DIY musicians Annex from the Texas/Mexico border have finally released their sophomore LP Melu! Mastered by Daniel Husayn at North London Bomb Factory, the album is being released by Inflammable Material Records(EU), Adelante Discos (US) and Occult Whispers Records (US). Their sound has changed a little since their last release, and I think fans are going to be very pleasantly surprised by it!
“500 Anos” opens the album with unexpected noise effects over creeping deathrock guitar lines. The track builds itself up as it goes on, making me want to dance, and the ends in a ghostly way which feels ominous. “Modern Age” comes in with a more upbeat sound– and this is where we first hear Nikole’s take-no-shit vocals on the album! Flowery and fast shoegaze influenced guitar bounces off the punk elements beautifully.
“Red Tide” harkens back to their original tribal sound, turned up to 11. Nikole leads this song with her aggressive, driven voice. It has a very dark, angry, emotional energy to it, truly feeling like an anthem. “Mal Futuro” is an outstanding combination of anarcho-punk/deathrock and dance, I can’t deny this is one of my favorites on Melu. Echoing chants, 80s postpunk guitar, fast beat, it has everything I love!
The party continues with “New Light”, opening with more fast paced instruments and fun, Bauhausian guitar effects and coming off as tremendously spooky! Nikole’s high pitched yet aggressive voice strikes over the dark danciness of the guitar, bass and drum lines so naturally. “Melu”‘s namesake is simultaneously a big highlight on the album. Like the first track there are no vocals, but the song perfectly encapsulates the varying sounds the album has to offer. Layers and layers of different dark, trippy effects ranging from psychedelic to downright spooky.
“Transient” opens with fast, intimidating drums followed by a dark intro before the vocals come in to bring it to the next level. I just love the haunting way Nikole’s voice echoes “Transieeeeeent!” The most peculiar thing about this song is probably its strange ending you’ll have to hear to believe. “El Maniqui” is probably the closest thing on Melu you’re going to get from Annex’s old material because the first half of the song is full of that traditional anarcho-deathrock-punk badassery we’ve come to know. However, once Nikole’s vocals end we’re left with a dark jam session that slowly morphs into a dark punk psych hybrid.
“Covens” is another song that combines a shoegazey danciness with harsh deathrock/anarcho-punk in a way that feels so natural coming from Annex. It’s refreshing to hear such pleasant melodies mixed with the edge that drew us in the begin with. “Strob” is another one of my favorite tracks on Melu because of how fucking powerful it is. Really strong Cure-esque bass line with more scratching, creeping guitar effects getting faster and faster until Nikole’s voice breaks it all down. The lyric “Hard to ignore” defines the song as a whole. It has some of my favorite guitar lines on the whole album.
Melu finishes out with something completely different in the form of “Las Cruces”. It even opens with Nikole harmonizing in “la la la”‘s! They managed to create something truly uplifting without compromising much of their traditional, darker sound. The track finishes out with the sound of a loud, thumping heart. Such a great way to end the album!
Melu LP Artwork + Annex Logo created by Bharata Danu from Bandung, Indonesia.
The album is available digitally through their Bandcamp, but pre-orders for the limited edition white vinyl record with poster are available through Her Corrosion!
On to my interview with the band:
I understand you guys are part of a diverse punk/goth scene on the Texas/Mexico border. How has your local scene evolved over the last ~5 years since you guys formed Annex? Is it still as diverse? Are there local bands you tend to play shows with regularly?
There have been quite a few changes since our last interview
with CVLT Nation in 2015! 3 out of 4 members live in San Antonio now, while the other member continues to reside in the Rio Grande Valley. As far as diversity between the goth scene and the punk scene, I believe that will always be a distinct feature of the scene along the Texas/Mexico border. Not everyone is into the same music, so you won’t see the same faces at the same shows. I can tell you, though, that there is a long existing history of local music either from people who moved from Mexico to the Rio Grande Valley and vice-versa. The culture and heritage of what the Rio Grande Valley represents is far different from anything else you would find in Texas. We do play once in a while locally, but we usually play goth night shows where we are the only band and a few djs. We typically play shows in different cities around the U.S.
Over the term of our residence in the Rio Grande Valley while performing with ANNEX, our go-to local sister band was Vivent Les Morts
! VLM is still my favorite darkwave band from the Valley. ANNEX has definitely sprouted out and committed to performing throughout Texas. We love traveling and playing in other cities. Since Texas is so big, the opportunity to share our music through live presence continues to be a constant as we, as well as scenes from different cities, evolve in different ways.
Do you find yourselves frequenting other cities throughout Mexico and Texas as well? Would you say those are all part of the same scene?
Migas: I would say the most frequent cities we play and visit the most in Texas are Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. I do believe that the scenes from around Texas are definitely all mesh into one DIY community. The ethos are the same and everyone knows each other, so it’s always great to visit.
In general, what fuels and inspires you? You guys have been evolving nonstop since your inception in 2013 and at this point you’ve really honed what you do.
Migas: What inspires me is listening to a lot of dark melodies and always learning new sounds and progressions. I am really into a bunch of minimal music and also sound effects that are just out there. Playing live shows to different crowds is a big plus for me as well. It’s rad to meet lots of people from various places, backgrounds and to hear how our music has impacted them in one way or another. We’ll definitely continue to play until we run out of ideas or have nothing left to write.
Nikole: I have always said that music is my outlet and my therapy as I am sure it is for a multitude of the population. I get to create this art with amazing musicians who serve as my pedastool to escape from the dullness the every day grind brings me. When Omar, our drummer, joined ANNEX in summer of 2016, I felt a surge of energy because working with Omar and Migas is inspirational in the sense that there is just no stopping that duo. Now that we have Juancho in the band as our near-flawless bass player, there is literally no stopping us. I am always interested in what others will think of ANNEX, either our music or live performances, yet this is self-fulfillment for me at the end of the day.
Your new LP, Melu, has more psychedelic/experimental moments throughout the album without abstaining from your unique anarcho/darkwave sound. Did something in particular inspire these elements? It’s fun as hell.
Migas: I was listened to different music for “Melu”. The bands I mainly focused on as muses were Blood and Roses, A Touch of Hysteria, Vex and Kuudes Tunti. I’d also listen to Gabinete Caligari and Francisco Tárrega. It was a mixture of Psychedelic folk and goth/post-punk. I like to keep an open mind on writing techniques because you can only stay in your lane for so long before you start to run out of ideas. I find a variety of different melodies and dark ominous notes when I listen to folk stuff. It adds a twisting vibe to the concept.
On that note, is there a particular theme or meaning behind Melu as a whole?
Migas: This record to me represents sounds, shapes and all sizes of darkness. Melu means “noise” in Finnish. That, to me, describes a sound effect like wind or something related of that sort. I also think of my guitar pedals and the different sounds that I can create. These sounds set the tone for an atmospheric feeling in the air.
Nikole: I see “Melu” as the re-birth of ANNEX. We just had different hands and minds in the mix of the whole writing and the recording process from what we did with previous releases. Everything from the calibur of the music, to the recording engineer (Tommy from Matador Recording Studios), to the mastering (Daniel Husayn from North London Bomb Factory Mastering) helped take the sound of ANNEX to a whole ‘nother level! I can’t express how proud I am of “Melu”. It is the new “noise” of ANNEX.
What was your favorite(s) shows to play in 2017?
Migas: I would say the highlights of 2017 were playing San La Muerte festival with good bands and friends of ours, a memorable local goth night called “1313” here in San Antonio and a sick house show in December in Dallas. The shows we play are always fun so it’s hard to say which one stands out the most – but off the top of my head, those are the most memorable events of 2017.
Nikole: The house show we played at “Casa de Locos” in Dallas was my highlight of 2017. “Casa de Locos” is owned by members of dark-punk band Perdidos (check them out!) and we were invited to play in December. It was a small, but packed, intimate show with no stage which I love. The crowd was in tuned with our performance and vice-versa. The energy was so positive and plus we were surrounded by great people, a few being from Slimy Member, my favorite anarcho/dark punk band from Texas.
Nikole, your project Her Corrosion is an incredible resource! I love that you’re spreading the word about current artists in such a simple, aesthetically pleasing way. What do you have in store for 2018?
Thank you for that! It is much appreciated! Her Corrosion just celebrated its one year anniversary in January and has become a much bigger platform for DIY post-punk and goth bands/artists than I had imagined. 2018 will be dedicated to helping to give bands and artists a voice and a place to share their music, art, events, etc. I really look forward to growing the Her Corrosion Store by inviting people to post their merchandise, physical music releases or art on the page. I am always accepting music/interview/art submissions from anyone that wants to share. Please contact Her Corrosion at https://www.hercorrosion.com/contact/
or at firstname.lastname@example.org
In fact, even aside from Her Corrosion you guys seem very active in the scene, having contributed to the “Siempre Estuvimos Aquí” zine/compilation and The Cure Pornography: Cvlt Nation Sessions last year. What other contributions have you guys made? Are any of you involved with other DIY projects or bands outside of Annex?
Migas: Besides the release of “Melu”, we are also participating on an LP compilation called “Songs From Under the Floorboard Volume 1” orchestrated by Dave Cantrell who organizes Out From The Shadows Fest in Portland. I believe the compilation is scheduled to be out by April. All of us have our own projects going on. Of course, Nikole has Her Corrosion, Omar has his label/distro Adelante Discos that has been running for the past 10 years and Juancho has a few bands that he plays in and tours with. I have recently started a photography project that focuses on minimalist architecture, minimal shapes, landscapes and real life scenery. The project is called Sundog Studio and Designs and I should have some of my work out by March on a Facebook page.
Do you guys have any tours lined up for the year yet? Portland misses you!
We are playing a few shows/festivals around the U.S. this year as of now, including Out From the Shadows Fest in Portland in April
. This is our second time playing OFTS Fest and it’s pretty rad so we are looking forward to being back on the West Coast! We’ve all been anticipating the release of the new record release. We’ll finalize performance dates for this year after it’s out. The scheduled release date for “Melu” is February 19th on Inflammable Material Records (EU), Adelante Discos (USA) and Occult Whispers Records (USA). Get in contact with the record label closest to you to avoid high postage rates. Contact: www.hercorrosion.com
for more info. Thank you for having us! Cheers!
ANNEX: Thank you Sar, Meghan, Sean and the entire Cvlt Nation family for your continued support of ANNEX! Much love from Texas!