The Strays – Drop Out Zone

With a description of “No Doubt meets Imelda May”, it was hard to deny an urge to go explore those it has been applied to. The fact that the protagonists in question’s debut album has caught the imagination of and been released by Western Star Records only added to that instinct. What we found was one rousing stomp of a release in the shape of Drop Out Zone from a band in The Strays which had us bouncing from start to finish with a highly appetising mix of rockabilly, garage rock, and fifties inspired rock ‘n’ roll with plenty more involved.

Cheltenham based, The Strays have already been teasing proper attention with the release of their first EP, Wham Bam, Thank You Ma’am, in 2017. It was an introduction of sound and potential potently reaffirmed by its successor Brand New Day the following year while the two records union together as Brand New Ma’am! earlier this year provided an ear grabbing tease for the upcoming adventure of Drop Out Zone. Of course some of us are only coming to the British quartet through the album but a look back shows The Strays an already captivating proposition with a sound to match but their new release sees the band at their most imaginative, adventurous, and striking yet.

With songs inspired by the band’s decision to quit their full-time jobs and focus on music and the struggles it brought and they conquered, Drop Out Zone quickly, hungrily had ears on board with the opening canter of first track, Hey Little Lady. Straight away the throaty lure of Kris Jakab-Hall’s bass colludes with the crisply landing swings of drummer Gary Chamberlain; their collusion instantly firing up attention and physical response before the spicy threads of Sam Cordery’s guitar added to the animated bait. The song’s subsequent potent stroll sees the magnetic tones of Stella Sonic complete the temptation, the spring in its step and grin on its face across as good as four and a half minutes setting the tone for the fun and enterprise fuelling the release.

Things only grow more compelling and contagious as 2Fives and Twos sets its creative trap, it too another song which needs mere seconds to grip ears and appetite as Cordery winds addictive melodic wires around both. Punk and rockabilly soon converge on the rock ‘n’ roll instincts of the song, its tenacious gait and contagiousness a quick infestation of body with the Pauline Murray-esque tint to Sonic’s voice icing on the delicious cake.

Night Time Is The Right Time grabs its portion of ardour next. Again the guitar casts a highly tempting lure to gets things boiling before, with matching flavours to those entangling within its predecessor, the track weaves its own individual boisterous romp. Sharp hooks and alluring harmonies go to highlight the inventive come-on before Oh Baby No opens up its jazzy arms to a seductive surf lined midnight stroll through rock ‘n’ pop drama. It is one of those tracks where it is easy to see where those No Doubt, Imelda May and for us Wanda Jackson references are bred.

The Strays certainly know how to kick a song off, each sparked by imaginative and irresistible leads and no more potently than that springing Get Out Of This Town into life. Guitar and rhythms surround ears with intrigue and salacious intent, nagging rhythms and a hooked loaded guitar groove taunting and dancing with attention before the song opens up into its swing-a-billy saunter, dragging the body easily along for the ride.

The album’s title track allows a breath to be taken though it too is a buddle of energy and infectiousness with its pop toned amble refusing to be ignored; Drop Out Zone proving increasingly manipulative by the second and chorus. It’s easy to ride contagion is soon eclipsed though as the psychobilly wired Can’t Get Through To You preys on ears with its Hillybilly Moon Explosion like predation and feral catchiness though it too is slightly outshone by its successor. Fire and Ice is a glorious fusion of hooked swamped rock ‘n’ roll flavours, a real temptress of a song soon ripping favourite track honours from any of its companions hands.

The intoxicating fifties country blues soaked nurtured rockabilly of Twelve Bar Booze, thoughts of Wanda Jackson again sparked by the great addition to the pleasure, and the heavy hard rock spiced rumble of Break Me Down effortlessly keep the album roaring in body and spirit, This Life following suit with its deviously persuasive foot stomping fusion of swing, garage punk, and rock ‘n’ roll, a full pleasure sounding something akin to The BeauBowBelles meets No Doubt meets The Creepshow.

Just Another Day completes the album, its fiery rock breath and instinctive rhythmic pulse swagger an unapologetically tempting canvas for the ever tasty tones of Sonic and the virulent craft and endeavours of the band. It is a fine end to an album which just got under the skin in swift time and devilishly nestled there thereon in; The Strays providing another of the year’s real pleasures.

Drop Out Zone is out now through Western Star Records.

https://thestraysmusic.co.uk/   https://www.facebook.com/TheStraysLive/   https://twitter.com/TheStraysMusic

Pete RingMaster 20/08/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Exes For Eyes – Of Strength And Sorrow

Since the release of their previous album in 2014, Canadian metallers Exes For Eyes have been on a hiatus of sorts but now they have returned with a new collection of tracks which not only enhance their established reputation but push it to a loftier height. Of Strength And Sorrow is a fury of bold adventure and eager enterprise, a release also relishing a greater diversity and imagination in the band’s sound whilst making for one striking encounter.

Ontario hailing, Exes For Eyes was borne from the musical vision and creativity of Dave Sheldon (ex. Man With Target, Annihilator) and the lyrical conception of vocalist Big James (Stab.Twist.Pull, Endast, Authors). Previous well-received releases proved an enticing cauldron of multi-flavoured metal endeavour with a progressive bent but the time between the previous Tongues Like Figure Eights and Of Strength And Sorrow has seen it grow, mature, and immerse in greater imagination without losing almost feral instincts.

Their new album opens with the outstanding Build, Work, Dream, Create; a track which if standing alone in major temptation would have brought the full-length strong praise. One of our favourite moments of the year so far, the song immediately launches itself with an irresistible groove within a barbarous but effortlessly contagious surge. It is eager enticement which continues to tempt and manipulate as vocals expel their intent and prowess with raw emotive discontent. The track is superb, groove and death metal essences colluding in its tempestuous roar, every second a cauldron of virulent enterprise and ferocity.

It is a thrilling start which Memories That Last follows and backs with its own inferno of rapacious sound and ear grabbing imagination. More uncompromising by the minute the track provided a quickly testing and swiftly rewarding proposal as imagination fuelled its every invasive throe before the song drifted away and the predatory presence of The Metal forcibly prowled. It was an initial stalking which subsequently erupted into a ruthless trespass, its stroll continuing to menace and bully as the band’s imagination flourished and shaped one enthralling assault marked with individual prowess.

Nothing Ever Satisfies in contrast provides a calm but just as enticing invitation, at least initially as the guitar’s melodic coaxing soon becomes a cyclone of resolute sound and voice around another irresistible collusion of grooves and hooks. A rival for the opener, the track continued to enthral and arouse as its turbulence fed off the mercurial volatility in its heart and roar; submission to its creative appropriation willing and inevitable.

Featuring Trey Xavier of In Virtue, The Fire Inside My Head entangled ears in another spiral of wiry grooves and rhythmic motivation straight after. It is an opening which intensifies by the breath, vocals adding to the attention grabbing pestering before the sonic wind drops and the bass brings its funk instincts to bear. That is just the invitation to a new progressive sigh of imagination laced with a slight Hed(PE) hue and another alluring aspect to the fascinating encounter. With keys providing perpetual intimation throughout, the song’s tempest ignites again; the cycle repeating with richer temptation.

Through the fierce yet melodically elegant Set It All On Fire and The Savage Self with its savagely contagious trespass, album and band only accentuated their expectation squashing prowess; both songs relishing the progressive bent in the songwriting and imagination of Exes For Eyes. It is also fair to say that both songs as most around them flourish with closer and continued attention, new textures and layers of enterprise emerging from within their masterfully sculpted furores, next up I Miss My Friends (Too Many Of Them Are Dead) reaffirming that quality as its solemn and melancholic beginnings inspire a melodic pyre of dexterity and guile within a voracious if mercurial landscape of uncompromising encroachment.

The likes of Hold On with its two chaptered proposal, the first as respectful and catchy as the other is invasive and confrontational, and the resourcefully animated True Self Reckoning ensure the album’s grip remained tight, their successor, Love, with Pepe Poliquin of BornBroken guesting matching their strengths with its own contemptuous strike, one which at times is melodically seductive and progressively illuminated.

Of Strength And Sorrow concludes with firstly Get The Fuck Out Of My Head which as keys haunt from its first sigh while rhythms simply enticed, both continuing to enthral as emerging drama and dark deeds rise, emerged another excellent track within the album. Methuselah follows one stirring moment with its own rousing presentation of invention and imagination, in many ways summing up the variety and adventure of the band’s sound in its own capricious multi-flavoured and dramatic body.

Though Of Strength and Sorrow had us hooked from the start it is right to say that the depth, layers, and expanse of its qualities and persuasion was only greater tapped with subsequent ventures into its increasingly and imposingly impressive body. Quite simply, Exes For Eyes are back and creatively deadlier than ever.

Of Strength and Sorrow is out now and available @ https://www.exesforeyes.com/

Pete RingMaster 20/08/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Skylephant – I Am The Ghost

In close quarters to the release of a seriously captivating debut album in Songs For The Fragile Collective, Skylephant have the I Am The Ghost EP ready to tantalise ears and lure the imagination. With its lead track taken from that critically acclaimed full-length it is a mighty teaser of that triumph but also an inescapable invitation for newcomers into the unique world of the UK project.

Skylephant is the solo project of singer/songwriter/ musician Mark Applin, an artist who locked “locks himself away in his small home studio for three and a half years, to pour himself into an album of self-penned songs.” It was a ‘solitude’ which bore a striking encounter and now a just as irresistible EP.

I Am The Ghost opens up with its title track, the song gently introducing itself with a harmonic sigh, melancholy and a sense of loneliness wrapping its opening melody. The coaxing intensifies as keys and enthralling vocal intimacy lend their magnetism to the blossoming track. Like a shadow in the shadows, Applin’s vocals continue to entrance as potently as the web of just as sadly pensive sounds around him, it all leading to a similarly calm but addictively infectious chorus. The track is superb, an enthralling and haunting twilight to happiness and isolation.

Home Alone follows; its sepia harmonies and sighs a familiar caress before electronic animation breeds a seduction of voice and melody. Once more there is an instinctive catchiness working away within the synth pop serenade, that sense of loneliness as much a kiss on thoughts and senses as a venture into sadness. Even more haunting than its predecessor, the song swiftly spellbound ears and imagination before departing on an emotive shimmer of an echo for its successor to step forward.

The EP’s final song is the Johnny T Remix of She’s Alright, another offering originally from within Songs For The Fragile Collective and a song which with a mere breath is infecting feet and body with its contagion loaded enterprise. Already a rapaciously infectious proposal, the new take leads it straight onto the dance-floor with an eighties fuelled rapture in its eager motion and lively animation.

The sound and songs of Skylephant are one of the most individual propositions out there. Applin with his heart bred and fully rounded songwriting does have something of Colin Vearncombe (Black) about him and the pop catchiness of his tracks remind a little of that conjured back in the day by Paul Haig but his own uniqueness is what makes Skylephant simply an essential pleasure.

The I Am The Ghost EP is released August 16th via Musical Bear Records across most stores.

https://www.facebook.com/Skylephant/   https://twitter.com/skylephant

Pete RingMaster 16/08/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Dogtooth – What For?/Away

Though formed in 2013 and having a well-received debut EP out four years later, Dogtooth come to The RR as a new proposition through a new two track AA sided single. A quick introduction and visit to the Scottish band’s music and previous songs revealed that they have been a potent potential fuelled enticement for a while but the new dual temptation of What For? and Away simply outshines all the exploits that came before.

As mentioned the Breakthrough EP two years back took Dogtooth to a whole new richness of attention whilst continuing to impress with their live presence. It is easy to expect recognition and praise of the band’s indie/alternative rock bred enterprise to increase now through the bold exploits of both What For? and Away; both songs confirming that theirs is a sound which is really developing its own identity.

The Killers has been suggested as a reference to the band’s music but straight away as What For? strolls through ears and especially as it settles into its eager almost teasing temptation an Inspiral Carpets like hue rises to the fore. Even so it is simply a single flavouring in the band’s indie rock audacity as the guitar and vocals of John Hewitson swing across the rhythmic enticement of bassist Craig Morrison and drummer Robert Lang. There is a great grumble to that bass which earths the loftier melodic threads which spring from the guitar while Lang’s beats just enjoyably nag throughout.

Eagerly infectious, the song is more than matched in craft and temptation by Away; it our favourite of the two with ease without diminishing the strength and impact of its companion. The track strides in with a rapacious rhythmic intent and is immediately bound in the delicious sonic wires of Hewitson’s guitar. Quickly, the song reveals a whole fresh web of imagination and devious textures to trap and enslave attention and appetite. Each twist brings potent drama and turn sets irresistible temptation, the song something akin to a mix of Asylums, The Horrors, and Scars with a hint of The Cuban Heels and quite superb.

Evolution in the band’s sound is on-going with both tracks suggesting bigger bolder things to come but there is a new maturity in their songwriting and craft which is most striking and as exciting, Dogtooth for sure heading to bigger things.

What For?/Away is released August 16th.

http://dogtoothofficial.com/   https://www.facebook.com/dogtooth.001/   https://twitter.com/dogtooth4

Pete RingMaster 16/08/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

The Survival Code – Crosses To Carry, Coffins To Fill

With their attention grabbing second album still a rousing presence in our ears, alternative rock outfit The Survival Code have returned with another collection of pleasure fuelling tracks in the shape of the Crosses To Carry, Coffins To Fill EP. It brings more of the sounds and individual flavour which the band firmly established within their last offering but songs which swiftly reveal their own individual character and temptation.

Formed back in 2012 by Dublin hailing vocalist/guitarist Gary McGuinness, the London based band slimmed to a duo as Hopelessness of People escaped their craft and imagination last year. Since then a change has seen drummer Simon Hartop, formerly of The Barbs, join McGuinness, Crosses To Carry, Coffins To Fill the first encounter with the new line-up and another which confirms The Survival Code as one of the most refreshing and potent propositions on the British rock scene.

With the EP seeing the band link up once again with producer Matt Hyde (Trivium, Slipknot, Ash), Crosses To Carry, Coffins To Fill quickly hit the spot with its opener. The Innocent immediately leaps upon waiting ears, riffs and rhythms a nagging pleasure as McGuinness’ guitar springs one of the shapely hook sharing grooves which go to help define the band’s sound. As virulent as within the last album, inescapable catchiness fuels the song in sound and the songwriter/guitarist’s persuasive vocals; full participation in its roar inevitable and swift.

Darker hues line next up Something Beautiful, a track though instantly just as contagious as its predecessor even as its relatively calmer contemplation and attack leads to thicker intensity and energy. The delicious throaty tone of bass is just one compelling aspect to the eager encounter, vocals and guitar enterprise as magnetic whilst skilfully backed by Hartop’s manipulative rhythms; imaginative twists and turns adding to the track’s pure infectiousness.

If the first pair is the epitome of catchy, So Serious is simply viral, taking little time to entangle ears and appetite in its choice hooks and wiry antics. Wrapping its temptation around the senses whilst taunting the body into involvement, the devil of a song casts a web of rock ‘n’ roll temptation where every groove and hook is riveting, each rhythm and syllable cunning and it all relentlessly stirring.

Just as animated and invigorating is Cycles, its eager canter and hearty roar alone enough to buoy body and spirit. As with all tracks the bold and imaginative essences and textures making up tracks come with a thought stoking lyrical insight and a vocal declaration which stirs thoughts. Twisting and turning with increasing prowess and invention, the song makes way for EP closer, Magnetic. It too is a proposition wrapped in shadows and with a more intense gait and breath rising, a proposal with volatility and tempestuousness in its heart, it only adds to the release’s increasingly compelling and potent presence.

Certainly Crosses To Carry, Coffins To Fill shares the attributes which made the band’s previous album so powerful and adventurous but The Survival Code also tease of new horizons and creative dramas within the outstanding encounter; a new lure proving the band one of the most exciting proposals out there right now.

Crosses To Carry, Coffins To Fill is released August 16th via Good Deeds Music.

 https://www.thesurvivalcode.co.uk/    https://www.facebook.com/thesurvivalcode    https://twitter.com/thesurvivalcode

Pete RingMaster 16/08/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Nature of Wires – Modus

photo by Russ Dalen

Some releases shine like a beacon attracting ears like moths to a flame. One such lure for us is the new album from UK synth pop outfit Nature of Wires. Almost straddling every decade of its prime genre whilst teasing of future exploration but most openly seeded in eighties influence, the album proved a swift magnet of sound and temptation firmly commanding current attention.

Formed in 1986 by vocalist Andrew Stirling-Brown and synthist/programmer Gary Watts, the Herefordshire band followed the 1993 release of their debut album, Modus Operandi, by going on hiatus the following year until reforming in 2015.  A year later the band unveiled their second album, Cyber Rendezvous, with CountessM on lead vocals and now the band has Modus to tempt the imagination, a collection of songs which harken back to those early years having been written between 1986 and 1993 but carrying a modern edge though being “recreated using 21st century technology.” It is also a dual album in one package, with a second CD featuring re-imaginings of the release’s tracks from an array of inspiring artists.

Straight away Modus embraces ears like an old friend yet just as quickly establishes a presence and character which is solely Nature of Wires. As soon as opener Feel the Hunger spreads its electronic arms, there is no escaping teases to the likes of Erasure, Heaven 17, and Blancmange but the song quickly breeds its own individuality in sound and enterprise led by the alluring tones of Stirling-Brown. Striking melodies are fuelled by infectiousness whilst rhythms as good as nag with their eager canter. Fair to say we were caught up in the song’s contagion in short time, vocal chords and body swings adding to its own eager endeavours.

Time is Come steps up next, again its initial coaxing shadow lined before bursting out with radiant melodies and vocal encouragement. Equally keen pulses core the lively croon with the song’s gait and energy as bold as it is spirited, a whiff of A Flock Of Seagulls only adding to the song’s infectious captivation before Negative Resolutions emerges with a darkwave breath, bubbles of pop soon joining the tempting before synths weave a tapestry of melodic intimation over an electro grumble. When its poppiness catches the song infested the body while its darker melancholic calmer moments are alone pure fascination.

Through the crystalline design and dark throb of Seagull and the reflective heatwave of Every Single Sun, captivation with Modus only escalated, the first a spirited seduction and its successor a weave of melodic flames and balmy caresses while Harry’s House eclipsed both with its creative drama and dance-floor animation.

It in turn was slightly outshine by Madame Serena, a song with electro rock essences which reminded of bands such as Original Mirrors and Modern English whilst hinting at the pop instincts of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. With emotive shadows and a great lining of dark threat, the track soon rises as another unique Nature of Wires temptation very easy to greedily devour.

The first CD closes with the immediately enthralling First Light, a song bringing yet another shade of flavour and enterprise to the album with its rich entangle of electronic and electro rock hues. Bringing the release to a potent close if not quite igniting the passions as those before it, though ears and imagination were firmly in its charge all the same, it potently  concludes the first adventure of the release before Modus turns to the second.

CD 2 embraces that collection of remixes and re-imaginings of its songs starting with the Atomzero Nightlife Remix of Feel the Hunger. Given a darker almost tenebrific air, the track takes on a whole new persona as it does with the NoW AT4 version which takes it to the opposite light with equally enjoyable effect.

Among the host of truthfully ear pleasing encounters, the untamed rock ‘n’ roll brought to Time is Come by The Cowls, the dramatic theatre sparked within the Klammer Remix of Harry’s House, and Leaether Strip’s voraciously virulent trespass of Madame Serena especially caught the imagination. Fair to say though that Cyferdyne’s Glass Half Full Remix of Negative Resolutions, Workings of a Madman Remix of Seagull, the St Lucifer reworking of Every Single Sun as well as the Mesh Remix of First Light and Room 1985’s progressive rock interpretation of Time is Come all left pleasure rich.

And that is a declaration which tenaciously applies to Modus as a whole, a release to hungrily spend time with as we eagerly await the next chapter and exploration in the adventure of Nature of Wires.

Modus is released August 16th through Analogue Trash across most stores and @ https://natureofwires.bandcamp.com/album/modus

Upcoming Live Dates

Sep 20 BERLIN – The Mazen (with The Pink Diamond Revue, LegPuppy & e-bit)

Sep 21 LEIPZIG – Noch Besser Leben (with The Pink Diamond Revue & LegPuppy)

Oct 12 COLOGNE, Germany – Wachsfabrik (with Bandmachine)

Oct 18  BIRMINGHAM – The Mill, Digbeth (with Among the Echoes & Toyah)

Nov 8   BIRMINGHAM – Scruffy Murphy’s (with Vieon, Among the Echoes & Vain Machine)

Nov 9   LONDON – Beat:Cancer Festival 2.0, Electrowerkz

http://www.natureofwires.com   https://www.facebook.com/natureofwires/   https://twitter.com/natureofwires

Pete RingMaster 16/08/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

The Dollyrots – Daydream Explosion

A party in the ears, romp with the body, and riot with the imagination; descriptions which can certainly be suggested upon the sound of the Dollyrots to date but definitely and strenuously applies to the band’s new release, Daydream Explosion. Across fourteen slices of the band’s inimitable fusion of punk, rock, and pop, the album incites and captivates but equally fascinates more than anything from the Los Angeles duo yet as diversity and adventure fuel an eclectic mix of contagious goodness.

With previous album, Whiplash Splash, one of the rousing treats of 2017, vocalist/bassist Kelly Ogden and vocalist/guitarist Luis Cabezas have pulled out all the creative stops to outshine that acclaimed release with Daydream Explosion. From the moment it gives its first eager breath we can declare aim accomplished and an irresistible slab of infectious enterprise bred.

Produced by the band with long-time producer John Fields, Daydream Explosion immediately had ears and attention in its hands, a teasing hook bringing in the pop ‘n’ roll of opener Animal. Ogden’s seductive tones swiftly join the broadening stomp of the track; Cabezas’ soon after and as magnetic as the rhythms and riffs which collude in a charge of flirtatious punk nurtured hooks. As catchy and inescapable as barbed wire, the song effortlessly gets the album off to a rousing start.

With beats swinging, riffs nagging, Everything steps up next and just as devilishly infests body and spirit. Again vocals simply incite participation as easily as the rhythms manipulate feet, the song’s chorus a heightened exploitation of an already fired up appetite for the record and eager subservience to its pop persuasion.

In Your Face comes with a steadier gait after but even in its shimmering sway there is a zeal and energy keen to break out which it does in another contagion of a chorus, the song’s seductive pop increasingly volatile and riveting before Naked uncages its alternative rock devilment like a pop infested Blood Red Shoes. With a rock ‘n’ roll shaped heart the track quickly builds its own character and grinning escapade to be unique Dollyrots.

As expected hooks escape the band like rocker instincts bound in one listening to the album, next up Last Ones on Earth relishes its own host of ear snaring conjuring. With a pop breath seemingly taking inspiration from an array of decades the song commands air and attention while exploring more eighties pop seeded breeding I Love You Instead follows to get the body popping all over again and sap the lungs just a little more of their willing breath. With all songs, but here especially, you can almost feel the fun and big broad grins the pair should have had creating one devilish encounter.

Through the ear smooching sixties girl group toned Watching the Storm Go By and the frenetically stomping I Know How to Party, band and album only pulled attention further away from reality, both tracks major moments among only highlights with the latter carrying a mischievous nod towards Andrew W.K. in certain moments while Kat’s Meow more than matched their glories with its virulently frisky stroll.

There is no decline in pure temptation as No Princess springs its own individual pop punk epidemic straight after nor as Flippy In My Red Dress infests hips and passion with its rampant rock ‘n’ roll seduction.  Like a mix of The Hillbilly Moon Explosion and Stray Cats but pure Dollyrots, the song is sublime, a major favourite track challenger though tested throughout the album for that honour as proven by the feisty Oblivious and Talk Too Much with its senses taunting hooks and melodic dance, a combination far too potent to resist.

The album closes up with Daisy’s Song, a final slice of punk ‘n’ rock temptation as instinctively sinful as it is masterfully manipulative and simply beguiling. And that pretty much describes Daydream Explosions as a whole, creatively wicked and unapologetically infectious and most likely the best piece of pop punk you will embrace and devour this year or possibly next.

Daydream Explosions is out now via Wicked Cool Records/ The Orchard; available @ https://thedollyrotswcr.bandcamp.com/album/daydream-explosion

http://www.dollyrots.com/    https://www.facebook.com/thedollyrots/    https://twitter.com/thedollyrots

Pete RingMaster 13/08/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright