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.
“Someone take these dreams away, that point me to another day, a duel of personalities, that stretch all true realities… they keep calling me…” “Dead Souls” by Joy Division
From the moment we are dragged, sky-clad and raging at the cold, clinical lights of the NICU, we are left with a deep yearning for something intangible. Attempting to assuage, to man the ramparts, we seek the intangible in the loving arms of pop culture, weeping into its all suffering breast, just as my parents had in thrall of The Beatles on Ed Sullivan. They also used said music to serve as the score to the unrest of Vietnam/Kent State/Altamont.
The more things change, the more they lay the blame. We have successfully turned the page on 2023. The same octogenarian candidates are running for office. The same tired alt-rock dinosaurs that had once sounded so fresh and vibrant are rehashing the formulaic, half-hearted faux punk that made them millionaires in the early 1990s. The same classic albums are being reissued for the umpteenth time. I realize that I’m allowing my inner curmudgeon to run the show here, but at what point is enough indeed enough? When will we hear something fresh? When will The Cure release that new goddamned record?! Where did I leave my keys? Who the hell have I become?!
John Christie has meticulously crafted a new Catholic School record, and the first single, “Flying Away”, has emerged as a new chapter in the sonic evolution of a project that lives in constant flux unto itself. A short, sharp dose of bleak indie dance with smut on its nose and filth in its nail beds.
The much discussed (by this author anyway) New Model Army will have unleashed their new album, the pulsing and triumphant “Unbroken” on January 26th. Lead off single “First Summer After” (which I’ve previously covered here) has been kicking around for weeks now, serving as proof of their continuing capacity for grandiose, sweeping choruses and cutting social commentary.
A La Carte Records, a beacon of taste and vision in a microcosm of independent label movers and shakers within the Post-Punk sphere have a full to bursting roster of new releases in the coming weeks, beginning with the 3 song cassette ”Open Sores” E.P. by Tragic Figures. Deploying phaser pedal washes of fuzzy, distorted, Death Rock effected Gothic Rock that ticks all of the right emotional boxes. This is their 3rd release, following a live offering and the equally vital “IV”.
From dreary Death Rock to shimmering New Wave spectacle, A La Carte have submitted the first single from the forthcoming, sophomore release by avid anglophiles Don’t Get Lemon. “Say Something New For Once” sees the snazzy trio concentrating the hooks, showcasing the guitar dynamics, and sweetening their confectionary sonics to new heights of pop mastery. An early forerunner for 2024’s records of the year, a full 12 months early.
Finally, the last A La Carte single on our playlist comes courtesy of synth and stare specialists Public Circuit. “Caustic Cross” is a danceable exercise in “Disintegration”era The Cure with pleading, sepulchral vocals riding the electronic bass lines into a yawning chasm of thinking key flourishes and pounding drum machines. A memorable slice of aural melancholy.
This year has opened beneath the leaden boot of continuing missile strikes abroad at the behest of angst and empire, as well as aimless mass shooters and the narcissism of octogenarian politicians that perpetually exist on the wrong side of history and misrepresent the youth the rely upon them in order to secure a semblance of a fruitful future. Palestine and Israel, Russia and the Ukraine, the U.S. and the world… while they are disclosing the bare minimum about the truth behind UAPs and Extra Planetary-Non Humans, they are hiding that which is most self evident, the enemy lives not in the bed next to us, but within our own fragile psyches.
“Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” -The Who