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.
While 2020 was an undeniable shit show the world over, I can’t help but feel like it has also been a landmark year for post-punk, goth and new wave releases. Although I won’t go into great detail on my favorites, although each of these is most certainly deserving of its own column, I will say that if I were to make a “best of” list, it would undoubtedly include the heavy hitters from Black Wing, Choir Boy, Couch Prints, The Column, The Criminal World, Fearing, Houses of Harm, Mensa Deathsquad, Nation of Language, New Way Vendetta, Private World, Sculpture Club, Soft Kill, Soft Riot, Topographies, True Body, Wet Tropics, and XL427, which you can visit or revisit at your leisure. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention that 2020 delivered a brand new LP, Made of Rain, from The Psychedelic Furs, an album that stands toe-to-toe with any from their back catalog, and is perhaps my favorite release of the year.
While you read about the incredible recent releases and forthcoming aural treasures yet to be uncovered in early 2021 detailed here, please do so with fingers crossed that the new year returns us to some semblance of normalcy, or at least to the embrace of our friends, comrades, dance partners, concert co-pilots, and families.
Few Danish bands have been so far around the block at such a young age as Communions. In 2014, they found their footing, shaking dust from the rafters of Copenhagen venue Mayhem alongside Iceage, Pardans, Lust For Youth and others, while still in high school. In late November they released a new single, “Spleandour,” their first with hometown label Tambourhinoceros. The schizophrenic single focuses on “a sickly, unattainable love. One which possesses a destructive power.” What begins in the tone of young, innocent adoration — “when fountains spring, soak her in” — transforms by the end of the song into one of destructive love; deception, ignorance and impurity.
Although this post is a bit of a curveball for us, Deaf Club, a blastbeat-centric hardcore punk band that channels crust, thrash and grind sensibilities, delivered a cover by industrial occultist legends Killing Joke. Their cover of “The Wait” is being released via Three One G Records and all proceeds from now until January 4 go to https://secure.actblue.com/donate/georgiasenate. Purchase the track, here. For the unindoctrinated, the cover is the first release since the band’s EP a year ago.
Chicago quartet Ganser released the first in a series of remixed tracks from their latest LP, Just Look at That Sky. “Bags for Life” was remixed by GLOK (Andy Bell of Ride’s dance moniker). According to Ganser’s Alicia Gaines, “‘Bags For Life’ is a song about the end of the world as perceived on the internet, written in 2019. I didn’t imagine the song to be such a time capsule already, its tone has changed from parody to something much more dear in 2020. These online collaborations from quarantine have been a private joy for us, and we are overwhelmed by Andy Bell’s work on this remix.” Their full remix EP Look at the Sun, featuring an exciting lineup of artists TBA, arrives in Spring 2021 via Felte.
After what has been a landmark year for Georgia, including the release of her Mercury Music Prize nominated sophomore album, Seeking Thrills (Domino), and a sold-out tour at the beginning of 2020, the young on-the-rise popstar is ending the year with a tribute to her musical hero, Kate Bush. Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” is one of the most universally loved and iconic pieces of music in recent memory, and her up-beat treatment, although divergent from the original, compliments it well. The accompanying video features a special collaboration with contemporary dancer, Sid Barnes – Georgia’s brother. The newly recorded version of “Running Up That Hill” was produced by long-time collaborator, Mark Ralph, while the video was directed by Charlie Di Placido.
Los Angeles-based artist/producer Kanga recently shared the new music video for her new single, “Godless,” from her forthcoming sophomore album, You and I Will Never Die. The album will be released March 26 on Artoffact Records. Written and performed entirely by Kanga, the album was mixed by Justin McGrath (Nine Inch Nails) and Brett Romnes (Brand New), and mastered by Nick Townsend (Dr. Dre, Garbage). As displayed on “Godless,” Kanga’s dark, danceable pop is marked by her commanding, ethereal vocals, and an undercurrent of industrial elements that point to influences as disparate as Nine Inch Nails, Fiona Apple, Cyndi Lauper, and Kylie Minogue.
Cevin Key, Skinny Puppy co-founder, releases his fifth solo album, Xwayxway, via Artoffact Records on February 19. Key is renowned worldwide for his contributions to industrial music for his contributions Skinny Puppy, solo work, and numerous other projects. Key has dozens of releases to his name, spanning almost 40 years, and bears a reputation as one of the leaders who has shaped the genre. Key has new single “Night Flower” from Xwayxway, featuring haunting guest vocals by Edward KaSpel of avant-rock heroes The Legendary Pink Dots (and a longtime collaborator of Key’s in the band The Tear Garden) available for fans to ruminate on until February.
Dais Records reissues Tempers‘ debut album, Services, a sought after collector’s item, on vinyl and CD on January 8. Having cared out their own niche within indie, electronica and synth-pop circles over the years, Tempers’ sound is about exploring tonal and emotional tension as much as it is about actual tracks or singular moments. Adrenalizing and spellbinding landscapes layer mechanical and sensual impulses, as Jasmine Golestaneh’s crystalline vocals weave fever dreams of yearning and alienation. Golestaneh is joined by long time collaborator Eddie Cooper to make up the NYC duo.
Finally, Chicago-based indie punks Wet Tropics recently delivered their album, Everybody Get In, it’s not uncommon for Wet Tropics to playfully occupy the same hazy reverb-soaked space as post-punk forbearers Psychedelic Furs and the angular, art-damaged rock bombast of Ty Segall, Osees, or Jacuzzi Boys in the course of a single three-minute foray. Although the band’s sound may lean to the West Coast, they haven’t eschewed their Midwest roots entirely. You’ll get those pungent whiffs of Pixies’ and The Jesus and Mary Chain’s cool anthemic college rock color mixes here too. The album is available on cassette via Friend Club Records and streaming on Apple, Spotify, Bandcamp, etc.