Sparrow & The Workshop – Murderopolis


Sparrow and the Workshop is one of those bands that music always needs, a temptation which is as beautiful as it is shadowed and as expansive as it is intimate. Previous albums, the debut Crystals Fall of 2010 and Spitting Daggers the following year, marked the Scottish band as melodic entrepreneurs of imaginative weaves fusing indie folk and rock pop, songwriters creating rich and emotive escapades soaked in aural colour and resourceful enterprise. The Glasgow trio return with third album Murderopolis, a release which explores their invention for greater and deeper adventure whilst sculpting a kaleidoscope of passion tingling elegance. It is a seduction of evocative textures and mesmeric caresses which quite simply is rather special!

The band consists of Jill O’Sullivan (vocals, guitar, violin), Gregor Donaldson (drums, vocals), and Nick Packer (bass guitar, electric slide guitar, basstard), a threesome which have not been strangers to acclaim certainly since their debut album. The name of Sparrow & The Workshop has equally been wrapped in hungry responses for their live performances which across the time has seen them play alongside the likes of Brian Jonestown Massacre, British Sea Power, Idlewild, Broken Records, Sivert Hoyem, The Lemonhead, Thee Oh Sees and more, as well as numerous festivals to great success. Released via independent label Song, by Toad Records, Murderopolis strolls through another potent plateau which matches the virulent seduction of previous album Spitting Daggers, whilst walking further diverse adventures.

The band arguably unleashes their greatest shadows at the start of the album, though those dark tints are always teasing the senses MurderopolisHiResand thoughts throughout the album musically and lyrically. Opener Valley of Death is a smouldering triumph, a track which instantly sets the release into the strongest wash of acclaim. Bold yet reserved beats and moody melodic provocation pokes the ear first, opening up attention for the as ever sirenesque tones of O’Sullivan. Her voice is one which seduces and caresses the senses but has a nip in its caress which allows darkness to play with the enchanted emotions already inspired. Like a sun in the skies of the dramatic she guides the listener into a warm soak of colour fuelled melodies and harmonies for the chorus, the track then returning to that provocative hypnotic enticement which started things off for the verses. Those dark and expressive leads have the same kind of wanton visual and emotive sway that marked the opening credits to eighties UK TV show Tales Of The Unexpected, a tempting yet menacing seduction. It is a powerful and riveting track, a song with a sixties call to its breath and vocals, which alone seem like a mix of Helen Shapiro, Kristin Hersh, Chantal Clare, and Debbie Harry.

From such a potent start the album retains its compelling grip with the following Darkness, another shadowed call for the passions which sows the seeds with an opening throaty bass beckoning and reined in male vocal chants. It is a slowly prowling encounter, the song walking with intent around thoughts with lone strands of melodic taunts riling up the appetite further. With a touch of The Passions to it the song widens its lure with the again excellent vocals of O’Sullivan before sealing the lustful deal with heated flames of soaring vocals and acidic mastery, crescendos which ignite the fullest appetite. Like the first, the track explores the depths of light and dark with breath-taking craft and imagination leaving an already awoken hunger for more seized by rabid urgency.

The album continues to show it is as diverse as it is absorbing, starting with the stunning Odessa, a song as different to the opening pair as it is a continuation of flawed light and emotional incitement. A melancholic mesh of vocal, keys, and dark strings gently wash through the ear at first before a strong pause makes way for an equally rich narrative of guitar and rhythms which turn up the heat a touch more. It is a vibrant passion sculpted song which haunts thoughts with classy enterprise and emotional exploration, its latent energy brewing up and exploring the limits of the impressive songwriting, its realisation becoming more intense and magnetic the further towards its fiery climax the band drive.

Through the likes of the first single from the album Shock Shock, a meeting of The Pixies and The Shangri-Las in a folk rock atmospheric haunting wrapped in a sonic senses courting ambience, and the tantalising Water Won’t Fall with its scenic paint and crystalline touch, the band raise new emotive adventures whilst the title track is a noir tinted flame of seventies spiced melodic rock and Wicker Man laced folk which transforms the landscape of the album into a new distinct dance of mystique.

Released the same day as the album, May 27th, new single The Faster You Spin sets another pinnacle for the album. Another song rippling with an almost predatory intent through heavier melodic rock feistiness, it conjures the strongest contagion with searing flames of sonic and melodic… well eroticism seems the best word to describe it, complete with an ardour inducing addictiveness to its suasion.

Further songs in the scintillating Avalanche of Lust with its wonderful bass itch and the deliciously incendiary Flower Bombs, a song with an array of bewitching infectious climaxes around slow post punk taunting ingenuity, push the boundaries of the album and listener’s greed yet again whilst the closing pair of The Glue That Binds Us and Autumn to Winter leave an irresistibly effective temptation to start the whole emotive course of triumph again.

Murderopolis is a scintillating release from a band which walks beauty and darkness like no other. If Sparrow and the Workshop have yet to guide you through your and their invigorating passions than this album is the perfect introduction.


RingMaster 26/05/2013

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Hollis Brown – Ride On The Train

hollis brown pic

     Ride On The Train from NYC-based band Hollis Brown, is an album brought up on the classic essences of melodic rock, Americana, and blues seeded rock ‘n’ roll. It is a release which will find a ready home in the hearts of blues and rock fans but also in those with a strong taste for rock pop where melodies and passion make as loud a call as infectiousness. It is unlikely to fire up the passions for those lacking any real appetite for the genres it brings into a vibrant union admittedly but with its specific flavoursome offerings it is not necessarily trying to persuade those with a further afield in hunger anyway, though there is enough to spark intrigue in all.

Consisting of principal songwriters Mike Montali (vocals) and Jon Bonilla (lead guitar) alongside Mike Graves (drums)and Dillon DeVito (bass), Hollis Brown, the name taken from a Bob Dylan song, have brought their influences and passions into a sound which has earned and garnered strong responses and praise from the start. Their debut EP last year marked the card of a great many which this, their first album, will only reinforce with potency one suspects, whilst igniting awareness in a vast more appetites. The Alive Naturalsound released album offers ten tracks of honest and raw emotive enterprise, their voices a narrative of traditional blues heart with classic rock/pop colouring.

The title track strolls into view  first, regular beats marking the scenic breath of the guitar and vocals whilst the bass gentle offers ALIVE0140-adanother rhythmic lure to the unassuming yet eager start. It an easy and undemanding introduction with guitars bringing flames of melodic craft across the warm sky of the song whilst the vocals unveil an expressive tale with equally striking charm. Though it does not light any real sparks neither does it sow seeds of disinterest, the track laying down a more than decent welcome for the following likes of Down On Your Luck, Nothing & The Famous One, and the excellent Doghouse Blues to coax the ear with variety and accomplished enterprise. The first of these songs has a familiarity to it which is open and truthful in its inspirations whilst the third is a feisty and raw fire of blues borne incitement and riveting guitar enticement, a track which calls out the cry and breath of the working man.

Further highlights come with the richly emotive Faith & Love and best track on the album, Walk On Water. The song is another burn of intense emotion and scintillating expression, the songwriting securing full attention whilst its realisation is a furnace of fevered rock ‘n’ roll. The track continues the thrilling variety offered by the release with songs such as If It Ain’t Me and Nightfall taking the emotions on slowly enveloping rides through heartbreak and ballad crafted emotive elegance.

Ride On The Train did not light any fires to leave the deepest marks or recruit constant returns but as company from time to time it easily evades any reasons not to join its strong and satisfying blues driven presence.


RingMaster 26/05/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from