Lebanon Hanover are an interesting duo who contacted me recently with word of and then a promo copy of their debut album - "The World Is Getting Colder" - which they released as a limited edition of 300 copies on 12" vinyl just over a month ago.
Hailing from both Sunderland and Berlin, they consist of Larissa Iceglass, the German connection, and William Maybelline who are both in their early twenties and have been together since July 2010 which must be around the time I first heard them, around the fag-end of the My Space era, when a friend of mine put them on at The Star and Shadow in Newcastle and sent down glowing reports, if that's the right choice of adjective given the sub-zero temperatures they conjure up.
I'm very glad they got in touch, too, because I love them, playing their album on an almost daily basis and enjoying it more and more with each go. By their own admission, they're influenced by eighties Cold Wave, the like of which seems to be perpetually popular on the continent and is in vogue over in America with bands like Led Er Est, Sleep Museum, Staccato Du Mal and the Weird Records lot at the moment. So, there's no prizes for originality, unfortunately, as likely influences, either direct or second-hand, are strongly in evidence throughout but, this aside, practically every one of the eleven tracks featured is a winner, being as accomplished and certainly more memorable than most others in this vein and each being possessed of a quite catchy energy in spite of their inherent gloom.
So, let's pick a few tracks out. The set begins with "Die World" which sets the tone with similarly descending notes to "Bela Lugosi's Dead" before a drum machine kicks in, the bassline picks up momentum and glacial keyboards and occasional guitar create a perfect foundation for vocals reminiscent of the ladies of the NDW era which here mix between German ("Die Welt, die Welt") and English ( "..love as cold as an iceberg) to very appealing effect. This is then followed by "Ice Cave" where it's now the turn of a deeper but no more cheerful male voice singing of being claustrophobically "trapped in the ice cave", unable to find a way out, all this backed by a gloriously dated sounding drum machine, plinky keyboards, a doom-laden bass line and occasional scratches of guitar which put me slightly in mind of a more subtle Joy Division or The Cure on their "Faith" album, as well as circling sequenced synth which conjures up a sound very much akin to Malaria! who, I would say, are the omnipresent influence throughout - and welcomely so! This is certainly the case, too, with one of my stand out tracks "Totally Tot" which has a simple, repetitive keyboard line, driving rhythm and vocal intensity which make for highly infectious listening and which wouldn't sound at all out of place on a dancefloor like the one mentioned in the lyrics. "Kunst" which follows is another favourite with a rhythm and sequenced electronics which bring P1/E's "49 Second Romance" to mind, although the sensitively delivered vocals and yearning keyboard line in the background add greater humanity, all this embellished by occasional synthetic zaps which flash across the speakers to superb sonic effect. Things then intensify with the last three tracks, "Canibal"(their spelling, not mine), "Einhorn" and "Sunderland", the first of which begins a little like Suicide with Farris Badwen on the mike singing of "bones, lovely bones" before the vocals swap from William to Larissa, although with none of the menace lost in the process. "Einhorn" then sounds a bit like the song you'd wish The Banshees had produced somewhere between "Kaleidoscope" and "Juju", whilst on the somewhat apocalyptic closing track they really vent their spleens about their home town and its inhabitants who clearly do nothing whatsoever to feed this pair's sensibilities.
I think you're getting the picture now, although I don't want to make this sound too laden down by its influences or gothic germanic cliches as it really is extremely good quality stuff which would have confidently stood shoulder to shoulder with the very best of those of the early eighties were it released then and is certainly an extremely welcome diversion in 2012 - in an ideal world with a lot more readily available money, I'd be straight on to asking them to do a single for my German Bite label at the drop of a hat. It seems, actually, that there might be a little something bubbling up at the moment with bands like Soft Riot, who, I'm told, have just released a single, and the brilliant New Matrix who will, no doubt, have something released before the end of the year. Then, of course, there's Cyberbeatnix over in Berlin who've yet to get anything out on vinyl but should do at some point.
Anyway, to have a listen to some of the tracks from the album and to maybe contact them and buy a copy whilst they're still available, here's a link for you to click:
Here's some stuff off You Tube, too.