October 20, 2010


Five Nu-Goth Artists to Watch

Roger Kisby
Roger Kisby

Last week, My Chemical Romance debuted its Tank Girl–ish video for “Na Na Na,” the first single off the band’s upcoming album—(pause for breath)—Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. It’s a rollicking, punk-lite anthem that’s impossible to dislodge from your head. (Let’s face it: “Na-na-na” has the same effect as “rah-rah ah-ah-ah” does in Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”—it’s aural crack.) Yet with Oct. 31 fast approaching, we find ourselves pining for the darker days of “Helena,” when our boys were lamenting the loss of their nana as they basked in Catholic imagery. Thankfully there just happens to be a scene brewing—called “nu goth,” of course—that’s taking those gothic conventions we once knew and tweaking them into something more curious, more ambitious, more phantasmal. And just in time to assemble your Halloween mixtape...

Zola Jesus

The high priestess of nu goth, this 21-year-old (born Nika Roza Danilova) from Wisconsin has a handful of releases to her name—the most recent being the Valusia EP—and is finally getting her due. Vocally, Danilova is cut from the same steel-lunged, goosebump-inducing cloth as Florence Welch. But in her haunting, ululating delivery, she actually brings to mind a more tortured Siouxsie Sioux. Not surprisingly, OG nu-goth Karin Derijer Andersson (of Sweden’s The Knife) gave Danilova her big break by hand-picking the dark ingenue to open for Andersson’s critically adored side project, Fever Ray, last year.


Los Angeles is synonymous with swimming pools, movie stars. This ethereal quartet—which hails from those sunny environs—indeed creates chirpy vocals and lovely melodies, but shrouds them in hazy, chimeric chants. Warpaint has just released its second (and probable breakout) album, The Fool, its exposure stoked in part by actress Shannyn Sossamon (A Knight’s Tale, The Rules of Attraction), who’s bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg’s sister and used to be the group’s drummer; she just directed the video for new single, “Undertow.”


Given that their frontman Jack Donoghue used to be a crack-smoking male prostitute (no lie!), it only follows that SALEM would make languid, funereal music that befits his murky past. (Look no further than to the disturbing, NSFW video for their first single “Yes I Smoke Crack,” which depicts a woman hallucinating as she tries to asphyxiate herself by way of carbon-monoxide poisoning.) SALEM’s debut, King Night veers from lo-fi fantasy to chopped-and-screwed rap, and is a spooky exercise in avant-goth nocturne. Though you’ll be hard-pressed to make out any lyrics, the atmospherics will envelop you.


Feather-light harmonies, gentle orchestration, and rolling beats pervade Ring, the lovely first album from L.A.’s Glasser (née Cameron Mesirow). She’s been compared to everyone from Enya to Feist to Joni Mitchell, but it’s the omnipresent otherworldliness hovering over her compositions that ultimately makes the sound her own. Mesirow’s talent cuts such a wide swath that when she’s not beguiling listeners with Ring, her sculptural and audio work can also be found in New York City’s respected Deitch Projects space, as part of an exhibit with her artist-friend Tauba Auerbach.


Bloggers have taken to using the makeshift term “witch house” to classify the self-titled EP from the curiously spelled San Francisco act (which is pronounced “oh” and is actually the brainchild of producer-remixer Christopher Dexter Greenspan). Two years old, oOoOO has broken into blogger consciousness thanks to the success of SALEM—oOoOO’s moodier counterpart. Greenspan deals out sparse, languid beats that also owe a debt to Houston’s DJ Screw, here underscored by vocals that range from a zombie-like bass to an apparitional helium.

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