The Creeping Ivies: Ghost Train EP

Having just been introduced to the glorious schizophrenic garage punk sounds of UK band Frau Pouch we now have the distinct pleasure by kind invitation of the band itself to meet Scottish duo The Creeping Ivies through their new EP Ghost Train. The follow up to their debut EP Rock N Roll Party, the new EP is quite simply immense, a pure unbridled splattering of the senses from sonic expulsions squeezed from psychotic blisters. Spearing the ear with all the right sounds and searing flesh to just the right depth The Creeping Ivies are one of the most exciting bands to emerge in the UK, and the beginning of a salacious love affair with their creative manipulative sounds here.

Comprising of just vocalist and guitarist Becca Bomb and drum molester Duncan Destruction, the duo rile up more noise and reaction than most multi-personnel bands as they work their way deeper and hook with the sharpest of bone splicing musical barbs. Their music can be best described as The Cramps meets The Pixies amongst an orgy of The Orson Family, The Victorian English Gentlemens Club, The 5,6,7,8’s, and The Stooges. The result is a glorious strained melodic bedlam which brings all the decades of garage rock and punk from the 50’s through to today with infectious and unique ingenuity. It is rare to be truly excited by a band but there is no avoiding it with The Creeping Ivies.

The track Ghost Train opens up the EP and immediately one is captivated by the irresistible simplicity yet fully intrusive beats and guitar. As Becca unleashes her deep and strong vocals the first thought is that this is what The Cramps would sound like if fronted by Wanda Jackson. No note is wasted on frills and no space unfilled by stirring primal beats and energy. The addictive chorus assumes control of ones voice within seconds of its first appearance and the electrified discords of pleasure from the guitar leave one spinning. The track is an unrelenting stomp with a contagion power to make any virus enviable. The song is easily our favourite of the year so far and kept the other two tracks on the EP waiting for their chance as it invited multiple plays before moving on.

    Don’t Cry strolls in next with equal flair and instinctive charm. There is nothing as hypnotic as a song primitively basic yet stunningly crafted as The Ramones who offer more than a spice here have proven. The Creeping Ivies have tapped that same vein of invention to equal effect and success. The track is spawn from shadows within shadows to offer a disturbance found in the likes of Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers and The Birthday Party with uncomplicated sounds found in early Yeah Yeah Yeahs. All these though merely add spicery to the sound with the duo consistently sounding like The Creeping Ivies predominantly.

Completed by the scuzz ball of noise Chicken Voodoo Blues the EP released on Jet Black Records, is easily one of the best heard in a long time. The track ruptures blood vessels and ear drums with its assault of festering melodic swipes and a mighty destructive rhythmic rampage leading to climaxes as distressed and chaotic as one could pray for. It is a bedlamic end to an enormously fun release and the instigator of deep frustration that there was only a triplet of psychotic mayhem offered.

The Creeping Ivies may not be to the taste of everyone but if any of the references mentioned grab your ear than this duo will be your new musical infatuation.

Grab the EP for free at http://thecreepingivies.bandcamp.com/album/ghost-train-ep

RingMaster 07/06/2012

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Skyline Pigeons: House of Mysteries

With a kaleidoscope of touching emotions, sensual textures, and warm hauntingly enveloping atmospheres the debut album House of Mysteries from US band Skyline Pigeons is truly one of the most mesmeric releases heard in a long time. Bringing a blend of shoegaze rock psych-pop with flushes of folk, post-punk, and psychedelic-rock the release is an inescapable immersive wrap around the senses. Within the distinct unique weave of sound that is Skyline Pigeons the additional elements of country and garage rock all combining to create a sound which cuts across the decades bringing a vibrant yet dark breath to the release.

The band is made up of two sisters from Santa Barbara/Los Angeles, Roxanne and Caroline Teti. The duo crafted House of Mysteries with inspiration raging from not only their personal musical influences but emotionally from the experience of losing their home and possessions to the Santa Barbara wildfires and the process of starting again. The tracks within the release are part of an emotional journey for the girls translated perfectly for the listener to absorb and feel with each song exploring and challenging the scars and fears borne from the devastating event. With the band completed by Andrew Harrison, Ben Potter, and Orly Gal and the album recorded with and produced by Ryan Hadlock (Blonde Redhead, Ra Ra Riot, The Black Heart Procession, The Gossip) at Bear Creek Studio in Seattle, the album is a remarkable pop rock entry.

From the moment first song The Cycle weaves its melodic way around the ear there is a sense of something special emerging to send tingles through the spine. Once the beauty of the vocals and emotive Wurlitzer keys wrap themselves around the beckoning bass, firm beats and endearing guitar strokes, the track slowly envelops the senses and thoughts building to a plateau of emotive warmth and stirring energy tinged with a soulful country rock lilt.

Off of this impressive start the following Get Up raises the bar even higher. The anthemic badgering from the song is deeply infectious as the song confronts the wrong kind of personal acceptance with a stunning mix of Breeders and Belly like grace and melodic imagination. The song is glorious and brings a deep sigh of disappointment when it ends.

    House of Mysteries is pleasingly eclectic throughout bringing diversity to fit the varied emotive thoughts and heartfelt issues dealt with lyrically. Songs like the reflective slightly haunting Together and the rougher textured pop enchantment that is Tennessee are as openly diverse and equally wondrous as the songs before them. Within the latter of the two the infectious pull is especially immense and unavoidable but to be honest every song no matter the heart and breath it expands from is as captivating as another.

The golden ballad whisper of Lucid finds the band in further hypnotic lush emotive fields, its balance and poise the strongest aural siren to find the ear and further evidence of the astounding songwriting and its realisation upon the album. As much as the sounds, lyrical inventiveness and the amazing voices of the girls, it is the seamless fit and thought brought to all aspects within the pulsating soundscapes which impresses as deeply. The alto and soprano ranges of Roxanne and Caroline belong within any myth spun by sailors dashed upon rocks, their beauty that full and far reaching but it is as much their organic mix and blend with the other instruments and skills which ignites their fullest majesty.

Tracks such as Alright and High bring more sultry irresistible splendour but the brightest sun on the album comes with Fire She Blues, a blistering piece of sixties psychedelic toned post punk ingenuity. The track is a primal trigger with continual insistent rhythms and fiery melodic imagination. As the song explores its path the energy rises and flares with scorched sonic and blues dripping explosions. Almost like a pop version of Blood Ceremony the band opens up every note and chord with a raw yet compulsive intensity to engineer the most inventive and impressive song on the album.

House of Mysteries is a masterpiece and the declaration that Skyline Pigeons and their unique talent will be bringing even greater rewards for years to come with what is real pop music.

RingMaster 07/06/2012

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Neonfly: Outshine The Sun

Coming from a genre which does not bring the greatest excitement to these ears it has to be said the debut album from UK band Neonfly is a rather agreeable piece of melodic metal. It may not manage to offer a serious consideration for album of year choices or possibly is likely to find a constant place on playlists but Outshine The Sun certainly captures the imagination more often than not when given the opportunity. As mentioned the band rides on a core of melodic metal but adds inspired shots of power metal and hard rock,  mixtures which do not light up any lanterns for us here but Outshine The Sun persistently entertained and satisfied with a strength and engagement many other bands struggle to achieve.

After forming in 2008 the London based band first drew attention with their first EP Clever Disguise and live shows. Since then the band has gone through line-up changes whilst still exciting audiences and gaining a strong reputation with their live performances. Consisting of vocalist Willy Norton, guitarists Frederick Thunder and Patrick Harrington, bassist Paul Miller, and Boris Le Gal on drums, Neonfly has been building to this album released via Rising Records, and it is hard to imagine anything but positive responses to its well crafted sounds especially from fans of the genre they spring from. For the rest though there is still plenty to keep the ear engaged and interested to make for an enjoyable time together.

The album hits the ground running with opener Broken Wings. The vocals and riffs are as expected strong yet maybe unsurprising whilst the chorus is easily accessible and inviting. It is the underlying groove which really lights the song whilst the guitar solo and interplay as it progresses is absorbing with the bass of Miller a persistent growling presence behind. The bassist proves to be the best thing on the album overall his lines and tones always adding a depth and dark energy to the melodic waves around him.

The infectious rock n roll eagerness of The Enemy holds a catchy grip on the ear and anytime it delves into overplayed melodic escapades the song whether from drummer Le Gal, Miller or some unexpected heavy pitch of metal invention, keeps it all in check. Fine though the song is it did not inspire a personal longevity within something the following Ship With No Sails and its successor A Gift To Remember managed to a much stronger degree. The first is a mix of reserved energy and passion and epic blood pumping grandeur which weaves around the ear with detailed melodic play and enveloping symphonic like keys. The band crafts the two elements of their music well creating a song which earns good attention and respect. The second of the two is a darker toned track with further predatory shadows from bass and rhythms beneath the enflamed melodic invention. The song as with the majority of tracks is inventive veining the somewhat expected sounds and ideas with essences and striking interjections from sterner metal sources.

Tracks like The Revenant with its steely groove metal opening, the power metal Reality Shift, and the mesmeric Morning Star with its opening Middle Eastern flavouring keep things energised and lively ensuring one never truly slips into a presumption of what is to come but it is the mighty Spitting Blood which takes top honours on the release. Many of the tracks on Outshine The Sun come from their debut EP but this song is one of the new ones and sets definite promise for future releases. The song is a feisty brew of thunderous rhythms and riffs amongst an ever twisting flame of melodic imagination. With an intimidating breath and heavily driven energy the song is the most aggressive and rewarding on the album by far its climax a virtual chug fest.

Outshine The Sun is a strong and enjoyable album which will find much more eagerness and appreciation from those favouring their choice of genre. Neonfly did give a good time though whilst offering suggestions of greater things ahead and that is all one wants in any release primarily.

RingMaster 07/06/2012

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Mighty High: Legalize Tre Bags

With enough references to and celebration of weed to make The Kottonmouth Kings appear like The Osmonds the eagerly awaited second album from Brooklyn rockers Mighty High is let loose June 12th through Ripple Music. Fully mischievous, completely fired up and an unbridled dust bowl of sonic rampage and energetic guitar infestation, Legalize Tre Bags leaves thrilled and welcomingly assaulted. It carries no pretence, it is what it is and the band does not give two flying nuns on a day trip to a candle factory what anyone thinks. Most of all it is insatiable rock n roll, a posse of exuberant songs set on senses rustling.

Legalize Tre Bags follows up 2008 debut album …In Drug City which with the following Drops A Deuce 7″ single in 2009 and a 7” split with Stone Axe gathered strong acclaim. The release also marks the tenth anniversary of Mighty High and sees the quartet of Woody (vocals, guitar), Kevin Overdose (lead guitar), LaBatts Santoro (bass, vocals), and Jesse D’Stills (drums) as able as ever to raise hell and live high and vice versa as they return with an album sure to incite further shouts and puffs of praise.

With the title referencing the once available $3 bag that could be scored at all the best dope spots in the Bronx, Legalize Tre Bags hits the sweet spot from the off with I Don’t Wanna Listen To Yes, a Ramones toned ear puncturing of punk rock. With barely enough time to take a breath it splatters the senses with attitude drenched rock n roll to wake up and ignite attention for the excellent following Mooche. With a hypnotic bassline the track roughs up the ear with a Beastie Boys meets Black Flag attack punctured with scorched veins of classic metal to add extra electrified heat to its mesmeric swagger.

The great start is continued with the stoner fuelled The Ram, its smoked cloud of scuzzed guitars and enveloping energy an all pervading mesmeric wrap lighting up more than the senses. It is a track like many on the album which in its simplicity still twists and turns to great and infectious effect. There is nothing trying to open new musical doors or set down unique markers within song and album as a whole, but Mighty High still stand relatively alone with their irrepressible and carefree sounds.

With tracks like the outstanding contagious Tokin’ N Strokin’, a song about the life and death of David Carradine, and Southern rock saunter Cheep Beer, Dirt Weed the album ignites the urge to become one with the release in any way one feels fit. Add the Dead Kennedys like Drug War and the tour of all 5 boroughs of New York City with Come On! I’m Holdin’, not to mention the slightly schizophrenic Chemical Warpigs and there is nothing but fun and good times to be have each and every minute of the release. The last of these songs brings a Motorhead, Suicidal Tendencies, and Sabbath like mesh into a psychedelic blistering of the synapses.

Legalize Tre Bags is a raucous feast of punk, weed, and middle finger attitude, most of all it is a deeply satisfying slab of rousing rock n roll. It offers nothing particularly new nor tries to inspire an unexpected awe but it is still one of the most fun and gratifying albums out this year. Mighty High are lighting up with an aural invitation to share.

RingMaster 07/06/2012

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The Cult: Choice Of Weapon

Southern Death Cult the band which first brought Ian Astbury to the attention was an immediate connection with my heart which only deepened with tracks like Moya, Fatman, and Apache. Upon their demise and the new team of Astbury and Billy Duffy linking to create The Cult, the attraction continued into their excellent debut album Dreamtime which spawned one of my all time fav songs Bone Bag. From this point though the evolution of the band and that of my tastes went separate ways and as their sound became grander and more rock orientated the appeal and previous attraction diminished. There were still moments where we met on a mutual level but more often than not all that was inspired was an appreciative nod and only fleeting attention given.

That was until with thanks to my friend Raymond, there was an introduction to the new Cult album Choice Of Weapon.  With limited expectations but mild intrigue due to the warm words he had given it, time came to sit down with the release and see if it lived up to his acclaim. With full surprise and an overwhelmed heart the answer is yes and more. The album is wonderful a release the word impressive is almost inadequate for. Choice Of Weapon rekindles the passion and in many ways returns to the instinctive partly tribalistic sounds that first drew us together. The album is not a throwback but seemingly the result of a revitalised and creatively fresh revisit to The Cult one longed for but did not expect to return is back.

The album has a less complicated textured sound than in previous years but is still distinctively and inventively skilled a release as only The Cult can ever create. Astbury is still the enigmatic performer and presence as he ever was but with a maturity and control which makes him even more formidable a vocalist and frontman whilst musically Duffy with bassist Chris Wyse, and drummer John Tempesta, bring a harder and less flamboyant enterprise to contrast and compliment perfectly.

Released through Cooking Vinyl Records, the album captivates from the very first stroke of the guitars across the ear on Honey From A Knife. Picking up an urgency spliced with exciting riffs and the group chants behind Astbury, the song storms the senses with a punk essence and infectious creativity. The pomp and overblown soundscapes often littering their releases are nowhere in sight, the song simply a striking piece of irresistible rock n roll.

The excellent start is backed up by Elemental Light and The Wolf. The first track is a full emotive pleasure which searches out and spreads like a contagious fever of invigorating pleasure. Recalling the band at their birth and with the melodic grace of The Mission, the song touches the nerve and emotion that first pulled them to the heart in the eighties. The second of the two songs is a coarser eruption of imaginative and firm intent, its melodic craft and enflamed breath leaving deep scorch marks of pleasure. As each song plays it assumes favourite track status such the strength of all and the album though it is impossible to truly choose.

The Bowiesque Life > Death is an enveloping ballad of power and intensity whilst the rampant Amnesia lays a stomp upon the ear which is as contagious as it is intimidating, both showing the full diversity within the album and the unique Cult sound. Astbury and Duffy are immense throughout the album but that can equally be said about Tempesta and Wyse both adding a depth and addictive menace to songs. The keys especially bring a fire and enveloping atmosphere to the songs adding extra invention and craft.

As the album works though one impressive track after another all continuing to enrich and incite thoughts and senses superbly we discover the likes of the excellent hypnotic Wilderness Now prowling with an ominous air and the closing The Night In the City Forever, a shadowed song exposing the underbelly of dark lives and worlds, to great pleasure.

With lyrics dealing with things like drugs and soured relationships on the album, Astbury is as cutting and expressive as ever and though no longer able to grab those explosive higher notes of yesteryear he has found a strong and more impactful range to enhance every song. Produced and recorded alongside Chris Goss with long-time Cult collaborator and producer Bob Rock finishing off the album, Choice Of Weapon is an unexpected and welcomingly outstanding release and easily one of the best albums so far this year. The Cult I know and love has returned and arguably is even better.

RingMaster 07/06/2012

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