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.
As I ponder the political, socio-economic, educational and global health dumpster fire we’re experiencing in 2020, I can’t help but think of Tears For Fears hit “Mad World.” Coincidentally, the song was released on September 20, 1982, and appeared on the band’s debut LP, The Hurting, the following year. Originally intended to be the B-side for the band’s single “Pale Shelter (You Don’t Give Me Love),” their record label decided the song could be a single in its own right and reached number 3 on the UK Singles Chart in November 1982.
As many of us ponder whether the dreams in which we’re dying are the best we’ve ever had while wadding through the thick despair this year was wrought, music remains a beacon of hope that there are reasons each day is worth taking. This month’s column collects a handful of those reasons.
Oakland, California five-piece Body Double released their debut album, Milk Fed, via Zum on September 18. The album comes as the result of a period of intense grief and transition for singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Candace Lazarou. Her previous group, Mansion, disbanded acrimoniously in 2016, months before the Ghost Ship fire forever changed Bay Area DIY. At the same time, Lazarou also began disentangling herself from long-term relationships both interpersonal and with drugs. Lazarou withdrew into her bedroom, creating material about intimacy and consent, playing most of the instruments on Milk Fed herself, and recording intermittently at Tunnel Vision studios in downtown Oakland with co-producer Jason Kick beginning in 2017. Chase Kamp of Silver Shadows and Jeff Cook of Mansion drum on the album. Body Double began performing live in 2019 and currently comprises Jascha Ephraim (lead guitar) and Mel Weikart (keyboard) in addition to Kamp, Adams and Lazarou.
Executioner’s Mask released their darkwave banger, Despair Anthems, on July 10 via Profound Lore. Recently, the group announced a V.2 version of the album: Remixing Despair, out October 2 on Bandcamp, with all profits from the album benefiting Hillside SPCA in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. Featuring never-before-heard remixes by Plack Blague, Black Magnet, Fotocrime and more, the reimagined version of Despair Anthems is a must-hear for any fan of dark music. The announcement arrived alongside a premiere of the “Ratboy” remix, forged by the emerging engineer/producer/songwriter King Yosef. The track surfaces with a visualizer created by Executioner’s Mask luminary Jay Gambit, which captures the track’s overall feeling of dread and despondence.
British post-punk icons Modern English will broadcast After The Snow: Live from Indigo at The O2 London on Friday, September 25, and Saturday, September 26. After having to recently cancel its summer North American 40th anniversary tour – a run that was to also feature a front-to-back performance of its breakthrough 1982 album After the Snow – legendary British band Modern English will provide fans with a broadcast performance of the entire LP. Filming at Indigo at the O2, London and partnering with LiveHereNow, the band will deliver a live show with state-of-the-art sound, lights and production. There will also be projections and Vaughan Oliver artwork designs that will be woven into the performance. Tickets for the full-album concert, along with a special virtual VIP meet and greet for those in the U.S., UK, Europe and Asia are available now. Additionally, fans should be on the lookout for a brand new “I Melt With You” exclusive 12-inch, set to be released on October 24.
New Way Vendetta* issued their debut dispatch, a virtual 7″ single offering their take on Misfits’ “Cough/Cool” and original B-side, “1984 (On The Floor),” on September 4. New Way Vendetta is a collective of dystopian era, pro-mask radicals with links to Christian Death, The Jackalopes, Electric Frankenstein, Cricketbows, Shadow Project, C.O.H., Kathedral, Rozz Williams, The Empire Hideous and more. Recorded in the midst of COVID-19 quarantines, with Floodgate Missions’ Mike Doomsday mixing/mastering, the 7-inch digital single was released on Bandcamp on September 4 via Mosquito Hawk Exquisite Recordings. A wider release followed on September 11.These tracks will also appear on New Way Vendetta’s forthcoming full-length, tentatively titled Rites of the Black Mask, alongside future singles and remixes by Floodgate Mission, Hexadiode and Mensa Deathsquad*.
Another legendary act will also be performing a special live show from London’s Indigo at The O2 on October 24. Set to raise money and awareness for their crew, whose livelihoods have been so affected in the wake of the global Covid-19 pandemic the You Me & OMD performance will be live streamed with a Zoom-integrated audience of 1,000, as well as a chance to be in the limited 200 capacity audience, the show will kick off on Saturday, October 24 at 9.00pm (UK time) featuring songs from the band’s iconic album Architecture & Morality, plus many more hits from their legendary back catalog. To raise extra money for the crew, the band have also announced a unique run of merch.
Shame have announced their much-anticipated return, via the frenetic, storming new single “Alphabet.” It marks their first new music since the release of their critically acclaimed debut album Songs of Praise in 2018 via Dead Oceans. Alongside, the band have shared a Tegen Williams-directed video for the single, capturing the unnerving nature of hypnagogic hallucinations and the distressing way the mind can play tricks on us while dreaming. Bolder than anything the band have done before, signaling the arrival of a new era of Shame.
Online rumblings dispatched from the Northwest U.S. seem to indicate the pending September 23 release of the first single from the new album from Soft Kill, which one member describes as “the soundtrack to the Breakfast Club if it took place in a methadone clinic instead of detention.” It also appears to be accompanied by the release of a board game that carries the same title, which was announced via a commercial directed by Choir Boy, Human Leather’s Adam Klopp.
Over the years Tempers’ Jasmine Golestaneh and Eddie Cooper have carved out their own niche within indie, electronica and synth-pop circles. Their sound is about exploring tonal and emotional tension as much as it is about actual tracks or singular moments. The duo’s electronica/pop touchstone, Services, was released back in 2015 to critical acclaim resulting in the underground club hit “Strange Harvest,” extensive international touring and sold-out shows worldwide. This month, Dais Records announced that the essential album is finally getting a repress on vinyl and CD formats. The announcement comes with a gorgeous new acoustic version of Service’s single “Bright Over Me,” which will be included on digital formats.
Hot on the heels of XL427*’s January 2020 release of their Thee Attack LP, Poptek Records announces a remix collaboration between XL427 and Mensa Deathsquad*. The “Ideas” single sees release September 24. Additionally, pandemic boredom has led to a series of darkwave video invocations from Mensa Deathsquad, the darkwave solo project from Brandon Phillips (The Architects, Other Americans, Brandon Phillips and the Condition, etc.). In addition to performing tracks from his Patient Zero album, which was released January 14, he has also debuted a handful of brand new songs from the forthcoming album Cyclist. Although fatalism seems to be the flavor du jour this year, Shadow-Plays encourage you to hang in for the day the world feels good again.
*Writer’s Note: New Way Vendetta, XL427 and Mensa Deathsquad are clients of my publicity firm, Sweet Cheetah Publicity. They were included based solely on the artistic merit of the releases and their proximity to the regular content of Shadow-Plays.