US five piece, Candy Coffins, have released the second single off their forthcoming album, Once Do It With Feeling. The single is called “Seaside Girls” …… not the regular place to find night creatures but then these days, who can tell.

Photo by Lauren Ellis

Those beach babes with their long legs is a rock classic however in this song, it seems that only horror can be found with these pin-ups, as they drown you in their world. There is a taste of the vocal punk styling of Elvis Costello in the beginning and seemingly always the jangling whirlwind of guitars sweeping you up, and bearing you off, while the piano dutifully lights the way.

The vocals are great but the guitar work really seals the deal, layered, giving a rich texture to “Seaside Girls“. Maybe they are the human equivalent to the Greek mythos Sirens but you are safe listening to the dark attraction via the Candy Coffins.

https://candycoffins.bandcamp.com/track/every-day-a-fresh-atrocity

http://www.facebook.com/candycoffins

Painted Romans are Mats Davidsen (vocals, guitar, programming) and Jan Ottar Nystad (synth, guitar) from Trondheim, Norway. They have revisited the single “Formation“, released on the 19th of August, with fellow Norwegian, Karl Morten Dahl of Antipole, remixing the track and Pedro Code of IAMTHESHADOW, producing and mastering

There is that underlying swell of menacing synths below the delicate guitar, with Davidsen’s vocals in hushed reverence. There are more electronics in this version where the rhythm has been brought to a greater prominence. As always, the guitars are dreamy post-punk candy.

It was a nice post-punk/darkwave track before the remix, after the remix it has become super shiny and opalescence. It feels bigger, if that makes sense, like going from a nice flat screen to 3D. This just pops and adds extra beauty to this heart felt track, “Formation (Antipole Remix)” by Painted Romans.

Formation (Antipole Remix) [Single] | Painted Romans (bandcamp.com)

Painted Romans | Facebook

There is some “Silent Love” coming at you from Montreal, in the form of a single by The Ember Glows. Richard Bunze (guitar), Kevin Hills (bass), Martin Saint (voice, guitar) and Dan Stefik (drums), make up this indie/new wave band, that came into being in 2019.

It is definitely a guitar driven sound, strong bass, rhythm and lead, jangling in a heady fusion, while the vocals sits above them, never lost in the string’s pealing notes and chords.

I can definitely hear why this group is compared to Echo And The Bunnymen, with similar guitar arrangements and the vocals having that soaring quality, though not the same timbre as Ian McCulloch. It is a track full of sweet sentiment, of being there in another’s darkest moments, even if it just to help hold back the invasive dreams by holding their hand through the night.

SILENT LOVE | The Ember Glows (bandcamp.com)

The Ember Glows | Facebook

emberglows (@emberglowsband) • Instagram photos and videos

Am Tierpark is a project with the combined superpowers of Claus Larsen (vocals, lyrics) and John R Mirland (music, production). They dropped their latest album, Forevermore, May the 10th, on the Læbel record label. This is the duo’s synthpop project, amongst their other acts such as Larsen & Mirland plus a.o., Claus Larsen’s Leæther Strip, Klutæ, and John R Mirland’s Mirland, M73….that is only naming a few.

Oh yes the synthpop is strong in this album, as it starts with the “Shower Me With Freedom” and Larsen’s dulcet tones and those brilliant synths. It is followed by the lyrically mournful and poignant “I Let You Go“. There is a wonderful trance element to “Love Collide“, as the delightful synths dance around Larsen’s vocals, which changes pace with the more somber “Just Watch Me“, that has these beautiful whirls of electronics that make your senses fly.

Ooh yeah, the sassy and sexy boy toys in “Room 24“, has those heavy overtones of Bronski Beat with an Italo disco feel, which is continued in “Not Welcome“, though this is a tale of love, rejected by a ignorant portion of the population. Title track, “Forevermore” has a heavenly start with those synths, in a slow burn of hurt and those sighing synths meld into the smooth sounding “Mighty World“, while “Sacrifice Your Purity” has an amazing amount of movement, and threw me into 1983, with the dance rhythm.

This blips of a ghost submarine dive into “You’re not My Enemy” with its cool chic, and some keyboard lines that could have come from the sublime John Foxx. Larsen is cooing into your ear over a freight train of delicate electronics in “Bloom Together“, unlike the track “Leave In Peace” with it’s purposeful slower beats. There is a light feel to “Hold Our Heads High“, conveyed in the lyrics and bright music. “Cleanse Our Hearts” is pure joy in music form, while the last track, “Moving In“, is almost hypnotic in tone.

Okay, confession time. I have had this album for a while and unforeseen circumstances have slowed me down, but this is an album that I wanted to desperately tell people about. The late 70s and early 80s is where my musical influences lay, so listening to Forevermore, definitely stirs memories of Depeche Mode, Erasure, John Foxx and artists of that ilk, who were on the cutting edge of electronic music at that point in time. Though, that is not to say the Am Tierpark is some sort of copy, as they are most certainly not, taking the love of this style of music and adding their modern spin and incorporating the Euro/Italo style such as “Sacrifice Your Purity“, which is pure disco orientated joy. Larsen’s vocals are yet another facet to the distinct sound that is Am Tierpark, making their music so enjoyable. You don’t have to be a child of the 80s to enjoy this album though but don’t take my word for it…please go check them out for yourselves.

Forevermore | Am Tierpark

Am Tierpark (facebook.com)

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