Saturday, November 17, 2012

October Backtracks

It's that time of year where the days turn darker earlier and when the air has a bit more bite to it. Fittingly this installment of our Monthly Backtracks Mixtape also takes that dramatic turn. Sure, there are still some moments where a little light seeps in and songs have room to sparkle (on selections from Diamond Rings and Yan Wagner) but for the most part this October Backtracks Mixtape serves as a soundtrack for dressing up in black and making sure your cool jacket is zipped up all the way because from here on out things get a bit colder.


October 2012 Mixtape
1. Bat For Lashes, "A Wall": When it comes to female British pop singers, I definitely lean more towards Marina & The Diamonds over Florence & The Machine. But really, my bigger preference is for the more femme fatale end of the spectrum. Singers like Charli XCX who have a seductive streak and a certain level of mysteriousness about them. Which leads me to Natasha Khan a.k.a. Bat For Lashes. Her third album, The Haunted Man is another great collection of mystical songs that bridge the gap between electro-pop and campfire balladry. "A Wall" is one of its uplifting moments as airy synths build up to a widescreen chorus as Khan sings "Where you see a wall, I see a door."

2. Telepathe, "Destroyer (Trent Reznor / Alessandro Cortini / Atticus Ross remix)": Where Natasha Khan's Bat For Lashes radiates warmth through her songs and her soaring voice, Brooklyn duo, Telepathe is almost the complete polar opposite. Their latest single, "Destroyer" is dark, cold and deliberate. Still, when Trent Reznor, along with former NIN touring member, Alessandro Cortini, and longtime collaborator and current How to destroy angels_ cohort, Atticus Ross get their hands on "Destroyer," they manage to slow the tempo, making the verses feel like short, nervous breaths while adding tense piano dirges to the chorus. It's like claustrophobia set to music. 

3. The Soft Moon, "Crush": For me, this band is a case of "better late than never." I'm still not sure why it took me this long to fall for The Soft Moon since Luis Vasquez (TSM's mastermind) plays up to pretty much everything I love in music. Dark, post-punk with a healthy dose of goth and even a touch of industrial thrown in. It should go without saying that their latest album, Zeros, is an obsession these days. Echoes of The Cure and Joy Division basslines are abound as distant vocals appear and just as quickly disappear into the shadows. Tough to pick a favorite off of Zeros, but this week it's the slow burn and euphoric release of "Crush."

4. Cold Showers, "New Dawn": I'm on a constant, never-ending search for new music and reading about LA's Cold Showers was enough to draw me in. Mainly because the words that appeared in nearly every write-up were "shoegaze" and "goth." And while their latest album, Love And Regret, may not be shrouded in endless layers of distortion and feedback, there are some hints of dreampop touchstones like Kitchens Of Distinction or Mighty Lemon Drops. But it's on "New Dawn" when they embrace their post-punk and goth side that their music truly shines.

5. IO Echo, "Ministry Of Love": Another LA band that dabbles in that space between shoegaze and goth. IO Echo walks that tightrope so convincingly that "Shanghai Girls," the lead track off their latest EP, can  pass for an homage to Siouxsie & The Banshees' "Hong Kong Garden." On "Ministry Of Love," they aim big thanks to the bombastic drums, shimmering guitars, and the soaring vocals of the alluring, Ionna Gika.

6. Black Marble, "A Different Arrangement": Following up their excellent debut EP, Weight Against The Door, Brooklyn's Black Marble put out A Different Arrangement, their equally excellent full-length album. It straddles the line between coldwave and darkwave, synthpop and post-punk, goth and pop while being all those things at once. The album's title track is a good starting point but really, the entire thing is so engaging and inviting that repeated listens are warranted.

7. Yan Wagner, "Forty Eight Hours": One of my favorite ways to discover new artists is from DJ'ing with others. On one particular night, I had the privilege of spinning alongside of DJ Chris Ewen, a legend here in Boston, and he played this very song. Yan Wagner is a French-Amercian artist that blends disco and electro-pop so effortlessly that he makes it sound fresh and exciting. "Forty Eight Hours" is the title track to his addictive debut album and if its percolating synths aren't enough to win you over then his deep vocals will. Full disclosure: I usually split my time between listening to Forty Eight Hours and Zeros by The Soft Moon; safe to say those two albums are my current obsessions.

8. Diamond Rings, "I'm Just Me": John O'Regan, better known as Diamond Rings, always had a flare for the flashy. Even on Diamond Rings' lo-fi synthpop debut, 2010's Special Affections, O'Regan seemed destined for something bigger. Free Dimensional is the realization of those aspirations. Shiny dance-pop tailor made for disco ball-lit dancefloors. "I'm Just Me" is Free Dimensional's crown jewel, sparkly, empowering, and blessed with a great chorus that can almost serve as a stunt double for Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" through the eyes of a boy flamboyant and confident enough to rock some glitter.

9. Cold Cave, "A Little Death To Laugh": Cold Cave is probably the band that's least surprising for me to like. That's not a knock on Wesley Eisold, by any stretch of the imagination. It's just that Eisold takes influence from post-punk, goth, industrial, and adds a bit of a dark New Wave touch to it -- again, all things I love in music. And while we patiently await his band's follow-up to last year's awesome, Cherish The Light Years, Cold Cave drops this single, "A Little Death To Laugh" a droning synthpop gem that still has some roughness around its edges. As if we'd want anything less from them.

10. Metz, "Wasted": Not much to say about Canada's Metz. Just some loud, blaring guitars that reside somewhere on the corner of punk and post-hardcore. "Wasted" may not be out to reinvent the wheel but at the right volume, it can destroy it.

So there you have it. As always, listen loud and become immersed. Until the mixtape!

No comments:

Post a Comment