Posts Tagged ‘Indie’

Conduit of Humanity is less of a band and more of a collective. Spearheaded by alt-popper Fred Jeske and engineer Joe Maydak, Conduit of Humanity is a vehicle for 90s-style alt and prog collaborations with various artists through the magic of COVID-era dropbox technology. Their newest project, Siren Songs from Another World, is a lamentation on the grim state of the environment, healing from disasters, and our fears for the future.

Siren Songs starts with “Shine Out,” an alt-rock flavor reminiscent of Veruca Salt thanks to Candice Latimer’s vocals. “Shine Out” is replete with drum flourishes and a bit of discord to keep you on your toes. Female vocals seem to take center stage on Siren Songs. The third track, “Hoaxes,” features Latimer again, also remixed in a downtempo style to great effect by Lexi Stern later in the album. The sixth track, “Another World,” is beautiful and mellow in its lamentations, adding a bit of organ and another gorgeous female vocal contribution from Stern.

Themes of environmental disaster travel through the album. “Our Saving Grace” is a pretty but despairing piano and guitar number lamenting humanity’s penchant for self-destruction, a theme that continues into epic “Sirens Sing.” Moments of this one sound like Heavy Metal soundtrack classic, “All Of You.” It seems appropriate considering Heavy Metal’s dystopian themes, and considering that Conduits of Humanity started as a result of a Todd Rundgren festival in California’s ever-at-risk Redwood Forests.

Mellow and proggy, Siren Songs From Another World is good for curling up on a gray day to ruminate on the big picture.

Conduit of Humanity BandcampConduit of Humanity InstagramRescord Recordings

I was doing some tourism in Oaxaca last February. Oaxaca is a punk town, painted in street art and radical graffiti. It’s not without reason – Oaxaca is a locus for economic and racial inequality in Mexico. Music and art posters are wet-glued to the same walls where spraypaint scrawls decry the harms of capitalism, femicide, and state violence. While I ate up the daytime’s offerings of street art, punk, and culture, I couldn’t get out to see much of the musical nightlife. Nonetheless, I snapped pics of these two posters of bands coming through town that would help me savor some of what Oaxacan music kids might listen to between making rad art and bucking the system. These two posters go back to a small party scene called the Gothic Oaxaca Underground, who seems to host all these dope little shows with bands mostly hailing from Mexico City. So I decided to dig into some flavors of the Mexican goth scene (bands only) and see what’s shaking en la discotheque.

Leonora Post-Punk

Leonora Post-Punk was touring behind the release of their new EP, Polvo. It’s very stripped down monotone goth descendent of Joy Division. It’s just enough for a stomp and a bob if you’re in that kind of mood. The EP’s sexy third track “El Contraluz” was recorded at Mexico City’s “Hipnotize Festival” in 2021. The fourth track of Polvo, “Torpe” grew on me most.

Leonora Post Punk BandcampLeonora Post Punk Instagram

Stockhaussen

Stockhaussen is the composer Angel Kauff, who composes dark electric music. I listened to their latest release, “Musica Electronica Oscura,” with some enthusiasm. It’s minimalist synth travels at fast pace, creating an energetic series of songs, but without too many vocals. “Let’s dance Tonight” probably pounds the floor into a sweat frenzy. Kauff does well to build atmospheric tension. Moments feel like twilight in the batcave – just the way I like it.

Stockhaussen BandcampStockhaussen Instagram

Werner Karloff

Werner Karloff’s Atemporal EP just came out in March. Even a passing knowledge of Werner Karloff’s two namesakes is enough to pin the tail on this artist. Danceable and darkly monotone, Karloff’s beats are just upbeat and accessible, and the vocals are nice in that German art-rock kind of way. Fifth track “Visitas” builds such good atmosphere and instantly sticks out to me.

Werner Karloff’s BandcampWerner Karloff’s Instagram

Schrödinger

Schrödinger keeps up the post punk tempos but is more a grandchild of Bauhaus than anyone else. Their debut, Last Days on Earth, is solid start to finish. “Visions” is a track that one could play for a goth fashion show, while “Murder” hits like an early Cure remix. To be fair, it’s because the vocals do sound faintly of a young and very distant Robert Smith. “Dying Sun,” the album’s tenth track, plays a lot more with guitar tones and is pretty gorgeous on its own, evoking lots of emotions, and should not be missed.

Schrödinger vis SwissDarkNights BandcampSchrödinger Instagram

P.R.E.Y.

P.R.E.Y. is a Oaxaca-based darkwave artist who makes some interesting and engaging keyboard choices on their self-titled Demo. It has an arty fashion flavor that has me seeing them play behind models stomping in black dresses. The vocals have a smooth chocolatey element that sticks out. “Knees Pain” is a standout track.

P.R.E.Y. BandcampP.R.E.Y. Instagram

Fledgling but upwardly mobile, Mexican goth is developing an interesting scene with new vamps who are adding some creative new entries to today’s worldwide Goth Revival. Spare some pennies for the up and comers via Bandcamp if you’re feeling sassy. But if what you’re looking for is some goth playlist clout, you’re sure to find some in the Mexican goth scene.

I need to throw some love at this duo. Hailing from an empty cargo freighter wired with black lights and a subwoofer the size of a Chevrolet (California), Male Tears are fresh off of their second album Trauma Club and are still going strong with new single “Domin8.” More Xymox than Depeche, “Domin8” is a cigarette-length goth-night-at-the-club stomper – 98% ethically-sourced pure cacao darkwave. Sturdy and kinky, the groans of “capitulate” and “rid me of my soul” reveal masochistic self-loathing, but that beat is all thrust, baby. Male Tears, comprised of duo James Edward and Frank Shark, seem to be mixing their potion a little better with each release.

Also check out the fun aesthetic on their recent video for Trauma Club banger “Model Citizen.”

Male Tears BandcampMale Tears InstagramMale Tears Linktree

Now this crew puts on a one-of-a-kind show. Hailing from Los Angeles, this five piece has a cult following for their raucous combination of punk and funk, and for good reason – behind the space-punk aesthetic and DIY ethic is otherworldly musicianship. Being that the critical mass of the band is educated in jazz and are prone to inventiveness, their new live album Live at the Echo becomes a whirlwind of genre-bending talent and high energy fun. They know how to yank a person out of their head and onto the Space Barn, where all that matters is sweat, dance, and joy.

Live at the Echo captures their lunacy from the get. Compared to album versions, songs take on faster speeds and add unique musical elements that ensure no live show is ever just “playing the album.” They remind me of the phrase “tight but loose” from Led Zeppelin’s canon. Thump shows give you the sensation that anything can happen. Maybe it’s an otherworldly sax solo on “Alien” that saxophonist Henry Solomon thought of in the moment. Or it could be keyboardist Paul Cornish adding a random classical undercurrent in the middle of “Flamingo Song.” Maybe it’s Logan Kane’s utterly ridiculous bass skills that make me wonder where he’s hiding his extra fingers, because there’s no way he’s doing all that with just the ten. You don’t know what you’re going to get, and sometimes the mix is so brash and unexpected you go the fuck? but only long enough to realize it’s working, and boy aren’t you glad you just experienced something you never experienced before?

And what is life but a series of moments – as a culture of humans watching our own mortality slowly decline on devices that eat away at our consciousness, wouldn’t it be gnarly to be able to experience the unexpected with awesome results for a change? We are a people that desperately need to start living to the beat of Henry Was and his drum kit and his slick kshhhhk kshhhhk bounce. There’s this part on “Space Barn,” you can hear it, where he does this *tibbytibbytap* and it palpates my brain stem. There’s an endless number of spicy little flourishes.

And then there’s Lucas Tamaren. Lucas is a maestro of the crowd’s energy, leading the Space Barn passengers through the highs and lows of the journey through his vocals and guitar. It’s Lucas that is the chief songwriter, so lots of these lyrics and melodies are infused with his comedic sensibility while also being so easy to grasp and relate with emotionally. Songs have this disarming honesty that’s wrapped in self-affirmation and even optimism. And then he fucking screams into the microphone. Because why not? Don’t you just want to scream sometimes, too? His screaming is not abrasive, it’s cathartic, and it’s inflected just right between his speech-singing and random scatting and the occasionally very lovely singing.

If I had to choose, I would suggest music-lovers watch the live video. Firstly, the video allows sixth Thump Ben Benjamin to showcase his essential contributions to the Thump aesthetic in the form of visuals. The show is reframed as a rebellion against the digital lobotomization we’re experiencing as un/willing participants in the soul-deadening metaverse (she says, after losing an hour to useless yet hypnotizing Facebook reels). It turns out rebellion looks a lot like dancing your jiggly ass off and shaking the numbness that bogs us down in the blue screen light. It’s this aspect of the Thumpaverse canon that gets me, because having universal worldwide super-villains lets me see Thumpasaurus as heroic underdogs. Secondly, Lucas is an absolute madman and he never stops. As a front man he is charismatic as hell, and his drag is giving constant face every time he twiddles something glorious on his guitar or delivers a lyric in character. You can also catch members of the band giving each other glances as they whip out new skills, perpetually impressed with each other, as if to say “check this shit out… no check this shit out.” Director Oliver Salk captured all of that electricity.

Keep ears (and eyes) open for a uniquely beautiful version of “Beta Lupi” with Paul Cornish giving it a baroque (the fuck?) accompaniment, and a surprise version of “Lovin’ You” you might otherwise only find if you peruse the deep corners of their Youtube. (That said, go peruse the corners of their YouTube). Live at the Echo is worth 90 minutes of your loosest socks-on-a-hardwood-floor dance energy, and is a proper analogue until the Space Barn sets down in your own neck of the woods.

Live at the Echo (Youtube)Thumpasaurus InstagramLive at the Echo (Spotify)

Trying to write while neck deep in the grind means sometimes good tunes fall through the cracks. Here I’m going to offer my inbox some relief while sharing worthy musical goodness with you lovable clickers. Five tunes not to miss coming right up!

Opeongo – tragedy

Artwork by Patrick Decourcy

Opeongo’s voice is so uniquely clear that it paints “tragedy” in bold colors.  His tone is sweet and vaguely nasal that it feels like Steve Harley, making “tragedy” feel very glam. It nods so good and demands your attention.  The lyrics tell a grim story of Canadian-indigenous genocide, but end in the potential for hope as voices like Opeongo’s try and remember history so it never repeats.  It’s gorgeous and sorrowful, and that voice will stick to you.

Listen to “tragedy”Opeongo FacebookOpeongo Bandcamp

Down With Space – We Were Strangers

“We Were Strangers” has a post-punk drum flavor and an electro agenda.  The chorus has that kind of foot-stomping energy that is completely magnetic.  The result is a pop tension that feels a lot like 1am with four drinks in the gullet, about to make a very exciting bad decision.  Vaguely nostalgic, exacerbated by the video’s visuals as the viewer perpetually leaves everything behind. There’s just something about that combination of tones that is so compelling.

We Were Strangers VideoDown With Space InstagramDown With Space Bandcamp

Lydia Persaud – Good For Us

Soulful, smooth, and cool as hell, Lydia Persaud’s “Good For Us” is the flavor of self-care and new clarity. Simple rhythm and delicate guitar let Persaud’s voice wash over and cleanse the soul as she sings the praises of time away from one’s lover. The video sees Persaud smudging away the bad vibes and spending some much-needed personal time with her besties. Send the other half out for groceries and roll out the bath bombs to melt into this one.

Good For Us VideoLydia Persaud InstagramLydia Persaud Bandcamp

John Orpheus – House of Cards (Radiohead Cover)

It’s hard to top an original, but John Orpheus gives and old favorite new breath in his Afro-pop cover of Radiohead’s “House of Cards.” Capitalizing on the original’s minimalist percussion, Orpheus adds delicate Caribbean rhythm that gives the song a new optimism. His vocals feel a bit like Phil Collins at moments. Refreshingly honest, video director Patrick Hodgson illustrates the tune with images of real couples in love, from the joyful to the mildly erotic, which capture the (often underrepresented) love shared in a long-term relationships.

House Of Cards by John Orpheus VideoJohn Orpheus InstagramJohn Orpheus Bandcamp

Agath Christ – Blood

It starts like a post-punk electro tune until the beat takes on this off-kilter syncopation that rests on the border between darkwave and electro jazz, if there is one. Noisy and tense, “Blood” is trying desperately to break through the weighted chains of our algorithmic technological oppression. “Blood” is visceral, and stressful, and so very easy to connect with if you’ve ever felt overburdened by the world as it has been engineered. Visuals show (what I interpret as) sufferers escaping their homes to find the last vestige of land free from the looming pressures of technocracy, only able to find rest by laying in the woods in snow. I get it – screens can start to feel like prison walls. Engage with this one.

Blood VideoAgath Christ InstagramAgath Christ Bandcamp

Try ’em out! Let me know what you think in the comments or hit us up on Instagram.

Even though New York is still coated in a late-March sheet of ice, I keep trying to find the push to yank my gravitationally-enhanced behind out of my hovel and go live inside some lights and music for a few hours. So I rolled out of my house, said goodbye to my sweet little doggo, and headed out to legendary Long Island rock spot Mr. Beery’s for the release of Coventry Carols’ self-titled first album. Supported by New Haven’s He Was A God and Richmond’s Sadartha, the show was a solid three hours of guitar shredding, screaming, and rock ‘n’ roll camaraderie. These three bands vibrated the walls into Saturday morning to welcome debut album Coventry Carols into the world.

First was Sadartha. The Virginia-based duo of guitarist/vocalist Johnny Noxious and bassist Mello Cefola displayed a collection of new grunge tunes. Sadartha’s fat guitar vibrations have that dark energy that remind me of how Alice in Chains used to feel. You know, the feeling that grabs you by the back of your sinuses and pumps rage into your brain. Sadartha set the stage for an evening of heavy flavors with just a touch of vocal pomp, inspired by “the ghost of Billy Corgan’s hair” that permeated their song “Eclipsing Binaries.” Although it’s fair to say, Noxious has enough glorious-enough hair of his own. Their latest album, Sad Art, came out in October.

The show raged on with pure personality metal/prog act He Was A God. Hailing from Connecticut, this fivesome melds prog sensibilities with metal sounds. Their drummer (Chris Densky of Genitorturers fame) is an absolute beast. This group dazzles with sonic Maiden-esque solos of alternating guitarists Ray Zvovushe and Tony Pellino. With bassist Dan Perrone bringing the heavy, and the charisma of Man In Black vocalist Ben Curns, He Was A God positively melted my face into goop. With politically biting lyrics and megaphone-using showmanship, I couldn’t take my eyes off of them. Their new EP The Smile & The Scar came out in December. Check out “Two New Stars” – it was sick.

Finally, Coventry Carols’ themselves brought the house down with a warm welcome from a nearly packed Beery’s crowd.  Singer/songwriter Soda Survive reunites with fellow (e)motion picture alumnus Terry “T.T.” Taylor to produce another series of hard but core-smacking tunes. With the addition of bassist Cliff “Sugarbear” Catropa, the three produce an emo-type sound with a little extra metal rage added for good measure. If Sadartha was inspired by the ghost of Billy Corgan’s hair, Soda was positively choked by it, feeling his 90s grunge fantasy with his stage antics and some healthy banter with T.T. and an audience member who was gifted with a dedication for their tune, “This Serenade.”

The losers for the night? The drummers. T.T.’s lead foot broke the last working pedal, Sadartha’s be-hated drummer Manny the Mannequin passed out after two songs (FUCK YOU, MANNY!), and HWAG’s drummer lost a stick to a joyful buffoon in the crowd that now has a prized souvenir (mind my jealousy). Still, a raucous show, and just the kind of energy a girl needs to emerge from winter frost. Gotta love a $10 show!

Sadartha’s BandcampSadartha’s Instagram

He Was A God BandcampHe Was A God Instagram

Coventry Carols BandcampCoventry Carols Instagram

This one is a smooth head-nodder by way of Algerian-born Canadian Aladean Kheroufi. Like a Beatles grandchild, “Love…” is declaration of peace. It’s a roadmap to agape, or universal love – the kind of love that would heal the world. With its latte-smooth vocals and downtempo soul sound, Kheroufi brings us back to a feeling when it seemed like love among humanity could really defeat all evil. It makes this song a welcome respite from the world. The video combines fuzzy film filtering with pleasant scenes from Kheroufi’s life, evoking a wistfulness for a time before… you know. Check out the 60s motifs and funky b-side “Every Girl.”

Aladean Kheroufi Bandcamp

Aladean Kheroufi Instagram

Ben Sefton is a fresh singer-songwriter from Saskatchewan. Stepping off the success of alienation diary entry “Humans,” Sefton has released his third tune and attached short film, Harrison. The sound is theatrical and layered, bringing up flavors of Queen or even Jellyfish in its evolving structure as it travels though different channels of pop and rock. Harrison’s narrative is an archetype of the isolated high school geek, with lyrical hints towards suicidal ideation (that I prefer to ignore). Though awkward teen narratives are often cliche, it’s important to see a story of an isolated kid that doesn’t put on a trench coat and blow away the lunch room. It’s a reminder that some kids just need to be heard. Keep an eye out for the guitar-shredding bear.

Ben Sefton Instagram

Ben Sefton Bandcamp

Finally! After years of wait, our own Soda Survive has finally brought his newest project into the daylight. Coventry Carols is a reunion of (e)motion picture’s Soda and drummer Terry Taylor, along with bassist Clifford “Sugarbear” Catropa. Together, the trio have emerged victorious from their first gig in nearby Connecticut, and have released their premiere track “The Well,” due to hit virtual airwaves on Friday (but purchasable from bandcamp at this very moment).

“The Well” is a alt-rock bopper, or as was recently noted during an interview on Bitten Apple TV, “a 90s throwback to the future.” The Well starts with a jaunty guitar riff over Terry’s tip-taps, that sound much like a rock-and-roll kid’s jaunt in a playground. Soda’s vocals come in, bringing in a little Billy Corgan flavor along with the lyrics that make me wonder if “The Well” is a metaphor for the darkness of the pandemic (Will we ever see the light again?/These times they are so cruel). Alternatively they might reference Soda’s recent years of medical challenges, a well from which he has emerged victorious. All in all, The Well is a 90s-ey, garage-y, grunge-y rock tune that will woo a few of the emo kids to boot.

The well single has four tracks, including an instrumental, and a remix by Coventry Carols album producer Joey Zampella (Life of Agony). Long Island can find Coventry Carols playing at Mr. Beery’s at the end of the month. Keep an eye open for their forthcoming cassette and CD, too – Coventry Carols has just joined the roster at Rescord!

coventrycarols.com

Coventry Carols on Bandcamp

Cover art by Graeme James

This one comes from New Zealand by way of Amsterdam. Graeme James, multi-instrumentalist and composer, is releasing a new album called Seasons on Nettwork Records. Inspired by his relocation from New Zealand to Amsterdam, the album is rich in layers of strings and delicate vocals. All together, James is a one-man band. He wrote, produced, and plucked nearly everything on this record, sans a few guest vocals, percussion, and brass. For the most part, James is as self-made as it comes, even drawing the album’s covers himself. James’s complex and earthy tunes capture cycles of life and weather with masterful precision. All in all, it’s a great flavor of indie folk that recalls shades of Villagers and perhaps Mumford and Sons (with better vocals and more optimism).

Seasons is a thoughtful and reflective set of tunes. Using the changing of seasons as larger metaphors for changes of life, he paints portraits of love and growth. Summertime sweet “Field Notes on an Endless Day” has tonal shades of Zeppelin’s “Going to California” amid its joyful ease. Single “Everlasting Love” is a straight-up country toe-tapper rejoicing one’s long-term affections: “If all that I had was you, I’d be the richest man on earth.” To use the lingo of the kids, that’s relationship goals right there. Autumnal ballad “All the Lives We Ever Lived” reflects on youthful exuberance, lamenting “We only wanted to live forever – was that too much to ask?” The whole album is a gorgeous mid-afternoon listen, curled up with a long term lover or a sleepy dog, warm like the cup of cocoa you’ll crave during “The Weight of Many Winters.”

The standout track for M-S-G is “The Voyage of the James Caird.” It is as dramatic a saga of a shipwreck survival as you can get, and as engaging as it sounds. Graeme’s voice takes on a more soulful thickness even than his other tunes as he tells the story of a real ship that near missed at rescuing its inhabitants. The percussion adds a rock beat to the gut-tingling drama of plucked high notes and rolling deeper tones. The cymbals crash like the waves against the resilient boat hull. From where it’s placed on the album, it feels like just the kind of tale you’d tell around a crackling fire on a cold winter evening, when one might need a message of persistence in peril. You know, kind of the way sea shanties became a thing during COVID for the same reason. No wonder Rolling Stone highlighted the track as a “Song[s] You Need to Know.”

If you’re into indie folk, check out Graeme James. Seasons comes in like a lion on April 1st.

Graeme James Website

Graeme James Instagram

Graeme James Bandcamp