Ian Prowse – Companeros

ian-prowse_RingMaster Review

It is fair to say that Ian Prowse has given British rock some impressive and successful times through previous bands Pele and Amsterdam, but it is hard to remember a time as rousingly enjoyable as his new solo album Companeros. The release is a collection which embraces a mighty handful of songs written by comrades he has met and/or admired, and tracks which have “never entered the national psyche, but should have.” The press release does not give enough info to say if all the eleven songs are covers or mixed with originals, but one thing it does get right is in declaring Companeros ‘stuffed full of rock and roll infused with Celtic soul and song wise it’s his most listenable set of tunes yet.”

That actually underplays the impact and virulent contagion unleashed by the crowd funded album to be honest. The successor to the Prowse’s acclaimed debut solo album Who Loves Ya Baby of 2014, the Tony Kiley produced Companeros hits the ground running and never looks back until the final note of its last emotion inciting song.

It all starts with Town And Country Blues, a superb version of a definitely shamefully neglected song from a similarly undervalued band. The track from Jim Jiminee has lit our personal fire ever since the band’s debut album Welcome To Hawaii hit the sweet spot in 1988, so there was an instant smile when it burst from the speakers upon Companeros and even more so with Prowse offering a contagious and lusty version. With horns and that Celtic essence colouring the track from its first breath and the distinctive voice of Prowse superbly shadowed by captivating female tones, the distinctive take on the outstanding song just has bums bouncing in seats, bodies to the dance-floor, and a greedy appetite ready to devour the rest of the release.

album-cover_RingMaster Review     English folk singer/ songwriter Alun Parry has his song My Name Is Dessie Warren embraced by Prowse next, acoustic and sultry electric guitar hugging the vocals from the start with a restrained but pungent bass line and jabbing beats emerging as the song catches the imagination with increasing energy and expression. Once more ears are left seriously satisfied though maybe not as much as they are by new single Mississippi Beat, a magnetic encounter featuring a duet between Prowse and acclaimed Irish singer Pauline Scanlon, who is one half of folk duo Lumiere. The song, written and recorded by songwriter Jez Wing and his band Cousin Jac, wraps the senses in melodic beauty and emotive temptation; the siren-esque tones of Scanlon the perfect contrast and company to the plainer but no less expressive tone of Prowse and the piano courting both with its own intimate elegance.

What Am I To You steps up next, its summery stroll pure infection from its first rhythmic shuffle and twinkling melody whilst the voice of Prowse delivers further mellow catchiness to the song’s swing before You Can’t Win Them All Mum has its turn to seduce ears with a smouldering air and potent lyrical reflection and intimacy. Originally by The Lost Soul Band, the song like its predecessor just lights the imagination and with its great sax flames, sparks a new hungry wave of appetite, though both tracks get slightly overshadowed by the pair of Derry Gaol and St. Patrick’s Brave Brigade. Not for the first or last time there is a whisper of Elvis Costello to a song on the release; the first of this pair openly hinting whilst merging it with an equally enjoyable whiff of Thin Lizzy in its magnetic slice of rock ‘n’ roll and a whiff of a Horslips like spice in the enterprise of the guitar and keys. It’s just as enticing successor is a swarthy and potent version of the powerful Damien Dempsey song, its sultry climate a mesmeric lure into the honesty of word and voice stirring up thoughts and emotion from within.

Diversity across Companeros is never in short supply as proven again by Johnny & Marie and its fifties rock ‘n’ roll infused revelry. Written by fellow Liverpudlian and city legend Phil Jones, frontman of eighties new wave band Afraid Of Mice, the song was originally released that same decade by Jones as part of the duo Up And Running. Given the creative stamp of Prowse’s enterprise and carrying the swagger of an artist you just know has a lusty affection for the material, as well as again being backed and warmly spiced by female vocals, the track has hips swaying and feet flirting with the dance-floor with consummate ease.

An indie/funk rock flirtation is uncaged by the following Conscience, the track another irresistible physical beckoning enslaving the listener before Spare Change and its Graham Parker like r ‘n’ b/punk rock stomp turns the heat up even higher with its slim but undiluted rock ‘n’ roll intoxication. It is hard to pick a best song from such a rewarding bunch on the album but certainly the penultimate track upon Companeros is up there shouting loud every time.

The album is finished off by a glorious nine minute live cut of the Amsterdam track Name & Number; the version a sure fire cert to again have bodies and energies aflame with its Celtic festivity and instrumentation aligned to one organic creative grin. It is a superb end to a thoroughly enjoyable and uplifting release. In these times of turbulence we all need something to light the soul; Ian Prowse and Companeros has that tonic in brilliant abundance.

Companeros is available now!

Pete RingMaster 21/09/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

For more exploration of the independent and promotional services check out http://www.zykotika.com/

Lewisburg – Of Hollywood

Lewisburg_RingMaster Review

Increasingly mesmeric with every listen, the new single from Lewisburg lights ears and imagination like a sultry Summers day. Equally though, Of Hollywood embraces a tinge of melancholy and suggestive shadows as magnetic as the warm textures washing over the senses. It is aural tantalising at its best and if arguably not quite a song to turn your day upside down, though for some it might, it will be the moment which lingers the most enjoyably.

Lewisburg is the project of London based singer songwriter Ali Robertson and it was on his return from an eighteen month trip around the world that he began Lewisburg. His early musical days saw him play the bars of Williamsburg, Brooklyn and it was not long before his songs were being played on the likes of LA’s radio station, KCRW, especially debut single El Celebro of last year; an acclaimed introduction to his music sparking plaudits and attention around new fans and media alike. Drawing on inspirations such as Phosphorescent, Ryan Adams, and Eels for his provocative blend of folk and indie pop, Robertson now follows the success of his first single and songs like Nowhere Man with the richly alluring Of Hollywood.

cover_RingMaster Review   Co-produced by Robertson and Olly Betts of The Duke Spirit and Furs, Of Hollywood opens on a single strum of guitar but within a couple more seconds or so, becomes a melodic sigh of golden keys and their instant seduction. To that though, there is an underlying and rousing lure of rhythms sparking a controlled but anthemic stroll to the song which perfectly ebbs and flows around the reflective, sandy tones of Robertson. His voice carries an angst lining but as the music equally a captivating expression and texture which just invites the ear. The song continues to blossom a spicy air and sonic adventure around its catchy spine, resulting in one irresistible temptation which just gets stronger and more addictive with every listen.

The same can be said of accompanying song No Plateau, an intoxicating caress of melodic mystique within a sultry immersive climate. There is a surf/psych air to the track’s celestial atmosphere and exotic breath whilst the vocals of Robertson bring a more earth bound emotion and prowess to the tangy flight of the song. With sixties hues also revealing their whispers throughout, the song just enthrals as it completes one impressive release.

As suggested the single does not demand attention with an explosive nature and presence, but flirts and coaxes to the same kind of rewarding success. Lewisburg is the name; one surely to be more recognised and renowned with each passing and evolving release.

Of Hollywood is out now.

Pete RingMaster 18/09/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

For more exploration of the independent and promotional services check out http://www.zykotika.com/

Zurich – Small Wars

Zurich_RingMaster Review

Like Paul Haig meets Modern English in a creative hug with The Slow Readers Club, Zurich has a sound which leaves you awash with welcome nostalgia and invention soaked freshness. The proof comes via debut EP Small Wars; five tracks of post punk and eighties electro pop bred temptation infused into a fiery rock heart. At times rousingly anthemic and in other moments warmly intimate, the EP is a compelling introduction to the UK trio, one which early on had thoughts moulding the assumption that the Oxford hailing band is heading towards to major things.

Consisting of bassist/vocalist Adrian Banks, guitarist/vocalist Chris Gillett, and drummer Leigh Taylor, Zurich since emerging in the July of 2014 has built an impressive reputation for their live presence and sound in the always busy Oxford music scene. Now the whole of Britain gets to hear why with the Gary Stevenson produced Small Wars; an encounter which captivates from its first touch and just gets bigger and bolder in its persuasion and adventure thereon in.

cover_RingMaster Review     The release opens with Chemical, a song making a low key but instantly engaging entrance as atmospheric synths and melodies entice from the distance; coming closer with every passing second before rhythms and scythes of sultry guitar break loose to further spark ears and imagination. Already memories are basking in older essences as the appetite latches on to the robustly vocal textures of a fiercer but no less warm modern vivacity and invention. In no time the track is strolling along with infectiousness dripping from its every chord and rolling beat, their tempting matched by the excellent vocals of Banks and Gillett. The track is an instant friend, one you feel you know but only bringing new adventure and enjoyment the way of ears and emotions. Anthemic pop at its best, the song is a thrilling and commanding early persuasion from the EP, one masterfully backed by Alone.

The second track jabs with punchy beats as a guitar dangles its melodic bait initially in front of ears, a coaxing which maintains its potency and clarity as rhythms and more guitar swiftly add new eager energy and spice. A slower but still lively enticing compared to its predecessor, its canter bounces along drawing quick involvement physically as strings and a thick weave of keys build and unite in a highly provocative proposal for the imagination to get fully involved in. Once more vocals and individual prowess shines as openly as the collective enterprise in a song which as good as glows as it incites body and heart.

Small Wars offers its title track next, a smouldering croon with tenacious beats and a melancholy toned bassline which play against and with the lighter but equally emotive melodies of keys and guitars. Strings once more add further drama and emotional intimacy to the heartfelt dance of the song’s croon whilst its chorus just gets into the psyche from its first call, all aspects creating another major highlight of the EP before Invisible Man takes over with its own creative theatre. Straight away it offers melodic resourcefulness within a feisty serenade which can only be called Black like, the song growing and exceling as emotion packed sinews and inventive drama continue to blossom.

The EP is brought to a fine close by Menace; a pulsating shimmer of guitar and creeping keys its opening tempting and climatic beats and vociferously sultry endeavour it’s subsequent and gripping majesty. The bass of Banks is compelling in tone and expression whilst the rapier and adventurous rhythms of Taylor ignites the air around the increasingly volatile and imaginative journey of the song. Add relentlessly mesmeric keys and guitar craft which just rises to the occasion whilst pushing that same moment to new enthralling heights, you have one blaze of brilliance to complete an encounter just as constantly impressive.

Zurich is not a name which leaps out and grabs or indeed sticks in the memory as powerfully as maybe others but it does not need to when the band’s sound definitely does. Small Wars declares that fact and fair to say because of it we are already impatient to hear what the band comes up with next.

The Small Wars EP is available digitally from Kestrel Records on September 21st via the band’s Bandcamp.

Pete RingMaster 21/09/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

For more exploration of the independent and promotional services check out http://www.zykotika.com/

Ash Walker – Six Eight / Noodle

Ash Walker_RingMaster Review

Following the success of his acclaimed debut EP Agnostic, producer Ash Walker shows another side to his instrumental adventure with double A-sided single Six Eight / Noodle. Whereas the EP caught ears with a more unconventional trip hop led fusion of sound, the new release explores smokier jazz bred landscapes again spiced by varying textures and flavours. The two songs create individual immersive strolls which are more hints rather than forceful suggestions for thoughts to run with, but each suggests a sultry lazy day with smiles and warmth are made for their presence.

cover_RingMaster Review     Previously, Ash has supported the likes of The Specials, Lee Scratch Perry, and David Rodigan as a DJ before signing with Deep Heads, this in turn allowing his increasingly acclaimed productions to entice strong attention. The Agnostic EP incited strong radio focus with the likes of Gideon Coe, Don Letts, and Tom Robinson supporting its release whilst the single Round The Twist, which features The Specials’ Nikolaj Torp Larsen quickly lured individual support of its own. Now with the assistance of bassist Marc Cyril (Joss Stone, Dennis Bovell, Jr Walker and the All Stars) and keyboardist Jason Moe, Walker takes the listener through fresh scenery from his imagination starting with Six Eight.

The track ambles in on a delicious bassline and scratchy percussion quickly washed with enticing horn like bellows and the reflective charm of the piano. Additional keys stoke the ambience of the song with richer, though reserved, flames whilst a ska/dub swagger and enterprise courts the increasingly attractive character and body of the song. With a cosmopolitan feel to its atmosphere and texture, Six Eight has the feel of busy summer kissed streets full of bodies carrying a calm smile reflecting the air around them rather than the impatient voracity generally found on city landscapes. It is an enchanting piece of music, a companion to swing your hips to whilst immersing in its warm embrace.

Noodle is a mellower hug of melodic elegance but again with infectious temptation and an underlying lively gait. The bass once more captivates, its darker emotive tones adding shadows and intrigue to the melodic glow and atmospheric chimes blossoming from the enterprise of the keys. The track in a way is like the night view of life shown in the day time revelry of Six Eight, its presence a noir draped look at a still vibrant but closely intimate world echoing the heart of the first song and its lively energy.

Though the release did not incite the imagination to run away with itself in expansive adventures, both songs tantalise and ignite nothing less than warmth and full enjoyment which we expect to be wrapped in its own acclaim very soon.

Six Eight / Noodle is available now via Deep Heads.

Pete RingMaster 21/09/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

For more exploration of the independent and promotional services check out http://www.zykotika.com/