Gwyn Ashton – Radiogram

Following up his acclaimed 2009 album, Two-Man Blues Army, blues guitarist Gwyn Ashton returns with new release Radiogram, a ten track feast of thrilling and sizzling guitar passion. With drummer Kev Hickman alongside, Ashton had created an album which shows why he is so highly rated by the likes of Robert Plant, Johnny Winter, and Don Airey. Radiogram is a vibrant slice of blues driven rock n roll, a collection of songs which burst through the ear with enterprise, invention, and mesmerising skill.

Welsh born and an Australian resident since the mid sixties to the nineties, the now European based Ashton has drawn great and eager responses to his music and play since picking up the guitar at age 12 and playing in his first band when 16. Across the past couple of decades he has toured with the likes of BB King, Ray Charles, Buddy Guy, Mick Taylor, Rory Gallagher, Peter Green, Junior Wells, Johnny Winter, Canned Heat, Robin Trower, Jeff Healey, The Yardbirds, Status Quo, and Magnum, whilst recorded with such luminaries as Kim Wilson (Fabulous Thunderbirds), Robbie Blunt (Robert Plant), Chris Glen/Ted McKenna (SAHB, MSG), Don Airey (Deep Purple, Whitesnake, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne), and Gerry McAvoy/Brendan O’Neill (Rory Gallagher). It is a CV to ignite the passions, something his new album easily emulates.

The sixth album from Ashton also finds an array of high profile guests involved alongside he and Hickman, those involved including  Don Airey, Kim Wilson, Robbie Blunt, Johnny Mastro (LA’s Mama’s Boys), Mark Stanway (Magnum, Phil Lynott), and Mo Birch (UB40, Go West, Culture Club). Radiogram only takes the length of its initial soundbite before enticing the emotions to wake up and pay full attention. Once into its stride opener Little Girl sizzles with heated riffs and forceful rhythms whilst the strong vocals cap the impressive first engagement of accomplished rock n roll. The track saunters and dawdles in turn as Ashton leaves fiery sonic shards across the song for a stirring start.

The album is a release which with great variety continually leaves one excited and wholly satisfied. Songs like the brilliant and best track on the album, Let Me In, with its teasing blues swagger and great mouth organ mastery, the classic sounding Dog Eat Dog, and the smouldering For Your Love to just pick a trio, all lifting one up in irresistible muscular arms to devour with ease their compulsive and rich majestic sounds from full imaginative hearts. The album is a release which you do not have to be a blues enthusiast to draw much pleasure from, even those with harder more abrasive tastes like us cannot avoid being magnetised by the craft and stirring sounds at work.

Also featuring a great version of the Willie Dixon/Muddy Waters song I Just Wanna Make Love To You and the simply hypnotic instrumental Bluz For Roy which closes the album and alone shows why the guitarist is so strongly thought of, Radiogram is one of the best  rock albums to appear this year. Gwyn Ashton may still be an undiscovered name for many outside of blues but the album will certainly go a long way to changing that as its impressive sounds reach wider searching ears.

RingMaster 29/10/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Waves Of Fury: Thirst

Sounding like the deliciously steamy hybrid from a union of Sam Cooke, Thee Vicars, Rocket From The Crypt, and Jesus and Mary Chain, Thirst the debut album from sonic teasing crew Waves Of Fury is quite magnificent. Consisting of ten garage punk filtered rock n roll/R&B classics, the release pulsates with an instinctive and inspiring brew of infectious sonic grazings wrapped in warm and refreshing imagination. It is excitable yet equally held by a restraint which allows every individual element and idea to shine within the acidic surface smouldering of sound. Quite simply Thirst is a triumph of noise and heart.

The Somerset based quintet of Carter Sharp (vocals, guitars), Jamie Bird (pianos, vocals), James McPhee (drums), Fil Ward (guitars, vocals), and Bim Williams (horns), has been making distinct waves both sides of the pond, the band undertaking  successful tour of Southern States in the US before venturing into the studio to record their album. With its magnetic charms and sounds Thirst is destined to spark an even fuller and wider recognition, it is hard to imagine a release this dynamically compulsive doing anything less.

The album opens with Death Of A Vampire, its initial shadowed music hall like echoes the introduction to a storm of fiery horns and fuzzy guitars paced by flattened chilled keys. As the distinct hollow lilted vocals stroll within the sounds the track flares up again and again with shimmering melodic expulsions and contagious enterprise. It is a merciless lure, a barbed splendour to envelop and seduce the senses and passions, something which can be applied to Thirst as a whole. There is a tomb like atmosphere to the song which only accentuates its immediate and masterful inventive presence.

From the incendiary beginning the following I Don’t Know What To Make Of Your Fucked Up Friends and Businessman’s Guide To Witchcraft offer their own caustic fires to overwhelm the heart. The first is a riled Motown gaited piece of magic which like an insidious puppeteer controls limbs and voice whilst unleashing its own cutting intent and opinions. The second is an amazing mix of shall we say Joy Division and The Four Tops, a constrained riot of sound and passion yet unbridled in its mesmeric strength and teasing. It is glorious, arguably best track on the album though that does wander as a choice with each listen of Thirst.

As tracks like the dark and schizo spiced Killer Inside Me with its scuzzed breath the perfect shadow to the melodic shards hooks and barbed horns, Pretender Soul, and The Everlasting Thirst state their claim on the affections the strong variety to the songs and writing of Sharp is unmissable. The second of this trio is a gentle emotive breeze within a flesh burning sonic heat whilst the latter is an acutely driven stomp across the ear with spotlights of horns sparking up a dazzling sheet of nagging sonics and consuming energy. The album is a perpetually twisting joy, each track bringing something new and unexpected but with a swagger to turn heads and ignite desires for much more.

After the brief Buddy Holly like pleasure of Nervous Exhaustion, the album closes on the mighty Viodrene, a song which just hypnotizes with its varied ideas and noise wrapped in a furnace of raw guitars and explosive horn crescendos. With an excellent break midway to allow a breath before the equally staggering conclusion, the track is all you need to know about Waves Of Fury and their quite brilliant sound. Lyrically the album is inspired by gothic writers like Poe and Saul Bellow but also by life and everyday manipulations, this song dealing with celebrity culture in an acerbic and mischievously skilled ingenuity.

Waves of Fury have created an album and songs which take all the wonderful discord and cryptic facets of melodic and sonic elegance and conjure them into their own unique and irresistible beauty. Thirst is outstanding and will easily makes a late and formidable impression on those best of year lists.

RingMaster 29/10/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

the British IBM: Self Titled

From name through to the promo accompanying the self titled debut album from British indie band the British IBM, the references or inducements attempted by declaring an enthusiasm for computers from the band and of things retro for singer songwriter and band founder Adrian Killens is quite misleading. They may well be personal passions for the individuals away from and within the band but musically they have no bearing on the great sound to be found on the album. As retro in sound as an actual credible story line in Star Wars, the songs are a collection of fresh intriguing tales of everyday life and emotions brought through openly inviting sounds firmly set in the now. They are uncomplicated finely crafted pieces of indie rock which make no demands but leave one wanting more by their end, and no electronic gadget in sight in breath or noise.

With bassist David Martin and drummer Paul Richards alongside Killens, the band was officially formed in January of this year though the three had been performing and touring together for the past couple of years for Aidy the solo work of Killens. Recording the album with acclaimed producer Neil Rogers, the British IBM look set to light up the imagination of a great many with the release; with the quality of songs on offer it surely would be a real surprise if they failed to generate more than just interest.

The album opens with first single from the album, Animal. It is an immediately engaging song with guitars which jangle with warm teasing and shimmering keys which without standing out raise the temperature of the song. Like all the tracks it offers a gentle persuasion upon the ear but one which is as infectious as it is stylish and enthused. With the fine vocals of Killen a plaintive and expressive touch within the swells of sound, the song only fails in leaving too soon, its two and a half minutes an appetizer rather than a full feast to eagerly devour.

The tracks within the album also feature many guest musicians; the opener like a few other songs have Paul Goodwin on keyboard whilst the delightful Sugar Water features the delicious cello sounds of Anna Scott and the great backing tones of Lexie Green. The song is an emotive tingling caress upon ear and thoughts, its mellow kisses and lingering shadows as mesmeric as they are evocative and stirring. The track does not raise its energetic head at any point but basks in the warmth of passion and shimmering elegance. The following title track is the same with again the cello adding a dramatic whisper to the song whilst the jousting rhythms offer an unpredictable and energised vein to sway from within the melancholic embrace.  Both songs are wonderful and leave one glowing from their company.

The album does not always quite reach the same heights throughout though there is never any dissatisfaction or emptiness, the songs like Feeling and Good Afternoon not slipping because of any shortcomings but of the quality and impressive presences of those mentioned and tracks like Is It Too Late to Save Oscar Pike and the immense Cannibal. The latter of these two is a feisty stomp of sturdy rhythms and cutting guitar sonics whilst the vocals kick up dirt with their fiery intent whilst its successor …Oscar Pike, is a golden sunset of acoustic guitar and strolling dusky twangs, a delightful shimmering to bewitch ear and heart.

Completed by further impossible to dismiss or dislike songs like the almost belligerent 3 Years and the touchingly reflective God’s Front Porch, the British IBM have brought forth an album which relaxes the soul and lights the heart. It is a release which admittedly does not grab top spot in personal favourites but is destined to linger a lot longer on the heart than many other current releases.

RingMaster 29/10/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Kosheen: Independence

Five years after previous album Damage, British electro/rock band Kosheen return with Independence, a release to set them again to the fore of electronic manipulation and melodic grandeur. The album will be an irresistible treat for fans of the band and electro music, the exciting and adventurous soundscapes and sparkling pop excursions within, a teasing and magnetic delight. For those like arguably us who prefer their electronic sources to intimidate and force reactions rather than invite like Kosheen, there is still more than plenty to enthuse over and recommend to more eagerly devouring hearts.

Consisting of sound conjurors Markee Substance and Darren Decoder alongside vocalist Sian Davies, the trio in the intervening years between albums have been working on other projects and in the case of Davies, collaborating on songs as a guest with varied producers, including DJ Fresh for the track Louder. The time has also seen the band leave their label to set up their own, Kosheen Recordings, and taking charge of their own destiny.

Independence immediately seizes attention with its warm charm whilst offering an enterprising sheet of ideas and imaginative sounds track after track. It opens with Addict, a song which has a familiarity from its initial emerging shadowed whispers through to its rich creative sounds and glorious vocals. It is hard to say the track sounds like anyone or thing else but it certainly sways in the ear like a previously introduced and welcome companion. The mesmeric kiss of the track is irresistible whilst the darker pulses add a luring depth to keep things balanced and wholly intriguing. The voice of Davies is as ever just sensational, her vocal caresses worth the admission fee on their own whilst the compulsive eighties early Human League aural kisses equally ignite a feverish appetite for their potent sound.

First single from the release, Get A New One, follows to leave one enamoured and breathless, its electronic spotlights and meandering weaves dazzling one into subservience. As much as one tries to stay away from the reference there is a certain Eurythmics spice to the track which dances like a flaming beacon within the pulsating and delicious sounds. The song stomps with sultry teases and melodic pouts whilst hypnotizing senses and passions with rapture seeding mastery. It is easily the best track and the perfect invitation to ensures delving into Independence is the minimum thing to do in regard to the band.

Tracks like Tightly with its celestial shimmering and the brilliant Bella Donna only elevate the majestic creativity and enchantment, both aural roses in bloom with sensationally vibrant colours and fragrances with the second in particular just a siren but with a heart to leave only rapture from its embrace. At this point the album is already showing strong diversity as it pulls the ear into the pounding dance excursion of Dependency. Initially it appears to be unveiling sinister dangers for the senses to enjoy and contemplate but midway evolves into a mellower soulful melodic declaration before merging the two. For those previously mentioned harsher preferences, the song offers much but delivers less, though it is impossible to say it does or offers anything wrong, or is less than impressive.

From here on in the album is arguably more inventive as a perpetually twisting affair but loses the contagious command and appeal of the opening parade of songs, for again personal desires. Manic is an acutely crafted flight through chilling shadows and heated shafts of melodic sun whilst the instrumental Zone 8 is a canvas of evocative manipulations and striking cosmic expulsions which in its relatively short journey works extremely well. Neither leave one entranced as with previous songs but like the remainder of the album are an array of intriguing ideas and contagious tapestries. Tracks like the glorious Something New, which emerges as a definite favourite, and the summery hazy pool of sound that is Out There as well as the early Depeche Mode like Waste, do though ignite strong emotions and the intent to return often, showing there is easily more than enough quality to draw in again these sonically blood thirsty tastes.

It is fair to say Kosheen have returned stronger than ever. Whether Independence is their finest hour is for their fans to say but certainly it is an album which exposes a well of pleasure with ease.

RingMaster 29/10/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright