Skip to content

pop music

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

Black Bug ‎* Reflecting The Light (cd 2012)

Not too recent, but I just discovered this and I want to bring this band to your attention. The energetic music of Black Bug goes from electropop to (electro)punk to digicore and then with (no)wave influences. Sometimes there are ‘wavey’ male vocals, sometimes distorted female vocals. The electronic music follows the vocals, sometimes wave, sometimes punk and this is also when the guitars get in. Yep, this is the good stuff!
Link: Black Bug

Thee Oh Sees * Floating Coffin (cd 2013)

For some reason I thought that Thee Oh Sees were one of these early nowave bands, but apparently their first release is from 2006 and they have been around since 1997. However there are some skreeks and noises here and there, the term “garage rock” covers the sound of “Floating Coffin” better than the term that I expected to hear. The album is not boring, but little different from uptempo popmusic. Not something turn off, but nothing special either.
Links: Thee Oh Sees, Caste Face Records

The KVB * Immaterial Visions (lp 2013)

I am glad that when I heard about “Minus One” I also noticed that there is new material available (the music for “Minus One” is from 2011). “Immaterial Visions” contains more lively, more noisy, more pushing electronically music. Not that it comes anywhere near the raw shoegaze rock of A Place To Bury Strangers, but this lp is in sound closer to The Soft Moon than the other release. Still somewhat soft, but more lively and generally quite a bit better. If you like the wave/shoegaze sound of the bands that I mentioned and/or just the 1980’ies type of wave, The KVB might be a band to listen to.
Links: The KVB, Cititrax

The KVB * Minus One (cd 2013)

  • shoegaze

I had ran into The KVB on my hunt for shoegaze and to my surprise they played at last year’s (2013) Wave Gotik Treffen. Listening to “Minus One” the latter may not be so strange, because The KVB’s sound on this album may have shoegaze elements, but it is more wave than shoegaze. Soft rock with electronics (mostly for the rhythm), sometimes going a bit in a Suicide direction. The album is rather soft, it could have used a little more energy. The material for this cd was first released in 2011 and another album has been released together with it and it contains a sound that I prefer.
Link: The KVB

Suuns ‎* Images Du Futur (cd 2013)

Well well, so now also Deezer starts to recommend music to me? I got a recommention for Suuns because I listen to Duchess Says. Now Suuns have little incommon with Duchess Says save the fact that the two bands are playing two shows together. And of course they both play guitar pop with electronic elements, but the results are very different. I also knew Suuns because I ran into them when looking for shoegaze that is interesting. Not that this band makes very typical shoegaze, but there certainly are elements to be found (not so in Duchess Says). The album that Deezer thought I should listen to was the previous album “Zeroes QC” from 2010. That album is indeed somewhat interesting, but mostly because it contains pretty experimental pop music, very soft pop, dreampop perhaps even. There are some nice songs, I especially like the songs with more electronics than guitars. The album is a bit slow, melancholic maybe even. “Images Du Futur” starts off with more tempo and nice, screaming guitars. Most of the songs are a lot slower though with some electronics, sometimes a little bit of rock, sometimes a noisy guitar; mostly soft pop though. Like on the other cd there are a few nice songs, but most of them I am quite indifferent to. I would not turn it off when I heard it on the radio, but I do not think I will play Suuns very often.
Link: Secretly Canadian

Zola Jesus * Versions (cd 2013)

For some reason I had the idea that Zola Jesus was an old (ex-)industrial/goth singer who had gone solo and pop. Fact is, that this singer is only from 1989 and only started to perform under this monicker in 2008. However people seem to categorise Zola Jesus in the industrial/goth genre, it looks like it is more electropop that she makes. When I heard that her latest cd was written for a performance in the Guggenheim museum of New York and Zola Jesus cooperated with James George Thirwell (Foetus) I thought it was time to spend some time listening to her music.
“Versions” appears to be a more modern-classical approach to (mostly) the previous album “Conatus” (2011). There is a small orchestra, sometimes electronics and of course Jesus’ recognisable voice. Zola Jesus is not going to be my new favorite popartist, but “Versions” is a nice (be it somewhat melancholic) album.
Links: Zola Jesus, Sacred Bones Records