Bootblacks is a gloriously post-punk and dark-wave band from Brooklyn, with a new album called Veins due out in March on French label Manic Depression Records. While a bootblack is a shoe-shiner, the group’s name comes specifically from a description by William Burroughs of New York City’s seedy underground. Singer/keyboardist Panther MacDonald, drummer Roger Humanbeing and guitarist Alli Gorman (she’s not playing their name game) head out on a European tour in April, but hopefully they’ll hit L.A. sometime after they return.
The obvious comparisons for Bootblacks’ sound would be Joy Division and early New Order, as well as more recent bands influenced by the same, such as White Rose Movement, especially “Sub Rosa” above. They make good use of that cold, clear Interpol guitar sound, and MacDonald’s vocals can sound like The National’s Matt Berninger as well as Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode. The songs are consistently good and well-produced, varying between darkly cinematic and dance-y, and it’s hard for me to pick a favorite.
There’s certainly something uplifting and magical about opening track “Colorblind”, welcoming you into this nostalgic but still inventive sound-world. “Past Lives” is moody and soothing with pretty synths, but “ABC Anxiety” cuts through with an Industrial edge and a buoyant instrumental transition after the choruses. “Decoys”, like “Sub Rosa”, is a solid 80s dance number with echoes of Sisters of Mercy in the beat. If anyone were to remake “The Lost Boys” (please don’t ever do that – it’d be awful), that one would definitely fit on the soundtrack, along with the brooding but hopeful-sounding “Always”.
On Facebook, Bootblacks has posted that Veins will be free (temporarily?) as a download on March 11th, and then available on vinyl in April. Free or not, I definitely recommend it! And I look forward to dancing at a live show, hopefully soon. Perhaps on the patio at a Blue Mondays night at Boardners?