John Bassett – Unearth

John Bassett pic

Having discovered the progressive rock might of KingBathmat and its founder John Bassett, admittedly far later than we would have liked but joining the legion of fervour gripped fans nonetheless with the release of their last album Overcoming The Monster, there was a definite spring of excitement upon receiving Unearth the new solo endeavour from Bassett. As distinctly different to the previously mentioned release as it is just as imaginatively gripping, the new album is an enthralling embracing of ears and mind; man and record a melancholic troubadour parading evocative reflections of life and emotional experiences. Its canvas is a rich exploration of modern psyche across acoustically crafted progressive landscapes coloured with the richest hues of emotively sculpted melodic invention. It is a masterfully sculpted journey for creator and listener, one of the most rewarding and impressive this year so far.

The multi-instrumentalist, singer songwriter, and producer from Hastings has self-released seven albums since 2003, the last few via his label Stereohead Records. Born in Walthamstow, London, Bassett first picked up an acoustic guitar as a child. He struggled at first with playing chords until when going to a guitar teacher it was realised that he was playing a right handed guitar, left handed. As soon as he picked up a left handed guitar songwriting began to flow easily and subsequently his talent. It was not long before Bassett was recording songs onto his computer; honing his skill, sound, and fluency whilst finding a good reception to his online albums, especially for the third, Fantastic Freak Show Carnival. At this point he was beginning to be offered gigs and in 2005 he put together a live band to perform his music. Arguably it has been the last two albums of the band, KingBathmat, which has brought the strongest spotlight and acclaim, both Truth Button and Overcoming The Monster critically acclaimed whilst garnering a new wave of enthused fans. His debut solo album, Unearth is a full one man creation with only additional drums from Nathan A Summers an added spice. Holding the same invigorating melodies and unpredictable intrigue which marks the band’s releases, the new album reveals new sides and aspects to Bassett’s songwriting and enveloping sound, easily rivalling his previous triumphs whilst forging new avenues.

From its first caress, a dark and instant incitement with a stringed croon and suggestive keys, Unearth sparks something instantly in the unearthsenses and imagination through opening track Stay Away. As Bassett’s vocals join the evocative melodies there is a Bowie-esque breeze cast which evolves into a warm narrative which reminds equally of ELO and Porcupine Tree whilst wrapping tenderly around the senses as a truly distinct proposition. It is a glorious enchantment which only enriches the appetite the more it crafts its seduction around the passions; guitar and keys cradling thoughts and emotions in their provocative arms as the equally mellow and persuasive tones of Bassett press forward the lyrical potency. It is arguable whether Unearth ever reaches the heights of the first song again though the album certainly gives it a stirring try starting with the following Survival Rate. Welcoming beats open up the gateway into folkish scenery of soothing melodies and similarly engaging vocals. As its predecessor, the track permeates the imagination with suggestive and more precise designs, musically and lyrically, all combining for another infectiously magnetic investigative adventure.

The outstanding start is easily continued by both Nothing is Sacred and the title track. The first has a sultriness to its colourful dance, elements of the start and body again urging thoughts of Bowie with a touch of Paul Simon this time around. Equally there are plenty of moments where the softer facets of KingBathmat come through, an obviously unavoidable spicing which only enhances the immersive mystery and enticement of the songs. Guitar and voice brings its successor into potent view, its melody driven seducing soaking every pore and thought as richly as the lyrical temptation, this and every song  proving a powerful lingering suasion in sound and word. As soothing as it is inciting, Unearth is one of those temptresses which never releases her lure and grip whether by the side of or from a distance rivalling the first as the pinnacle of the album.

The gentle jazzy smoulder of Pantomime acts outs its elegant narrative next, lighting another appealing diversion for the imagination whilst the scenic expanse of the instrumental Kylerhea provides a cinematic soundscape to explore individual and personal adventures within. Both captivate without restraint if not quite matching earlier conquests of the emotions, something TV is God soon succeeds doing with elevated success. With a delicious expressive almost acidic twang and whine to the song’s exotic climate over an indictment of technological reliance for escape and hiding from reality, the track is a riveting recruitment of senses and heart.

Both the summery realm of Keep Dear with its XTC like temptation and the equally spellbinding flight of Something that’s More Worthwhile consume ears and imagination like celestial sirens both instinctively washing receptive emotions with unrelenting seduction; melodies and harmonies invasive beauty alone and just as compelling and stimulating as the inventive musical skill and songwriting of Bassett. The pair are quite shadow free compared to other songs of the release but still kissed by a melancholic presence which makes its strongest persuasion with the closing track Comedian. Piano and guitar crafted with the ever impressive voice of Bassett shaping their evocative tales further, the song is an absorbing walk from emotional shadows and musical understanding.

Unearth is as creatively imaginative as maybe expected going by Bassett’s band releases but explores deeper emotionally imposing landscapes, involving and inspiring similarly intense aspects from the listener. It is a wonderfully intimate and evocatively expansive journey proving John Bassett as not only one of the finest British songwriters in rock music but music full stop.

http://www.johnbassettmusic.com/

https://kingbathmat.bandcamp.com/album/unearth

9/10

RingMaster 30/03/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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The Written Years – Self-Titled

 

 Photo by Steven Toews


Photo by Steven Toews

    The Written Years is a Canadian band which we feel confidence in suggesting you will be hearing a great deal of over coming years. The reasoning for that comes with their self-titled debut album, an emotionally and melodically fuelled release which mesmerises ears and potently inspires the imagination. Consisting of eight songs which bring an original blend of post and alternative rock with folk and melodic inspirations, the album is a compelling flight of what the band calls “Winter Music”.

     Hailing from Kelowna and now based in Vancouver the trio of Wade Ouellet (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Kodie Krogh (guitar, vocals), and Kane Enders (drums), The Written Years has built a strong and well-followed presence with their inventive and original sound as well as acclaimed live performances. Casting tales of affection, belonging, loss, and nostalgia, their first release has all the potential and beauty to inspire the same reactions further afield, awakening new hungry appetites across the rest of North America, Europe and beyond. Aided by the talents of numerous guest musicians, the album is a masterful persuasion of open and smouldering temptation; one where resistance is unlikely to make much of an attempt to fight.

    Opening track It’s Not Your Fault emerges from a shadowed yet crystalline ambient mist with jangling sonics teasing ears twycover-largebefore a firmly placed stroll of guitar and keys bred melodies and colour breaks out. It is an immediately magnetic offering, especially as the song expands its evocative suasion to embrace the strong and expressive vocals of Ouellet. Steady punchy rhythms keep a dark edge skirting the warm touch and gait of the song, whilst harmonies fly with charm and energy across the sultry sky of the encounter. It is an infectious introduction with a tinge of the anthemic persistence Doves place in some of their creations.

    From a fly on the wall like studio link, second song I Would Miss My Home If I Knew Where It Was bounces into view with broad rhythmic shoulders and sonic tenderness to the fore. There is a wonderful folk expression to the indie spawned narrative as well as a creative revelry which dances with the imagination and passions. With wonderful additional vocals provided by Julia Huggins alongside those of Murray Ash, the song is a delicious romp with heady edges and darker depths. Already The Written Years show themselves to be unique to most, their sound a fresh mix apart from any other yet discovered but certainly for European readers there is a comparison to Irish band Knots which you could draw to give a sense of the invention at play.

     Homesick Dirge is a slow invasive treat, its title a just description of its sound though the track never reaches into the darkest funereal realm which might be assumed. Pungently emotive keys wrap equally passionate vocals whilst guitar and bass craft a web of intrigue and provocative colour to fill the heavy hearted yet refreshing canvas laid by lyrics and voice. A slower burn on the passions than its predecessors, the track over time is just as potent and challenging, as is the next up The Phone Is Ringing. Apparently the chord progression of the thought caressing song was the first element of the album, its creation six years ago the spark to the album which was completed with its final master in 2013. The track simply croons and lures the emotions from start to finish, every note and syllable drenched in enveloping melancholia.

     An elevated pace and urgency returns with You’re Too Kind, strumming guitars and lurking basslines entrancing ears whilst keys and vocals get to work on the senses. There is a sixties pop energy to the song, and element of sound which dare we say has a touch of Walker Brothers to it. The track is a masterful charge of inventiveness and emotional incitement, mini crescendos and resonating melodies flaming highlights in the outstanding proposition.

    Both Hospital Rooms and Are You Okay? keep satisfaction and full enjoyment high, even if the pair do not quite match the heights already set. The first is another with a punchy gait to its canter, rhythms crisply punctuating flames of melodic poise whilst its successor like most tracks is a weave of intimately touching and evocative feelings, the pair only increasing the greed of ears and passions for band and album.

   The release is closed by The Station, the song a glorious hug of hypnotic rhythms and bass persistence entwined with mesmeric melodies and thought caressing vocals, which reminds a little of Scottish band, Letters. It is an engrossing end to a similarly riveting release. With the bridging studio fiddling between songs the only negative thing on the album, their presence more a distraction which at times disrupts the flow of the release for personal tastes, The Written Years’ debut is just irresistible, an attention enslaving introduction to a band we are destined to be wrapped up in time and time again.

http://www.thewrittenyears.com

http://thewrittenyears.bandcamp.com

8.5/10

RingMaster 19/03/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Mark Morriss – A Flash of Darkness

Mark Morriss

     The Bluetones was a band which never really grabbed our attention, certainly nudging it numerous times across their thirteen hit singles and three Top Ten albums, but never making that incisive move to enthral as they did so many others. Former band frontman Mark Morriss though has had little problem managing to not only awaken but gripping that focus with his second solo album A Flash of Darkness. Consisting of eleven provocative flights of imaginative indie pop with a folk underbelly and soaked in evocative colour, it is a mesmeric adventure bounding eagerly and vivaciously through reflective and tempering shadows. Released via Acid Jazz Records, A Flash of Darkness is a masterful seduction and for our minds the best thing the singer songwriter has unveiled.

     The album follows Morriss’ debut album Memory Muscle of 2008, a folk-infused encounter featuring string arrangements from the legendary composer David Arnold which never really rustled up major attention. From the splitting up of The Bluetones in 2011, Morriss has engaged in successful solo tours as well as writing and performing with Matt Berry on his recordings and shows as well as creating his own prog outfit The Maypoles and writing music for David Walliams’ award winning Children’s audio books. A Flash of Darkness continues the musician’s solo adventure with a smile and swagger which enlivens the sounds and invention rippling through the release, the latter aspect a subtle coaxing rather than the loud toxicity you feel it might have been in someone else’s hands.

    The title track opens up the proposition, a song one originally written for a short-lived musical project of Morriss and Berry 1656207_635396076509138_2127819875_ncalled The Swedish Twins. A sultry Morricone bred call and ambience wraps the ears first, tower bells and whistles sculpting the scenery before the song falls into a sixties pop tasting embrace with the recognisable tones of Morriss adding their warmth to the climate. That mentioned vaunt soaks the song, a brass jazz temptation teasing greater emotion the way of the track whilst the tango of guitar invention and heated harmonies only intensify the virulently irresistible bait. Visually evocative and tenderly commanding, the opener is a sensational slice of songwriting, an artistic adventure to set things off on a real high.

    Whereas you can almost add a touch of The Wonder Stuff to the first song, its predecessor Consuela with its gentler yet no less infectious presence, has an eighties flavouring which induces thoughts of The Bluebells and occasionally The Lightning Seeds. Keys add further romance to the persuasion alongside that offered by the melodies and excellent vocal expression. Potent in sound and draped in provocative imagination fuelled hues, the track takes the passions by the hands and whisks them around that summer drenched eighties dancefloor with elegance and contagion before making way for the folkier and rhythmically punchy Guilty Again. A piano crafted beauty immediately kisses thoughts as vocals and a rhythmic prodding skirts its elegance but as with all songs it is one facet of evolving and expanding adventures. Like a lingering smooch, the track strolls with a boisterous gait flinging its happy melodies and hooks around with joyous enterprise to invite and ignite the same pleasure in its recipient.

    Both the mesmeric It’s Hard To Be Good All The Time and the enjoyable cover of The Shins’ Pink Bullets engage and treat with resourceful radiance and splendour, though neither can grip the same high level as previous songs. Despite that neither leaves satisfaction empty or provides weak enticement, diversity and ideas persistently leading the imagination into a submissive grin whilst the next infection under the guise of Low Company unveils an enveloping breeze of lyrical and melodic suasion in another sixties/seventies air to seduce from start to finish.

    Life Without F(r)iction  with its country twang is the next to lift feet from the floor, its bouncy heart unfussy and impossibly tempting before the best song on the album, This Is The Lie (and That’s The Truth), steps up to run its addiction coated fingers through the passions. An acoustic croon with Morriss offering a minimalistic lyrical and musical bewitchment, the track is pure aural manna, additional sirenesque harmonies and small bursts of energy bringing a creative virulence upon ears and emotions. It’s tempting borders on molestation but is simply melodic alchemy at play, the same toxin running through the veins of Space Cadet. The song with a wider brush of sounds and invention smothers the ears in a celestial ambience around thick and deeply permeating melodies, the result another exceptional fascination.

    The album closes with firstly another cover, this of Kavinsky’s Nightcall, which without earning the same ardour as the original material still leaves emotions enthralled, and the slow burning Sleep Song, an exceptional track which took time to make its strongest case but over time evolved into another big anthemic highlight. The pair closes up A Flash of Darkness in fine and endearing fashion leaving a return into the release a demanding option, a choice consistently rewarded each and every time by Morriss in one of the early albums of the year. Whether The Bluetones is a lure or not for you, this is one pop album you must not bypass without delving deeply into.

http://www.markmorrissmusic.co.uk/

9/10

RingMaster 24/02/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Tara Jane O’Neil – Where Shine New Lights

TJO

    To say that Where Shine New Lights is spellbinding would not be overstating the enchantment and allure of the new album from Californian based multi-instrumentalist, composer, and visual artist Tara Jane O’Neil but it only gives one sense of the absorbing and provocative evocation going on. Like being wrapped in someone else’s reflection which is soaking up and breeding greater evocation from your own, the release is a maze of striking textures and tantalising explorations creating a journey and landscape which draws and immerses the imagination in an unique experiment. The album is an irresistible seduction but one which equally challenges the psyche and emotions with its absorbing breath and permeating radiance aligned to a sonic discord bred lucidity.

     The Kranky Records Where Shine New Lights is the artist’s seventh solo album in a musical career which has seen her as a founding member of Rodan, amongst other projects, and part of collaborations with a wealth of artists including Ida, Mirah, Jackie O MF, Mount Eerie, Papa M, Come, and Nikaido Kazumi. In addition her visual art has graced galleries all over the northern hemisphere whilst O’Neil has received four monographs. As boldly evident on Where Shine New Lights O’Neil has a freedom to her composing and music, an unrestrained and uncaged invention which is unafraid to search the darkest and deepest corners of herself and everything around her whilst coaxing out the beauty, hope, and passion of the same sources.

    The album opens with Welcome, a short piece of floating vocal harmonies and simmering melodies which caress and seduce PromoImagethe air without disturbing its tranquillity. At its seamless evolution into Wordless In Woods a sonic shadow edges into view and remains, tempering the following beauty of song which follows. O’Neil’s voice is as charmed and sirenesque as the sounds wrapping its uniquely enrapturing narrative, the blend inspiring the track to avail its warmth and sensitivity to all. There is a hidden bounce to the song, it seemingly swinging across the senses without raising gait or temperature, something which is less shaded and equally as magnetic in the following This Morning Glory. It is a sublime and sumptuous embrace which transports the imagination into its own disconnected yet emotively honed visual interpretation. The sultry climate of the song through the guitar and harmonies raises a bead of sweat on the metaphorical brow and a smouldering flame in the passions with its quite glorious croon.

    The rhythmically cast and almost shamanic Over. Round, In A Room. Found. comes next and again has thoughts and passions burning with a fiery hunger. Hypnotic and transfixing in its simplicity and dramatically textured reserve, the song is mesmerism at its most potent with the vocal sounds of O’Neil another instrument in the unveiling landscape which expands and then diminishes its presence as it evolves into the haunted arms of Glow Now. The captivating and sinister ambience brewed within the new piece seeps into every thought and emotion sculpting a state of emotional limbo but a feeling enriched by hopeful and rich melodic hues soaking its breath.

    Through songs like The Lull The Going, a tender and bewitching echo of deeply fed emotions, the equally beguiling and poetically harmonic Elemental Finding, and the dark dredging alchemy of Bellow Below As Above O’Neil leaves emotions clasping any ‘firm surface’ whilst thoughts are pushed into places previously unknown or certainly hidden away from light. Whether a shadowed scenery or melody soaked flight, the songs on the album permeate the imagination before moving into closed off emotive depths with ease and infectious ingenuity. Before the last of this trio makes its pass on the passions, the album does take a brief lull through the songs All Now Vibe, The Signal, Wind, and The Signal, Lift. All three are provocative and inciting but do not spark the same intensive involvement as elsewhere, though you know it is not an album issue but only personal tastes at work.

    The almost abstract fascination of New Lights For A Sky brings the excellent encounter to a close, Where Shine New Lights leaving ears to senses and emotions to thoughts drifting in a disturbed yet golden haze of ingenious temptation and incitement. This was our first experience with Tara Jane O’Neil but the doorway ahead and in retrospect to an aural temptress and sculptor of richly impacting reflections.

http://www.tarajaneoneil.com

9/10

RingMaster 06/02/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

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The Reverse – Kind Words For Cruel Times

The reverse pic

     Released in the closing weeks of 2013, Kind Words For Cruel Times is an album you may have missed but is deserving of some of your attention. Brought to life by UK indie band The Reverse, the release is a gentle and persuasive collection of songs bred with a merger of folk and alternative rock intent. A little undulating in its convincing at times and more a work in progress sound wise than the finished article, the album nevertheless provides an attractive way to spend your time.

     The Reverse began with vocalist/guitarist Nathan Loughran and drummer Jason Moran, its idea and seeds growing out of pub conversations between the two, through late night recording sessions, and rehearsals. Initially the band’s sound engineer, guitarist/backing vocalist Sam Hartley was added to the line-up before a bassist called Joe completed the line-up, before his departure led the trio to linking up with bass/backing vocalist James McKeown (ex-lead singer of The Great Divide and The Colours). A trio of EPs also emerged to good reactions starting with the debut release A Clean Incision in 2006. The following year saw the release of the Shutterspeed and in 2008 the My Lifelong Psychological Experiment EP, all three as the album recorded with and mixed by Graham Dominy (The Rifles, Razorlight, Ray Davies, Supergrass). Onstage the band has built a reputation to match their records, performances alongside bands such as Klaxons, The Wave Pictures, Lupen Crook, Sgt Buzfuz, and Carina Round enhancing their stature. Kind Words For Cruel Times makes the next step forward for the North London quartet with its unveiling on Under The Influence Records, the label an offshoot of one of London’s premier music nights Under the Influence, a monthly showcase for new songwriters/bands at the Boogaloo in London. Whether it will make an indelible mark on the awareness of UK’s indie scene is hard to tell but certainly given the chance it is an album to wake up some eager attention for the band.

     The release opens with Encore a well-crafted slice of folk pop which makes a positive if underwhelming start to the album. 131125kindwords2With keen melodies and crisp rhythms around the mellow tones of Loughran, the song certainly provides a pleasing encounter but something feels missing, a spark to ignite the imagination. There is a Dire Straits lilt to the melodic design cast by the guitars whilst vocal harmonies embrace their lure with an appealing tempting of their own but there is a low key energy or maybe unoriginality to the track which prevents it taking as much attention as its design deserves.

    All the same the album makes a decent first touch which is immediately built upon by the provocative Atoms and the following Then They Came For Us. The first of the two from a smouldering start develops a swagger and energy to its stride which infects the imagination, guitars cradling the more urgent stance of the song in an engaging melodic web. Again the vocals work best when the trio of singers combine even with Loughran’s delivery a strong focal point; though as the album progresses you yearn for a snarl to his tone occasionally. With a great rhythmic dance in its latter surge, the track is a compelling suasion setting a high level for its successor to match. Evocative and melodically caressing the second of the pair is an absorbing ballad with potent sinews which grows and grows on the emotions over time to provide another sultry high point of the release.

    With a healthy resonance to the opening bassline, a rhythmic tantalising, and melodic enticement to its heart the title track makes a pleasant but slightly underwhelming offering before making way for a song which still offers doubts and irresistible bait. Myleene is a whimsical reflection of a maybe rocky relationship, a song with a creative tonic which simply infests the imagination but one with a poor lyrical presence which at times just niggles. Despite that the song never leaves thoughts and senses alone, the song an addictive sort it is impossible not to embrace and join in with.

     The highly emotive encounter, The Longest Day has thoughts working eagerly next whilst the heated breath and melodic radiance of Ghosts incites a warm appreciation, but it is the excellent revelry of The Third Party which has things blazing again mentally and emotionally. Another song to start with a slow and tender coaxing it soon washes the ears with a bluesy guitar enterprise alongside a stirring prompting from the drums and bass, both elements constantly impresses across the album. With a contagious charm and magnetism to its chorus and energetic heart, the song fights feistily for the best track award.

     Both Mary and Lucy make strong and captivating enticements, the first an especially bewitching treat with its punchy rhythms aligned to virulently addictive hooks and melodies giving the previous track a run for its money. Their lofty heights put next up Dynamite & Gunpowder a little in the shade but it is another to take its time in convincing before succeeding, even if the vocals flounder a few times along the way though redeemed by the backing harmonies and sixties folk pop air.

   Closing with No More Encores, the track completing a top and tail union with the opener on the album, Kind Words For Cruel Times gives a great deal to find strong satisfaction with. It is not without flaws but comes with a potent promise, its accomplished slice of indie folk/pop suggesting The Reverse is a proposition to watch out for.

www.thereverse.co.uk

7/10

RingMaster 28/01/2014

 Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Strobegirl and D’Jaly – How Are You? EP

 

   cover

    Having been seduced by The Strawberry Sessions EP a few years back, we have always had time and dreams over the melodic crafting and tones of its creator, UK singer/songwriter Strobegirl.  Weaving a mix of pop, indie, and folk spices in a host of sultry embraces, the Croydon girl is one of Britain’s musical secrets. With the release of new EP How Are You? may be that hiding place will be under threat through its magnetic temptation. The release sees Strobegirl, better known to her stalkers as Heather-Jane, team up with fellow Croydon based artist D’Jaly. It is a tantalising union as evidenced by the seven track release, a collaboration which sets the new EP alongside the acclaimed Strawberry Sessions in temptation and imagination.

     Strobegirl is no stranger to collaborations, having worked closely with producer Roger Fife (Cyndi Lauper, Anthony and The Johnsons, The Orphans) on her successful debut EP and subsequently the likes of UK Industrial band Illustrial as well as other artists on individual songs. Marked by dreamy shoegaze kissed textures to her music and vocals, Heather-Jane won indie artist of the year on Somojo radio in 2010 as well as being heavily played and promoted on various radio shows, especially the champions of independent music Audioburger. Her partner in invention upon the How Are You? EP and better known to his family as Jon Daly, has been emerging as an artist/producer through his infusions of electropop, house, and deep house. Originally called Unknown Tone with an electronic/dance flavouring to his creativity, Daly first released debut album the Fourth Dimension under his own name in 2008 before unleashing robotic dance machine 4000 in 2010 as Unknown Tone. Now the two artists have combined to craft a tantalising offering which joins both their styles in one electro pop persuasion, an encounter which leaves ears alive and passions feasted.

    You Can’t Stop Me Now starts things off and immediately cloaks the ear in a melodic coaxing aligned to sultry keys all aided by a brassy temptation. It is a smouldering mix of funk and jazz within an elegant pop embrace, piano and the appealing vocals of Strobegirl casting an emotive allure which only accentuates the beauty of the melodies which brew, merge, and erupt with evocative flames across the song. It is a magnetic persuasion which soon recruits thoughts and hunger towards its impressive invitation into the release.

     The following Nothing Else Counts Now unveils an electronic wash of grandeur and crystalline beckoning to make its entrance. Its initial coaxing is strong but arguably not as reassuring as to what will follow as the hinting found at the start of its predecessor. Those doubts are soon pushed aside though as the track twists its body to release a striking flame of Depeche Mode like melodic caressing littered with startling electro pulses and splurges of sound to shake up the song and expectations. Slight whispers of industrial and dubstep mischievously play their part in the bait of the song too and though the more general electronic course of the track is less inspiring than those elements, it is a refreshingly enterprising and imaginative eccentric dance within melodic witchery holding an almost spellbinding call.

    Next You and My Heart steps forward with its own distinctive fusion of electronic eccentricity and electro pop bewitchment, the song another which comes with a devilry to offset and taunt the raging melodies and ever appealing vocals. Production wise the track does want a little, the clashing electro scatterings and climatic orchestral bred melodies often suffocating and overpowering the vocals, though to be fair it does also help a haunting breath to wash the piece which does the song no harm. Overall though despite the smothering it is a lingering wash of melodic persuasion which adds extra to the release if less potently as elsewhere.

     The best two songs on the release come next, firstly Wake Up which admittedly we have a soft spot for having heard it in its early stages a while back. A summer wind of folk seeded pop placing the acoustic skills and vocal enchantment of Strobegirl in a rich electronic stimulus, the track is a warm stroll through evocative aural sorcery. Again the production is a touch claustrophobic but cannot derail a quite delicious croon of shoegaze revelry. With a chorus I dare you not to join in by its second tempting the song is one irresistible romance.

     The title track is equally infectious in its individual way and passion conjuring character. With almost sinister shadows flitting in and out of the song as the keys play with light and dark intermittently within a flame hued melodic narrative, vocals and lyrics adding another bloom of passionate colour and imagination to the picture. The best track on the release if not quite the favourite, it is a thoroughly captivating incantation of Siouxsie and the Banshees mystique filtered through a restrained Propaganda sculpted beauty.

   Completed by the Monster Electro Mix of You Can’t Stop Me Now and lastly the Deep House Mix of Nothing Else Counts, How Are You? is a delightful enveloping of the imagination and emotions, a release which might finally push Strobegirl and indeed D’Jaly in a new deserved spotlight.

The How Are You? EP is available as a buy now name your price download @ http://strobegirl-djaly.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/StrobegirlUK

https://www.facebook.com/djaly0

8/10

RingMaster 22/01/2014

 Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Tom Brosseau – Grass Punks

 

TB10-IMG_6433

    Tom Brosseau is a folksinger and songwriter from North Dakota who has forged his own distinct place in the genre, a presence which, maybe still an unknown for a fair few, is one of those once bitten lingeringly enticed propositions. With a distinctive voice matched by his acoustic guitar invention earning him waves of acclaim and recognition through records and live performances, the now LA based artist releases new album Grass Punks. It is a release which crafts an appealing and at times irresistible encounter and though it does not quite light personal fires throughout, the album lures attendance and attention across its appealing endeavour.

    From learning the acoustic guitar through his grandmother whilst he was in grade school, Brosseau has gone on to perform across the US and UK, into Europe and on to the likes of Japan, Australia, and Taiwan. He has played and shared stages with the likes of John C. Reilly, Becky Stark, John Doe, Juliana Hatfield, PJ Harvey, as well as John Reilly & Friends whilst his previous releases has led to his songs being covered by artists such as Chris Thile, Silje Nes, Emily & Christy, and Mice Parade. Collaborations with Gregory Page in a duo called American Folksingers and with Angela Correa in the duo Les Shelleys which led to a Fat Cat Records released album in 2010 has also marked his career to date. All has added to the acclaim and stature of Brosseau earned by his own creativity which the new album again enhances.

      Released via Crossbill Records USA /Tin Angel Records and produced by Sean Watkins (Nickel Creek), Grass Punks takes tom-brosseaulittle time in gripping attention and a swiftly growing appetite with opener Cradle Your Device. From the dark heavy bass strum and melodic caresses around the mellow voice of Brosseau which opens up the track, an addictive potency frees its enticement to wrap around the senses and imagination. There is an eagerness and almost punk simplicity to the track which is impossible to ignore or resist, and admittedly generally move on from without a couple of replay hits before entering into the rest of the album. It is a dramatically virulent and emotive delve into a technology hampered relationship and the pinnacle of the album which instantly puts pressure on the rest of the release.

   It is a challenge most prove to be up for as after the relaxed temptation of Stuck On The Roof Again makes an enjoyable persuasion the combined lures of Tami and Today Is A Bright New Day brings reactions back up to another eager level. The first of this pair is a softly spoken increasingly infectious melodic breeze upon the ears; vocal harmonies and the poetic elegance of the guitars blending for a delightful enterprising and contagious caress. Its successor is more of a slow burner in its persuasion. Certainly it makes an appealing entrance and initial allurement but it is as passion and melodic intensity increases just a few degrees in warmth and energy that the song comes alive and strolls to almost anthemic choruses which simply invigorate the emotions.

    Both Love High John the Conqueror Root with its XTC/Andy Partridge like guitar and melodic enterprise laced with an intriguing amount of discord and Running from Zombies which simultaneously seduces and smothers to make you feel trapped and liberated such its close quarters melodic persuasion and brewing intensity, next give the imagination a blaze of impressive stimulus to devour and enjoy. They make light of the plateau set by the first song to rival it in strength and invention if not in contagion. From here on in though, the album for personal tastes does not lead the emotions to the same depths as bred by earlier tracks. Songs like Gregory Page of San Diego and I Love to Play Guitar are more than decent and skilfully sculpted pieces of songwriting and presented beautifully but fail to trigger anything more than satisfaction beyond the ears. The same applies to closing song We Were Meant to Be Together which ensures the album comes to a strong and passionate conclusion yet escapes sparking any lingering hunger for itself.

     Grass Punks is a release of two halves in many ways but one pleasing and creative adventure which entertains and impresses overall. When it is at its full potency the album is a captivating gem whilst the moments which do not spark up, what are again just personal tastes and needs, still only show a class and imaginative craft which reveals Tom Brosseau as a folk artist certain to continue to stretch and invigorate the genre.

http://www.tombrosseau.com/

https://www.facebook.com/tom.brosseau.7

7/10

RingMaster 20/01/2014

  Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Mark McCabe – A Good Way To Bury Bad News

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    One man with his acoustic guitar and a few endearing additives along the way to add to the potency of the emotive endeavour, A Good Way To Bury Bad News the new album from Mark McCabe is a thoroughly accomplished and often magnetic presence with the folk heart of a continual ballad and the occasional outbreak of restrained melodic rock. It is an easily engaging release which reinforces the potency and stature already earned by the Scottish singer songwriter and though it is hard to say it is offering anything dramatically new it has an individual presence and emotive strength which at times sets a stirring spark within the passions.

     The melancholic and often dramatically emotive lyrical thrust of his songs as on the album are said to come from the Aberdeen hailing McCabe’s lonely days at University where he first began writing songs with his acoustic guitar. He recorded debut album Is That Really How You Feel? in 2009 and spent plenty of time playing around mainland Europe, for which he relocated to Paris, in its support. Shows with the likes of Frank Turner, PJ Bond, Asptai, The Flatliners, Chris T-T and many more followed before he returned to Scotland in 2012. Sold out shows with again Turner came next as well as festival appearances and a tour with Oxygen Thief before undertaking a US tour down its East coast with After The Fall, Anchors, and Antillectual. Using 2013 to concentrate on writing and working on his second album, McCabe now unveils the Cats? Aye! Records released A Good Way To Bury Bad News and it is confident to say fans and many more will be elated with its craft and skilled temptation.

     Released January 20th with a European tour to support its arrival, the album opens with the thirty second or so Summer In Album ArtworkScotland Is But A Word. Plain and decent it sets the climate for the Scottish landscaped melancholy set to consume and inspire ahead before the following Doubts emerges from its closing to continue the emotional reflection. The track makes a coaxing start but soon elevates its pull with thumping beats and a stringed breath which is soon soaking the tale with magnetic shadows. A brewing intensity raises its call as the song progresses, the rhythms sturdier and military in combat to add greater tension and enticement the longer the song plays, whilst the vocals of McCabe are strong and expressively powerful to further the potency thought it is the seduction provided by the violin of Gillian Ramsay which steal the passions predominantly in what is an impressive and compelling song.

     Easy For Me To Say with its country twang and skittish rhythms makes an immediate impression rising to another absorbing incitement, the Scottish lilt of McCabe’s vocals enjoyable alongside the again violin provoked stroll which eagerly breaks out from within the emotional angst. For personal tastes when McCabe brings in extra flavours and sounds whilst lifting tempo and intensity simultaneously, the album catches fire but that appetite is never quite fulfilled, just individual teases brought to a solemn end by songs like Crutches. This is not to say that the skilfully crafted and presented track is carrying any real faults, just lacking the same spark but again it is down to personal wants and needs primarily.

    The lively Catch The Wind with a bordering on feisty element to everything from the drums of Sam Henley and electric guitar of Matthew Morris alongside McCabe’s acoustic prowess, scoops up the emotions and appetite in its refreshing melodrama soaked hands. It has an air of fellow Scottish artist Letters to it and provides one of the highlights of the album with its folk rock/pop excellence. The irresistible lure of the track is matched by its successor Welcome Party, a less rampant but still energetically enthused ramble through heart felt and shadowed doused thoughts and emotions. Both tracks draw the imagination and personal thoughts deeper into the album and thus into the same elements of McCabe, providing further reason to be fully enticed by the release.

    The trio of This City And I Have A Lot In Common, That Time I Almost Killed Martin, and Being Lost Presents You With A Better Chance Of Being Found lets the keen impetus of the release and reactions slip though not one of the three is a proposition to find any real faults with; again it is just that missing fuse and kindling for the same enthused responses as spawned by the previous pair of songs. It is clear though that each provides an emotionally coloured canvas that will find a hunger waiting within folk and melodic songwriter bred passions.

    The best song on the album is the irresistible My Disguise Is Better Than Yours though it has to be said, and surely by mere coincidence, the track is at times a very incestuous cousin to I Melt With You, the Modern English hit from the eighties. Nevertheless it is an infectious and captivating slice of rock pop which provides melodic bait and fiery energy which simply sets those awaiting passions ablaze. A definite single of the future, it is the perfect temptation for the album

   The closing Join The Crowd is a final piece which sounds like it was recorded on the local bar stage; a union of voice and nagging guitar bolstered by strong group vocals and harmonies including those of Grant George who often provides great backing vocals across A Good Way To Bury Bad News, leaving a lingering allurement on the ears. There is very little to put up against the album to temper all the positives and persuasions offered except those singular things to this reviewer, something not really relevant as you assess whether to take the plunge. Mark McCabe provides an engaging and personal view into his music and life, an invitation to be honest we can only recommend trying.

http://markmccabe.co.uk/

http://markandhisguitar.bandcamp.com/releases

7.5/10

RingMaster 17/01/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Common Tongues – Beasts

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UK indie folk band Common Tongues continue to impress with their releases and now look at the end of the year with another thoroughly enjoyable single. Beasts is a magnetic little slice of melodic enticement, a song which reinforces all the good work built through previous unveilings and confirms the rising stature of the Brighton band.

From the release of their outstanding debut, the Jumping Ships single of 2011, Common Tongues has grabbed the imagination of fans and media alike across their live performances and releases. 2013 though has been their biggest year to date, the Solitary Thinker single starting it off in impressive style. The band built on that with critically acclaimed performances at the Secret Garden Party and Cambridge Folk Festival, as well their own successful shows and recently playing support for The Villagers. Now Beasts ensures the year comes to a pleasing close for the band and their fans.

An emotive ambience spreads around the ear at first instantly joined by the impressive vocals. It makes a compelling introduction to Beasts, a start which is enhanced by the slow dark call of the bass and gentle vocal harmonies, both eager yet restrained. With keys and guitars stepping forward with a suggestive breeze and country twang respectively, the song is soon filling the imagination and emotions with a mesmeric array of small but distinct twists and musical turns within a folk bred enterprise. The song never erupts into the festivities hinted at but just tenderly coaxes the senses and passions to enlist in its magnetic persuasion.

Beasts is a fully enticing treat, maybe not the strongest release from the band but one which continues with strength the impressive fascination of Common Tongues.

http://www.commontongues.co.uk

7.5/10

RingMaster 09/11/2013

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Ann Scott – Venus To The Sky

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Wrapped in the warm and mesmeric tones of Irish singer songwriter Ann Scott from within songs which equally transfix with seductive elegance and smouldering beauty upon her latest release, it is very easy to see why the artist has been richly acclaimed in her homeland and beyond. Her new album Venus To The Sky is a magnetic persuasion, one which toys with and evokes the imagination into exploring self-reflective climes as well as those offered from inside the ten track evocation. It is a masterful release which has attention and emotions lit from start to finish, and appetite for the darkly sirenesque charms of Scott dipped in hunger.

From her well-received debut album Poor Horse, Dubliner Scott has been no stranger to acclaim as she forged a position of being one of the Ireland’s most creative and unique emerging artists. Her blend of folk and indie pop imagination has seen her twice nominated in the best female category for the Irish Meteor Awards and the albums We’re Smiling and Flo garnering her an ever increasing and potent critical acclaim and greedily growing fan base. Live she has also earned a striking reputation, the sharing of stages with the likes of Patti Smith, Howe Gelb, and Fairport Convention whilst her collaborative projects and touring duties with a great many has only increased her stature. Fourth album Venus To The Sky finds Scott fronting a full band and stepping in to even greater pastures of shadowed aural dreamlike textures and lyrical adventure. Co-produced with Karl Odlum and with a line-up of Dave Hingerty, Kim Porcelli, Katherine Atkinson, Gemma Hayes, and Katell Keineg helping bring her songs into compelling realisation, the album makes a thrilling persuasion which plays within the realms of riveting to irresistible with every breath it takes.

The song Hoola opens up the release with bewitching guitar crafted ambience and a slowly beckoning melodic invitation. It is instantly a Ann-Scotthaunting lure to which attention is inevitable and full focus given once the vocals of Scott enter to caress the ears. Her voice is a smooth and mouth-watering melodic flame but one which is emphasised even more in other tracks as having keen adventure to its invention like her music. With repetition a contagious air to a harmonically droning enchantment the track is an enthralling start for the album one which is lifted another level by the following You To Me. A lone guitar strokes the ears first before soon being joined by Scott, her voice finding an organic texture which is as honest as the narrative it portrays. With restrained military rhythmic juggling skirting the vocals and guitar, there is an undefined familiarity about the song which adds to its instant appeal whilst the building spires of rock bred emotive and intensive melodic fire only provides a stronger pleasure to eagerly enjoy.

Both Unite and Stripes offer their individual temptations to continue the grip of the album. The first has an atmospheric embrace and impacting emotional wash which reminds of the A Forest era of The Cure. Aligned to the vocals which play like a mix of Tanya Donelly and Dolores O’Riordan, the song again pushes levels to be backed firmly by its successor, the track a melodic flight with a plumage of melancholic strings and harmonic grace which dances tenderly with the senses whilst coaxing the imagination into a delicious seduction.

The opening bass sway of Joy again reminds of The Cure in many ways, its throaty respect the major vein to a weave of emerging poignant stimulation which again hold senses and thoughts tightly. Like the album it is fair to say it is a bit of a slow burner, more textures and shadows being discovered the more company you allow it with greater awards given in return. It is the same with the sultry simmer of Coming Up and the slow winding kisses of For The First Time, the two songs offering a mesmeric contact which is only a tip of their depths and need time to immerse within, something easy to do such the initial arousing allurement they tease with.

Solemn is another track which took time to fully persuade, its country laced folk bait not immediately convincing for personal tastes but the song evolving from there, whilst still employing that spice, into a wholly enticing encounter with guitars and vocals especially beguiling. There is no need to wait for the glory of next up All About Love to engulf ears and passions. The song is a magnificent slice of enchanted pop, its golden breeze of melodic wonder a breath-stealing sunset of craft and ingenious enterprise which seduces the emotions into an evocative frenzy of pop alchemy. It is easily the best moment on the album in an expanse of only impressive songs and alone shows why Scott is thought of as one of the most exciting emerging artists.

Completed by the celestial dream cast fascination of Stars, the song a final enchantment, Venus To The Sky is a full bodied temptress which leaves only intensive pleasure in its wake. Though the album never explodes into the fire it sometimes suggests is waiting, Ann Scott leaves satisfaction full to the brim with songs which tell the most arresting stories lyrically and musically.

http://www.annscott.net/

8.5/10

RingMaster 28/10/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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