We’ve partnered with some of our favorite websites to bring you each scene’s best upcoming bands, diving beneath the surface to give you a glimpse of tomorrow. In this monthly check-in with our friends at Post-punk.com, we get the scoop on names like RIKI, Nuovo Testamento, and much more.
Without fail, whenever I find myself at a goth club, just trying to relax and listen to music, someone who knows I am a music journalist approaches me and asks, “Who is hot right now?” “What’s the next big thing?” “What should I be listening to?”
So now you are in luck! I am going to metaphorically lean in, way too close, just like that infamous punisher at a party, and tell you about four artists I think you should be listening to right now.
Kidding aside, there is no better time than now to be listening to goth music. As in, music that goths listen to. Hate to break it to you, but goth isn’t really a genre; rather, it is a subculture of misfits listening to dark and gloomy music born from the creative ethos of post-punk and new wave. It’s music that isn’t afraid of experimentation that treads up to the very margins of human emotion, from euphoria to bitter anguish. As William Blake once said, “Excess of Sorrow Laughs, Excess of Joy Division.” Or something like that.
Each of the four artists I've chosen either resist being categorized within any particular genre or they redefine such classifications to the point where they ignite a Wikipedia editing frenzy. At the end of the day, these creatures of the night produce songs that are both sad and sexy, light and dark, the perfect soundtrack for going to a club and getting your rosary earring caught in the fishnets of your dance partner.
John Peel reportedly coined the term “darkwave” during his radio show while describing the sound of Dutch band Clan of Xymox. There is no actual record of this—I asked the band’s frontman Ronny Moorings if he recalled when the term originated, and he didn’t know either. No matter the origin, the term “darkwave” as a description of dark post-punk music—or dare I say “goth”—is more popular than ever. Mexican-American band Twin Tribes is certainly one of the best darkwave bands worldwide right now. Frontman Luis Navarro is said by some to resemble Michael from the South Park but come on guys, don't be a poser! it’s just the hair.
With their new brand of modern darkwave, Twin Tribes (as well as the Turkish band She Past Away) have brought things full circle, even influencing Clan of Xymox’s sound on the band’s past few albums. Their single “Fantasmas” from their second studio album Ceremony went viral, with over a million listens on YouTube, nearly a year before the band was able to film their diabolically macabre haunted house music video for the song. Also, they were handpicked to open for Boy Harsher during three sold-out shows at Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg, which is pretty awesome on its own.
My personal pick for the best album of 2021 is, without a doubt, Nuovo Testamento’s full-length debut New Earth. The album is perfect from beginning to end. And it has not yet peaked in its popularity, still being discovered by music fans worldwide. While the band’s first EP had a gloomy coldwave sound akin to Asylum Party, Little Nemo, Siglo XX, and Isolation Ward, their second release embraced the fact that there are two Italians in the band, weaving Italo disco, Freestyle, and Hi-NRG into the mix. With singles like “Michelle Michelle,” and “The Searcher” sounding like a cross between NYC’s The Cover Girls, German disco pop singer Sandra, Martika, and Italo disco singer Clio, I can understand some confusion in why I would consider this to be post-punk. But in the immortal words of the t-shirt, relax! This is the kind of music made with the same 80s spirit that packed the dance floors at Danceteria in NYC.
Right now Nuovo Testamento is hotter than a neon sunset on a Miami beach. New Earth is sold out, having gone through several pressings already. As a stopgap, the band released a cassette with several remixes, including one by Drab Majesty. But…whoops, the cassette is sold out, too. And the band have barely even begun to tour in support of the record. So you’d better be quick when the next pressing of the vinyl drops, or you’ll end up searching Discogs.
You know that American Psycho meme where Patrick Bateman (aka Christian Bale) points to the stereo wearing a raincoat? Sacred Skin’s The Decline of Pleasure could have been playing when he took an ax to Paul Allen (Jared Leto). The band sounds like a cross between INXS, Peter Gabriel via So, and Phil Collins-era Genesis with a blood-smattering of Tears for Fears and early Simple Minds. In fact, Sacred Skin’s hunky frontman Brian DaMert looks a bit like a cross between Jared Leto, one of The Lost Boys, and another guy named Michael…Hutchence, that is. And yes, it’s definitely the hair. Holy Bon Jovi, this guy is hot!
The band is so good, even Davey Havok had them on his radio show, and also invited them to open for AFI. I think it’s safe to say, if there is a Miami Vice goth playlist out there somewhere, songs like Sacred Skin’s “Circles,” “Earthbound,” and “Eyes Closed” definitely belong on it.
Remember that scene in Wayne's World where Wayne and Cassandra start spontaneously singing Toni Basil’s “Mickey”? Well, I can’t help but think of choreographers like Basil, famed for work with Bowie and David Byrne, when talking about Dais Records’ rising star RIKI.
A true performer, RIKI’s powerful stage presence, vocal melodies, pantomime, and stylized dance moves have indeed been blowing people’s minds. Getting her start nearly a decade ago playing synths with Crimson Scarlet, the former band of Chelsey Crowley (vocalist for Nuovo Testamento), RIKI made her solo debut in 2017 with her DIY Hot City EP, featuring the fantastic German language track “Böse Lügen.” Two years later, she scored a hit with her single “Napoleon,” from her self-titled debut LP. The song plays like a love letter to Adam Ant and Mylene Farmer, via Valerie Dore’s “Lancelot,” and features a catchy bassline inspired by Ennio Morricone—not unlike New Order’s “Blue Monday”.
Her sophomore album Gold shifted towards a Bryan Ferry-meets-Sade direction, but, surprisingly, the lead single “Marigold” pays homage to Strawberry Switchblade, with a music video that transforms RIKI into both a version of Madonna in a Gaultier-inspired cone chested dress, and an uncanny version of a real-life Patrick Nagel painting sporting Pierre Cardin sunglasses and a red jacket by Thierry Mugler. You don’t get much more '80s than that!