Michael Franti and Spearhead – All People

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This week sees the UK release of All People from Michael Franti and Spearhead, an album of feel good hymns which brings fun filled light and adventure to any day. Consisting of sixteen tracks which flirt with and incite feet through to the imagination to romp with refreshed energy and appetite against any ills clouding personal climates, the album is a mouthwatering sunspot of diverse pop flavoured enterprise. It is pop though bred from the richest essences of everything from rock to funk, ska to Hip-Hop, soul to folk with plenty more in between. It results in a release which brings a persuasive familiarity to new adventures, an encounter which ultimately shines like a beacon in the shadows of life.

     All People is the tenth album from Michael Franti, a very different proposition from where the San Francisco based singer/songwriter/guitarist began. Starting his journey with post-punk band The Beatings and then acclaimed hip-hop group Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, Franti has always fought and supported the ‘underdog’, something which has never lessened as his music found its course into a more varied and pop accessible destination. It is just as full and vocal on All People, songs looking at an array of issues and flaws, worldly and intimate, but all realised in anthems for summer days and sultry nights. The follow-up to the acclaimed 2010 release The Sound of Sunshine, the new album, which sees Franti collaborating with the likes of Adrian Newman, Sam Hollander, and Canadian production team The Matrix on many of the songs, may have taken its time hitting British shores after its US release last year but it is hard to imagine it not taking over the impending summer’s soundtrack over coming weeks.

The title track starts off the party with a gentle seduction initially; acoustic guitar and the instantly evocative keys of Raliegh Neal caressing F4A96317-E24D-4C83-833F-CBCA94257239ears before Franti and guest vocalist Gina René add their tender touches to the opening coaxing. Soon pulsating heavy beats from Manas Itiene join the enticement but it is when a switch is flicked and the piano slaps its keys down on the senses that the song takes off in climatic style. Drama suddenly soaks the dancefloor incitement; the throaty bass of Carl Young bringing richer textures to the excited stomp as both vocalists again court thoughts and emotions with ease. It is the first song and first anthem of the release, setting things off explosively.

Things hit a new pinnacle right away with the following Earth From Outer Space with features K’Naan. Again as the first song, its entrance is a soothing beckoning rather than anything gripping but once the song slips into its reggae bred stroll, melodies and vocals streaming warmth and aural smiles from their notes and syllables, slavery of feet and emotions is a done deal. Lyrical repetition and easy going hooks ensure as in most tracks you can join in within one chorus and a single stride of a verse, the sheer revelry dancing resourcefully with ears. The great vocal mix and seductive colour of the song leaves that feel good factor in full flow which new single I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like) embraces ravenously. The guitars of Franti and Dave Shul from the first breath are lending a creative warmth and mischief to the imagination, contagion subsequently pouring from theirs and every rhythmic and vocal design. Again the catchy heart of the pop rock track is irresistible, body and soul joining its swagger and a festivity so potent that even the downright miserable will be swept up in its scintillating arms smiling broadly outside and within.

Things take a breather with next up Long Ride Home, the song a gliding evocative croon of expressive keys and moody basslines over which Franti lays his engagingly textured tones. There is still a pulse beat to the tempered balladry of the song which eggs feet and emotions in to a keen stride of movement and reflection respectively. It is constantly brewing up a passion across its offering which ends in a potent crescendo before making way for the folkish charm of Life Is Better With You, a song with a definite Simon & Garfunkel spicing, and the pungently emotive hip-hop seeded 11.59, a track inspired by the Trayvon Martin shooting. Though the three songs cannot match the fire of their predecessors, each brings an invigorating variation and impacting enthrallment to the album.

That diversity continues with the darker light of Closer To You, a track finding its origins seemingly in the post punk formative years of Franti, its opening especially reminiscent of the chilled climates of a New Order or early Cure before expanding into an electro sculpted slice of indie rock, and the brilliant Gangsta Girl. Flaming with a delicious ska/pop stomp and sultry swerve of melodic spicery, the track is infectiousness uncaged. Its feisty canter is just like The Beat in their heyday, a broadly grinning flirtation which has feet and passions swerving like a puppeteer.

Through the again uniquely shaped pleasures of emotive rocker Show Me A Sign, the richer ska seeded I Don’t Wanna Go, and the funk infested Do It For The Love, the album continues to diversely excite and thrill whilst musically it continues to hit the sweet spot in skill and invention. The trio of songs also slip below the irrepressible temptation of the songs right before them, though each leaves body and heart alight and greedy for more which the warm and breezy Let It Go featuring Ethan Tucker, and the Lennon-esque On And On feed fully with their own unique characters in the suasion of the album.

The evocative pop enchantment of Wherever You Are followed by the emotionally fuelled ballad Say Goodbye, lead the album to its enjoyable conclusion though they do lack the kick of the rest of the album. Nevertheless they do leave a lingering breath and tempting to dive back into the album once an acoustic mix of Life Is Better With You finally brings things to a fine close.

All People is an excellent proposition to inflame the day and heart, rock pop in its most potent and impressively flavoursome forms. It is fair to say that Michael Franti and Spearhead with All People has just ignited the British summer.

All People is available now!

https://www.michaelfranti.com/

9/10

RingMaster 03/06/2014

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Johnny Kowalski and The Sexy Weirdos – Kill The Beast

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How best to describe the sound of Johnny Kowalski and The Sexy Weirdos which runs virulently threw the veins of new album Kill The Beast. Well if you take a fusion of Tankus The Henge and Gogol Bordello and spice it up with healthy doses of Les Négresses Vertes, The Pogues and Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers, you get a fair flavouring of the fun found within the band’s second full-length. The ten track release is a magnetic energetic party of varied sounds and flavours brewed into the band’s own riveting “carnival punk” proposition, it one rigorously exciting and enjoyable encounter. Essences of gypsy punk, ska, swing, and straight forward punk also add to the irrepressibly captivating mix, the result a wonderful deranged waltz of unpredictable adventure.

Johnny Kowalski and the Sexy Weirdos spent their early years honing and shaping their sound on the live arena before unveiling debut album Victory for the Monsters in the October of 2012. Acclaimed the release was followed by the band striking out on tour across France, Belgium, Germany, and the Czech Republic, again to strong and eager responses. Returning to Europe again last year, the Birmingham based band courted the passion of countries such as Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg in the course of their next tour, whilst appearances at festival such as Boomtown, Y Not, Tramlines, Nozstock, Wychwood, and Swingamajig as well as a third European excursion has only strengthened their presence and reputation, breeding strong anticipation for their new album. Produced by Gavin Monaghan (Editors, The Destroyers, Robert Plant), Kill the Beast seizes attention from its first breath refusing to release its hold until the final note of the last song. It is a release which like all punk bred incitements, which it really is in so many ways, the album challenges and thrills with mischief and antagonistic wantonness, rewarding with a feel good factor other bands can only imagine.

Nailbiter starts things off and is instantly throwing its body through ears, revelling in its boisterous energy as brass inflames the air and rhythms march resourcefully over the senses. Eventually settling into a more controlled yet still rebellious stride with a sultry mystique to its evolving sound, the song seduces and incites the imagination with the violin of John-Joe Murray a potent lure within the strong rhythmic frame provided by drummer Matthew Osborne and bassist Chris Yates. A devious swagger breaks out from within the captivating stomp, the guitar of Kowalski stirring things up before his raw vocals add to the striking dance. There is a fairground barker drama to his delivery, expelling forcibly the narrative as strings and brass colour the scenery further, the trombone croon of Ellie Chambers and trumpeting pouts of Simon Noons rich hues to immerse within. Building up to an explosive crescendo which wickedly never materialises, the track is a glorious start to the album setting a high bar for the other songs to match.

The following When the Time Comes makes a worthy attempt, growing potently from its reserved opening stroll with flumes of brass warming a rhythmic scattering and the more reserved delivery of Kowalski. It is a spicy romp, which like a smouldering temptress sways and swerves with melodic curves and energetic tendencies over the senses, teasing with its seductive nature. It does not match its predecessor’s heights but still leaves emotions and ears enraptured as the Tequila Song stands poised to inflame their ardour once again. As you can probably imagine from the title the song is a festival in the ear; liquor kissed revelry which stomps with rhythmic knees high and infectious melodies bordering on salaciousness. The brass again almost taunts with their evocative blasts, adding to the mischief breeding every note and syllable uncaged by Kowalski and the backing shouts of Osbourne and Murray.

Next up Question the Answers strides with a rhythmic tantalising courted by a great throaty bass lure and punctuated by again fiery stabs of brass. There is a sense of unrest to the sound and feel of the song, a troubled sigh locking onto the rigid contagious press of rhythms. As vocals and subsequently violin bring their unique flavours to the developing evocative landscape, the track absorbs attention and appetite, twists of guitar and acidic stringed invention spearing the enveloping premise. The track is more restrained and arguably straight forward than the earlier tempests of adventure but no less gripping, much like Same Mistakes which swiftly adds its bold canter to the terrain of the release. Again it is a more reined in protagonist but with plenty to engage the ears if without sparking the same strength of fire in the passions as certainly the first and third song.

The excellent folk/gypsy vaunt of Raggle-Taggle Gypsy comes next to bring a traditional treat with a sense of the Pogues to its exhaustive imagination infesting polka before making way for the instrumental ‘shanty’ of What Shall We Do With a Blonde?, another track which lifts spirits and feet like a maniacal puppeteer for the fullest of pleasures. The album sees the additional dark charm of the tuba from David Yates across its body, and here he is at his exhilarating best perfectly matched by the mouthwatering skill of Murray.

     Another major treat comes with the carnival-esque sortie of That’s the One, brass and violin casting a picture of circus swing which the expressive vocals and gypsy punk spawned heart of rhythms and guitar paint in their own rich textures. In its full stride the song is an addictive tempting which as others steals control of feet and soul but it is not maintained throughout to the same potent effect leaving the listener feeling the song missed an indefinable trick somewhere. It is still a vivaciously pleasing track which the punkish The Good Shark builds from. Like The Clash meets Mano Negro in many ways, the song is a feverish provocateur which impresses and excites even more when from its fire flailing romp it hits a vein of dub/ska haunting sparking that Strummer and Co reference and thoughts of Ruts too. Finishing on the same brash and vigorous exploit it started with, the track is a wonderful slab of fun.

The title track brings the album to a strong hypnotic close with plucked violin strings around a resonating beat immediate bait and trap to devour greedily. That enticement is soon accentuated as Murray spreads the charm of his craft pushing deeper the core temptation of the song. The track as it explores its walls has a feel of Dizraeli and The Small Gods, not so much in sound but the way the song is constructed and blossomed, though the guest vocal skat of Call Me Unique itself holds some similarity to the other band’s Cate Ferris. It is a maelstrom of sound and imagination providing a final blast of fun and adventure to a tremendous album.

     Kill the Beast is a scintillating treat which even in its less lofty moments still leaves appetite and emotions raging. Johnny Kowalski and The Sexy Weirdos are the minstrels of ‘Body Snatching Carnival Punk’ and if coming to a graveside near you are well worth gripping tightly on to.

Kill The Beast is available now@ http://sexyweirdos.bandcamp.com/album/kill-the-beast-2

http://www.sexyweirdos.co.uk/

9/10

RingMaster 26/05/2014

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Lazytalk – Just A Ride

 

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    When the body is turned into an eager puppet you know you are in the hands of something special and that is exactly what the new single from UK rockers Lazytalk is. Just A Ride is an insatiable stomp fusing the richest essences of indie, ska, and punk with plenty of other variously seeded excitement like drum ‘n’ bass. It draws in ears and imagination from its opening note, never relinquishing its contagious grip until the final vivacious second.

      Lazytalk was formed in 2011 and it seems was soon raising up the passions from a loyal following with their resourcefully inventive sound. Exhilarating venues and audiences across London and the UK ever since their debut day, which has included supporting Babyshambles on their UK tour, the band drew strong responses with their debut EP, the Gordon Raphael produced Luzaville. The new single follows the release of the excellent track Memories which came out as a free download a couple of months ago, and treats ears and imagination to their finest irrepressible slice of revelry yet.

Just A Ride opens with jangling guitar strokes which immediately suggests an Arctic Monkeys like bred adventure ahead. The joining rhythmic bait of Tag Ara soon accelerates the already brewing appetite for the song, impressively aided by the vocal beckoning of Piers Robinson. It is a tremendous temptation which explodes to another plateau once the bass darkens its tone whilst the guitar of Jack Wilson aligned to the keys of Joshua Culter, scythe across and thicken respectively. the riveting dance of the encounter. There is a definite eighties new wave swagger to the more angular aspects of the adventure, one which slips seamlessly beside the gently stabbing ska enticement and the fiery and infectious weave of melodies. The rhythmic cage of Sam Woodward keeps the vivacious energy and irresistible mischief of the song encased in a controlling body but one which allows devilry like the pleasing sax croons from Culter and the raw vocal harmonies to play and add their engaging hues to the scintillating and wonderfully exhausting romp.

      Lazytalk is one of those bands you just sell your soul to, well we did as once Just A Ride placed its hand on ears and passions there was just no escape. If is safe to say that we will not be alone in offering up our submission and doing it time and time again as the band realises the rest of their potential and rises to the loftiest heights of attention and ardour in the UK music scene.

http://lazytalk.co.uk/

10/10

RingMaster 23/03/2014

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King Prawn – Done Days/A Solemn Man

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The return of King Prawn for us, like for so many, was an over excited thrill matched by lustful anticipation of new sounds from the UK punks. The band has forged themselves as one of the influential greats with their anthemic ska/punk fusions and authority antagonising lyrical confrontations, so much so that their split in 2003 left a big hole in hearts and punk itself as fans mourned with the band’s classic albums and songs as company. The announcement of their return earlier this year set passions aflame once again, live performances equally so, but new recorded material could only confirm it was not just wishful dreaming that King Prawn was back to challenge and ignite the country . The two track single is that confirmation, Done Days/A Solemn Man a thoroughly pleasing encounter and an extremely promising hint of the band’s next album, due spring 2014.

Reuniting 4/5 of the original line-up, vocalist Al Rumjen who recently had a successful stint with Asian Dub Foundation, guitarist Devil Hands, drummer Nikoli, and trumpeter Dr Nelly coming together once again, the band is further joined by new bassist Zac Chang (taking the place of the non-returning Babar Luck) and an expanded live horn section. The single combines two songs which have little difficulty in igniting the emotions, one an intriguing suggestion of things to come and one prime King Prawn, its company sparking the passions as if the band had never been away.

Done Days opens with enticing guitar strokes of the ear soon joined by buoyant vibrant brass calls and the distinctive tones of a1735681834_2Al Rumjen. It is an enthusiastic and vibrant introduction which captures the imagination and sparks thoughts of last album Got The Thirst whilst having an undefined element which points at an even greater wealth of inspirations in the songwriting and experience in its realisation. The bass of Chang has a prowl and throaty resonance which adds depth to the song whilst the brass and keys create a wash of warmth and enterprise which excites with a fresh suggestiveness from the band. It is fair to say that the track never explodes into the hinted eruption, especially the chorus which does not quite catch fire, but with feet stomping in unison to its beats and emotions lit from its adventure, the song is an undeniable satisfying and potent return.

The AA track of the release is a simply glorious slice of King Prawn invention. A sultry guitar enticement stands side by side with a brass flame of evocative heat to open up A Solemn Man, their beckoning soaked in Latin seduction and sweltering persuasion. There is a sense of a call to arms to the entrance of the song; it offering anthemic bait which settles into a transfixing ska saunter which itself evolves into a rock powered chorus.  With added gypsy punk spice and those ever spellbinding fiery brass temptations a persistently contagious and inventive persuasion, the track is King Prawn at its irresistible best creating a sound and encounter which is unafraid to attack and seduce whilst providing the most addictive groove bred punk. Not much left to say, King Prawn is back!!

http://king-prawn.co.uk/

8.5/10

RingMaster 08/11/2013

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Fuzzy Logic Baby – Glow In The Dark EP

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We suspect that like us Fuzzy Logic Baby is an undiscovered thrill for a great many but with the release of their simply brilliant new EP Glow In The Dark, that surely will change and very soon. The five track thought and passion provoking dance of invention and imagination is with ease one of the most vibrant and exciting releases this year, one that challenges and deviously ignites mind and soul whilst leaving the body exhausted from an impossible to resist temptation to participate in its mighty call.

Combining more flavours than a Michelin starred chef, the London quartet conjure sounds that work on every level leaving an intense temptation which seduces and does naughty things to primal urges. Formed in 2007 from according to their bio, a chance meeting, Fuzzy Logic Baby have developed and honed an innovative brew which is best described as hip hop and grime meets ska and reggae before flirting with punk and rock, or an easier way to imagine is they are like the insatiable hybrid of The Specials and Misty In Roots meeting Dizraeli & The Small Gods and Lazy Habits with The Karma Party whispering in their ears. It is a unique and compelling union of ideas and sounds that sets the band as one of the best emerging talents in the UK, if not anywhere.

Consisting of vocalist Darwood Grace (former member of Poetry collective 3+1 and film maker with the movie It’s A Lot released in cinemas in July), guitarist Jack Hearne, bassist Nicodemus Leo, and drummer James Thackery, the Hackney hailing Fuzzy Logic Baby have left a trail of fired up loyalty through their live performances which has seen them ignite venues around the capital and across the UK as well as sharing stages with the likes of Tinie Tempah, Katy B, Random Impulse, Mikill Pane, Wretch 32, and Professor Green. 2011 saw their impressive debut release, the GoodTimesDotCometh EP an acclaimed and well devoured by the media introduction.  Glow In The Dark is another animal, taking all their promise to new levels of hungry imagination and intrigue and presented with a fluency and skill that makes it all look so very easy.

The release opens with its biggest triumph, though every song and minute of the release walks the heights vertigo sufferers would sweat over. Howling Wolves is pure lyrical and musical alchemy, rhythms, notes, and syllables cast into a spellbinding romp that persuades feet, voice, and emotions to rush to its call with rabid lust, just like a fourteen year old boy to an abandoned copy of Knave (I think that is the name of one of those types of books…). From its first second tempting rhythms are coaxing out total attention as the vocals with a narrative that is impossibly absorbing feed their awakening. The vocals of Grace are outstanding in all forms of delivery and just as impressively backed up by others in the band, though no clarity to whom is found in info accompanying the release. A mischievous stroll that switches gait with every energetic swaggering step, the song is as delicious and richly flavoursome as Cornish ice cream, the mix of funk pressed ska and indie sculpted rock just one glorious aspect.

The following Gangsta In Da AM sidles in with a blaze of trumpet from Gary Annells and guitar teasing before expelling a flame of melodic energy to spark another canter of rhythmic suasion and seductive vitality. There is a Bang Data like sultriness to the reggae tinted amble whilst the vocals again unveil a lyrical tale that captures the imagination as unerringly as the colour soaked sounds. It is like its predecessor a track which has little trouble in leaving thoughts and emotions ablaze but when it kicks out with a punk bred confrontation evolving into a smouldering melodic hue of vocals and stinging guitar play nearing its end, the track is a beacon of excellence and invention. It is a stunning song that with its previous companion alone makes the release an impossibly important addition to the musical year.

There is no let-up though as firstly the current single March On brings another distinct and absorbing landscape to traverse closely followed by the outstanding title track. The first of the pair almost floats across the senses with a moody bass and shimmering melodic haze holding hands with the fine vocals of Grace. There is a firm and commanding lure to the track brought by rhythms and led by voice and bass, its dark charm wrapping a provocative almost intimidating caress around the ear. With the blaze of guitar and the subsequent carnivalesque swing adding extra sustenance to the climax, it all combines to create another unforgettable and thrilling moment in time. Its successor is a stirring mix of gentle melodies and punchy rhythms kissed by vocal harmonies and dazzling imagination that like all tracks on the EP teases and tempts further with a perpetual twist of changing ingenuity and imagination. A slow burning furnace of majesty, the song is arguably the most creative slice of scintillating composing and realisation on the release, standing high amongst nothing but startling invention and craft.

The closing No Problems is a dull and uninspiring track…oh do not be stupid there is no chance of that with Fuzzy Logic Baby on this release, the band once more sculpting a riveting course of musical and vocal juggling that spawns from numerous nefarious mischievous spices and unbridled devilry. It concludes a quite dazzling piece of aural imagining that steps up to challenge any release anywhere as one of the finest in 2013. With a UK tour on the near horizon, Fuzzy Logic Baby is about to take country and continent by storm; watch out world after that.

https://www.facebook.com/fuzzylogicbaby

http://www.fuzzylogicbaby.com/

10/10

RingMaster 04/08/2013

 

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By The Rivers – Self Titled

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Initially persuaded like so many by previous single Take Control that the 6 strong original new age reggae band By The Rivers was a unit which just had to be watched closely as their fresh and soulful melodic craft to grew into even greater things, the release of their debut self-titled album confirms and enhances all those previous thoughts and emotions. The eleven track release is a stroll through the heat of summer with all the warm caresses of the sun and the heart at tantalising play in its tender and emotively engaging arms. It shows that the previous single and releases were mere appetizers for the seductive feast of sound and invention to follow, a record which easily confirms all the acclaim and eager declarations surround the band since forming.

Formed in 2010 by friends since birth, Nile Barrow (lead vocals/guitar) and Jordan Birtles (drums/vocals), By The Rivers honed and sculpted a unique sound fusing a weave of reggae/ska/soul/afro-beat, all flavours igniting a driving passion in the duo. The cultural aspects of the sounds also aided to the influences as the pair began writing songs with a social commentary as well as just as potent love songs and positive takes on things that affect the youth of today. Joined by Matt Willars (bass), Sam Read (keys/guitar/vocals), Will Todd (Tenor Saxophone), and Leo May (Trumpet), the Leicester band was no stranger to acclaim from their first steps into view. Within their first seven gigs the band was lined up to play alongside the likes of Dawn Kinnard, Neville Staples, Fun Lovin Criminals, and Toploader, sparking an appetite within promoters and venues for their distinctive and refreshing sounds. The first year continued with the band sharing stages with the likes of The Buzzcocks, Maxi Priest, Musical Youth, Dawn Penn, Saxon Sound, and The Specials whilst continuing to earn impressed responses from people such as  Lynval Golding, guitarist and vocalist of The Specials/Fun Boy Three who declared “They are the new The Specials”. Their two EPs drew press and fan acclaim with debut single One Word and its successor Take Control both like the album released via Kompyla Records sparking up a strong anticipation for the album, a hunger which is easily fed.

The album opens with the instantly magnetic Vulture, the song a melodic blaze of vocal harmonies and expressive seduction from BTRAlbum_FrontCoverthe off, even before the music adds its compelling swagger and elegance to proceedings. An energetic but respectful romp which holds the ear and emotions by the hand as it dances across the brass flames and flashing guitar strokes, it is as infectious as it is lyrically provocative, the vocal persuasion of Barrow and co as irresistible as the perfectly sculpted melodic teasing and narrative colouring the intent of word and voice. The full combination is simply a magnet for the passions and senses setting the album off on the perfect start.

The following Make Your Own Road lifts the immense start to another plateau of excellence and steals one of the top honours spots on the album. Heralded by a restrained but bright brass call the song is soon offering a sultry stroll of deep throaty bass lures and group vocal calls as the chorus opens up the scintillating encounter. As the guitar picks and plucks the greedy heart the trumpet and sax offer a defined wantonness which enflames an already brewing ardour incited by the vocals and deliciously emotive bass sound. Every element of the song is passionate and expressive, each aspect an individual tease and narrative in tandem with each other and in union a piece of melodic alchemy which lights up every shadow and corner of thoughts, heart, and the day.

After such an immense start there was bound to be a dip in temptation but if there is it is barely recognisable as the likes of This Love, You Got It Wrong, and Don’t Look At Me with the aforementioned Take Control slipped in their midst, enchant and evoke further pleasure. Certainly the songs do not reach the same elevation of the opening pair but with the beauty of the first of the four a radiant kiss upon the ear and the persuasive ‘call to arms’ of the single with its deep temptation lined coaxing just two outstanding moments from this part of the album alone there is no slip in its fascination and strength.

The album ends as powerfully and contagiously as it begins with firstly the irresistible Rise Up stroking the ear into an enamoured rapture with its reggae honed siren call and brass fire erupting to deepen the temptation and soon matched by the Caribbean soaked rhythmic/melodic tango of Run Home, a song with an eighties whisper which reminds of Haircut 100. The closing pair though almost steal the whole show with the sweltering allurement of Don’t Say You Love Me raising the temperature with an epidemic cursed melodic enterprise and the closing Rocksteady a thrilling crescendo of ska shaped melodically grooved splendour to what is a stunning album.

By The Rivers, band and album, is a treat the summer of this and every year hence forth will adopt as its mesmeric soundtrack and the heart as its long lasting invigorating companion.

http://www.bytherivers.co.uk

9/10

RingMaster 07/05/2013

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Pigbag: Year Of The Pigbag

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    The presence of UK Funk Afro-Jazz combo Pigbag may have been a short burst of energised time in the early eighties but they certainly left a lingering and impacting legacy with their song Papa’s Got a Brand New Pigbag, a piece of music which has continued to bring agitated life to feet and emotions. Releasing two albums between 1980 and 1983 as well as touring extensively across Europe, Japan and the United States, the band disbanded in that final year due to musical differences. In its time the Bristol based band certainly brought a breath which invigorated and refreshed all areas from post punk to Jazz and funk to pop, their sound effortlessly find a welcome in a wide genre spawn and eager fan base. A band which apparently was banned from Top Of The Pops for trying to bring fun to their performance, Pigbag return thirty years later with their third album and certainly time has not dampened their creative enthusiasm and potency to seize senses and limbs and make them join their vibrant cause.

The band reformed in 2011 with founding members Chris Lee (trumpet) and Ollie Moore (saxes) as well as another original member in Kofi Adu (Congas/Percussion). Bringing in a quintet of new equally minded musicians in bassist Sven Atterton, guitarist Max O’Donnell, drummer John Sam, plus Karme Caruso and Matt Dowse, keys and trombone respectively, Pigbag has released an album which fuses nostalgia and brand new essences into one pleasing and engaging melody doused encounter. Released on Bristol imprint Sugar Shack Records, the album without really igniting the impetuous mischief and irresistibility of their renowned single, offers an elegantly and relatively subdued yet passionate presence across its the collection of tracks which inspires a rich affection and compulsive hunger as strong as their earlier triumphs so magnificently achieved.

The album opens with the delicious Cuban Rice (Is Very Nice), a stroll through a balmy Latin soundscape with the seductive lures of rhythmic temptation and the deeply contented blazes of horn persuasion. It is an addictive dance for heart and feet which across its enthralling presence caresses entice, and pulls emotions to their eager to jive toes. The picky guitar teases which mischievously work behind the melodic fires and golden harmonies also bring not for the first time on the album, a ska seeded fun whilst bass, drums and percussion, enlist an instinctive rapport from start to finish.

Through the shimmering strut of Disco Mama with its seventies funk boast and electrified breath, and the intriguing Out of Chaos, the release continues to trip all the right switches to magnetise the senses and attention their way. The second of the pair is an evocative mix of crystalline ambience and shadowed mystique which opens its suggestive arms into another warm and provocative embrace before handing over to the similarly heated Tabula Rasa and its sultry saunter through inviting hazy climes and reflective sounds.

Each track on the album has its individual character but together it feels like a connected travelogue of passion and sun soaked imaginative revelations. The energetic Beluga steps forward next to generously samba with the ear before stepping aside for the biggest highlight of the album to leave its thrilling touch upon the passions. Jumpers for Goalposts takes its seeds one senses from the signature tunes of football shows in the seventies, re-inventing their whispers into something impossibly addictive. With a ska base which reminds of The Specials song A Message To Rudy, the piece is a joyful and energetic playground for fun to bask in the warmth of innocent times and melodic laughter. It is a wonderful romp which holds the ear and thoughts long after it has physically left their shelter.

With the remaining Brains with its sophisticated persuasion, the picturesque Honeydew Lady, the song a canvas for lush colours and sounds to conjure a romance tinged image, and the closing Afrodite on the Horizontal which for no reason other than the name and its free form essence reminds of the work of art Tony Hancock was ‘creating’ in the movie The Rebel, the band leave emotions and passions entranced. The thought of the return of Pigbag alone raised a little excitement but Year Of the Pigbag just re-ignites all the pleasure and joy which marked them the first time around with a craft and invention which arguably is them at their best yet.

www.pigbag.co.uk

8/10

RingMaster 25/03/2013

 

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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

http://www.audioburger.com

The Vox Dolomites -The Dirty Work Tour 2012 Movie.

   VDs

     UK band The Vox Dolomites has been making great impressions and strides within British and European music scene with their infectious and provocative blend of punk and ska. Their EPs and online released tracks have ignited eager and ravenous responses plus critical acclaim, all a confrontation of irrepressible sound found with equal passion in their outstanding energy sapping live shows. The Stockport quartet of Antony Walsh (guitar, vocals),Will Farley (guitar, vocals), Chris O’Donnell (bass, vocals) and Simon Dunnington (drums) since forming in 2011, has continued to inspire and ignite the passions of an ever growing fan base with no more potent a reception and enthusiasm than in Japan where the band is greedily and warmly followed. The Dirty Work Tour 2012 is a short film which covers a tour of the same name in the Land of the Rising Sun last October, an unobtrusive yet open recording of the band and their time which visually declares the passion and warmth inspired and felt by the band from probably the most energetic and enthusiastic fans any band could wish for, a passion it must be said the band readily returns.

The film is produced and recorded by Chalkman of Chalkman Video, a film maker from the evidence of this film alone who can be clearly seen as having an understanding of how music and emotions inspired can paint the fullest colourful picture. A musician himself (in punk folksters Paper Town and other bands before), Chalkman has already given a visual potency to The Vox Dolomites with their Losing Hands video as well as creating pieces for the likes of One Man Stand, Yo el Rey, and his own band, his musical side one suggests giving him an understanding on how to let things naturally tell a narrative through the music and its arguably larger than life persona.

As the opening credits hit the screen the voice of a Japanese flight crew member of the airline bringing the band to Tokyo welcomes passengers and viewers to the feast of visuals and sound ahead. The screen then splits into three with fans excitedly awaiting the band in one box alongside another showing the busy aspect of life and the cosmopolitan style of the country, both surrounding a live track from one of The Vox Dolomite shows. As the band explode with their impressive live presence, the clarity of sound of the show unleashing the full power and craft of the band, Chalkman keeps everything vibrant, intriguing, and magnetic by varying the splitting of the screen and the constant caress of images. At times it might be just a full screen look at the band playing and other times two or band and friendthree simultaneously playing films of continued looks at Japan, its people, and fans side by side with live performance. The craft and skill within the film is that at no moment does this full helping of visuals over power, distract, or slip by, everything devoured by the eye with keen attention and appetite.

With live performances at various venues on the tour of songs such as Losing Hands, No Split Ends, Break Down The Walls, and Horrorshow, the film is a continual treat of live unbridled energy and passion from band and hungry fans which alone makes for a compelling treat for the eyes and senses but with the potent and diverse images of the country and its people, the film becomes an even richer documentary of The Vox Dolomites within the magnificent giant ‘venue’ warmly entertaining them. Particular favourite moments alongside the outstanding live performances, always a given with The Vox Dolomites, include the band recording a cover of the classic Menace track GLC at Roxy and Green Brew studios in Tokyo with Taizo Hayama providing the vocals, the array of stunning guitars designs shown at one point in a store, and the closing live track, a version of DREX song We Will Have Our Say which sees tour organiser Takumix Mitsuda leading the song with passion and unrestrained energy.

The Dirty Work Tour 2012 movie is a real treat and pleasure to watch, listen to, and return to over and over again. An honest and complete emotional canvas of sound and vision with no indulgences or ego, this is one music film which deserves all the attention it can and should get so go and hit the link right now… https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=tuwjfClHZbU

www.thevoxdolomites.com

www.chalkmanvideo.com

10/10

RingMaster 05/03/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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

www.audioburger.com

From eager seeds to mighty sounds: the rise of Savage Henry

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The musical journey for Colorado band Savage Henry and its members has been long and undoubtedly exhausting for a group whose seeds began with a group of teenagers who started out on a musical quest in 1994 as the band On Second Thought. The musical exploration and venture of the Denver band is still an expanding and growing experience with already plenty of highlights but as 2013 opens its welcoming arms the feeling that Savage Henry is standing on the precipice of a deserved wider reaching recognition is a strong warm wind in their creative skies.

From that summer the original members of the band from the those first days and those who joined as Savage Henry emerged in 2004,  earned their musical spurs through releases and hard work leading up to the band’s introduction through the album All In the following year. With a line-up of vocalist Damon Guerrasio, guitarist Stu Miller, bassist Ryan Morrow, drummer Mike Rice, and keyboardist Jeremy Lawton, the band found the impressive record strongly received record upon its debut in July 2005 at the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheater (part of the Film on the Rocks series) and showed the creative prowess and imagination of the songwriting was back to its creative best with extra instinctive flourish and rock passion to the new songs, though less of the previous ska and reggae teasing, though it still whispered loudly at times. Constantly rippling with great tracks like the wonderfully engaging Daisy, the tantalising Alive & Kickin’ where the band switches feet and styles with consummate ease and skill, and the feisty Monkey, the biggest highlight of the album, the release incorporated many essences and flavours into its pulsating passage The last of the three mentioned offered a potent Squeeze like warm rock pop beauty, just one compelling example of the thoughtful diversity within the release. It is a record which re-ignited the emotions the first album of OST sparked and more, its varied and riveting array of ideas and sounds going a long way to helping the band find themselves with again plenty of radio attention which included performances at Denver rock stations 93.3 KTCL and 99.5 KQMT amongst a full on charge of gigs and shows, over 175 including sharing stages with the likes of Cowboy Mouth and Better than Ezra to name a couple.

Changes in personnel occurred in 2007 with bassist Morrow joining fellow Denver band, Black Blood Orchestra and drummer Rice turning to solo projects. Replaced by John Jeffers and Mike Boyd respectively and with the additional joining of second guitarist 2009 Savage HenryGlen Esparza, the band sculpted another striking evolution to their sound for next album Step Lively which was unveiled in 2009. Again the even stronger rock voice of the band ignited the passions whilst the pop and ska breezes added extra relish to their increasingly potent music. From its very start with the magnetic Shot In The Dark and the immense Broken, the album is a wonderful storm of sinewy riffs and thumping rhythms entwined with a heated melodic majesty as well as a seamlessly fused intelligent caress of emotive and golden elegance in songs like Melody and Call On Me. The release also found a rich vein of pop punk to ignite certain songs as in the excitable and brilliant Unrequited and the equally scintillating Vice. Without doubt the album is the band’s finest moment to date and the strongest of many reasons why you feel the band is standing on the verge of breaking into that worldwide recognition.

Since the album the band has continued to make an impression on the radio and live, as well as having their song 300 Miles which SH_1was inspired by a terrible bus accident with a Fed Ex truck during a tour of the mid-west, licensed by Eddie Bauer and First Ascent ski clothing company to use in a video to advertise their clothing around the world from 2010-2011.The past year was noted for a video produced by the band’s passionate P.R. Manager Hal Jester, for the track Hero which was written to honour fallen soldiers and those that have made the greatest sacrifice for us, as well as generally a growing intensity in the media through blogs and radio play with the likes of http://www.audioburger.com. Their increasing presence thanks to the online drive of Jester has put the band in a prime position to make 2013 a major landmark in the eighteen year history of the band whilst news of new songs in the works has already raised the appetite and anticipation of all those to have discovered the band and their great sounds so far.

Savage Henry is a band everyone should get acquainted with and surely will over the coming months.

http://www.savagehenry.net/

Pete RingMaster 02/02/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

By The Rivers: Take Control

   By The rivers

    Take Control is the new single form the highly rated UK sextet By The Rivers, a band which has already earned eager praise and a loyal following around their home town of Leicester and further afield. The single is a warm and vibrant blend of reggae and ska tinged enterprise which teases and caresses the senses into a warm and satisfied bliss.

Formed in 2010 by friends Nile Barrow (vocals/guitar) and Jordan Birtles(drums/vocals), By The Rivers has certainly been on a steady and rapid rise. Taking their passion for the sound, culture, and style of reggae and its roots, the pair soon recruited Will Todd (saxophone), Leo May (trumpet), Matt Willars (bass), and Sam Read (keyboard/guitar/backing vocals) to the mix. The first year saw the band venture into the live arena to rapturous responses and within their first seven gigs had lined up to support Dawn Kinnard, Neville Staples, Toploader, and Fun Lovin Criminals. The band was in strong demand with venues and promoters with the following year seeing the band support the likes of The Buzzcocks, Maxi Priest, Musical Youth, Dawn Penn, Saxon Sound, Neville Staple, and John Holt & The Specials. Their second EP repeated the success of their first with fans as did their debut single One Word, both earlier EPs receiving a full release as a single package in 2011, the release reaching second spot in the iTunes Reggae Album Charts, behind Bob Marley.

Released on Kompyla Records, second single Take Control shows with ease why the band is hailed as something special. Opening 1778070903-1with pulsating bass strokes and gentle yet fiery brass calls the song is an immediate temptation, its heated elegance and sinewy heart an instant magnet for the ear. A musical infection sets in even before the vocals have a place in the scheme of things with the fine tones of Barrow and Birtles elevating the existing satisfaction to greater depths. Limbs are recruited before the willing passions, both without defence to the magnetic melodic wash and inciting passion of the song musically and lyrically. It is a gentle yet formidable coaxing, a persuasive ‘call to arms’ which engages on every level, voice and thoughts willing recruits to the heart and breath of the song. Our knowledge of reggae and its history is sketchy at best but the same emotion and pleasure spawned from the best moments of UB40 and the current enterprise and emotion of Onlyjoe is prevalent throughout the song.

The track is accompanied by a remix by Radio Riddler (Fast & Frank Benibi of Fun Lovin Criminals)of the single and the excellent acoustic version of the song Don’t Stand Alone. The remix is a more than decent engagement which lights different shadows and flames from within the original song whilst the last song is a deeply impressive and pleasing wash of acoustic guitar, melodica, and the again delicious vocals and harmonies of the band founders. A fresh and uncomplicated breeze of emotive energy and mesmeric craft, the track would have made an irresistible single all on its own, the living melodic and harmonic contagion quite delicious.

By The Rivers is on the verge of big things and Take Control the compelling persuasion that it will be sooner rather than later. Just starting a tour of England, this is a band which brings something invigorating musically and emotionally to UK reggae and melodic enterprise.

https://www.facebook.com/bytherivers

RingMaster 22/01/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright