SHM RADIO, EP.2: under the ash branches

   SHM Radio- a series I originally planned to be (at the very least) monthly…and here we are 5 months later since my last post. Life happens, and the bad likes to come crashing down all at once. The universe is an asshole like that.

I compiled some of these songs back in October, thinking it wold be a good Halloween-esque playlist (because it’s a bit dark). I decided to finish it now and put the songs in an order that’s meant to be listened to from beginning to end. This playlist is much more indicative of my general taste in music than the last- and I feel it’s perfect music for the frigid cold and aura of depression that surrounds the season where (at least in Oregon) you never really see the sun.

I am aware that if you are viewing this on a mobile device and do not have a Spotify subscription, it will only play the tracks shuffled. If you listen to it on your desktop that problem is solved.

If there is an official music video for the song I will be embedding that in the description. Now, on to the descriptions- let’s get moody as fuck together.


If you read and/or listened to the previous SHM RADIO you already know how much love White Sea. I could write an entire piece on why and how much I love her. I’m going to rein myself in here a bit and just talk about this song (but seriously, she’s so good).

“Prague” was the first song I ever heard by White Sea. Those of you that use Spotify need to check out your discover weekly…well, weekly. This song popped up on my curated playlist one week and I decided to listen to all of it while doing dishes. When “Prague” started I immediately loved the little hushed “1, 2,3 4,” (which is the reason I used this as the first song on this playlist; it’s incredibly satisfying to me for some reason). I assumed the song was just pretty and ethereal- soft electronic. 47 seconds in I turned off the water, walked to my laptop and started the song over. There’s something deeply visceral, beautiful, powerful and just perfect about this song. Many a neighbor has probably heard me belt out the chorus at the top of my lungs (sometimes while not even listening to the song): “And does this ever end, can I stop, can I stop the want, for anyone in my bed, anyone, anyone I fuck.”

When I first learned the lyrics I thought the song must be about sexual addiction, but the meaning is a bit more layered and tricky when you think too much about it (as I have done). I’ve wondered if the level of emotion in her voice comes from this song being about teenage promiscuity and possible sexual assault. The video for this song adds another level, for me, as to what this song is really about. Of course- only Morgan knows. And lyrics aside, the song itself is just perfection to me. It is the song that started my massive obsession with White Sea, and because of that it will always be one of my favorites.

Bleed a stone to please me
I’ll walk on fuckin’ sunshine


I never really got into The Mission (UK), and I have a very silly reason as to why: I’m a ridiculously massive fan of the band Sisters of Mercy. The Mission formed after creative difficulties with Andrew Eldritch (leader and basically sole member of SoM after this split) during work on a sophomore album. I know how ridiculous this sounds to say- I refused to listen to The Mission because it’s comprised of people who abandoned Sisters of Mercy. That stubbornness was formed as a teenager though- and I will be brutally honest about myself here, I was a pretentious wee-goth during those days. I frequently told my parents they didn’t understand my pain, I glared and rolled my eyes at the other kids in Junior high who were obsessed with NSYNC and Britney Spears while all I wanted to do was listen to Bauhaus, The Cure, and The Smiths. I believed that if you didn’t know who Morrissey and Siouxsie Sioux were that you had little to no reason to ever speak to me. Did I mention the word pretentious? More like a flat out elitist goth jerk, at the age of 14.

With all that being said, The Mission has been recommended to me constantly- I’m not sure why I decided to take a listen to their newest (2016) release, which this track is from, instead of delving far back into their discography, but I’m glad i did. This song is perfect moping music. It would have fit in so well with anything that I was listening to in Junior High. This isn’t anything new, this has been done before (decades before), but it’s comforting and good and a great listen all the same,

Sometimes it feels like the night will never end
Sometimes it feels like despair is my only friend
Sometimes when the sky is blue all I feel is rain
Sometimes I feel nothing at all but phantom pain


I sincerely hope I am not the only person who hears a decades long adored song on a popular television show/movie/trailer/commercial and immediately worries that others are going to start listening to the beloved song/band just because of that. It’s selfish, elitist, and silly. But I’m often all of the those things (hopefully less selfish than the others).

I first hears E&tB when I was about 14, their song “Lips Like Sugar” came on the radio and I immediately got on our gigantic virus ridden (my fault, Napster and all) PC to google the lyrics and find out who the song was by (excuse me, it might have been yahoo, I just can’t remember the world before google). The second song I heard, that same day, was “The Killing Moon”, a song that I will always love. I noticed a drastic difference in tone between “Lips Like Sugar” and “The Killing Moon” and decided to delve further, downloading all of the album “Ocean Rain”. “Nocturnal Me” has been my favorite song by the band since then, and they are one of my favorite bands ever .

“Nocturnal Me” was used in the end credits of an episode on the first season of “Stranger Things” – while I do love and appreciate their use of different styles of 80’s music to set different tones…I know that “Stranger Things” is immensely popular. Hence my fear that a cherished song will somehow be taken from me by becoming well-known. I am quite often a ridiculous human being. I’ve established that already, I would assume.

Whatever burns burns eternally
So take me in turns internally
When I’m on fire my body will be forever yours
Nocturnal me

This is a song, and band, that I have trouble finding words to describe- CAS is just perfection. It was music I needed to discover this year. It’s Shoegaze, and Shoegaze that could have fit in easily with my heroes in that genre- Slowdive and (early)Lush. It’s beautiful, sexy, and melancholy with near-ethereal vocals. I only discovered them this Spring, and they rapidly have become one of my current favorite bands.

When they crash
the helicopters in my heart are red
Cut in half
you saw me lying there bleeding to death

   Oh, Discover Weekly on Spotify, thank you so much for this one. I love this song for nearly the exact reasons I love every song by Cigarettes after Sex. The difference being that this song, although new, sounds exactly like the bands I adore from the ’80’s.


Because I’ve included two Shoegaze songs that were recently released…why not include one of my favorite Shoegaze bands and one of my favorite songs of all time? “When the Sun Hits” will never cease to evoke strong emotions from me. Is it the guitar riff? The lyrics? The vocals? The sweeping and near-epic construction of this masterpiece of a song? It’s everything. To me, this song is everything I love in music. While released in 1994, because of the Post revival I am seeing a lot of currently (if you scratch beneath the surface, if you pull away from the top 40, there are a lot of new bands making wonderful music), this song could fit in with any of the new acts. It is timeless and heart-achingly beautiful.

Sweet thing
I watch you burn so fast it scares me
Mind games don’t lose me
I’ve come so far don’t lose me
It matters where you are

IAMX- I can never make a playlist without at least one of his songs (admittedly difficult for me not to have half the playlist be {X}).

“Lulled By Numbers” is off of Chris Corner(IAMX)’s second solo album (he was a founding member of Sneaker Pimps and the lead vocalist after their first album) “The Alternative”. That album is beautiful gothic cabaret- music fit for listening to after a long drunken night- after your eyeliner has smeared, your mascara has run and your glitter has migrated in to every crevice of your body. I have been sober for a little over 3 years, and those long drunken nights are over for me; yet this album still feels, in itself, intoxicating.

…and this song. “Lulled By Numbers” often still makes me well up. It is a heartbreaking love song wrapped in soft electronics and stunning vocals. “when nothing is left, there is always us” is one of the best lyrics describing pure love that I have ever heard.

If I could sing you to sleep
lay you down and pray that your soul to keep
I would be all that you need
wider eyes oblivious to everything.

   I have loved The Presets for a long time- I consider their music fun. Incredibly fun to dance to frenetic electro-pop with a bit of a punk edge. “If I Know You” is a departure from their normal sound- even though the song becomes dance-able by the time the chorus kicks in, this song is a melancholy ode to being cheated on and the subsequent pain of breaking up. This song is beautiful, which is not an adjective I’d use for most of their other songs.

I’ve failed to fight
so hard to fight
& I can find a way for you and I to go on like this
I’m always learning things the hard, hard, hardest way.

I stumbled across this band on some list of post-punk bands, because this is the kind of stuff I look at online when I can’t sleep. I assumed they were a new act, the band’s name sounds like some new and sparkly barely Post act (or more like a band of guys with beards who dress ironically and use whistling abundantly in their songs). I found Sad Lovers and Giants album “Epic Garden Music” on Spotify and was disappointed in myself. The album came out in 1983, and considering post-punk (and the goth subgenre) is my favorite genre of music, hands down, I couldn’t believe I’d never heard of them. The entire album is incredibly solid. I was also intrigued by the fact that a founding member of the band went on to be in Above&Beyond, a fairly popular trance act (my sister listens to them- it’s a bit like worlds colliding).

“Things We Never Did” is my favorite track off the album. It’s melancholy, has a touch of psychedelia, and some killer pure 80’s saxophone.

We would be traitors
we would forget we were young
We would be helpless
we are the kingdom to come

   Velvet Condom is like Crystal Castles but sexy- drunk on champagne and floating on downers. They are a Berlin duo who make music that sounds exactly like what I imagine is thumping in underground dance clubs in said city. Basically, it’s my kind of music.

This song is minimalist Synth…well, not pop. Let’s say minimalist dark-synth. I might have coined a new genre there. It’s music for late nights, music for that odd yet beautiful dancing I have seen at every Goth music concert I’ve ever been to (If you’ve been to a few, you know exactly what I’m talking about). The Village Voice’s Raymond Cummings describes them perfectly, “…the sort of casually arch desperation you might expect from twentysomethings weaned on a steady diet of Kraftwerk, Suede, Ennio Morricone, Brian Eno, and the Sex Pistols…”.

I need some to create
to hide lies and to fake that guilt
My feelings are confused
my lipstick smile abused

   This song is another Spotify Discover Weekly…um, discovery. I honestly can’t describe this music. It’s haunting Coldwave and a song I quite often put on repeat.

Let them find you when you know you’re lost
you’ve been kneeling in a false dawn
Let them take you coz you don’t belong
In these waves

Hey guys, do you remember She Wants Revenge? Do you remember the sudden resurgence of bands in the early-to-mid-aughts who tried to sound new but also old and kind of of like Bauhaus with a little bit of Joy Division thrown into the mix (or, you know, teetering on the edge of directly ripping off those bands)? Beastmilk is a band that was quite late to that scene. I know that sounds like a negative description, but “Love in a Cold World” just WORKS. The album this track comes from, “Climax”, has a lot of tedious songs that just sound incredibly cliche, absolutely played out. However, the few tracks on it that are good are really fucking good- this song being the best.

Caught in lonely orbit of Saturn´s shattered arms
tumble horse and rider into shipwrecked beds
as if one fearless kiss could crush
this joy-burner´s gasp
compressing into dust
Zola Jesus

   I feel slightly ashamed over how long it took me to finally get into Zola Jesus. I mean, this year. Her album “Stridulum” is absolute perfection. This track, the first song on the album, is nearly impossible for me to describe. Zola Jesus is an experience, go enjoy it.

I’m on my bed, my bed of stones
but in the end of the night we’ll rest our bones
So don’t you worry just rest your head
Cus in the end of the night we’ll be together again

Chelsea Wolfe seems to be an artist my tribe of goth-girls-grown-up are very divided over. They either couldn’t care less about her or are absolutely obsessed. For me, I think she is an amazing artist; while I am not obsessed, I do adore her music and her general aesthetic.

“Twin Fawn” is from Wolfe’s newest release “Hiss Spun”. The album has a handful of misses and the rest of the songs are massive wins. This song is my favorite off of the aforementioned album. It starts off slow, with soft, reverberating vocals and then slams you with heavy once the chorus kicks in. This is what I love about Wolfe’s music- it is at times beautiful and soft and then well, metal as fuck. Oddly, my favorite part of this song is the last 1:15. The song could have easily ended, instead you’re suddenly in a sonic assault of heavy guitar and drums. If you’ve never heard of her or have never checked her out, I suggest starting with this track. It is my second favorite track released in 2017.

You cut me open
you lived inside
You kill the wonder
nowhere to hide
I held you sober white smoke and low life
A big pill to swallow a mountain to climb

   Remember how I said “Twin Fawn” was my second favorite track released in 2017? This is my number one track of the year.

Myrkur takes the ethereal mixed with heavy sound and cranks the heavy up to 11. The combination of absolutely stunning choral vocals and flat out screaming makes for a song that I frequently listen to on repeat. Even though the song is in a language I do not speak (Danish) I feel an odd connection to this track. Do you like metal? Do you like beautiful vocals but you know, screaming as well? Please give this a listen- I have pushed it on so many people after I listened to “Mareridt”. The entire album is just so.fucking.good. I’m running out of adjectives so I’ll stop here.

Langt ned i de dybe dale, der spejler sig i søen
{Far down the deep valleys mirrored in the lake}
Det er her at jeg vil leve, det er her at jeg vil dø
{This is where I want to live, this is where I want to die}
Under flodens askegrene finder jeg min sjæl
{Under the ash branches of the river, I’ll find my soul}
If you’ve made it this far, you are a trooper. I sincerely hope this post was enjoyed, and that at least 1 person listens to the playlist in its entirety. Please let me know what you think in the comments- or feel free to give me some music recommendations, I always appreciate those.


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