We’re at the halfway point of the year – or if running on my eligibility criteria for the best of the year, seven months into the 2019 period (I run from 01-Dec to 30-Nov). There’s been tons of great new music, both from notable new artists and returning favourites, across a wide variety of genres too.
/Tracks of the Month/Jun/2019
/Tuesday Ten/Tracks of the Month/2019
The torrent of music keeps on coming, too, and this month I’ve gone beyond the usual ten and still held over some for use next month, as I can only write so much. Thanks, too, to all those that point me to new music, share links, send me new music or indulge my habit of talking about the great new music I’ve heard – I seriously couldn’t do this without you.
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. 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
/Body of Light
/Time to Kill
/Time to Kill
Let Me Go was an outstanding album (/Countdown/2016/#8) and I’ve been looking forward to the follow-up for some time. The release of the title track from said follow-up (coming on a remarkably busy 23-August for releases) looks like any possible fears that they would struggle to meet those standards have been dispelled. Seriously, this is a fantastic song. A bit harder-edged, and perhaps nudging into classic Depeche Mode territory, this has a dancefloor-bound groove and a stunning earworm of a chorus that reminds that dark music doesn’t have to make you feel glum – this is so uplifting that it makes me want to take on the world.
/Way Back Home
The resurgence of this band continues with another new song – and apparently a much-anticipated new album is nearing completion, according to their social media. Their return has been a gradual one – the odd live show here-and-there, and a drip-feed of new songs, and the critical thing has been that all of the new songs have been great. This continues the high hit-rate, and this time it’s a track that builds quicker, and kicks harder, with subtle electronics underpinning a quite brilliant gothic-metal track. It always felt like unfinished business when this band went away, and I’m still buzzing with joy that their return has been so, so good.
/Hell Is Here
Hot on the heels of their debut full-length album last year, HIDE return already and it would appear things are going even more extreme. This is the opening track to the new album, and it is a slow, confrontational grind, the name of the track presumably from the scorching noise that permeates the track and sounds awfully close to a chainsaw buzzing near your head. Needless to say, it sounds savage, and the lyrics of it are even harsher – apparently all verbal assaults the duo have received on the street, often while in the company of a child. HIDE are a necessary, punishing force in 2019.
Five years on from the excellent, laid-back Radiant, and IRIS return with the first taste of their upcoming sixth album, titled, er, Six, that is rather more upbeat than much of that last album. The lush synths, almost gently applied rhythms and Reagan Jones’ melodious vocals – all sonic trademarks of the group – are all present and correct, sure, but there feels a renewed vitality after the extended break, a feeling of rebirth and hope once again. I look forward to hearing more of the album in due course, and I’m rather jealous of those of you who will be seeing them live both across the Atlantic and in Europe this year.
/Outside Looking In
/Where All Roads Lead
There are still a few bands keeping the futurepop flame alive, and Interface are one of those – and like IRIS, they are returning after a lengthy break, with upcoming album Where All Roads Lead being their first in six years. If you’re familiar with what Interface do – belting, upbeat and dancefloor-ready futurepop, basically – then this lead track from the new album will be like the return of an old friend, sounding both familiar and thrillingly new at the same time. They make you work for the inevitable, huge chorus, too, as it’s arrival is a bit later than I’d expect, but the delayed gratification is worth it.
/This Will Kill That
Initially a bit of a mysterious group, their eventual unveiling has revealed them to be something of an industrial “supergroup” collective, with input from artists new and old(er) (and it is a hell of roster), and a sound that roots them in the world of industrial rock. Sure, there are a few throwbacks to familiar names and sounds, but I’m liking what I’m hearing, and the bass-led groove of Violent Lucidity growls and snarls a malevolence that more bands of this ilk should employ. Elsewhere on the EP there are impressive anthemic kicks, particularly on the snappy title track that reminds of the immortal Stigmata at points. I didn’t know I needed this, but it’s a welcome addition to 2019’s musical landscape.
/Goodbye Recidivist Road
/Gentrification III: Death and Displacement
The intensity of Street Sects is no longer a well-kept secret, it seems, and they even made it to the UK earlier in the spring for their first shows over here, supporting Bosse-de-Nage. They appropriately played in the black-box-room of the Black Heart in Camden, and proceeded to fill the room with dry ice before they went on (and I mean filled), then turned off all the lights aside from blinding strobes and unleashed a thirty-minute, relentless aural assault that was every bit as shocking and as visceral as I’d hoped. On record they usually don’t quite hit those heights – which would be some feat, but this vicious new single runs it close. A militaristic drum beat like repeated punches to the gut underpins an otherwise chaotic, nasty piece of work that seethes with rage and injustice, and bursts into vein-popping fury in the final forty seconds or so. Not a band I’ll be playing to my wife anytime soon – at least until we get to S on /Transmission…
Amid all the other post-punk out there, this Turkish group had rather passed me by so far, but lots of comment about them as they prepared to release their new album this summer has piqued my interest, and I have to admit I rather like this – i.e. I should have been listening to this long ago. This track wouldn’t sound out of place on a mid-80s Goth playlist, actually, the cold, doomy vocals working neatly with downbeat synths and a classic, haven’t-I-heard-that-before Goth bassline. Get me to a club where I can’t see my feet and can only drink cheap snakebite, and stat.
Another interesting new band – and the opening band on Friday this year at Cold Waves in their native Chicago – they, at least on the evidence of this great track, seem to straddle the boundary between cold darkwave and EBM. The metronomic beat and synth hook account for the latter, and the vocals and general feel account for the former. It soars, it swoops, it is fucking great.
Thanks to my friend Martin Oldgoth for the headsup on this, something I’d not come across at all previously. It actually came out earlier in the year, but this is certainly good enough to catch up on – and like Wingtips, but in a totally different way, this is nodding to both darkwave and EBM. This time, the sinuous vocals of Ari loop and get multi-tracked around an unrelenting beat that could easily have come from eighties EBM, but there is none of the aggression of that kind of music. There is a sensuality to the sound here, and it’s really quite alluring.
/The Mother Road
/Birth of Violence
Was I alone in being slightly disappointed with Hiss Spun compared to her previous albums? There just didn’t feel, after a good few listens, to be the drama and power that there had been before. So perhaps her return to an acoustic album – something Wolfe has done before – might rekindle my love for her work. And so it proves, as the sound is stripped away to brooding, acoustic instrumentation that allows her rich, powerful voice to do the work and reveal a dramatic, elegant song, that blooms into an impressive, expansive climax that once again reminds that Wolfe’s exquisite songcraft is what carries her best songs, not gloom and doom (although that often helps).
I remember being captivated by this Icelandic band’s first album, as I was played it by my tour guide when on the island in 2012, and I listened to that debut to death. The second album was something of a disappointment to me, lacking some of the magic and the energy, and it has sadly been on my shelf for a while, unlistened – but in hindsight, though, maybe it was just the wrong time for me. I wasn’t in the positive frame of mind in 2015 in the slightest, and not a lot really stuck then.. Judging on the first song from their long-awaited third album, though, like me, they are bouncing back. The glorious melodic heart remains, but the music sounds so much tougher – like the titular animal, this is a snappy track, with a hulking, heavy base that drives the song forward and carries a stellar vocal performance from Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir.