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.
It’s undeniable that the sounds that left their lasting impact on my childhood in the ’80s were in part born of the threat of inevitable obliteration resulting from a clash between Cold War superpowers. Now, in 2022 we’re watching Russia march into a war with the Ukraine in a campaign to end their independence. Subsequently, Putin’s declaration of a nuclear alert at the start of the war signals a warning to the rest of the world against interference. Just like that, the threat of nuclear annihilation is back on the table.
It seems trivial to be concerned with music, tours and concerts while these people risk their lives to protect their homes. And presently, the music of my youth seems somehow less sweetly nostalgic and more dangerously prescient and revelatory. So before we dive in to the news that brings you to this column each month, I’d like to say God bless the ferocious and brave people of the Ukraine and God speed to them in their fight.
Cold Gawd, a shoegaze/post-hardcore group from Rancho Cucamonga, California, has officially signed to Dais Records. Inspired by early aughts nu-gaze and R&B melodies, Cold Gawd presents a refined, modernized take on the genre. They unveiled a dreamy new single, “Moving to California in March,” saying “‘Moving…’ is a song about the anxious feeling that is making— what you think is— the biggest next step of your life. ‘Stay in Chicago?’ ‘Go home?’ You’ll always ask yourself, ‘was that the right move?’ but every day remember why you left.”Look for more information on their debut LP to surface soon.
Texas-based electronic music trio Don’t Get Lemon [disclosure: Don’t Get Lemon is a client of Sweet Cheetah Publicity] released their video, “Purple Hour Kingdom,” ahead of the release of their debut album, Hyper Hollow Heaven on March 29 release via à La Carte Records. Don’t Get Lemon create upbeat music inspired by downtrodden times. Finding humor and beauty in the grotesque that surrounds us, the Texas “heatwave” (the band’s play on coldwave) trio craft intricate dance music for people standing still, a colorful torrent of motion for a frustrated world gone dark.
Singer-songwriter Katrina Ford (of Celebration and Mt Royal) recently shared a brand new solo single titled “Peace Out,” which was released via Violin Films and came alongside a video for the cut. Speaking on the single, Katrina says, “Hangovers become blended into euphoric indulgent self care. Using flint to communicate with crickets. Letting in, inviting the slow. Healing in isolation. The journey to sobriety. We mixed this with Tony Duggan in Glasgow, it rained a lot but the sky was filled with rainbows everyday.”
Ford’s solo work is far more streamlined than her previous work, and, at the moment, that means channeling everything from Chaka Khan to the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack. Moody counter melodies and richly woven rhythms also reign supreme, alluding to Detroit house, ’90s hip-hop, and ’80s pop expressionism along the way. They’re the sort of bittersweet songs that belong on, say, the end credits of a John Hughes movie.
“You Will Hear Thunder” is the latest single from MENSA DEATHSQUAD‘s full-length album You Will Hear Thunder (out April 12). Following singles “Light,” “Riot of the Rebel Angels,” and “Chin Up, Eyes Wide Open.” Brandon Phillips, a longtime musician, songwriter, and member of bands The Gadjits, The Architects, and Other Americans, is storming into 2022 with a record that finds Phillips turning his search inward looking for the raw, vulnerable places that tell us truths we can feel in our blood. Phillips teamed up with musician Barb Morrison (Antony and The Johnsons, Blondie, Deborah Harry) as his music mentor, working together to lay bare the passionate catharsis of his new writing direction.
Brooklyn post-punk mainstays SAVAK have shared new track “Empathy” from their upcoming fifth album, Human Error / Human Delight, which will be released on April 15 via Ernest Jenning Record Co. SAVAK is the two-headed beast of Sohrab Habibion and Michael Jaworski, with Matt Schulz on drums. Jaworski and Habibion have been sharing singing and songwriting duties since the band’s inception in 2015, both taking turns singing their songs while playing guitar and other various instruments. Though SAVAK’s members have done time in bands like Obits, Edsel, Holy Fuck and more, their current outfit feels like the true culmination of their songwriting powers. The band has also added to their upcoming run of U.S. tour dates, which will see them performing with Jawbox at New York’ss (le) poisson rouge alongside dates in Boston, Philadelphia, Washington DC and more.
Portland’s Soft Kill has kicked off the first of many tours this year as the band prepares for the release of a Rob Schnapf produced LP later this year. The first of the songs from their sessions in Los Angeles, “Press Play,” was released on 7″ a week or so ago and promptly sold out. The major market shows on their current itinerary with Alien Boy and Topographies also appear to be close to selling out. So, if you’re hoping to catch them stateside before they head to the UK with Choir Boy in a couple months, get those tickets in hand as soon as possible.
Captured Tracks has announced the signing of Brattleboro trio Thus Love with the release of their first single, “Inamorato.” Self-recorded at their home in Vermont, the song serves as a timely and triumphant introduction to the post-punk band: a tale of refusing to give into dark thoughts even when facing the grimmest of circumstances. The accompanying video, directed by Eleanor Harmon and Brigid Kennison, plays off the song’s dark subject matter with a bit of sardonic humor as the band tempts fate by performing at what might be their own funeral.
Italian alternative / darkwave outfit Vonamor recently released their video for “Lucky You” from their self-titled LP for Time to Kill Records. The video catapults viewers into a world oscillating between the poised aesthetics of a fashion shoot and the anguish of a world suffocated by plastic. Aesthetically attractive images become suffocating in a continuous flow between claustrophobia and one’s breath. It’s certainly a timely offering as their song features interwoven voices (and languages) that sing of wars that “are not so cold anymore,” of “fake news and fake truths and things that must have been misunderstood.”
If you’d like to help the people of the Ukraine, here is a list of top-rated charities.