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.
Palm Ghosts’ single “Another Way Escapes Me” unfurls redolent of 80s synth pop and post-punk bands like Depeche Mode and Duran Duran with a touch of INXS, perhaps later era Comsat Angels but with modern sensibilities. The bright synth melody sounds like something from an old higher end Casio keyboard and the pulsing bass line accents push the song along like an undercurrent more felt than distinctly heard once the song into its full form following a spare into. Whatever influences one imagines one hears in the songs tonally rich composition about an inner compulsion to be how you are and trusting the best of those instincts and not knowing another way of being yet aware of one’s flaws and limitations and having learned to work with them rather than trying to be someone and something you’re not. Its an exuberant song of self-acceptance at a time in life when you can be cognizant of who you are on a primordial level. Listen to “Another Way Escapes Me” on Soundcloud and follow Palm Ghosts at the links provided.
Vague Lanes create a sound that resonates with the decaying culture and political infrastructure of the USA with its 2021 track “Here :: Now.” Achieving a good deal of grit with two basses, one driving and grinding along with the insistent drum machine, the other carrying a bit of the melody in the upper registers. The vocals sound like they were recorded in a tunnel in a forgotten part of the city while the track itself produced and then mixed for effect in a similarly clandestine location for an effect that is cathartic and expansive even though a mood of oppression, dissolved for a few moments by the momentum of the music, can be felt and heard haunting every moment of the song. Fans of Comsat Angels or All Your Sisters will appreciate the way the vocals a expressively wide-ranging and reach deep into a place of desperation and a yearning for liberation from the ambient gloom that seems to have settled on the zeitgeist. Listen to “Here :: Now” on Spotify and perhaps buy a copy of the duo’s debut EP on Bandcamp titled Cassette as it is available on a limited run tape. Connect with Vague Lines at the links provided.