I got in an discussion/argument with someone during last week's CMJ festival about recent Matador signees Cold Cave when I called them goth. "They're not goth," said a friend of mine to which I replied "Have you seen pictures of them? Have you heard them? They're goth." She replied, "Well, they're like 'indie goth.'"
The distinction isn't missed on me. These days, to just be called "goth" is to damn your band to Cleopatra records, the label that for most of the '90s and early '00s was the only safe harbor for folks who cited Fields of the Nephilim and Sisters of Mercy as major influences. Not that there's anything wrong with Sisters of Mercy at all, but the bands that clung to goth after its heyday were just shadows. And all the subculture hoo ha that goes along with being goth these days.
But ever since Interpol made melodramatic singing and wearing a holster onstage commercially viable again, bands have sought out the darker sides of postpunk as an influence while courting the cool kids. A lot of it is pretty good too. The difference is, I think, if you're looking to Bauhaus and Siouxsie (or P.I.L.) for inspiration, you're going to end up a much better band than those who say "I want to sound like The Bolshoi and Mission UK."
I know there are other terms going around for all this. "Darkwave" to me is just as dumb-sounding as goth, so I still am just gonna use "goth." Or how about "kinda goth"? All these bands on this mix have some gothy elements to them: some are kinda goth (Violens, Crystal Stilts) and others are pretty much full-on goth (Cold Cave, Horrors and their little brother S.C.U.M.) but it's all pretty good. And it's nice to mix up the tunes on Halloween 'cause you can only listen to "This Corrosion" so many times.
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1. Crystal Stilts - The Dazzled
2. S.C.U.M. - Visions Arise
3. Witch Hats - Hell Hole
4. Violens - Trance-Like Turn
5. TV Ghost - Cold Fish
6. Crocodiles - Soft Skull
7. Cold Cave - The Laurels of Erotomania
8. Fever Ray - Triangle Walks
9. Blank Dogs - Setting Fire to Your House
10. O.Children - Dead Disco Dancer
11. Zaza - Sooner or Later
12. The Horrors - Scarlet Fields
13. A Place to Bury Strangers - In Your Heart
14. Blacklist - Shock in the Hotel Falcon
15. The Mary Onettes - Void
16. Dum Dum Girls - Hey Sis
17. Duchess Says - A Century Old
Speaking of Sisters of Mercy, I thought I'd do another "classic goth" mix as well, as I do really love this stuff a lot. "This Corrosion" rivals "Bela Lagosi's Dead" for Ultimate Goth Song, and I am a bit conflicted about using the four-minute single edit here, but when your opening track is 10 minutes long, it means you have to cut other things. Where the first Vampire Bites mix from last year was All Hits, I delved a little deeper into the fringes (Virgin Prunes, Fad Gadget), included songs from bands who were never fully considered goth but definitely leaned that way at times (The Fall, Wire, The Wolfgang Press, P.I.L.), and even allowed myself to admit that maybe, just maybe, I liked one song each by Gene Loves Jezebel and Fields of the Nephilim.
1. Sisters of Mercy - This Corrosion
2. Siouxsie & the Banshees - Cities and Dust
3. Peter Murphy - Cuts You Up
4. Xymox - Obsession
5. The Wolfgang Press - The Holey Man
6. Echo & the Bunnymen - Zimbo
7. Public Image Limited - Careering
8. Wire - Ambitious
9. Bauhaus - She's in Parties
10. Fad Gadget - Back to Nature
11. The Fall - Riddler!
12. Fields of the Nephilim - Preacher Man
13. The Bolshoi - Happy Boy
14. Gene Loves Jezebel - Bruises
15. Killing Joke - Eighties
16. Virgin Prunes - Baby Turns Blue
17. Joy Division - Dead Souls
18. The Cure - A Forrest
And after many requests for it, I re-upped the first Vampire Bites goth mix -- an essential for any good Halloween party if I do say so myself. Like always, the songs segue together... so no shuffling or face eternal damnation.