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.
Unless you’re a fan of Trapt, Smashmouth, Buckcherry and infectious diseases, enjoying live music probably isn’t in your immediate future. Like many of you, I’ve found myself pivoting as of late into movie binges to fill the void of attending shows and concerts and last weekend consisted of circling back on a pair of films with amazing soundtracks, including the Howard Deutch/John Hughes classic Some Kind of Wonderful and the more recent ’80s homage, Sing Street.
Some Kind of Wonderful, available for streaming on Amazon Prime offers a Hughes curated and produced soundtrack that collects some of the best new wave, punk and post punk artists of the era, including The Jesus and Mary Chain, Billy Idol, Flesh For Lulu, The March Violets (who make a cameo in the film), and Pete Shelly of Buzzcocks fame. Frankly, this is probably my favorite film/soundtrack combination of the era and if you haven’t seen it in a while, add Some Kind of Wonderful to your que post haste.
2016’s Sing Street, available on the Roku Channel, is a musical coming of age story set in 1980s Ireland. The music, is a combination of period hits from The Cure, A-ha, Duran Duran, The Clash, Hall & Oates, Spandau Ballet, The Jam, etc., and music composed by Danny Wilson frontman Gary Clark, director Dan Carney, Ken and Carl Papenfus of the band Relish, Glen Hansard and others. If you have yet to see the movie, I won’t spoil it by sharing the premise here, but I will divulge that the movie is one with tremendous heart and some of the tightest ’80s worshipping pop tunes a group of Catholic schoolboys could hope to write. It is no surprise that a musical adaptation of the film was set to premiere on Broadway in late-March 2020 and I have fingers crossed to someday see the production.
That’s enough pining for the reopening of music venues, and musicals in my case. That said, it is absolutely awe-inspiring that despite the unprecedented challenges with regards to producing and releasing music in a time when live music is largely and indefinitely off the table that incredible art continues to emerge in 2020.
LA-via-Australia group Death Bells recently announced their new album New Signs of Life and share its title-track, a grandiose statement, influenced by the theme song of HBO’s classic television program Six Feet Under. Dressing it with jagged guitars, brass, and percussion that provides a deliberate pace for Death Bells’ new chapter. Following the releases of their debut EP, much-loved first album, and seven-inch single on Funeral Party Records and their 2019 single on Metropolitan Indian, Death Bells have joined the Dais Records roster and New Signs of Life is due September 25.
Glasgow’s The Ninth Wave are releasing their new, Faris Badwan (The Horrors) produced EP, Happy Days, on July 31 from Distiller Music. The goth-pop band, who were just nominated for an AIM Independent Music Award in the UK for Best Indie Album alongside Nick Cave and Kim Gordon, are a brilliantly bleak band that recalls The Cure and Sonic Youth. Fans of synth pop sheen will undoubtedly be delighted by this one.
Artoffact Records recently announced the October 9 release of Thin Skies by Bootblacks, who released their first EP, Narrowed, following formative sessions with Jim Scalavuos (Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Sonic Youth) in 2012. Thin Skies marks the band’s first release for the label and is comprised of nine songs that combine driving, dancefloor pulses with anthemic and melodic post-punk flare. The band enlisted Jason Corbett of labelmates ACTORS to evoke a marriage of punk emotion and clubland sweat here. One fun note — backing vocals for the record come courtesy of Shannon Hemmett (ACTORS) and Kennedy Ashlyn (SRSQ, Them Are Us Too). This is the kind of album that will make you pine for reckless nights in the urban jungle.
Speaking of Kennedy Ashlyn, Ashlyn was a guest on Choir Boy Karaoke Friday, the semi-regular Twitch TV series of Dais Records’ Choir Boy. Although I missed this week’s installment, if earlier installments (which featured SPICE, Adult, Black Marble, etc.) are any indication, I expect it was delightfully weird, that Choir Boy’s Adam Klopp sang “That’s Amore” at some point and that Choir Boy guitarist Michael Paulsen and Jeff Kleinman teamed for a ska-number, during which Kleinman showcased his sick saxophone skills.
In January 2020, Brandon Phillips (The Architects, Other Americans, Brandon Phillips and The Condition, etc.) released Patient Zero, the debut album from his solo darkwave project Mensa Deathsquad. Patient Zero is a retro-futuristic aural attack swinging with broad, slashing strokes of inky dance floor gloom reminiscent of classic works by Depeche Mode, Jesus and Mary Chain and Sisters of Mercy. Lately, he has been posting live performance videos of tracks from the album. If you missed the initial release, now is an opportunity to become appropriately acquainted.
Toronto-based dreampop melodic indie rock duo Soft Set released their lead single, “Never Die,” which was mixed by Ride frontman Mark Gardener, from their forthcoming debut EP Love and Dancing. Laced with the sonic glee of ’90s indie rock, Soft Set’s is pristine nostalgic reverie, that is both stunning and infectious. “Never Die” is available via online stores and streaming platforms and its limited edition 7″ vinyl run of 100 with b-side (out on August 14) can be pre-ordered directly from the artist via Bandcamp. The full Love and Dancing EP will be released on September 4.
Chicago-raised, Los Angeles-based songwriter Vince Grant, who performs under the moniker The Sea At Midnight, recently previewed a new single, “We Share The Same Stars,” which was mixed by Chris King of Cold Showers and features Brandon Pierce of Glaare on drums. The single is the latest in a series of singles that brings Grant closer to the release of the eponymous debut album later this year. Fans of Mighty Lemon Drops and Icicle Works will find much to love in this work. “We Share The Same Stars” sees release via iTunes, Spotify and other digital retailers on August 21, but can be pre-ordered via Bandcamp.
Finally, The Psychedelic Furs eighth studio album, Made of Rain, finally hits the streets on July 31. This is the band’s first since 1991’s World Outside, and the first album with guitarist Rich Good (The Pleased) and Amanda Kramer (Information Society). I couldn’t be more excited to finally lay ears on the complete product. Watch the artful video for “Come All Ye Faithful” to whet your appetite.
Until next month, remember this: stay sad and black lives matter.