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This weekend I’ll mostly be listening to… Wax Idols February 8, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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Post-punk. The gift that never stops giving. One would think that by now it would be played out. But not a bit of it. Each generation has its own take on it. This works to varying degrees of effectivity. A few years back we saw the likes of The Soft Moon do a pretty good job of it. Silent Servant and the late Sandwell Collective took a different route through electronica and IDM arriving at a not entirely different place. It’s testament to the fact that there was no single post-punk sound, quite the opposite, it was in truth closer to a sensibility, an approach or a dynamic.

And here’s a group I mentioned at least once last year and possibly twice, Californian outfit Wax Idols, led by Hether Fortune, and their second album Discipline + Desire. It’s cool, or more than cool. It’s positively cold. Perhaps telling that they wear their influences so clearly on their sleeves, as with “Ad Re: Ian” which deliberately references Adrian Borland and Ian Curtis. But although dark it’s not goth, at least not yet.

Heavier on the Hyena-era Siouxsie, lighter on Joy Division. Hints of the Chameleons here and there (and there’s a sort of connection, see below). Other hints, particularly in the interplay of percussion and bass, of Xmal Deutschland and perhaps even the Slits.

But somehow it’s greater than the sum of its parts (even if “The Scent of Love” tips perhaps a little close to well-trodden Cure territory).

Where it really comes to life on tracks like “Dethrone” (a song that suggests serious potential for a broader appeal), “Ad Re: Ian” and “Stare Back” where the post-punk influences cohere. Yet it sounds, in a way, more chaotic than the originals. Perhaps it is the angular choruses which sound permanently on the brink of spinning away.

Elsewhere tracks like “Stay In” and “The Scent of Love” have an undertow – the strummed guitars, the doomy bass – that is familiar and yet reworked in such a way as to sound fresh. And in the layered effects, the echoed vocals on “Stare Back” and “Sound of A Void”, the treated guitars that litter the album, there’s a sense of a group unafraid to explore the opportunities that still exist in punk, eager to embrace the challenge of holding the balance between melody and dissonance.

There’s a bit of a mythos evolving around Fortune but on the evidence here, while the extraneous stuff is interesting in part – not least her insight into Mark Burgess, her voice and the music she and the group create holds up on its own terms. Great.

When It Happens (on soundcloud)

Dethrone

Stare Back (Live)

Sound of a void (Live)

Sound of a void (on soundcloud)

Scent of Love

Comments»

1. Eamonncork - February 8, 2014

Good discovery. They remind me to a certain extent of this unjustly forgotten and rather brilliant post-punk outfit.

With a bit of this

and even a drop of that.

Impeccable as always old stock. But where do you find out about these bands? You make me feel distinctly out of touch.

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WorldbyStorm - February 8, 2014

This was through emusic, I have a subscription with them, get thirty downloads a month through them and it’s very handy. The Burgess/Chameleons crossover intrigued me, and once I listened to them I was well pleased! Re new music, a lot of sources, Guardian podcast, NPR likewise, hints from people on here, others I know who like stuff. And tried and test… googling ‘groups like The Chameleons/Boards of Canada/insert name as applicable’.

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WorldbyStorm - February 8, 2014

BTW, +1 on the bits and drops and pieces. I like the way Wax Idols aren’t afraid to reference their influences.

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