Several years back, I raved about The New Division. While they have stayed on my playlists, I have neglected to share any recent tracks. In checking in on the band, I learned that John Kunkel has teamed with James Meays, Missing Words, for a project called Digital Shades.
It triggers thoughts of all the glorious, yet brooding synth pop that feels slow and fast at the same time. I pick up tension in space left between notes and treatment of vocals as songs build and move towards shining guitar crescendo to drop to a synth hook or momentary silence. The recently released EP is called Moonraker, “I’m Still Here” is a pleasant intro. You will get your Alphaville, Ultravox, M83 vibe strings pulled.
Please don’t sleep on this Twilight Sad track; I am using the release of the video to remind you to listen. The video, much like the song, is swirling and fuzzy with moments of disturbed clarity for punctuation. Directed by Brendan Jay Smith, edited by Michael Sherrington, it uses VHS with overlays with repeated imagery devolving into a negative. More importantly, put your headphones on and let loose.
They are hitting the west coast, Canada and east coast in October/early November before returning to Europe for more dates. New record soon? We can only hope.
Mohawk has long been a favorite venue of ours. It is a home base to start a night and hosted several of our favorite shows over the years, both touring and local. The venue has a following and has been named to best venues lists in several clickbait articles, heh. So many reasons why, but Cody Cowan has been a rock to keep making those gains. Along with being a friend and damn fine photographer, Cody will be leaving his position as GM at Mohawk to become the executive director of the Red River Cultural District. Frankly, we could not think of a better human to trust with our beloved venues. He was a leader in the initiative to get the noise curfew pushed back for Red River venues that has seen revenue increases for clubs that were affected. Chad Swiatecki has a nice intro piece up over at Austin Monitor.
What are your wants and needs for Red River? Let us know.
ps The photo is from a couple years back, but I think it works for this story.
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Who will you miss when you see Chuhvurches? Deftones on Weekend One, Disturbed on Weekend Two.
David Byrne or Golden Dawn? If your out-of-town buddies haven’t been in the Arkestra and have seen Byrne, you know the answer.
Blood Orange or Sharon Van Etten? Pleased to say, that may the worst conflict.
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Low bitrate is not so good for your ears.
This video allegedly failed a strobe/seizure test. As for the song, once you settle into the first half, finally lulled by the back drop lurking under the traditionally quick drums, a break takes away any comfort before returning you into hypnosis. Pre-order the Collapse EP at Warp.
The Policy is a duo out of Rotterdam. The lyrics of their song “Das Lebenslied” are in Dutch, maybe German, through a vocoder. That doesn’t matter. This is pretty rad.
I pick up Kraut Rock influences, sure, but there is a bit of Detroit and Jungle lurking tonally, certainly not a frenetic drum line here, but waveform patterns and the interesting melodic flourishes in rise and descent echo the progressive house movement’s subtle, but strong run through dance halls and after hours spots in the 90’s. Pierre Hagelaars fronts and Thijmen Hoebink produces, they have been remixing quite a bit lately, but this single has me ready for a full release. This single is now available via [PIAS] Recordings.
Sometimes a friend on the intarwebs shares a band with you via the social media to PYAITK. Fellow music photog Randy tagged me in a post due to my penchant for synth pop after he stumbled across Nation of Language on a Soundcloud bender. They were supposed to come for SxSW where I probably would have stumbled into one of their sets and subsequently followed them around, but recording took the budget. Developing.
Nathan and I’s slow, steady bromance started with The Twilight Sad headlining a show at Emo’s. Our manniversary. The last time I saw the band was opening for The Cure a couple years back. Those of you lucky enough to attend the Cure’s 40th Anniversary party in Hyde park may have been there early to see our friends from Scotland, along with Interpol and Slowdive and many others. Jealous.
The lads from Glasgow have a new track to share via Rock Action Records. With a textural undertone and the gradual surge inwards to focus on James’s vocal, which later gets buried again, the song navigates through all the things I love about the band. You can’t escape the accent, the deliberate clarity of core messages, the layers of guitar and synth that cause focus or escapism. There are new things for me here, or at least new application of familiar tools like how the piano comes in not to haunt or highlight, but to fill. Album news soon, they are touring in the fall, though staying on the west coast and before crossing the northern US and Canada and then heading back to Europe. Come to Austin – tacos, bromance and Lone Stars await.
A piece of straight-up playful pop has been unleashed upon the world. Our friends over at Heist or Hit sent word of the latest track from Her’s, a band that has 100% been on the hit side of that label name for the ATH team. The full-length Invitation to Her’s drops August 24th. Starting with a little bit of Casio keyboard drum machine and hook, “Harvey” charms you like a happy secret. It is a pleasant three and half minutes well worth your investment on a Thursday.
I am the resident sucker for the synthy goodness. We occasionally get a little something in the inbox that catches our eye and more importantly, an ear.
Alexa X is the new project from Michaela Newman. The road to this song includes being a pop-folk duo and some solo work away from the digital landscape. But alas, the synths came calling and Alexa X found a background for the voice that had been there all along. The time spent writing and in studio for anything but a synth shows through in a building and brooding, sparse and tense tale about taking a chance. Solid first single, staying tuned.