It’s been a while since I dug into my cache of clove-and-snakebite stained jewel cases, but a steady diet of retro electro-industrial and ambient shizz over the past couple months has got me hankering for some no-frills gawth rawk. Yes, it’s time for another installment of The Unquiet Grave, that ID:UD feature in which crusty ol’ Uncle Bruce pulls his crushed velvet out of mothballs and parties like it’s 1993, much to the embarrassment of kids who just want to listen to their Grimes and Ulterior records in peace.
That said, the format’s a bit different this time out. Rather than profiling a single band, I’m zeroing in on a particular second-wave trend: using girls’ names as song titles. Besides older singer-songwriter types – Paul Simon, Elvis Costello, Tom Waits (who was gauche enough to immediately follow-up “Martha“, one of his greatest grand weepers, with the trite “Rosie”) – there ain’t nobody who cashes in on this trope like goth bands.
I’m not including tracks from the acts who helped kickstart the trend: the Sisters (“Alice”, “Marian”), Siouxsie (“Christine”), The Mission (“Severina”, “Amelia”). And, while Faith and the Muse and Inkubus Sukkubus have plenty of tracks which technically fit the bill, more than half of the time they’re about goddesses or other mythical figures, so I’m avoiding anything from them as well. Still, given how many of these tracks there are, that’s about as much of a handicap as telling Michael Jordan he can’t shoot three-pointers in a game of one-on-one against a medicated sloth. Let’s get cracking.
Big Electric Cat, “Christabel”
Australia’s premiere goth rock act’s debut Dreams Of A Mad King is stronger for the cards it plays closer to the chest, like this opening number. It’s a processional, autumnal track which unfolds wonderfully.
Love Like Blood, “Ylene”
Full of stormy, rain-slicked guitar, the German outfit known for porting covers over to their goth-by-way-of-hard-rock brand hold their own just fine on original compositions, too.
Mephito Walz, “Nicole”
I said no FatM, but William Faith still managed to work his way in. Super swampy stuff here, in the early days of Crocosmia.
XIII. Století, “Elizabeth”
I caught these guys live in Prague back in ’02, and though a comparatively new song it brought the house down. I’ve lost what little Czech I used to know, but I’m still pretty sure it’s about Elizabeth Bathory, cuz really, why not?
The Wake, “Christine”
I keep meaning to do an installment of The Unquiet Grave dedicated to this Ohio act (who I always assumed were from LA, for no particular reason), but lead singer Troy Payne’s Eldritchery is so thick it’s difficult to suss out the band’s other characteristics. Still, this remains a classic cut.
The Razor Skyline, “Andrea”
Yeah, I know, it’s darkwave, not goth rock, but it perfectly nails the ghostly little girl lost feel which is so common to the trope. A much softer and atmospheric turn for the often abrasive Razor Skyline.
The Shroud, “Madeline”
Boy howdy, do I love The Shroud. They straddle the goth and ethereal boundary perfectly, and add just the slightest pinch of American folk and country flavours for a unique and graceful blend which I’ve never found elsewhere.
Screams For Tina, “Kristen”
Like fellow late-80s LA act Wreckage, there’s a strong Damned influence to Screams For Tina’s stately vocals, which nicely offsets the classic Califor-ni-a deathrock steez.
Corpus Delicti, “Lorelei”
The subjects of the first installment of The Unquiet Grave would be conspicuous by their absence from this list. A characteristically slinky bit from debut Twilight.
There are dozens more examples of this trend to be found, including a few I didn’t list just because I couldn’t find a vid. Have a favourite? List it in the comments!