City Reign: Another Step

cityreign-anotherstep

    Another Step the debut album from UK indie alternative rock band City Reign, is a release which leaves one mutually satisfied and dissatisfied. Consisting of eleven excellently crafted and presented slices of guitar driven passion the album has all the ingredients and invention needed to ignite the passions but lacks the fire and uniqueness to achieve that intention. The band from Manchester has the promise and craft to forge a formidable place in UK indie music, and has already for a great many people, but Another Step falls short of being the trigger.

The band was formed by songwriters and guitarists Chris Bull and Mike Grice, who met six years ago at a Ryan Adam concert at the Manchester Academy. The following years saw them writing and playing in bands together before starting up City Reign whose name the pair took from an Adams song, City Rain, City Streets. The past three years has seen the band release their debut single Making Plans on their own label Car Boot Records, the song gaining the support and enthusiasm of Steve Lamacq, and the Numbers For Street Names EP in 2011. As with following singles Out InThe Cold and Daybreak, the band received strong reviews and responses from online press and bloggers from their releases and soon embarked on their first UK tour and ventures in Europe.

With drummer Duncan Bolton and bassist Michael Glaze completing the line-up, the quartet recorded Another Step with producer Sam Jones (Band on the Wall, Alex Turner) in Salford’s Sacred Trinity Church, making full use of the building’s natural acoustics and not allowing being interrupted by a funeral the priest had double booked at the same time, to slow their creative momentum. Musically the band has a sound which to simplify things is an intriguing mix of Oasis and The Mighty Lemon Drops which possibly shapes the personal indecision towards its potency from a dislike of the former and love of the latter. Certainly from opening track Anchor through to the last rich note of the release the album enthrals and evokes with its honest impassioned voice. The first track opens with sturdy riffs and rapid rhythms around a sonic groove which plucks at the senses with infectious engagement. The vocals of Bull releases the heart of the track with strong expression and is ably aided by the good group harmonies across the chorus, whilst musically there is a slight Inspiral Carpets whisper to the pulsating track. It is a grower too, the initial encounter leaving mild content with evolved into strong admiration and pleasure, something which can be applied to the whole album.

Making Plans, Out In The Cold, and Sleep Easy follow to warm the ear with stylish melodic enticement and an overall raw honest energy. There is a familiarity to the songs which even with their individual moments of compelling invention means they do not leap out at the ear or rip attention from the world but all are accomplished and well- crafted companions.

After the slow melodic melancholy of The Line, a track which brings Doves and Mighty Lemon Drops to thoughts as well as seductive strings from Maya Kashif, Graham MacKenzie, and Ailsa Hoyle, the album truly hits its strides and moves into its strongest moments starting with Retaliate. The song opens with guitar caresses brought with a delicious kiss of discord and wraps its emotive arms around the listener with warmth and plaintive passion. Again Oasis is a predominate spice with the rich lush strings again elevating things to an absorbing grandeur to leave ear and thoughts engrossed from start to finish.

The excellent See What It’s Worth with its sinewy rhythms and bulging energy is the prime highlight of the album, the rock track bringing vibrant diversity to what is at times a singularly gaited release whilst musically the band show they can pump up the pulse rate as easily as they can tenderly coax it. The big boisterous beats of Daybreak introduce another pinnacle upon the album, the song a sculpted melodic brawl for the ear to devour. Contagious in every note and rhythmic persuasion, the track is a pleasing restrained riot of sound which like many other tracks shows the deep potential of the band.

With further songs like the first single from it, the sensitive Ahead of Ideas and closing track Anywhere, Anyway offering strong ideas, the album is a satisfying if at times underwhelming release which certainly deserves investigation. With a more distinct character to its songs and diversity to the vocals of Bull to break up the similarity which puts a glaze upon the album, Another Step would have convinced the passions much more but nevertheless it still sets City Reign firmly on the radar of bands to watch.

http://cityreign.net/

Another Step 6.5/10 The promise of City Reign 8.5

RingMaster 25/02/2013

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Eighteen Nightmares At The Lux: Mother Of Girl

Half way through the year and I guess we all have some serious contenders for single of the year already but now we have a release which puts all others so far in the shade. Mother Of Girl from Eighteen Nightmares At The Lux is quite simply a delicious and irresistible frenzy of infectious persistent riffs, bone resonating rhythms, and irrepressible energy. Playing their self tagged and apt fuzzabilly, the quartet from London has unleashed a single which is inspiring and evidence that there is still a fresh and eager heart to be found in music, most importantly though it is so damn catchy.

Eighteen Nightmares At The Lux first came to notice in 2008 with their track Mrs Madam which grabbed the enthused attention of Steve Lamacq at BBC 6 Music. What followed was success in unsigned competitions, a tour with Dodgy, and more success with their debut single Smile Now Lady. 2010 saw the acclaimed release of their first EP Fuzz Candy which from its release party led the band into a monthly residency at the Death2Disco Club. In an ever building wave of attention the band released their again well received second EP Draw The Curtain last year from which the new single is pulled. The song accompanied by a new track is destined to elevate the band even further as the country and further afield wake up to one of the most exciting and exhilarating bands to emerge in recent years.

Mother of Girl opens with the prompt “Go on take off your clothes”. Well not wishing to be rude it was done though it is hard to know if it added to the pleasure but it was quite liberating. The song opens with twin scuzzed up guitars buzzing around the ear like mischievous hornets soon joined by thumping beats and excited eager vocals. The track evolves into a garage punk feast of insatiable tendencies to match the lyrics and makes it impossible to not take part in its salacious energy and sounds within the first minute. With an anthemic cry for the secret desires of many…hmmm just me?…the song is a teasing swaggering romp for the heart. With veins of psychobilly and dirty blues the song is immense, it is quite simply  one of the best things heard in a long time.

Alongside Mother of Girl the release treats with Law Breaking Blues, a track confirming the diversity of the band as offered on their previous releases. The song is a shadowed blues soaked rockabilly pleasure for the ear. Opening with a great emotive blues harmonica and effected vocals the song sets a back street corner atmosphere lit by a single lamp. Once the image sets in the song then erupts into a blistered rockabilly stomp bringing essences of The Cramps into rampant league with Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers and Batmobile. With a plaintive blazing guitar throughout and perpetual pace changes the song is a stirring and incendiary piece of rock n roll.

The quartet of Shimon Joseph, Const Groenert, Greg Gold, and Alex Allen, has truly awakened 2012 with Mother Of Girl, and with an EP recently recorded ahead its anticipation is truly ignited. Eighteen Nightmares At The Lux is our new favourite band, they are just waiting to become yours.

https://www.facebook.com/eighteennightmaresatthelux

RingMaster 20/06/2012

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Lizzyspit: Home/ Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves

It was last year that Lizzyspit or Elizabeth Knights to her Mum, first captured our attention with her outstanding EP I’m Alive You Know, a release which enchanted not only us but also the likes of Emily Sandé, Janice Long, and Steve Lamacq, and a growing wave of new fans. Since then she has seemed relatively quiet though that is probably down to the fact she has relocated across the globe. The London girl has gone and moved to South West Australia, and there we were about to offer her an all expenses slap up meal, oh well. Now settled she has returned with her acoustic guitar primed and ever captivating voice in full song with a double A-sided single Home/ Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves.

The two tracks were recorded last year before Lizzyspit made her big move and were songs which found an eager reception when introduced in her live shows previously. Teaming up with producer/designer Matt Schonborn who worked on her previous single Talk You Down, she recorded the pair of songs just before 2011 closed her eyes and it has to be said they are arguably the best thing she has done to date.

Home is a song about a surfer who is prevented from going home to the ocean by his life in the city, the track visiting the emotions behind the situation and its developing journey to a heart fulfilling conclusion. The song can be translated to any personal life where one is prevented or removed from where the love and heart truly is and makes for a thoughtful and provocative piece of songwriting. Lizzyspit caresses the ear with her again and to be honest now expected exceptional vocals and emotive grace as she offers  understanding and comfort to the focus of the song and any personal issue that it maybe incites. It is a wonderful song which confirms her as one of the most engaging and impressive indie folk artists in the world.

Obviously Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves is a cover of the Cher classic and what a fine version it is. The fully impressive thing about it though is that Lizzyspit has not taken the easy route as most artists seem to do and simply covered it. She has turned it into her own song, reinvented it with an emotional and haunting breath to create an easy rival in quality and power to the original. With absorbing harmonies and an electric presence behind her acoustic tenderness and deeply expressive vocals, the song is immense and further unveils the imaginative and creative craft of Lizzyspit.

Released June 25th this wonderful single should elevate her into a wider realm of recognition and acclaim.

To mark the release, Lizzyspit is giving fans the opportunity to win a personally written song. Fans can tweet the singer (@Lizzyspit) their reactions to the new record Home/Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves. One winner will be selected at random and the song, when written, will be videoed and uploaded to her social networks.

Lizzyspit will be back in the UK this September, and will be performing a series of gigs, live in the flesh. Watch this space for further details.

RingMaster 18/06/2012

 

 

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Maz Totterdell: Sweep

 

There is never a shortage of talent in music but sometimes someone comes along to leave mouths open within a wave of musical and creative magic. Such a person is Maz Totterdell, a singer/songwriter so immense in promise and already realised talent that it is frightening. At just fifteen years old she releases her debut album Sweep on May 28th through Series 8, a collection of songs and artistry to catapult her in to headier skies from the already acclaimed plateau she graces. It is not just the music and songs which impress but the remarkable maturity to it all that belies her years.  This is a life yet to truly live and as the album caresses and lights up emotions and thoughts the sense that once Totterdell has felt the experience of life in its full there will be nothing she will not be able to portray within or bring to her rich and deep creativity.

From aged nine Totterdell was performing at open mic nights in her home of Devon, the following year saw her in the final of UK Unsigned at the Hackney Empire. At eleven she turned to writing her own songs and teaching herself the guitar and within two years was playing her own compositions to eager audiences in local venues and festivals. First single came in the shape of the excellent Counting My Fingers, a song that found dedicated and persistent play on Radio 2 and 6 Music through the likes of Sir Terry Wogan, Steve Lamacq, and Radcliffe & Maconie. Now with Sweep it is hard to imagine anything but a full thrust of affection and praise flying her way and upon the album, the astonishingly striking and deeply pleasing.

      Counting My Fingers opens up the album to instantly light up the senses, its eager heart an immediate infection. The semi acoustic sway of the song has a mesmeric effect upon the ear drawing the warmest reaction and participation to its addictive chorus and energy. Musically it is uncomplicated and maybe unadventurous but that is its charm and the perfect canvas for the excellent vocals and teen angst Totterdell unveils.

New single Heart In Your Pocket steps up next to continue the great start. The song is a slower emotive piece of folk pop which wraps its almost pleading energy around the ear with a gentle yet firm intent. Predominantly the songs are Totterdell in voice, guitar and/or keys with the accompanying skills of a few aiding the realisation of her imaginative and passion drenched invention. On this song amongst those helping is Paul Bateman on bass, his delicious distant growled notes in the shadows of the song bringing an edge of disruptive peace and happiness and instils a resonance and depth to the track.

The likes of the excellent Delirious which sees Totterdell hypnotising thoughts with voice, harmonies and guitar alone, the sneaky Lazy Day and a song far more addictive then you initially realise, and Willow (Angel Child), all leave one immersed in pleasure and lingering satisfaction. The latter of these three is a folk gem as instinctive as they come with simply stirring emotive violin assistance from Sarana Verlin and the first song that Totterdell unveils her full potential, its glorious seeds of astounding promise ahead firmly planted.

As much as the whole album delights and impresses the final two songs seal the fullest captivation. The Leaver’s Song is a stunning piece of songwriting which leaves one glowing in respect, adoration, and anticipation for the years ahead. From its gentle guitar and voice intro the song beckons with a tenderness and enchantment that gives an irresistible platform for the melancholic breath that lies on every note and chord. As the song fills out into its full height the power of the song and Totterdell are astonishing. It is impossible not to feel it in every sense and emotion. She captures the same majestic mix of sound and passion that the Scottish band Letters conjure and it is the mightiest moment on the album.

The closing Little Puzzle, a cheeky little gem of a song with mischievous melodies and childish percussion, simply leaves one with sunshine in the heart and smile on the face as the album waves its goodbyes. It is an aural sunset that offers the promise of an even bright day ahead, something the whole album does in sound and promise.

Sweep is wonderful, a true pleasure. The scary thing is that Maz Totterdell is far from the finished article, many aspects of her skills and craft are open to improvement but one knows that will come with experience and dare one say age. To be so impressive and produce music like this already is staggering and yes frightening of what she should achieve in her future. Cannot wait!

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RingMaster 23/05/2012

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