New Zealand’s post-punk purveyors, Vietnam, have released their third single off the album, This Quiet Room, accompanied by a video. Many of the members have, since the 80s, moved across the Tasman, to the shores of Australia, so with that in mind, some of “In Another Desert” is filmed in Sydney and other pieces, in their home town of Wellington.

There is the high paced jangle of guitars, matched by the drums. The vocals remind you, you have been to places you never thought you would be, left for greener pasture and ended up in another desert. The lead guitar gives us these most beautiful flourishes, whilst the adjoining guitars build and drop the tension so deliciously with the aid of the synths.

It is such a good single off the album, as it fare flies from the instruments with those gorgeous hues of tone. Shadows from the past, mixing with the reality of the present, incorporating a live sample of a stick countdown, by original drummer, Leon Reedijk, who sadly is no-longer with us. Every time I hear this track, it just gets better and Vietnam are kindred spirits to bands such as The Church and The Chills, and as such, masters of evoking sentiment and memories.

This Quiet Room | Vietnam (NZ) (bandcamp.com)

Vietnam – NZ | Facebook

New Zealamd’s System Corporation, first started in around 2012 with Scott Newth, whom happens to be the live sound engineer, and music producer for The Datsuns. He was joined by The Datsuns’ drummer, Ben Cole (The Joint Chiefs), then Andrew Newth (Southern Tribe) and Kent Newth (Rumpus Room). They have a new single that came out on the 18th of April, titled, “The Zombies Walking“.

There is a despair that hits you in the guts. Maybe it is the simple drumming or the strumming guitar or the imploring vocals of Scott, who is asking, why are people being lead astray willingly by those in power?…no will power of their own to fight back because they are following the system. Underlying, you hear the synths wailing slightly for a little before they give up to the guitars and piano in a rising fervour, before the synths return to wind down the track.

Seems to be a lot of Newth in this band but it works for them. I have to say that in a way, they remind me a lot of Midnight Oil or Spy Vs Spy. It could be the whole activist, stirring people up to motivate them out of a stupor or it could also just be that wonderful use of guitars and drums to evoke feelings with a vocalist that is truly singing from his heart. Every time I heard this, I found myself liking it more, so wake up zombie people and join the System Corporation.

System Corporation (bandcamp.com)

System Corporation | Facebook

Brisbane band, Daylight Ghosts have been tantalizing you with singles since 2020. Comprised of musicians Adam Dawe (vocalist/songwriter) and Karl O’Shea (guitarist/composer/programmer/shaker of reindeer bells), this duo is involved in no less that 6 other bands between them but they decided to embark on a musical route neither has traveled before. The 25th of March, 2022 marks the release of their album Urban Umbra, which is a collection of the singles and extra tracks.

I have reviewed some of the singles previously, so I was already familiar with many of the tracks. I would have to say my favourite off the album is “After The Fall“, It is simple in its delivery, with a slow intense burn that you feel to your very core. Dawe’s singing is so perfect, giving you goosebumps with the sadness and tenderness. You can be consumed by tracks like “Golden Hour” which reflects the fading of points in time which cannot be recaptured, the melancholic “No Man’s Land” (no doubt Nick Cave inspired) and the intricate “After The Flood“.

In the end Urban Umbra runs a gamut of lost and unrequited love, lost perfect moments in time and tunes that you can decide what they mean to you. There is a divine symmetry between the acoustic and the use of synths, giving each of those tracks a well of emotional depth. O’Shea composes tunes that in essence have a dark core to them and wend their way into your mortal fabric. Dawes creates lyrics that pull at your heart strings, evoke memories and sentimental ideals, while his singing paints pictures of what has been and mirages of what could have been, in colours of murky dusky hues. This is the essence of Daylight Ghost’s Urban Umbra, a shadowy world of memory and dreams, drenched in longing. To that end……bleakly exquisite.

Urban Umbra | Daylight Ghosts (bandcamp.com)

Daylight Ghosts | Facebook

The 4th of March is the day Brisbane band, Daylight Ghosts unleashed their latest single, “Golden Hour” which is off then soon to be released debut album Urban Umbra, Adam Dawe (lyrics, vocals) and Karl O’Shea (acoustic guitar, glockenspiel, sleigh bells, keyboards) are the duo responsible and Karl is so very lucky I didn’t know about the sleigh bells or that would have been questioned vigorously in the interview that will be available after Urban Umbra is released on March the 25th. A stalwart of the Brisbane music scene, Matt Dodds was involved in programming, production, mixing and mastering.

The acoustic guitar and glockenspiel are such simple instruments and yet they convey such emotion and warmth. The synths are like a virtuoso filler, giving the song a fuller feel as it proceeds. Dawes’ vocals are heart-wrenching and poignant as he sings about all beautiful moments will draw to a close.

“Golden Hour is a song about beautiful moments and the cruel realisation that they have to inevitably end” explains vocalist/lyricist Adam Dawe. “It’s a personal reminder to make the most of the moments as they all have an expiry date and nothing lasts forever. To enjoy the last rays of light before the sun inevitably sets for the day.”

Life is full of moments of realising that that particularly wonderful instant will fade and it is bittersweet but there is also the realisation that there will be many more of those moments in time. The video was created with director/DOP Rhys Tyack, with the band members in the bush looking completely wrecked and human crows waiting for their last moments. Even O’Shea’s bandmate from Ghostwoods, James Lees had a hand in making the video and it is jolly well worth a look. So, sit back and relax in the glow and gorgeous warmth of the “Golden Hour”.

Golden Hour | Daylight Ghosts (bandcamp.com)

Daylight Ghosts | Facebook

New Zealand in the 80s, among its many acts, had Vietnam, who were active from 1981-85 and are back after a long hiatus, with a new album called This Quiet Room. Previously they had released their debut, self titled album back in 1985, so this makes This Quiet Room their second album ever, making it a long time between drinks but some things are worth waiting for. The guys are older, maybe a little more world savvy but still full of passion. Making up the band are Shane Bradbrook (vocals), Cranston Brecht (guitar), Barn Coren (guitar), Geoff Lerwill (keyboards, piano, organ), Joe Neufeld (drums, backing vocals) and Adrian Workman (bass, bass VI, guitar, modular synths, piano, backing vocals).

All up there are 12 tracks for your listening pleasure here…. well 11 as “Leon” is this odd bridging piece of what sounds like an audience in a pub. “In Another Desert” sets the whole tone really, where the raucous pace picks you up and those wonderful guitar lines ring out at you. I hear lots of influences within, such as the Billy Bragg like “I Once Said“, and a cover of “Kidney Bingos” by Wire, which also has a Johnny Marr edge to it. Magazine could have written “What Have I Done“, which is also one of my favourites, and the reflective “Do It for You” and “It’s All Around“, with its swelling chorus. There is the much more poppy “Always Hotels” and at the other side of the spectrum is the almost darkwave “Whispers To Ignore”. The plinking bar piano and smoky ambiance of “Lost In The Flame” could be Portishead, while the ghost of Australian band Hunters And Collectors inhabits “Truth Vs Love“. It is actually the last song on the album that is the latest single, called “Where Is My Happiness?“. A lament about being let down by those that never should, and yet the the guitars are light in opposition to the lyrics.

Australian and New Zealand music scenes in the late 70s and early 80s were very intertwined. There was the very Antipodean sound coming out of the post-punk purveyors of the time, with bands traveling the Tasman Sea to tour and many New Zealand bands eventually settling in Australia. At a time when most bands were coming from the South Island, giving rise to the Dunedin Sound, Vietnam were from Wellington on the North Island. Obviously in the 80s, the members of Vietnam were unable to keep the band together at the time but now, post-punk is seeing a great revival (though for some of us it never went away) and many great bands of the period are seeing people take interest in their music again, making it easier to reach an audience. This Quiet Room has the wonderful jangle and exploding with dark exuberance. The atmosphere created by Vietnam NZ is joyous nihilism with good solid songwriting and years of honed practice. Have a beer, a dance and turn up This Quiet Room.

https://vietnamnz.bandcamp.com/album/this-quiet-room

https://www.facebook.com/VietnamBandNZ/

Right, this might be the only time I do one of these reviews, but we will get back to that later. Thanatos is a dark electric/acoustic project that started in the 80’s between Sam Rosenthal and Patrick Ogle. November 26th found us with a new album called….. Country Covered. Yep. I was kind of dared into doing this by one Michel Rowland before I realised it was country music. The pedigree is there. Gothy band, recorded in William Faith’s (Faith & The Muse, Christian Death) 13 Studio and mixed at Martin Bowes‘ (Attrition) Cage Studio. What have I gotten myself into? Poop!

PATRICK OGLE – THANATOS

The album is the brain child of Patrick Ogle, who obviously loves country music or the fact he finds the craftsmanship of the music exceptional. There are nine tracks in total and they are all played on acoustic guitar by Ogle as he sings. There seems to be everything from oldies by Kris Kristofferson and Townes Van Zandt to more modern tunes. As with all country songs they cover a gamut of subjects that most other genre don’t. The loneliness of the wilderness, riding the open plains, gun slinging and bar brawls to missing your loved ones while working the land or simply watching the sky turn shades of orange, pink and hues of blue, as the sun disappears while you sit in your encampment.

The single off Country Covered is “Seminole Wind” was composed and originally sung by John Anderson in 1992 about Florida’s destruction and loss of the natural habitat that supports the ecosystem. The vocals and tone in this new version remind me a lot of legendary Man In Black aka Johnny Cash. The whole album is beautifully produced and it does almost feel like you are at a campsite around a roaring fire in the cool night air. Ogles’s performance never wavers nor does it ever sound like his heart is not there. For me, I grew up for the first six years of my life in small country towns where the music of choice was country and western as it was known back then. For some reason, even though I heard John Denver and the rhinestone cowboy, Glenn Campbell, all my life, I find it a really challenging genre to like and to this end, I am definitely no expert. If you found yourself in awe of what Johnny Cash did to Nine Inch Nails then you may very well find that this collection of country song soothes your soul. You will find this Thanatos album on the Projekt label and it name you price download.

Covered Country (name-your-price) | Thanatos | Projekt Records (bandcamp.com)

Thanatos – Projekt (facebook.com)

Nathan Amundson, from Denver, Colorado, has been at the helm of the band Rivulets, since 2000. The latest single to be released on November the 1st, is a song that can be found on the 2006 album, You Are My Home, however this version is a digital master of the track “Can’t I Wonder“, performed solo by Amundson.

NATHAN AMUNDSON -RIVULETS

This is literally one man and his acoustic guitar. The vocals are soft and Amundson has a very sweet timbre. For me, the song makes me think of snow and frosty mornings, when the day is quiet. You are alone in your thoughts because a new day has broken and it full of possibilities.

This is a very stripped back affair compared to the 2006 version though I feel both deserve their time in the light. The current single has a sense of both lament and hope, brought to the foreground because the bones and soul have been lair bare for all to see. You could describe the music as minimalist indie folk but we will just say that Rivulets do this really well.

https://rivulets.bandcamp.com/track/cant-i-wonder-solo-version

Rivulets | Facebook

rivulets.net – Official site for Nathan Amundson and Rivulets

September the 24th saw the release of Brisbane band, Daylight Ghosts, latest single, “In The Glow“. This neo-folk group is made up of two members, Adam Dawe (vocals/lyrics) and Karl O’Shea (acoustic guitar/keyboards/arrangement) and was given life in 2019. Since then, they have brought forth two previous singles and are looking towards the release of the EP, also named In The Glow.

DAYLIGHT GHOSTS

The drum machine hold the constant beat, the acoustic guitar winds it’s way around Dawe’s vocals. A melancholy about that they cannot live with nor without. ‘Lyrically In The Glow is a song about addiction disguised as the creative process disguised as addiction. Erase. Start over. Erase‘, wrote Dawe. There is an insistent piano line in the chorus and synths that gently aid in the heightened emotions.

There is a lot passion and heart in this piece. O’Shea plays the guitar beautifully and Dawe never lets the lament break the smooth and clean vocals. Gothic tinged electro/neo-folk is probably my best description of Daylight Ghosts. They literally are like a blue flame in the dusk hours, illuminating the shadows into stories to be sung. Discover Daylight Ghosts and their eerily alluring “Into The Glow“.

https://daylightghosts.bandcamp.com/track/in-the-glow

https://www.facebook.com/daylightghostsmusic

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/

Brixton Alley are three lads, Alex, Ben and Jonny, from the UK, who somehow ended up in Brisbane, Australia. This punk/pop/rap fusion band also released this year a new EP called, “Nevermore“.

Alex Wells is the drummer for the band with his brother, Ben Wells, playing bass and contributing backing vocals, as well as Jonny Magro as lead singer and on guitar.

BRIXTON ALLEY

There are vibrant highs, through to staccato vocal punctuations in the first track, “Headache“. The frustration of finding work and trying to escape the hometown/village and its sad populace, in order to find something better.

The guitars sing out to you in “Voices” and it is a bit of an indie pop anthem to the youth of the day… the daily struggle with moments of beauty. The girl in the song might be hearing voices but maybe we need to hear those inner voices.

The brit pop influenced guitar lines bring us “Owl“. This is a cheeky observation on men out on the town, ogling girls to the point, their heads swivel around like the feathered night predators, as they greedily look for pretty prey. This has a really nice, catchy hook which you will hear in your head after the song has finished.

Animals” has a reggae sensibility with rap incursions. It is feels joyous and yet laments that we have forgotten our primal instincts. A good laid back rock number.

BRIXTON ALLEY

The acoustic beginning of “Outsider” shows a slower and more romantic piece. This is a modern ode to love, including cigarettes and a can of cider. This is laconic and slightly darker that it admits to, with the pleads to over look mental struggles.

The tunes are fun to listen to and yet are observations on modern existence in this age of excess. In some ways they remind me of one of my favourite post punk bands, New Model Army, with their swagger and revelations. It’s all about the journey, so it might be time time join Brixton Alley and have a listen to Nevermore.

https://m.facebook.com/brixtonalleyband/