Saying any particular genre is dead has to be one of the laziest things a (supposed) music fan can do. Punk bears the brunt of these types of claims, but I’ve seen virtually every genre from hip-hop to black metal to jazz receive some variation of this critique over the years. Saying this is an indication of laziness more than anything else; given the intersection of genre proliferation and the ease of music discovery, there’s really no excuse for missing the multitude of bands who either pay homage to or actively progress virtually every genre in existence. Post-punk is a solid example of this – so many people are content rocking their Unknown Pleasures shirts and remaining oblivious to the fact that the genre didn’t start and end with Joy Division. There are notable installments made in the genre each year, and with their debut album Lovers Blessings, NYC-based duo Lowlands makes a compelling case for why they’re the post-punk act of the year.
Lowlands have a relatively simple formula which works incredibly well once its put into motion. They first start with guitarist T.C. Garcia’s base of the gloomiest, brooding Swans songs from the band’s Nineties-era releases, especially the types of tracks where Jarboe provides backing vocals. Then the band adds a healthy layer of reverb and suffocating, dismal ambiance, bolstered by subtle undertones of organ, keyboards and other effects. This even bears some similarities to the sprawling gothic tendencies of artists like Wovenhand and King Dude. Then vocalist Gabriel Spatuzzi throws his morbid croon atop with hints of Ian Curtis and Iggy Pop, tying the whole thing together into a delightfully dismal display of some of the best elements post-punk has to offer. I know everyone is raving about the new Preoccupations record, but seriously, you’re doing yourself a real fucking disservice if you don’t put this onto your rainy day playlist pronto. After a couple of tracks, it’ll be clear that post-punk is alive and well thanks to stellar releases from bands like Lowlands.