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/

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

Some say post punk is having a revival. In the world of goth/darkwave/coldwave, it never went away, not really. I present a young chap from Gillingham, UK, Coor Brow-Obles and his latest single, “A History Of Violence“. This is his third single and part of a storyline about a doomed romance called the Dysfunctional Lovers saga.

The guitar work from the beginning evokes memories of The Cure around the time of Pornography, as it wends its way to meet Brow-Obles low tones. The layered vocals bring in the chorus of a relationship that is no longer equal and that is tearing him up, physically and emotionally.

COOR BROW-OBLES

Coor’s vocal and musical style, he has described as being heavily influenced by The Cure and The Chameleons, but for me, I could hear the whisperings of another English band, Play Dead.

It’s dark and it’s dreary, just the way we like it. For a one man band, Brow-Obles pulls this off really well and it’s a real throwback to the early 80s days of British goth. Unfortunately there is no video, so check him out on Bandcamp which is name your price or Spotify. A name to watch out for is Coor Brow-Obles and you should happen to have a penchant for goth fare, please go listen to “A History Of Violence“.

https://coorblimey.bandcamp.com/track/a-history-of-violence

https://www.facebook.com/CoorBlimey/

https://coorbrowobles.wixsite.com/tmprince

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/

January saw the debut release for deathrock group, Yuka Zolo. This is a six track EP, titled Bleed, from the four piece band consisting of bassist Anthony Moraga, vocalist Faydra Cronin, guitarist Tyler Spatz and drummer Alex Kaiser.

YUKA ZOLO

The first song is “Dissector” and it is like the old, unpolished goth tunes that came out of the post punk period of the 80s. The guitar work clear and melodious while the vocals chime together. This could be a tune about them being cut up and eaten by a serial killer.

If “Spinebender” isn’t a homage to early Christian Death I’ll be darn surprised. It races with breakneck speed like it’s on the mine ride to Hell with a cacophony of guitars.

The cajoling vocals on “Deprivation” are slightly off timed to the music giving us an unsettling feel. Not sure what sort of deprivation is going on here but she feels it and he feels it… it all seems a bit sexual.

The single, “217” is a little slower as Faydra’s singing wends between the guitars, in a short tale of the immortal. One minute, fifty eight seconds short but who says long is better.

The beginning of “Absolution” wouldn’t have sounded out of place on The Banshees‘ seminal album The Scream with those lyrics about no face and sacred waters. The pace seems to have become more introspective for the second half of the EP.

The last song is also the title track. “Bleed” with the imagery of sullying the holy by puncturing the woman’s hymen… she bleeds and is considered unclean, in the eyes of some. It punches home and as quickly as it started, it had finished.

Have to say the band Yuka Zolo are pretty hard core in their pursuit of music with members based in states of Wisconsin and Arizona in the U.S., however the EP was recorded entirely in Madison, Wisconsin.

Definitely deathrock influenced all the way with Rozz Williams styled attributes and although the bio said Siouxsie And The Banshees, I have to admit I heard more a correlation to Xmal Deutschland until “Absolution“, but both bands with powerful female leads. This is not over produced and has a little of that punk, two finger salute, screw you if you don’t like it… this is what it is. Yuka Zolo can be found on Bandcamp for name your price. So check out a bit of goth rock… watch out it bites.

https://yukazolo.bandcamp.com/album/bleed

https://www.facebook.com/YukaZolo/

Are you partial to some post punk- gothic goodness? If that’s the case, Norwegian band, Painted Romans have released a single in January that will warm the pit of your dark heart called, “The Cold Delight“.

Mats Davidsen is the original Roman who delivers lead vocals, guitar & drums programming, with Jan Ottar Nystad playing keyboards and Thomas Sejnæs on bass, joining around September of last year.

I have to say I rather enjoyed this a little too much. It’s dark and morose just like all good goth songs can be and yet full of movement and life at the same time. There are hints of The Cure, Clan of Xymox and March Violets. Could easily be played at a goth club mixed in with older classics.

This takes me back to early 80s, when bands such as Echo and the Bunnymen, Psychedelic Furs and Simple Minds were blowing us away with their wonderous guitar/synth filled, forlorn brilliance.

You can find the single on Bandcamp as well as other previous releases. Painted Romans are developing a rich, flavoursome sound and that only bodes well for the music to come. So turn down the lights, ready the candles and have a dance to “The Cold Delight“.

https://paintedromans.bandcamp.com/track/the-cold-delight-single

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

https://paintedromans.com/

Norway’s Mayflower Madame, released on the 19th of November, a single off their album, Prepared For A Nightmare. It is called “Ludwig Meidner“, named after the German artist, who is most famous for creating apocalyptic landscape art pieces. Meidner wished to evoke an emotional response from the viewer and these art works were created before even the First World War, which Meidner was a participant in.

A tribute to the man, the artist and the perhaps the madness of wanting to feel more… what extremes would you go to, to get that rush?

There is a harkening back to the early to mid 80s, when post punk was evolving into goth. It is serpentine in the way the music winds with the jangly guitars. There is a healthy dose of Mission like tunefulness and the keyboard chimes in giving the song an ethereal feel.

MAYFLOWER MADAME

These guys do a beautiful blend of gothic rock beauty, highlighted with that shoe gaze swirling guitar. Guitar based post punk is in good hands with Mayflower Madame, so do yourself a favour and have a listen to “Ludwig Meidner“.

https://mayflowermadame.bandcamp.com/album/prepared-for-a-nightmare

https://www.facebook.com/mayflowermadame

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/

The Greek gothic/post punk scene is very much alive and kicking. Lefki Symphonia are a part of the strong Mediterranean movement and last month released the single, “Black Twilight“.

These guys have been around since 1984 and you can hear that influence in the music. The guitar work is very reminiscent of Wayne Hussey, circa Sisters of Mercy period.

I could be wrong, but the lyrics might be waxing about those of a vampiric nature or at least emotional trauma that deadens all feeling, because in the end it is human to feel.

The vocals and over all feel of this number remind me of Finnish act, To/Die/For. So if you like your brooding, goth rock, then you might want to check out Lefki Symphonia and their “Black Twilight“.

https://lefkisymphonia.bandcamp.com/track/black-twilight-single

https://www.facebook.com/lefkisymphonia/

https://lefkisymphonia.gr/en/

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/