Category Archives: pop music

Kompikations – No Good News (2019)

It has been a while since I heard a track of this Belgian electropunk outfit on X-Wave Radio. By then they had a few releases out that were old sold out. A little later I discovered that these releases are available from Bandcamp.

The trio makes excellent punk. A vocalist, live drummer (who sounds like a drumming machine, which is quite a feat) and a guy on keys. The music is very much punk, but (as expected) ‘half electronic’. Perhaps they are the ‘most electropunk’ band that I know.

In spring 2018 I got to see them live in a total punk bunker in Aachen, Germany, an extraordinary lively show.

On 1 February Komplikations released their latest 12″ on the same label as their previous releases: Rockstar Records. The preview track “Radio” was less energetic than previous releases. The other tracks prove to be even more so. There is even some sort of ballad.

The music still sounds like Komplikations with the typical vocals, drumwork and synths, but the punk-sound, even the punk-feeling, wore off. There still are the political / social lyrics (a punk band has to have a message, eh?), but I sorely miss the energy of the previous albums.

Links: Komplikations, Rockstar Records

A Place To Bury Strangers – Pinned (2018)

Even though the band still has the line “total sonic annihilation” on their website, “Pinned” is again softer than its predecessor “Transfixion” of 2015.

As before, some tracks of the new album have been made available earlier as singles. These tracks already gave the idea that the band again took a step away from “total sonic annihilation”. The same was true in 2015, but “Transfixion” still contains some descent mayhem. Not so on “Pinned”…

The album opens with the downtempo track “Never Coming Back” that was one of the singles. It is a good song with a nice noisy middle piece. Also “Execution” reminds of older days, a minimalistic song with noisy out-of-tone guitars, but again, on an earlier album this would have been one of the soft songs. Then follows a very soft song with the “wavey” sound that the band has played with before.
The album develops towards slightly noisy tracks that are somewhat “poppy”. Most tracks are nice, but as I previously preferred older material over “Transfixion”, I think I will play “Pinned” even less.

And then comes something weird. The album lasts for only about 35 minutes (12 tracks). This is the album that is available on ‘normal’ cd. There is also a “Brainwash Machine” version which has an extra cd with 8 extra tracks and a running time of about half an hour. These two would have easily fitted on one cd to make an album with a proper length. This double cd version can only be bought as part of a box set which has thrice the price of the cd. The extra tracks are available on digital music sources though…

This cd opens with a drilling machine and guitar noise and the tracks here are more wickedly experimental and noisy. I suppose this cd is the side of the band that is (now) regarded as ‘less suitable for the general public’. It is not that here we only get the “total sonic annihilation” that we were waiting for, but there are some new style-experiments with little coherence, possibly songs that were recorded, but which the label did not find fitting for the album itself. Looking over this cd, in general the tracks are not better than on the album itself, but the more interesting material is to be found here.

A thing that I noted -by the way- is the prominent place of female vocals. Is Lia Braswell a new member or was she pushed ‘forward’ more? In any case, according to Discogs the band has had some line-up changes with four members no longer present. I have no idea if these changes are recent and perhaps explain to more ‘accessible’ (relatively speaking of course) style, but just something I noticed.

So to wrap things up. “Pinned” makes a nice album. Be sure to get the double cd when you liked the band before. Again the band seems to be drifting away from my musical preferences, so my guess is that when I feel like listening to “total sonic annihilation” I will keep going back to older albums.

Links: A Place To Bury Strangers, Dead Oceans

Sqürl – EP #260 (mcd 2017)

I got to know Sqürl because the American director Jim Jarmusch plays in it and Sqürl played a big part of his film “Only Lovers Left Alive” that I badly need to see again.

Sqürl makes very slow, (mostly) minimalistic, instrumental drone / stoner / psychedelic rock music that fits “Only Lover Left Alive” perfectly. The band produced a couple of EPs: “#1”, “#2”, “#3” and now “#260”. There are two full-lengths. One is the soundtrack of the said film, the other a live recording. The ‘ambient rock music’ works well as background music, it is moody and somewhat dark. “#260” Does not contain my favorite Sqürl music, but it certainly is a nice album to listen to.

Sqürl moved to the varied and interesting label that houses artists and bands such as Zola Jesus, Moon Duo, Blank Mass, David Lynch, Lust For Youth, Pharmakon and Factums.

Links: Sqürl, Sacred Bones

Soviet Soviet * Endless (cd 2016)

I thought I knew this band because I listened to them when I noticed them on the schedule of the 2016 Wave Gotik Treffen. I do not remember seeing them though and I cannot find confirmation that they played either. Maybe another festival?

Soviet Soviet neither is the old wave-band I thought it was. Their debut is from 2009 and “Endless” is the third full-length. Like on other albums that I heard, the band makes a nice piece of 1980’ies type wave music with high-pitched guitars and also quite distinct high-pitched vocals. The music is a bit too ‘wavey’ to be shoegaze, but the term “post punk” is often used to describe them.

“Endless” is (to my ears) not a masterpiece, but a descent album in a ‘vintage style’ that I do enjoy to listen to every now and then.

Links: Soviet Soviet, Felte

Der Blutharsch And The Infinite Church Of The Leading Hand ‎* Sucht & Ordnung (2016)

Continuing on the psychedelic path, Der Blutharsch, etc. comes with an album with only three tracks, one of 8, one of 7 and one of 14 minutes.

The music is largely instrumental, slow and psychedelic, but on a few occasions there are metal-like eruptions and singing by Marthynna and less frequently Herr Julius.

Like with most Infinite Church albums I find “Such & Ordnung” alright, but not great. Good to listen to a couple of times, but not much more than that.

Links: Der Blutharsch / WKN

Duchess Says * Sciences Nouvelles (cd 2016)

It is odd how the music business works nowadays. On Deezer a Duchess Says single became available a while ago. “Negative Thoughts” announced an upcoming album. Then a little later the album is announced on Bandcamp and can be preordered. One track could be listened for free, another (“Negative Thoughts”…) after you preordered the album. Now the album is out and you can listen to it entirely on Bandcamp without buying it.

“Sciences Nouvelles” is (like previous albums) is short only 36 minutes. Two tracks I already knew (see above), two tracks can also be found on the split with Prince Harry.

Just like with the previous album “In A Fung Day T!” (2011) the pre-released tracks seemed to imply that the band is going more in their electropop direction rather than the weird punk style. The opening tracks of “Sciences Nouvelles” seem to confirm this idea. However “Negative Thoughts” is a bit ‘rocky’, only once the album gets the good old weird punk sound of Duchess Says with the “Pink Coffin” track that we already knew. “Poubelle” (track 5) is nicely weird, but (on the Duchess Says scale) ‘low energy’ and we immediately go back to electropop, followed by a strange sounscape type of track. There is some slightly psychedelic experimentation which is amusing. I do prefer the more energetic sound of the band and when compared to all that came before, the latest album is again a step back.

I am not really blown away by the latest Duchess Says. The previous album did grow on my as well, so maybe this will happen again. After a few rounds I can say that “Sciences Nouvelles” is nice to very nice, but not as nice as previous releases.

The label seems to be new to me too. Maybe I should have a listen to what they released before.

Links: Duchess Says, Bonsound

Pop. 1280 ‎* Paradise (cd 2016)

I discovered this noisy band a couple of years ago when I was looking for electropunk. They were formed in 2009 and have released their third full-length in four years time. The band uses guitar-noise that may remind of a band like Swans here and there, but they have also got ‘pulsating electronics’ which are closer to a band like zZz. Sometimes the sound goes in the direction of ‘electropunk’, at other times the band has more of a noise-rock sound. There are also softer, more experimental tracks.

Like on previous albums “Paradise” is not an overall masterpiece, but most tracks are nice to good and a couple of tracks are very good.

I like to listen to the noisy side of popmusic nowadays. Often that is the ‘shoegaze’ side of the spectrum, but I must say that this dirty kind of ‘electropunk’ is a welcome addition.

Funny sidenote, the band shares labels with noise-lady Pharmakon and the famous Zola Jesus.

Links: Pop. 1280, <a href="http://sacredbonesrecords.com" target="_blank"Sacred Bones Records

Geneviève Pasquier * Live One (mc 2016)

Discogs.comYou have to be patient for releases of Pasquier (under her own name at least). “Handle With Care” is already from 2010. This new cassette does not even contain (much) new music either.

Side A mostly contains reworkings of old tracks such as Blitzkrieg Baby and Warm Leatherette, but also new (or at least unreleased) tracks like Douleur and 8 P.M. Daily News. This side has more of the ‘soft side’ of Pasquier with also a bit of new elements here and there.

Then we flip over to side B which contains a live recording from a Wien/Vienna show in April 2011. The tracks here come both from earlier and more recent albums. Live Pasquier can be nicely industrial, raw and energetic (I remember a great show at the 2010 Summer Darkness Festival in Utrecht, Netherlands). The recordings do not sound as raw as I remember the Utrecht show, but I prefer this side over side A. The live recordings have an alright sound, but the oddly faded applauses are a bit strange.

“Live One” makes a nice album, an overview of Pasquier’s discography. I am curious if there will be new material some day though. There are only 100 tapes, so if you are a collector, be quick. You can also buy a Bandcamp release.

Links: Geneviève Pasquier, Raubbau

The KVB * Of Desire (cd 2016)

I have known this band for a while. I ran into them when digging through the ‘minimal wave scene’, but this scene is a bit wider concerning musical styles. The same can be said about The KVB, because they do not really make ‘minimal wave’, but rather some sort of ‘shoegaze’. Over the years I have read all kinds of descriptions for music from that corner. “Ghostwave”, “witch-wave” and whatnot.

Basically the music of The KVB is electronics and a (bass) guitar. What you see more often from this angle of music, it is a boy/girl duo. Music-wise you may think of The Soft Moon and in a far distance A Place To Bury Strangers. More comparable is some of the music released by Aufnahme + Wiedergabe.

“Of Desire” is an alright album. The same I can say about many releases from this ‘scene’. It is currently a type of music that I listen to quite a bit, but there is not a whole lot that I think is completely brilliant. Since it is easy music to listen to, it goes well as background music.

Should all this be new to you, The KVB is not the worst band to start your explorations with. They are big enough for this album to appear on Spotify and Deezer, so it is not difficult to give them a try.

Links: The KVB, Invada

The Dead Weather ‎* Dodge And Burn (cd 2015)

The Dead Weather is one of my favourite poprock bands. The band members play in a range of other bands, not the least bands either. Of course there is Jack White of The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, etc., etc. Then we have Alison Mosshart of The Killers and some other bands. Dean Fertita of Queens Of The Stoneage, The Raconteurs, etc. Last but not least Jack Lawrence who also plays in The Raconteurs and a handfull of other bands. Several of the names bands have nice songs, but nothing like The Dead Weather.
Because all band members are busy, it took five years before The Dead Weather released another full-length. In that time two singles were released and recently tracks from the then upcoming album were already available. Because of this I already knew a large part of “Dodge And Burn”.

The album opens with “I Feel Love” which has been available for a week or two. An alright track with Mosshart on vocals. We continue with “Buzzkiller” that is featured on the single of last year with the same title. The first new track is “Led Me Through”, a nice song. The next two tracks are new too and on “Three Dollar Hat” we hear Jack White for the first time and then Mosshart again as the song speeds up into a very nice Dead Weather song. “Rough Detective” and “Open Up” shared a 2013 7″, the latter is nicely energetic. The last tracks are new again.

“Dodge And Burn” does not blow me away like “Sea Of Cowards” (2010) or “Horehound” (2009). The tempo of most songs is fairly low and they seem less dramatic than earlier material. I do not rule out the possibility that this album will grow on me though, since The Dead Weather has a nice unique style with a lot of detail and some experimentation.

Links: The Dead Weather, Third Man Records