Well, that’s another year in the books.
During the holidays I traditionally have odd habits of escaping the horror of sudden-onset poverty and intense “Family Time” by getting obsessed with a new genre of music. Last year, I discovered the brilliantly British goth scene. Sounds odd? It is. But what surprised me was how easy it was to listen to most of this stuff, and how charming and ambitious this music had to be to get anywhere.
For the past several weeks, you’ve been inundated with lists of bands and artists to watch and gigs to see over the next 12 months. And hey, self-awareness is a wonderful thing; now is the best time to sink your teeth into something really, truly different to set a genuinely new tone for the new year, so enjoy my list of the ultimate in goth rock British music that deserves some serious love. The New Year can be a dark time for many; you may as well embrace that with some surprisingly accessible, utterly addictive, horror-themed rock and roll.
First off, the reason this article came about at all: Zombina and the Skeletones. My best friend came back from a gig Inverness and called me up immediately: “Lou,” he declared, “I’ve found another Oingo Boingo (the legendary Danny Elfman-fronted new wave outfit).” Now, those words are not ones that I take lightly, and luckily he was right. The Skeletones are a Liverpool-born goth-rock band with oodles of camp, a sense of humor, and more B-movie references than my DVD shelf. If you’re as-yet unconvinced by horror novelty bands, get convinced, now.
And back to my home country now, with a nod to Jacob Yates and Pearly Gate Lock Pickers, a band that specializes in horror-influenced R&B. Adopting the lead singer from legendary outfit Uncle John & Whitelock, they’re one of those bands that puts much more time into their live performances than their studio music, creating gripping, entertaining live shows that translate with deceptive ease onto their recorded work.
And hell, I couldn’t write this article without paying at least a little respect to Miss Von Trapp. She’s a brilliant solo performer with a cello, a vaudeville edge, and a dark, dark sense of humor. She’s one of those people who you’ll catch on a night out and then spend the rest of your life searching for. I’ve saved you the bother. Her live shows are of some repute, bringing elements of comedic performance and songs about children being poisoned by eels into the mix. I mean, can you really argue with that?
Of course, there are some stalwarts to the genre who come in the form of The March Violets, who’ve been around since the ’80s and got back together a few years ago to continue playing with their distinctive mix of echoey, feedback-laden guitar and gothic overtones. They’re the kind of band you’d use to get people into the genre, with gorgeous melodies and clever lyrics that convince you to like them before you’ve really had a chance to make your mind up yet.
And we’ll finish off with a look at Flesh for Lulu, who reformed in 2013 after a provocative and influential spate of music-making back in the ’80s. And damn, is it good to have them back — drawing influence from the New York Dolls and blending it with some very British tongue-in-cheek attitude, these are the kind of goth rockers every goth rocker dreams of being one day.
Louise MacGregor is a freelance writer from Scotland, who spends most of her time enveloped in a cloud of ill-advised cigarette smoke and listening to music you haven’t heard of yet. She writes for Tour Worthy, Earsplitter, and Mod Vive, as well as running The Interesting People Project and The Cutprice Guignol.
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