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.
Although I usually introduce this column with a bit of nostalgia, either some long forgotten album release anniversary, a particularly vintage song, or the announcement of a festival or concert tour forthcoming from one of my adolescent favorites, that approach didn’t feel particularly right this month. Amidst the news below are tidbits on newly uncovered, and until now unsung, ’80s artifiacts (Basic Elements), artists who have shaped the latest decade’s next wave (Chvrches), and a bevy of up-and-coming hit makers (Lesser Care, Valley Palace). The news emerging from this particular corner of the indie-rock underground is in fact, so promising, I simply can’t dedicate even a couple column inches to my own ego.
Fans of classic new-wave pop circa 1985, should take note of Los Angeles’ Basic Elements who recently premiered their lyric video for “Lucky.” The song is described as being written in the ’80s, but offering modern production courtesy of Ed Buller (Suede, Pulp, Psychedelic Furs). In addition to the Buller-produced studio recording of the track, the song will be offered via cassingle and offer a b-side features a live version of the song performed in 1987. Following “Lucky,” Basic Elements will release the rest of the Buller-produced songs over the course of 2021, building to the full release which will be pressed on collectible vinyl.
CHVRCHES recently shared the video for their new single “Good Girls,” the final in a lo-fi, nostalgic, and analogue-inspired trilogy directed by multi-disciplinary artist Scott Kiernan, following previous singles “He Said She Said” and “How Not To Drown” featuring one of the band’s musical heroes, The Cure frontman Robert Smith. “Good Girls,” is taken from their forthcoming fourth studio album Screen Violence, set for release on August 27 via Glassnote Records. Screen Violence marks a decade together for the band – a decade whose sound they have helped to create and define from their 2013 breakthrough The Bones of What You Believe and 2015’s Every Open Eye, to their most recent 2018’s Love is Dead. CHVRCHES will embark on an extensive North American tour beginning this November with tickets on sale now.
Darkwave up-and-comers Deathsomnia, a UK/EUR-based three piece that brings forth a sound that emanates from dystopian punk soundscapes enveloped in raw emotion, industrial climactic momentum and live energy. They’ve announced their debut album, You Will Never Find Peace, which is set for release via Isolation Records on September 3. Deathsomnia recently unveiled the album’s industrial-tinged first single, “Katabasis,” which features contributions from Kyle Kimball (of NOTHING and Night Sins). You Will Never Find Peace also features notable collaborations from Gabriel Franco (Unto Others, formerly known as Idle Hands), and a remix by Selofan. Additionally, Mike Sharp (Uniform) plays drums on the album and Dwid Hellion (Integrity) provided the artwork. See Deathsomnia on tour this summer and fall with She Past Away, Godflesh and others.
ODDfellows by ’80s/’90s/’00s electronic torchbearers Information Society is scheduled to hit the streets on August 6 via Hakatack (digital) and Negative Gain (CD/vinyl). If you only remember them for their massive worldwide hits “What’s On Your Mind (Pure Energy),” “Walking Away,” “Peace and Love Inc.” or any of their other big singles, you’re in for a treat. ODDfellows traipses across the many genres INSOC has explored from Brit-styled electropop to darkwave to slinky pop and freestyle. For me, their crowning arch of this collection is “Room 1904” with its new romantic-esque flourishes and hook.
Lesser Care, a powerful post-punk, shoegaze project from West, Texas, recently released a 7″ single. Both tracks, “Palm” and “Acquired Taste,” dive headfirst into loss, grief, loneliness, and acceptance swaddling the themes with reverberating guitar, and rhythmic gravitas. Lesser Care is currently in the process of finalizing their debut LP with These Arms Are Snakes drummer Chris Common (Minus The Bear, Mammifer, Pelican). The band is also headed to Portland, Oregon for Soft Kill’s Halloween show with Sculpture Club and special guests. [disclosure: Lesser Care is a client of Sweet Cheetah Publicity]
Multi-instrumentalist Midwife (aka Madeline Johnston) released her third full-length album Luminol on The Flenser this month. When 2020 began, Johnston had several national and international tours planned (including a highly anticipated set at the year’s Roadburn Festival) to promote her album released just prior, the critically-acclaimed Forever. Unfortunately, the pandemic rescheduled everything and Johnston shifted her focus back to recording and back to her internal landscape. Luminol was written and produced during this time, and the album features six new songs which explore dark subject matter in her trademark dark yet crystalline manner. Luminol features collaborations from various artists including The Flenser label mate Dan Barrett (Have A Nice Life) as well as Tucker Theodore, Angel Diaz (Vyva Melinkolya), Zachary Cole Smith, Ben Newman, and Colin Caulfield (DIIV).
Nation of Language returned last month announcing their sophomore album, A Way Forward, for a November 5 release. This month, the Brooklyn trio shared the “Wounds of Love,” about feeling directionless after an emotional breakup. A Way Forward is the follow up to Nation of Language’s highly acclaimed debut album, Introduction, Presence, released in 2020 during the early stages of COVID’s merciless mayhem. Unable to promote the album in any traditional live sense, the record grew through a flurry of rave reviews and airplay from radio stations around the world. They’ve also announced their first ever headlining tour of North America. with the additions of second New York City and Chicago dates, the move to a larger venue in Seattle, and Levitation in Austin, Nation of Language have also announced a Winter 2022 tour of the UK and EUR.
Los Angeles’ Tennis System recently team up with Hundreth’s Chadwick Johnson to unveil a new single “Autophobia,” the title track off the forthcoming LP release, Autophobia, set for release in late summer 2021 on Quiet Panic. Co-written and produced with Johnson (a friend since he and Tennis System toured together in 2017) and mixed and mastered by Sam Pura (The Story So Far, Basement, Spice), Autophobia is a departure from expectation for Tennis System; with Johnson, Taylor veered from the scuzzy guitars and pummeling drums he’s known for, instead weaving synth and drum machines with live drums and guitar — and even the hum of a swarm of bees — to form a tapestry of textured soundscapes, unlike anything he’d created before. “
Valley Palace, aka songwriter Nathan Taylor, has joined the Run For Cover Records roster. The Fresno, California-based musician excels at crafting ultra-hooky dream pop that seamlessly combines the vibrant, widescreen sonics of the ’80s with a modern, homespun charm. Taylor has shared “Friend,” a brand new single that offers a perfect introduction to Valley Palace’s effervescent sound.