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

Estetica Noir are darkwave/post-punk group, founded in 2013 in Turin, Italy and they released their second album this year on the Red Cat Records label, called This Dream In Monochrome. The band is comprised of founding members Silvio Oreste (vocals-guitars-programming) and Rik Guido (bass), as well as Paolo Accossato (drums) and Marco Caliandro (synth-programming-back vocals).

There is something beautifully serpentine about the track “Room Of Masks“, as we are introduced to Estetica Noir and their lead vocalist’s ringing tones. Basically if this is the quality of what is to follow, then the whole album is going to be a treat. The second single off the album is “Sweeper” which is simply a divine myriad of guitars, synths and vocals. So utterly catchy.

Striate Body” has a harsher tone to it in the beginning but that all melts in the chorus, only to return for this song, that was the first single released. The contrast of abrasive vocals and sweeter singing is quite delightful. The rain greets you in “Autumn” with unaccompanied keyboards, building a soundscape where if you listen carefully enough you hear the heartbeat. I still suffer from the pain of hearing the old internet dial up sound. “N.U.” uses this effect within the track. There is a cyber coldness as you feel the icy tendrils of the synths.

Such a wonderful build up of guitar in “Dawn Of Pluto” that drives it along on a sonic wave and echos throughout the whole piece. Do you have a strong preference for the night or darkness? You might suffer from “Nychtophilia” and the track is sexy with a soaring chorus about those that inhabit the shadows. “X” could mean a kiss in this spine tingling track. Smooth and slick with the breathy chorus. In the next number, a short instrumental, truly feels like it is on a precipice and maybe that is why it is called “The Fall“. We hit the last track, which is the retrospective “Climbing Up The Loneliness“. Such a superb balance of vocals with the haunting instruments backing up the lament of never being satisfied,

This is perfect darkwave music. Expressive, melancholy with great bass lines and lyrics that grab you by the heart strings. Throughout there are the wonderful guitar lines that ring out and the synths that create a beautiful synergy. I love Oreste’s vocals, a really strong singer who seems to very competent in his role. Each track has this beautiful dark crystal sound to it, smooth and clean on the surface but smoky beneath that shine. Estetica Noir’s This Dream In Monochrome” should be on your have a listen list, so what are you waiting for?

Estetica Noir | Facebook

https://esteticanoir.wordpress.com

The French have a very interesting history of coldwave/darkwave/gothic bands. Adding to that rich tapestry is the three piece band, JE T’AIME. If you were unaware of what the meaning of JE T’AIME, it is I love you. Yes, those smooth Parisian types have released an album on Valentine’s Day (14th February) called PASSIVE. This will be paired with the next album already named AGGRESSIVE to be released some time later this year by the guys, dBoyTall Bastard and Crazy Z.

The album starts off with “Another Day In Hell” and if this song is any indicator for the quality of the rest of the tracks, then I may have died and gone to a much better place. The synths bring in the percussion and the guitar lights up the track while we are treated to dBoy’s vocals. There is a certain amount of feeling of out of control in “Dirty Tricks“, as it speeds away without concern for the passengers, before we calm down a little with “Lonely Days“. and the chorus makes me conscious of this is how The Police would have sounded if they had been darker and makes me giggle a little. A great little track though with the classic line And she is dancing around my dead body.

Unleashed” definitely is more foreboding in mood. A tale of a love that hurts yet unable to leave that power play because of the perception of losing that love. The vocals convey a certain desperation and longing. When you leave a relationship, certain songs will remind one of the other person, even if It reminds me of your shitty taste in music. This is “Stupid Songs” which features Saigon Blue Rain’s, Ophelia giving her sensual vocals in the maelstrom of conflicting emotions. The body of the relationship is “Cold” and dead. Really digging the synth lines versus the guitar as everything breaks apart. “Blood On Fire” has these really bright synths, I mean really upbeat which is nothing like the sentiments of the lyrics which tell of a man who has lost all interest in life and feels like the undead.

The music and vocals wrap around you with “Give Me More Kohl“. The joyous embrace of the night and everything that might be a bit vampiric in nature. The gothic anthem of the dark children. Talking of night children, “On The Phone” is about a rather awful gothic girl that is very cruel. The guitar is very beautiful and you can’t help but feel for the boy in the tale. Oooh yes, that bass wraps up the album full circle in “Marble Heroes“. The Cure influence is very strong, with rivulets of sound running down in an achingly gorgeous way.

There isn’t anything that I don’t like about PASSIVE and damn it, that bass alone is purely sexual post-punk candy. So much passion, unrequited love and the soul wrenching devastation of loss, all drenched in fabulous guitar and synth, with the agonised and honey dripping vocals. Now bring on AGGRESSION.

PASSIVE | JE T’AIME (bandcamp.com)

JE T’AIME | Facebook

From Stockholm, Sweden, comes the synthpop EP, -ISH by NEONPOCALYPSE, released on January the 14th on the label Swiss Dark Nights. This is the solo project for Alex Svenson whom is also the leads singer for the band Then Comes Silence.

It is a smooth start with “Broken Circles” and throws us back to the 80s where I was near banging my head on anything because there was something about it that was prickling my memories. It reminds me of the late Steve Strange’sThe Damned Don’t Cry“… a song that I love. So there is plenty to love about this single and I really like the bottle noises….something organic amongst the electronics that become more ominous as the track proceeds to it’s end. The heavier beats herald in something a little darker. It is written on the headstone, game over is definitely about the death of another though done with a dance beat makes this a nice way to go with “Game Over“. I am going to take a long shot and say “The Light” could almost be a tribute to Fad Gadget especially to the reference of tarred and feathered. There is a nice heavy bass sound in this and the quirkiness is very endearing with Svenson’s commanding vocals careening over all. “Lips” is a little slower and lower and sexier. The last two tracks are remixes, the first is by Italians, Ash Code with their re imagining of “Broken Circles” and you can hear their darkwave fingers sliding all over this giving it a slightly more minimalist feel and even smoother in texture. The last is by fellow Italian, Kurs with their far more modern interpretation of “The Light”, introducing a more bass and drums influence, while they had me thinking Nine Inch NailsBroken” in a building climax to the end.

This -ISH EP is an extremely likeable. For those of us that grew up on or still play music from the early 80s, we appreciate this new wave style and I think it will draw many others into the fantastic dance rhythms and synth lines. Alex Svenson really does have the most sensuous and sonorous voice which is liquid perfection as he croons away. True to the name of NEONPOCALYPSE, the bright synth pop music is the facade for a much darker world.

https://neonpocalypse.bandcamp.com/

Neonpocalypse | Facebook

https://swissdarknights.bandcamp.com/album/ish

Swiss Dark Nights | Facebook

Ash Code | Facebook

Kurs | 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/

Feeling in the mood for some electronic beats in an 80s style? Then we have “Out Alive” by Like What. This New York act released the track on January 11th, 2022 and I was reliably informed it was created on an ipad with a guitar. I honestly don’t know much more about this project yet…..

There is something so reminicent of the wonderful Tobias Bernstrup. It could be the singing style and annunciation of the vocalist. The rhythm with the synths are stalking you and will find you wherever you try to hide. The guitar chiming in is extra foreboding as you won’t get out alive.

Electronic music will always lend itself to an apocalyptic vision, concealing and on the run from an unnamed, yet terrible foe. This is definitely one of those tracks that you think, at the end that it finished far too quickly. Damn it, we need a longer remix!! So you can guess by that statement I may have liked it quiet a bit. Get your darkwave on with Like What and “Out Alive“.

https://likewhat.bandcamp.com/track/out-alive

https://www.facebook.com/likewhat.music

A new single has dropped for Norwegian band, Painted Romans called “In The Hour Of Fear“. Thomas Sejnæs (bass), Jan Ottar Nystad (keyboards) and original member Mats Davidsen (vocals, guitar, drum programming) making up the dark, post-punk/pop styling that is Painted Romans, who have been active since 2007 with an array of albums but are finding their niche in the renewed interest in post-punk.

PAINTED ROMANS

Oh my, Davidsen is giving us the deep and gravelly gothic vocal treatment along with those 80s inspired guitars and hooks. The synths give a mysterious air in the background while the guitars chime out, unmissable and constant. Lyrically there almost seems to be a list of the types of people found in a horror movie, the types that get picked off one by one by some mysterious entity.

I love the guitar work in this because jangly guitar is very much a staple of the post-punk scene, though vocally I was reminded of the deep male vocals of many of the early 90s European goth bands. So, you might not be in need of a fright or even a bite but there is always time “In The Hour Of Fear“.

https://paintedromans.bandcamp.com/track/in-the-hour-of-fear-single

https://www.facebook.com/paintedromans/

The name Pink Turns Blue, for many, conjures to mind guitar lead, post punk 80s music. Initially influenced by Clan Of Xymox, Joy Division and The Sounds, Pink Turns Blue in turn became a touch stone band for many others. The legendary German, three piece, released on the 30th of July their third single, “You Still Mean Too Much To Me“, off the album, Tainted, which will be unveiled in September.

Pink Turns Blue at the W-Festival on 18.08.2019 at Expo Waregem (Belgium) – Wave Cave

As the title implies, this is melancholic with the pain of love rescinded and no longer reciprocated. A naked ballad about the inability to understand what happened and not being able to cope with that loss. This is a quieter track, full of emotion, made all the more raw with the simple guitar work and Mic Jogwer’s imploring vocals.

“How to overcome the grief / pain of lost love, torn between hate, very bad feelings and, at the
same time, not being able to let go at all. As there is no understanding why you fall in love with
someone in the first place, there is also no reason / understanding why love does end or your
love of life starts to feel attracted to someone else. It all dissolves into nothingness
” – Mic
Jogwer.

Still Mean Too Much To Me” will really strike a chord with anyone who has lost or been denied the love of the person they thought was their forever companion. The band is older and not the angry young men they were, now far more worldly and this translates into being able to craft music that touches the soul.

https://www.facebook.com/Pink.Turns.Blue.Official

PINK TURNS BLUE

in 1996, I met a couple, Georgina Emery and Ken Evans, as they were looking to get their band into live gigs. Tycho Brahe were signed to the now iconic, Brisbane based and independent electronic label, Trans:Com. I have a feeling their first show may have been at the club I ran back then. They played a very catchy number called “Dreams Of Dying” that became a crowd favourite. That was 25 years ago and to mark this anniversary, Tycho Brahe have re-cut a new version that was released in May this year.

KEN EVANS & GEORGINA EMERY
TYCHO BRAHE

You could always hear the New Order and Human League influence in the music. There are the bright synth lines, the danceable rhythm and the catchy hook chorus that will get stuck in your head. For me it doesn’t sound very much different, except maybe cleaner sound wise and maybe that’s the point. It was pretty good to start off with and instantly drew in the gothic crowd.

Yes this is highly nostalgic for me. It was a time when we were younger and life revolved around going to the next nightclub, the next gig and who was dating who. In saying that, it was always a stand out song that got people dancing with its strong synth pop and electronic roots.

Ken had gone on to work with his idol, Peter Hook of New Order fame but it’s nice to see Tycho Brahe keeping the flame burning. You can check them out on Bandcamp and the single is for free download. I have never forgotten and I still have the original demo tape they gave me.

https://tychobrahe1.bandcamp.com/album/dreams-of-dying

https://m.facebook.com/tychobraheband

http://www.tycho.com.au/?fbclid=IwAR0tKHSwUxd2BzZ1GJXkb4xqQuukL3kuS7FLp0jAqykosZ721vj6iAT9K5A

Mats Davidsen for a very long time, has been the central pillar for his band, Painted Romans. Somewhere in recording and releasing the mini album, Heart, which came out in October 2020, the band became trio with Jan Ottar Nystad (synth) and Thomas Sejnæs (bass).

PAINTED ROMANS

Fall” is a reminder of the electronic pop that flooded the airways in the late 70s/ early 80s. It feels light but with dark over tones. Nice clean guitar and bright keyboard with a fuzzy deeper undercurrent of noise.

They dance and get drunk to “Forget“. Probably something most of us have done before. Swirling electric organ is just the thing. Like the twisting feeling of a inebriated haze, it spins you around

Patrick Wray is not only featured on the song, “Drives Me On“, but also has previously released music with Mats as Davidsen and Wray. Also featuring Roxy Dunn, this a percussion lead piece that should be played while cruising down the highway in an open top car… or at least that is the feel.

A gothic turn for “Formation“. This is very pretty with Mission style guitars that jangle away. The way this spins the theme of love with fire, ice and all that lays in-between.

New Kind” is a far more bassy and laid back affair. How to find new life in the person you are with rather than finding it in another, a new kind of self.

Rather a Level 42 vibe from “Treat Yourself“. A light last track with funky undertones and a chorus of voices.

Overall, there is a very 80s tone to this album, paying passing homage to past styles, while the group are all contributing to a nice balanced style of electronics and guitar. Painted Romans are giving you their Heart, so it might be time to let them in.

https://paintedromans.bandcamp.com/album/heart

https://m.facebook.com/paintedromans/