Ireland is a land of poets and musicians, and in this vein there is the duo of  Liam O Callaghan (vocals, guitars) and Edward Butt (guitars) in Arctic Lights. The 3rd of February sees the release of their new single “Holy Joe” and they are joined by Max Mac on drums and playing tambourine Nora O’Neill.

You are greeted with brash guitars, that lead into the thundering drums and synths that chime in. O’Callaghan’s purposeful whispers are perfect with the rock attitude and a pinch of psychedelia giving it a funky edge.

The guys have stated that they need to change things up or they get bored and they have certainly have done that. The very name “Holy Joe” had me thinking of The Cult’sResurrection Joe” but the track far more reminds me of the equally wonderful Love And Rockets. The track powers along, a perfect blend of alt rock creating an urge to live life to the fullest. So, like Marc Bolan said, get it on with Arctic Lights and “Holy Joe“.

https://arcticlights.bandcamp.com/track/holy-joe

https://www.facebook.com/ArcticLightsCork?mibextid=ZbWKwL

New band time!!!! Electrinity are from Piraeus, in Greece and they have dropped their debut maxi single, “Rise“. This is an electro rock project by duo Zan Pol (vocals, bass) and Antonis Adelfidis (synthesizers, samples, drums) and the single was released on February the 1st.

As a maxi single there are two songs to delight you. The first is “Aggressive A.I.“, a mixture of rising keyboards and electric guitar, warning before the grave alert to something seriously wrong. The machines are no longer safe to be around as the synths illuminate our modern foe, while the vocals tell you of our worse nightmare. The second single is “Love“, though, in the words of PIL, this is not a love song. A cry in the electro wilderness to not be overlooked and the bass punctuate the lyrics. The synths exude a darkwave quality.

Electrinity look to be generating a theme that incorporates the vision of Terminator and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, with darker electro sound, the bass giving it that slightly more dirty, grungy sound. What will they do next? If you want to find out then support a new act in Electrinity and “Rise“.

https://electrinityband.bandcamp.com/album/rise

https://www.facebook.com/Electrinity-105535501995175/

Colorado goth band, Plague Garden formed just over three years ago, with members Fernando Altonaga and Angelo Atencio, and in that time, rather impressively, have released an album a year. The latest was unleashed on Halloween of 2022, named Blue Captain on the label Bleeding Light Music.

The bass conjures thoughts of The Damned or The Cure, as the album starts off with “Tonight” and breaks into a cool barrage of post-punk jangling guitar. The vocals echoing in the beautiful shadows of nightfall with a drum machine punctuating the thick air. The serpentine winding of “Land Of The Free” is a commentary that not everyone is so free in a land where money and privilege can buy you everything. The single “Blue Captain” has the tendrils of The Cure’s Pornography curling all over it from the curt beats to the wandering guitar that graces your ears, and it almost seems you can hear the waves of all hope lost, washing up onto shore. So we descend into the depths, with tones of early 80s Sisters Of Mercy in the intro, to be “Bathed In Fire“, a holy baptism by flame. The rhythm pickups in the mood ridden “We Will Be Forgotten” with it’s fusion of gothic roc\k with electronics, which is perfect to set up the last track “Cry” in its sorrowful lament, though you cannot truly be so sad when you hear that twisting guitar.

You can’t deny hearing the musical influences for these two gentlemen but at the same time they are not trying to be those bands, rather paying homage and building their own music from what they love. Plague Garden have gone for creating beauty from simple good writing and that always gives the music more heart. Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue…. this is Blue Captain.

https://plaguegarden.bandcamp.com/album/blue-captain-2

http://www.facebook.com/Plague-Garden-361762094541437/

Name your poison! For VAZUM, it is deadly “Night Shade“, which happens to be their next single as released on the spooktacular day of Friday the 13th of January, by the deathgaze duo of Zach Pliska and Emily Sturm.

The driving guitar is the trademark of VAZUM and “Night Shade” is laced with it. A warning that not all fawning friends and influencers, are actually going to be there for you when the chips are laid down. But they will lie to your face and make you adore them, which fits in perfectly with the contemptuous music. There is also a second track included that also follows the theme of untruths, called “Living Great” that has this wonderful shoegaze brilliance that never pauses.

Having two very different sounding tracks, even if they are on the short comings of humans, makes this release quite delightful bit of gothic rock to get your heart beating. VAZUM again have given us something killer in “Night Shade“, a killer of a track which is name your price on Bandcamp.

https://vazum.bandcamp.com/album/night-shade

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

https://www.instagram.com/vazum_

The Yets are the dream pop duo, Robin Wilson (vocals, keyboards, lyrics), and Craig Anderson Snook (guitar, everything else), who are based in South Carolina Their self-titled debut EP has given us the new single, “A Letter To A Boy“.

In a different era, before social media and text messages, one often wrote long letters of love. The wistful and dreamy guitar jangle echo’s back in time, while the vocals sweetly give you an insight into her heart and how much this boy means to her as a mother. The keyboards are an understated accomplice to the beautiful guitar flourishes, as Wilson reminds the lad that no matter what, he is forever her beloved.

The guitar work and the ethereal nature really does give this track that Cocteau Twins delightful ambience, though there is something I cannot quite put my finger on, that definitely makes it sound not quintessentially British, which is great. I love the guitar and the vocals, more so that The Yets have their own niche sound that sets them apart

The Yets | The Yets (bandcamp.com)

https://www.facebook.com/theyets?mibextid=ZbWKwL

The night(mare) before Christmas, came in the form of the track, “The Snow Queen Is Coming” by New Zero God. This is the first release from the four piece post-punk band since 2019 and their lead singer, Mike Pougounas, is a stalwart in the Greek gothic/darkwave scene since the 80s.

The best description would be a sinfully sumptuous amount of jangly guitar with the vocals delightfully crystal clear. A precautionary tale to not let the Snow Queen steal you away, for otherwise, you will never see another day.

I remember Mike from the MySpace days, when we would talk of music and he sent several pictures of Athens covered in snow, which is something a lot of people don’t realise, that it actually gets that cold in Greece. The snow looks pure and beautiful, but in essence, she will slowly freeze you until your heart stops. This is the Hans Christian Andersen queen of snow, as the song says, though the title made me think of the witch queen from The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. For those currently in the grip of winter, will know her icy touch but can enjoy a warm dance to this fabulous piece.

The Snow Queen Is Coming | New Zero God (bandcamp.com)

New Zero God | Facebook

HOME (newzerogod.com)

There is a lot of excitement in the electro-industrial world currently with the fact that Germans, Beborn Beton just released their new single, “Dancer In The Dark“, however the big news is that the single is linked to a brand spanking new album, titled Darkness Falls Again which is slated to drop on the 17th of March, with Dependent Records.

Wonderful, danceable beat, sprinkled light synths that harmonise with the vocals. Speaking of vocals, the last time we heard Netschio singing was on a track with Kill Shelter and it so nice to hear his dulcet tones. The electronics court with the guitar, spinning and melding into a track of perfection.

Oh, Beborn Beton…. how I have missed your eloquently smooth synthpop. There is a real human warmth in their music considering they use electronics and I can guarantee that “Dancer In The Dark” is going draw you in and satisfy your craving for beautifully crafted music.

Darkness Falls Again | Beborn Beton (bandcamp.com)

Beborn Beton | Facebook

Woohoo and the year kicked off with a bang. German industrial meisters, ROTERSAND hit the ground running with a new single, “Higher Ground” as of New Years Day 2023, on the label Metropolis Records. It is has been exactly a year since the release of the previous single “Grey“, and though we have been able to hear the guys performing remix magic last year, the exciting news is that “Higher Ground” is heralding the countdown to a new album!

From the beginning, already, the skin is goose fleshing in anticipation with the build-up. Nikov’s vocals really are just silken and ever smooth, an observation that some people will always be a beacon of hope and sanctuary, even at their own discomfort. I even detect the strumming of an acoustic guitar. That is before it all just takes flight with that fabulous synthie pop beat and surging electronics coming at you in waves.

The Evendorff remix is fresh and intense, like a blast of concentrated ROTERSAND, which makes it pretty electric. Beautifully recorded and mastered. Also, there is the radio edit version, but that is neither here nor there as “Higher Ground” is a little piece of EBM magic

Higher Ground | Rotersand (bandcamp.com)

Rotersand | Gelsenkirchen | Facebook

Rotersand – Truth is Fanatic again.

Joshua Murphy is an ex-pat Australian musician, now living in Berlin and his debut solo EP, Lowlands was released in December of 2022, on the aufnahme + wiedergabe label. Lowlands is a slice of Australiana story telling in the bleak and often unforgiving outback, where loneliness, distance, scorching heat and dead cold can easily affect the human psyche. It follows in the gritty southern gothic vein of Nick Cave, where good and evil court in the dust and sweat of yesteryear’s memories, which are long in small country towns. Murphy echoes a tradition of musicians where there is nothing that quite sounds like the Aussie post-punk scene from Cave, or the laconic late Roland S Howard, or the hauntingly beautiful songs of the late David McComb of The Triffids. We spoke to Murphy about the EP, what lead to the writing and was involved in the recording. I will just say that as an Australian, this land leaves an indelible mark under your skin.

You are a member of Crime And The City Solution but you have taken the time to write and record your debut solo material, in the form of “Lowlands”. What prompted you on this solo journey?

I started working on “Lowlands” alongside Producer Martin J. Fiedler in 2019. It was a sort of re-introduction to creation for me after a 5-year break. It was later that I met Simon and was asked to join Crime & The City Solution. Martin had started working with the band on their new record, and I was asked to add some guitars. Which later turned into playing some shows with the band and then joining, but joining Crime came as a result of making “Lowlands”, not the other way around.

Photo by Steve Gullick

Being the sole composer and decision maker, have you found it easier or harder?


There is something very freeing in having full creative control. I knew what kind of record I wanted to create, so having the autonomy to make decisions just meant that I could arrive where I already knew I wanted to go. It is important to say that I wasn’t alone in the process though, I had a great ally in Martin J. Fiedler, who produced, recorded and mixed “Lowlands”. Martin sat with me at the piano, in his home and listened to the sketches of songs as I was writing them, and always gently pointed me in the right direction when it was needed. He helped immensely to sculpt and realise this record. Though I wouldn’t have been able to make “Lowlands” in a band formation, its songs are singular, and deeply personal. I wouldn’t have been able to go there if the focus was one of creative exchange, this wasn’t about that.

“Lowlands” is a gritty a dark release, with many comparing it to the works of Nick Cave, where you can almost feel the dust on your tongue and it does have a lost in the open spaces of the Australian landscape quality. What compelled you to write “Lowlands”?

I’m happy if it makes you feel that. I wanted to write a record that forced, or helped, (depending on how you look at it), me to reflect and confront a lot of the things in myself. I wanted it to sound like my home of Australia, specifically the rural areas where I grew up, with that vastness that can make you feel both connected to something, and completely at its mercy. I was compelled to write a record that felt like me, both lyrically and musically.

Joshua, you make reference to ghosts or tormented spirits, which evokes images of violent and lawless times…. where did you draw the inspiration for the imagery?

“Littered with Ghosts” is about lies and the idea that living within your own fabricated reality gives birth to ghosts, manifestations of lies told, physical companions serving as constant reminders. Specifically relating to the lies we tell ourselves, which is possibly one of the most violent things we can do. To lie to ourselves, distorts everything we are, and everyone around us. The inspiration is drawn from my life, from mistakes made, and from wanting to free myself from the companions I gathered along the way.

There is something of the story teller in Joshua Murphy, so is this something you enjoy in music?

I’m a huge Country, early Blues and Folk music fan. I see these three genres as very similar, just presented by a different people, at a different time. They all speak of truth, they tell tales, there is an imagery and story to their songs, they are generally set over very simple chord progressions, and centred around a singular truth. Love, loss, regret, joy. That’s always been what songs are about for me, the centre, the tale, the music and melody are just there to relay that centre, that story, that truth told.


Do you have a favourite track off “Lowlands” and if so why?


That would be “The Fault Was Lain There Too”. I remember having the idea for the song, and the story that I wanted to tell, but I don’t remember working on it. Generally my songs go through 3 or 4 versions, a sketch, a draft, taking form slowly over time. “The Fault Was Lain There Too” was written in one sitting, recorded into my phone, put aside, and forgotten about. My friend Jesper Munk found it in my phone one night when we were showing each other song ideas. I had this song I was showing him, he kind of shrugged and started searching through my phone for other sketches, finding “The Fault Was Lain There Too”. I very clearly remember us sitting there, listening to it, and laughing about the fact that what we both believed to be my best work so far had been put aside and forgotten. I’m very thankful for that night.

As a multi-instrumentalist, what instruments were used to create “Lowlands”, especially some of the more jarring sounds that give a harsher effect?

I decided on a list of instruments before starting to record “Lowlands”, the idea being that limitations would help retain the narrative of the songs, and also create a narrative in the production of the record itself. Between Martin, Jonathan Dreyfus, and myself, we played all the instruments on “Lowlands”. The voice, piano, guitar, synthesiser, double bass, cello, voila and violin. Anything you hear on the record is made using these instruments, including the percussive sounds. Some of those harsher effects are synthesiser, or the sound of the instruments themselves being hit in a percussive manner.

There is a seductive beauty about dark places whether that is man-made, natural or in the minds and hearts of men. What draws you to the darkness?

I don’t really have a definitive answer to that. Musically I know that I like the sensuality of darker music, the chords and progressions used. I like the violence of the attack, and tension in the instruments played. The danger of the rhythms, the fact that everything sits on the back foot rhythmically, and when done correctly, I find it all to be, as you say, seductive. Although lyrically I’ve always been drawn to hopeful stories. The coupling of dark delivery and hope is something I find to be very human. That sentiment that even though we might be at the bottom, we are looking up. I believe people are hopeful, even if a little dark at times. “Lowlands” is a hopeful record.

For myself, Australian post-punk music has a certain sound or aesthetic you can hear that sets it apart. Do you think this is the case?

I do. I’ve thought about this a lot over the last years. My friend and Producer Martin always comments on the Australian touch, or sound. The chords we use, the way we approach songs. He describes it as uniquely Australian. Beautiful, yet violent, equally sad and hopeful. I’ve come to agree with him, I think it comes from the country itself. Australia is a very unforgiving place, both in the climate, and the people. It can be very harsh and desolate, isolating and lonely, it’s people can be quite rough and violent. On the other hand, It’s also visually stunning, it’s full of impossible landscapes, beautiful and endless. I think it’s the combination of this violent, rough isolation, and the most beautiful, peaceful and endless landscapes I’ve seen, that must take root in us somehow, and ultimately shape the way we play, and this Australian sound.

Photo by Steve Gullick

The German label, aufnahme + wiedergabe is heavily associated with the German post-punk, industrial and dark arts scenes. How did you end up signing and are you still pinching yourself being on their label?

Philipp Strobel (the head of the label) is my best friend. We’ve known each other for 10 years, and have spent a very large portion of that time together. While I was making “Lowlands”, we would sit together, speak about the record and listen to the demo’s, rough mixes and final mixes. The idea was never actually to release on a+w, I actively told him many times through the process, this is not for the label, I just need your opinion on something. It got to the point that he had to sit me down as the record was being finished and say to me. I know you don’t want to release on a+w, but I want to release the record. We both laughed a lot that day.

You have said that the beauty of music is the most important thing on this EP and that it can change for the live shows. Can you explain that a little more?

I think you may have misunderstood me here. What I actually said was that I think that the songs are the most important thing on the record. Everything begins and ends with the songs. Making everything else, whilst it should be beautiful, ultimately interchangeable. What I mean is that, the lines, the instruments, they should be beautiful, and they play a huge role in the delivery of the song in that specific recorded form, but the song exists with or without those elements. These elements can, and should be changed for live shows. I’ve done shows where the songs have been played on an electric guitar with a sampler and loop pedal, I’ve done shows alone with an acoustic guitar. I have played them many times alone on piano, at different tempos, in different keys. I love the music we created for the record, I’m proud of it, and I think it’s very beautiful, I enjoy listening to it very much. I don’t plan to be tied to it though, not in the same way I am tied to the songs. A song is a living thing that can change as we change, it would not serve the song to present it, night after night as some sort of
rehearsed theatre piece. A song is not that.

The EP is written from an Australian perspective but do you think in a way, living in Berlin inspired that Australian Identity?


That’s a really good question. I think it has. There are some things about yourself that you don’t see until you look at them from afar. This was certainly the case for me in relation to music and living overseas. That distance in living on the other side of the world for the last decade has shown me that I am fundamentally, whilst I don’t see myself as singularly Australian, I am, in fact an Australian Musician. The parts that come out of me musically, are, at their core, Australian. I’ve also realised that I like that part of myself. I am drawn to an Australian musical Identity.

You have made your life in Germany currently, but do you miss Australia and do you ever think of coming back?

I’ve lived in Germany since March 2013, I have loved my time there, but I don’t think I will stay there forever. I don’t know exactly where I will go next, but I don’t plan to go back to Australia. I loved living in Australia, but I’m not a nostalgic person, I don’t miss it, and I probably won’t miss Germany once I leave. I try to be very involved in what I’m doing, and where I am while it’s happening. Once it’s over I try not to reside there anymore.

Photo by Steve Gullick

What music/bands inspired you when you were younger and have your tastes changed since then?

Growing up I was a guitar player, I was obsessed with notes and that form of expression, it was all Jimi Hendrix, John Frusciante, Eddie Hazel, Omar Rodriquez Lopez. Then I started to move more towards early blues, which is guitar and song, or tale based, people like Howling Wolf, Elmore James, Lighting Hopkins. Around this time I also started to realise what a great lyricist Jimi Hendrix was, I read an article that Jimi always used to carry a book of Bob Dylan lyrics around with him, that took me down the road of Country and Folk music, and that’s when I first got obsessed with stories, what they could do to you, a song with a good story is like a book, it can be devastating, or comforting, and it’s full of imagery and worlds. People like Gillian Welch, Leonard Cohen, Paul Kelly, Nick Cave, P.J. Harvey. Finally it all came back around to people like Rowland S. Howard, who uses the guitar in the way that I love, but also tell stories and write songs, I don’t think too many people do that. That’s what I want to try and achieve, music and songs that are both parts beautiful.

Can we be expecting an album at some point?

For sure, I’m working on the next release already, I’m half way through writing the songs, I’ll keep writing for another half a year and then start recording. I’m planning to have it finished this year in order to release in 2024. That’s the plan, but I don’t want to rush things, it will take as long as it takes.

Soooo, this is the fun bit. You are asked to contribute a cover song for a compilation and you can have guest musicians on it. What song are you going to cover and which musicians are you going to include, remembering that we don’t mind a bit of necromancy here when it comes to music and are willing to dig up a few souls?

Dead Radio, featuring Rowland S. Howard!

Thank you Joshua for being a good sport and talking to us today.

Lowlands | Joshua Murphy | aufnahme + wiedergabe (bandcamp.com)

aufnahme + wiedergabe (aufnahmeundwiedergabe.de)

[aufnahme + wiedergabe] | Berlin | Facebook

I had heard of The Singularity, and then when the name Julian Shah-Tayler was connected to this project… I believe my brain went into a series of loops of thinking, wait, isn’t he an actor? He is, if I recall correctly. Well, if you are not familiar, British born Shah-Tayler is The Singularity, now based in the US, and his latest album, Elysium, was released on the 24th of October, recorded between the Bird of Paradigm studio and the TARDIS studio….. but is it bigger on the inside?!

Photo by John Travis

This album seems to have been about a year in the making due to the gradual release of singles, and this could be due to issues in the past two years, i.e., the plague but also from my perspective, a lot of effort and attention has gone into each track. And with fourteen tracks on offer, there is a lot to get into, so we thought we might draw your attention to some of the singles.

Melt” is about being with the person that truly makes you weak at the knees and yet light as a feather. The general ambience reminds me a lot of Duran Duran in their period of 1993, with their self-titled album that had the amazing “Ordinary World” and “Melt” has that same flow. Chris J Olivas of Berlin fame supplies the drums.

David J. is a solo artist in his own right, but best known as a member of Bauhaus, and he also appears on the track, “The Devil Knows,” laying down the bass, in this rather funky song. The music video is also well worth checking out.

The track “Kintsugi” is breathtaking in both its conviction and sound. A whirlwind of guitar and drums, again percussion by Olivas, with Shah-Tayler singing these beautiful lyrics. For those unfamiliar with the concept of kintsugi, it is a Japanese tradition of not throwing away broken pottery, however, using gold to repair the vessel, which in turn makes it more unique and precious. A metaphor for a once broken heart.

Shah-Tayler doesn’t have to make music, as the acting gig makes far more money than being an alternative musician, but it is very evident he does it because that is where his heart is at. His passion for the avant-garde and darkwave artistry is very deeply ingrained. This then draws together the talents of David J. and Chris J Olivas, as well as MGT, Gene Micofsky, and others. Elysium is a bit synthwave, a bit post-punk, and most importantly, never boring.

https://thesingularitymusic.bandcamp.com/album/elysium

http://www.thesingularitymusic.com/

http://www.facebook.com/thesingularitymusic