Lou Miami, "Dance With Death," from Rituals (Throbbing Lobster, 1985)
A friend sent me a link to this video and I thought it was gonna be a joke. I mean, "Lou Miami"? How could that be any good? Well, holy shit, not so much the video, but the song is pretty great. As soon as I heard this weird mix of, like, goth rock and a style that I've heard referred to as "cowpunk" from time to time, I immediately felt like it would be the perfect starting point for a YouTube rabbit hole.
Fun fact: Lou Miami (a.k.a. "Lucifer Miami," and often performing as Lou Miami & The Kozmetix) was not from Miami, but Boston. Unfortunately, he passed away in 1995. Having not recorded a ton of material, I'm surprised there was never a discography CD or anything, especially seeing as the original vinyl releases average around $50 apiece. Damn…
As expected, I'm presented with a ton of intriguing next steps that I've never heard of before: Boy Harsher, Sad Lovers & Giants, Pink Turns Blue… so many I'd like to choose, this is tough!
Pink Turns Blue, "Your Master is Calling," from Meta (Fun Factory!, 1988)
Fuck yes! Solid choice, right off the bat! Gothy post-punk from Germany and I'm immediately drawn into its bass-centric vibe. Some of the vocals very lightly remind me of The Cult at times. There's a dash of The Mission in there, too. Great rise-and-fall writing tactics—this doesn't at all feel like nearly eight minutes. This is gonna turn into an expensive listening session, I can feel it. Pink Turns Blue has quite a sizable discography, and I bet a good chunk of it's worth owning…
The Frozen Autumn, "Is Everything Real?," from Emotional Screening Device (Eibon, 2002)
I'm always a sucker for anything involving the word "autumn," what can I say? This is interesting because this Italian synth-pop group formed in the early-'90s, but then I see that this was released in 2002 on Eibon Records, which I'm more familiar with as an experimental noise/dark ambient label. So, I initially thought this might be some sort of reissue or reunion album, but I think The Frozen Autumn has remained active all along and there are just significant gaps of time between albums. Solid track. It doesn't grip me the way the first two did, but I can't deny that it's got some subtle hooks.
I really don't want to get derailed from the impeccable path that I was on by too much synth-iness, so hopefully there are some selections here that will let me slide back toward the gothic post-punk side of things…
Sad Lovers & Giants, "Things We Never Did," from Colourless Dream (Last Movement, 1981)
Yes! Nice. That's more like it! Morose, goth-tinged post-punk, this time from the U.K. Looks like this is the B-side from 1981's "Colourless Dream" single. Whoa, wait, fuckin' saxophone, too!? You can't lose! I really love this niche of music, but am just so uninformed about it. I even hated bands like The Cure when I was a kid because I was a moron, so I'm still playing major catch-up on tons of this stuff even today. Another band with a decent-sized discography that I'm gonna need to dive into. Totally. Lovin' this.
I think I'm gonna keep clicking on all of the bands that I was interested in after the first track in case they don't come back around!
Boy Harsher, "Pain," from Pain (Oráculo, 2015)
So far, so good. This synthwave-ish duo from Massachusetts reminds me a little bit of Desire, but darker and grittier, for sure. Maybe like a fusion of Desire and Security. I'm intrigued. It appears that they've released a bunch of 12" singles (and more) and have a really strong visual aesthetic. I definitely appreciate the overall vibe here. It's somewhat "simple," but not overly so. The piece builds into more layering and subtle little textural interactions as it goes. I'm guessing that Boy Harsher is probably pretty "popular" in certain circles—if for no other reason than it has been financially viable for them to release so much vinyl in so little time—and I can kinda see why. I need to explore more of this, absolutely.
Curiously, I'm now starting to be presented with a bunch of big-name options that I'm of course familiar with, such as The Cure, Bauhaus, The Smiths, etc. I'm tempted to go with Cabaret Nocturne, but I hate the cover art, so I'm passing…
Q. Lazzarus, "Goodbye Horses" (All Nations, 1991)
What a bizarre story for this one. I don't remember it at all, but apparently this song became a cult classic after use in The Silence of the Lambs. Despite that, somehow Q. Lazzarus—who was a taxi driver at the time this song was recorded—never really "made it." In fact, she's rumored to currently be a bus driver in Staten Island, NY!? Nuts. Anyway, this is a good song. Simple, dark, memorable synth-pop. I'd definitely buy this, but the original 12" sells for hundreds of dollars now, and has even been bootlegged on CD in multiple countries—all of which goes for about $50 or more. Oh well.
Unfortunately, this song being a cult classic has fucked up YouTube's algorithm for me big time, as I've heard almost everything I'm being presented with, and am not terribly interested in the rest. Shit.
Beach House, "Space Song," from Depression Cherry (Sub Pop, 2015)
I'll admit, this isn't as terrible as I expected. I really didn't want to click on this one, but it was literally the only option from an artist I've never heard before. Beach House is a "dream pop duo from Baltimore, MD." This track sounds only vaguely "dream pop" to me, but I'm far from an expert there. It just doesn't really conjure that vibe for me. Decent, dreary, electronic-tinged pop that's totally listenable, it just doesn't draw me in.
Sigh. My "up next" options are still pretty fucked. Somehow that Q. Lazzarus tune has really shifted away from the excellent direction this had been heading in…
Still Corners, "The Trip," from Strange Pleasures (Sub Pop, 2013)
God damnit, I guess once you stumble onto one popular video on YouTube, that's it. You're screwed. There's no going back. They really want to trap you in "fairly mainstream" land. This London duo basically sounds like a folkier version of Beach House. Again, totally fine, I actually enjoy this song—much more so than Beach House—but it still doesn't particularly inspire me to further explore the artist's catalog.
I desperately want to get back into some of those old post-punk obscurities, but I'm afraid it's not gonna happen. I'm seeing a hell of a lot of videos that have millions of views here. This is a disaster. Damn you, Sub Pop!
Daso, "Meine," from Meine Idee (Spectral Sound, 2007)
...aaaaaand now we've landed on DJ/house music or some shit. Daso was a German DJ who passed away from cancer earlier this year (R.I.P.). Believe it or not, I can appreciate this, it's certainly not something I'm going to delve into, though.
I'm learning an interesting lesson here for future installments: I need to pay attention to the view counts on the videos I'm selecting, because it's pretty disappointing that one decision has completely dismantled the entire second half of this exploration to an irreparable degree. All of my options have shitty, uninteresting artwork; millions of views; fuck… let's just get this over with.
The Dø, "Despair, Hangover & Ecstasy," from Shake, Shook, Shaken (Cinq 7, 2014)
Oof. In the words of Crowbar, "I have motherfuckin' failed." Not that the odds were in my favor. Just listening to whatever this is, I can deal with it, but watching the video I start to hate almost everything about it. Hipster junk. I'm done. Fuck it, at least I stumbled upon three incredible bands out of this—and a few others worth a closer look—but holy shit did it fall apart toward the end…