Boy Harsher is among the dark waviest of the dark wave revival. Sparse and haunting, with hooks that are designed to put you into a dizzy trance. “Face The Fire” is no diversion from the formula. It is gorgeous and the video featuring ATX native Sara Cummings suits its buried vocals and haunting loops. The full length, Careful, is due next February on Nude Club, preorder here.
I make no mystery of my love for the synthy goodness, especially when it can carry a heavy tone. Public Memory is one such project led by Robert Toher.
Landing here on the pending release of the second LP, titled Demolition, the song embedded below is called “The Line”. Tension builds as the open of the track takes a stranglehold, running longer and longer, creating tension with the addition of a rising and falling sawtooth only to have haunting by high octave tones add to that stress. The release lands willfully under a flood of harmonies followed by the initial vocals only to quiet again to give lyrics space.
Demolition is due 11/9 on Felte.
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.
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.
How’s that World Cup going? My beloved Spurs are all having good showings for their respective countries, so far. Kane has two goals, Eriksen another and Trippier was wrecking defensive tactics with quality service from the wing. I digress.
There is no mystery that Ghostly International is one of my favorite labels, from Tycho to Beacon to Matthew Dear. They have another gem of a release pending with Steve Hauschildt‘s full-length album Dissolvi, due early August. Currently working out of Chicago, the Cleveland born producer employs texture and an ethereal vocal from Julianna Barwick to create a haze inducing atmosphere with progressive weight while percussion echoes with subtlety. This record is gonna be good.
I wanted to highlight a few shows, but Nathan killed that.
Instead, I am going to focus on a PYAITK scenario. There has been so much hype around SURVIVE and deservedly so, super talented team of analog synth artists. Anyone obsessed with SURVIVE should certainly take some time to review the history of the genre, and in particular, spend time with Orbital. Orbital is Paul and Phil Hartnoll, brothers residing in Brighton. I have loved this band since the release of “Chime/Midnight” and “Belfast” singles. Their releases have been remarkably staggered over the last decade, long breaks between releases, sabbaticals, final tours, reunions. But there is a new single and from a new record, which I can only dream will result in them coming close enough to Austin for me to see them again for the first time since the late 90’s. They lead the path that many stopped following, but popularized again by the analog synth revolution, live programming their performances, even “recording live” on occasion. If you know not of the band, I recommend Orbital II (aka the Brown Album) and In Sides to kick you off.
The track featured in the gorgeous video below is called “Tiny Foldable Cities” from the forthcoming Monsters Exist due in September.
Pizzagirl is bedroom pop project out of Liverpool by Liam Brown. There is no girl (or pizza) in the band. Having recently signed with our friends in Heist or Hit, Pizzagirl puts down dreamy synth lines while delivering the at times frivolous lyrics with an earnest tone; I’d say it is Magical Cloudz in happier days. We have featured a few songs here already, the EP An Extended Play was out about a month ago. Recommended. Videos will be released for each song on the EP so tune into the Pg YouTube channel.
Levitation 2018 was not really a festival; it was a series of curated shows that happened to be on the same weekend. The environmental experience of marching across fields and pivoting from stage to stage was removed for ticketed shows at established venues. Hopefully, this will be a one time thing to keep the concept of Levitation alive. There was a time when it was the most unique fest going, whether in a power plant and by the river…
Anyway, when the lineup was announced, I was down for the deconstructed Animal Collective show with Panda Bear and Geologist at Mohawk. My interest increased when Lou Rebecca was added as an opener. It has been some time since our friends move out west to LA and there have been several mini-tours taken. How has the live set progressed and how do the new songs land?
This show was immediately on the gotta-go list, The Soft Moon with Boy Harsher? Yes. I know both were about during SxSW, but I wanted full sets and the stars never aligned to allow for viewing freeing time slots for other acts from overseas. Double win. When you add in local openers Troller, you have a show that has great potential to sell out Barracuda.
…and sell out it did.
I’ll share a few thoughts about each of the band’s sets and plenty of photos right after the jump. Sound good? OK.
We have a little bonus show coverage today…
Wanting to run light, I grabbed the camera and mounted the smallest and lightest lens I have to go be amongst the EBM family the filled The Mohawk on a Tuesday night. That crowd was there to see Front 242, legends in the dark electro game, credited among the founders of the EBM scene. If you do not know of Front 242, shame on you.
I’ve had a good run of nostalgia lately. Perhaps I could keep the streak alive? Maybe not, but it wasn’t the band’s fault. Click through for a couple comments about the openers and the legends with pics from the crowd.