Post-punk duo Death Bells just recently unveiled their sophomore album New Signs of Life after teasing the project with infectious singles like the title track and “A Different Kind of Happy.” Will Canning and Remy Veselis formed the band in 2015 in Sydney, Australia, and were shaped by the underground alternative scene. It’s evident, though, that their influences lie farther back in history, like 2000s indie rock and Joy Division.
The nine tracks poetically grapple with existentialism, gratitude, and love, while maintaining a sound that’s catchy and sensual. Highlights like “The Sun That Shines Forever” and “Heavenly Bodies” are full of mesmerizing guitar work, done with a breezy simplicity that showcases the subtle genius of Death Bells.
For FLOOD, the two made a playlist of songs that inspire them to make music in the first place. Stream New Signs of Life here, and check out the playlist below.
The Cleaners From Venus, “Corridor of Dreams”
This song is a straight up classic. Perfect for repeated listening on a long drive. We’ve tried to lift from Martin Newell’s songwriting a little bit on the new record (without overstepping, naturally). And that penultimate line, “It’s not where you are, it’s where you feel you should be”—masterful.
Low Life, “Dogging”
I’ll forever shout out Low Life as a massive influence. I was lucky enough to catch a chaotic set of theirs at the Square in Sydney back in 2014, which was really the catalyst for me wanting to get heavily involved in music. Haven’t looked back since.
INXS, “Don’t Change”
Fucking hell man. What a song. We thrashed this one in the van during our 2018 U.S. tour. The third verse is just a repetition of the first verse, which goes to show that if a song is good enough you don’t need to take it in all these different directions. We don’t really branch out from simple strong structures because we’re not Radiohead or a prog band. We wanna be like INXS.
Ryo Fukui, “Mellow Dream”
I was listening to this song a lot when we were recording. Ryo Fukui’s piano style is so relaxed, to the point where it becomes hard to appreciate the technicality of what he was playing. “Mellow Dream” in particular really opened me up to the idea of having some improvised bits on the album.
Jeff Buckley & Elizabeth Fraser, “All Flowers in Time Bend Towards the Sun”
Hands down one of the prettiest songs ever recorded. We’ve tossed around the idea of covering it, but realistically I doubt we’d be able to do it justice.
Hunters and Collectors, “Throw Your Arms Around Me”
When it comes to classic Australian music, this Hunters and Collectors track is up there with the best of them. I first heard this one when I was a kid. My dad would always play a Hunters and Collectors live CD on our stereo and belt out this song whenever it came on. It still holds up today, so simple but so good.
HTRK, “Rent Boy”
Another Australian act, HTRK have been active for over fifteen years, and during that time they have put out some of the most compelling songs I’ve heard. Rent Boy is one of them, and this classic song from earlier in their discography has a haunting guitar line that will always stick with me.
Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, “Talk About the Weather”
I first heard RLYL when I was living in their hometown of Leeds in 2014, and “Talk About the Weather” is an incredibly fierce track that I think is the best representation of the band. Jarring guitars, interesting drum machine patterns, and blunt lyrics make for an incredible post-punk track from when the genre was brand new.
Rowland S. Howard, “Pop Crimes”
A huge influence for the both of us, the title track from Rowland’s final album Pop Crimes is a repetitive jaunt that captures the best of repetitive music. The same bass line plays for seven minutes, Rowland’s iconic guitar playing drifts in and out, and his snarling vocals wrap it all together. What a track!
Echo and the Bunnymen, “The Killing Moon”
The strings, the acoustic guitar, the drums played with brushes, the voice, the lyrics. What else is there to say about this song? I don’t think you can get much closer to a perfect pop song than “The Killing Moon.” The chorus lyrics are some of the best ever in the history of recorded music. Their singer Ian McCulloch said it best: “God should get a songwriting credit on it because it felt like it was divine.”