Exploring the hashtags on Bandcamp, I happened upon the experimental synth-pop of Hamilton based ‘The Steak Place’. How have I not stumbled across ‘The Steak Place’ before? They have roughly yearly releases going all the way back to 2001?! But that timeline also gets confusing. Their barely touched Facebook page tells me that they began recording and performing in Athens, Georgia – that’s the hometown of the B52s and R.E.M. – only in 2007, being presently based in Hamilton. Were the earlier releases under a different name? And at what point did they arrive in Hamilton? There is barely a mention of them on the internet… but that needs to change, because there is some fantastic music on this release.
The latest album, released on the most awkward date of December 27th, is titled “Recording is a Dead Art Form and I Don't Care”. Track 1, ‘Pathogens’, is a, infectious little song, and is an excellent start to the album. Musically, it reminds me a lot of Depeche Mode’s sophomore single ‘New Life’. Lyrically, it has a speculative theme, which runs through a proportion of the album, with this one declaring that “We are the pathogens”, “Filthy pathogens, Viral pathogens”. While musically this song reminds me of that Depeche Mode track, others on the album remind me somewhat of Soft Cell songs such as ‘Frustration’ and ‘Bedsitter’.
Track 2, ‘Parthenogenesis’, is a song after my own heart. My first listen through the entire album was while undertaking my day job, counting rotifers, the parthenogenetic poster children. I’ll add this to my list of favourite songs mentioning this particular and peculiar asexual reproductive method, following on from Shriekback’s ‘Nemesis’:
“Replicants in the image of our mother
We are not born with any innate respect for copyright law
Duplicates, facsimiles of each other”
While some of the songs on the album may appear to some as lyrically frivolous, rooted in sci-fi, there are some deeper, more personal tracks here – I particularly like the wonderful love song ‘The Future’:
“I used to see nothing ahead
But pitch black infinite darkness
But now when I look forward
When I imagine my future
All I see is you”
Another early favourite is ‘Salt the Wounds’, featuring keyboard auto-accompaniment with arpeggiation, which reminds me a lot of John S Hall & Kramer’s ‘Hide the Knives’. While musically flippant, this is another deeper track, lyrically:
“Now you've made mistakes
You've got an ugly past
And all that shit you use to numb your brain, and chase those thoughts away
But those thoughts are fuel
And that pain is you
You gotta hurt yourself to make it through another day
So just salt the wounds”
Overall, this is a fantastic album, and I am so happy I stumbled upon it. If experimental synth-pop is your thing, be sure to spend some time exploring this.
Visit the Bandcamp HERE.