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.
Trent Reznor’s speech inducting The Cure into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year was arguably the highlight of the ceremony. In a fitting turn, this year Reznor returned as the face of inductees Nine Inch Nails. Reznor made a point of thanking the six fellow members inducted alongside him — Atticus Ross, Robin Finck, Chris Vrenna, Danny Lohner, Ilan Ruban and Alessandro Cortini — as well as a number of other “key players,” including Richard Patrick, Josh Freese and Jeordie White. Reznor and his cohort were inducted alongside Whitney Houston, The Notorious B.I.G., T. Rex and The Doobie Brothers, as well as famed managers Jon Landau and Iriving Azoff, and another of Shadow-plays’ predominant influences and favorites, Depeche Mode.
Pioneering synthpop outfit turned stadium rockers Depeche Mode — Dave Gahan, Martin Gore and Andy Fletcher — joyfully accepted their award meeting up via a Zoom call to accept the honor. Although not joined by their mates, they congratulate fellow inductees and former bandmates, Vince Clarke and Alan Wilder, during the chat. Sadly, this year’s induction was supposed to have been held at the Public Auditorium in Cleveland on May 2, but that event was canceled due to the pandemic.
This news is particularly impactful as it demonstrates the undiminished power of post-punk, new wave, goth, alternative, shoegaze, industrial, synth pop, etc. In 2020, the world continues to benefit from artists pushing the sonic boundaries that appeals passionate fans of these genres and is a key reason why Shadow-plays persists, even amidst some of the darkest days music and humanity has seen. Let the bands and artists we’ve gathered this month provide some of the joy and escapism good music offers those willing to eschew ambivalence long enough to enjoy it.
Dan Barrett, the man behind Have A Nice Life, Giles Corey and Enemies List Home Recordings, is preparing for the sophomore effort from his electronic project Black Wing. Due out December 11 on The Flenser, No Moon is a gorgeous chillwave/post-punk record with nine new bleak, yet blissful, songs. He recently shared another contemplative new single, “Is This Real Life, Jesus Christ,” which represents the honest, and heart-wrenching writing and composition comprised in this project and that will surely make its impact both lasting and resonant.
NYC-based synth trio Couch Prints – comprised of Jayanna Roberts, Brandon Tong, and Jake Truax – released their debut EP Tell U on October 30 via Luminelle Recordings. In a clear run for a spot in 2020 “best of” lists the blogosphere over, the band navigates shimmering, dreamy synth play far beyond their years. Fans of traditional pop structure and maximalist production will immediately recognize the undeniable reality of Couch Prints’ strange, wonderful power.
Celebrating the November 20 release of Dead Kids, R.I.P. City, Soft Kill is set to offer a live-streamed performance from their hometown of Portland, Oregon on Saturday, November 28 at 3pm PT/6pm ET/11pm BST. Tickets range from $10 (general admission), $25 (ticket plus download of show audio) or $35 (ticket plus screen printed show poster). The performance will be available to rewatch through Sunday, December 6. Tobias Grave, Conrad Vollmer, Owen Glendower, Daniel Deleon and Nicole Colbath have put any concern about their forthcoming record reaching the same high-watermark and emotional depth as their previous effort, Savior, to rest with their new album, which hits the streets via Cercle Social Records/Cobraside. Redemptive, brave and powerful, the luminous and indelible sounds of Dead Kids, R.I.P. City are sure to leave a lasting and devastating mark.
The duo of producers that comprise Ohio-based sonic demolitionists Hexadiode enlisted a group of sound mangling comrades, including 11grams, Skeleton Hands, Soft Riot, 6th Circle and more, to manipulate and experiment on their considerable creations and released Controlled Burn on October 31. Controlled Burn follows their lauded debut album Ibex and their latest collection of electronic bangers, Metaxy, which saw release via EPK Product in CD format on September 20, 2019 and the band’s deliver vinyl and digital release on October 31, 2019. Simply, Controlled Burn is a heater that will is sure to delight and deafen fans of Nine Inch Nails and other industrial music contemporaries.
UK music icon LIMAHL, who won the hearts of fans in the ’80s as the lead singer of Kajagoogoo and for his worldwide smash “Neverending Story,” released the festive single and video “One Wish For Christmas,” an update to the previously -released holiday themed song “London for Christmas” (originally released in 2012). The song reflects on the effect that the COVID-19 pandemic has had. Filmed in Watford, England’s historic Palace Theatre, which was built in 1908, the video for “One Wish For Christmas” features Limahl performing the song with a septet of musicians adding the orchestral flourish. “Like most venues, it is currently closed due to COVID and on filming day, we all had to wear masks between takes,” explains Limahl about the challenges that faced him and the video cast and crew. “Filming took place over two days, first at the theatre with musicians and then on location in London two weeks later when the Christmas lights had been switched on. The department store Selfridges is name-checked in the song verse so it only felt right to get some shots outside of the store on Oxford Street.”
Bones Hillman, the bassist and vocalist who joined Midnight Oil following the recoding of its breakthrough Diesel and Dust passed away recently following a battle with cancer. Hillman replaced Peter Gifford in Midnight Oil in 1987, and played and sang backing vocals on every of Midnight Oil’s albums since 1990’s Blue Sky Mining. He was also part of the band’s reunion, beginning in 2017 and participated in their just-released mini-album The Makarrata Project, a collaboration with First Nation musicians. Midnight Oil recorded a second, full album alongside that, which is expected to be released next year.
Nothing recently shared a video for “April Ha Ha,” taken from this Fall’s The Great Dismal (Relapse). The visual, which speaks to the unending feeling of calamity that is life in 2020, is directed by Domenic Palermo. The album arrived just prior to the band’s ten year anniversary and follows their live-streamed record release show, The Great Dismal: An Auditory And Ocular Trauma Featuring Nothing and Full Of Hell, which was purposefully formulated as a way to support live music workers worldwide with a proper paid gig while venues and their staff are out of work due to the pandemic.
Chicago-bred post-punk artist The Sea At Midnight, aka Vince Grant, released his much-anticipated eponymous debut album on November 6. The eight-track collection was recorded in Los Angeles, where Grant currently resides, and produced and mixed by Chris King of Cold Showers and with Brandon Pierce of Glaare contributing drums. The Sea at Midnight project represents a new direction for Grant’s music, that is informed and inspired by bands like The Cure, Joy Division, the Psychedelic Furs, Siouxsie and the Banshees, New Order and Echo and the Bunnymen,
Finally, Shame recently shared a live video of a new track, “BiL,” directed by Ja Humby (Molten Jets). Following the band’s storming standalone single, “Alphabet,” “BiL” highlights a side of Shame’s songwriting and musicality not seen until now. Showcased via the multi-camera set-up, the band’s epic on-stage presence and the intensity of Charlie Steen serve as a clear reminder as to why shame are one of the UK’s most vital bands. The video serves as a stark reminder that many venues currently lie empty and underfunded, with such a vital and life giving part of music on pause. In support of Brixton Electric, where the band recently announced a now sold-out live show for April 2021, the new song is the first taste of a live session film recorded at the venue that includes more upcoming new music.