If there's one genre of music that can go either terribly wrong or perfectly right it's the 1980's goth-inspired new wave some bands are traipsing into lately. Lately, it feels like if you're in rock and roll, you're Sabbath inspired, and if you're playing anything with synths, it's gotta be dancy and Bowie. Most of the time, in both cases, the bands who are trying really hard to pull this off can't, and it's transparent.
Los Angeles' ASHRR, on the other hand quietly dropped their debut record, Oscillator, and let me be perfectly clear, you need this record. A little boozy, velvety and dark, ASHRR has given us an exceptional debut that moves in waves, it dances in the realm of Depeche Mode, The Cure, Talking Heads, Radiohead, and yes, some David Bowie.
There's a textured nuance throughout the record, everything feels like it should: like a blackout drunk night in a smoky club where people are doing coke and fucking in the bathroom. When I hear music that's dark and moody, I want to know people have banged to it and ASHRR delivers.
The record's opener, "Waiting for Silence" is the best track on the album; it feels straight off the soundtrack to American Psycho or a roving scene of kids being terrible in Less Than Zero, it's a musical Brett Easton Ellis moment. "Made up Your Mind" definitely has musical nods to Radiohead's "Hail To The Thief" era, while still keeping the identity of being slinky and ultimately dancey.
"Paper Glass" feels straight off the end credits of an 80s flick like Weird Science or a car whipping through the Hollywood hills as someone has had a long night fighting with someone they love. Teary eyes, broken spirit, mad driving, killer tune. You know what I'm saying.
As a child of the 1980's, ASHRR calls back to a time when I remember seeing all of the aforementioned bands played on MTV, seeing the mall culture of America open up to girls in black dresses, with their long Madonna gloves while guys fell down the rabbit hole of Robert Smith or Echo and The Bunnymen. That authenticity sets Oscillator apart from the pack because the dudes in ASHRR are scene vets, all of them have been playing music for well over two decades, they've been through the meat grinder of the "trying to make it."
You can hear the honesty in the music because it wasn't crafted to get people to notice them or to get chicks, it was happenstance. These guys are all studio musicians who worked on a recording together and figured out the magic potion was there, just some dumb luck.
And through that unexpected musical bond, there's something there that can't be packaged by some dude in a heroin chic white suit, ASHRR is real, it's identifiable, but it's also very, very good. Goth clubs, 80's nights, local dives, everywhere the synths pump hard, they should add this record to their playlists, Patrick Bateman demands it.
Get out and buy a record. You can order one directly from the band on their Bandcamp. Streaming is cool, but let's start putting money in these folks pockets, too.