Well, we’ve reached the end of the year and as is tradition virtually everywhere across the web, it’s time to pull up a warm chair, pour a comfortable drink, settle back, and remember all the amazing things that happened over the last twelve months at Team Trash HQ.
To be honest, we’d a good idea 2019 was going to be hectic (after all, we had put some thought into it and made plans!) and we were determined to bring lots of great music and as many gigs as possible to as many people as possible. That, and AnalogueTrash was celebrating its 10th year as a thing and that in itself is pretty epic.
Quick out the blocks in January two bands from across the pond got proceedings off to a great start, Canadian family members Paragon Cause released the European Edition of their Escape EP evoking thoughts of a gothic Lana Del Rey or a more reflective Ry Cooder.
After having set the audacious personal target of quickly recording a full album and then reaching out to the label online, Certain Calculations, the debut full-length album from The Cowls was welcomed with critical acclaim from The Spill Magazine and 360 Degree Sound; “Sensitive, determined and fragile” and “emotive, interesting music” an example of the praise received. It was an eventful year for The Cowls; appearing at our birthday bash AT10 and opening for Empathy Test/Actors in Manchester later in the year.
We’ve never hidden our political side here at Team Trash HQ and that goes for a number of our artists including South Coast bass and beat poet masters STOCKSNSKINS getting to grips with the turbulent and harsh realities of living in 2019 in their third EP Free Speech. Louder Than War described their output as: “… beat poetry with even more blast, John Cooper Clarke meets an even more jilted generation. Then ramped up with electronica and turned up – LOUD” which leaves little more to be said.
It had been four years since the release of ATOMZERO’s Velocity EP and Peter Godziszewski’s collaboration with Andrew Hunter (TRENCH RUN) continued in fine form, culminating in the new album Technophilia, with elements akin to some of the great classic EBM bands (Front242, Nitzer Ebb) but given a sheen more comparable to Blaqk Audio. It’s nine driving tracks for the dancefloor that also greatly reward the more concentrated listener with its acerbic lyrics. Technology, the opening track of the album, was also released as a single in October and included remixes from Nature of Wires and IIOIOIOII.
May brought something of a treat, on several levels. Vieon’s Matt Wild took one of the rarest and most unusual title tracks ever, recording and releasing a cover of Jean-Michel Jarre’s Music for Supermarkets (also a rare thing for Vieon to release a cover of anything). Lying somewhere between a musical object d’art and electro-funk synthpop, this nod to Matt’s foremost musical influence is again a suitable commentary on the perception that music is now often seen as a disposable commodity in the streaming age.
Dialling the dry wit, acerbic irony and feel-good pop delivered with hard-hitting social commentary all the way up to 11, Spray unleashed their first album on AnalogueTrash, Failure is Inevitable. God is in the TV described them as: “the most unforgivably overlooked band in the history of pop music” which they remedied over the album’s sixteen tracks, showing Jenny and Ricardo had continued to be pop chameleons but deliver on every level, pleasing an ever-growing fan base. Of course, this was inevitably followed by Remixes Are Inevitable containing reworks of album tracks for every occasion!
Another family member broke cover after a period of absence, with ded.pixel teasing their forthcoming album with the track Lost in Everything an “… expansive, mind-bending new song suggests that previous work was only a launchpad …” as described by A Model of Control, it again showed that artists were prepared to address the injustices, political and economic turmoil of the times we find ourselves living in, a theme further explored in the second single Quisling and its provocative title and theme.
Bringing spring to a close with a release at the end of May, purveyors of blackmetalgaydisco, St Lucifer delivered a new EP Ultra/Violence with deconstructed and reimagined versions of two tracks from their Music Is Violence album and two tracks somewhat disturbing in the direction taken but at once identifiable as St Lucifer. Ably assisted by Valentine Records signing Still Forever, this is raw and at times manic music.
As summer crashed into our lives IIOIOIOII’s Chris Gurney had been busy preparing a pair of sister albums: Chroma + Chromatic; the former will appeal to those who like their electronica with an ambient undertone, while the latter mirrors perfectly with a host of remixes from royalty of the electronic scene including Grendel, Lorelei Dreaming and labelmates Nature of Wires along with two additional original tracks. Brutal Resonance had the best advice: “I don’t think there are any other words that I can type out without sounding redundant, so go out, listen to this, and buy the album.”
Nature of Wires teased the release of their upcoming album with two singles, firstly Madame Serena, a slice of classic Eurodance Electronica, immaculately produced by Gary Watts with pop hooks and a slightly melancholic melody that would have been comfortingly familiar to those 90s rave kids (hiya!) and secondly, Harry’s House which showcases the wonderful range of Andrew Stirling Brown’s vocals.
Then, after 30 (or was it 33?) years in the making, it was here, the new album from Nature of Wires – Modus. Driven by a desire to release a body of work reflective of the time it was written but using the modern technology available now to ensure it sounds bang up to date, this isn’t some retro curio. It’s both fresh and familiar as Dancing About Architecture noted: “Modus is a time machine. It’s the sound of retro synth-pop and electronic soundscaping being brought bang up to date, enhanced with modern studio potential and made presentable for a contemporary audience who are sure to lap it up.”
Having been through some changes with the departure of vocalist Sam Stone during the recording of new material and new vocalist/guitarist Ophir settling in, Room 1985 dropped their new single Sorry and it showed this had in no way hampered the band’s creativity or style. Indeed, Uber Rock wrote they “…have an absolute doozy here, with a melodic post-rock feel coming through on top of the usual synth-prog they have released before.”
Autumn brought STOCKSNSKINS debut full-length album Face Don’t Fit and with it, the reality of a society split into warring tribes and co-existing in almost parallel realities, albeit delivered with punching bass and lyrics with an occasional theatrical flourish. This really is their best work to date and instantly accessible to the ‘person in the street’, they definitely need to be on your ones to watch list for 2020.
Also returning in the autumn were Paragon Cause with an album co-produced with one of their heroes, Sune Rose Wagner of THE RAVONETTES. Lies Between Us [European Edition]. Garnering praise from Gas Mask Magazine for the second single: “With aspects of indie electronica and indie rock, we can’t help but bang our head to their new release titled, Save Me. The track has a striking vocal and melody line that is bliss to our ears.” The album gets deeper and more emotionally complex with each play.
Having established itself as a firm live favourite for DEF NEON and championed by BBC Introducing for a several weeks, Just Do It serves as a teaser for the duo’s upcoming second album War Beats due in the new year. Schott’s List was full of praise: “There’s no one quite doing what Michael and Emily are doing. This is fucking art. DEF NEON are refreshingly escapist in a chaotic world and like a great painting, you keep coming back and finding something different.”
For both good and bad reasons it’s been a fairly quiet year for The Frixion but Gene and Lloyd delivered an absolute corker of a track in September, I Cannot Play These Games, which at first listen reflects those life events, but subsequent listens uncover a deeper backdrop of the prevailing social and economic changes across Western Europe. Possibly their strongest track to date, we look forward to more music in 2020.
Another deeply personal track came in October, this time from Vain Machine was Invisible, looking into the fragility of mental health in our time of a superficial social media society and is a much a rallying call for understanding and togetherness as it is calling out those who ignore the problem of mental wellbeing. Oh, and Vain Machine absolutely tore the roof off The Peer Hat at Foundations this year!
Finally, we were absolutely stoked to be able to release Feeling Heat by Husk in November. We’ve been long-time admirers of the music Alfie makes and to see the single get such a warm reception was great, especially from the likes of It’s Indie Music who said “Feeling Heat is a bouncy, synth-filled piece of 80s electronic-style toe-tapping pop. We’re talking Years and Years meets Everything Everything, shortly after they jumped into a DeLorean with a flux capacitor and went back to a time when electronic music was prevalent.”
That was 2019 in terms of releases, except we haven’t had a chance to mention the gigs, the birthday bash, Foundations, the upcoming releases, the fundraising and activism and more of what the Team Trash family and friends have been up to; but that’ll have to be another day.
Mark (the other one)
Team Trash HQ