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 sat to write my final Shadow-plays column of 2021, it occurred to me that it was 30 years ago this week, Friday, December 13, 1991 to be precise, that a major shift in my music-loving adolescent brain took place. By some small gift of fate I was able to convince my Ohio-by-way-of-Nebraska, retired military officer father to drive my Madonna-obsessed friend Chris, a dutch exchange student whose name of long forgotten and I to Memorial Hall in Dayton, Ohio, to see Siouxsie and the Banshees on the Superstition tour. I can’t imagine what he was thinking as he dropped us across from the venue as the regions spookiest young adults descended on the event. What I do know, is that I’m forever thankful he did.
I’m also thankful to Off Shelf for allowing me to bring the latest goth,post-punk, new wave, industrial, darkwave news to you in this format each month. Cheers and see you all in 2022. But first…
After a quarter century of nearly nonstop activity, dystopian Detroit synth-punk institution ADULT. have announced its ninth official full-length, Becoming Undone. Written between November 2020 and April 2021, the album might be ADULT.’s most non-conformant yet. There’s plenty of dance bangers, but ultimately the album is riddled with impermanence, loss and looping dissatisfactions. Reconnecting with legacy influences like the politicized industrial percussion of Test Department and the queasy miscreant synthetics of TG’s 20 Jazz Funk Greats sparked a series of fruitfully frenetic sessions. The LP sees release via Dais Records digitally on February 25, 2022 and in physical format March 11. ADULT. have also announced an extensive North American tour this forthcoming Spring with Kontravoid and Spike Hellis before heading to UK and EU.
Earlier this month, Boy Harsher, the Northampton-based duo of vocalist/lyricist Jae Matthews and producer Augustus Muller, shared “Give Me a Reason” from their new album The Runner (Original Soundtrack), which drops January 21, 2022 via Nude Club/City Slang. “Give Me a Reason” finds Boy Harsher leaning into their signature dark pop sound with snappy synths. Boy Harsher continue teasing the cinematic universe of The Runner, the short horror film written, produced, and directed by the duo, which will be released in January 2022. Boy Harsher’s fifth release is not a traditional album — it’s a soundtrack that balances eerie instrumentals with pop songs that push the boundaries of the duo’s sound. Following the release of the album and film, Boy Harsher will embark on a North American and European tour. The duo also recently collaborated with Møffenzeef Mødular to create a limited edition drone synthesizer called The Runner.
Pacific Northwest post-punk trio, DATURA, expand on the tense, synth-heavy sound of their first two EPs with their new full-length, Arcano Chemical. After finding their show calendar eradicated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the band locked down during the winter of 2020 to craft a pensive collection of songs that tells stories of ghosts, nightmares, isolation, love and death. Recorded in their hometown of Wenatchee, Washington, and mastered by Seattle-based recording engineer and musician TAD Doyle, the album highlights the band’s range of emotion and stylistic variety. DATURA has teamed up with Andy Pohl, guitarist of Tsunami Bomb and owner of Sell the Heart Records, to release the LP on January 27, 2022, on cassette, CD, and all major streaming platforms.
Just a few months after releasing their acclaimed second album Still Life, Los Angeles indie-pop band Massage released Lane Lines — a six-track EP last week on Mt.St.Mtn. (Cindy, Flowertown, Blues Lawyer). Lane Lines finds the quintet expanding on their Sarah-meets-Creation Records sound with new touches of soft psychedelia, Feelies-ish frenzy and Haçienda-era escapism. The EP is a flash of pent-up creative energy that serves as both a companion piece to Still Life and an exploration of textures and influences that didn’t quite fit the full-length but have always been deeply embedded in the band’s DNA, with new echoes of 1980s artists that sought to refract the 1960s through their own skewed prisms: Flying Nun, the Paisley Underground, and “Second Summer of Love” New Order.
Darkwave electronic artist Mensa Deathsquad (aka Brandon Phillips) recently released his new single “Light,” which continues the intense catharsis of his album Cyclist that came out at the top of the year. It’s also the first track he wrote with the legendary Barb Morrison, who has worked with Antony and The Johnsons, Blondie, Deborah Harry, and a ton of others. The song embodies pulsing club kicks and throbbing waves of synthesizers slamming headlong into jagged post-punk guitars and emotionally raw vocals about a desire so powerful that simply admitting its existence would set fire to heaven and earth. This is the first release of a larger work coming from Mensa Deathsquad in 2022.
RIKI released her latest album GOLD recently via Dais Records with the album’s physical incarnation following on December 10. The new album is RIKI’s second simulacrum of pitch-perfect synth-pop, aptly titled for the precious substance it is. Inspired by notions of symbolic power, letting go, and transmutable realms of the heart, Gold further refines her rare gift for making swooning melancholia as anthemic as it atmospheric. Riki will presumably be performing cuts from the album on tour with Choir Boy in 2022.