Words by Tim Anderl
Tim Anderl is a Dayton, Ohio-based writer whose work has published in Alternative Press, Strength Skateboarding, Ghettoblaster, New Noise Magazine among other alternative weekly newspapers, magazines and online publications/blogs. He’s the former host of the Sound Check Chat podcast and runs a boutique PR firm, Sweet Cheetah Publicity. Growing up in the rich culture of the ’80s lead Tim to a life-long love of music, including post-punk, new wave, darkwave, goth, dream pop.
My first column to start 2020 and there’s already been enough exciting news and releases to compel me to reach out to Off Shelf with the hopes of delivering a regular transmission. Allow me to share…
In mid-November 2019, Glasgow, Scotland-based Canadian artist JJD (formerly of Radio Berlin, A Luna Red, PR1M35) released his seventh album, When Push Comes To Shove, via his Possession Records label. Soft Riot is JJDs solo project and it resonates with references from all corners of the synthpop’s origins (DAF, Fad Gadget and John Foxx to name a few). When Push Comes To Shove nonetheless manages to retain its own individual voice, melding and reinterpreting its antecedents with a personal twist and an impressive demonstration of synth-craft and programming. In January, Soft Riot released the video for LP highlight, “By The Skin of Your Teeth,” a stylized performance video that shows the breadth and depth of his commitment to this art form, both visually and musically.
DIIV released their video for “The Spark,” a euphoric, poppy romp from their latest album Deceiver, which was recorded with Sonny Diperri (Protomartyr, Trent Reznor) and released via Captured Tracks. Fans of My Bloody Valentine will be overjoyed by the song’s buzzbomb wash of fuzz. DIIV embark on an extensive UK and European support tour in February with support offered by label mates Chastity.
In early January, Fotocrime released a video for the first single, “Love Is A Devil,” from the forthcoming sophomore LP, South of Heaven, which sees release via Profound Lore Records on March 13. If the track is any indication of what is to follow, the album, produced and engineered by J. Robbins (of Jawbox) from sessions recorded by Steve Albini (of Shellac), Simon Small and Robbins, will obsessively tear at long-healed wounds of heartbreak, exposing raw nerves and spilling melodic blood. The album will also feature a notable lists of guests including Hayden Menzies (Metz), Janet Morgan (Channels), Nick Thieneman (Young Widows, Breather Resist). Erik Denno (Kerosene 454), and Rob Moran (Unbroken).
Wire released their 17th studio album, Mind Hive, on January 24 via their own pinkflag label. The album reaffirms the influential post-punk group’s rich legacy of stretching the rock form while stripping it to its essence for a blend of accessibility and experimentation. The band support the album with a run of dates that begin in January. They are also the subjects of a career spanning documentary, People in a Film, which is due for release in late 2020.
Seattle’s Jupe Jupe, a quartet that creates dark and hooky creations will release a cocktail of new music with the self-release of their Nightfall EP on February 28. The EP introduces a vital new element to the band’s sound, saxophone. The group teamed up with former Minus the Bear member Matt Bayles, who produced the release at Studio Litho in the band’s hometown. Fans of Gary Numan and OMD will find winks to some of their favorite synth heavy new wave staples in the single “Eyes Full of Stars.”
In mid-January, Los Angeles’ Moaning announced the release of their new record, Uneasy Laughter, via Sub Pop on March 20, and celebrated with an Amber Navarro-directed video for its lead single, “Ego.” The album perfectly embodies the trio’s claustrophobic sound, which they honed with the help of producer/engineer Alex Newport (At The Drive-In, Bloc Party). Flecked with neon synths, the tense track certainly cranks the dial of excitement around this effort.
Married dream pop duo Fawns of Love, who almost assuredly count Kate Bush, Cocteau Twins and Slowdive amongst their touchstones, are in pre-production on their new full-length, Band To Watch, and are putting the finishing touches on a new vinyl EP release of re-imagined treatments of songs from their second album, Permanent, which was released via Test Pattern Records. The EP was recorded as part of the band’s second session for the Los Angeles-based “Part Time Punks” radio show on KXLU.
Cold Showers and Fearing preceded their January tour the western U.S. by releasing an EP of songs originally written and performed by The Sound (they reimagined “Kinetic” and “Winning” respectively). Fearing is also putting the finishing touches on a forthcoming LP, Shadow, for an April release by Louisville, Kentucky-based label Funeral Party Records. More to come on that in the future (and hopefully the announcement of a similar run together in the Midwest).
In other Funeral Party Records-related news, Richmond, Virginia’s True Body announced that they’ve completed their debut LP, Heavenly Rhythms for the Uninitiated, which is due out on April 3. The album is sure to showcase a post-punk sound to include shades of goth, and synth-pop, as indicated by the official video for the record’s first single, “Spirit City.” Coming on the heels of vocalist Isabella Moreno-Riaño’s recent collaboration with SRSQ, Heavenly Rhythms… establishes without a doubt True Body’s place among a rising scene of dark pop provocateurs that includes Choir Boy, Sextile, and Boy Harsher, among others.
Finally, a vital presence on Australia’s post-punk scene, Rowland S. Howard created his own emotionally intense sonic language in projects including the Young Charlatans, The Birthday Party with Nick Cave, Crime & the City Solution, and These Immortal Souls, and Fat Possum Records are set to release Rowland S. Howard’s ‘Teenage Snuff Film’ in North America and South America for the first time on CD, 2xLP (Side D features an etching of a Rowland illustration) and on all digital platform (Mute will release the album in Europe and Bloodlines will release it in Australia). Listen to “Radio Dead” from the lauded album. Howard passed away on December 30, 2009, from liver cancer.