quickly, we must move out of this, right now! It’s time for something completely different. This time the menu features Wildlife, which is a relatively stable and mainstream indie band, also from Canada. Four guys from the land in the north of the US of A. They’ve released a twelve-tracked, full-fledged album, which goes by the name of “…On The Heart“. A pretty fascinating release, since the depth of the music is uncompromising and not on the stick of the indie-elite. Nothing here is underproduced nor lo-fi. It also sounds like it could be featured in a film or something like it, since the width of space they have their chessboard on is so wide. Also, the sincerity of the vocalist is very tell-tale, as he includes you into their story with the first track. Therefore, you’re stuck on a journey now, trying to delve into the most uptight of indie-rock. I don’t mean uptight as in anything negative, simply that they live and thrive of simplicity, where love-songs and the positive humorist approach is dominating. Which re-assures you of a world that isn’t that dark after all, with the colliding drums, the spectrum of different riffs and solos at hand. Something a little bit unconventional, after all, even though it sounds pretty mainstream. This will hopefully take the crown and make sure that they’re ruling hereafter. But, hey, I like it a lot. It is nostalgic at heart, at least for me, since it reminds me of a lot of the earlier posturing of indie-pop and rock – but also bands in that particular genre that sought out the middle. Featuring songs ranging from “If It Breaks” to “Two Hearts Race“, released on the 5th of March on Wax Records.
Last but not least, we feature another even more interesting band. This time, breaking the streak that Canada has had, since this band – called The Systemaddicts, are from Australia. One of the surprises when hunting for music is when you return to the point you’ve been at all the time. Simply not realizing that a new album has been released, which was titled: “Do You Really Want My Love?“. It came out now in the month of March. A strength that you can give them is that they’re a larger group of people making music, which means a lot of instruments are included that are not normally used. An organ, some trumpets and an unconventional approach. Too bad that the singer sounds like he’s off-key with the rest of the band, but I like this voice. That isn’t the focus though, since the music is hell of a lot tighter. Which is what my brain automatically focuses on. It’s melodic, somewhat upbeat and you can’t even think it’s garage-rock, but it is. One thing that is punk, however, is the singer. Because he is breaking the rules and when you hear the pipe he’s got, you’d be surprised. At times it just feels like he’s completely defiant. Somehow he manages to add another color to the sound-scape with his outrageous behavior! Or, yeah, maybe not outrageous – but punk! I like what I’m hearing even though it might not be my favorite thing about them. Though it reminds me a lot of the older bands within the same genre, but maybe a step further away from garage-punk and rock. Yeah, you should simply check it out. Featuring tracks like “Hill and Sea” and “Jam (Secret Track)“, released by themselves, I suppose.
I stumbled upon this majestic piece of work, released by the label Function Operate. It’s a collectivized form of enjoyment, gathering the bright minds, sorting under different aliases. This ten-track long compilation of different enjoyable genres will take you for a ride through atmospheric cold wave, sincere shoegaze, dark and dampened minimal synth, tar-coated post-punk, or even to the width of magnificent synth-pop. Artists and bands that are featured on it are the following: Koban, Some Ember, Victoriana, The Harrow, Warmline, Claps, Tiers, Pretty Bleak, Ortrotasce and Redredred. It was mastered by Jimmy Derr and the wonderfully minimalistic cover was made by Jude Pierre. For the mere sake of purchasing it, you’ll only have to give 6 dollars for this great compilation. It is limited to 200 C60 cassettes, so you should get yours. Make up your own mind by listening through it down below.
I will share with thee a quite overlooked gem from my stash. The duo Ortrotasce are located in Portland and Brooklyn, where they sway the public with their magical electronica. Since they released a totally new album more then a week ago, I’m ashamed that I didn’t pick it up quicker. The EP I’m talking about is “Forgotten“, which was released for the public on the 12th of February and is also their debut. Quickly, when you delve into their sphere of minimalistic synth, adjacent to dark pop and electronica as a whole – you become paralyzed. It’s a great form of paralyze, because your nerves and your system is functioning correctly, but you’re put in a state of trance. Every time I listen to it, every song seems to be programmed after my body, because whenever I hear the strike of the toms, the stab of the synthesizer, or an arpeggio – my body constantly moves together with every nerve in my body. Push a button, feel the feeling and dance along to this menacingly melancholic duo and their uncontrollable whip. Strike one, you’re in, strike two – you’re totally enveloped in their dimension. Their music also puts other minimal synth projects to shame, because they’ve found a way to not make it as static as many acts can be. In the center of their core, the danceable elements of peppiness shrug along the walls but do perfectly fine within the mix. Never loose the edge and never loose the touch, because one way you’re being touched is in an meta-physical continuum of emotional, with realistic fodder. Featuring songs ranging from “Transitory” to “Grey Space“. Their release can be found on the Los Angeles-based label Function Operate.
So, if you like Motörhead on speed, you’ve found the right post. The band Knife for an Eye is straight out of Gothenburg city, featuring three members under the monikers of Al Rixon, Charlie Pride II and Johan. Well, only one might well be a moniker, but I’ll include them all. They’ve currently, since the 20th February, released their “Internet Tracks” collection of two tracks which are some of the hardest songs I’ve heard within the punk and rock’n’roll sphere. At least when it comes to the latest addition to that family, their hardened vocals and their overall gritty sound-scape which reeks of distortion. Sounding like some of the classic punk mixed with rock’n’roll and actually, at times, reminding me a lot of Poison Idea even though they’ve not picked up on their vehement speed yet. Yet again, Gothenburg never ceases to amaze when it comes to sound, since there’s been a lot of great bands coming out of that city lately. If you need to be kick started out of your feverish dreams, you should hook your headphones or your massive speakers – to blast this stuff right into your own ears. Hard as hell, breaking bones and throwing stones. Since I never seem to pinpoint the exact words that could describe it, I would contest with Motörhead hooked up on speed and extreme adrenaline. It seems to be some kind of mutated and awful uncle, just thrashing away and unleashing hell upon your closed gates. Check this shit out, because it’s one of the best things I’ve heard and also one of those who packed the most punches. Featuring the tracks “Getting Hooked” and “One Step Forward, Two Stabs In The Back“. You can download both tracks for free from their bandcamp, or hand them some money while you’re at it.