Watertank – Sleepwalk

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Though having graced music for ten years, the just released album Sleepwalk from Watertank is their long awaited debut full length and a monster of a release it is too. As rhythmically and dynamically intrusive as it is melodically addictive and compelling, the thirteen track album from the French quintet is a masterful conjuror of pure addiction. With muscles and intensity which ensures an intimidation of the emotions from their powerful and potent force and equally a lover’s seduction at times from a mellow resonance which is mesmeric enough to calm a raging beast, the album is a passion instigator of the purest temptation.

Formed in 2003 and hailing from Nantes, Watertank has earned strong and eager acclaim with their live presence which has seen them play alongside the likes of Torche, Kylesa, Baroness, Capricorns, Lair Of The Minotaur, and The Ocean. The EP Sub in 2004 sets things off recording wise but it was with the following six track EP Fairy Crimes five years later that there was a concentrated wider attention bred around the band. Such its appeal and the continuing strength of sound and live shows from the band, that the anticipation for their first album has arguably outstripped the hunger for most others.

The Solar Flare Records released album immediately starts gnawing on the senses with the heavy ravenous riffs of Where It All watertank-sleepwalk-2013-hdBegins. It is a towering presence with crisp rhythms matching the intimidation of the guitars and bass whilst weaving in between the excellent melodic vocals of Thomas B. caress the wounds. With a laboured sludge gait and rasping intensity the brief but heavy track opens up the ear and beyond to the suggestion of something major impending, an assumption soon realised through the likes of Giant Heads and Pro Crook. The first of the pair is a noise rock sculpted engagement with teasing sonic grooves and pulsating cavernous bass riffs whilst again the excellent vocals and harmonies press their advantage home with ease and expressive craft. The second of the songs again steadily chews upon the psyche with carnivorous riffs from bassist Vincent A. and enterprising and equally scarring guitar invention from Bojan A. and Julien G. Riding a core of post hardcore and melodic rock with a doom seeded spine, the lure of the song is total and magnetic, as is the album to this point.

There are only highlights upon Sleepwalk to be honest but at times it just excites beyond legal allowances such as with Fear Over The City. A metronomic beckoning of its percussive finger leads in riffs which are prime bestiality, their snarling seduction joined and elevated by the following caustic and twisting guitar invention all framed by the punchy beats of Jocelyn L. With a groove as insidious as it is contagious and a raw squalling edge to the vocals, the track is a brute of a track, its sinews flexing at every turn and sonic abrasion igniting the passions.

The likes of the fiery Ants In Suits with its stoner/melodic rock presence holding aloud whispers of bands such as Alice In Chains and Quicksand, and the riveting title track with its wonderfully infectious yet niggling sonic scythes of sound within another stoner/grunge flavoured expanse, only cement and push on the strength of the release whilst How Fast recruits the passions with its uncomplicated yet carefully involved persuasion. Within this clutch of songs is another pair of the loftiest pinnacles upon the album, Far From Low and Holy Tranquilizer. The first is a thrilling heavy rock soaked encounter with more than a Thin Lizzy whisper about it especially in the blazes of melody flamed crescendos and the overall anthemic call of the song. The track actually reminds of nineties UK band Skyscraper a lot and that is definitely a good thing. The second of the two is the best track on the album, though that decision does fluctuate with each listen to be fair. Entering into view with again riffs which corrode upon touch, the song steps into a sinister ambience with the bass opening up its deepest inciting shadows whilst the vocals hold sway with a haunting embrace and narrative. Before the track presses harder onto the senses and thoughts with a rapacious greed and intensity, the song has the feel and sound of the first Comsat Angels album Waiting For A Miracle. It is outstanding, a sonic animal with a siren call.

Sharp Beaks Strike Back is another exceptional piece of sonic alchemy and the closing Six Days a progressively clad kaleidoscope of beguiling and captivating invention and colour rich imagination. It is the perfect melodic flourish to a fascinating and thrilling album. Watertank is one of the most refreshing and musically ingenious bands around so let’s just hope they do not take another ten years to unveil the follow-up to Sleepwalk, though more EPs will suffice too.

http://www.facebook.com/wtrtnk

9/10

RingMaster 29/04//2013

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Melvins – Everybody Loves Sausages

Melvins Everybody Loves Sausages hi res

Bands doing covers is always an intrigue if only to see what one assumes has inspired them but when it comes to whole albums of bringing forth hopefully re-invented versions past experiences usually show it is just a lead to disappointment. So many bands just produce the original in their own voice without seemingly using a thought to actually making the songs their own. Approaching Everybody Loves Sausages from the Melvins though there was only excited intrigue with doubts given no breathing space just because it was the Washington band, a group who has never just painted by numbers.  Of course there could still be a chance they would fall the way of so many others but the thirteen track triumph soon puts that notion to bed. The album is magnificent, a window into the as vocalist/guitarist Buzz Osborne explains, “This record will give people a peak into the kind of things that influence us musically.” Melvins do make the songs theirs and even those they approach using the template of the original it still offers twists and seditious creativity which only leads to lustful wonder.

Released via Ipecac Recordings, Everybody Loves Sausages as expected has a mischief across its length though also an open respect for the sounds and artists which inspired them. It is impossible to imagine the original creators of the songs being anything other than impressed and thrilled by the release even when some of the tracks actually outstrip the originals. The album sees the full line-up of Osborne, Dale Crover, Jared Warren and Coady Willis on the album though there are a trio of tracks with the Melvins Lite incarnation of the band on Osborne, Crover and Trevor Dunn.  It also sees plenty of guest appearances to add extra texture and riveting enterprise to the release.

The release opens with Warhead, the band faithfully brewing the seeds of the Venom black metal classic with the bite of Scott Kelly of Neurosis rearing its might on vocals and guitar. It is an immediate lure into the potently eclectic album, its abrasive snarl as anthemic and tempting as the original setting the senses off on a rush of anticipation as the following Queen track (You’re My) Best Friend steps forward with a surprising Nintendo like 8-bit beckoning. With Caleb Benjamin from Tweak Bird handling the vocals wonderfully, the song is a mellow caress with the veins of Mercury and co wrapping the ear from within the seductive and fiery touch of the Melvins. Though not as flamboyant as the original though with a broader pop invitation, it still brings a grandeur and showy embrace forth which leaves the listener warm and energised for more.

After the impossible to disapprove of take on the Ram Jam track Black Betty, the album breaks out its real glories starting firstly with Set It On Fire, an excellent track of The Scientists revived and given a fresh growl with Mark Arm of Mudhoney adding his ever outstanding vocals. It is an excellent aural scowl upon the ear which is then pushed into the shade by the stunning Station To Station. Already haunting and experimental in the hands of Bowie, Melvins turn it into a deeper more intimidating corrosive beauty. The opening industrial malevolence of everyday intensity stalks and congests the ear, a sonic ambience stinging the senses within the restrained yet bedlamic shadowed fuelled wash enveloping the listener and thoughts. From within a lone melodic figure steps forward accompanied by a carnivorous bass provocation before the guitars send sonic flames across the roof of the psyche bending track. With vocals from JG Thirlwell of Foetus bringing the narrative to vibrant life within the scuzzy cavernous texture, the eleven minute song is wonderful, its busy snarl a step into everyday life torture never investigated in the excellent original.

Further intense highlights to rival the pair come in the likes of the punk grazing Attitude with Clem Burke of Blondie joining the band on the Kinks song, the excellent Timothy Leary Lives, one of the tracks with the Melvins Lite line-up and a song which plays like a mix of Stan Ridgway and The Dickies, and an abrasive punk version of The Jam song Art School featuring Tom Hazelmeyer (founding member of Halo Of Flies and the proprietor of Amphetamine Reptile) on vocals and guitar. The last of the trio borders a Spinal Tap moment but pulls it off brilliantly with the fake cockney accent coming over like Danny Dyer playing Jimmy Pursey but recruiting the passions and sending them off with the devilment of the closing almost valid piss-take. To be honest every track is a gem, the choice of material and its re-working contagious with even tracks which held no place in the passions before now finding an elevated status in the arms of the Melvins.

Two more great moments come with the closing take of Throbbing Gristle’s Heathen Earth, the band re-inventing its existing brilliance and the stunning In Every Dream Home A Heartache. The Roxy Music track features Jello Biafra and ex-Melvins bassist Kevin Rutmanis, and is a delicious dark entry on the album and psyche. Opening on a funereal doomy entrancement with Biafra adding an irresistible psychotic lilt to the already shadowed provoking song, the band ignites further sonic flames and intense energies to stretch its chilling presence.

Everybody Loves Sausages is pure joy and an album to set standards for all others contemplating covering other’s material, with first key being do it with passion, something Melvins do everything with.

http://themelvins.net/

9/10

RingMaster 29/04/2013

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Presley Johnson – Images Of Youth

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Offering tracks flushed in individual soaks of indie pop, pop rock, folk, and blues, UK band Presley Johnson release their second album in the tasty shape of Images Of Youth. The eleven track release is an eclectic and engaging ride through a musical summer with evolving moments of feisty energy, persuasive elegance, and acoustic beauty. It has a little something for everyone with a heart of melodic enterprise and descriptive imagination.

The release of their self-titled album in 2011 on independent label Stalkers Records set ears and tongues into an agitated buzz over Presley Johnson as has their live shows especially across the UK and in Germany. Their first album and certainly the new also Stalker released Images Of Youth, see the Northampton quartet of Wesley Manning, Jon Martin, Andrew Miller, and Alex George bringing a diverse encounter of rock n roll in its myriad of disguises, from being riotously energetic through to offering a simple melodic seduction the release is a consistent engagement which lights fires or has them simmering within, but always it makes something happen inside.

The opening song Had It All is an immediate ride of eager rock with melodic hooks and teases around the sinewy spine of crisp coverrhythms and the moody bass sound. It is an easy infectious stroll, the vocals an expressive lure with at times wonderfully rusty tones whilst the accompanying harmonies are as lush and appealing as the warm voice of the guitar. It is the rolling rhythmic thrusts within which excite the most though, their rumbling presence lifting a strong song into a recruitment of greater temptation.

The following Anita’s Last Dance secured adoration with its appearance as a single earlier in the year and within the album still steals all the attention. It is a mischievous folk pop dance upon the ear, its gently teasing guitars and excited yet tender caress within the warm ambient air delicious whilst the enthused vocal harmonies and melodic elegance brought with a slight English reserve is a summer day for the senses. A fresh and vibrant piece of rock n roll temptation, the song makes way for another distinctly unique character in Sinking Ships. Three songs in and all have been openly different with the third a blues guitar crafted flame with as on all the songs, an expressive lyrical and vocal narrative which captivates as richly as the sounds holding their words. Though not quite as impacting as its predecessors the track still forges a solid and welcoming attention for its invention and dramatic textures.

The acoustically sculpted Oh Love with its country lilt is a decent if uninspiring song for personal tastes whilst the Cajun sprung I Don’t Love My Neighbour is a mix of moments where it simply has toes tapping to crescendos to times especially in the chorus and its surrounding builds where it has the passions leaping in invigorated union. Both though continue the undeniable pull and quality of the album with ease whilst the splendid mix of thumping ear pressing rhythms and strong acidic guitar blazes alongside emotively driven vocals within the mighty My Muse is a stand put highlight to grace any melodic blues clad rock album.

Tuna and The Sweetcorn is a compelling and thrilling invitation with contagious melodies, equally enticing hooks, and a sixties almost Beatlesque swagger in full flow to enlist the listener emotionally and vocally. It has to be said that not all the tracks upon Images of Youth linger after their departure but this one has a massive hook which refuses to leave the memory and thoughts as does the excellent title track, a song which at one moment brings country seeded sounds to the fore and in others has a Kinks like elegance and rock feel to its mellow bewitching body.

Completed by the emotive touches of Home and Shoot You Down, the first a smouldering keys caressing arrest with a building magnetic ambience throughout and the closing track an acoustic folk song with a bite all genre fans will adore, Images Of Youth is an impressively crafted  and expressive romp of imaginative endeavour and honest beauty. Certainly Presley Johnson did not ignite the fullest of passions with the release but its presence will undoubtedly be a persistent companion across the summer months.

www.presleyjohnson.co.uk

7.5/10

RingMaster 29/04//2013

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