Words by Peter Tanski
Peter Tanski grew up in the small but thriving Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area, fronting several bands and founding the music and literary fanzine, Exmortus. After a brief stint living in Manhattan’s Lower East Side and writing for Legends Magazine, he returned to Pennsylvania where he began to work with web based music site NEPA Rocks. He currently fronts the melodic hardcore/punk band, Heart Out and hosts The Book of Very Very Bad Things PodZine.
“No police, no summons, no courts of law (No! No! No! No!). No proper procedures, no rules of war (No! No! No!). No mitigating circumstance… No lawyers fee, no second chance.” – “The Hunt,” New Model Army
Home is a tricky concept. Early 1900’s Shakespeare scholar Cyrus Lauren Hooper stated in his novel, Gee-Boy, that the compound noun cellar door is the most euphonious word in the English language. This assertion was echoed on the basis of mere phonetic aesthetic. I can admit freely that I do not see the appeal, as I had been born in the golden age of Horror, the 1970’s, thusly I equate the phrase with that which lurks in the abyss beneath the place we call home. Home holds a similar repulsive quality to me as well. It’s utterance inferring the end of fun, punishment, and dread.
My proper home, my sense of comfort and ease, is and always has been my turntable and a half decent over-ear, studio headset. No matter the chaos of multitudinous siblings, alcohol fueled rants, explosive disagreements, or the sounds of any number of external stimuli, my records, played at eardrum shredding volume, could transport me in a manner unlike any other art form. Serving as a soundtrack to fantasies akin to pathological dissociation, I escaped my reality through the narratives I invented in order to self soothe.
The Holiday season can be especially tenuous for the families of narcissistic addicts, as the pageantry of the season threatens their station as focal point of attention, resulting in dramatic acts of redirection. There is no act of dissociation more potent than defiantly turning up your stereo to near clipping volume and ceasing to co-exist. That may be escapism, but it is power. It is this power that continues to quicken my devotion to music, as an appreciator, journalist, or creator. In the throes of those early, broken years, thanks to college radio and MTV’s 120 Minutes, I happened upon a group that married the conflicting sounds of the proletariate folk of Billy Bragg, the political punk of the Clash, the raw and primal metal of Black Sabbath, and the post-punk of the Cure…
New Model Army’s third album to appear in the U.S., the classic “The Ghost Of Cain”, came into glaring view. The acoustic based single “The 51st State ‘, a decidedly scathing assessment of the United States, saw them banned by American Musician’s Union, which ceased their touring abilities for this mesmeric record. A record I’d only had the ability to find on cassette. All the better, I can crawl under my bed, steal my father’s boombox, and listen on my headphones. I loved the entirety of that cassette, especially lead track, the heavy and menacing “The Hunt” (later expertly covered by Sepultura on “Chaos A.D.”), a brooding Bob Dylan style narrative tale of revenge against an unnamed, corrupt figure that had caused harm to the narrator’s brother as well as countless others. A call to action against an insurmountable force. A notion I could certainly identify with. How fortuitous that this group has seen fit to release a new album for the year 2024, “Unbroken” (Attack Attack Records Ltd.). The lead single, “First Summer After”, as potent a narrative as anything in their over 40 year recording career.
Speaking of a confluence of disparate influence, melodic Hardcore/Punk band (and personal favorite of mine) Iron Chic have released a surprise digital single for Black Friday, “Ancient Pistol” (self-released). Comprised of the eponymous single, and a left field cover of another youthful favorite of mine, Depeche Mode’s ubiquitous single “Enjoy The Silence”, this is a 1-2 punch of yin and yang. The New York indie rockers keep to the fundamentals of the original while adding just enough of their signature grit and working class approach to keep it firmly in their wheelhouse. Crucial.
Austin’s own Gothic/Punk power trio, Urban Heat, set the scene ablaze with “Wellness” (Artoffact Records) last year. They have played the Darker Waves festival with the likes of New Order, Tears For Fears, and Echo & The Bunnymen, and have an extensive touring schedule for the foreseeable future. With a much requested reissue of it coming this month, as well as the club ready new single “Like This” currently causing involuntary head nodding in basement parts and bedrooms across the known universe, I foresee a massive 2024.
Neon Funeral’s cyber-goth gone aggro E.P. “Banned From The Goth Clubs” (Cleopatra Records) combines death metal growls and shrieks with baritone moans beneath industrial tined beats and haunting guitar lines, producing an experience as familiar as it is foreign. This is a group that I would have absolutely worshipped as a teen, and am beginning to in my late 40’s. This is the shape of Goth to come.
Although I hadn’t the opportunity to attend, SUBSTANCE Fest (L.A.’s only independent dark music festival) was rumored to have been a phenomenal 4 days of ecstatic mopery. Geistform have channeled Whitehouse and Coil’s abstract noise experiments with the more ambient than power electronics album “Resonancia” (30D Records), Local Blood bring the gothic americana vibes to a deathrock fever pitch with the sultry confessional album “Loverman” (self-released), and Bryan Ferry’s electronic/industrial funk explorations on 1999’s “Mamouna” (BMG) have been given the deluxe remaster treatment, seeing Bryan farther from Roxy Music than ever.
Home may be a terrifying place for some, but when one makes a home within something less tangible, and ergo more tenable, anywhere you feel safe is essentially home. As stated by Tim Armstrong, “When I’ve got the music, I’ve got a place to go.” May your home be safe, your ears be filled with the mellifluous sounds of music that inspires thought, and may you strive to make it all a less menacing place for the family you make.
“And We can spend our whole lives waiting for some thunderbolt to come, and we can spend our whole lives waiting for some justice to be done, unless we make our own.” – New Model Army “The Hunt’