Summer Bummer Series: The Sounds of Summer Bummer

“To hell with fun in the sun. Let’s brood in the shade!” | By Tim Anderl | Photo by Jacki Vitetta

No summer is complete without a playlist of go-to jams designed for mood setting. Whether you’re waterskiing in your finest black latex trunks, lighting Fourth of July fireworks off of your clove cigarette, grilling up some tofu dogs to share with your homies at a BDSM BBQ, or pouring absinthe into solo cups for a rousing game of wormwood-pong, critically-selected tunes are an essential supplement of the season.

To kick off our spotlight on the artists who will help you survive all this cursed sunshine, we asked some of our favorite goth, post-punk, and industrial-leaning musicians to run down their essential dreary summer listening. Get bummed!

Artist: Andrew Humphrey of Abertooth Lincoln
Abertooth Lincoln released the Selling the Suburban Ideal EP in January 2017 and will release a new single, “Average White Boys,” in mid-2018.

Pick: The Downward Spiral by Nine Inch Nails

(Nothing/Interscope, 1994)

“Most people can’t stomach the entirety of Nine Inch Nails’ masterpiece, The Downward Spiral. There must be landfills of discarded copies from mainstream bros who were disappointed to learn that most of the album is nothing like ‘Closer.’ Much of the album’s meat is surprisingly weird, headache-inducing, and ridiculously depressing. I still listen to it often, though rarely to any isolated track. To really appreciate it, give it a dedicated listen from top to bottom. Picture the bleak story Reznor is telling. Sink deep into exquisite misery. It’s an elementary step for anyone seeking to earn their goth/industrial rock merit badge.”

Artist: Jason Corbett of ACTORS
ACTORS released their debut full-length, It Will Come to You, via Artoffact Records in March.

Photo by Kira Clavell

Pick: Substance by Joy Division

(Factory Records, 1988)

“This is easily one of my go-to albums of all time. Even though it’s a bit of a cheat, as it’s a Best Of album, the quality from track to track is undeniable and perfect in its flow. Released in 1988, it was the perfect time for me as a young teenager to go deeper than ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ and discover what all the fuss was about. From Martin Hannett’s production, which took the band into a unique and brave new direction, to the brutally honest lyricism of the now iconic Ian Curtis, the band’s creative breadth is on full display.”

Artist: Damon McMahon of Amen Dunes
Amen Dunes released Freedom via Sacred Bones in March.

Photo by Michael Schmelling

Pick: Halber Mensch by Einstürzende Neubauten

(Some Bizarre, 1985)

“When I was 19, I met a tweaker in Berkeley, California, who handed me a burned CD-R with felt pen drawings on the front. He told me, ‘This band changed my life.’ When I asked if he was a musician and he meant it changed his music, he said, ‘No, it changed my whole life.’ I don’t know if Einstürzende Neubauten changed my life, but they are one of my favorite bands. I would say Halber Mensch is my favorite. They are like The Beatles of industrial music. Tremendously melodic and well-wrought songs, incredibly idiosyncratic rhythms, both super harsh and sexy at the same time. Even catchy, somber, thoughtful. And the best look for a band ever.”

Artist: Danny Porter of At The Heart Of The World
At The Heart Of The World’s debut record, Rotting Forms, was released via Glory Kid Ltd. in January.

Pick: Bloodletting by Concrete Blonde

(I.R.S. Records, 1990)

“I wouldn’t call Concrete Blonde a goth band, but I would call their 1990 album Bloodletting a goth rock record. Labeling aside, we both love this record. I’m pretty sure the song ‘Joey’ was the first song of theirs I ever heard. Being that I was 7 when it was released, I’m sure it was on the radio in my mother’s car. I didn’t come to appreciate the whole record until later. Johnette Napolitano’s vocals and lyrics were the first thing that drew me to the record. Diving further in the music is awesome as well. The drums are simple and effective, all the guitar tones have just the right amount of effects to give a slightly haunting sound—in contrast to the bass, which has a thick, full sound and helps push the songs forward. I think the cover art is great and is a good representation of the music. I own this album on vinyl, cassette, and CD, and I’m not saying you should too, but you should at least give it a listen if you have never heard it. ‘The line is so fine between hoping and hurting.’”

Artist: Danny Denial of Dark Smith
Dark Smith released their debut EP, PREHYSTERIA, in March.

Pick: Shotgun Wedding by Lydia Lunch & Rowland S. Howard

(Atavistic Records, 1991)

“As much as I’ve always loved post-punk, goth, and new wave music, it’s been historically and staggeringly male-dominated—perpetually fanatical for its sad boys. So, a record like Shotgun Wedding, Lydia Lunch’s collaboration with Rowland S. Howard of The Birthday Party, sticks out to me as a seminal exploration into oppressively dark alternative music. I became a rabid fan of Lunch’s no-wave punk stylings with Teenage Jesus And The Jerks, but with Howard, the two create a chilling gothic sound that manages to be eerily tribal, sonically psychedelic, and lyrically creepy in a way that’s hard to place anywhere else in the genre.”

“I dare you to listen to the opening track, ‘Burning Skulls,’ a drunken tap dance between gothic rock and alt-blues, and not be drawn in by Lydia Lunch’s snarling vocal. With Howard, she created a beautifully moody, doomy record that was both a child of ‘80s goth and post-punk and a trendsetter for ‘90s alternative and grunge.”

Artist: Charlie Schmid of Del Judas
Del Judas’ debut album is coming out this summer on Primal Architecture.

Photo by Jaka Vinsek

Pick: Elizium by Fields Of The Nephilim

(Rebel Records, 1990)

“One of my all-time favorite records front-to-back is Fields Of The Nephilim’s Elizium. I still marvel at the mindful songcraft that builds its momentum with flanged-out guitars, heavy tom breaks and shuffles, Carl McCoy’s sexy, gritty vocals. The silky reverb plates almost seem to take center stage as the sixth member. ‘For Her Light’ has such a passionate and cunning vibe, ‘Submission’ spans the surreal spectrum, and I love the Pink Floyd feel of ‘Sumerland’—the album was coproduced by veteran Pink Floyd engineer Andy Jackson. ‘And There Will Your Heart Be Also’ plays like a hymn from a church I never belonged to, a true masterpiece of a closing song. Not only did Elizium get me through some long tours, but it has also deeply influenced my music. I don’t think I’ll ever get enough of it.”

Artist: Mkl Anderson of DREKKA
DREKKA will release a 7” with REMST8 via Red Frost Industries and the
Timber Rattle LP via Bluesanct in May.

Pick: The Wind Is Strong by Cindytalk
(Midnight Music, 1990)

“The entire premillennial catalog of Cindytalk is the perfect embodiment of ‘post-punk,’ its sound always straddling several genres at once—industrial ambient abstract cinematic fierce—always led by the transcendent, transgender warrior punk, Gordon Sharp. She was, at one time, perhaps better known for lending her angelic voice to This Mortal Coil, singing seminal versions of Big Star’s ‘Kangaroo’ and Rema-Rema’s ‘Fond Affections.’ Less known is that she was also an early member of Cocteau Twins, her siren song calling in the background of their stunning Peel Session from 1983. Forty years later, she is still following the controlled chaos of Cindytalk wherever it takes her—ever becoming animal, dancer, and alchemist.”

The Wind Is Strong sees the wide-open canvas that post-punk spread moving into the ‘90s. A Cindytalk ‘diversion,’ it was recorded as the soundtrack for the rarely seen Ivan Unwin film ‘Eclipse.’ Tense, evocative ambient concretes with occasional piano chords and natural sounds bring to mind the pastoral dystopia of Tarkovsky’s ‘Stalker.’ The lineup is classic, perfect Cindytalk: Paul Middleton, Matt Kinnison, and Gordon Sharp, whose voice is not heard until near the end, but whose signature piano wanderings are unmistakable throughout.”

“This album—perhaps more so than any other in Sharp’s discography—is one of the single biggest influences on my own approach to creating a visual language of sounds, as I have imagined the film that accompanies this soundtrack a thousand times, a thousand ways. It is engrained in my soul and life to the point that the phrase ‘Fuck you, Mrs. Grimace’ has worked its way into my personal vernacular as a term of endearment.”

Artist: James Rogers of Fearing
Fearing released their debut EP, A Life of None, and its follow-up, Black Sand, via Funeral Party Records in 2017.

Pick: Mère by Asylum Party
(Lively Art, 1990)

“This album has a very unique sound to me. When I first heard Asylum Party, I burned through all my data listening to Borderline on YouTube over and over again, but when I came across Mère, it started to change the way I thought about music. Every song is so big and epic for only having a few instrument layers at once. I swear, I could write another paragraph just about the drum tones. Highly recommended.”

Artist: Brian Cole of Funeral Party Records
Funeral Party Records has released material by Night Sins, Soft Kill, Death Bells, Draa, Fearing, Nothing, Glaare, and a host of others. They also celebrate their thirdanniversary this year.

Pick: Ocean Rain by Echo & The Bunnymen
(Korova, 1984)

“Echo & The Bunnymen blazed new sonic territory in perhaps the most un-punk way possible by recording with a 35-piece orchestra and mostly acoustic guitars. Songs like ‘Crystal Days’ and ‘My Kingdom’ serve as the perfect theatrical backdrop for Ian McCulloch’s silky croon. I discovered Echo & The Bunnymen—and ultimately, Ocean Rain—as a teenager through [the] ‘Donnie Darko’ [soundtrack]’s use of ‘The Killing Moon.’ Ocean Rain entered my life at the perfect time and served as the soundtrack to growing up and the trials and tribulations that come with it. The realization I had as a teenager rings just as true today: even unplugged and accompanied by an orchestra, there’s no band cooler than Echo & The Bunnymen.”

Artist: Alicia Gaines of Ganser
Ganser released their debut album, Odd Talk, via No Trend Records in April.

Photo by Samantha Larre

Pick: The Correct Use of Soap by Magazine
(Virgin, 1980)

“Magazine managed to embody the tortured romanticism of their darker contemporaries with a morbid self-awareness of how silly that is. Everything is terrible on The Correct Use of Soap, but it’s not all bleak, because it’s a beautiful day, and they want you to laugh with them about it. Tracks on the album come off like throwaway jokes from a Dostoyevsky joke book, [like], ‘He doesn’t expect to pinch himself and wake up and that kind of thing…in fact, the thought of that happening makes him smile. He’s just mildly surprised to find himself there at the door of Hell,’ [from] ‘The Book.’”

“Their use of keys speaks to a new wave sensibility, a jolt of syncopated caffeine. Sometimes, the band evokes Japan and other bands whose use of funk bass speaks to post-punk’s sound just as much as heavy use of chorus pedal. Their mix of musical and literary references speaks to a coded language, conveying a tapestry of motifs and themes for those willing to look deep enough.”

Artist: Gary Thornton of GoodnightGoodnight
Goodnight Goodnight released Control in February.

Pick: The Queen Is Dead by The Smiths
(Rough Trade Records, 1986)

“Johnny Marr and Morrissey—that’s why this album is so good. The contrast between a lot of happy melodies and melancholy lyrics is consuming. When you relate to the dour lyrics while simultaneously being uplifted by the melody, there’s a tension that’s created, pulling [the listener] in two directions. On the album, sometimes one wins, sometimes the other, but they always get their share.”

The Queen Is Dead was a release of emotion. I was a little emo punk kid. I had pain in high school. Everybody did, and when I first heard this album as a high school kid, The Smiths made it OK. Morrissey was able to articulate my thoughts. The Smiths put out four great albums, but for one reason or another, The Queen Is Dead struck me the hardest.”

Artist: Tim Krug of Hexadiode
Hexadiode released IBEX via EK Product in 2016 and Contaminated, a remix album, in October 2017.

Pick: Pretty Hate Machine by Nine Inch Nails
(TVT/Interscope, 1989)

“OK, my pick [is] Pretty Hate Machine by Nine Inch Nails. Is that cliché? I know the lyrics can be, but most songs about recklessness, heartache, and isolation have that in common, right? I’m just grateful to have discovered this album at the right time: as a teenager in the ‘90s.”

“I honestly can’t remember exactly how or when I got this cassette. I’m sure I had seen ‘Head Like a Hole’ on MTV and picked it up on my next trip to the record shop or something. These days, I’ll often skip that song, but I can still get lost in that album as a whole. It has this great balance of polish and distress throughout all those familiar tales of woe constructed out of interesting synthesizers, electronic goats, sonic hooks, and infectious beats. It will always bring me back to those summer nights: out too late, dyed black hair, cruising around in cars on abandoned roads, windows down, tracking the moon through the glass.”

Artist: Heather Gabel of HIDE
HIDE released Castration Anxiety via DAIS Records in March.

Pick: Country Girl by Boy Harsher
(Ascetic House, 2017)

“Boy Harsher are a ripping two-piece electronic band who started in 2014 in Savannah, Georgia. HIDE opened for them in Chicago, and let’s just say I’m really glad we didn’t have to play after them. They fucking slay. Their sound is heavy, driving, stalking—steadily aimed with a kind of control and reserve that is foreign to my creative process. Jae Matthews’ vocal delivery slams back and forth between a monotone threat to a shadow of a whisper to a razor-sharp stab, pairing perfectly with the unrelenting pulse of the music. Honestly, I don’t listen to many current bands; a lot of them just make me want to listen to whatever they are referencing, but Boy Harsher has their own sound completely. Pick up any and all of their records, go see them live, you won’t be disappointed.”

Artist: Fred Gunn of Hiram-Maxim
Hiram-Maxim released Ghosts via Aqualamb in April 2017.

Photo by Byron Miller

Pick: Black Celebration by Depeche Mode
(Mute/Sire, 1986)

“I happened upon a beautiful copy of Black Celebration in Columbus, Ohio. At the time, I liked Depeche Mode, but was only really familiar with the hits. But I was collecting ‘80s new wave and goth records, so I grabbed it. My friend saw what I was holding and was incredibly jealous that I found it first.”

“There are really no hits on Black Celebration; this has been a point of criticism since its release and also the reason I was unfamiliar with it. The epic opening of the title track is a slow burn that builds into an emotional fervor. It’s the kind of opener that pulls the listener in and sets the mood for the rest of the album. It does exactly what all Side A track ones should aim to do. Black Celebration is dark, painful, sexy, and beautiful. It makes you want to get in your car and drive real fast, but also never leave the house again. It makes you want to be seduced and then become the seducer. It makes you want to allow yourself to be vulnerable and then hide behind your sunglasses because you’re too cool to care. It makes you want to cry, it makes you want to dance, and then, by the time ‘New Dress’ ends, you want to do it all again.”

Artist: Andee Blacksugar of KMFDM
Legendary industrial band KMFDM have 19 studio albums and two dozen singles, with sales in excess of two million worldwide.

Pick: The End… by Nico

(Island, 1974)

“A 42-minute stroll along a sheer drop into unknowable emptiness and terror. Nico—former model, Warhol acolyte, Velvet Underground star—is spectral, ancient, an imperishable voice floating over the near-constant din of her pumping harmonium—why this instrument never became a staple in goth is beyond me.”

“Under John Cale’s oblique direction as producer, there are no beats, nothing to tap your toe to; instead, organs bray in dank, airless chambers, childlike sing-songs invoke both innocence and horror, [such as on] ‘It Has Not Taken Long.’ Brian Eno’s electronic window dressing populates the proceedings with anguished banshees; his flourishes in ‘Innocent and Vain’ are either murderous apes or the sound of the universe tearing itself apart.”

“Against the droning discord and collapsing-machinery-guitars of ‘We’ve Got the Gold,’ disembodied melodies float in the sonic ether like wraiths, echoes of happier times. 

The ghost of Jim Morrison looms large—in ‘You Forgot To Answer,’ Nico phones her former lover, unaware that he is already gone. For the chilling title track, a Doors cover, Nico interprets Morrison’s savage, oedipal lyric not with fury, but with weariness, her voice choked with dust.”

Artist: Josh Bosarge of Lace
Lace released their debut full-length, Human Condition, via Funeral Party Records in April.

Pick: A Way of Life by Suicide
(Chapter 22, 1988)

“It’s admittedly difficult for me to pick a ‘favorite’ post-punk album, however Suicide’s A Way of Life is what my mind kept coming back to. This album is perfect, back to front, and runs the gamut of sounds Suicide were able to effortlessly accomplish. Alan’s guttural and animal-like yelps and growls during the recording illustrate the band live. The songs put a picture in my head of a Suicide performance—one that would certainly sound wildly different than the recordings judging by videos and their unpredictable nature onstage—which kind of makes each recorded song like its own special moment. It’s hard to really point out what about this album makes it my favorite other than the way it makes me feel. A Way of Life is creepy and visceral and fun and an ambitious step away from the previous two albums that had helped solidify them in the punk, synth pop, [and] industrial world. Always ahead of their time. Alan Vega forever.”

Artist: Matt Auxier of Master Servos
Master Servos released their Psychic Readings LP in December 2017.

Pick: Psychocandy by The Jesus And Mary Chain
(Blanco y Negro, 1985)

“This record, for me, was the transition from hardcore and punk into goth and shoegaze music. The Reid brothers’ voices always sounded like what dark and cool together sounded like. That was the sound to me. This record opened my mind to so many more sounds I had not yet gotten into, as well as reigniting the fires of some things I loved when I was a kid, like Nine Inch Nails and Ministry. I remember reading about this album somewhere around age 20 and checked it out, and I was blown away. Loud and gross guitars with dark lyrics, and I was hooked. ‘Just Like Honey’ was on my wedding playlist. Along with favs, ‘Cut Dead’ and ‘Something’s Wrong,’ the record is killer start to finish.”

Artist: JJD of Soft Riot
Soft Riot released The Outsider in the Mirrors via Possession Records in January.

Pick: World of Rubber by Second Layer

(Cherry Red/Virgin, 1981)

“As time goes by, I’m likely forgetting the impact that some of the more well-known post-punk records had on me when I was younger. However, with this particular album, the memories are a lot more clear: where I found it and how I felt upon the first listen. It was found at the back of a record bin in a large, sprawling charity shop in Vancouver that not many people went to. Sifting through the records, I’d find some good stuff on occasion, but when I picked up World of Rubber, I was immediately intrigued by the cover: the two disembodied mannequins in a weird silver and black geographical frame. I’d never heard of the band, especially as this was the late ‘90s and not many had the internet, but I took it home and listened to it. I had goosebumps upon the first listen. There were angular guitars, pulsing drum machines, and general feelings of unease and dread. I did my research and found out that it was Adrian Borland and Graham Bailey from The Sound’s side project. All in all, it was the pure coincidence of discovery, but I’ve definitely been enriched by it.”

Artist: Kyle Craig of STRVNGERS
STRVNGERS released the AMOR/NOIR LP via Negative Gain in April.

Pick: New Frontiers by The Foreign Resort
(Ignition Agency, 2014)

“This amazing post-punk group snuck into my life last year after contacting us to book some Canadian dates with them while on tour. I can honestly say, from the bottom of my black heart, that if you are a fan of post-punk, any album they have released needs to be on your playlist. I was going through a horrible breakup and depression when I met them, and their music really got me through a lot of personal anguish and isolation.  They are some of the most genuine and talented acts I have had the honor of meeting and playing with. A bonus to being in an active and growing band in this scene is moments like these, when you get to meet and befriend bands that you have been a fan of! The Foreign Resort’s vocals, rhythms, and guitars are all reminiscent of The Cure, while blending their own modern sound and style into the mix. I have them on heavy repeat daily and have since first hearing them about a year ago. Music unites us all in one way or another and having the support and relationship between our bands is something that I consider an honor. Get out there right now and check them out!”

Artist: Dave W. of White Hills
White Hills released Stop Mute Defeat via Thrill Jockey in May 2017.

Pick: Labour of Love by Mass
(4AD, 1981)

Labour of Love is the only LP released by this short-lived U.K. post-punk experimental darkwave band. Mass was formed out of the ashes of Rema-Rema by Gary Asquith, Mick Allen, and Mark Cox, with the addition of Danny Briottet. I discovered this album organically, first being drawn in by the cover artwork: four distorted and twisted portraits of each member, dark and ominous yet alluring. Since it was released by 4AD, I knew I had to have it even without hearing a single note. Upon first listen, I was taken aback by the music. Starting off with a somewhat calm synth drone augmented by discordant sax and vocals set deep in the background of the mix, the tone quickly turns to some heavy, brutal percussion and bass-led tracks that sit somewhere between the playfulness of a band like Faust and the primal repetitive bashing of The Birthday Party. Somewhat cold and sinister, evoking loneliness and despair, the album has a very loose, improvised feel, similar to that of D.A.F.’s Produkt Der Deutsch-Amerikanischen Freundschaft. After splitting up, half of the members went on to form the equally great Wolfgang Press.” 

Artist: Adam McIlwee of Wicca Phase Springs Eternal
Wicca Phase Springs Eternal released the Corinthiax EP via Dark Medicine in March.

Photo by Rob Yaskovic

Pick: Disintegration by The Cure
(Fiction, 1989)

“When I was on vacation with my family in eighth grade, I bought my girlfriend ‘The Cure: Trilogy’ live DVD. My parents hated that the DVD said ‘pornography’ and that I had a girlfriend. I knew she liked The Cure, but I thought they were weird. She broke up with me over the internet while I was still on vacation, so I kept the DVD. They played PornographyDisintegration, and Bloodflowers over three nights in Berlin. Disintegration had the moodiest songs I had ever heard, and as an incredibly emotionally fragile teenager, I felt like I was really connecting with them.”

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