Pillar Point – Self Titled


    Creating an immersive melancholic waltz for feet, thoughts, and emotions, the debut self-titled album from US electronica project Pillar Point is a fascinating captivation with a persistent almost niggling seduction which encloses the imagination in an evocative and reflective embrace whilst sparking the urge to shuffle and lift limbs. It is not a release to ignite a major fire in the belly but instead it simmers and smoulders earning a lingering respect and appetite towards its open invention.

    Pillar Point is the solo project of Seattle musician Scott Reitherman, an artist already known for his involvement with indie-pop outfit Throw Me the Statue. Exploring similar electronic textures and sounds to that band, Reitherman ventures into darker shadows and deeper emotive corners, tempering it with a melodic dance of imagination upon his solo release. Uniting with long-time collaborator and producer Charlie Smith for the Polyvinyl Record Company released album, Reitherman takes Pillar Point and the listener on a fascinating soar through crystalline atmospheres and sirenesque electro embraces, an adventure equally unafraid to step into personal reflective shadows.

     The album opens with the masterful Diamond Mine, the song a weave of electronic alchemy honed into an enthralling flame of melodic enticement. From its first caress of vintage sounding synthesizer the song is seducing the imagination, the mellow falsetto leaning vocals of Reitherman adding to the warm suasion. Dark bass tones politely groan from within the flames, beats adding potent jabs to cast a little further darkness to the sunspot of a song. It is an absorbing entrance and stroll but one which shows its true toxicity with the exceptional chorus. As it hits, discord invites itself to the mesmeric party and immediately cast a dark irresistible glaze to proceedings vocally and musically. It attaches its claws like a mix of very early Ultravox and Thomas Dolby filtered through the dark intimidation of Joy Division. It is a scintillating moment in a terrific start to the album, one it never manages to emulate again.

     The following infection soaked Eyeballs and the celestial Cherry give it a strong go though, the first an eager energetic bound of guitar teasing and mischievous rhythms within an electro cloud with as much tendency to haunt and shadow emotions as it has to seduce them. Its successor washes over ears with an ethereal breath and temptation which again mixes melancholy and warmth into an emotive sailing of the imagination. Like its predecessor the song is awash with an infectious bewitchment which lingers and inspires long after its departure.

     Black Hole steps up next with its rhythmic bait poised and ready to hypnotise from its first second, the ear clipping beats a constant provocation within a tantalising electronic entrapment. Smothering and inspiring thoughts into a personal adventure, the song is a vibrant tempting which has toes and heels itching to join the mix, something which Strangers In Paradise in its noir kissed romance also achieves with a slow steady saunter. As with the opener, there is an eighties synth pop essence to the song especially in its darkest climate, bands like Felt and Comsat Angels brought to mind by the sultry elegance and rhythmic intimidation respectively of the encounter. Its unpredictability and fusion of discord spawned ingenuity with warm melodic blushes is a compelling treat and across the whole album this type of union continually provides the strongest pinnacles of the landscape.

    Both Dreamin’ and Touch expressively glow in the passions, if at times with sluggish lures that stir rather than stoke the fires, whilst the delicious tease of Curious Of You with its electro devilry and contagious harmonies incites the coals to another feverish hunger. It is a track which holds the hands and whirls you around its hazy scenery in one fluid escapade for the duration of the refreshing dance. It is a magnetic incitement matched by the closing slice of mesmerism, Echoes. As its title the song resonates and pulsates relentlessly in the psyche and imagination, another weave of electronic and melodic beauty coaxed further by the impressive tones of Reitherman.

    The song concludes in fine style a magnetic release, an encounter from Pillar Point which maybe does not cause the passions to erupt but instead invites and persuades them to linger for vast swathes of time long past its farewell…a reward which arguably is the greater and very appealing.



RingMaster 04/03/2014

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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.



RingMaster 24/02/2014

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Rumours – Letters From The Memory Box

Rumours Online Promo Shot

    A fusion of rock and pop created within a melodic caress which easily seduces the imagination, Letters From The Memory Box is a very pleasing attention sparking introduction from UK band Rumours. The debut release from the young emerging quartet, it is fair to say it is not exactly presenting anything new or stretching borders for the ears but with a charm and lingering persuasion to its songs it is hard not to be tempted by the enticing release.

    Formed last year, the foursome of vocalist/guitarist Alex Mcmain, guitarist Neil Oliver, bassist Dan Mur, and drummer Jamie Hadley were soon drawing in a crowd of attention for their sound and live performances with strong support from the likes of Kerrang! Radio’s Alex Baker aiding their emergence. Inspired by the likes of Artist Vs Poet and Fall Out Boy the band as shown by their EP, crafts an instinctive and flavoursome blend of rock energy with pop enticement within openly thoughtful and inventive songwriting. As mentioned their release is not carving out new plateaus but it certainly brings a potency and adventure to its resourceful endeavour.

    Opener Forever Young appears riding bulging rhythms before offering a wash of melodic guitar and vocal temptation. It is aRumours Cover Artwork strong if less than dramatic entrance but one which firmly lures in attention especially as the song opens up its musically poetic arms and fluent harmonic temptation. Like the release, it is not a song to leave jaws hanging in awe but with strong vocals and cultured melodic endeavour it makes an endearing and infectious proposition setting up keen appetite for the following offerings. This aroused intrigue is soon fed wholesomely by the next up treat, Make Believe. From its opening breath ripe hooks are dangled before the imagination and even when it relaxes into a gentle stroll, the song still spears the ears with addictive barbs of rhythmic incitement amidst a melodic weave with similarly contagious bait. With an energy to match its exciting craft, the dynamic stomp of a song grips tighter than its predecessor to reinforce the already potent presence of Rumours whilst confirming the loud whisper suggesting their goodness which has covered the band in recent months.

    If You Could See Me Now is a rousing power of a ballad which again leaves thoughts and emotions satisfied and keenly contented. There is a familiarity to the encounter, something which in varying degrees applies to the whole EP, which arguably denies it reaping the full acclaim it probably deserves but it cannot prevent band and track brewing up another enjoyable melodic proposition. The deceptively anthemic Meet Me Half Way with its evocative narrative of keys is similarly awash with a recognisable if indefinable essence but with sinew built rhythms, jangling guitar temptation, and the ever impressive vocals painting a vibrant and melodically emotive picture alongside those elegant keys, the song seduces from start to finish.

    Both Just A Kiss and Lost Without You provide easily accessible encounters, the first confidently aligning melodic eloquence vocally and musically with a lyrical caress whilst its successor brings a tender reflection wrapped in charm from the keys and guitar which colours the emotive tones and descript brought by Mcmain. Though neither lives up to the earlier tracks the pair still embrace ears with a warm and ultimately persuasive smouldering of infectious melodies and rippling creativity.

     Closing with the acoustically bred Sense Of Direction, a decent enough and enjoyably accomplished if underwhelming song, Letters From The Memory Box is a very satisfying and melodically luxurious treat even if one which does not ignite the passions as intensely as it might. The EP undoubtedly provides enough evidence and quality though, not forgetting pleasure, to predict that Rumours will exploit their obvious potential for very successful and appealing horizons ahead, times we will be continually enthralled by you can only suspect.



RingMaster 02/01/2014

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The Hidden Cameras – Age

AGE album cover

    Providing the sumptuous musical bounty The Hidden Cameras are already recognised for whilst stretching the boundaries further with a spicy array of sounds and styles, Age the new album from the Canadian indie pop band irresistibly seduces and incites the imagination and emotions. It is an expansive and welcomingly invasive evocation which thrillingly drowns the listener in feverish temptation and enthralling colour drenched invention. Every corner, twist, and adventure explored emotionally and aurally, leaves a lingering persuasion and mark whilst Age as a whole shapes itself up as an early melodically sculpted pinnacle of the year.

      The brainchild of the perpetual creative driving force behind the ever enticing project, songwriter/frontman Joel Gibb, The Hidden Cameras has continued to challenge and impress musically and emotionally since being founded in 2001. From debut album Ecce Homo that first year, the Toronto hailing Gibb has pushed boundaries and thoughts through five acclaimed full-lengths with this the sixth being no exception. Igniting a dormant even non-existent music scene in his home city, Gibb became the first Canadian artist to sign with Rough Trade. Now Berlin based, the unique imagination and craft of the man has forged another questioning and spotting of sexual prejudices and social inadequacies in the Evil Evil released Age, a record which is a kind of coming of age investigation with undoubted personal incites and in the words of Gibb an album which “deconstructs my musical roots”.

     That deconstruction gives the expansive flavouring and diversity which openly calls out from Age, and is soon absorbing attention and appetite with opener Skin & Leather. Immediately vocals croon as a brewing electronic shadow looms up from behind their invitation, a potent lure soon aided by guitar stroking and the lyrical voice of Gibbs. It is a gentle and mesmeric start; a warm magnetic bait seizing the imagination easily getting it ready for the impending explosion of bulging rhythms and climactic melodic fire. Instantly contagious and sublimely tempting with the orchestral aspects the band is renowned for weaving an evocative beauty to immerse within without restraint, the song engulfs the listener in a wind of poetic beauty and feisty energy. Not for the last time there is an eighties indie pop essence, the melodic endeavour and almost raging anthemic gloriousness of the song sparking thoughts of bands like The Wild Swans and Bourgie Bourgie.

    Bread for Brat matches the impressive start with its own riveting imagination and incendiary tempting. Its brilliant start of acidic violin swipes alongside a deliciously moody cello coaxing which almost snarls at the ears is irresistible and only strengthens its potency as the smooth and expressive vocals of Gibbs opens up a provocative charm. Thick in drama delivered in a reserved gait though admittedly with a bold attitude, the track is an enthralling and luxurious baroque like encounter which bewitches an already strongly bred hunger before the following pair of Doom and first single from the album Gay Goth Scene add their vital stimulus.

     The first of the pair emerges from a dark brooding affair, synths and orchestral inducements flirting closely with melancholic intensity. Once the melodic electro grace and vocal harmonies spread their warm embraces, the song still cloaked in emotional shadows unveils a heated dance of lively adventure with folk undertones. Not as immediate as other tracks but equally as impacting and thrilling its presence it makes way for its outstanding successor. A song which apparently was written ten years previously and you assume addresses the times in Toronto for Gibbs when he staged what became legendary nights in Churches of the city, the single like its predecessor smoulders as it first comes into view, like a breaking dawn slowly filling the senses and imagination with strong vocals within tender orchestral bait. It is another strong breath of magnetic power which digs deeper with its lure once energy and intent raise their urgency through rapacious beats and vivacious electronic seduction. Add the increasing exertions physically and inventively from the strings and the wonderful wailing witchery of guest artist Mary Margaret O’Hara and Gay Goth Scene makes the most compelling and dramatic incentive for the album.

    The diversity of the release is already in full swing and takes another striking turn with the reggae lilted Afterparty, a track which saunters and breezes through the ears like a combination of the dub craft of Ruts DC meets the reggae seduction of By The Rivers. It is a mesmeric entrapment for thoughts and emotions revealing more of the inspirations which have impacted on Gibbs, more assumedly coming with the next up Carpe Jugular. An eighties seeded alchemy of synth pop and new wave exploration, the song resonates with a toxically infectious electro enticing. It plays like a cross between Heaven 17 and later Dalek I Love You providing a tantalising brightly glowing slice of melodic suasion. Bringing the kind of incandescent and virulently captivating melody driven weaves which marked the songwriting of Martyn Ware and Ian Marsh (Human League/Heaven 17), the song simply romances and invigorates the senses.

     The folkish element returns in Ordinary Over You, a song which also adds drama to rich flames of evocative enterprise in its short presentation, before final track and recently released new single Year of the Spawn brings the release to a stunning conclusion. As with all of the songs there is something engagingly familiar to the sound and heart of the track but this only adds to the fullness of pleasure and satisfaction. With strings and vocals painting an ensnaring allurement alone, a fascination which only increases through the blaze of strings and brass around a heady and sturdy piano scripted emotional narrative, the song is a mouthwatering evocation.

     Age is a magnificent confrontation, an album which makes love to the senses whilst awakening thoughts and emotions to wider issues and drama clad textures. Whether it is the best The Hidden Cameras album to date can be debated but certainly it is at the fore and a real treat to get the year really rolling.



RingMaster 23/04/2014

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Pink Mexico – Pnik Mxeico

Pink Mexico

More magnetic than Charlize Theron skinny dipping and as radiantly shimmering as the waters lapping around the lady’s body, Pnik Mxeico the debut album from Pink Mexico is simply an enthralling sonic glaze upon the senses. A vibrant brew of garage rock and indie pop with healthy essences of grunge, punk, and shoegaze kissed alternative rock, the release is a seductive hug which refreshes the senses and awakens the passions. It falls short of being a classic debut but hits the target dead centre with a thrilling and imagination igniting presence which tantalises and caresses with passion and adventure.

Pink Mexico is the solo project of former Anything But Animals drummer/vocalist Robert Preston, though recently and post album the band has grown in number with the addition of John Chambers. Attempting to “individually capture the sound he had been eager to achieve since pre-puberty”, Preston entered a Brooklyn ‘booze-drenched party basement studio’ with producer/musician Jon Granoff who engineered and mixed the subsequent recordings to emerge as Pnik Mxeico. Self-released by the Los Angeles hailing Preston earlier this year the album now gets its re-appearance through Fleeting Youth Records to charm all those who missed its first sonic caress of the world.

The album opens with Seabird and a sweet haranguing of riffs under soaring falsetto led vocals from Preston. Like a delicious mix of My Bloody Valentine, Jesus and Mary Chain, and Jane’s Addiction with loud whispers of Jan and Dean plus the Strokes, the song immediately taunts the passions to come out and play, which they do with eagerness as the song romps on with a scuzz lilted breath and riveting imagination. There is a familiarity to the song which subsequently pervades the whole release; a feeling of a previously met friend adorned with new melodic and sonic endeavour. The track is garage punk at its most contagious and diverse, a cloak of persuasion the following A Head Full of Slime is as happy with and as inventive in using. With a smaller stride than the opener but just as keen in its appetite to please, the song roams the senses with a mischievous air and vocal attraction which is irresistible.

Both Daisyface and Shrub Fuse continue the impressive start, the first parading a Nirvana like groove from the guitar aside effect clad, harmony kissed vocals and an anthemic rhythmic coaxing whilst the second adds extra garage punk causticity and a rhythmic battering to its sultry stomp of punk pop and shoegaze unity. With teasing keys adding extra devilry and temptation, the song romps with an elegant rabidity recruiting just as hungry reception from ears and heart. By this point on the album though all tracks have individual characters and presences there is a similarly bred and cast essence to their suasion which asks for that extra focus at times which songs and album undoubtedly reward richly for the effort with a full infectiousness to bask in.

The likes of Paperclip Toothpick with its smouldering heat and emotion, and the grunge spawned senses grazing Mold continue the album’s addiction sculpting lure, both almost insidious in their tempting suggesting the devil’s hand or promised souls are involved whilst Hussy Woofer parades a sixties pop flavouring which is often hinted at in previous tracks but has a full flame going here to again excite and inspire the imagination. Thoughts of a union of 13th Floor Elevators and the Everly Brothers comes to mind as the song dances rigorously within the ears as well as at times Black Rebel Motorcycle Club but for all the references sparked, Pink Mexico has a sound which stands uniquely to the band.

The closing acoustic and vocal kiss on the ear Not Alone brings the outstanding release to a potent close, its melodic caressing mesmeric and provocative. Pnik Mxeico is a luscious express of vocal and musical beauty with a raw breath and caustic edge which simply seduces the passions. Simply a must investigate release to end the year.




RingMaster 18/12/2013

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According To You – D€M0 EP

According To You pic

Having been strongly impressed by their 2011 debut EP No Love Lost, there was a definite eager anticipation for what was to follow from the UK indie rock/pop band According To You. The release was a magnetic and virulently infectious introduction fuelled by the instinctive ability to write and create songs which contagiously seduced and thrilled the imagination and passions. It has been a fair wait for the EP’s successor though the band has continued to tease and persuade through their live performances and glimpses of new songs but now the London quartet has unveiled the D€M0 EP making the time between patience well worth offering.

The new release shows the full range of According To You’s ability to seduce or take the listener on a rampaging stomp of energy and infectious melodic rioting. The four tracks making up the D€M0 EP are split evenly with a pair of emotively persuasive ‘croons’ top and tailed by two explosive feet commanding romps of inventive devilry. The release opens with the insatiably compelling Can’t Stop Moving, a full on dance of enterprising festivity and evocative melodic colour. A lone guitar teases the ear first to be soon joined by the strong vocals of Dennie Cook, with harmonic backing from the band, and the thumping beats of drummer Connor O’Shea. It is a rich temptation which once securing attention then explodes into a dramatic blaze of crisp rhythms and epidemically addictive hooks. O’Shea is immense across the track whilst the bass of Jack Tough is a delicious throaty dark shadow amongst the virulent enterprise from the guitars of Cook and Ross Wheatley. Impossible to resist, feet and voice succumb to the temptation offered, the song holding a ridiculously inciting presence. One slight niggle is the at times poor quality of the production on the song, though as the other tracks are fine it may be just down to the digital copy sent over for the review.

Second track I’m Not Alright is a gentler encounter, a melodic heat from the guitars immediately simmering in the air of the song. The vocals of Cook as ever richly impress whilst the heavy dark tones of the bass again add a depth and resonance which only enhances the track and makes the perfect temper and compliment to the otherwise warm embrace. The song is an angst fuelled slice of indie pop with an addictive essence which demands and receives a hungry response from the passions, a slice of sound which those frequenting the so-called important media sculpted charts could learn plenty from.

Taking its Toll slips in an emotion bred ballad next, its acoustic caressing and vocal reflection an entrancing hook soon elevated into an enthralling lure by the suggestive melancholic strings. It is a deceptively simple song but one built on emotional textures and melodic charms which leaves the listener basking in a sensitive piece of skilled songwriting. The vocal production is not quite right to play devil’s advocate with the song but nothing to diminish its majesty.

As mentioned the EP closes in the same energetic way as it starts, final track Here We Go Again one of those irresistible adrenaline driven pop songs that leave you exhausted and greedy for plenty more. An acoustic stroking of the ear is soon immersed in a boisterous stroll of deviously riveting hooks and rhythms, the combination disarmingly effective bait which recruits full enlistment from body, mind, and soul to the track’s glorious spellbinding enticement. The best track of the quartet it is a rampant explosion of charismatic energy and incendiary craft honed into an impossibly captivating and viral pop song.

The D€M0 EP is a magnificent next step in the certain rise of According To You. It might be a slow ascent right now but the release certainly shows that the maturity and evolution of the band’s sound is not a latent endeavour but a fevered fire which will only burn brighter in parallel to the band’s growing recognition you suspect.



RingMaster 07/11/2013

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Warehouse Riots – Skimming Stones


The musical loves of the four members making up UK band Warehouse Riots is as distinctly varied as the flavoursome sound of their new single Skimming Stones. From electro/dance through metal and onto jazz/blues and indie, their likes and influences are wide and though not all spices are openly evident on the song there is a brew conjured that is diverse and irrepressibly invigorating.

From Manchester, the foursome of vocalist/rhythm guitarist Mark Maclean, bassist Andrew Maclean, drummer John Maclean, and guitarist/vocalist Anthony Critchley linked up in 2011. The band itself comes with strong experience from its previous incarnation Francis and Master, a band which won the Streetwaves Unsigned competition in 2009 and got to the final of Live And Unsigned 2010. With a band name inspired by the abandoned building in Wigan where they practised and honed their sound, Warehouse Riots has earned good acclaim for their live shows which recently included supporting American rock band Jeff The Brotherhood on their UK tour. Currently completing their provisionally called Uncomfortable Polar Bear Face debut album with producer Mark Wainwright, the band have unveiled a real temptress for the release with their new single.

Swinging in with its hips swerving to a dance of drum beats and a funk clad bassline, the song instantly beckons full attention and when the guitars add their tease lips are licked in anticipation. The vocals of Mark soon add to the infectiously pleasing sound being unveiled and as the song saunters with warm inviting caresses upon the ear and melodic kisses upon the senses the encounter just gets more exciting and contagious. There is a slight indefinable familiarity to the track which only adds to its appeal and temptation whilst the imaginative enterprise which has the song bringing further unpredictable and magnetic persuasion fuels a real sense of immense promise and future heights for the band.

Irresistible and raucously invigorating with its blend of indie and pop rock with a funk breath, Skimming Stones declares that Warehouse Riots’ album cannot come soon enough.



RingMaster 24/08/2013


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Son of Skooshny – Mid Cent Mod


The collection of songs which made up Lovers Leap of Faith, the debut album from Son of Skooshny, showed a band which could create expressive melodic pop which had character and thoughtful enterprise as well as using the ability to light up feet and emotions. Recorded in 2010 it was a record to put them on the map though arguably things have been quite over the last couple of the years with the band. Now they return with their new EP Mid Cent Mod, a five track release which confirms the early promise and cements the quality shown whilst pushing the band’s sound into another fresh if not dramatically evolved field. Emotive and evocative, it is another fresh and pleasing encounter which pushes further the stature of the project.

Son of Skooshny is the project of Mark Breyer, the vocalist/guitarist of Skooshny from which this band has evolved, and producer-collaborators Steve Refling. With the previous album, the band unveiled a group of impressive songs which basked in guitar pop and sixties teased/seventies spiced melodic. On Mid Cent Mod though it still retains that core essence there is a more restrained almost singer songwriter like quality to the tracks as well as a strong whisper of not exactly country rock but with the guitars breathing a twang and bluesy caress it is a feel not too far away from that southern like murmur.

In the opening track Dizzy it takes a mere moment for the guitars to wrap a smouldering country teasing around the ear whilst the vocals of Breyer offer a mellow and persuasive narrative. The melodies bred by the songwriting engage and at times bewitch around the infectious pop stroll of the track, bass and drums making a steady frame for the rest of the song to lay down their poetic hues. It is an excellent start strikes for top honours on the release but at times it is not given an easy ride as the following Mid-Century Modern proves. The second track opens with the same kind of drawl from the guitar as its predecessor but is soon shaped into its own distinctive presence. A tender and provocative wash of melodies and vocal harmonies embrace ears and thoughts whilst the craft of the musicianship paints another open sunrise of elegant sounds and enterprising textures to seduce and richly satisfy.

Sorry is a sensitive ballad which is toned by what is now the norm on the EP, deep melodic colour and an emotive potency that stirs thoughts and feelings. It is a strikingly composed and delivered song though it struggles to match the heights of the previous songs especially as the release at this point asks for a little more diversity to its body which debatably the son does not bring. That does come with the final pair of tracks starting with Knee Deep. There is a steely glint in the eye of the guitars and song which magnetises ear and senses aided by the excellent kissing brushes of keys and the ever compelling vocals. A track reaping the glories of the earlier album and at moments tantalising with an Echo and the Bunnymen temptation, it is an outstanding encounter igniting the passions once again.

The closing Untold History is not going to be left in the shade though and offers a respectful blaze of guitar heat and rhythmic beckoning which sizzles on the ear whilst lyrics and their delivery spark further use of imagination. It is an excellent conclusion to a rather tasty and exciting release. Probably Mid Cent Mod does not surpass the height of Lovers Leap of Faith but with its slight shift in sound and the skilled invention of its creators it easily stands by its side and suggests even greater things are ahead from the LA hailing Son of Skooshny.



RingMaster 21/08/2013


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Helene Greenwood – The Break EP


Like a fresh breeze across a sultry summer embrace, the vocals and debut EP from Helene Greenwood bring seductive joy on a smouldering emotive landscape. The Break is a five track evocative kiss on senses and thoughts from an artist who enchants and seduces with a craft of songwriting and vocal persuasion which leaves the richest warmth inside as it evokes reflection and imagination.

Hailing from Dover and now Camden, London based, Greenwood initially began her musical career as a contemporary composer studying at The Royal Academy. The birth of her daughter in 2005 led her to exploring her songwriting and more narrative based lyrical music. With a music degree from Royal Holloway under her belt she studied singing with internationally acclaimed singers Nia Lynn and Anita Wardell as well as songwriting with Gretchen Parlato in 2011 at Stanford University. Taking inspiration from the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Björk and Feist as well as jazz singing, Greenwood finally is at the point, ahead of her full-length debut Collectable You, where she is introducing her music to the greater world building on her brewing recognition across venues in London, the lady regularly performing at Proud Galleries in Camden and also at Stanford University Coffee House.

Released on her own label Washaway Records, The Break is a riveting emotional sun of elegance and melodic grandeur brought Screen-Shot-2013-05-22-at-19.14.05in the gentle caress of honest observation lyrically and unfussy beauty musically. Produced by band-member Calum MacColl (son of folk legends Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger) and featuring James Hallawell of The Waterboys on keyboards, as well as Martyn Brabbins (Billy Bragg/Beth Gibbons) on drums and Arnulf Lindler (KT Tunstall) on bass, the five song spark of aural light marks the emergence of a remarkably promising artist.

Opening song Break In Break Out makes a play for the emotions instantly, the vocals of Greenwood a radiating sunspot against a wonderful cello croon from Lindler. It is a melancholic yet vibrant invitation with the keys of Hallawell crafting a classical emotive elegance within the already enthralling hug. Once the song erupts into a full wind of melodic passion the song looks to the skies with colour soaked beauty, the trombone of Jonathan Enright another impacting suasion on thoughts and feelings. It is a wonderful mesmeric start matched more often than not across the rest of the release.

Certainly second song In Between Days stands side by side with its predecessor in potency and glory. A cover of The Cure classic, Greenwood strips down the song to make it her own, so much so that it took more than a few moments to realise what it was. She brings a new strain of melancholia to the songs enthralling glide through the ear with the keys weaving a sensitive and provocative ambience to add to the emotive depth and the guitar of MacColl sculpting its own emotional shelter. The song sways and calls the heart like a courtly temptress but it is the majestic vocals which guides the listener into the richest beauteous climate. The keys are also exceptional as they paint another narrative to share further the heart of the song whilst the drums of Brabbins bring a climatic swell to proceedings as its finale brews in riveting fashion before calming before the last touch of the song, a last gentle brush of its melodic lips.

In The Sunshine and After the Fire continue the aural and perceptive fascination, the first a soulful melodic drift across reflective horizons and equally creative thoughts whilst its successor, an initial duet of vocals and keys, blooms into a jazz lit flame of almost noir shadowed life and inspirational enterprise. It is a stunning song which could soundtrack any life at some point in time, revealing its hope, dark, and reality.

Closing song is another cover, this time of the Johnny Mercer and Rube Bloom written Fools Rush In (Where Angels Fear to Tread). One of our all-time favourite songs we set high demands on any version and though it is arguably the least successful song on the EP, Greenwood again gives it a new fire and bed of sentiment which is impossible to resist, as is the smouldering melodic wrap of her again mouthwatering voice.

The Break EP is one of the most startling introductions of any artist in a long time and Helene Greenwood at the start of what you can only suspect will be a swift ascent of melodic and creative passion spawned innovation. We suggest all hitch a ride now and stand ready to enjoy the forthcoming rewards of the first album Collectable You; we have a feeling it is going to be something special.



RingMaster 11/07/2013

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The Capsules – Northern Lights & Southern Skies

The Capsules

If you are looking for a soundtrack for those sultry summer nights where you lay on the grass staring up at the stars contemplating then Northern Lights & Southern Skies from US electro pop band The Capsules is a more than suitable applicant for the position. It is not an album to ignite any hungry fires in the passions but as an emotive colour for your thoughts and feelings at that moment in time it certainly provides a satisfying backdrop.

Hailing from Kansas originally, now Dallas based, The Capsules emerged out of the band Shallow formed by Julie and Jason Shields, the pair a couple in high school who went on to marry and unite musically. Drummer Kevin Trevino was brought in for the new incarnation of their musical creativity and the trio soon drew strong attention and acclaim through their sounds, recordings, and shows, including fans such as SpongeBob SquarePants creator Steven Hillenburg who asked them to write a song for the show. Northern Lights & Southern Skies comes after three previously successful and well received albums, and shows alongside the likes of The Flaming Lips, Garbage, Mercury Rev, and Low. It sees a different emphasis rather than direction to their music with the band moving away more from guitar sculpted songs to electronic and keys bred persuasions. At times the album is mesmeric company, with the distinct vocals of Julie a warm and eager embrace on the ear, but also it can drift over the senses without any lingering impact, though those moments still wrap a pleasing warm evocative arm around the reflective shoulder.

Opening track Across The Sky instantly brings an eager but restrained stroll of electro pop energy and warm atmospherics 579064_10151282738766346_27646499_naround the ear, the whispering almost stark air of the song a background to the throaty bass enticement and electronic shimmering around the vocals of Julie. Suggested here and reinforced across the album, there is a bewitching lure to her voice which seduces like a mix of Alison Statton (Young Marble Giants/Weekend) and Harriet Wheeler (The Sundays), and musically at times the release also offers glimpses of their bands. It is an enchanting sound which glides through the songs with a sultry narrative to unite with thoughts and emotions whilst musically, especially on this first song, the band envelope her potent delivery with equally persuasive sounds.

     From The Start steps forward next with the bass of Jason a singular lure alongside the voice of Julie before things open up slightly. As heated guitar sculpting lights the smouldering croon of the song and electro snatches tease the gentile ambience it is a pleasing sway of invention which is soon left in its place by the fiery Our Apocalypse. This track sizzles with electro electricity whilst rhythmic provocation is firm if not forceful, but once more the vocals weave their charms around the evocative suggestiveness to offer sirenesque bait from within the song. As with all it is not a song which lays the deepest hooks into the passions but still easily commands attention and full keen focus whilst in its vibrant company.

Through the likes of the cantering With Signs Repeating with its fluidity in creating graceful melodic flames around rhythmic protests, the excellent and tantalising Time Will Only Tell with again the bass and drums framing the melodic temptation with understanding and punchy appetite reminiscent of The Cure, and the post punk tasting Test Drive The Other Side, the album continues to engage the emotions with a sure and confident temptation, the last two of the three highlights of the release.

Where It All Begins is another excellent venture through sky bound exploration, melodic and vocal harmonies an angelic kiss across the irresistibility of the contagious swing and swagger of what is the best song on Northern Lights & Southern Skies. It leaves the senses and passions ignited for arguably the only real time, though consistently the album does leave nothing but energised reactions and pleasure in its wake, the engaging All At Once a definite creator of strong responses to confirm that claim.

Closing on the emotive sophistication of Magnetic Fields, the album provides a more than enriching experience which is easy to return to and pass on to others. The Capsules have not produced a release to leave you burning with fevered desire but for those warm teasing steamy evenings it makes for a very rewarding encounter.



RingMaster 08/07/2013

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