So maybe it’s time to get your goth on and revel in the debut single, “Glamour Girls” from Brisbane/Meanjin band, Sacred Hearts. The band explained in a radio interview, that they are femme fronted, LGBTQIA+ band, something that is close to their hearts, as well as their great love of retro post punk bands such as Echo And The Bunnymen, Nick Cave and The Cure.

SACRED HEARTS

Not going to lie, I don’t know much about these ladies other than that they are young and pulling on a lot of influences. There is the jingle jangle of guitar and those dark brooding bass lines, topped with delicate vocals, that swirl and lure you into the musical darkness. In true goth fashion, a la Dr Avalanche, a drum machine gives you the rhythm.

Lyrically this is a number about the dubious world of actresses and models, being beautiful doesn’t always translate to being treated well. It is melancholic and graceful. If this is a taste of what Sacred Hearts have for us, we might be in for a treat as they continue to create music. For now though, I hope you will enjoy “Glamour Girls“.

https://sacredhearts.bandcamp.com/

https://www.instagram.com/sacredheartsmusic/?hl=en

Brisbane based, three piece band, Killtoys today released their latest single, “Come Alive“. They come from an alt-rock based background and their music has a flare for the grimly dramatic.

KILLTOYS

The lads are bringing on a darker game here with ommious synths, lovely deep bass and 80s influenced guitar jangle that rings clear and true. Are they singing about vampires or the children of night who wear black? Oh oh, you have to listen for the oh oh. Mick Bristow’s vocals just are the icing on this ghoulishly fabulous track.

I officially love love this. It’s speaks to my dark little gothic heart and reminds me of 80s post punk bands with those fantastic riffs. The backing aaahs are just some of those little things that really make a song just a bit more spectacular. “Come Alive” from the Killtoys may just wake the living dead for a chance to bask in the moonlight.

https://m.soundcloud.com/killtoys/come-alive

https://www.facebook.com/Killtoysband

June the fourth was the release date for the single, “Ten Points On The Damage Meter“. How To Loot Brazil are the German band behind the single, with Maik Timmermann at the helm since 2006, who proclaim to be a fusion of riot grrrl, pop/punk, under pinned by electronics.

HOW TO LOOT BRAZIL

I agree the beat has a D.A.F. quality to it and the female vocals are kind of cute but this really works for song. It’s short and punchy, meant to get you bouncing and bopping along. There are guitar riffs and rhyming gimme gimme gimmie with ten points on the damage meter.

It’s a tight number that packs a lot into under three minutes and is about the horror movie genre which is deftly referred to in the music video. “Ten Points On The Damage Meter” is in essence a fun song and it gets more ear worm like with every play. How To Loot Brazil will get you moving and they can be found on most music platforms, including Spotify.

https://howtolootbrazil.bandcamp.com/music

http://www.howtolootbrazil.com/

https://www.facebook.com/howtolootbrazil

Far Away From All Of This are a Swiss band that released their second album last year in September. Called Outward Bound, this duo comprised of VEGA (guitars, synthesizer, harsh vocals) and IX (vocals, bass, synthesizer, drums), describe their music style as space rock/post rock/metal.

These guys obviously like an epic, as “Haven” goes for over eight minutes and is not even the longest number. The track honestly took me back to the early 90s. Teenage Fanclub and the Lemon Heads, IX even sounds a bit Evan Dando. The return to psychedelic swirling, wall of sound guitars and keyboards that take you away on a cloud.

Nice light guitar starts “Reality Check“, a whimsy about not looking too hard at life or it will lose its magic by ‘breaking the spell‘.

They say we are getting older everyday and that this is the “Last Call” to get on life’s roller-coaster. It’s a very positive and uplifting piece with rolling drums and VEGA having momentary cathartic screams.

Break out the synths for a gliding space journey in the “Stellar Stream“. Smooth and relaxing as the engines whisper in the solar slips of this ambient soundscape.

NGC 4063” is the final and longest of the tracks. It is a gradual build up of electronics, filling the empty places, like a space exploration facing the dark voids to bring knowledge and light, even though this is a very overwhelming prospect.

The first half is all the crazy human emotion of living with hopes, dreams and modern life, with guitars and a more frantic pace. The last two are after they have left Earth with its electronic life-support, going into the unknown. Really enjoyed this album due to my fondness of guitar jangle and wall of soundscapes which Ride were famous for doing beautifully as well. Well worth giving Far Away From All Of This a go with their Outward Bound.

https://farawayfromallofthis.bandcamp.com/album/outward-bound

https://www.facebook.com/farawayfromallofthis

April has been the anticipated release date of the third album from Australian act, Sounds Like Winter. Fight The Stairs is the ten track offering from these Sydney gothic proponents with vocalist/programmer/guitarist Ant Bannister, guitarist/vocalist Andi Lennon, bass guitarist Sian Williams and drummer Leticia Ohlaberry.

I’m going to say The Cure’s , Pornography was a huge influence for Sounds Like Winter, just by the first few guitar chords of “Gathering (For The Fall)“. Bannister sounds like the circus ringmaster for a show of misfits and freaks which is going to hell in a handbasket in a stylish manner

Who We Aren’t” picks up speed with that brilliant drum rhythm, countered with the jangling guitars. A track about being what you aren’t, fraudulently hiding behind guises which could fail, causing exposure.

The album’s title track, “Fight The Stairs” doesn’t get any more classic gothic rock. This conjours delightful warm feelings of 80s during the era of Danse Society and Bauhaus. The lyrics almost seem like a drug induced stupor for a dreamlike state.

Next is the single “The Monsters“, not a tale about real monsters but rather those that we create to punish ourselves for perceived failures, that come to find us when we are most vulnerable. Slower and serpentine, as it slowly wends its way with menacing purpose.

The guitars peel out frenetically in “Day To Day“, with the vocals a tad forceful in their contempt. A commentary on our society, where everything is a throwaway consumable and the idolising of celebrity status of the unworthy.

All perception of reality in life, is lost when there is, “The Wedding Feast”. This is a number that feels like it is on the move, as if it wants you to move. Bannister maybe channelling Andy Prieboy for a moment with his staccato spoken lyrics.

For the up tempo guitars, “Send The Boy” still seems a sad number about abuse of a child and those that perpetrated these crimes get to walk away…. but not the boy. The lightness is such contrast to the dark matter.

The tribal beats are unmissable here and maybe a harkening back to Southern Death Cult. “No Interest” is the cold reality that humanity isn’t so humane and will ignore you when you are at your lowest point.

A play on words, “Primal Smear” has heavy Christian Death overtones. This has a glorious sound to it with its intonations and a coy reproachfulness. The lyrics are thoughtfully descriptive and just flow.

Oh gosh. They saved the killer song for last… literally. A track about murdering plus consuming your friend while trapped in the throes of a deep winter and yet one must ask, who had gone crazy?! “He Was Gone” is a dark, brooding finishing track to leave you with goosebumps at the end.

In the end this is a great album. There are so many influences I can hear and many I haven’t mentioned but at the centre of Sounds Like Winter, is a tragically beautiful beating heart, that bleeds music for your entertainment on their terms. Fight The Stairs is truly an album worthy of your collection if you love the gothic/deathrock genre.

https://sounds-like-winter.bandcamp.com/album/fight-the-stairs

https://www.facebook.com/soundslikewinter

March the 19th is the release date for the album And The Light Goes White by LA based act, The Dramedy, aka Dave Dramedy. The Dramedy have been around since 2014, with EPs and the album StrAngr(S)tiL in 2018 under their belt, so with this new LP, has come the joys of recording in a time of pestilence.

DAVE DRAMEDY

Kicking this off is “Vow“, and acoustic guitars starts the steam locomotive style rhythm. It’s a bit like a western and then you hear the bangs like gun shots and glass tinkling that might happen in a bar brawl accompanied by electric guitar and raw vocals.

The second single released off the album is “Parasite“, with wonderfully jangly guitars. Something eats away at the back of my mind… the way Dramedy sings and then it hits me. He reminds me of Stan Ridgeway (ex Wall Of Voodoo) in the animated drawl and the post punk ambience. This is a great little number with a lot of heart, even if it’s about the fact that all is lost. I think Buffalo Tom would have been proud to call this their song.

The Clock Strikes Heaven” does sound very spontaneous, as if written in one sitting and they just said, this is it. For a tune about when you’re time is up, it seems pretty cheery and has a slightly live feel to it.

Heavier guitars herald “Popsicle” and can we say sexual connotations. Sucking on popsicles can make people very, very happy but the downside is addiction and a nasty case of diabetes. Gosh, I’m not sure if this a promise or a threat but it does make me giggle and even with the driving guitar, Dramedy doesn’t sound like he’s taking it all that seriously.

A more acoustic flamenco influenced turn with “Days“. Lyrically, it could be the verbalising of an abusive relationship, purposely going off key to set you on edge.

The first single, “Waiting On You” changes track again. Like a 50s doo whoop of teenage longing with a dose of blinkered crazy on the side, you hence get the slightly erratic guitar work upping the ante. This number also appeared on an EP in 2019 but less dressed up, let us say.

There is a very skiffle Brit-pop sensibility to “What’s Left To Say?”. It still it definitely overall American but the timing and rhythm have that undeniable joyous bouncing flavour that you got from bands such as Swervedriver and Suede.

Oh I hear a bit of the deathrock in “Life Bites Me” and quite frankly life can be like that in these times of covid… watching the time tick by. This could also be a reference to a dead romance that one can’t get over. A cacophony of guitar, drums and enthusiastic vocals.

On a more reflective note is “Circle The Road” which questions why someone else gets to walk away from a relationship and leave the other with no answers. I hear the influence of Jesus and Mary Chain in the guitar here.

As it began, so it finishes with an acoustic piece, “All Our Yesterdays“, which is a ballad with harmonisation from Caroline Blind. Again there is the sound of Jesus And Mary Chain in the structure and also the sentiment, with a bit of Screamadelica, Primal Scream thrown in for good measure.

Dave Dramedy comes with some lofty cred in the post punk/goth community, as the main live guitar player for Caroline Blind (ex Sunshine Blind) and appearing on her debut solo album with a host of other heavyweights such as Rich Witherspoon (The Wake), Dave Wolfenden (Red Lorrry Yellow Lorry, The Mission), Gordon Young (Children On Stun, Pretentious Moi?), William Faith (Faith And The Muse, Christian Death) and we could go on. Plus he was in the deathrock band Readership Hostile, which has its own claims to fame.

This is not some over polished jewel but then there is no fun if everything is over produced. You won’t find any voice modulation or slick production. You will get the bull, horns and everything though, with all the emotion and genuine candour. It’s a little western (pew pew), a bit more angst soul searching and a lot of jangly guitar. Get The Dramedy on and indulge in And The Light Goes White.

https://thedramedy2014.bandcamp.com/album/and-the-light-goes-white

https://www.facebook.com/thedramedy2014/

https://www.thedramedy.com/

Fancy a little gothic Christmas? Nothing says cheer like a carol and Vazum have released for those that aren’t inclined to listening to the regular fare, an EP of dark, tormented odes to the Yuletide, Vazumnacht. If you are unfamiliar with Vazum, they are a gothic/deathrock/shoe gaze, two piece made up of Zach Pliska and Emily Sturm, who are based in Detroit.

VAZUM – ZACH PLISKA & EMILY STURM

There are three numbers on this EP, starting with “Carol Of The Witch“. This is a parody of the traditional song “Carol Of The Bells“, which is instantly striking from the start, done as guitar riffs but after the beginning, this become a gothic dirge of pagan proportions. Discordant guitars sit with Pliska’s almost groaned vocals, while Sturm’s singing, storm through like light breaking through darkness. There are resurgences of the original tune but it just ties it all in.

Me thinks a bit of devil may care is a foot in “Unholy Nite“. Like a chant to summons the dark lord, this shadows “Holy Night” with references to the dark saviour and sulphur.

The synths almost feel off beat in comparison to the guitar, giving an off kilter sensation to “Bark The Hellhounds” and yes this is a nod to “Hark The Herald Angels” but done in the creepy, hurdy gurdy style that Vazum excels in.

In essence, Vazum have taken the bones of three highly favoured carols and not only putting their spin on those songs but for the most part, created new songs. So darklings, get your gothic finest on and celebrate the doomed side of Christmas with Vazumnacht.

https://vazum.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/VAZUMROCKS/

Brisbane, three piece band, The Blackwater Fever, just brought out on November the 20th, their new single, “My Weakness“. The trio comprises of Shane Hicks on vocals/guitar, Jed A. Walters playing bass guitar/rhodes and Trevor Gee on drums/percussion.

The first dropping cords kick in and that blues style can’t be mistaken with its laconic guitar interludes accompanied by piano. Married with an insistent grunge sound in the chorus plus lyrics that convey a one sided love affair, bring to mind acts like Stone Temple Pilots. Hicks‘ vocals are like honey dripping into your ears as he tells you his tale of woe and want.

THE BLACKWATER FEVER

There are songs that paint pictures in your mind and are almost tangible to taste and smell. Grimy desperation, mixed with hot, sweaty lust, all in the name of a woman that would leave you to rot, if she so desired, yet they can’t let go of her. The red back spider on the cover, is an Australian member of the black widow clan, highly poisonous and will cannibalise its mate.

After five albums, these are seasoned professionals and it shows in the production as well as writing skills. This is delightfully moody and carnal, so if you have an itch that you can’t scratch, may I recommend The Blackwater Fever and their remedy, “My Weakness“.

https://www.facebook.com/theblackwaterfever/

https://theblackwaterfever.bandcamp.com/track/my-weakness

Do you remember a classic song by the title “Agent Orange“? It might strike a cord as it was originally released by Scots, Ski Patrol in 1980. In August, Vision Video, a four piece from Georgia in the USA brought forth their version.

This retelling still has that spine tingling feel to the anti war classic. It is post punk heaven but with extra goth punk thrown in.

The original starts off far more quietly and gains speed and volume while the Vision Video begins simply and takes off yet they are more up front vocally.

Love the floating guitar chiming in that adds to the ethereal feel of the music paired with the verbose singing.

An extra added bonus is the band having Tom Ashton involved with the production of this single. For those not familiar with the name, Ashton plays guitars in American goth daddies, The Wake as well as at one point, playing with Dutch icons, Clan Of Xymox.

Agent Orange was the defoliating chemical used during the Vietnam war and the song was a comment on the lasting effects of this chemical warfare, with severe birth defects and soldiers dying from cancer.

Vision Video now uses it as a political call to rise up from apathy, to take control of our future. Good protest songs are timeless and Vision Video has done a brilliant rousing goth version of “Agent Orange“.

https://www.facebook.com/visionvideoband/

https://m.facebook.com/visionvideoband/

July has seen the release of the EP, Unicorn Bones, by Chicago duo, Karen Righeimer and Ivan Russia, also known as Bellhead. I can definitely say the rhythm section for this band is tight. Both Righeimer and Russia both play bass, low and high respectively, both share vocal duties, though Ivan is very much the lead singer and are backed up by their dependable drum machine.

The band in their bio, make reference to their influences from goth rock legends, Bauhaus to the alternative rock royalty that is the White Stripes to the gothic/post punk stylings of She Wants Revenge, yet truthfully, they definitely have a sound that is very much their own.

BELLHEAD -KAREN RIGHEIMER & IVAN RUSSIA

Snuff Film 1974” is straight off the bat with it’s thumping heavy rhythm that grabs your attention before dragging said attention to the graveled out vocals of Russia and the disturbing lyric content about a small female child murdered in film for others entertainment. This is the only track not written by Bellhead but rather penned by Sheriff Michael Scabs of the Sheriff Scabs band of which Russia has also been a member of. A thing of nightmares.

Really dig “Unicorn Bones” as it is a very nonchalant, grooving number that just has that keep on trucking feel. The vocals play tag as they paint a vision of glittering violence and sad demise of those that live in the shadowed, dangerous places. Sinister and sleazy.

A song about a conman or less than reputable fellow, trying to stay one step in front of oblivion but wanting to take to take one last stab of having the person they have always loved. A final last chance is of happiness is “Always (Running After The Sun)“. This is a far more poignant track, slower and thoughtful with intensity.

Annnd serial killer/psycho time. “Knife” is sexy whispers with the intent of maiming and destroying. Low and distorted noise backs the bass just for that extra creepy ambiance.

Sidewinder” has a more rock flare about it, but it’s all the dirty bits of rock. The low and high bass building the sound up in such a manner that it feels angry and greasy, finishing off the EP.

The choice and use of high and low bass without any regular guitar is an interesting marriage of instruments but works well for Bellhead. Bass brings on the rhythm and produces a rich, big sound.

So if you fancy the darker, more nightmarish side of the industrial, gothic rock genre, then do catch up with Bellhead and their not so sparkly but equally intriguing, Unicorn Bones, with none of the guitar bull.

https://bellhead.bandcamp.com/album/unicorn-bones

https://www.facebook.com/bellheadband