The Cathode Ray – Infinite Variety

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The energy around the arrival of and anticipation for Infinite Variety, the second album from Scottish band The Cathode Ray, ensured that intrigue and enthusiasm of a great many was high going into the release. It is fair to say that the proposition not only lives up to hopes and expectations placed upon it but leaves them lightweight against its kaleidoscope of fun, sound, and adventure. What was not predicted here was the nostalgic impact it had on ears and thoughts, as well as memory, for our first time with the band. Musically it weaves in essences from the seventies and eighties into an invigorating modern tenacity but it was finding out the background to the members which inspired us to first trawl through cases of vinyl on a nostalgia trip to relive old favourites ashamedly neglected over time.

Formed in 2006, The Cathode Ray was initially a song-writing collaboration between Jeremy Thoms and ex-Josef K frontman and solo artist Paul Haig, a band and solo project straight away dug out for a reprise in the ears. A couple of well-received singles followed before Haig left the project in 2009. Taking it over Thom enlisted guitarist Steve Fraser once of Edinburgh post punk band the Scars, another enslaving proposition for our passions way back, and alongside him drummer David Mack and bassist Neil Baldwin to complete a new line-up, the latter bringing another search through boxes to relive the glories of the disgracefully under-rated Bluebells and post-punk group TV21. Once that was out of the system it was full-steam ahead with Infinite Variety, an album swiftly living up and more to anything its creators may have helped craft before.

The album’s landscape uses various decades of sound as its palette, twisting and shaping them into unique and colourful proposals with a lyrical exploration to match. Said to loosely be a concept album, Infinite Variety visually and aurally references the natural world whilst looking at emotions involved with the human condition. The songs are kind of bundled into three areas; ‘fear, paranoia, lust and betrayal’ spicing the first few songs before looks at ‘transformation, honesty and realisation’ and subsequently love in various light and dark forms flavour the tracks. Like in a kaleidoscope though, it all seems to disarrange and evolve with every twist of a track to provide an on-going and increasingly fascinating adventure.

10425081_1014104828616219_3923383927065033299_n   That diversity to songs is one of many potent aspects to the album and it all starts with the outstanding Backed Up. A simple rub of guitar and accompanying cowbell prods make first contact, soon joined by crisp beats and an expanding coaxing of melodic enticing. The expressive tones of Thoms join the widening incitement next, his entrance awakening bolder enterprise in the guitars, whilst riffs and hooks come with a great post-punk spicing. The reserved but lively melodic invention provides a sultry colouring which the dark bass tones wonderfully temper whilst vocally Thom drives it all with a voice which is like a mix of Pete Shelley and Ste McCabe to offer another rich texture within the potent album starter.

It is a strong beginning straight away eclipsed by the outstanding Resist, one of the most addictive slices of warped pop you will come across this year. Its hooks instantly get under the skin and into the psyche, swiftly followed by the vocals and the thick bass bait. The song’s infectiousness is simply virulent bringing a whiff of The Revillos to its power pop stomp, a passing scent not as strong as the Buzzcocks like catchiness which oozes from the following Nowhere At All. Again it is merely a spicing though, this time to a captivating stroll of imaginative percussion, imposing rhythms, and addictive enterprise, all soaked in inescapable contagion.

Don’t Waste Your Words strides in next to bring an addictive lure of hip swinging rock ‘n’ roll. Feet and ears are an early submission, whilst the capture of the imagination is barely a drum stick swing away in the riveting temptation of the song. It is not alone in offering hooks and a presence which are indelible in thoughts and emotions even after the album’s departure, but it is probably the most intoxicating though matched straight away by the excellent Buck The Trend, a song with a healthy breath of Tom Verlaine and Television to it. Keys and guitar spin a gorgeous eighties web for the rhythmic and vocal prowess of the song to pull this way and that, a combination sculpting another major highlight in the album. There are times across Infinite Variety, like here, where thoughts wonder if the band may have missed the boat with their sound in the fact that The Cathode Ray would have surely been a big inspirational player in the eighties. Every time that suggestion raises its head though band and album almost in anticipation provides evidence to differ, like No Holds Barred which comes next, proving that they are definitely a perfect fit for the now. The song is a slower but similarly infectious offering with a held in check energy which still has body and emotions swaying feistily with its low key and thoroughly addictive swagger. Once more riffs and melodies combine to create a fresh twist and distinct romp of sound and invention in the album.

The brilliant Eureka Moment! is simply a montage of eighties goodness crafted into a transfixing and exotic jungle of imagination fuelled rhythms, Scars like sonic sweeps, and Bluebells bred melodies. It feels like a song dipping into its creators past exploits and those of others whilst equally drawing on new ingenuity. The John Foxx led version of Ultravox comes to mind as does The Creatures as the track seduces and incites but again they are just particular hues in an new enthralling and thrilling aural conjuring by the band.

This Force Of Nature brings its flowing melodic breeze next, female vocals seducing alongside the tones of Thoms, whilst Torn Apart explores an immersive and haunting cavern of sonic reflection which in many ways has seeds to the likes of House of Love and My Bloody Valentine. The absorbing and mesmeric encounter, as so many songs, keeps the album turning over in imagination and invention, as well as variety, before making way for the post punk croon of The Eyes Are The Window To The Soul. With a bassline which recalls early Cure and an Orange Juice like jangle to its chords, the song is bewitching and engagingly dramatic like a modern day Associates.

The album is closed by the elegant reflection of Saving Grace, a semi-acoustic ballad which simply whisks ears and thoughts off into hope soaked clouds under a smouldering exotic sun of melodic temptation. The song is spellbinding but also only telling half the story at this point. Around mid-way the calm is suddenly infused with ominous rhythms and sinister keys, nothing over imposing but certainly a brewing provocation which is soon ripe with surf rock tendrils of guitar and a tempestuous air. As if warning that good times still offer a stormy adventure, the track is irresistible manna for ears and imagination with seven minutes of sonic alchemy.

Infinite Variety is quite breath-taking, leaving thoughts basking and appetite hungry for much more. There have been many releases and bands recently creating real triumphs of nostalgia and new invention, but The Cathode Ray tops the lot.

Infinite Variety is available through Stereogram Recordings now on CD and download via http://www.stereogramrecordings.co.uk/audio/infinite-variety-the-cathode-ray-cddl/

https://www.facebook.com/thecathoderay

RingMaster 21/04/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

 

Deathblow – The Other Side of Darkness

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There is nothing quite like the voracious roar of thrash metal, especially when it is as ferociously raw and uncompromising as upon the new EP from US metallers Deathblow. Consisting of five tracks bred from the heart and soul of the genre, The Other Side of Darkness is a tirade in the ear and the fuse to the primal instincts of thrash metal and its following hordes.

The band’s second release follows their well-received debut album Prognosis Negative of 2014, and explodes with the same unbridled antagonism and intensity which marked out its predecessor. In many ways you really do know what you are going to get with the Salt Lake City trio’s sound, certainly in regard to its character and sonic intent as well as its overriding breeding but it cannot stop it, and indeed the new release from Deathblow with its additional inventive adventure, leaving nothing but rich satisfaction in its hellacious wake.

Recorded with and mixed and mastered by Andy Peterson, the self-released incitement opens up with Beyond Obsession, a song immediately prowling, no stalking the senses with a deliciously heavy and intimidating bassline joined straight away by more raucously animated riffs. The drums too soon lend their muscle to the threat, everything coming together in one breath of a pause before unleashing a hellacious united storm of metallic aggravation. Driven by just as hostile vocals, the track rumbles and charges with an ever shifting gait, revelling in its violent prowess and leaving the senses battered and blissfully bruised.

CD_Digipak_Outside The excellent start continues with Means To An End, where grooves and riffs seem to be even more inhospitable and contagious. After a relatively kind start it becomes a full on barrage of sonic animosity and rhythmic brutality yet still slips in varying turns of energy and an infectious enterprise which grips the imagination as skilled and melodic exploits escape from the guitars. Old school thrash meets modern ingenuity the track is a glorious rampage and rich evidence that there is much more to the band than aural viciousness.

The EP’s title track is next, bringing what can only be called a punk attitude to vocals and the fury lined bones of the song. Spiky in nature and creatively fluid in its entwining of melodic temptation and rabid virulence, The Other Side Of Darkness as the EP provokes body and emotions with consummate ease, enlisting both in its exhausting tempest.

The release is completed by firstly the simply furious and thrilling Headless Throne before the corrosively anthemic Death Wish brings everything to a riotous end. The first of the two is a sonic haranguing of the senses, a fearsome and exhilarating turbulence of rampant riffs and savage rhythms bound in a melodically sculpted lashing whilst its successor is as much punk ‘n’ roll as it is extreme metal vehemence, and simply irresistible.

The Other Side Of Darkness is thrash at its rawest best, not trying to reinvent the genre but taking long bred essences and ideation into fresh destructive climates. It works a treat and could/should be the spark to making Deathblow an eagerly spoken and recognisable name in the widest thrash circles.

The Other Side of Darkness is out on April 21st @ http://deathblow1.bandcamp.com/album/the-other-side-of-darkness

https://www.facebook.com/dethblo

RingMaster 21/04/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @ http://www.reputationradio.net

SSanahtes – Debut EP

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If we had to choose one word to describe the Debut EP from French extreme metallers SSanahtes, it would be primal. The four track release is a ravenous almost pestilential trespass of the senses which is sure to be a blissful listen for some and a desperately uncomfortable one for others. It is also a potent introduction to and starting point for the band and their rabid fusion of flavours like sludge, post metal, doom, and hardcore, and a rather enjoyable encounter too.

Based in Bordeaux and Paris, the band first emerged in 2013 and taking thick inspirations from the likes of Meshuggah, Electric Wizard, Neurosis and the New Orleans metal scene set about creating their own unique fury. It is too early to say how distinct to the band that sound will be, the EP offering plenty of healthy spices from their influences. Brave its squalls though and look into the dark depths of the songs and it is fair to say that some of the invention and sonic twists have a potential and lure to suggest SSanahtes will be a potent force ahead and is a compelling proposal right now. Taking their time with the creation of their first release, and recording it in their own bedrooms, the quintet of Fabien Loustalot (vocals, synths), Thomas Daniel (guitars, songwriting, production), Nicolas La Rosa (guitars, production), Franck Roder (bass, production), and Dylan Hyard (drums, samples) have bred a tempest which belies its humble creation and makes a striking first step for the band.

The instrumental Blue Druidess starts things off and immediately provides inviting and anthemic rhythmic bait. The drums are soon joined by the heavier grizzled growl of the bass and sonic swipes from the guitars, all aligning for a portentous air but one which holds court on real hostility. The track prefers to seduce the fear from the psyche, the keys of Loustalot a haunted and gently sinister air around the melodic intrigue cast by Daniel and La Rosa. The piece of music is fascinating and gripping, the increasingly more predatory bass presence and jabbing beats a dark intimidating shadow over the melodic and creative elegance within.

The tempest hinted at in the opener is soon consuming the senses in The Edge, though it too prowls into view with restraint. It is coated in an intensive doom breath and corrosive impact though which translates into every predacious riff and throaty bass line. The raw, throat wrenching vocal squalls of Loustalot similarly come with venomous expression and toxic intent, but all tempered by the more contagious rumbling of drums. They make a persistent tempting within the invasive tsunami of malevolence and sonic aggression, lending their infection to the unpredictable and pleasing slips into melodic calm and post rock ambiences. EP and songs do need plenty of time and effort to reveal all their nuances and underlying invention but as here reward with some sparkling ideation and provocative enterprise brought with open individual craft.

     Black Dragon allows no time for a breath, instantly expelling a blistering flame of guitar and vocal vitriol next. Riffs and another gripping bass offering provides the addictive element to the song this time, whilst the swings of Hyard simply resonate with every meeting of wood and skin. The best track on the release, it proceeds to create a contrasting sonic and melodic weave within the tempestuous and oppressive onslaught of the song’s predominant ravaging. As mentioned before, it is an exploration which at times you need to specifically focus on whilst braving the surface savaging but once it is locked in, it reveals just how much promise is in this band.

The release ends with Words, where you now know what to expect and what you will be challenged by whilst another thick swamp of erosive grooves, numbing riffery, and vocal ire bring new exploits to devour. The song arguably, other than the instrumental, is the most accessible on the EP, those tangy grooves an immediate invitation and given potent clarity until the sludge voracity and doom bred insidiousness of the song builds and spills its toxic hues over the senses and psyche in an overwhelming sea of sonic malignancy.

SSanahtes has made an impressive and fully satisfying introduction with the EP and if their inspirations match the same artists which light your tastes then the French band is well worth checking out.

The Debut EP is available now @ http://ssanahtes.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/ssanahtes

RingMaster 21/04/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @ http://www.reputationradio.net

Lawless Hearts – Creatures Of Habit

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Coming off a highly successful 2014 which saw the band play Austin’s renowned SXSW and undertake a praise earning European tour, Florida quintet Lawless Hearts look to make this year just as potent in their emergence with the release of debut EP Creatures Of Habit. Offering four songs which draw on some of the best essences of classic rock for a modern slice of rock ‘n’ roll, the release is an attention grabbing and thoroughly enjoyable introduction to the band.

Hailing from Jacksonville, Lawless Hearts takes inspirations from the likes of Bon Jovi, Guns N Roses, Led Zeppelin, Boston, and Foo Fighters into their energetic and melodically expressive sound but equally as their EP pleasures the ears, it is easy to suggest that maybe artists like Heart, Fleetwood Mac, and The Pretenders have made some impact on the band’s tastes too. Creatures Of Habit is not a proposition which blows you away or reeks of major originality, due to those influences maybe, but equally it does have a blaze of freshness and enterprise which ensures the band is not just one of the crowd.

Creatures_Large     The EP’s title track is the first song to touch ears and instantly wraps them in a sonic embrace which soon broadens into a potent stroll framed by pungent rhythms and coloured by a guitar bred melodic enticing. Things settle down with the full entry of Alex Marie’s magnetic vocals, her impressive voice swiftly a full engagement between ears and pleasure backed strongly by members of the band. The guitar of Michael Thomas also brings another rich ‘voice’ to the encounter, infusing the song with more imagination melodies around a flame soiling solo. As riffs from rhythm guitarist Justus Sutherland similarly entice and the dark throaty tones of Rob Joseph’s bass enthrals, the song blossoms into a flavoursome captivation.

The fiery air and textures of the first song continue to be explored by the following If I Have To which erupts with an immediate pop rock infectiousness. The crisp beats of drummer Corey Ahlquist hold court across the infectious encounter, driving things on in a vivacious stroll as vocals and guitars cast their individual tenacity and feisty charm. Like its predecessor, and the EP as a whole, it is hard to say you will hear anything startlingly new yet for enjoyable and refreshing rock sounds and imagination Lawless Hearts leaves no one wanting. The delivery of Alex Marie, as the sounds seems, to gain even greater heat in its passion too whilst the guitars once more dazzle in craft and adventure.

Oblivion is the source of that earlier mentioned hint of The Pretenders, the evocative hues around its verse especially reminiscent of the distinct flavour found in the UK/US band. A more restrained but no less impassioned proposition, the track provides a rock pop croon thick on emotion and full to the gills with transfixing vocals and harmonies.

It is final song Fallout which steals the show though, opening with a reflective balladry which evolves into a mighty rock ‘n’ roll stomp complete with rumbling rhythms, vocal roars, and melodic intoxication. The track is irresistible and alone reeks of the potential within Lawless Hearts which suggests this is a band really going places. The other tracks on the EP are no slouches in making similar hints, but the last proposition on the EP simply soars above their accomplished and enjoyable presences to majorly impress. Once more it is probably right to say no new templates are being set in place with the song but rock music does not often come much better or thrilling.

With their first album also appearing to be in the works for 2015, it is looking like being another big year for Lawless Hearts with Creatures Of Habit a rich and pleasing start for it and the suspected wakening of big spotlights upon the band.

Creatures of Habit is available from April 21st via Pavement Entertainment on most online stores.

http://www.lawlesshearts.com/   https://www.facebook.com/LawlessHeartsMusic

RingMaster 21/03/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @ http://www.reputationradio.net

 

 

 

 

Abandcalledboy – George Best In Show / Paul Simon’s Daily Routine

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You know when you are on to a winner when you realise your feet have already joined in the devilry before thoughts and emotions have caught on. In such cases there is an instinctive lure which digs into the primal essence of what incites personal tastes and musical passions, and so it is with the new single from Belfast noise/indie rock band Abandcalledboy. The two track bewitchment simply took over the body, then the imagination and emotions. It did not ask for permission or make an initial request but just stole its booty whilst providing a seriously compelling and contagious introduction to its creators.

Though our first meeting with them, Abandcalledboy has been making a stir in the Irish music scene for a while, spreading it around the UK at times. 2014 saw the release of their self-titled debut EP which earned the band keen attention across the Irish music press whilst the self-produced video for the song Cliff Richard captured strong interest and praise from Therapy? guitarist/vocalist Andy Cairns. Shows with the likes of Rolo Tomassi, And So I Watch You From Afar, and The Futureheads amongst many has only reinforced the emergence and growing stature of the band but now it is the turn of their new single to nudge a new and broader awareness and appetite for their sounds, and it is fair to say that already George Best In Show / Paul Simon’s Daily Routine has made one new conquest.

Abandcalledboy - George Best - Paul Simon - ABCB 2015 Promo 2The single is the first release from Abandcalledboy as a quartet and shows a shift in direction of sound from the foursome of Ryan Burrowes, Adam Smith, Mark Finnegan, and newest member Chris Ryan. George Best In Show is the first to step forward and in the matter of two breaths has ears and appetite enslaved with its almost voracious rhythmic shuffle. The swinging beats border on salacious and are irresistibly inviting as the surrounding tempting of guitar brings a B-52s like teasing to its melodic mischief. It is not the only thing worming away under the skin and into the psyche though, a sonic bluster erodes the senses with its caustic noise whilst a dark menacing bass tone simply adds to the addictive tempest. It sounds like it is a threatening start but it is the complete opposite, in fact it is a gloriously captivating stirring up of air and listener which levels out into a more stable though still agitated landscape once warm vocals join the affair. The song continues to impress and inescapably seduce, slowly raising its intensity and sonic causticity again towards a blistering finale. There seems to be hints of bands like XTC, Baddies, and Swound! in the song but spices in something predominantly unique.

Second track Paul Simon’s Daily Routine is a more emotionally and physically settled proposition, though again its rhythmic side comes with a volatile nature, especially in the drums. The raw radiance of keys and guitars is a flirtatious dance bridging the dark hues of bass and the agitated beats of Ryan to the harmonic caresses of the vocals and acidic melodies. Fuzzy and mesmeric, noisy and transfixing, the song explores a different kind of chaotic adventure compared to its openly twisted companion, a more temperate brew bristling with sonic enterprise within an imagination lit climate.

Abandcalledboy might have escaped attention from a great many of us until now but that slow awakening will surely change for everyone else with the unveiling of George Best In Show / Paul Simon’s Daily Routine. It thrusts the band onto the widest noise rock map with forceful energy and invention whilst suggesting there is even greater, template shaping things to come. We cannot wait!

George Best In Show / Paul Simon’s Daily Routine is available now as a name your price download at http://abandcalledboymusic.bandcamp.com

https://www.facebook.com/abandcalledboy

RingMaster 21/04/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @ http://www.reputationradio.net