At least for now, I’ve pulled forward the tracks of the month posts by a week to the last Tuesday of the Month from the first, as that suits my posting schedule a bit better at the moment (and it will also avoid posting over the Easter and Whitby weekends, too). The intention hasn’t changed, though – this is still the best or most notable ten tracks I’ve heard over the past month – tracks worthy of discussion and a signal boost.
This week, the post rather splits neatly between both sides of the Atlantic, considers a few potential trends, and also notes a couple of bands on the cusp of breakthroughs.
Elsewhere on amodelofcontrol.com, upcoming are (delayed, apologies) reviews of the new ESA release That Beast and the new Out Out release Ridotto, Transmission: 005 and a few interesting additions to my Talk Show Host interview series, which incidentally is now in its tenth year.
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Track of the Month
I came across Ganser on my first visit to Chicago, when introduced to Nadia and Alicia from the band, and a track from their first EP was Track of the Month three years ago (!) on 221: Tracks of the Month (Jan 2015). I’ve tracked their development since then, including seeing them live eighteen months ago (again in Chicago), and they’ve evolved fast.
As a result, their debut album is one I’ve really been looking forward to in 2018, and the first taste from it is both surprising and exceptional. This song, from the first, savage riff to the false ending and sudden stop, has an aggression that transforms the band entirely from the previous hesitancy, as if the band were previously feeling their way through a maze, and now they’ve burst out of the exit, ready and fighting for the next challenge. They were also featured in the New York Times playlist last week, too – a page which, I suspect, has a rather bigger reach than this one…
Infest often picks up new bands to play the festival before they’ve really gained too much traction – and a number of those bookings have turned into quite the success subsequently. I’ve rather got the feeling that Promenade Cinema – recently announced as playing Infest 20 this summer – are going to be one of those bands.
Yes, they are more Northern synthpop – indeed, from Sheffield, a city with a hell of a heritage for that kind of thing – and on this song they provide a three-minute slice of punchy, smart synthpop that has a wonderfully powerful chorus that bursts out of the speakers. Oddly it reminds me, in particular, not of Sheffield bands past, but of Swedish band Ashbury Heights, especially in the intertwined dual-vocals. One to watch, this lot – their debut album is out now.
Love Is Dead
Speaking of UK Synthpop, actually, by far the most popular and best band in the sphere right now finally announced their return earlier this month, and it was interesting to see a little bit of a tepid response to it. I, too, was a little concerned when I read who the producer was (Greg Kurstin, someone heavily associated with Adele’s borefests), but at the core this is still CHVRCHES doing what they do best – poison-edged synthpop, with Lauren Mayberry delivering sweet-sounding barbs amid choppy synths and sleek rhythms. And anyway, last time around the real peaks of the album were the tracks hidden away later on the album (one of which topped Countdown: 2015: Tracks) – so I’m fairly sure there is nothing to worry about yet.
The two bands recently announced a US co-headlining tour (with industrial-punks Street Sects joining them, which makes it a hell of a bill), and happily there is recorded material coming from the pair, the first taste of which is this brute of a track. Initially it lumbers along much as I might expect, but once the chorus arrives, the guitars and multiple-vocals rip across the mix like tracer bullets, and my interest is now officially piqued for this meeting of minds. 3TEETH sound, frankly, revived here and the snarling edge of ho99o9 here really does add a menacing edge.
The Tide Stripped Bare
The Tide Stripped Bare
Connelly’s appearances in recent times in Bowie tribute shows suddenly makes sense now. This is elegant, acoustic-guitar-with-electronics where his voice doesn’t half echo The Thin White Duke. Don’t write it off as simply hero worship, though, as it feels like deeply personal, unusually sparse work from Connelly – and yes, I’m aware he’s been down this route before, but none of it has grabbed my attention like this. I think what I’m meaning here is that over the years, he obscured his emotions in song by the sonic chaos surrounding him (be that in RevCo, Ministry, The Damage Manual, Cocksure or any of the other projects he’s worked in), but here there’s no hiding place, and he takes up the spotlight brilliantly.
Be More Kind
“Don’t go mistaking your house burning down for the dawn”
Turner nails his colours to the mast with a furious attack on the rise of the right-wing and the lunacy of Brexit – and indeed had some interesting things to say in a recent interview, particularly as his statements in the past had perhaps been misinterpreted at best. Musically, this is Frank Turner at his most impassioned, anthemic best – honest and with something to say, and perhaps this is also articulating the fury many of us have in politics right now being so. fucking. stupid. What to do, though, is the question, and maybe the time for sitting on our hands and screaming from the sidelines is over.
Bury Me Here
I’ve been hearing a buzz about Vancouver-based band Wire Spine for a while now, and soon we get to find out what the fuss is about, with their debut album due next month. One of the first tracks released from it is this short, sharp shock of a track, built around what sounds to be vintage synths and ghostly voice that floats above the rhythms, with a mighty kick of a drum beat pounding on the walls for the chorus. This is also following an interesting trend in industrial right now, one of minimalism that doesn’t sound thin, one where artists can make a heck of an impact with just a few elements. Harking back to EBM of old, of course, but this sounds so, so now.
I mentioned in my interview last week with V▲LH▲LL on Talk Show Host: 044 that artists associated with Witch House barely sound like each other at all, and perhaps one of the artists so associated that has moved furthest away is Mexican artist Ritualz. The sound now, at least from the first track I’ve heard from the forthcoming new album out next week, is more soulful goth-edged synthpop, and that is no bad thing. In fact, this is a quite wonderful melodic track, one that rather blew my preconceptions out of the water. I’m now awaiting the new album with ever more interest.
Karma Ya Dig?
I’ve seen mention of this new-ish band a few times recently, which prompted me to go and look them up, and perhaps they weren’t quite what I was expecting. “Industrial Punk” seemed to be the consensus, but this track at least is straight-ahead (ish) industrial rock, which is certainly no problem in my world. There are certainly some unusual elements to this – the lovely backing vocals offer unexpected light amid a song that is otherwise relatively dark in tone, and the soaring, rolling chorus is frankly fucking great. Anyway, I’ll be keeping an eye out for more material from these guys.
An intriguing song I was sent the other week, I must admit that I know little about this band, but I do rather like this track (even if it appears to be a reworking of an older song). There is something in the grimy, stark mix and growled vocals of early Marilyn Manson – back when he was still a dangerous-sounding force, mind – and the band here do a good job of providing a muscular backing to a vocalist who sounds very much like he will grab the limelight regardless. Maybe they need to find more of their own style, perhaps, but in the meantime it’s a good song to hear.