Alex Highton – Nobody Knows Anything

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Whether it is charm or simply mischief which fuels the songs of UK singer songwriter Alex Highton, probably both to be honest, it makes for a thoroughly engaging proposition and his new album one captivating treat. Nobody Knows Anything is a collection of intimate yet easily connectable songs for the imagination and emotions to greedily embrace. The successor to his folk seeded debut album Woodditton Wives Club, the Liverpool hailing Highton has pushed into more jazz and at times dare one say eccentric explorations within Nobody Knows Anything, resulting in a fascinating and almost devilish proposition.

Naming prime inspirations as Sufjan Steven, Here We Go Magic, and Joni Mitchell for his new Gare du Nord released album, Highton has called on an array of musical talent to explore his new songs, long time musical companions double-bass-player Jonny Bridgwood (Morrissey, Kathryn Williams, The Leisure Society) and drummer Howard Monk (Billy Mahonie, The Clientele) joined by the likes of Nancy Wallace (of The Memory Band and The Owl Service), Laura J Martin, and Robert Rotifer (of Rotifer) across the David Dobson produced release.

As soon as the melodic caress of opener You Don’t Own This Life cradles ears, there is open vivacity to the song, especially in the relish which Highton’s distinctive tones seem to have casting every syllable. The track entices even more potently as keys and sultry flames of trombone and clarinet join the narrative, ending on a jazz drenched shuffle which simply ignites ears and an anticipation for what is to come. It is an appetite given a flavoursome dose of fun through It Falls Together, a mischievous canter of melodic revelry and vocal adventure. Instantly there is a potent scent of 12 Stone Toddler to the imagination and revelry of the track whilst the discord spiced keys provide an early XTC flavouring, all very welcome and thrilling in the inventiveness of Highton’s verging on avant-garde creativity in the song. It is an early pinnacle of the album, joyful harmonies and tenacious revelry all adding their colour to the dance before the following mellow reflection of Panic takes over. In a synth cast celestial climate veined by blues kissed and seventies spiced melodies, the song floats and resonates over the senses. It swiftly awakens the imagination, its visual tones magnetic scenery to which electro and rhythmic enterprise add their creative fun.

Through both the gentle croon of Sunlight Burns Your Skin and She Had This Sister, Highton offers varied and enthralling melodic proposals, the first a simultaneously melancholic and vibrant weave of twilight lit jazz infused temptation and the second, a folky acoustically bred kiss on ears with a seductive swing and tangy groove to its smoulder. Though neither matches the romp of previous and the more experimentally infused songs for personal wants, each leaves a lingering hug and easy to accept invitation to soar their elegant landscapes again.

   The rich hazy atmosphere and emotive enticement of Kills is next and again offers plenty to warrant a constant return to its warm seduction, the vocal union of Highton and Nancy Wallace pure magnetism, a lure matched by the melodic aesthetics and emotion of The Evil That Men Do, where this time the cello of Claire Hollocks and additional vocals of Bonnie Dobson add a riveting glamour to the song’s mournful countenance. The pair has ears and thoughts tightly embraced in their reflective beguiling, but soon have to give sway to the bubbly provocative pop of Fear and its pulsating magnetism.

I Only Asked You to Try and Somebody Must Know Something each add individual drama and forlorn intimacy to the expressive depth and uniqueness of the album before the instrumental majesty of the album’s title track takes ears and imagination on a provocative fall through emotive structures and melodically flirtatious adventure. It is a trigger for thoughts and feelings to play and invent before relaxing into the welcoming humid embrace of the outstanding Mephisto, another merger of folk and jazz filtered through a resourceful vat of discord mystique.

Nobody Knows Anything is completed by the glowing tempting of It’s, a bewitching end to a powerfully engaging release. Certainly some songs leap out over others for personal tastes but every moment upon Alex Highton’s album is an exciting opening into the adventure driven heart of its author and a tonic for ears and emotions.

Nobody Knows Anything is available now via Gare Du Nord @ http://alexhighton.bandcamp.com/album/nobody-knows-anything

http://www.alexhighton.co.uk/

RingMaster 09/12/2014

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The Reverse – No, I Don’t Want to See Your Stupid F**king Band

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Hailing from London, UK band The Reverse showed themselves quite handy at crafting strongly persuasive and magnetic songs with the release of their Kind Words For Cruel Times album around a year ago. Merging the drama of folk with indie inventiveness, the band’s sound is a gentle and welcoming tempting which does not startle but certainly entices keen attention. Now the band returns with new single, No, I Don’t Want to See Your Stupid F**king Band, providing more of the same charming enterprise which lit their full-length but with even greater colour and potency to its creative flame.

Formed by vocalist/guitarist Nathan Loughran and drummer Jason Moran, The Reverse was eventually completed by guitarist/backing vocalist Sam Hartley and after a previous bassist, James McKeown (ex-lead singer of The Great Divide and The Colours). A triplet of well-received EPs from debut A Clean Incision in 2006 through to Shutterspeed the following year, and in 2008 My Lifelong Psychological Experiment, reinforced the band’s emerging live reputation. It was the Graham Dominy (The Rifles, Razorlight, Ray Davies, Supergrass) recorded and mixed Kind Words For Cruel Times which opened up a broader attention, its success matched by shows with the likes of Klaxons, The Wave Pictures, Lupen Crook, Sgt Buzfuz, and Carina Round. The new single shows another engaging step forward for the quartet and you suspect with a similarly blossoming reaction.fucking_band_front

No, I Don’t Want to See Your Stupid F**king Band opens on a coaxing acoustic strum, the guitar casting a welcoming melody as Loughran begins the narrative bred from experiences and obstacles all emerging bands come up against. With lively yet controlled beats courting magnetic keys and harmonies, the song shuffles and tempts with a radiant weave of melodic prowess as bass and guitar lay down their own highly persuasive bait, the whole mix a gentle and unassuming song musically, compared to the lyrical altercation, but textured with refined and resourceful enterprise to spark the senses.

No, I Don’t Want to See Your Stupid F**king Band is a soothing seduction with a snapping title and lyrical premise, a song which reconfirms The Reverse as a band to keep good attention upon. It is not going to set your world on fire but the track is certainly going to give it a satisfying glow.

No, I Don’t Want to See Your Stupid F**king Band is available now @ https://thereverse1.bandcamp.com/track/no-i-dont-want-to-see-your-stupid-f-king-band

www.thereverse.co.uk

RingMaster 09/12/2014

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Deer Johnson – Another Day

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Seductively melancholic yet inescapably bracing and at times anthemically uplifting, Another Day the new single from Swiss duo Deer Johnson is a magnetic captivation luring attention time and time again. Consisting of Philip Deer and Toby Johnson, two friends on the evidence of their new single capturing a fresh vibrancy and creative energy to acoustic music with their creative presence, Deer Johnson are about to take their sound around the UK in a series of headlining dates and shows supporting folksters Moulettes. The single is released to coincide with the tour and the perfect taster of shows and introduction to the band.

Another Day opens on a caress of guitar, a coaxing unveiling an immediately evocative melody with more than a shadowed quality of The Cure to it. Vocals swiftly join the emotive drama with an expressive tone as suggestive in hue as the colourful intimacy of the guitars now courting its emerging narrative. With subdued yet pungent beats and a wonderful dark bass tone to the encounter, the song croons and seduces with elegant mystery and emotional expression. With both guitars and voices entwining their distinctive but superbly blended flavoursome qualities, Another Day simply mesmerises as it sparks ears and imagination. All the time there is an underlying almost anthemic essence to the song too which in turn only has thoughts and emotions fully roused.

If Another Day is anything to go by, British audiences are in for a real treat this December as Deer Johnson hit the British roads, and the band itself destined to a very healthy reception.

Another Day is available now.

Deer Johnson Tour dates:

10th Dec                   Wolverhampton – Robin 2 (Supporting)

11th Dec                   Wakefield – Unity Hall (Supporting Moulettes)

12th Dec                   Liverpool – Lomax

13th Dec                   Bury – The Met (Supporting Moulettes)

14th Dec                   Sheffield – South Sea Live

https://www.facebook.com/deerjohnsonmusic

RingMaster 08/12/2014

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Slice Of Life – Love And A Lamp-Post

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Since co-founding and being the raging roar of punk band Crass in 1977, Steve Ignorant has challenged and examined life and society with voracious intent. It is a constant part of his art whether music or in other mediums, a skilled confrontation which never loses its potency it seems, certainly taking his new band and release, Love And A Lamp-Post ,as the freshest example. Slice Of Life is an acoustic project employing poetry and spoken pieces within a maybe best described as folk street punk embrace. It is a fascinating window upon life, a snarl at prejudices and wrongs with gentle personal contemplation. The album ebbs and flows in potency at times but at no point are ears and thoughts less than thoroughly involved and wanting more.

Slice of Life sees Ignorant linking up with pianist/vocalist Carol Hodge who also worked with Ignorant on the Last Supper project, guitarist Pete Wilson who again was part of Last Supper, and upright bassist Lucas Martin. The result is a release which swiftly sparks the imagination as it makes its reflections and incisive commentary on a life we are all part of in some form or other.

The album’s title track starts things off, a caress of acoustic guitar soon lying with a pungent expression of keys and dark bass shadows as vocals provide the crooning narrative. It is a tantalising proposition, melodies a tangy hue to the plainer but no less magnetic and eventful tones of Ignorant. There is a drama to the lyrical and musical character of the song which is more black and white TV play like than cinematic but certainly a visually sparking essence soaking the whole album and is reinforced as the opening of next up Killing Time lures with a smiling street bred skit. It reminds of the Johnny Wore Black album Walking Underwater from earlier this year which employs samples taken from a documentary based on the streets and real everyday life. As the opening to the second song leads into its captivating heart, the track also reminds and confirms something Ignorant said about Love And A Lamp-Post recently; “Years ago I read a book called Brighton Rock, for days the atmosphere of that story stayed with me and I’ve always wanted to create an album that would have the same effect on people.” Blessed with siren-esque harmonies from Hodge which seduce as this time Ignorant’s expression of piano keys colour his potent words, the song makes it easy for thoughts to slip into the small and imposing creative theatre and inescapable honesty of its incitement. The track mesmerises the imagination much as its successor Happy Hour with its initial sixties like melodic temptation leading to a more sultrily exotic 86701stroll of radiant keys and smouldering chords. The piano of Hodge is a lingering tempting providing rosy colour to the rawer reality of vocals and seductive bass.

Next up is You, a short spoken prose piece pointing an uncompromising finger at portions of society and those who govern it. Thoughts bring forth references to the recently released Waging War album from UK punks The Duel, which used a similar ingenuity to matching success between and to open songs. It is a potent piece benefitting from its brief presence, a short sharp poke before Here I Stand steps forward with its guitar and vocal questioning. It is richly effective bait for thoughts but spreads further into the passions with the delicious flames of trumpet provided by Dave Land.

Eleven Chimneys is like its predecessor a song which opens with strong appeal but finds greater compelling persuasion as other elements join the spine of provocative vocals, this time it being the temptress like harmonic breeze of Hodge, her voice as virulent a lure for ears as her rigorous piano charm and Ignorant’s lyrical prowess. The song serenades as it opens its personal angst, bass and guitar adding varied shades to the elegant yet unfussy nature of the excellent encounter.

From the wonderfully anthemic The Way Things Are where everything resourcefully colludes to raise an emotional call to arms, the album moves into the riveting spoken tale of The Home Coming. It is a sublimely descriptive portrait of a lonely soul, memories and bleak hues of life the persistent scenery for the heart of the track’s protagonist. With slim but complimentary hints of piano, the piece is a powerful moment on the album, though not one personally to explore with every listen of Love And A Lamp-Post, more a moment to use sparingly to keep its potency at full strength.

Final track Slice of Life leaves imagination and ears basking in another masterfully crafted embrace of low key but vivacious melodies with passion fuelled and uncompromising words. The song is an irresistible finale to an enthralling and thoroughly enjoyable release. There has been no diminishing of Steve Ignorant’s discontent and ability to challenge society’s ills over the past three decades and more, it just comes with broader invention and absorbing adventure as proven by the excellent Love And A Lamp-Post, which as the band name says is just a warts and all Slice Of Life.

Love And A Lamp-Post is available now via Overground Records @ https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/love-and-a-lamp-post/id925320410

https://www.facebook.com/SteveIgnorantSliceoflife

RingMaster 02/2/2014

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Carousels & Limousines – Strange Love EP

 

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There is an ethereal charm or should that be mischief to the sound of UK quintet Carousels & Limousines, a flavoursome and fascinating breath which is as unworldly as it is earthy ensuring every song is as distinctly different as they are united in transfixing the senses. Certainly going by new EP Strange Love this is so, a four track proposition which lies engagingly on ears like a morning mist and captures the imagination with haunting drama. It is an encounter which has moments that simply seduce without restraint and other times where it has to work to grip the same attention, but ultimately it is a release which inspires a raw appetite to explore Carousels & Limousines even more.

Hailing from Bath, the band began in 2012, emerging from previous guise Grace which had local success with the Stealing Kisses EP. A change in the band’s line-up seems to have been the trigger to new adventure and bigger things within the band which, to condense things, changed their name and entered the studio with producer Richard Causon (Kings Of Leon, Tom Jones, Rufus Wainwright) to record debut album Home To Andy’s, which was released to keen responses in the June of last year. Now the band has moved up a gear and temptation with the Strange Love EP which has also spawned the AA-sided single Superman/Strange Love, this and the EP two compelling doorways into the creative magnetism and sonic haze of Carousels & Limousines.

The release opens with Superman and swiftly as it emerges from its sonic mist with a rhythmic coaxing it has ears and thoughts fully engaged. The bass of Finn McNulty courts the first caress cadizcd130[1]of guitar with a shadow clad tempting whilst the reserved beats of Martyn James almost tease as they mark the entrance of the fine and expressive vocals of Sam Gotley. His tone as the sounds around him is sultry, almost bewitched at times, instantly adding to the smouldering psychedelic lure of the song. Breaking into feistier melodic rock as the guitars of Jamie Wales and Gotley align with the keys of Dominik Sky, the track vivaciously sizzles before returning to its warm flirtation, starting the inescapable temptation all over again. With a sixties air and seventies hue to its colour, the song is a delicious start to the release, alone trapping thoughts and ears into wanting more.

The following Don’t Look Down steps forward with a bluesy Americana toning to its gentle stroll, bass and voice again the early persuasion before guitars and rhythms open up rich but still reserved persuasion. A warm glow of keys brings a mesmeric enticing to the song’s easy going proposal and though it never comes close to impressing and lighting fires as its predecessor, primarily down to personal tastes on its style of music, the song with its potent theatre does little to defuse the urge to investigate the band further.

She’s In The Water steps up next and straight away has intrigue in full flow with its pulsating heavy rhythmic tones and alluring group vocal calls. It is bred from the same seeds as its predecessor but there is a mesmeric croon and tantalising, almost sinister, presence to its enterprise and imagination which especially shines in the chorus, a moment which almost ripples over the senses as the disturbed surface of its title’s action would suggest. The track easily worms under the skin and memory, making frequent returns in thoughts on its own whim even away from the EP.

The release is closed by the EP’s title track, and second song on the new single. Strange Love is an acoustic affair, guitar and voice combining to seduce whilst a Pixies-esque breeze emerges in the harmonies and surf rock like wiry melodies which roam the background. As the last track it is a riveting nagging, relentless temptation which lurks and lingers long pass its company stealing the biggest slice of attention and passions on the release.

The Strange Love EP was not an instant persuasion it is fair to say, though it had plenty to enlist an immediate and eager return, but is an emerging melodic provocateur providing a thoroughly captivating enjoyment. Carousels & Limousines deviously infest ears and thoughts with their sounds, sometimes the realisation only coming long after its departure.

The Strange Love EP and AA-sided single is available now via Pulteney Records.

http://www.carouselsandlimousines.co.uk/

RingMaster 18/11/2014

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Rivertairs – Jack

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Flirting with the imagination like a mix of Common Tongues, Tankus The Henge, and Johnny Foreigner, the debut single from UK band Rivertairs is an introduction which does not instantly make your mind up about their presence but certainly ensures there is an appetite to hear more of their obvious potential. Carrying a flavoursome blend of varied rock spices as dramatic hues of folk rock and indie pop enterprise add their lures to the aural shuffle, Jack is a captivating and seriously intriguing proposition.

Hailing from Manchester, Rivertairs first explored their expressive and expansive design of sound with the 2013 three-track demo, Fool’s Parade. It was supported and followed by numerous shows across the north of England which included sharing stages with bands like Space. Now ready to break into a broader spotlight the band is releasing their first single, a “tongue-in-cheek vignette on the infamous Jack the Ripper”.

Jack opens with swarthy strikes of guitar which in turn are joined by a dark bassline and crisp beats. There is an instant creative and striding swagger to the song which grows in boldness as the vocals begin unveiling the song’s narrative and melodic flames wrap around the infectious enterprise. There are essences of folk and indie pop to the rock based offering and even more varied colour to the imagination spicing up every tenacious sway and seductive caress on show.

The track almost prowls with its adventure and has a theatrical relish to its inventive mischief which keeps ears and imagination gripped and intrigue greedy. As mentioned one song is never enough to decide if a band is for the long-term in thoughts and emotions but Jack has plenty to make Rivertairs a prospect needing thorough exploration ahead and an enjoyable companion right now.

Jack is available as a free download from www.rivertairs.com now!

RingMaster 11/11/2014

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Chris Flynn – Falling to Pieces (Dumped)

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The successor to the acclaimed Pandora, new single Falling to Pieces (Dumped) from UK singer songwriter Chris Flynn makes another potent and ear catching step in his emergence. As expressively dramatic as it is melodically seductive, the song clasps imagination and emotions in an intimacy that all can relate too whilst enveloping ears in a refreshing almost theatrical adventure. It is not a demanding song but makes a forceful persuasion through the almost intense invention of the songwriting and its broody sounds, resulting in one infectiously enticing statement.

Hailing from Manchester, Flynn has earned a reputation as one of the cities most talented musicians over the past couple of years or so, a claim certainly reinforced by last single Pandora and now Falling to Pieces (Dumped). Drawing on inspirations from the likes of Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, The Smiths, and Brecht, his music and lyrical prowess embraces everyday life and relationships in a manner which as mentioned earlier builds an intimacy with the listener. With a live presence which has seen him as a special guest for artists such as John Fullbright and songwriter Martin G Stephenson, as well as play a host of festivals including Kendal Calling, Ramsbottom Festival, Greater Manchester Fringe Festival, and Salford Music Festival alongside his own headlining shows, Flynn continues to build a presence which is not shy of drawing praise and keen attention. Falling to Pieces (Dumped) will only add to his rising stock whilst again showing more diversity and adventure in his songwriting. Ahead of an album produced by Paul Mortlock and featuring guests such as drummer Pete Marshall from Paul Heaton’s band and hammond organist Christian Madden, the new single only invites closer attention and ignites richer enjoyment for the creatively provocative artist.

With Dickon Kyme-Wright, Norman Cooke, and Mortlock in his band for the single, Flynn instantly grips ears as his voice makes the first touch in sound and narrative. Swiftly alongside him a melancholic bass slowly lumbers with angst whilst a guitar spreads its enticement of melodic reflection. It is a thoroughly captivating start which only increases its seduction and enterprise as keys add their fiery colour and beats accentuate their already crisp punctuation to the personal drama colouring the riveting proposition. Its folk seeds are unmistakeable yet there is an underlying muscle and tension to the track which is rock spawned and almost punk in air.

Falling to Pieces (Dumped) is a temptress of a proposal, almost at odds in flirtation and invention with the lost love and emotional turmoil of the lyrical portrait. Most of all it is a thrilling new stride in the praise soaked ascent of Chris Flynn and an anticipation sparking teaser for the forthcoming album.

Falling to Pieces (Dumped) is available digitally from November 3rd. For more info check out http://www.chrisflynn.org.uk

RingMaster 02/11/2014

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