The break is over and it’s back to the grind! We’re glad folks enjoyed our Year End coverage (and hope the list sparked some conversations and investigations) and the Blackbox commentary series, but it’s time to roll up our sleeves and dig into a fresh year of new music. Who’s to say which trends and styles will continue and which new ones will emerge in the months ahead? No matter what happens, you can count on us to be giving you a half dozen new tunes each week as the new decade begins.

lié: cold punks in hot weather

Reka X Imperial Black Unit, “Todo Avaricia”
Fresh off their collaboration with SARIN, Imperial Black Unit have another EP on deck which is the product of a joint effort with another Berlin ex-pat. This time it’s Spain’s Reka, who debuted in 2018 with an EP on Phase Fatale’s well-curated Bite label. The title track from Todo Avaricia highlights both acts’ ability to work in moody and contemplative phrasings into the smoother side of dark synth – a fitting aesthetic for the EP’s social and political themes.

Riki, “Böse Lügen (Body Mix)”
We really liked the previous track we had heard from Riki “Napoleon”, but it wasn’t ’til we heard “Böse Lügen (Body Mix)” that the project snapped into focus for us. Leveraging classic neue deutsch welle and minimal synth sounds, it hits that sweet spot where retro-aesthetic synth music, melody and danceability come together to make a killer single. The LA-based project’s LP (which features production from INHALT’s Matia Simovich, one of our favourite studio wizards) drops on Valentine’s Day via Dais. Expect to hear more about it as the date draws nearer.

Lié, “Digging In The Desert”
Speaking of expats, Vancouver’s uncompromising Lié look to be on extended hiatus what with Ashlee Luk taking off to Germany to pursue work with Minimal Violence. But there’s at least one more statement forthcoming from the trio in the form of You Want It Real, an LP due in less than two months. You can be sure we’ll have a review up at that time, but until then you’ve got a chance to get a taste of one of our city’s most important acts of the last decade.

Harsh R, “The Shroud”
Avi Roig’s Harsh R with another paint-peeling track to get your new year started mean. While the elements we’ve come to expect from this extremely rough DIY synth project are here in force – hard-edged vocals, thudding kicks, acid-soaked snares – it also has a spiky melodic chorus that feels punky in all the right ways. New EP due in March, consider our appetites fully whetted.

Double Echo, “The Position”
Released over the holidays, the fourth LP from Liverpool’s Double Echo looks to mark an expansion in sound for the now well-established goth act. A whole helping of dream pop, along with some more synth-driven darkwave look to have been added into the mix. It’s a combination which looks to give Burning In Blue some extra shading, as well as some bouncy enough hooks as this Xymox-esque number demonstrates.

Caustic vs This Morn Omina, “Kerosene (Big Black cover)”
To finish things off, here’s a strange meeting of the industrial minds with an unlikely cover. The story goes that in the mid-2000s Matt Fanale of Caustic brought rhythmic industrial act This Morn Omina to play a show in Wisconsin, and while they hung out they conceived the idea of doing a cover of Big Black’s “Kerosene”. Apparently played once and then forgotten, 2020 brings an official release of the track, which sounds, well, like Caustic and This Morn Omina doing a Big Black cover. That works for us, and might for you also!