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.
February 2020 was a bitter-sweet month. While Valentine’s Day allowed the opportunity to revisit all the wonderful post-punk, new wave and goth love songs that have sewn their way into the fabric of my personal story (“Love My Way” by the Psychedelic Furs and “Friday I’m In Love” by The Cure for instance), fans of these genres also lost a true innovator, pioneering guitar player and Gang of Four founding member Andy Gill. Gill passed away at the top of this month from complications due to pneumonia. Gang of Four issued the This Heaven Gives Me Migraine EP on February 26 and the title, taken from the song “Natural’s Not in It,” carries a special significance in light of Gill’s passing.
I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the passing of The Faint founding member and keyboardist Jacob Thiele, who I had the pleasure of meeting around two decades ago while on assignment for Strength Skateboarding magazine. Thiele was absolutely instrumental in the genesis of the band’s signature sound, rise to worldwide acclaim, and in planting a flag on the indie rock landscape for Omaha.
In retrospect, I guess it wouldn’t be a true Shadow-Plays column without a hint of something somber at the top, although, there have also been lots of exciting developments on this landscape this month too, yielding giddy anticipation of a killer Spring.
Fans of the genre saw a big development with the announcement of this year’s Cruel World Festival taking place in Los Angeles, California, on May 2. Although headlined by the increasingly insufferable Morrissey, the one-day event is also stacked with powerhouse legacy acts Devo, Blondie, Bauhaus, Echo and the Bunnymen, Christian Death, The Church and the like. A more current offering of up-and-comers like Soft Kill, Drab Majesty, and Black Marble is also present in the event’s lineup. While tickets sold out in a matter of minutes during their initial offering in mid-February, ticket re-sale sites should offer an opportunity for latecomers to snatch up their spot.
One of the top-billed acts for Cruel World is The Psychedelic Furs. Although the Furs have been touring and playing “the hits” faithfully for the nearly two decades since reforming in 2001, the band has announced a new album, Made of Rain, which is their first since ‘91s World Outside. Made of Rain is available for pre-order via Cooking Vinyl, and hits shelves (and streaming platforms) on May 1. The first single, “Don’t Believe,” hit the interweb in February, and in my opinion, it is hot fire, offering a stellar performance complete with Richard Butler’s signature serpentine baritone, searing lead guitar, and a big, big chorus.
On Friday, February 14 Jonny Polonsky released the fevered, mysterious and ethereal new single “Ghost Like Soul,” featuring Cedric Bixler-Zavala (The Mars Volta/At The Drive-In). You may already know Polonsky through his collaborations and touring with Frank Black, Mark Lanegan, Johnny Cash, Jeff Buckley, and Kevin Haskins (Bauhaus, Love and Rockets). Polonsky also kicked off a run of European tour dates, with appearances in Belgium and Germany. Fingers crossed that it won’t be long before we see a robust North American tour cycle.
Albuquerque, New Mexico darkwave/synth-pop trio Lindy Vision have announced the release of their new EP, Adult Children Part II, produced by Enrique Tena Padilla (Thee Oh Sees, Wand, GOGGS). Along with the announcement, the trio—comprised of three black, Native American sisters, Dorothy (Dee Dee), Natasha (Na), and Carla Cuylear— they shared their dusk-dipped new single “Restless.” Adult Children Part II is out March 6.
Dead Can Dance will embark on a North and South American tour in April and May of 2020 with an extensive routing beginning in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on April 17, playing shows across the United States, Canada, Mexico, Columbia, and Peru. This tour finds Brendan Perry, Lisa Gerrard and full backing band returning to the Americas for the first time since Coachella in April 2013. The band are expected to bring their spectacular three-decade-spanning set that includes music from their 2018 studio album Dionysus along with much loved classic works from their extensive catalog.
Montreal, Canada’s Mundy’s Bay gearing up to release their debut full-length, Lonesome Valley, which they recorded with Kurt Ballou (Converge) on Pure Noise Records on March 13. Mundy’s Bay vocalist/keyboardist Esther Mulder, commands the helm of this impressive debut as they deftly execute a highwire act deftly balancing their dream pop and punk influences without sacrificing either.
Finally, and perhaps most exciting for me personally as Choir Boy and Choir-boy adjacent acts (Human Leather, Sculpture Club) have topped my year-end best of lists several times in the past, the Salt Lake City-based quartet return with their emotionally powerful, infectious sophomore album, Gathering Swans on May 8 via Dais Records. Steeped in heart wrenching, new wave tinged pop nostalgia, Choir Boy vocalist Adam Klopp delivers a transcendent vocal performance per usual that cements him as one of today’s most distinctive, earnest and moving frontmen. The band shared news of the release via circulation of the album’s lead single “Complainer” and the delightfully weird accompanying video. Find them on tour in North America this spring with Surf Curse.
Until our next dispatch, stay spooky and if you get murdered, make sure it’s on the dancefloor.