Raglans – Self Titled

raglan pic

A dance for feet, imagination, and emotions, the self-titled debut album from Irish band Raglans is a magnetic introduction to a band which has already brewed up approaching feverish attention around home city Dublin and the wider landscape of Ireland. That spotlight is sure to be expanded as the infectious adventure of their album takes the hands of UK passions and leads them in its thrilling melodic waltz. The eleven song blaze of captivating sounds and insatiable energy provides all the reasons as to why the indie-folk quartet has swiftly made a major mark back home and will soon have wider fields spellbound you suspect.

Forming in 2010, Raglans took little time to create a potent following and reputation for their live performances and sound, an encounter which charges up the passions as much through its flavoursome breeding from the varied heavier, punky, and folkish tastes of the band’s members as it does from the virulently addictive hooks veining the release. Multi-instrumentalist and lead vocalist Stephen Kelly linked up with bassist Rhos Horan first before enlisting drummer Conn O’ Ruanaidh and lead guitarist Sean O’Brien soon after as the band took its first steps as Raglan, its name taken from a famous Patrick Kavanagh poem, On Raglan. The first year saw their demo track Down make its entrance before the band was invited to spend a week producing and recording with Boz Boorer, renowned for his collaborations with Morrissey. That spawned the eagerly received Long Live EP of 2012 as well as a couple of videos with young filmmaker Finn Keenan to accompany songs on the release. A pair of singles, Digging Holes and Natives drew even greater acclaim and hunger for their sound helping the foursome to land support slots with the likes of The Courteeners and HAIM.

Produced by Ivor Novello nominee Jay Reynolds (Elton John, Pulp, The Verve) and mastered by Grammy award winning Brian Lucy (The raglans coverArctic Monkeys, The Black Keys, Beck), Raglans’ album is the next step on the rapid ascent of the band. As soon as the rhythmic and vocal revelry of opener Digging Holes seizes ears, thoughts and emotions similarly come under the spell of song and band. Almost tribal and certainly anthemic, the track is under the skin within seconds, continuing to forge a deeper toxicity with the rhythmic enterprise of Ruanaidh rampant within the emerging melodic guitar and keys colouring of the festivity. Vocally the band is just as potent, the great tones of Kelly perfectly backed and aided by the rest of the band. As the song evolves through changing gaits and twists around its core infectiousness, it provides one of the best rock pop encounters to bounce into and flirt with the passions over recent years.

The irresistible start is soon backed up potently by both (Lady) Roll Back The Years and the following Fake Blood. The first is again a melody soaked flame of insistently persuasive hooks and teasing rhythms aligned to sonic adventure and punchy imagination. With whispers of blues and folk rock to its feisty energy and weight, the track is an insatiably compelling stomp with a keen swagger to match. Its successor brings a more relaxed attitude to its suasion though there is still a purpose and passion to it which is of a heavier rock base, and though it is less dramatic and insistent than its predecessors, the song still adds another layer to the immense satisfaction welcoming the album. Another pleasing aspect to the songs, certainly to this point, is how the band ends them, each stepping from the ear as vivaciously and dramatically as at any other point in a track to add an additional lingering thrill in the mix.

Before Tonight saunters in next with a melodic smile in its heart, its folk pop stroll a warm summer chorus of harmonies and elegant hooks, whilst Natives uncages another anthem of virulent pop with a reserved but fully loaded temptation of guitar hooks, rhythmic enslavement, and vocal enticements. As with many songs there is something familiar playing with ears and thoughts but only to the benefit and potency of the rich thrilling bait.

The album continues to incite greater pleasure and allegiance to its inventive charm and melodic grace, the likes of the rigorously catchy blues kissed rocker White Lightning and the emotively sculpted Not Now raising more appealing weaves of thoughtful craft and delicious melodies whilst the more than decent High Road, if without sparking similar depth of ardour, pushes a wider gape to the grin inside the release and listener.

Keeping another pinnacle for its latter stages, the album then launches the brilliant romp of The Man From Glasgow on ears and passions, the track a vivacious rival to the first for best song. It is an energy pumping feast of guitar and bass endeavour alongside perfectly incendiary rhythms and similarly enslaving harmonies all drawn into a tempestuous pop song with more than an essence of pop punk breeding to its rampancy.

The album is closed out by firstly Down, the song another merciless proposition of harmonic enterprise and crafty indie coaxing stealing more of the passions, and lastly the refreshing Born In Storms, a track which does not spark the strongest rapture but certainly confirms album and band as something to loudly recommend. It is easy to see why the release of Down way back in its demo state awoke attention in so many whilst the last track simply reinforces the clever seduction of the band’s songwriting and sound. Raglans will be a small name making big impressions on the lips and thoughts of the UK as their album works its inevitable way into the hearts of a great many, becoming a presence as full and voracious as their sound.

https://www.facebook.com/Raglans

9/10

RingMaster 24/03/2014

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Echoes – The Pursuit

 

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Whether the music or band name came first is something to ask in the future but certainly the sonic tempest of sound which progressive hardcore/post metal band Echoes casts over air, senses, and emotions is a resonating and lingering incitement which leaves little room for respite in its oppressively smothering presence. The Pursuit, the debut album from the UK quintet, thrusts the band into the imagination and mistrust though the latter is not a concern for the undoubted technical and imaginative craft of the band or of their emotively intrusive exploration, just a wariness of the damage the erosive might and intrusive rabidity of the release is treating senses and psyche to The ten track immersion is not an easy listen at times, not a merciful encounter which allows senses to breath and regain a foothold in its caustically acidic soundscape, but one which captivates with just a few reservations.

Taking inspirations from the likes of Devil Sold His Soul through to Hans Zimmer, Echoes emerged in 2010 with the intent ‘to create a sound that is entirely true to them’. Undertaking a gigging regime as intensive as their sound, the band has played around the UK and Europe numerous times, taking in over 150 shows and sharing stages with bands such as Devil Sold His Soul, Feed The Rhino, Heights, and Our People Vs Yours along the way. Intensively created across time and effort, The Pursuit lays down a potent marker and imprint as the band forges another potent step in their ascent. It is a sonically carnivorous encounter, one with a hunger which consumes with little consideration for emotional relief in its recipients but one which even in its suffocating dark depths infuses a melodic hope and positivity, just no respite.

Opener Empty Lungs has no care for a gentle coaxing into its maelstrom of enslaving textures and atmospheric voracity, the guitars of FRONT Packcover (hi-res)Angus Cadden and Karl Koch an immediate grazing courted by the intimidating throat of the bass of Steve Tolloczko and the predatory rhythmic challenge of Oliver Todd. The sonic submergence is like a free fall for the senses until they reach the passionate raw squalls of vocalist Joshua Thurbin where intensity engulfs before spreading out into more restrained but just as intrusively testing scenery. The slow immersive crawl of the track which takes over is as magnetic as the previous vitriolic incitement was violently bracing, their subsequent merging a stimulating canvas for imagination and emotions to place their own narrative before being dosed in that provided by Thurbin. It is an exacting experience but one, which as the album, over time unveils the richest persuasion and understanding upon the emotions.

As the first track drifts away the following Leaving None Behind flows in, a commanding but respectful acridity wrapping ears before the raising of an intensive temperature which itself flows into another melodic caress with sinister shadows. Again the track takes time to share all of its rewards but does so eventually as the guitars and rhythms sculpt a powerfully evocative landscape to ponder and explore. The following title track is similarly a long term investigation and journey but one which mentally ignites thoughts and feelings as rigorously as it does physically. Like the album, it is impossible not to fall into the immersive ambient depths of the song even as the sonic endeavour sears and scars.

Both Honour Lost and Rivers takes things up another level, or is that down, to darker intimidating corners; the first a bordering on anthemic engagement of group calls vocally aligned to an imaginative and harsh traverse of raw climates whilst its successor provides an initially muscular confrontation which evolves  impressively into an expanse of crystalline intrigue and shimmer mystique within a rhythmic sky which is always mere seconds from inviting a fury of vocal angst and voracious sonic design. The pair are the most potent and thrilling provocations stretching the already accomplished thought and passion of the band musically and emotionally.

As stated The Pursuit is not the most painless proposition, though there is never a second where adventure and unpredictability do not reign, but there are elements which prevent it scaling the heights of personal acclaim which it could have deserved. The lacking of truly memorable moments other than the just mentioned songs does leave it standing out against other contenders, as does the fact that it is easy to lose yourself within its familiarity s at times songs are hard to distinguish from others without purposeful attention.  Also the vocals of Thurbin make the release a struggle at times as in For What It’s Worth and the beginning of the following and thrilling Wooden Hearts as examples. Certainly his delivery and craft is impressive and potent to match the fire of the music and invention, but without a lack of diversity, only occasional additional group additives giving that, it does leave that part of songs a little one dimensional though certainly also passion drenched. It does not prevent the album from stirring up appetite and eager emotions for itself though.

Safe it Seems bursts in next to rage and snarl at the senses, anger and reflection soaking every syllable and note within another pleasing tempestuous range of piercing sonic peaks and lush melodic hues. Its drama clad presence is instantly tempered by the opening ambient caress and floating melancholia of Navigate, the piece a vision inspiring instrumental with scathing edges to its elegant beauty. It is the one time the album allows breathing to be engaged in without a savage incursion; that left to the closing See & Believe to explore within its emotively intense and creatively vibrant body. It is a powerful finale to a striking full debut. There are elements where the release could have truly stolen the passions and misses out but The Pursuit still leaves you eager to invest in its consumptive depths, even if nervously, and push Echoes into a band to fully recommend.

http://www.weareechoes.com/

7.5/10

RingMaster 24/03/2014

 

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Titans & Kings – Set Fire To The Night

titans and kings

Creating a feisty and energetic blend of eighties hard and modern alternative rock with extra pleasing spices, UK rock band Titans & Kings is an encounter impossible not to develop an eager appetite for, especially taking new single Set Fire To The Night as the doorway into their fiery sound. The band has been earning strong praise and attention over recent months and it is not hard to see why using the single as evidence. The song does suggest that the London quartet is still defining their musical voice and uniqueness but that just adds that little bit more spice to the promise within the already accomplished and engaging encounter.

Set Fire To The Night follows the well-received recent release of the Hold Your Tongue EP as well as the success of the band’s first Titans & Kings - Set Fire to The Night (iTunes Artwork) (1)UK tour they have just completed. Recorded at Freefall Studios, the single leaves no riff bred beckoning and melodic enticement at home, the song from its first moments a riotous and agreeably anthemic proposition. It plays like Jimmy Eats World meets Black Stone Cherry with the fire of Buckcherry involved, though there is more to it than that. The song emerges from a distant blaze of guitar on a drum thumping before relaxing with muscles still flexed into an embrace of melodic endeavour and sonic enterprise. Once the vocals begin their narrative, aligned to the great throaty bass skirting, an eighties rock essence washes over the imagination. It is a pleasing if undemanding coaxing which recruits full attention; jagged riffs and entwining melodies adding to the bait of the song.

There is a definite familiarity to the track too which makes it simply over friendly rather than a replica of something else but it is the constantly evolving and emerging imagination of the band which steals the spotlight, twists in ideas, gait, and energy an exciting unpredictable enticement. That recognisable element of the song fuels the thought that Titans & Kings is still searching for their distinctive flavour but equally with its inventive exploration the single provides proof that something individual to the band is coming to push a sound which is already a mouthwatering suasion on ears and emotions.

It is fair to say that Set Fire To The Night will not be the song that sets your year alight but it certainly given the chance will warm it up quite nicely as Titans & Kings continue their increasingly impressive way to that incendiary event they seemingly have the potential to create. For vivacious rock ‘n’ roll Set Fire To The Night is well worth romping with.

www.titansandkings.com

7.5/10

RingMaster 24/03/2014

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