Bootblacks – Fragments

Brooklyn’s Bootblacks (Alli Gorman – guitars, Barrett Hiatt – synthesizers, Roger Humanbeing – drums, Panther MacDonald – lead vocals), play an interesting mix of post-punk, shoegaze, goth, and synthwave, and their new album, Fragments, is a showcase on how well they float between those genres.

Lead track “Hold & Dissolve” instantly plunges you into creepy synthwave with a good mix of live and processed beats.  It reminds me of some of A Place to Bury Strangers‘ tracks, but with vocals that sound more like Peter Murphy than Oliver Ackermann.  “The Longest Night” seems to be a song about the first night after MacDonald’s lover walked out on him.  Hiatt’s synth work on it blends so well with Gorman’s guitar riffs that it’s sometimes difficult to tell them apart.

If there’s any justice in the world, “Memory Palace” is currently tearing up goth and industrial night clubs throughout New York City and will soon be catching on across the country.  It’s like a Joy Division track if they had decided to be a dance band.  “Sudden Moves” is a journey down a wet road under a gray sky with occasional bursts of sunlight through the clouds (mainly from Hiatt’s synths).  “A Pale Fire” is a fast, almost poppy electro track, and “Reincarnate” is something that could be spun by a replicant Los Angeles dance club DJ in 2049.  I like how Gorman knows when to fade back and let the synths take the lead and when to step back up and shred.  She’s quickly becoming one of my new favorite guitarists.

“For You (Lois)” might be a love letter to Lois, or it might be an ode to Lois, or it might be a cynical takedown of Lois.  I’m not sure, but it is a cool cold wave track.  The closer, “Gone,” has definite Depeche Mode influences (especially in MacDonald’s vocal stylings) and synths that sound like something from a rare krautrock single.

My thanks to Bootblacks’ label, Manic Depression Records, for letting me know about this band.  They weren’t on my radar until MDR contacted me.  I’m glad they did because this is one of the most interesting finds of the year for me.

Keep your mind open.

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