pop music

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)

  • pop rock

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

Black Bug * Frozen Energy (7″ 2015)

When my eye fell on this 7″ in the shop of Aufnahme + Wiedergabe, I did not know that it is actually a brand new 7″. Some three years after lp (click on the bandname to read the review) there is new material of Black Bug.

The title track of this 7″ is an uptempo and nicely raw sounding electropunk track. Side B, “Push You”, sounds more like that wave-sound that is so popular nowadays. It is not really “minimal wave” that I used as a tag, but more like the style between shoegaze-rock energy and minimal wave, perhaps reminding a bit of some material of The Soft Moon. So what do they call that these days? “Now-wave”? “Ghost wave”? No matter, as long as it is good and that certainly goes for this 7″.

Videos for both tracks can be found on the Facebook page of the band, so it is easy to listen to the music.

Links: Black Bug, Avant!

The Soft Moon * Deeper (cd 2015)

A couple of years ago I discovered The Soft Moon when I was looking for A Place To Bury Strangers-like shoegaze-rock style bands. The Soft Moon is a descent band in that ‘genre’, but when I saw them at the 2013 Summer Darkness festival, they proved to be much more energetic on stage than on their albums which made their show more interesting than their albums.

While at the gothic Summer Darkness festival the band probably did not have their usual audience, yesterday the band played at the Psych Lab Eindhoven festival with a whole range of different-style psychedelic bands; more their scene I think. Their show was with quite a distance the most interesting of the evening. Whereas many band were slow and… psychedelic, The Soft Moon were noisy, uptempo and very energetic. Judging my review of the “Zeros” album, that also was true for the Utrecht show. The band played quite a few tracks that I did not know, so I figured they might have a new album out and indeed, their merchandise stand had “Deeper”.

The cd opens in a promising way with the uptempo “Inward”. Just as in my previous review, I can say that “Deeper” is not as continuously energetic as the live performance. There are also slower and even soft songs to be found on the album. Like in my previous review I can say that there are great and alright tracks on the cd and again I prefer the faster tracks. There seems to be more focus on electronics this time with some beat-driven tracks, but in basis the sound of The Soft Moon is shoegazish, slightly psychedelic rock, somewhat reminding of the sound of A Place To Bury Strangers; so: noisy with high-pitched guitars.

A nice album, but perhaps a live album would be even nicer.

Links: The Soft Moon, Captured Tracks

Duchess Says & Le Prince Harry * Split LP (12″ 2015)

New material of my favourite electropunkers, the weird and wonderfull Duchess Says from Canada. This split vinyl opens with some typical uptempo rock sounds, but soon goes over in Duchess’ frenzy. Then follows a more electropoppy song, nice and weird. The third track is also great, not too typical for Duchess Says, but what is typical for a band that goes from electropop to grindcore on a single album? Anyways, the Duchess Says side definately excuses buying this lp.

The name Le Prince Harry rings a bell, but apparently I have never (really) listened to them. Their four tracks go perfectly with those of Duchess Says. The music of Le Prince Harry is also weird, uptempo and punky, but with even more electronics than in Duchess Says. Their 2012 lp “It’s Getting Worse” also proves to be a wonderfull album with pulsating synth rhythms and simple but effective guitar-work and vocals. The music reminds a bit of my countrymates zZz, but Le Prince Harry is faster and the tracks on the split lp are even more uptempo.

Certainly a very good pop-album, though a weird one, as it should be. The label also has a couple of interesting names in their roster by the way.

Links: Duchess Says, Le Prince Harry, Teenage Menopause Records

The Prodigy * The Day Is My Enemy (cd 2015)

A while ago a Prodigy show in Amsterdam was announced, sold out in no-time of course, but I am going to see them live again; same place, different album. No longer unexpectedly, the band prereleased two tracks and now the new album.

“The Day Is My Enemy” sounds even more ‘punkish’ than previous material. Some tracks are very energetic, other seem less so. Different guest vocalists have cooperated to this album, one of them is the immediately recognisable Jason Williamson from the weird and nice band Sleaford Mods that I recently ran into. Williamson’s lyrics contain the f-word frequently and the same I can say about other tracks on this new Prodigy album. The band says that the new album sounds rawer, perhaps that also goes for the lyrics then.

The track with Jason William’s vocals is called “Ibiza” and the tough rap-like vocals go very well with the electropunk of Liam Howlett. There are a couple of other great tracks, others are just nice. The music of The Prodigy tends to grow on me and perhaps hearing them live might give these tracks an extra boost. As for the moment I can say that if you enjoy the developing style of The Prodigy, you will probably like their latest effort. I cannot yet say if this album is better than “Invaders Must Die” (2008), but time will tell.

Links: The Prodigy, Take Me To The Hospital

A Place To Bury Strangers * Transfixion (cd 2015)

A little over two years I discovered A Place To Bury Strangers from Brooklyn, NY. They have grown to be my most favourite popband. What I did not know back then is that this band somehow seems not too far from the scene where much of my music comes from. A Place To Bury Strangers is often named in a line with The Lost Rivers, The Soft Moon or The KVB, bands that are scheduled on festivals such as the Wave Gotik Treffen. There are even people drawing lines towards the ‘minimal wave scene’ (under whichever name) calling the musical style “ghost wave” or “witch wave” which includes bands like Agent Side Grinder who do not sound anything near similar in my ears.

In any case, today “Transfixion” was unleashed unto the masses. I am now playing the album through Deezer and have already ordered my physical copy. In April the band is coming to my country. Since I got to know them, they visited my country twice and both times I was abroad. This time I got my tickets the day they were available, so I am not going to miss them again (lest someting unexpected happens of course). The new album does not have the flying start of previous albums. The band is at its best (to me) in their uptempo tracks which until now included the opening tracks of their albums. Not so on “Transfixion”. “Supermaster” makes a nice opener to get in the mood, but the mood is yet relatively soft; calm before the storm so to say. After this we are off with one of the two songs that have been available earlier, the uptempo track “Straight”. Some softer tracks follow and just when I started to wonder if APTBS took a step back in energy the other track that we already knew is up, the great “We’ve Come So Far”. But it gets even better with the great, dirty track “I’m So Clean” and “Fill The Void”.

Like before, the band goes from a rather wavey sound (in the 1980’ies gothic style) to shoegaze to downright noise-rock. Some tracks are slow, some are explosive and great. The band also likes a joke; sometimes the distortion is so heavy that it sounds like they blew up the studio (or my speakers). I am very curious what this is going to sound like live. “Transfixion” is not as good as “Worship”, but is certainly is another great album.

Links: A Place To Bury Strangers, Dead Oceans

v/a * Death # Disco IV (2cd 2014)

Discogs.comIn the summer of 2013 I visited a Dutch festival and in some cd stand my eyes fell on two volumes of a compilation called “Death # Disco”. To my surprise I recognised several band- and project-names, but in my head they were from different scenes. Death # Disco is a disco evening in Berlin where they play a variety of music. Old fashioned gothic/wave, more contemporary wave of the “minimal wave” genre, but also shoegaze (that apparently is called “ghost wave” sometimes). The same can be said about the compilations and volume IV is no exception. New this time is that IV is a double cd.

The compilation opens with the strange band The Devil & The Universe that have a quite easy sounding EBM/synthpop-like track. There is also the electropop/-punk project ADULT., the shoegazers of The Soft Moon, minimal wavers such as Newclear Waves and Tropic of Cancer, the more poppy project Xeno & Oaklander and projects with an industrial background like Klangstabil and Echo West. Then there a whole range of projects that I never heard of.

Like volumes II and III there are a few good tracks, a lot of alright tracks and a handfull of tracks that are not my taste. But for 10 euros you get a good overview over ‘the larger wave scene’ and that makes this compilation a suggested buy.

Link: Death # Disco

White Suns * Totem (cd 2014)

Well well, so there are still bands making noiserock that is actually noisy? It looks like this band is shoved a little under the “nowave” banner and for convenience sake, I will do so too (for now). The difference (for me at least) is that “nowave” is faster and more chaotic, while “noise rock” is more like the live sound of Swans. White Suns is “noise rock” ‘by default’ and “nowave” ‘by acception’.
In any case, according to Discogs this band has been releasing music since 2009 and however this is their fifth full-length it is probably the first album that I hear of them. You can expect some noisy guitar music with screamed vocals. The music is not the kind of impossible-to-listen-to noise that sometimes comes from the industrial scene, but certainly guitar mayhem and no music for the average music listener. There is no structure, melody or rhythm. Like what the ‘nowavers’ of the 1970’ies wanted music to sound like actually. However it is quite chaotic, I kind of like the sound of White Suns. Not to listen to every day, but this certainly is a nice addition to my musical library.
Links: White Suns, Flenser Records

The Vandelles * Strange Girls Don’t Cry

Aha, so there are bands that are almost as noisy and ‘rocky’ as A Place To Bury Strangers! The Vandelles make some nice sleazy rock music with a lot of feedback. They are not always as fast as APTBS, but the music is mostly nicely uptempo. Also here are the wave-like vocals, so I guess I can also tag this release ‘shoegaze’ however, just as with APTBS, the term does not entirely cover the music. In any case, great popmusic!
Links: The Vandelles, Moon Sound Records