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.
Since the last time that the column was published we’ve seen Summer wind to a disappointing conclusion for some, and others crossing the finishing line triumphantly. While Bauhaus and Dead Can Dance have cancelled their tours to concentrate on health and well-being, Johnny Marr is joining the Killers to deliver The Smiths covers, and Pet Shop boys and New Order continue to receive high marks on their tour together, even announcing more dates. Such is life I guess, a series of setbacks and triumphs that make the passage of time unpredictable and interesting.
And below is a collection of news from artists who have kept the last 30 or so days interesting for your humble columnist.
Adored [disclosure: Adored is a client of Sweet Cheetah Publicity], a duo comprised of brothers Lennon and Christian Nichols draw heavily from mid-‘80s new wave, synthpop, and art pop while incorporating tinges of post-punk in their work. But, perhaps the most telling of their influences is in their reverence for ‘80s film soundtracks. Citing artists such as The Cure, Tears For Fears, Cyndi Lauper–and the Saint Joan of Arc—the end result is fresh and new, yet warm and familiar as poignant pop melodies are doused in shimmering guitars, married with movie-like synth textures, and paired with lyrics about fear, hope, passion, and desire. Adored officially released their eponymous debut single in 2020, following up with “Midnight Sanctuary” and “Space Club” in 2021, and are included on their EP, Songs For Film, was released August 31 via Chaotic No Good.
a-ha’s film True North, the accompaniment to their new studio album of the same title, was released last week in select cinemas worldwide via Sony Music Entertainment Premium Content and Trafalgar Releasing. The original idea for True North was for the Norwegian trio, formed of Morten Harket, Paul Waaktaar-Savoy and Magne Furuholmen, to record their first session in the wonderous studio location just 90km above the Arctic Circle then to film it. Eventually, the project expanded into more of a production, and they were joined by the talented Norwegian orchestra, Arctic Philharmonic. In recurring vignettes, the multidimensional True North film follows this narrative arc through actors portraying life in the North as well as documenting the band recording music over two days in Bodø, Norway. This is a unique release from a-ha that embodies the spirit of their new songs, with long-time a-ha collaborator Stian Andersen at the helm as director. The new album will follow on Friday, October 21.
After undergoing many musical shapes and forms over the decades, West Tennessee multi-instrumentalist John Christie started making solo material in 2019. Christie chose Catholic School [disclosure: Catholic School is a client of Sweet Cheetah Publicity] as a moniker and took to the studio in 2020, reaching deep into his past as a recovering drug addict. He constructed a debut, self-titled EP built on the memory of lost loved ones, incarceration and undying friendship. With the help of local Memphis artist Ben Ricketts the album was completed over a year later and was released on Cercle Social Records as a cassette and digitally by Christie’s Maudlin Jerk. The “Needle in the Storm” digital 7″, which also includes a cover of Johnny Thunders’ “So Alone” sees release via Maudlin Jerk Records on September 23, follows scores of local shows (including a recent on with The Veldt) and is the first release since Catholic School’s debut.
Dear Boy is the torch bearer of lyric forward guitar music and melody focused indie rock. The band has become an important voice in the LA underground music scene, crafting bittersweet songs inspired by late ’70s / early ’80s post-punk and early ’90s britpop, seen through their unique modern lens. With three EPs and a bouquet of singles, Dear Boy has earned an immense and loyal following, selling out headline shows from the Troubadour to The Teragram and touring with the likes of The Psychedelic Furs, James, Pete Yorn, Day Wave, Rogue Wave, Sunflower Bean, DMA’s & Peter Murphy. Their recently released, much anticipated new album Forever Sometimes should please fans of The Church, Echo & the Bunnymen, Psychedelic Furs and even New Order’s more rock-based stuff (“Regret,” etc.). It was released September 16 on Last Gang Records and features contributions from Day Wave, Hazel English, Rogue Wave, AFI and Ian Hultquist of Passion Pit.
Drowse, which is Kyle Bate’s long running exploration of slowcore and experimentation, will release their third full-length album, Wane Into It, on November 11. Despite the album’s title, Bates’s songwriting and production have never been more lucid; sounds flicker as he sings with fragile intensity. Bates recently shared the record’s lead track, “Untrue in Headphones.”for which he collaborated with Madeline from Midwife, who contributes guitar and vocals and adds otherworldly colors to the sound. Holistically, the record distills loss, distance, mystery, prescription drugs, the preservation of memory via recording, and ambient anxiety. The album sees release via The Flenser.
Heavenbound [disclosure: Heavenbound is a client of Sweet Cheetah Publicity], the Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine reminiscent post-punk project of Dayton, Ohio’s Gwen Downing-Groth has been rolling out singles via Bandcamp the last few months, even capturing the attention of WFMU DJs and The Pains of Being Pure At Heart, who lauded the effort on Twitter. On September 23, Heavenbound releases their debut EP (2xCS) via Protagonist and King of the Monsters. It sees global digital release September 30 and the four song effort includes remixes by Fred Thomas and Tim Krug, of Halicon, Hexadiode, and Brainiac, who will join Downing-Groth in Heavenbound for a run of dates in late September and October.
While alluding to similar themes on their masterful, year-end-list topping 2019 debut Dark Synthetics, Secret Shame lead singer Lena Machina bravely opens up about her experiences managing mental health on the forthcoming Autonomy in a way that she never has before, creating a riveting narrative throughout. For instance, the lyrics of lead single “Luxury Bitch” directly confront personal experiences of insecurity and lack of self worth, before acceding to the fact that she is worthy of love. Recorded at Asheville’s new studio Drop of Sun (Wednesday, MJ Lenderman, Animal Collective) with engineer/producer Alex Farrar, Secret Shame reaches a new level of maturity on Autonomy, and finds resolution in the way the music reflects the mood of the lyrics, which confront the realities of addiction, body dysmorphia, abuse, and mental illness. The album hits the streets on October 28.
Boston’s The True Faith [disclosure: True Faith is a client of Sweet Cheetah Publicity] are set to release the album, Go To Ground, via à La Carte Records on January 10, 2023. It was written by Travis Benson, Quentin Moyer, and Dylan Kotliar shortly after the release of They Can Always Hurt You More in the beginning of 2022. When writing the album, the band says they wanted to create something that was a departure from the current crop of formulaic post-punk revival, drawing more influences from bands like Close Lobsters, Big Country, and U2 while still attempting to stay true to their prior work. This week the band introduces their new sound with the release of the album’s first single, “Minimal Change.”
Working under the name Drekka since 1996, American composer Michael Anderson has toured, traveled, and collaborated extensively releasing a large body of work on labels such as Auris Apothecary, Dais, Fabrica, Morc, Silber, Somnimage, and Anderson’s own label, Bluesanct. Anderson approaches Drekka performances as both a sharing of ideas and a ritual celebration of being present in each moment and celebrating a group of people in a room sharing a heightened experience unique to that space and time. In late September he heads out for an extensive European tour that stretches into October. Catch him if you can.