The Black Ships
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The Black Ships

Saratoga Springs, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | SELF

Saratoga Springs, New York, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2012
Band Alternative Post-punk




"Music We Love :: The Black Ships"

Allow me to introduce you to The Black Ships, an up-and-coming band based out of Saratoga Springs, New York, who have raised their sails with a sound that is not only retro but fresh and definitely fun. The band features John Gill on guitars, vocals, bass and Shane Sanchez on beats, keyboards, and sampling. With the release of their 2011 EP entitled ‘Ocean’ on Lo-Fi Kabuki Records, we audio enthusiasts plunge into a guitar driven post-punk sound with influences from Joy Division, The Smiths, Morrissey, The Clash, The Cure, The Verve, La Peste, DFA 1979 to Depeche Mode.

The Black Ships have also embraced the DIY punk ethic by making a name for themselves independently of commercial funding or distribution using the same computer they use to record. Find links to their online presence and tunes for download below.

If curiosity piques, and you’re tired of the same ol’ censored drivel, check these fellas out live. On Tuesday, January 24, 2012, they’ll be playing at the Trash Bar in Brooklyn, NY and on February 15, 2012, at Bogies in Albany, New York.

Here’s a clip of their latest music video entitled, “Bangalor,” shot and directed by front-man John Gill himself. Enjoy the music and enjoy exploring the infinite abyss of possibilities. — Roz Baron **Co-Contributor to this post and fellow music blogger: Nicholas Blair -

"The Black Ships – Dead Empires"

The question of what would have happened in a world where Joy Division still exists is one of pop culture’s enduring questions. And while the Manchester foursome may have never been able to answer, Saratoga Springs’ The Black Ships may be able to, at least sonically. Awash in the same emotional bleakness and unease as Joy Division, and the same new wave pop hooks as New Order, the band finds a middle ground that immediately wins over fans of both groups. This, however, is no mere tribute band. While it’s easy to spot their influences, The Black Ships are making a definitive statement on Dead Empires. This is a act that sounds wholly unlike any other band in the upstate NY area but arrives fully confident in their technique and vision.

Take for example the stellar “Sea of Cortez.” While the band’s synth/guitar combo gives a rather new wave vibe, The Black Ships’ driving alt rhythms recall the early 90’s anthems of bands like The Breeders and Smashing Pumpkins. Elsewhere on tracks like “Kapitulation,” the band crafts a distinct ambiance for their doomed romance ballad with leads singer John Gills’ vocals echoing cavernously throughout wondering if his efforts are worth the price he pays.

This might be a band out of an upstate New York town known more for its lovely scenic views and quiet charm, but the loneliness and working class torment of Manchester flows through their every vein. Dead Empires is one of the most convincing and spirited post-punk albums I’ve heard this year. A marvel of atmosphere and melody, if The Black Ships were looking to make a name for themselves, this album does that in spades. -


Saratoga Springs, NY band, The Black Ships are preparing to self-release Dead Empires on December 4th. Surviving the Golden Age is excited to premiere the album’s lead single “Dead Empires.” The track would sound at home on 80s college radio. The guitar sound seems ripped directly out of “Love Will Tear Us Apart” but with vocals more akin to Echo and the Bunnymen. There is not a lot that sounds “modern” about “Dead Empires” but there doesn’t need to be when you nail the past this well. -

"The Black Ships, “Dead Empires” Album Review"

The Black Ships are a four-piece alternative dark indie garage rock group from Saratoga, New York. The band shows-off how New York is the new breeding ground for American dark romance in regards to music.
The Black Ships are named after the American ships that landed in Japan during the 16th and 19th centuries. Their new album, Dead Empires, is the second release by the ensemble, and did not disappoint or fall into the, often occurring for alternative indie bands, sophomore slump. The album starts with an infectious beat, being an energetic track that sounds close and relevant to a 80s’ college radio station. The Black Ships use this energy throughout the rest of the album.
Unlike most dark alternative albums, the bass is one of the main components in the work. The bassist begins with a cheery and catchy hook while the synthesizers gradually step in and set a fantasy dream-like atmosphere. There is not much that sounds “modern” in a technical sense about Dead Empires, however there does not need to be when the sounds of the past translate so well into the pieces of art.
The guitar aesthetics of the music, echoes “Love Will Tear Us Apart” but with vocals more similar to Echo and the Bunnymen. On Track 4, “When the Rain Falls” the Black Ships go into full fantasy mode and almost completely bury the lyrics in synths and distorted guitar riffs, while creating a dark indie-goth atmosphere as well. Track 4 specifically reflects the early 90s’ music scene in and around London, where Stereolab, Lush, Blur, Suede, Elastica occupied the ears of dark alternative indie enthusiasts everywhere.
Though slow and dreamy tracks are heavy within this album, Dead Empires offers other sounds as well. Tracks 3 and 6, “Sea of Cortez” and “Sarin” have a fast rapid pace making the songs work to keep the sleepy listener awake, even on the latest of nights. While these tracks vastly contrast from their atmospheric counterparts, the album still feels as though it relates as an overall piece of art.
Usually artists will apply more gentle songs towards the end of an album. While there is nothing incorrect of such, Dead Empires does the opposite. John Gill’s vocals sound vastly like Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan and the guitar riffs echo Joy Division. The Black Ships are aiming right for the opaque heart of the listeners by mixing dreamy atmospheric hints and tinges to the Pretty In Pink soundtrack. Though album includes dark and light sounds, the balance used in composing this art is appealing to the indie-alternative band’s audience.
Though the album begins with a burst of energy, while gradually slowing down almost becoming fatigued, the end involves a highly intense track ready to revitalize audiences. Dead Empires is not only pieced together in a mosaic-type method, this album has an organized balance that allows the listener to consume the sound. The Black Ship’s newest album Dead Empires is definitely for the fans of music on the lightly dark end of the spectrum with some synths and heavy bass thrown in. -

"The Black Ships = Joy Division + The Smiths + Tears for Fears"

The Black Ships’ sophomore effort is the perfect marriage of ’80s goth and post-punk. Dead Empires shows off the perfect pairing of addictive drumbeats, hauntingly beautiful vocals and bass lines that haven’t sounded this masterful in three decades. We are hit right away with the title track’s bass line, followed by a hypnotic guitar riff and the chilling and magnificent voice of John Gill. Despite being 30 years late to the party, The Black Ships’ sound could easily rival the likes of New Order, Depeche Mode and Morrissey. Dead Empires sounds like the perfect ’80s rock album you’ve been hunting around at Greywhale for. For any ’80s goths or anyone just down to groove to The Black Ships’ vintage and hypnotic sound, Dead Empires is a must-have. –Connor Brady -


Let me start off by saying that I wish I would have listened to The Dead Ships when they released their first 8 track LP in 2011, titled Ocean. Oh well, I guess they made a new fan, only looking forward to whatever they have in store.

Personally, I love the passion that is behind any singer that can pull off an appealing nasal tone to his or her voice. Singer John Gill beautifully coexists with the guitar noise, collaborating with the poppy drum grooves. When listening to their new release Dead Empires, I’m truly taken back through time to capture the construction of post punk, with perhaps, better production and effect capabilities.

Like any post punk album I feel rather melancholy, while remaining physically uplifted when you hear the snap of the snare drum mixed with the busy hi hat in the background, whilst the bass guitar drives the song along. I kept finding myself nodding my head with each song, trying to hold back my inner teenage angst that conveys a subtle dance move across my living room floor. Only to eventually stop myself so I can continue listening to the music. After I had listened through “When the Rain Falls”, which is the 4th track on the LP, I gave up and let the music control my head bobbing and my jittery legs. -


The Black Ships prove that the past doesn’t have to be dead and buried with new single ‘Dead Empires’.
This band from Saratoga Springs is here to show us that this part of New York is the new breeding ground for American dark romance. “When thinking of the scene here I am reminded of the early 90’s scene in and around London, the scene that celebrates itself I believe it was called and included the groups Stereolab, Lush, Blur, Suede, Elastica,” explains frontman John Gill. “Bands around here tend to be friends and help each other out with stuff rather than form rivalries, but that’s not to say things aren’t competitive, bands are always competitive to some degree.”

To say that ‘Dead Empires’ is a track influenced by the dark side of 80s pop would be an understatement. Gill’s vocals sound scarily like Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan and the guitar riff could be Joy Division. Obviously when you start making comparisons to groundbreaking artists like these, a band will inevitably disappoint or simply be labelled copycats. However, if you (like me) are riding high on the current wave of synth-pop releases, you could do worse than pick up the album when it’s released on 4 December.

The Black Ships may sound like they’ve just sailed straight out of the past but they’re a band anchored in today. -