As in medieval times, serfs seem to be everywhere in the new millennium. Unlike in medieval times, many of today’s serfs are Serfs, proper nouns with a musical mindset. You can’t swing 10 leaping lords without hitting a band called The Serfs these days. In our general area alone, there’s a Power Pop/Rock band out of Columbus, Ohio called The Serfs and there’s a Cincinnati Celtic Punk band christened The Serfs, although they appear inactive at the moment.
But The Serfs being highlighted here seem to prefer mystery over publicity. The trail goes cold rather quickly when trying to track them down, largely because of the surplus of Serfs obfuscating search engines at every turn. But on a Facebook event page, these Serfs are identified as a “Cincinnati Electro Punk act” and they appear to have some connection to local Post Punk group Mardou, who are listed as the hosts of the Serfs’ local album release party concert Friday, Jan. 10 at MOTR Pub (1345 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, motrpub.com). The show is free and begins at 10 p.m. with Cincinnati’s Black Planet and Chicago’s Bruised.
Sonically, The Serfs reveal themselves to be a powerful and evocative Coldwave outfit. They released a debut EP, Songs of Serfdom, early in 2019 and that six-song cassette has now been expanded to a full 11-track album and re-titled Sounds of Serfdom. The LP is being released on 12-inch vinyl through Berlin, Germany label Detriti Records.
The Serfs draw dark influence from a potent moment in ’70s Post Punk and New Wave, when synthesizers began to dominate the landscape and minimalism became the watchword of the day. It’s not hard to draw straight lines from The Serfs to giants of the cutting-edge synth movement of the late ’70s — Joy Division, A Certain Ratio, Cabaret Voltaire, Tubeway Army, The Units and early Devo all surface in some form or fashion in the band’s sonic architecture. This would all be little more than genre window-dressing without good songs and the Serfs have that well covered, as their songwriting is as impressive as their apparent record collections.
Check out The Serfs at detritirecords.bandcamp.com.