Vandal Moon is a postpunk/new wave project from Santa Cruz, California. It features the talents of producer Blake Voss. He’s been releasing music for Vandal Moon since 2013.


“Black Kiss” Vandal Moon’s fifth album featuring thirty-eight minutes of nostalgic postpunk feels. The cover artwork by Neil Scrivin features a very postpunk, almost vampire-like like aesthetic that perfectly matches the dark attitude of the album. I really dig this art style—it reminds me of something Patrick Nagel might have done, only reinterpreted for the Synthwave age.

The idea of union is an important theme to keep in mind into understanding why “Black Kiss” is artistically relevant in the post-Synthwave era. Keep in mind that “Black Kiss” is a concept album that tells of a “futuristic love story of two androids escaping enslavement and they have to do some unthinkable things to find that freedom.” Even though this is an overplayed theme that’s probably been used by quite a few synthwave albums, there’s something divergent about re-contextualizing it from postpunk perspective. Vandal Moon recognizes that staying tied to the past keeps us enslaved to our nostalgia—which in turn keeps us from moving forward into a mode of social progression.

Musically, “Black Kiss” is aesthetically perfect. In my mind, I could see models walking on a runway to this album. The song selection is arranged carefully, and I wish more producers would consider how important it is to properly order their songs before calling it an album. There isn’t a track on “Black Kiss” that isn’t single worthy. It’s sleek, romantic, catchy, dreamy, nostalgic, and atmospheric. This is a lovely album and certainly worthy of your time and attention. It’s definitely going to be on some “best of” lists, including my own.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Postpunks, gothic ravers, and people who like their music sounding retro as fuck.

Stand-Out tracks: “Robot Lover” (my favorite), “Hurt,” “No Future,” “Black Kiss,” “We Live Forever.”

Album Color Profile: #D500F9

You can find all things Vandal Moon at https://vandalmoon.bandcamp.com/

Ötzi is a four-piece postpunk band from Oakland, CA. It features the talents of Akiko Sampson (bass, lead vocals), Gina Marie (drums, vocals), K. Dylan Edrich (guitars), and Winter Zora (keyboards).

“Storm” is Ötzi’s second full-length album closely following on the heels of their amazing debut “Ghosts” which was released in 2017. I can best describe the sound of “Storm” as a mashup of postpunk vibes from the 1980s that is reminiscent of Eva O, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Joy Division. There is also a slight 1990s vibe to the overall sound Ötzi present that feels somewhat to me like The Cranberries. This especially shines through in “Hold Still,” which is the least dark sounding song, at least to me, on “Storm.” Even the chorus is giving me flashbacks to The Cranberries “No Need to Argue.” This is really cool considering that the overall sound of “Storm” focuses more on the decade before:

“I see the ocean in your eyes
I’m reaching for you
Tears reflecting darker skies
I’m all around you
I reach up to touch the ground
I’m here beside you
I feel the earth spin me around
I hold still for you”

Every member Ötzi plays their part in engineering an atmosphere that can undoubtedly be re-created in a live setting. Production wise, the most notable thing is how upfront the bass guitar tends to be. And while it’s not uncommon for this type to have the bass guitar so up front in the mix it never ceases to sound fresh and exciting. The guitars range from droning sustained notes to chorus leaden melodies which work together with the rest of the band. The drum work is energetic, acoustic, and real as all hell. Akiko’s vocals are frantic, emotional, and present. My head cannon for this album pictures Ötzi recording this album live and in one take.

“Scorpio” stands out to me as the most distinguishable track off of “Storm.” The saxaphone was somewhat unexpected, but it just screams at you to get up and dance. Akiko’s best vocal performance also shows up here. Who thought yelling “I love you,” over and over again could be so catchy? I could see this song in a movie about someone trying to deal with a drug problem spiraling out of control.

I don’t often get an opportunity to review actual bands. In the age of the laptop producer they are something of a novelty. There’s just something special about four individuals coming together in order to create something. I don’t often come across a collective piece of art as good as “Storm.” If you’re into 80s postpunk, get on this album immediately. Your playlist will love you for it.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Fans of 80s postpunk (aka people who like good music).

Stand-Out Tracks: “Scorpio,” “Eight Cups,” and “Moths.”

Album Color Profile: #78281F

You can find all things Ötzi at https://otzi.bandcamp.com/