Juggling Wolves – Self Titled

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With first single Mercury an impressive, thickly flavoured appetiser a few months back, anticipation for the Juggling Wolves debut album has been eagerly building as the weeks passed by. The song was a potent and fascinating encounter, its potential and tapestry of sound and emotion alone enough to awaken a keen appetite, but now in hindsight it was only a mere whiff of the majesty that is Juggling Wolves the album.

Every track upon the album is an immersive exploration, a kaleidoscope of invention and fluid evolution of sound which takes ears and thoughts on a transfixing melodic flight. The band cast a sonic narrative which can be described as progressive rock and pop, but there is wonderfully no exact label to be put upon music and album just a long list of hinting references and whispers as colours to describe the albums unique exploits. Consisting of Jimmy Deface from folk/blues rockers Rufus Coates & the Blackened Trees and Johno Leader of acoustic indie rock band The Radioactive Grandma, Juggling Wolves has spent the past two years working on their first album, creating and recording it at their own studio in Co Cavan. Mastered by Fergal Davis, the release is now having its dawning with the deserved broadest spotlight hopefully beckoning.

From its first breath, opener Deadmans Strings is crooning and potently serenading the senses and imagination, a lone guitar amidst an embrace of keys a potent texture for the instantly magnetic vocals. It is a riveting start, a gentle invitation which is soon erupting with an appealing dark bassline and crisp rhythms. Bolting on a vivacious rock ‘n’ roll adventure, the track proceeds to twists and flirt with various textures and swathes of invention, harmonies as bewitching as the sparkling melodies and muscular energy as compelling as the unpredictable imagination of the encounter.

From a head start the album only gains in temptation and captivation as Mercury steps up next. Radiance smothers ears from a distant entrance, swiftly consuming ears with harmonies and a tangy tease of guitar. Almost from its first second there is a drama to the track, a theatre to its chords and cinematic air to the vocal and emotional investigation. As agitated beats and dark bass tempting joins its melancholic yet fiery heart, the song ebbs and flows like the sea, its intensity lapping the beaches of ears and thoughts with relentless but intermittent tenacity. As in all songs though, any moment is just a character in a broader waltz of sonically poetic enterprise and melodically fuelled invention.

Tow pushes things up another level again, the engrossing proposition basking in a Faith No More like ingenuity and drama with flights of spellbinding progressive flirtation adding intriguing Juggling Wolves Album Coverand mesmeric hues. Grooves and rhythms provide a sturdy almost imposing edge and core to the song throughout, the offering a merger of light and shadows which is almost sinister in its transfixing elegance and charm before following instrumental One Trick Pony brings its almost portentous melodic haunting to ears and psyche. A sombre track which sparks new thoughts and discoveries with every fresh listen, it leads the listener towards the outstanding Daze Unknown. The track’s warped twang of a start is an immediate seduction, a glorious discord kissed bait which evolves into a spicy web of guitar and vocals within a slightly deranged ethereal haze. It is soon spreading its dramatic narrative and musical croon across the imagination with bordering on unhinged guitar endeavour contrasting and complimenting the warm breeze of keys and harmonies. Intimate yet also spatial in its presence, the song is sonic magnetism, bringing a craft and bold inventiveness which rests potently alongside that of musician John Bassett and especially his band KingBathmat.

Through the fascinating realm of Lonely Gold, a track sharing melodic elegance and reassuring calm with a darker, emotionally distraught sonic discovery, and the immersive hug of Wither, Juggling Wolves simply entrance ears and emotions. The first of the two is a startling dive into the unknown and quite invigorating whilst its successor sultrily smoulders as it expels emotionally evocative and vocally provocative beauty which recalls singer songwriter Colin Vearncombe, especially in his Black guise; a comparison which can also be applied to How to Salvage a Failing Butterfly, though across its numerous aspects and ingenious turns, the song defies everything apart from inescapable attention. Though may be not our favourite as magnificent as it is, the track has to be the pinnacle of the album with its climatic structures and busy but relaxed twists. A melodic emprise to soundtrack any emotional and intimate adventure, the song is simply sublime, just as the album to be honest.

The closing instrumental Terms & Conditions makes the perfect epilogue to the album, a luminousness weave of evocative sound and emotive intrigue capping off an increasingly impacting proposition. Hopes were high, and may be expectations too, of the Juggling Wolves album but it left those looking meagre within mere minutes of its exhilarating presence. This is a band creating musical alchemy and their album their first creative hex on the passions.

Juggling Wolves is available now via iTunes and all other digital outlets and @ https://jugglingwolves.bandcamp.com/

http://www.jugglingwolves.com/

RingMaster 10/12/2014

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Dirty strides and mischievous smiles: delving into the virulent charms of Ocasan.

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Splitting their forthcoming album up into a trilogy of diverse and creatively exhilarating EPs this past year, UK rockers Ocasan has undoubtedly provided British rock with some major thrills. It is not the first time the Milton Keynes hailing trio has made a striking and adventurous contribution to the scene, their acclaimed debut album Ricochet one such triumph, but it is fair to say using recent release the Confessions EP alone as evidence, that the band is breeding a new plateau and depth of invention and virulent sound. With thanks to drummer Luke McDonnell, we set about exploring the heart of the band and those recent releases whilst taking in mutual appreciation of a certain band, learning the back ground to particular songs, and simply exploring Ocasan in general.

Hello Luke and thanks for taking time to chat with us.ocasan5

You’re welcome.

Tell us about the beginnings of the band and what inspired you to start up Ocasan.

We’d all come from numerous past projects and like most acts shared a love for the same music. When writing we found that songs poured out like vomit from a size nine Friday night slutty binger.

Is there any special meaning behind or influence to the band name?

It’s my family name, well the Irish side. We were the Ocasan’s. It’s also Japanese for ‘Mother’.

And talking of influences what have been the biggest inspirations to the band and personally in sound and musical intent?

We’ve been on a massive journey. Having stayed together for about a decade now, our influences are constantly in flux. We’ve spent many year writing singles and mainly pop oriented tunes but now rediscovered a love for our grungier roots. We’re writing music we’d want to jump up and down and scream along to drunk in a grotty venue. It’s the tits.

One of our all-time essential listens are Reuben and I heard you guys have a taste for their inspiring sounds too?

Well this follows perfectly from what I was saying. We rediscovered Reuben’s Racecar is Racecar Backwards which led to listening to their other latter work. It’s a little obsessive and we’re seeking help.

You biography mentions “abandoned stables, hippy communes and rock and roll pubs” as well as “hot tubs with millionaires” and parties with Russian oligarchs. We can assume the band’s life to date has been something out of the ordinary?

It’s had its ups and downs but some of the ups have been out of this world. What’s incredible is that it has all stemmed from the music. OK, so we’re not a big band. We’ve been trying for years to get a break, but the one thing we’ve taking away from being in Ocasan are some life changing experiences. We’re by no means done yet.

You recently released the third of a trilogy of EPs, Confessions, which comes around three years after debut album Ricochet of 2011. How would you say your sound has evolved between what are to our mind, two rigorously contagious and imaginative releases?

Our first record Ricochet was written with sole intent of breaking the market. We were still writing music we loved but were set on writing singles people could sing along to and record labels would be interested in. As each year goes by the “Fuck that!”s from all of us becomes increasingly louder. Elixir (the EP trilogy) concentrated more on our lives and our story so far. There are mentions of some serious life changing moments that we had to deal with during the record. We thought this would make the album more sincere rather than writing about teenage fancies etc. We think it’s done just that and every song is an honest story. Apart from Confessions….that’s sung from the point of view of a piano. I’m not a piano.

ocasan confessions-artworkIt is easy to see each of the EPs, London Town, Whitey Two Step, and of course Confessions, working perfectly together within Elixir but they also show distinct personalities from each other, especially the last. Was this something purposefully set out or just organically came about?

Organically…When we set out (reluctantly may I add) splitting up the record we found certain songs had something similar in common. EP1 was our ‘hello we’re back’ EP. There are some strong numbers on there and good examples of what was to come on the follow ups. EP2 More light hearted, whimsical and more creative lyrically. EP3 was much darker both lyrically and musically. We figured if we had you sold on the solid, slightly more commercial stuff from the start, you’d be digging this by now. Safe to safe this is one of the most popular records.

So each has an individual theme and is there a more personal intimacy across the EPs than maybe explored before by the band?

I would add that the third is the most personal. It explores a few subjects that were hard to write about. A good friend of ours (our tour manager) had a brain tumour and we expected him to not be with us by the release. Dark cloud was an infamous cocaine dealer from central London that we had some nasty run-ins with. etc. etc. You’ll need to have a listen to pick apart the rest.

Elixir will be released at some point as a single entity I assume?

Yes, we’re looking at early next year once our agent has sorted the next tour.

Will you sneak in anything new or rework tracks to offer another tasty dose of freshness for fans already devouring the EPs?

Yes, there’s a hidden track and some live stuff that we’ve had stored away for a while. We may even put on some new tracks to hint at the new record. We’ve been recording it all live on reel to reel recently, it sounds out of this world!

There is a great eclectic essence to your sound, a persistently varied energy and invention to your rock pop revelry so how does the songwriting work within the band. It is a group effort in ideas and writing?ocasan1

I generally come up with lyrics and bring them to the other two. They’re both so talented that normally before I have time to blink they’ve written what I was hearing in my head…if not, better. I guess this just comes with working together for a long time.

Parasites from the Confessions EP is one of our tracks of the year, and went down a storm on our recent podcast. Can you give us some background and the spark to the riveting contagion posing as a song?

As discussed earlier, this particular track was about our friend who was diagnosed with a brain tumour. It was seriously traumatic, obviously for him, but for everyone that loved him dearly. I’m delighted to say that he’s still with us today. But yes, that in essence is the ‘parasite’. “these white coats, do they know the ropes” was a stab at the doctors that kept misdiagnosing him and putting him through emotional hell.

All the tracks across the EPs and thus album were recorded with Romesh Dodangoda (Funeral For A Friend, Motorhead, Kids In Glass Houses). How did that link up come about?

We listened to an Attack! Attack! record years back, did a little research and said Romesh was the guy for us. As we worked so well together on Ricochet we figured “if it ain’t broke…” so we went back to do our second album there. We have a big respect for Romesh and would be happy to work with him again.

You have a serious appetite for gigging and have hit stages across the globe as well as nationally. It feels like this is what it is all about as a band for you guys, where you are most at home?ocasan4

We love it! If we could be out 364 days a year (Fuck gigging on Christmas) we would. So many bands believe that you can do well from making music videos and putting them on YouTube but nothing will beat just getting out and playing to new people. We love seeing the world and making new friends, what a brilliant way to do it.

Are you a band which likes to preview and explore new songs live before recording or vice-versa?

Yes, it’s incredible how much audience reaction can help develop a song.

What is in store for and from the band going into 2015?

We’ve nearly finished writing album three. Most of it will hopefully be demoed this side of Christmas. We’re off to a studio in Italy in January to try out a studio south of Rome. We’ll release Elixir as a whole (with little extras) and hopefully have the third album ready for release shortly after. After that it’s just tour tour tour, music video, tour tour tour, music video – repeat.

Once again big thanks for sharing time with us; any last thoughts you would like to leave us pondering?

If the brain was so simple we could understand it, it would be so simple we couldn’t.

Read the review of the Confessions EP @ http://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/09/30/ocasan-confessions-ep/

http://ocasan.co.uk/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 10/12/2014

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Sylvia – Wolvey, Ansty

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Ahead of their highly anticipated new album, British trio Sylvia release new single Wolvey, Ansty, and it is hard to imagine a more potent and irresistible lure to raise the appetite for their next full-length. The song is a seductive glaze of melodic enchantment and provocative drama impossible to ignore and easy to devour greedily.

From Moseley, Birmingham, the trio of Daniel Sweeney, Phill Ward, and Russell Collins drew decent attention critically and with fans through their self-produced debut album Rathea in 2011. It is a release still earning new appetites for the band, a lure which new single Wolvey, Ansty should kick up numerous gears as the band leads into its next album.

The single sidles up to ears with a melodic jangle and swiftly eager rhythms, the chattering melody of keys offering a southern air to their temptation and expressive colour to the emergence of the song. It is a provocative lure accentuated by a glorious soar of harmony soaked vocals, their delivery ethereal but also slightly haunting. Around the delicious radiance guitars and rhythms are constantly building up their potency and drama, erupting in a contagious crescendo before magnetically starting the process all over again.

There is thickness and richness to the song which belies the slimmer but vivaciously persuasive textures, it all aligning to create the elegant winds blowing across the senses. As it nears its climax, the track seems to get busier and creatively concussive, voice and sound entangling for a melodic roar and emotive blaze.

Wolvey, Ansty suggests that the impending album from Sylvia is going to be striking in the very least and we suspect, thanks to the single, that anticipations around the country are soon going to shift into hunger mode.

Wolvey, Ansty is available now via Regent Street Records @ https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/wolvey-ansty-radio-edit/id931592367?i=931592368

http://thisissylvia.com/

RingMaster 01/12/2014

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UK ROCKSTERS INHERIT THE STARS NATIONALLY RELEASE NEW VIDEO FROM THEIR LATEST EP!

Inherit The Stars Online Promo Shot

By pulling from a range of areas, from the potency of While She Sleeps to the electronic wizardry of Enter Shikari and the melodic fluency of Fightstar, unstoppable and hard hitting UK rock quartet Inherit The Stars are on the rise and set loose their new video single ‘Still Alive’ , a blistering track taken from their new EP ‘Beyond The Beacons’.

 Check it out @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xri4SVeOnno

With an innovative style that’s entirely their own, Inherit The Stars are at the head of the line for the new breed of bands that are rising from the depths of the Sheffield music scene. They bring together memorable guitar riffs, a symphony of strings, drums like a thunderstorm and extra-terrestrial synths, creating a force of sound that grips your ears and demands that you sit up and listen.

Unlike many of their counterparts, Inherit The Stars refuse to be tied down to one genre of music. On both their debut album and their new EP, ‘Beyond The Beacons’, edgy metal cuts stand side by side with classic pop; all facets of the band’s impressive sound are written and recorded with dedicated craftsmanship and genuine guile. The foursome are diverse, yet their songs still carry that unique and signature quality that clearly resonates throughout each track.

Inherit The Stars are now primed to step up with the release of their new EP and spanking new single ‘Still Alive’. The cut is a buoyant slab of modern melodic metal and fuses inventive dynamism with a gargantuan hook. Look out as the band play throughout the country; Inherit The Stars have arrived.

-INHERIT THE STARS HAVE RELEASED ‘STILL ALIVE’, VIEW IT HERE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xri4SVeOnno -

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http://www.inheritthestars.com

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G.R.I.M – Progtronic EP

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Provocateurs already renowned for leading the body and imagination into diverse and adventurous stomps soaked in a lyrical fervour and experimental voracity, UK band Great Riddims In Mind have nurtured a new steel and maturity in their explorations. It is a growth which provides a rich core to the band’s new Progtronic EP, an evolution as potent and gripping as their increasingly addictive sound. The upcoming release reaps all of the mouth-watering and riveting essences of its predecessors but develops them with the band’s most composed and striking ingenuity yet. Already a relentlessly inventive and incendiary proposition, the band has sculpted in the shape of Progtronic, a creative tempest where intrusive unpredictability, uncompromising imagination, and raw passion are an unrelenting norm.

Better known as G.R.I.M, the Manchester quartet began in 2011 and were soon stirring up attention and appetites locally with their raw and fiery fusion of dubstep, hip hop, rock, drum and bass, and plenty more. A wider spotlight was switched on by the release of the Sounds Like These EP last year, the acclaimed debut reinforcing the already potent reputation the band has earned for their live performances in their home city and beyond. Earlier this year the single Answers was uncaged, the track with its maelstrom of textures and bordering on psychotic invention strikingly hinting at the new step in the band’s evolution, something the new EP confirms and stretches even further.

Opener G.R.I.Mtro throbs with electro resonance in its first breath, the second bringing in an equally pulsating lure of vocals as synths expand their hues and beats darken their persuasion. It is a gentle but imposing entrance, the band almost leering into the imagination whilst holding a whisper of belligerence in every note and syllable shared. The track meanders from this point as if searching for its switch, which when found sparks a still restrained but strikingly colourful stroll, the rhythms of drummer Kyle Larkin a low key stalking alongside similarly predacious lines from bassist Nathan Larkin. Vocalist Lance Hargreaves dances mischievously over this web with the guitar of James Glenn almost egging on his revelry as synths flirt with magnetic and sinister persuasion. Though suggested the song never explodes; its tension simmering forcibly in voice and sound but holding check for the main, before evolving into the following Grill Me.

The second track emerges with a similar melodic tempting and structural baiting but is soon binding ears and thoughts with the impressive vocal prowess of Hargreaves and the sonic adventure brewing up in the rest of the band. There is aprogtronic gig poster1 sense of bands like Hadouken and the now demised Janice Graham Band, but whereas on the first EP these were loud comparisons they are mere spices for reference in the new vat of creativity and originality fuelling Progtronic. Badgering and seducing senses as well as thoughts with its bubbling tenacity and inventively lively canvas, the fascinating proposition whips up the appetite into a hungry greed ready for the outstanding Terrorisms, a lyrical and musically striking track which sways with seductive and rugged elements simultaneously. As with the previous pair of songs, there is a control to the intensity and urgency which embraces the frantic and deranged creative fervour of previous releases, but channels it into a just as invigorating and fascinating success and protagonist. Thickening its climate with funk and jazz seeded winds, the track enthrals and sparks the imagination with sublime ease, whilst ears and emotions are immersed in a perpetual and thrilling tantalising.

There had to be an outbreak of unbridled devilry at some point on the EP, and they come with the final two tracks. Metanoia comes first, its entrance also calm but within a tempestuous climate of stormy emotion. Vocals and bass riffs find a home in ska and hip hop planted fields whilst the caustic rub of guitars and keys provide an early agitation and inflammatory air to the building inflamed passion of the song. A midway breather of just a single melody and vocal is the spark to a flirtatious and reggae bred striding, this in turn firing up further the vocal melodies and pulsating adventure of the scintillating offering. A moment in time that surely nobody can resist, it has feet and moves soon enlisted and lurching with the pulse and temptation of its presence.

Final track Him Without Sin is an immediate blaze of vocal rapping and sizzling sonic endeavour which in turn brings in a ridiculously contagious swagger of riffs and hooks, all diversely spiced and virulently enticing. That earlier mentioned frenzy within the band is a rampant toxicity in the song but again under a precise and impressive measure. It does not stop it, as all tracks, being irrepressibly anthemic and ferociously incendiary but allows the just as hard hitting lyrical commentaries to firmly place their potent grips too.

Another ravenous treat, Progtronic is a new turn in the emergence and sound of G.R.I.M, a milestone on their increasingly certain and creatively inflammatory ascent.

The Progtronic EP is released on December 2nd.

G.R.I.M will be holding the EP launch party @ Joshua Brooks in Manchester on December 2nd with sets from special guest MC’s, and supported by Eyes Like Twenty

For more info check out the band’s official website @ http://greatrhythmsinmind.wix.com/grim

RingMaster 21/11/2014

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Dirty Thrills – Self-Titled

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It is fair to say that the release of the Growing Young EP easily put UK blues rock band Dirty Thrills on the landscape of emerging potential soaked propositions. The band’s 2013 debut was a richly enjoyable slice of dirt clad rock ‘n’ roll with only the lack of a truly distinct voice the issue. It was a potent base though from which the London quartet has impressively blossomed and matured, the band realising the promise of that moment and then some as evidenced by their new self-titled album. Stretching all the richness of the previous release and unveiling even more depth in songwriting and sound to be explored ahead, Dirty Thrills has evolved from an emerging prospect into a rigorously compelling incitement.

Formed in 2012, last year was a potent year for the band, Dirty Thrills drawing strong acclaim and attention with not only the Growing Young EP but a live presence which has left venues like London’s 100 Club, O2 Academy Liverpool, and Shepherd’s Bush Empire sweaty and rocking. Consisting of vocalist Louis James (the son of ex-Moody Blues singer Nicky James), guitarist Jack Fawdry, bassist Aaron Plows, and drummer Stevo Corrigan, each bringing experience and open craft with youthful tenacity, Dirty Thrills have bred a sound which merges blues and heavy rock for an incendiary stomp of old school and modern, dirt encrusted rock ‘n’ roll. It was an intriguing temptation on the band’s first release but now a roaring blaze on their self-released album.

As soon as the first flame of guitar winds its lures around ears in opener No Resolve, there is a sense of something spicy and flavoursome in store, a prospect soon brought to fruition as the deep bass lure hailing from Plows adds its Dirty_Thrills_Coverflirtation to the crisp beckoning of Corrigan’s swings whilst Fawdry’s magnetic designs only broaden their persuasion. It is a thick weave of blues soaked sound brought further to life by the impressive tones of James, his voice a fire all on its own. The song proceeds to swing with a slow stride, its pungent sounds somewhere between The Black Keys and Bad Company with a healthy dose of Rival Sons, a suggestion fitting the whole album. The impressive start is swiftly surpassed by the outstanding Burning Bridges, a song tempting with salacious grooves from its first breath before finding a melodic and suggestive swagger to a contagious stride of resourceful enterprise and magnetic revelry. As elsewhere, it is a track which is unafraid to switch around its pace and creative gait, a fluid invention which brings fascinating unpredictability yet easily accessible twists. The familiarity which was rife in the previous EP is still hanging around on song and album but now has an indefinable source and a fresh adventure with every recognisable and suggestive moment.

From one major peak on the album another strolls in straight away with the lively stomp of Rock n Roll, a track more than living up to its title. Bouncing with virulent infectiousness and raw melodic temptation, the song becomes a saucy temptress within seconds as rhythmic bait with anthemic potency and the inflammatory craft of the guitar enslaves imagination and passions, all lorded over by the increasingly stunning voice and delivery of James. The tempestuous revelry is given a slight breather with the easier going but certainly just as pleasing Resume Regret, a song with a less imposing style and an eighties hard rock flavouring offering plenty to be enticed by, adventurous grooves and hooks laying down a captivating invitation for ears too.

The gentle croon of Is This Home adds another varied flavour to the release, vocals an expressive protagonist over precise melodies and sultry emotion before the song erupts into a hazy and impassioned smoulder. It does not ignite ears as previous songs but has thoughts alive and involved with every emotive note and syllable shared, before being followed by the raw energy and instinctive dynamics of Reign where again grooves and riffs come clad in blues rock humidity and vocal vivacity. It is further proof of Dirty Thrills’ strength at writing and letting loose pure rock ‘n’ roll, here a straight forward yet creatively inflamed encounter and in tracks like the next up Wolf In Sheeps Clothing, a more aggressively inventive and hungry proposition. Driven by the riveting agitated rhythms of Corrigan, matched by the heavy and hearty voice of Plows’ bass, the track feverishly romps with sinews stretched and sonic enterprise afire, harmonies an additional irresistible spice to the glorious festival of sound and passion.

     The Man Who Lost His Way is a similarly sculpted encounter, its muscles flexing with eager intent whilst the guitar of Fawdry brews up a sizzling tapestry of sonic intrigue and temptation. It has relaxed moments around the vocal roar of James which lack some of the fire of the song’s imposing twists but still add to the blistering enticement which thrills ears in its company though it fails to linger around like other songs on the album once departed.

The release is completed by the conflagrant charm and craft of Follow Me Home and lastly the Southern rock grooved and blues aired Sigh, both songs further climactic spicery to the album with especially the final song an inescapable enticement warranting further plays before putting a close on the album for the day.

Dirty Thrills set down a potent marker and base with their last encounter, one sprung from in impressive and distinctive style by their album. As suggested you still feel there is more to come from in imagination and uniqueness from the band but they seem to be heading right to the forefront of European blues rock.

The self-released Dirty Thrills is available now digitally @ https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/dirty-thrills/id907284883 and on CD via http://dirtythrillsclothing.bigcartel.com/

http://www.dirty-thrills.com/

RingMaster 19/11/2014

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Snaking adventures and confrontations: exploring Medusa with band founder Julian Molinero

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UK rockers Medusa are one of those provocations it is impossible to lose an appetite for especially when they unleash creative tempests as impressive as new album Headcase’s Handbook. The successor to their acclaimed second full-length Can’t Fucking Win, the new album is punk fired rock ‘n’ roll which explores a new maturity and inventive ferocity to the songwriting and sound bred by founder and vocalist/guitarist Julian Molinero. Having been seduced by the excellent incitement we were eager with thanks to Julian, to find out more about its breeding, recording, and look back over the history of Medusa.

Hi Julian and thanks for sharing your time to talk with us.

For those new to the world of Medusa can you first of all just tell us about the band and its origins?

We formed in 1998 in Blackburn, Lancashire as a punk band while I was still at school and over the years, it’s had a lot of different members and varied in style but the band is still as passionate and obnoxious as ever.

We all have a band, a song, or moment which makes music from something which is just there, to being as essential as carnal endeavour; what was it which flicked the switch for you?

Just the punk and rock I discovered as a teenager, I just absolutely connected with it and it made everything else make sense.

From that moment was a band always the destination?

There wasn’t a moment but I did gradually slide more and more down that path and it felt right.

Is Medusa the only creative adventure for you or were there other exploits before its formation?

Aside from a couple of jokey cassettes I made prior, Medusa was the first and only band I’ve ever been involved with.

I believe Medusa has been around in two parts with a couple of years as a ‘hiatus’ in between. What brought about the gap and in turn what sparked the band’s return? 15264114200_e1e89dfc64_z

I was living with the other members of the band and it all turned really horrible and eventually ended. The level of drama on a day to day basis was the absolute maximum imaginable. Up until that point we were a punk band and then I started becoming very interested in flashy guitar solos and also some heavy metal music, so for one or two years there was no active band and I was purely interested in developing as a guitarist. When we re-emerged it was with the debut album and that has a definite influence in there of the type of heavy metal I was into at that time. The fact it was recorded so fast, under very tight, difficult circumstances is what gives it its punk edge and I guess that combination makes it quite unique but it definitely wasn’t how it was intended to sound.

Was there anything different in your thoughts and intentions sound wise for the band when you resurrected it? Did you see Medusa as the same band as when it started second time around or something entirely new?

The new direction and debut album were intended initially to be a platform for my guitar solos but I wasn’t able to get my amplifier to the studio and my guitar broke beyond repair the night before going down to record so these factors sent the album in a different direction and, as I say, more like punk than was intended.

We discovered you guys with the excellent Can’t Fucking Win album, a striking attention grabber certainly for us. It in many ways was just the appetiser for your new full-length Headcase’s Handbook which came out a few weeks ago. How do you see the evolution and differences between the two releases?

Well, I feel I’ve developed more as a songwriter and it’s possibly more of defining album. It has the same kind of sound throughout so it’s less confusing to people as to what the band’s style is. To me though, I don’t think either of them is better than the other, they just have different appeals. Can’t Fucking Win has a more epic quality where the drama is greater and the songs are longer and then the new one is more simplified and concentrated. I see it as almost kind of patronising, like a ‘for dummies’ version.

It is easy to say and hear your previous two albums are not short on passion but Headcase’s Handbook seems to have tapped into an even greater fire in that aspect; what do you feel has sparked that new burst?

If that’s true then it’s something I’m oblivious to because if anything the dramas in my life that I was writing about were much less extreme and intense for this album. I see the albums partly as a continuing autobiography of whatever happened in my life at the time of writing. There were definitely things that I was really pissed off about for this one but I just remember the intensity being much bigger for the first two. Maybe I’m communicating it more effectively now or maybe it’s the production value… or the fact we were trying to make it more concentrated? Who knows…

I have also felt an intimacy in the lyrical side of your songwriting; what sparks that side more often than not, is it experience or observation?

It is honesty and my experiences but the focus is on emotion. The lyrics are only there to serve that.

coverTell us about the new album’s title and is there an underlying theme across tracks?

Well, the theme is insanity and feeling lost. It does spread across the tracks, the album’s sub-heading in the liner notes says

“a guide to living for the confused, lost or mentally disturbed [those who see things as they really are]”.

The artwork is tied up in it too and there’s a conclusion to it all at the end of the album, if you look out for it.

Headcase’s Handbook was recorded with producer Lee Batiuk, compared to Can’t Fucking Win which was partly with Romesh Dodangoda. How did the link up with Lee come about and what did he bring forth in your songs which you had not foreseen or imagined?

Only two songs on Can’t Fucking Win were mixed by Romesh, we didn’t really have a producer for that one. For the new one, I just eventually came to the conclusion that a polished type of sound is what the album needed. I was thinking about it in terms of the discography as a whole and that it would be good to have one album that had that obvious type of production that gives focus to the songs. Lee did have a few changes he put in place, to make the arrangement more powerful in places, for example. With him being a perfectionist and me being a perfectionist too, but in a totally different way, it really helped to refine it but it didn’t make it easy.

Tell us about the recording process of the album.

We travelled to Wisbech in Cambridgeshire to record it. It was tense but fun in places. We would drink beer and play cards at night and then fully focus on recording during the days. It was filmed on high quality equipment which will become part of a documentary on the band, at some point.

Are you a head to the grind kind of band in the studio or like to let things evolve in a gentler energy; is it possible nowadays to record without an enforced urgency because of time and finance restraint?

Well, I think the sense of urgency is needed for this type of music to work. We were sleeping in tents the whole time while recording and I absolutely hated it but at the same time, I planned it like that so it wouldn’t be too comfortable and I specifically wanted to be pissed off and at the end of my tether when doing the vocals, which I was. The vocals were done in two days, both ending early and in the morning before the first, it had rained so hard during the night, that the inside of my tent was soaking and my shoes fell apart like soggy paper on the walk to the studio. We had to get a taxi to a supermarket so I could buy some new shoes and socks.

There is an open eighties rock and punk inspiration to your sound as evidenced by Headcase’s Handbook. How has the sound shifted since those early days of the band?

I think on this album, it’s kind of gone back a lot more to how we initially sounded in 1998; simple punk songs. The eighties influence was definitely at its peak on the first one.

Has it been an intentional changing or simply organic?

Intentional but that was just the formula for this one album. I don’t see any need to make another album like this one, that would just be repeating ourselves. The current vision for the next one is something very different.

Before we do that, I just want to go with the flow of life and see what happens. I think it’s important for your life to be different and to have new experiences before you start working on a new album. We never use old songs from before that era when we do an album so that’s why I feel each one is a document of those years.

As with any album certain tracks stand out over others and hit the listener’s sweet spot. For us the pinnacle comes with the consecutive and distinctly different pair of The Sweetest Elixir and 15072752751_fe2ca517ca_zBlack Snow. Can you give some background to the two adventures?

The Sweetest Elixir seems to be the song most people compliment at the moment. I think we just eventually found an arrangement that worked for it, mainly with the drum parts, which was really difficult. If we hadn’t found the right arrangement, I can just as easily imagine it being the least liked song on the album. As far as what that song’s about, as with a lot of the others, I already said way too much in the lyrics! That was one of the aims of this album too, to make it confessional and autobiographical in places, in a slightly more obvious way than the previous albums. Black Snow is a little bit different because that’s kind of about life after the bomb. I don’t know how obvious that is to people but if you look at the lyrics once knowing that, those references should be pretty clear.

Is there a particular moment or twist on the album which gives you personally an extra tingle of satisfaction or excitement?

Maybe but I view the album as more for other people so I think their relationship with the album is more important and hopefully the messages and ideas I was trying to put across, did come across.

I can assume Medusa will be thrusting the album out live at some point? Where can people catch you next?

We should be playing Nambucca in London, before the end of the year.

Thanks again Julian for sitting down and chatting with us. Any last thoughts you would like to share?

Our first music video to the Headcase’s Handbook album will be out in a couple of months, to the song Sid and Nancy and should be a cool video. We just cast 2 ten year old kids to play the lead roles.

Thanks!

Read the review of Headcase’s Handbook @ http://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/11/02/medusa-headcases-handbook/

http://www.medusaworld.co.uk

Pete RingMaster

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The Ringmaster Review 17/11/2014