Pink Lady Monster is a Denver-based band that began as a vehicle for singer/guitarist/keyboardist/synth player Simone’s songwriting but began to take on its current form once Savanna joined the group on bass and synth and Gabe settled in long term on drums. Its early music might be loosely be described as in the realm of psychedelic rock or dream pop but since it began actively performing live in early 2022, Pink Lady Monster has branched out and incorporated more ambient soundscapes into its aesthetic and now the project is seeking to leave behind its softer more mellow sounds in favor of musical ideas that eschew conventional structure and favor songwriting that while perhaps still accessible veers off standard genre styles. Those that have seen its entrancing shows of 2022 may be in for a bit of a sonic departure in 2023 going forward. What music from the band exists online are often more like Simone’s early sketches of songs and as interesting as they are the live band that emerged out of those recordings is more of a force with an undeniable mystique and creatively vibrant. One might compare the music of 2022 to the likes of Blonde Redhead in its moodier moments and like Broadcast once the synth became involved in mix but you’ll have to see for yourself what Pink Lady Monster has been crafting until it releases the album reflecting its current state of development.
Blacklist was a flagship band of Pieter Schoolwerth’s Wierd Records label, the imprint that perhaps best known for 2000s and early 2010s post-punk, shoegaze, industrial and noise. The group in its initial run from 2005-2011 released one full-length album Midnight Of The Century (2009) but even then was establishing itself as distinctly different from other bands lumped into the then emerging modern coldwave and post-punk scene that would lead to the current version of that movement. Blacklist incorporated elements of metal and clear, melodic vocals with crisp production. It’s astutely observed, politically aware lyrics one might even compare, given the music especially, to late 80s Queensryche or Vision Thing-period Sisters of Mercy. At that time a new uptick of fascism beyond the prevailing authoritarian swing of world politics was making itself known, blossoming toward the middle of the 2010s onward. After an extended hiatus Blacklist returned with Afterworld (Profound Lore Records, October 28, 2022). The new record builds upon while more or less reinventing its earlier sound somehow evoking shades of Comsat Angels, Fields of the Nephilim and the aforementioned with emotionally charged commentary on the world in this moment and the larger challenges human society faces with the environment, persistent social ills and political turmoil and inequality (all of which are deeply intermingled) but with a personal touch. The music doesn’t shy away from artful melodrama and in not adhering to trendy post-punk or metal aesthetics. The production on the album is multi-resonant and feels like a time-bridging sound of 80s rock and its emotionally earnest quality with a more contemporary ear for nuanced depth of mood. It sounds unmoored from and unbeholden to a particular cultural timeframe or context and a more enriching listen because of it.
Listen to our interview with vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Joshua Strachan of Blacklist on Bandcamp and follow the group’s exploits at the links below.
Eszter Balint is a singer, songwriter, violinist and actress who released her fourth album I HATE MEMORY! on November 18, 2022 via Red Herring Records. The album is a set of songs that chart the artist’s path from communist Hungary in the 60s and 70s to New York City of the late 70s and 80s. Co-written with Stew (Stew & The Negro Problem, Passing Strange), the songs are like vignettes about the art, music, theater and film world and the community around it in which Balint was intimately involved as an active participant. But the album is more than a mere catalog of the times, it is a meditation on the nature of oppression, freedom, the possibilities inherent to situations in which rules fall by the wayside and one’s struggle with memory when you are someone who is most focused on the present rather than living and re-litigating the past. Long in the works the songs are the basis of an “anti-musical” which is planned for an ongoing series of performances at Joe’s Pub. I HATE MEMORY! is a multi-faceted, multi-layered ambitious work that has helped Balint reconnect with her teenage self with the aid of her various collaborators (for more information on those, visit her website linked below).
Balint as a youth lived with the avant-garde Squat Theatre troupe founded by her father and that’s where she first met Jean-Michel Basquiat who produced her first recordings and with whom she became involved. Balint’s career and proximity to the New York arts world led her to her cinematic debut in Jim Jarmusch’s first major film Stranger Than Paradise (1984) and to later roles in Shadows and Fog (1991), Trees Lounge (1996), The Dead Don’t Die (2019) and in season 4 of the sitcom Louie. All along the way she has performed music and recorded with Angels of Light and Swans (in particular for the sprawling 2012 album The Seer), John Zorn and Marc Ribot.
Listen to our interview with Balint on Bandcamp below and for more information on Eszter Balint please visit her website linked below and give I HATE MEMORY! a listen on Bandcamp as well linked separately beneath the interview.
The trio of Mike Baggetta / Jim Keltner / Mike Watt released its second album Everywhen We Go on November 18, 2022 via BIG EGO Records. The record represents a further development of the project with its master players having come to a new level of comfort and one might say intuitive interplay. Most of the songs were at their core written by guitarist Baggetta with one by Watt and two by the collective and one hears in the results a flow of musical ideas that contains elements of jazz and surf rock but which evolves in unpredictable and fascinating ways for an eclectic album that bears the hallmarks of the trio’s collective roots in punk, art rock and the avant-garde. There is an intimacy in the recorded sounds even in its more rocking moments that draws you into its spontaneous energy. Keltner’s resume reads like a who’s who of rock music from the 1970s onward but his early interest in jazz coincides well with Baggetta’s free jazz chops and Watt’s own diverse and dynamic musicianship beyond his time in Minutemen, fIREHOSE, Stooges and numerous other projects. Everywhen We Go is an energetic yet relaxing listen that showcases the ability of three veteran musicians to play expertly to the song in a way both focused and free form.
Listen to our interview with Mike Baggetta on Bandcamp and listen to the new record for yourself and for more information on Baggetta and the trio please visit the links below.
Richard X. Heyman recently released his 15th solo album 67,000 Miles An Album. The veteran musician and producer was is a founding member of The Doughboys who in the 1960s were a legendary garage rock band from New Jersey though their oeuvre was comprised mostly of covers of commercially successful bands of the time like The Yardbirds, The Kinks and of course the Rolling Stones. When the group split in 1968 (before re-forming in 2000) Heyman went on the drum for the likes of Brian Wilson, Link Wray, Jonathan Richman, played keys for Ben. E. King, guitar for Mary Weiss of The Shangri-Las. The new album includes new material and older work reworked and assembled as a kind of tour through time and in space. The earth travels through space at 67,000 miles per hour and on its axis at more than 1,000 miles an hour. The length of the album in time is approximately the distance you’ll have traveled as a passenger on spaceship earth. Recorded at both Heyman’s home studio Kick Factory and at Eastside Sound in NYC, the album features Heyman on vocals and a wide array of instrumentation with Nancy Leigh on bass and backing vocals and guest performances from Probyn Gregory on brass, Julia Kent on cello and Chris Jenkins on viola. Musically the album is brimming with infectious and exuberant melodies and exquisitely orchestrated power pop. It’s the kind of record that could have come out fifty years ago or now and seemed very much of the moment.
We had a chance to speak with Heyman about his career and his collaborations as well as the concepts and assemblage of the new record and you can listen below on Bandcamp. The album is now available on CD, digital download and via streaming services having released on Turn-Up Records on October 21, 2022. Please visit www.richardxheyman.com for details on listening and purchasing.
Steve Faceman has been a prolific and active artist in the Denver rock underground since the late 2000s with his project utilizing as a moniker his adopted surname. The group, mostly a trio, has developed an eclectic musical style that often waxes between indie rock and pop and Americana with underpinnings of experimental music and jazz. The songwriting has always been finely honed with lyrics that reveal the perspective of artists with a self-awareness and sensitivity to the human condition and the ways we go through life finding meaning and experiences that open and expand our horizons and depth of feeling. What has often set Faceman apart from other bands has been a seeming instinct for creative presentation in a community oriented fashion. Some of the early shows involved elaborate costumes and set pieces seemingly crafted from basic elements and a basic level of skill but obvious imagination. Like a child’s craft project and the homespun charm that entails. At other times the band collaborated with theater production companies to create a stage setting like the paper Megalodon for a show in 2013, the massive tornado sculpture brought to the Oriental Theater for the Faceman’s 100 Year Storm festival in 2016 (which featured 100 bands across two days) and the Journey to the Sun festival in 2015 at Ophelia’s Electric Soap Box (this one had a mere 80 bands over the same timeframe). With each, Steve helped to facilitate massive community involvement to make for a memorable and unique event and experience for everyone involved. On many if not all Faceman records there are guest musicians and recorded at noteworthy recording studios with cover art by members of the local arts scene as well. All of this is to say that Faceman certainly cares about its own fine music but the band recognizes its context and feeds into that ecosystem in a very direct and grassroots way. In 2022 Faceman releases its 2016 album Wild and Hunting for the first time on vinyl as well as its 2022 album Western Jupiter, a relatively spare record by Faceman standards but also an intimate portrait of human experience and kind of an Americana science fiction anthology of songs about the travails of the past few years.
The musical creations of Darren Keen would be challenging to define by genre as it reflects his broad interests in music, its creation and its presentation. For many he first came to the attention of people in the American underground with The Show is the Rainbow which he launched in Lincoln, Nebraska around 2003 and the project became a fixture at DIY spaces and situations across the USA and in various corners of the wider world. Do a search on the internet for videos and releases and you’ll find an unusual mix of sounds and styles but always with an energetic and compelling live performance that mixed, matched and amalgamated art rock, hip-hop, electronica, punk and noise rock. Keen’s surreal sense of humor and keen insight into culture and his own psychology has led to a fascinating body of work beyond The Show is the Rainbow and into his collaborative projects and his current touring moniker of PROBLEMS which has been releasing recordings on the respected experimental electronic music imprint Orange Milk and other outlets for Keen’s prolific output. In this sprawling interview Keen discusses his roots in making music and touring as an artist whose work isn’t always easily marketable to a mainstream audience, his involvement in the broad American DIY music network, his personal struggles and reconciliations in the continuing to be a figure who is focused on pursuing his creative curiosities that have had an undeniable impact on the realms of glitch, digital hardcore, underground techno and noise.
Seraphim Shock has been spinning its tales of the dark side of American society informed by themes of the occult, Satanism, hedonism and resistance to a puritanical culture that often causes the trauma and neuroses that drive dysfunction. Seraphim Shock’s music is an expression of solidarity with living with that legacy and purging it. It’s second full length album Red Silk Vow released in 1997 to great local fanfare in the local Goth scene with shows in which lead singer Charles Edward garbed as a Victorian Vampire, top hat and all, orchestrated a stage show with bandmates in corpse paint. Whether one was fully into the music or not the spectacle was undeniably compelling to the point where it helped to elevate the music in its Goth-industrial aesthetic. Generally snubbed by the local press and a good deal of the local scene in Denver, Seraphim Shock has forged a path as a band untethered to the usual local scene politics and its limitations. The group’s second ever show in 1994 was in Phoenix and most of its Denver shows since the mid-90s have been at larger venues like The Aztlan Theater, The Ogden Theatre and The Gothic Theatre rather than the gauntlet of dive bars and small clubs in no small part due to Edward not seeing his group as simply a local outfit. As the years went on the band’s style adopted a more hard rock sound and Edward’s stage appearance evolving into that of more a sinister yet benevolent glam rock professional wrestler look than a lord of the undead, think a body sculpted Goth super hero. In 2022 Edward and Seraphim Shock celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the release of Red Silk Vow as a continuation of Edward’s creative vision as he ushers in the next chapter of the band with its impending release of the second chapter of The Fairmount Chronicles which launched in 2020. The stage show is back to being as theatrical as the early days with Edward exuding the undeniable charisma and commanding presence that has been a feature of the live show for decades.
Listen to our interview with Charles Edward on Bandcamp and go witness Seraphim Shock’s Twenty-Fifth Anniversary celebration of the iconic album Red Silk Vow at the Oriental Theater on Saturday, November 26, 2022 (doors 7 p.m.) with Dead on a Sunday, Whorticulture and DJ Celebrytie as hosted by the always enteraining, sardonic raconteur Sid Pink For more information on Seraphim Shock and to find music and merch, please visit the links below.
Secret Shame formed in Asheville, North Carolina in 2018. Its members came from the local punk scene and the music they made together was, summed up by a quote found on one or more of its online accounts, “too punk for Goth and too Goth for punk.” But however its sound might be best described its style of dark post-punk struck an immediate chord with people that got to see the fledgling band and even the debut basement demo from 2016 revealed a band that was tapping into emotional spaces resonant with Siouxsie and the Banshees and Xmal Deutschland. Its songwriting quickly developed into the songs that would comprise its energetic self-titled 2017 EP and the 2019 full-length debut album Dark Synthetics. In that vital mix of death rock and synth-infused post-punk one could hear an emotional vulnerability that told stories of struggle and abuse sometimes couched in terms of cosmic horror. And yet there was a core of honest feeling that bled through the metaphors and abstraction. For the 2022 album Autonomy, singer Lena had been working from a place of wanting to not obscure her lived experience and emotional truth and one hears that reflected directly in the music too. It’s still beautifully moody and moving but less haze and more direct tonal expression. Also in the new set of music are more conventionally accessible melodies without sacrificing the grit and darkness that has made the group’s songwriting so compelling since its inception. Autonomy is an album by a band that has come into its own while also a demonstration of an evolution from where it’s been and hinting at further exploration of where the music can go when you feel like you can craft your art from a deeply personal place without needing to couch it in the stylistic terms of anyone else or their narrow expectations.
Listen to our interview with Lena on Bandcamp and follow Secret Shame at the links provided. The group is currently on tour including a date in Denver on Friday, November 25, 2022 at The Crypt with Voight, ilind and Verhoffst at 9 p.m.
The Legendary Pink Dots have left an indelible imprint on the worlds of psychedelic rock, post-punk, Gothic rock, the avant-garde, noise, ambient, industrial, synth pop and electronic music since its inception in1980. Fronted by Edward Ka-Spel, the Pink Dots have evolved through various lineups and shifting musical styles exploring musical and non-directly musical ideas for over four decades now leaving in the wake of that path of experimentation and rich a prolific body of work all worth a listen. From the late 80s through the early 90s there was a sea change in the band’s music as its membership expanded and its songwriting style shifted toward the kinds of lush atmospherics and dreamlike melodies and textures of 1990’s Crushed Velvet Apocalypse and even more fully on the 1991 album The Maria Dimension (now released in a 3 CD extended edition). That era of the band reached wider audiences and established The Legendary Pink Dots as a cult band with a wide international following from the alternative rock era to this day. Its enigmatic yet colorful and highly emotionally charged story songs provide a kind of parallel narrative to established cultural paradigms, sagely commenting on the prevailing culture in which we all live and which we all navigate and offering insight into civilizational themes and expressing deeply personal reactions to and thoughts on he lived human experience. The group’s highly imaginative and creative music never abstracts feelings but finds a way to make the complicated and difficult explicable. The live shows are a cathartic celebration of life and dreaming and seeking and finding deeper meaning set to sonically rich and transporting soundscapes. In 2022 the Pink Dots released its latest album The Museum of Human Happiness on Metropolis Records and following that, welcomed long time booster, publicist, tour manager and friend Randall Frazier of Denver space rock/ambient band Orbit Service into the current lineup alongside Ka-Spel, long time multi-instrumentalist Erik Drost and live engineer/producer Joep Hendrikx.
Listen to our interview with Edward Ka-Spel on Bandcamp and follow the further adventures of The Legendary Pink Dots at the links provided. Catch the band currently on tour in North America including two dates in Denver: Saturday November 19, 2022 at the Mercury Café with Orbit Service and The Drood and Sunday November 20, 2022 at the Mercury as well with Dead Voices on Air and Edward Ka-Spel doing a solo performance featuring Tom Hagerman of DeVotchKa.