Detroit’s Majestic Theatre recently welcomed an evening of genre-bending dark music to its stage, treating audiences to a trio of artists who blend synthpop, darkwave, industrial, electroclash, and dark pop in twisting litanies of mind-bending movement and melody. Danceable, but with an undercurrent of gleeful nihilism, all three bands presented the Motor City with a full night of incredible energy.
Duran Duran are healers and entertainers; their craft goes far beyond music and proves that, even forty-one years later, their magic extends through generations. In New Orleans, people of all ages came to see the spectacle of their set, and as they wove through both classic hits and newer tracks, they proved yet again that there is a lot of life left in the Duran Duran musical lexicon, and that they are purely dedicated to real connection with their fans.
A genuine treat for Valentine’s Day: Vancouver post-punk band ACTORS has gifted us all with a cover of The Sound’s “Mining For Heart” (1985) just this morning, swiveling from the shining nostalgic brightness of their 2018 full-length release ‘It Will Come To You’ into a sound straddling grit without resorting to harshness. Jason Corbett’s vocals imbue the song with a strange warmth that is signature ACTORS; the definitive bassline, too, carries Jahmeel Russell’s hallmark sound and is borne gracefully by Corbett’s guitar and Shannon Hemmett’s subdued, moody synths.
Mere days before Valentine’s Day, Robert Alfons and his musical powerhouse of a project, TR/ST, return to remind everyone that love is often challenging and can leave one lonelier than one began. “Gone” is the first single from TR/ST’s first full album release since 2015’s ‘Joyland’. The highly anticipated ‘The Destroyer, Part One’ album is slated for release in April. “Gone”
Feathered with optimism, “Rainy Day” is a really just a simple song about taking negativity and trying to make the best of it. Its hopeful lyrics, laced through with the singer’s beautiful and unusual lilt, paint an upbeat picture of wearing a smile as an umbrella. With its positive, danceable beat and bright melody, it is delightful in its candid, buoyant cheerfulness, completely unabashed.
An amalgam of animal and artifice, “Daisy Cutter” thumps into being with a calling that immediately commands the struggle taking place within its tones. With an inherent uncertainty, there is still the sense of something victorious here; veiled among the overturning of allegories and pontifications on doubt is a creeping self-awareness of purpose that builds this song into an anthem at its climax. This is a song about survival, about laying waste to obstacles and destroying barriers to find truth and faith beyond a seemingly endless void.
There is something emphatic and romantic about Electro Spectre, something primal and elemental even as their sound dances on the spine of its electronic core. Much of their music flashes like hot coals and curls up and around me like smoke, a sharp kinesis of desire laced with earnestness and honesty.
INTENT:OUTTAKE’s darkly gorgeous “Der Letzte Tanz” (in English, “The Last Dance”) is a song with which I have been slowly acquainting myself, sinking into its melancholy throb and surging sadness to relish the sympathetic salve of its despair. It tells its story with an arrhythmic heartbeat, an appeal for a frozen soul’s final dance before oblivion.
I’ve often felt that Feeding Fingers’ music has had a tendency toward quiet desperation, and, at times, a sense of holding itself back from its own full potential. But “Your Candied Laughter Crawls”, the debut single from their upcoming fifth album, is almost triumphant, musically. There is an entire metamorphosis occurring in the microcosm of this particular song, one that opens itself up to the listener like a blooming flower as it progresses from its sleepy opening notes to their book-end, with its entire story laid out in between.
This is a song that changes sonic tactics throughout, and it works really well. Echoing the confusion and frustration of its narration, it vacillates between peace and discord. It builds its story around the lyrics, but challenges itself to tell that story with its audial composition. It warms from sparsity into intricacy, then plays with an almost noodling sound – evoking moments in waiting rooms; anticipatory, anxious.
Lush arrangement and poetic, but not horribly cumbersome, lyrics make this a song for movement – this is a track to drive to, to walk to, to dance to – but it is also a song for mental movement. It is a track to think to, as well. I actually found myself reminded of bands like The Railway Children; there is an element of that sumptuous mid-eighties New Wave sound represented here – a bit darker, but quite handsomely dressed in the same sort of brilliant guitar melodies and steady, up-tempo undercurrents.
There is indeed a warm staccato style of bass and guitar sound here which is highly reminiscent of the Smiths at their peak – Moon Tapes has mastered this particular brand of textured aural and emotional complexity, but give it their own unique spin. There isn’t quite Morrissey’s lyrical dexterity, but the plaintive angst vocalist Joep Meyer brings to the song is spot-on. Essentially, this is the Smiths without the hubris.