The Dark Shadows ’11:11′ (Select-a-Vision Records)
Available now

A new mini-album by all-female Australian Goth-a-billy Pop band The Dark Shadows has just been released.

With Tim Burtons new multi-million dollar movie starring Johnny Depp, also called Dark Shadows in cinemas soon, it could mean problems or, inadvertently, exposure for Aussie Femme Fatale Gothabilly band, the Dark Shadows. Whatever, it’s great to receive an exquisitely packaged CD from the other side of the planet, sealed with a lipstick kiss.

Maybe I expected something approaching the antipodean psychodrama of the Birthday Party, just because they’re from Oz, but initially this mini-album didn’t grab me. It took a while to really appreciate it. They are one of those bands that sound ”Ëœordinary’ on first listen; but two days later you find you’re humming one of their tunes.

They look like psychobilly chicks, particularly the striking singer/guitarist Bridget Handley; all Fifties quiff and sharp cheekbones. Their artwork is pure Goth and on their Youtube clips they seem to be one part ”ËœBilly one part Goff. In the studio the rough edges are smoothed off and keyboards added and they sound a bit like (all-but-forgotten Merciful Release band) the March Violets. Basically it’s Dark Pop music rather than full on Gothic Rock’n’Roll.

Written in the Snow has the dynamics of the Sisters Alice but as sung by Wendy Wu (from all-but-forgotten-by many-but-loved-still-by-the-few Midlands new wavers The Photos).

Eisbar (two dots above the A) is a cover of a song from 1981 by cult Neue Deutsche Welle band Grauzone and its fabulous; A Gothic equivalent to Echo Beach which will pop into your head at intervals throughout the day once you hear it, til you just have to hear it again.

Dark Shadow, Blame and Line of Sight are great, moody, teen-melodrama, proving that the band are a raven-black, dark wave version of the Shangri-La’s albeit singing from the textbook of gothic clichés to cram into songs (Rain, snow, shadows, walk-away”¦).

In common with bands like the Sisters back in ”Ëœ85/6 their live sound; gritty, impassioned, bombastic and anthemic doesn’t quite successfully translate in the studio recordings ”“ but what is produced is something altogether different, but just as special.

The Dark Shadows have masses of commercial potential as they are tuneful, uncomplicated and immediate but have just the right amount of sullen aloofness. They’re the perfect soundtrack for moping teenage girls and boys with a penchant for too much eyeliner and a hatred of sports and sunshine. They really were born on the wrong continent.

The Dark Shadows website can be found here.

All words Ged Babey. More articles by Ged can be found here.

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Ged Babey is 56. from Southampton, has written since 1985 for Sound Info, Due South, various fanzines and websites, contributed to Record Collector magazine and was sole author of 'Punk Throwback' fanzine -the name of which was taken from an insult hurled at him by the singer with a young band he managed for a while. Ged believes that all good music and art has a connection with punk rock.


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