Play Alone

Deep Tissue Patience or Fear LP

DEEP TISSUE are from Philadelphia and pitch their tent somewhere between ’80s goth and ’90s alt-rock, with complementary slick-but-not-too-slick production and outsized, prominent hooks. Their home city is noteworthy, to me, in that Patience or Fear (their debut LP) has me thinking back to a Philly band from a few years ago, DARK BLUE, and how they sounded like something that could find a seriously big audience if they wished. Never happened, for better or worse, and with 250 copies of this record in existence and no current option to tour it’s unlikely to happen for DEEP TISSUE either, but damn if this doesn’t sound like a lost hit. There are some punky, uptempo moments (“Despair,” “Dead Head”) powered by booming toms and Lauren Iona’s strong vocals; things built from textured, swirling guitars which suggest that LUSH and (specifically major label-era!) THROWING MUSES have been closely studied by the band as a whole (“Liminal Space”); and a tiptoe into the deathrock side of the border (“Injury”), although perhaps this album’s great strength is that it blurs distinctions between that, goth, shoegaze and punk by just placing them in one package of fine playing and songwriting.

Haldol Negation LP

If I had to offer reasons why you should listen to HALDOL instead of a laundry list of other bands who come from DIY punk culture but play super-styled 1980s gothic rock—and I know I don’t actually have to offer those reasons—one would be their apparent dedication to perfecting their take on the archetype. A lot of contemporary acts like this retain a pretty evident hardcore background, or anarcho fandom, but Negation sounds like a straight-up “released on Red Rhino Records circa 1984″ goth opus. Aaron Muchanic brings in a KILLING JOKE-ish vibe by battering heck out of his toms on “Triangle” and “Bull’s Blood” (the intros to which sound almost identical to one another); Geoff Smith drops some cute CURE guitars into “Amuse-Bouches” among other songs and adds some big-venue reverb to plump up his vox for the likes of “The Garden.” The necessity of this type of carry-on is for the individual to decide, ultimately, but HALDOL does ’80s goth about as well as anyone you’ll find in the ’20s.