Ragweed – Parerga

Ragweed Online Band Photo

Raw, abrasive, and sonically uncompromising, Parerga the new album from UK sludge punks Ragweed is one of those treats you did not know you had a lustful appetite for but soon breed an insatiable hunger towards upon introduction. A caustic maelstrom of punk, sludge metal, noise, and psyche rock, band and release is a delicious violation of the senses with hooks and grooves as irresistibly appetising as the webs of corrosive noise wrapping their lures. Imagine a mutated union of XII Boar and Fugazi with Swell Maps and The St Pierre Snake Invasion, all stirred with a healthy spoon of Melvins devilment and you have Ragweed.

Formed in 2012, the Brighton band has gone through a few line-ups before the duo of duo of vocalist/guitarist Tom Adamson and drummer Nick Spooner linked up with bassist Joe Dann at the end of last year (though Spooner has recently now left the band). Gaining a fine reputation and following for their live shows, the Ragweed had already released the well-received Double Chalker EP before the current threesome were united but it is easy to feel that Parerga will be the break through release, certainly to a more potent and wider recognition.

From the first gnarly strains of Dann’s bass which opens up first track Black & Scaly, ears and attention are gripped, with appetite swiftly following especially with the subsequent squall of guitar confrontation leading to bracing grooves. Ragweed Album CoverThe track is soon prowling with a devilry and shadowed temperament, riffs infectious bait to which the swinging beats of Spooner impose greater suasion. Vocally Adamson switches between a discord kissed yet smooth delivery and raging expulsions to match the crawling weight and addictive posture of the track. It is an outstanding start which flirts through the inventive craft of the band but is primarily a predator of the senses and imagination.

The following Dermol Dispenser whips out contagious grooves from the start, teasing and exciting ears with their catchy enterprise and carnal intrusion before entwining them with slower lumbering twists. Elements of Fra Pouch and Therapy? offer hints across the also feverishly compelling song, whilst the underlying twang which erupts to stronger clarity at times is surely Pantera inspired. The track keeps the album a seriously impressive confrontation which is backed just as mightily by Nip The Bud. Offering a funk seeded groove from the off within a less concussive web of noise than previous songs and scything guitar strikes, the track twists and entices with a garage punk ingenuity stalked by another superbly enslaving bass sound and adventure. It is a brilliant proposition, Television Personalities, The Fall, and even a whiff of Red Hot Chili Peppers whispers in the tempestuous warped majesty of the song.

     Strange Colour rumbles in with a heavy weight gait and intent next, bass and beats a primal incitement to which the guitar of Adamson saws and snarls away irrepressibly. The monotone lilted vocals add to the inescapable temptation whilst the guitarist’s coarser roars enhance the ever present punk voracity which soaks the song and whole album. The track alone proves that Ragweed is a band able to provide a rich and captivating meal for fans of punks, metal, doom, and stoner infused sludge rock with ease.

Both the unpolished propositions of Divorce Reality and Gun Fever keep ears and appetite hungry if without quite matching their predecessors. The first is a more metal driven stroll but with a sultry groove which simply smoulders threat and seduction. Vocally the song lacks the bite and invention of earlier ones yet with invention to the causticity of the guitar and imagination to the rhythmic gallop and bordering on sadistic savagery of certain twists, it is a magnetic encounter which gets better and better with time. Its successor is a bruising and brawling slab of punk antagonism which again lacks the spark of others but still breeds a need for more with its merciless and relentless sonic rabidity.

The release closes with George Moshington, another intensive tangle of ravenous grooves, biting rhythms, and virulent sonic temptation. Bass and guitar spin a net of ridiculously addictive endeavour which the swings of Spooner punctuate with just as riveting venom and ferocity. The track is an incendiary and tremendous conclusion to an outstanding album which will and deservedly should, push Ragweed to a new eager and extensive spotlight.

The self-released Parerga is available from Monday 18th August

https://www.facebook.com/Ragweedrock

9/10

RingMaster 17/08/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Kristy And The Kraks – Self-Titled EP

kristykraks

Casting a seductive web of sixties and garage punk, Kristy and the Kraks has a sound which sidles up to the imagination with lips pouted and provocatively swaying hips before adding a sonic glaze to the affair which permeates psyche and passions with equal tenacity. Hailing from Vienna, the band has just released their debut self-titled EP, a release consisting of four songs said to be inspired by Le Tigre and Julie Ruin. It is a raw and enchanting blaze of punk enterprise which croons and teases as its scores the senses in a presence which for us is best described as The Cramps and The Creeping Ivies meets The 5 6 7 8’s and The Crystals.

Kristy and the Kranks is the creation and union of Kate Kristal (Rabe, Dot Dash) and Ana Threat (The Happy Kids, Bretzel Krake Hoffer), the two coming together for the project in the spring of last year. Providing a temptation of two sets of vocals, a single guitar, and a basic stand-up drum set, the pair alternating instruments for certain songs, Kristy And The Kraks mesmerise with their sound. Like the best strains of garage punk the band makes a startling first impression, one which challenges and intrigues predominantly but it is not long before their lo-fi wiles and simple melodic toxicity become an irresistible and captivating temptress.

A resonance of drums opens up the EP as I Don’t Love You No More steps into view, the initial beckoning soon joined by sultry calls of coverguitar, both aspects gentle in their persuasion and gait at first. As the vocals come forward a more flaming voice emerges in the guitar strokes, their acidic tempting deliciously raw edged as they align with the smouldering harmonies which skirt the similarly heated vocal lead. The chorus brings a flush of urgency behind its melodic enticement which then switches to and fro with the previous more even tempered but fiery narrative. The song and sound is quite compelling, like a humid union of The Shangri-Las and The Fall and thoroughly absorbing.

The following Twentyone is forty two seconds of irresistible addictiveness. It is simply a hypnotic stride of beats inflamed by scuzz grilled guitar with intermittent vocal shouts striking across its bow. There is very little more to it but boy is it effective and inflammatory for the passions, riling and lighting them up for the next up No No No No No. The third song, which has also been the source of the band’s debut video, opens on a sensational throaty twang of guitar, its resourceful baiting of the imagination complemented by harmonic waves of vocals and a courting percussive coaxing. The song flirts with its moves and sounds, its swerves and tempting as raw and seductive as you could wish for. There is something primal about the song and the overall sound of the band, an instinctive lure which you cannot tear yourself or emotions away from, with this track arguably the most naturally bewitching of the four.

The just as masterfully magnetic Suicide completes the contagious incitement, the song veining its shadows with sirenesque harmonies entwined in rich guitar colour as well as a rhythmic punctuation. It all combines to provide a gripping drama with a healthy whisper of The Slits to its invention.

The EP is a magnificent debut, a release which increases its persuasion and beauty over each dive into its vibrant uncluttered depths. A release for garage punk, post punk, and lo-fi melodic punk fans, Kristy And The Kraks has announced themselves with one lingering fascination of a debut. Expect to hear and enjoy a lot more of this charismatic band.

The EP is available as a limited edition 7″ as well as a digital download via Totally Wired Records now!

http://totallywiredrecords.bandcamp.com/album/kristy-and-the-kraks

http://www.facebook.com/kristykraks

9/10

RingMaster 19/04/2014

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Cross Wires – Assembly EP

Cross Wires

     Hankering for a slice of post punk infused new wave with that irrepressible eighties originality? Then a healthy purchase of the exploration of the new Cross Wires EP is your next mission in life.  Assembly is a riotous stomp of energetic imagination and deliciously niggling invention, a quartet of songs bred in the birth of those genres but equally ripe with a modern psyche stirring mischief. It teases, taunts, and romps with the senses like a discord draped devil child to quite easily and unrelentingly stir up the passions.

     Hailing from Bethnal Green and Romford in the UK, the foursome of vocalist Jonathan Chapman, guitarist Peter Muller, bassist Pete Letch, and drummer Ian Clarke has been sculpting an impressive reputation for their sound and live performances since their debut at The Others in Stoke Newington in late 2010; subsequently playing across the capital and home county Essex at notable venues including the Camden Barfly, Sebright Arms, Queen of Hoxton, 93 Feet East, The Half Moon, and Hoxton Underbelly. Two EPs, Forward/Repeat and Animal Heat announced the band to a wider audience in 2011 whilst a third, Dark Water, the following year only helped cement and accelerate their emerging presence which the outstanding Assembly will surely add another enthusiastic gear to.

    Cross Wires bring inspirations from the likes of Buzzcocks, The Clash, The Cure, Gang Of Four, and Wire into their own coverinventive devilry as well as that of XTC whose song on the White Noise album, the band named themselves after. To be honest anyone reaping the influences of one of our eternally favourite bands is given a head start with us though their music obviously has to do the talking, which on Assembly it loudly does. From the beginning of the opener Stranger’s Bed, the band lays an infectious hand on the imagination and passions as they cavort with the relish of a maniacal puppeteer. Thumping anthemic drums seize instant attention, setting things up for the jangle of guitars to add their own bait around the expressive vocals of Chapman. Into its infectious stride soon after the track stomps with a rhythmic vivacity and range of hooks which the Buzzcocks would be proud of, indeed the overall sound has a rich essence of the Mancunian band as well as the discordant enterprise of Medway band Houdini. It is an undemanding and thoroughly giving slab of post punk pop with a fuzzy breath to increase the appeal.

     Acid Bath, like the first, makes the strongest entrance possible. This time it is the bass stroking the ears with a riff certainly Gang Of Four inspired, its carnivorous voice and suasion an irresistible lure which only increases with the scythes of guitar and unpolished enticing vocals. The chorus of the song loses some of that initial potency as the thrust of the track softens but replaces it with a virulent causticity which touches on The Fall. Once more band and song has feet lurching around with eagerness whilst voice and energy is seduced into action with ease, the same results achieved by the brilliant I Want To Be Your Man (Again). The best track on the EP swaggers in with a slow swerving of its hips and a persistent flexing of its sonic audacity, the track a hybrid of all the good things already gracing the release, taking those qualities and invention into a loftier frisking of the passions. It is an exhilarating exploit raising a lustful greed once thought lost to those times in the eighties.

   Final song White Dress makes a less dramatic entrance than previous songs but is soon, through a precise hook within thumping rhythms, unleashing another Shelly and co styled persuasion with the Cross Wires imprint. It traps satisfaction in a lustful romp of angular enterprise and refreshing adventure and though the weakest of the four songs, in that it does not unleash the demon inside as certainly the previous pair of tracks do, White Dress still provides a magnetic proposal to sell your dignity for and a delicious end to a thrilling release.

     If any of the bands mentioned or just simply punk, new wave, and post punk in general lifts your temperature then Cross Wires is a band to set a fire in your thoughts and emotions, though as Assembly shows, expect the unpredictable and something which is certainly seeded in those glorious older times but takes you on a new adventure. With the Assembly EP free at http://crosswires.bandcamp.com/album/assembly-ep there is little reason not to be part of this extremely promising and exciting band.

https://www.facebook.com/CrossWires

9/10

RingMaster 21/02/2014

 Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Sisteray – She Likes The Drama

sisteray

     Since forming in 2012, British rock band Sisteray has been building a rather potent fan base and appreciation through  their live performances and releases, an eagerly followed presence which their new EP She Likes The Drama gives plenty of evidence to the reason why. The four track release is an engaging proposition which from making an initially decent if unsure persuasion emerges as a magnetically appealing enjoyment. It is fair to say the EP does not quite reach in to ignite a flame in these particular passions but from the sure satisfaction definitely found you can easily see that it will be a different proposition for a great many others.

    Hailing from London and consisting of Niall Rowan (lead vocals/rhythm guitar), the Connolly brothers Daniel (lead guitar/vocals) and Ryan (drums), and Michael Hanrahan (bass), Sisteray take influences from the likes of The Kinks, The Beatles and The Who but equally from 70’s Mod Revival bands such as The Jam and Blues bands such as Dr. Feelgood, The Yardbirds, and The Rolling Stones. Those spices are open in the Sisteray sound as are also inspirations from more recent bands like The Stone Roses, The Arctic Monkeys, and Oasis. It is a striking mix which despite that rich soak of inciting flavours, does find a voice distinct to Sisteray as loudly evident on She Likes The Drama.

    The title track kicks things off, a single guitar tempting luring in attention and imagination before being joined by a nice dark 1536716_554607001299650_1249032493_nbassline and melodically sculpted riff strokes. It is a clean and precise persuasion of sixties blues kissed rock ‘n’ roll with a seventies garage rock breath and nineties indie endeavour. The song never explodes into the fire it hints at, especially around the chorus, but it is as infectious and compelling as you could wish for and undeniably makes a pleasing impact. The vocals of Rowan like the song are expressive with a strong buoyant tone whilst the prime hook of the song is irresistibly potent and with the other enticing elements of the song it all adds up to make the track an increasingly enticing offering over time.

      The following Rollin’ Over also offers a highly coaxing entrance into the song, a lone throaty and slowly parading bassline beckoning ears before the subsequent flame of melodic guitars and crisp rhythms joins the tempting. There is a stronger blues aroma to the song right away which the group vocals around the chorus accentuate into a quite inflammatory suasion. Again the band never erupts into the assumed and hoped to come unleashing of anthemic energy within the track, which does disappoint slightly, but there is plenty in the swagger and voice of the song to draw in appetite for and enjoyment in the encounter.

      I’m Free emerges on a fuzz ball of sonic intrigue increasing further the blues fire which smoulders and burns in each song, whilst a certain Oasis bred croon equally impacts on the ears. Not as tantalising and ultimately impressing as the other songs, it still captures the imagination especially with the constant almost brawling blaze of sonic scowling which cores the musical narrative. Providing the heaviest rock ‘n’ roll moment of She Likes The Drama, the track keeps momentum and strength of the release strong and engaging before making way for the closing Coming Up.

     The song ensures the release ends on the same high as it started, actually an even greater success with the track the best on the EP. It takes a mere second before the irresistible hook of the song steals the imagination, its call switching with a more sobering but inviting swipe of riffs. Into its stride the song is soon urging feet and emotions to partake in its revelry, its presence a mix of the mod power pop of Purple Hearts, the raw punk simplicity of The Fall, and the addictive nature of Arctic Monkeys. It is a masterful and wholly contagious thrill which alone confirms that Sisteray is definitely a choice emerging force in UK rock.

     As previously stated She Likes The Drama fails to spark up the strongest emotions in our personal reactions, well until the excellent final song anyway, but it is impossible not to hear the potential and already toxic strengths of the band which has captured so many hearts already, with plenty more to follow you can only suspect. A release if any of the previously mentioned comparisons take your fancy, to give a big slice of attention to.

http://www.sisteray.com/

7.5/10

RingMaster 15/02/2014

 Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Follow the rabbit into the weird: an interview with Mr. Strange

Mr. Strange

Fans of UK musical mutants The Shanklin Freak Show have already been touched, inspired, and seduced by the creativity and psyche teasing craft of the band’s former frontman Mr. Strange whilst his solo work has equally gripped the imagination of a great many but now the songwriter/producer/vocalist/musician has taken it all to a new level with the release of this exceptional new album The Wonderful World Of Weird. A release walking the reams of insanity and artistic rapaciousness, it is a diverse and riveting exploration of sounds, invention, and dice into the weird persona that is Mr. Strange. Greedily wanting to find out more we had the joy and adventure to talk to the man himself with the adding pleasure of his artistic cohort Stench on top also sharing thoughts and time with us. Investigating The Wonderful World Of Weird, we talked origins, The Shanklin Freak Show, Marilyn Manson, the bright lights and much more…

Greetings Mr. Strange and thank you for taking time out to let us delve into your world of weird.

Mr. Strange: Greetings! Thank you, sir, I’m glad to be here. Smells funny though!

You are well known amongst fans for your founding and leading of The Shanklin Freak Show (TSFS) until recently but maybe less know about your solo exploits before and running alongside the band; could you give some background to those?

Mr. Strange: Before I started The Shanklin Freak Show in March 2003, I began learning my craft as a programmer / producer way back in 1998. I bought a basic music creation game for the original PlayStation simply called ‘Music’ and became completely obsessed with it! As laughable as it sounds, it was actually quite a competent music tool, and a great introduction to music programming. Before I made the upgrade to professional (real) music software, I made a whole album using just this game and my PlayStation. This album was completed in February 2003, although I did add some vocals and guitars to the final version of the album using my current studio set-up. The final version of the album was eventually released in late 2011 as Sounds From The Asylum, which is an apt title methinks! Anyway, back to 2003. As soon as Sounds From The Asylum was finished I went full-throttle into The Shanklin Freak Show project, greatly helped by the fact I could finally record guitars and vocals with my swanky new production software – which I could not do before 2003. The Shanklin Freak Show project pretty much had my full attention until late 2011. The only exceptions to this were my collaborations with Global Citizen acting as co-producer on two albums – those being Master Stroke and Nil By Mouth – as well as the Mr. Strange album The Fall which I made in late 2007.. But for the most part, my solo exploits only resumed once I stepped down from the forefront of The Shanklin Freak Show in November 2011. Now my Mr. Strange projects are my primary focus… and my cats.

From all the music and projects you have been involved with it is clear to see that your sounds and tastes are rather eclectic, what are some of the major inspirations which have spiced your own ideas over the years?

Mr. Strange: Well, being a rather flamboyant chap, nearly all of my musical influences fall in to the “theatrical” category. Bands and artists who present themselves in a very theatrical way tend to make more outlandish music, and that’s definitely what floats my boat, as it were! I’ll try to keep it snappy, so here’s a shortlist of some of my most influential artists: Danny Elfman, David Bowie, Mushroomhead, Dr. Steel, The Sisters Of Mercy,  Alice Cooper, Mortiis (only the ‘Smell Of Rain’ album), Krizz Kaliko, The Duke Of Stratosphere, Twiztid, Marilyn Manson, The Prodigy, ICP, Mr. Bungle (or almost anything from the mind of Mike Patton), Gary Numan, Tech N9ne, White Zombie / Rob Zombie, and Babylon Zoo. That last one’s not a joke by the way! Stop laughing.

Tell us about creating TSFS and its own unique and dark world?TSFS with Mr. Strange

Mr. Strange: I started The Shanklin Freak Show in early 2003, the first ever Freak Show song was written and recorded in March I believe, a little random fact for those who may be interested. The whole concept was meant as a home, a form of escapism, for those who felt rejected by the world. Basically the kind of outlandish, Tim Burton-esque world I wanted to escape to myself at that time. My failure at finding a place to belong in the world led me to try and make my own, both for myself and others who felt the same. The basic concept is articulated best in the song ‘Twisted Family,’ check it out if you want to get your noggin around what the whole Freak Show thang is about. Musically, it was born out of my love of some of the earlier Insane Clown Posse records and my disappointment with (the then newly released) Marilyn Manson album The Golden Age Of Grotesque – I was expecting a deeply engrossing, dark, twisted, circus-style cabaret show of an album, my dream record, but what arrived was an album of fairly standard industrial pop songs. I imagined it to sound far more intriguing and I found the idea behind the record a lot better than the end product, so I went about trying to create the album I imagined. That’s it really. It seemed like a good idea at the time…

Before we concentrate on your new album, you are still involved with TSFS but just not as the vocalist now? Why the decision to step down from that role?

Mr. Strange: Indeed, I’m still involved with the band, but just on the side-lines at the moment. I have to admit that my input has been very minimal since my departure, although that was not a conscious decision, that’s just how it’s played out up until this point. I may play a more active role in the band next year, songwriting and maybe doing the odd live shows here and there, but that’s all dependant on working it around what I’ll be doing with my own projects. There were many different factors contributing to me stepping down as the vocalist and retreating from the forefront of the Shanklin Freak Show, although the main factor was simply that I find performing live extremely nerve-wracking and didn’t want to do it anymore, at least not for a few years. I suppose the other main factor was that I was feeling burnt out with the project and my heart wasn’t really in it, at least not enough to knuckle down, overcome my nerves and keep playing live shows. I started the Freak Show in 2003, so I spent a full 8 years solely focused on that one project and to be honest, I think I just wanted to try new things, things that might not have worked within the context of The Shanklin Freak Show, if that makes sense?

You have just released the brilliant album The Wonderful World Of Weird, our favourite and one of the best if not THE best album this year, how long has it been in the making?

Mr. Strange: Firstly, thank you very much! Secondly, too damn long! I started the album in October 2011 and finished it in October 2013. The reason for this overly long development process was due to uncertainty as to where I wanted to go after the Shanklin Freak Show. I had loads of ideas, but for my first release after TSFS I wanted to make a record that would be fresh and also slightly familiar, that’s a very specific sound to try and go for, and one that was tricky to find balance for. I’d write a few songs, then over analyse them and come to the conclusion that I wasn’t heading in the right direction, so they’d gather dust for a few months while I procrastinate, then I’d become enthused with the Wonderful World of Weird project again and get a couple of more songs done, then doubt myself again. This process happened a few times, probably half of the two year development cycle was either spent doing nothing or writing material separate from the WWoW project! I’m currently working on developing and finishing those other ideas for my next record, needless to say it already sounds incredibly different to the Wonderful World of Weird and is even more of a departure from The Shanklin Freak Show sound.

StenchYou co-wrote many of the tracks and recorded it with TSFS’s guitarist Stench (Gary Mason to his mum); how easy was it to fit this in as I know the band is recording their own album too; are you to blame for the delay in the finishing of their album??? ;)

Mr. Strange: Having Stench work on the album with me has had no bearing on the speed of The Shanklin Freak Show’s musical output, don’t blame me! Haha.

STENCH:  I don’t think Mr Strange is to blame in the slightest. The delay has been down to a few factors. The Last Show mixing process has been troublesome and we were never completely happy with it and didn’t want to release something that would make us cringe, knowing that we could’ve done better. Obviously, we had the addition of Kronik on Bass, rehearsals, gigs, festivals and the continual cycle of writing and recording. Plus, we’ve had the steep learning curve of being responsible for our own production. We have lots of songs that we’re working on and which are at various states of creation/completion. Plus, very recently, Mr Foul became a Daddy again. All in all, I think we’ve done pretty well, considering.

Mr. Strange: Thanks for backing me up there, Master Stench! I’ll slip you a fiver later.

How did the song writing work for the album and at what point did Stench get to add his explorations to your ideas?

Mr. Strange: We began working together full-time in late 2012 (we’d done bits and bobs together for the album before then, but it was an intermittent thing) almost exactly a year after I began work on the record. At that time I probably had roughly half the album that you can hear today, albeit in a very rough state and with very little guitar work on it. I think ‘White Rabbit’ is the only song that I play all of the guitars on, the rest of the album is pure Stench! With regards to songwriting, it kind of varies as to the approach we took. A lot of the songs were already half written, so Stench worked his magic over what was already there, but a few songs were written in a much more free-form manner. The songs Psycho Surfing A Go-Go‘ and Metropolis 2984 were the result of me and Stench just jamming and coming up with crazy stuff, which I’d never done before, so that was a great experience! Sadly a lot of our random jam songs didn’t make the cut for the album, but they’ll appear eventually. A lot of the tracks we wrote were simply too damn off the wall for the Wonderful World of Weird!

How much did Stench evolve and twist your ideas into new sparks within songs or did you go all dictator on him in this area? ;) (We at The RR know he likes to be dominated…)

Mr. Strange: While there was indeed a fair bit of dictating going on, Stench’s guitar wizardry certainly evolved a lot of songs in many ways. Even songs which were mostly finished by my lonesome have changed in tone and texture considerably since Stench shot his load over them! Songs which may have been dead ends from my point of view (as in not worth finishing) were saved by Stench taking the tune in a new direction with his magical, distorted, electrically-powered stringed instrument. The addition of guitar solos to a few songs has also altered the structure of some of the arrangements, giving the whole album a more free-flowing and natural feel, a definite departure to the more rigid electro-industrial pounding of some of my earlier songs with TSFS.

The guitar work provides a bait of hooks and grooves across the release which seems to breed from the other exotic or should that be erotic melodies and lures at large; did these come after the heart of the songs were exposed or in their initial breeding?

Mr. Strange: Wow, that’s one very eloquently worded question! I want some of what you’re smoking, sir! Haha. Methinks I’ll pass this one over to Stench.

STENCH:  I have to say, Mr Strange is always a pleasure to work with and we seem to be able to communicate very easily musically. So, I suppose that both cases are true as regards to the creation of the tunes. Sometimes, Mr Strange will have an idea of what he wants beforehand and I’ll just add my guitar parts under his strict instruction. Thankfully, I no longer have to wear the gimp mask. Other times, we start completely from scratch. Either way, it’s always fun and inspiring.

The Wonderful World Of Weird is a roller coaster of styles and flavours including industrial, steampunk, surf rock, 555928_584429381594861_1695733989_npsychedelic and gothic rock and much more all merged into the narrative of the album. This is a true reflection of both your musical tastes and the way your creative imaginations works, or predominantly Mr S’s (Saul); the album truly a landscape of your ideas and musical psyche?

STENCH:  I think we both have very eclectic musical influences and appreciate each other’s tastes. This makes it much easier to work together and helps with communicating ideas. But, yes, the album is predominantly Saul’s genius and I add either the cherry on top or the fly in the ointment, whichever is required at the time.

It is fair Mr. Strange to say the album is very different from your earlier songs as on The Fall and those written across all your projects as collated in the Freakshow album, both of 2011. I will admit this was a little bit of a surprise considering your major input and dramatic style within TSFS, so has this been a natural progression or have you had to consciously veer away from anything sounding like the band?

Mr. Strange: Yes, it was definitely a conscious decision to try and move away from the sound of the Shanklin Freak Show. The more complex song arrangements, featuring less prominent/heavy guitars, changing the tone and pitch of my vocals somewhat, being more daring with mixing varying genres on one album, all of it was done with the sole intention of trying to not sound like a new Freak Show album. I’d done 8 years of the Freak Show; I wanted to see if I could create something a little different. With all that said, I also tried to not move too far away from the Freak Show sound as to completely alienate people who may be following me after hearing the Freak Show. You can hear echoes of TSFS on songs like ‘Fire’, ‘White Rabbit’ and on ‘Exile’.

As the album is lyrically and musically a journey through the mind of Mr. Strange did you have a definite step by step guide to the order of songs and their effect on the album in mind before everything was recorded etc.?

Mr. Strange: I did indeed! However, what I planned out and what ended up being the Wonderful World of Weird album are two very different things. The narrative you hear on the finished record was re-written to fit the finished songs only a few months before the album’s release. I originally planned something far grander and more complex, but it was sounding so overblown, silly and pretentious that the scope for the record was scaled back considerably. It’s far more personal now; I think that works in its favour.

We described the opening title track to The Wonderful World Of Weird as Dr. Jekyll meets ICP as early Marilyn Mansion helps Victor Frankenstein create aural life for them to toy with upon a set designed by Willy Wonka, a description which in varying ways applies to the whole album; how would you describe the album to newcomers?

Mr. Strange: Tim Burton and Danny Elfman taking an absinth-fuelled journey through a variety of pop and rock’s more outlandish genres.

I imagine this album might appeal to people who like quirky / alternative pop. I was inspired by lots of the 80’s goth bands and loads of steampunk artists while making this record, so perhaps folks with similar tastes would enjoy it, too.

Tell us about our favourite track out of a great many on the album, Psycho Surfing-A-Go-Go.

STENCH:  Now this song is an example of how suddenly things happen organically. I think this was the fastest tune that we’ve ever written together. The major bones came together in an evening and the riffs were written on an old 1960’s Burns bass. Suddenly, it began writing itself. It was great fun to play as it has a tongue in cheek feel to the guitar lines. Also, it was nice to get outside of the box and let rip on some retro sounds. Mr. Strange knew from the off what he wanted to do vocal-wise and before we knew it, job done.

Mr. Strange 4Can we get a brief glimpse of the man behind Mr. Strange, we get the impression he is a shy retiring type… a tea drinker ;)

Mr. Strange: Of course I like tea, and no, you can’t get a glimpse! Aha! Although your impression could be considered strangely accurate…

You both hail from The Isle Of Wight which seems like a small hotbed of talent right now, covering numerous styles?

STENCH:  Absolutely, the music scene here is great and vast. It would take up another couple of pages to name every great musician or band based here. Of course, we have our favourites and it would be rude not to give them a shout. *Deep breath* Pleasurade, Hentai Babies, When Prophecy Fails, Becoming The Leviathan, Born Ina Barn, Silencing The Voiceless, Puritan Slain, Kingz Of Vocals, Counsil Estate Supermodels, The Ohmz, Hollowdrone and Nately’s Whore to name but a few. So you have your Alt-Pop, Progressive Metal, Hip-Hop, Reggae, Grunge and Punk. But, as with any music scene, anywhere, it needs support.

You have not been tempted by the bright lights of the mainland for musical reasons?

Mr. Strange: Career wise? Yes, but many factors prevented that from happening. I haven’t thought about it for years. I’m happy where I am right now, so I have no plans to move closer to the action, there’s more than enough in my trousers to keep me entertained, although the career opportunities are limited.

What is next for Mr. Strange, you do not seem like an artist to sit back and take a rest.

Mr. Strange: Indeed, you know me too well, sir! Were we lovers at some point? I have two projects / albums planned for next year. The first album (which I’m writing at this very moment) is progressing extremely fast, possibly dropping in April 2014. I’d wager no one will see this one coming; it’s so completely different to anything I’ve done before. Once that album is out and people adjust to the new strangeness, I’ll begin work on the next album, the one that will usher in my return to live music and my inevitable conquest of planet Earth! I hope to have that second record ready by the end of 2014, possibly with live touring to follow in 2015. Don’t hold me to those dates though, I’m just speculating at this point. Both albums will have completely different musical styles and theatrical imagery to match, but I shall say no more.

Where can people treat themselves to all things Mr. Strange and especially The Wonderful World Of Weird?

Mr. Strange: I think it would be very spiritually rewarding for people to go to my website and gasp in ecstasy at pictures of my devilishly handsome face! Links to all of my music and whatnot are located there, but my sexy pictures are where it’s at.

www.mrstrangemedia.comMr. Strange 3

If folks are into the social media thang, I’m on most of the popular sites, too:

www.facebook.com/Official.Mr.Strange

www.youtube.com/user/MrStrangeMedia

www.twitter.com/MrStrangeMedia

Once more thank you and of course to Stench for leaving your bedlam to talk with us, any thoughts to leave us with?

Mr. Strange: Expect the unexpected!

…and lastly please give us five records which shaped Mr. Strange.

1. Marilyn Manson – Portrait Of An American Family

2. Dukes Of Stratosphere – Chips From The Chocolate Fireball

3. Insane Clown Posse – The Great Milenko

4. Dr. Steel – Read-Along Album

5. Danny Elfman – Nightmare Before Christmas OST

Read The Wonderful World Of Weird review @ http://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/11/28/mr-strange-the-wonderful-world-of-weird/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 23/12/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Mr. Strange – The Wonderful World Of Weird

Mr. Strange promo

Just to prove that insanity can be the sweetest potent seduction The Wonderful World Of Weird is here to exploit and uncover the darkest secrets of your mind whilst travelling the exotic and dangerous mental halls of its creator Mr. Strange. The former frontman of the UK’s greatest still to be truly discovered musical mutants The Shanklin Freak Show, though he is still healthily involved in the band, Mr. Strange voraciously stalks the senses and emotions with his fourth album. It is a release which soundtracks a bedlam of sound and adventure from a quite maniacal imagination.

The Isle Of Wight hailing songwriter/producer/vocalist/musician began his musical exploration as ‘The Mad DJ’ in 1998 before emerging as Mr. Strange in 2006. He founded circus rock/steampunk band The Shanklin Freak Show in 2003, guiding the band as songwriter and vocalist up until starting an extended break from performing live at the end of 2011. Alongside The Shanklin Freak Show albums including Act II – The Light Fantastic of 2009 and Welcome To The Show of 2011, a few other projects, and producing a couple of albums by Global Citizen, Mr. Strange unleashed his solo musical rapaciousness. Sounds From The Asylum came first to be followed in 2011 by the releases of The Fall and Freakshow, the last a 38 track retrospective album chronicling the songs that he wrote under the Shanklin Freak Show name  which included new, unreleased, and re-recorded or re-mixed tracks. Now the sanity puppeteer steps forward again with the magnificent temptation of The Wonderful World Of Weird, the finest Mr. Strange musical and mental examination yet.

With more flavours than a giant box of Jelly Bellies, the album is a dramatic and exhilarating flight through the darkest yet 555928_584429381594861_1695733989_nmagnetically and vibrantly compelling mind of the fictional character of its creator, employing everything and anything from industrial and steampunk to gothic rock and progressive metal, and that is just scratching the surface. With many of the tracks co-written with Gary ‘Stench’ Mason, The Shanklin Freak Show guitarist and provider of the majority of the guitar invention across the release, the album immediately lures in senses and imagination with the opening spoken narrative leading in the title track. It instantly intrigues as the scene setting premise strolls into the irresistible stomp of the song. Rhythms bounce around with a heavy mischievous gait matched by the electro and bass taunting whilst the guitar casts lines of sonic and melodic bait which is pure infectious toxicity. Best described as Dr. Jekyll meets ICP as early Marilyn Mansion helps Victor Frankenstein create aural life for them to toy with upon a set designed by Willy Wonka, the track is a delicious fascination and the first irresistible hint of the lunacy to come.

Creating the World is an expansion to the landscape previously crafted with a gentle psychedelic ambience washing the dawning scenery. It is a mesmeric, almost meditative soaring of harmonies and guitar elegance with rubs of dub and scratching teasing the riveting flight. The seducing continues right up to the doorway into the Psycho Surfing-A-Go-Go, one of the major pinnacles upon the album. Again as between numerous songs, the narrator lays down an invitation before the surf rock contagion drops its shoulders and swerves through the ear with irrepressible virulence. The grooves enslave the passions within seconds whilst the rhythmic dance only builds a cage for rapture to breed within as fire kissed keys add smouldering lures to the hot and epidemically addictive romp of sonic lava. The song is one of the best heard anywhere this year; a beach party in the mind of Hunter S. Thompson hosted by The Cramps and The Bomboras with Two Wounded Birds, B52s, and The Revillos adding extra entertainment.

From the dark sinister realm of The World’s Dark Heart, Mr. Strange lurks in the steampunk/industrial graced world of Metropolis 2984, a track which equally extends some classic metal and psyche sculpted imagination to its captivating persuasion. There is a swing and energy to the track which infects feet and emotions but equally an underlying dark tone beneath the celestially soaring harmonies which suggest more 1984 than Fritz Lang. Again the album and artist has the listener in a tight grip of pleasure and suasion, though it never slipped from the first breath of the album to be fair, which tightens with firstly Clockwork Man and explodes through Fire. The first of the two stalks the ears with the drama and theatre of a Tim Burton vision sculpted by the melodic ingenuity of Danny Elfman, though it has to be noted that every song despite the references sound like no one but Mr. Strange. This masterful manipulation of the senses and passions is soon left in the shade by its successor, the track another major peak in nothing but highs. The song is the closest to a Shanklin Freak Show tune that the album gets, its sexy tango pulsating mouth-watering foreplay for the beats and funk bred keys to add intoxicating spice to. There is something familiar to the hooks and stomp of the song aside from the earlier comparison, but it is indefinable and wholly galvanic.

Through the noir shadows of Don’t Stay (Where the Dead Ones Lay) with its jazz smooching funk lined temptation and the excellent gothic majesty of White Rabbit, the song reminding of The Damned at times, The Wonderful World Of Weird intensifies its resistance free toxin whilst the electro swing heart of Exile and the psychedelia soaked gothic tempting of Anti-Christ only spark further flames of lustful submission to the call of the release and its psychotic beauty. Every song is a wanton temptress in whatever guise and sonic clothing they frequent, and though admittedly hopes and expectations were of big things from Mr. Strange on past successes, the album left those assumptions insultingly short of the brilliant reality.

Completed by the classically crafted Journeys End, an enchanting epilogue if not to the levels of what came before, The Wonderful World Of Weird is pure certifiable aural manna. The CD version also has a track exclusive to its version, a very enjoyable cover of the Dr. Steel track We Decide. The able shows that there is only one Mr. Strange and his form of weird, one you can charter a sensational cruise through via our favourite album of the year, The Wonderful World Of Weird, that is if you are brave or eccentric enough.

http://www.mrstrangemedia.com/

10/10

RingMaster 28/11/2013

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Nonagon – The Last Hydronaut

the-last-hydronaut-600

Carving out a noise which simultaneously torments and seduces the senses, US band Nonagon is an encounter which challenges and rewards with an equal intensity and vitriolic craft. Their third EP The Last Hydronaut takes no prisoners, its offering demanding and invigorating with a squall which blends stretches of punk and garage rock with noise and post punk/post metal irreverence. To be honest the six track release and songwriting of the Chicago trio defies any exact definition of their violations but that is just the start of the enjoyment and potency of the release.

Nonagon was formed in 2003 by drummer Tony Aimone (ex-The Blue Meanies, J. Davis Trio, Taylor), bassist Robert Gomez (ex- Der Lugomen and of Martian Law), and guitarist John Hastie (ex- Jumpknuckle). The band released the No Sun EP in 2008 and the People Live Everywhere EP last year, the first a more punk driven causticity whilst its successor shows the beginnings of the varied corrosive endeavours which ignites The Last Hydronaut. The new release sees the band taking another step forward, it’s uncomfortable and compelling presence a fury of unconventional and uncompromising uniqueness as destructive as acid and as thrilling as a magnetic storm.

Opener Razing All Boats instantly ignites ears and emotions, its initial crowding of the senses a tempest of sinew driven rhythms, bass predation and antagonistic riffing. That starting scourge never changes across the track but with the squalling vocals and niggling groove irresistibly capturing the imagination, the song makes a constantly riveting and dramatic introduction to the release. The throaty bass prowl and unpredictable rhythmic caging reminds of early Killing Joke in a union with The Fall whilst with the scowling punk vocals across the grazing riffery the song aligns a mix of Converge and at times Melvins. It is an excellent rage soon matched by The Pfister, another virulent torrential abrasion which teases, taunts, and tantalises with a multi-flavoured acidity. The bass makes the early call before sonic guitar scrubbing disguised as a groove employs its excellent toxicity upon senses and emotions. The vocals help create a presence which recalls eighties band The Three Johns whilst the melodic intent of the barbed groove with discord an enthralling bedfellow adds elements of The Fire Engines to the outstanding confrontation.

For those old references the EP and sound is a refreshing wind of modern inclination which King Corky takes to another depth of potency with addiction forging niggling grooves and guitar temptation. Less immediate than its predecessor but no less intense and dramatically contagious, the track creates a daunting consuming web prowled by the excellent bass courting of the ears, its crawl and enticement as rapacious as the equally predatory drum exploits which builds an enthralling frame for guitars and vocals to spurt their fractious sonic brawls from.

Both Elvis and Affinity Fraud increase that intensity previously taken to darker places to even heavier testing heights, the first with a rigorous almost destructive presence whilst the second of the two twists and turns with a scalding and scathing invention of melodically drenched sonic hunger. Though neither quite lives up to their predecessors, the experimental invention and hunger to push their boundaries is undeniably fascinating and gripping, the second at times almost bringing whispers of pop punk to bear within its sour laced pungent enterprise.

The final track Hydronauts completes the excellent release with more of the same adventure in a new appealing guise for the EP, vocals and guitars acerbic bait inside a continually arresting and incendiary rhythmic ingenuity. The Last Hydronaut will not be an easy listen for some and noise manna for others. For us with repetition and spellbinding droning as much a bewitching antagonist as the rhythmic conjuring and sonic tempestuousness, the EP is a gripping and exhilarating trial for nerves and senses.

http://www.nonagon.us/

8.5/10

RingMaster 22/10/2013

 

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