We’ve hurtled into an already chaotic 2023, and the second Tuesday in, it’s time for the first /Tracks of the Month of the new year.
As is usual, I’m already stacking up a good number of songs, and lists of a ton of upcoming releases, to consider – so keeping this to even twelve, never mind ten, was the usual set of hard decisions. But I think it’s a pretty representative list, as ever, of my somewhat eclectic musical tastes right now.
Who knows what else 2023 will bring, but this is a pretty good start musically, at least.
A quick explanation for new readers (hi there!): my Tuesday Ten series has been running since March 2007, and each month features at least ten new songs you should hear – and in between those monthly posts, I feature songs on a variety of subjects, with some of the songs featured coming from suggestion threads on Facebook.
Feel free to get involved with these – the more the merrier, and the breadth of suggestions that I get continues to astound me. Otherwise, as usual, if you’ve got something you want me to hear, something I should be writing about, or even a gig I should be attending, e-mail me or drop me a line on Facebook (details below).
/Track of the Month
Nuovo Testamento may well have already blown away their past material with this fabulous new single. Everything about this screams an absolute devotion to eighties synthpop and Italo Disco (even the video has a fabulous eighties styling), but rather than mere pastiche it is a song of exquisite detail – and astonishing quality. The driving rhythm is punctuated by twinkling synths, but the star of the show is Chelsey Crowley, whose vocal performance here is out of this world.
/Gimme That Boom
The first taste of the eighth Skindred album (and, it should be noted, 2023 marks 25 years of Skindred being a band!), and it’s a banger. In the spirit of Skindred being the best party/festival band in metal, this is another of those big, anthemic grooves that Benji Webbe and his crew seem to be able to toss out effortlessly, all hooks, bounce and feelgood vibes. Somehow we’ve got to wait until August for Smile, but I might just listen to this on repeat until then.
/Must Have Been New
/How To Replace It
Talking of long, long waits, dEUS finally return with their first new album in a decade this Spring. I’ve been following the band for nearly thirty years – since first being bowled over by Suds and Soda – and while the band have made some relatively drastic changes to their style over the decades, it doesn’t feel the case here. But then, why should they? We’re long past the point of dEUS needing to prove anything, and here, Must Have Been New feels like the welcome return of an old friend back into my life, a fiery declaration of intent from a band who remain unique.
/Unity of Opposites
A perhaps unexpected home for a British post-punk band is the (usually) extreme metal-based label Season of Mist, but start to listen to NAUT, and it begins to make a bit more sense. NAUT, it appears, are very much a post-punk band who are more than familar with metal and goth, with a heavy, grinding rhythm section and barked vocals and perhaps a bit of Killing Joke in the sound, too. Both songs I’ve heard from the new album thus far (this and the oppressive Dissent) promise great things.
/Dancer in the Dark
/Darkness Falls Again
Beborn Beton have been sporadic in their musical releases for some time – the first album in over a decade was the outstanding A Worthy Compensation in 2015 – and this is their first new album since then. Dancer In The Dark is fucking marvellous, though, and well worth the wait – a timeless futurepop classic-in-waiting that is dancefloor- and radio-friendly, with a chorus that I simply can’t get out of my head. The video – where the band go bowling in a neon-lit bowling alley – rather belies the generally bleak feel of the lyrics, mind…
/I Am the Shadow – I Am the Light
Perhaps, German industrial is going through something of a rebirth at the moment, with some interesting new artists popping up amid the old-school continuing. One of those is the duo NER\OGRIS, featuring Kain from Les Berrtas, and the distinctive vocals of Amnistia vocalist Tino. There is an album coming, and the lead track Deepest Fear is a harsher, more dissonant beast than either of the parent projects. Sweeping piano chords punctuate a glitchy, complex electronic construction, that certainly picks up the threads from where the likes of Numb were exploring in the past.
/Like A Dog
A track – and indeed release – that has jumped out of nowhere to my attention this past week comes from a Texas-based artist who produces instrumental, sample-laden EBM. And going on lead track Like A Dog, Keaton Khonsari’s solo work is going to be one to watch. Tense, taut basslines and a thundering rhythm pattern that should obliterate club dancefloors are the order of the day, and I’m glad I only have to wait a matter of days to hear the rest of it.
/An Offering To The Night
Two minutes of ferocious, metallic hardcore that has the kind of energy that makes you want to smash up the room (interestingly, the band are filmed in the video within a large box, maybe part of a shipping container, perhaps as a way of containing the energy). Within those two minutes, there are savage breakdowns, dissonant guitars and head-spinning time signature changes that remind me of Candiria at their most fascinating, and raging vocals that sound like they’ve been beamed in from hell. Excellent stuff.
/Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags
James McBain’s solo project Hellripper (which expands to a four-piece live) has been making quite the splash in recent times, and now signed to Peaceville, I can’t help but feel that the waves are only going to get bigger. The first track from the upcoming album is The Nuckelavee, apparently telling the tale of a demon of the sea from the Northern Isles, while on the back of an awesome galloping rhythm and thrashing guitar attack that owes as much to Emperor as it does Maiden. Any other thrash in 2023 is going to have to be really good to top this.
/I Don’t Like Who You Are
Cat Hall’s Dissonance project has been around for a long time, but has been most active in the past decade, and a brand new, full-length album dropped over the holiday period. Cat’s commitment to old-school electro-industrial is admirable – but clearly with new tech – while some of the songs have rather more up-to-date subjects, such as the excellent opener I Don’t Like Who You Are, as she shreds toxic men every which way across a stately rhythm that holds back to allow the complex bed of synths to run the show in tandem with her powerful voice.
/DEATH GLAM X X I I I
The UV-clad loons Punish Yourself are back (how much UV? You’ll need shades for the video, let me say that), and JUG is a groovy-as-fuck punk-industrial attack that manages to be menacing, catching and jagged all at once. The new EP is out on 23-Feb, if my interpretation of the Roman Numerals on the YouTube video link is correct…
/Dead Blood Cells
One of my discoveries since I moved down to Kent are (relatively) local group Dead Blood Cells, and this appears to be their first new track in a little while. An interesting amalgam of eighties industrial and more dancier, rave elements – there are clear nods to Cabaret Voltaire’s terse, early-eighties moves from harsher noise to funk grooves, for a start – and when the phased synth effect threatens to sweep the track away like a tornado, I can only applaud. A fascinating track that certainly stands out.