Band Of Holy Joy – The Land Of Holy Joy

BOHJ_A_RingMaster Review

This past year, two singles from Band Of Holy Joy have sparked expectations of something special from their new album The Land Of Holy Joy, simply because of their own enthralling quality. Fair to say the UK band’s new release not only lives up to hopes and assumptions but leaves them looking rather inadequate. The nine track adventure of urban folk and indie rock is a blaze of ear thrilling and imagination igniting tracks ripe with unpredictable invention and the social commentary and honesty we have come to expect from the London band. Admittedly over their three decades of undeniably helping shape the British indie scene, we have not had the pleasure of devouring all of their eighteen previous albums here but of the fair few we have, Band Of Holy Joy have definitely eclipsed all with their finest moment in The Land Of Holy Joy.

The album gets off to a stunning flyer with its title track, the opener an instantly bewitching enticing of off-kilter guitar melodies from James Stephen Finn. Their discord lined twang has ears alert, whilst a swift healthy appetite licks its lips almost as quickly after as an exotic seducing from Peter Smith’s keys, matched by the flirtation cast by the bass of Howard Jacques, dances with the imagination. Like Eastern sent cosmopolitan sunshine over harsh realities hinted at by the plainer, distinctive tone of vocalist Johny Brown, the track is sensational; a provocative soundtrack perfect for the crisis felt right now by thousands upon thousands of people and Europe.

The outstanding beginning continues with the band’s last single Isn’t That Just The Life. The song enthrals like a sixties kitchen sink drama with, still for these ears, a female centred alternative to The Smith’s This Charming Man. With wistful keys, flames of sax from Smith, and great dourly resourceful harmonies, the song is an expressive croon with a swinging canter to its shadowed wrapped but surprisingly warm body, and also irresistible.

Street bred melancholy lines the following All The Girls Are Wearing Desert Boots Of Pale And Subtle Shade. It is a track which from its initial potent and gentle embrace of sombre air and emotion lifts in energy through emotive brass textures and an increasingly rousing incitement thrown by the craft of drummer William Lewington. Maybe a slow burner compared to its predecessors, the track easily has ears and thoughts hooked before making way for the funky carnival-esque theatre of Men Who Display A Different Kind Of Pain. Keys drizzle temptation and festival like drama over the senses in league with a similarly thick and colourful enticing from the guitar, whilst Brown adds rich vocal and lyrical openness in his ever pleasing mix of raw crooning and spoken narrative. More inventive and compelling with every passing minute and certainly each listen, the song is revelry of sound and honest drama coated with eighties warmth.

Another album pinnacle arrives with the brilliant Violent Drunken Strangers. Its entrance sees skipping beats aligning with a moodily captivating bassline and sultry tendrils of guitar which just seep into the psyche as Brown again varies his delivery to fine and impacting effect. The post punk like stroll and tone of the track is delicious, as too the emerging eighties funk kissed guitar and a vocal union which just ignites the passions. There are essences of bands like Bauhaus in atmosphere, Josef K in guitar jangle, and Original Mirrors to its lively revelry, and along with the title track, the song steals the show though great times simply continue as first the reflective melodic caress of Discredited Art Form cups ears and thoughts and straight after, A Good Close Friend offers its own elegant seduction and tenacious sixties fired enterprise up for eager attention. Both songs provide thoroughly enjoyable proposals whilst stirring thoughts, the second eclipsing the first but only by a spicy whiff of keys and one lively step.

A Place Called Home is another track which smoulders in ears and thoughts rather than quickly stirs them but with superb harmonies between Brown and a female vocalist, and a brass breeze which as the song has a shade of The Walker Brothers to it, lingering persuasion is the ultimate and successful result.

Closing with I’m Crass Harry, a bluesy look at a character which never gives up the fight despite enduring a constant tide of adversity, the album ends with a mighty finale. Merging spices found in the likes of reggae, punk, jazz, and other absorbing flavours into its musical tapestry around that tale of defiance, the song is Band Of Holy Joy at their best, what creatively they are and have always been about and another slice of proof as to why we say The Land Of Holy Joy is their greatest moment yet.

The Land Of Holy Joy is out now digitally and on CD via Stereogram Recordings and the Band Of Holy Joy Bandcamp.

Pete RingMaster 22/09/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Fenrir – The Rise

Fenrir _RingMaster Review

The Rise is one of those releases which make a strong and enjoyable first impression but it is over time where the realisation of just how good and full it really is emerges. The new EP from British alternative rockers Fenrir is a quickly rousing and lively stomp which just grows in stature the more attention it is given. It is potent evidence of the growth and maturity which has blossomed in the band’s sound since the release of its predecessor two years ago. Their sound is still not the finished article we would suggest, but with similar steps ahead, the Ipswich hailing quintet is looking at very healthy creative horizons ahead hopefully matched by success.

Comparisons to the likes of Mallory Knox, Alexisonfire, and Fall Out Boy have often been offered for Fenrir via their explosive live presence and releases, easy to understand suggestions though fair to say The Rise reveals that an even more individual character to the band’s sound is emerging. Previous singles like Flash Fires, Confessions, and Ruins have alone been stirring up support from the likes of BBC Introducing, whilst the full UK tour Fenrir has just completed reinforced the band as one of Britain’s most voracious and dynamic live acts. They have yet to find the key to unlocking thick national awareness though, something The Rise may or may not prove to be but if the former, there is no doubting it will give the UK rock scene a hefty nudge with its impressive progression of the band’s songwriting and sound; the words of guitarist Mike Cockayne echoing that, “More than anything it’s more refined than our older songs and it really shows what we’re all about.

The Rise _RingMaster Review     The release opens with Tell My Wife I Said ‘Hello’ and an instant surge of guitar enterprise and heftily impacting beats from drummer Ben Brennan. Settling down a touch for the quickly enticing voice of Ben Slater, a sneaky dark and alluring bassline slipping in alongside him, the song is soon spinning a web of guitar enterprise from Cockayne and Krishan Alwis around the increasingly brooding and irresistible bait of bassist Lewis Rudkin. The vocals get stronger and more impressive with every passing verse and chorus, Slater’s voice potently backed by the strong tones of Cockayne, whilst the track itself just grows more anthemic and virulently persuasion to provide an enjoyably bracing and skilful start to the EP.

Its mighty lure is backed up by the following roar of Bones, a song alive with blazing guitars and rhythmic strength around impassioned vocals. At two and a half minutes the track is a turbulent spark for ears and imagination but niggles a touch when it brings out a glorious infection clad hook to lick lips over and then swiftly comes to an end. That frustration is soon forgotten though once Hurt Hands lays its melodic charm and tenacious adventure on ears. Again energy and emotive intensity ebbs and flows with an imagination to match that of the craft and the contagious heart of band and song respectively. Unpredictability is also a rich spice to the track, moments of calm alive with intrigue and bold adventure whilst emotion just oozes from its more incendiary expulsions of sound and intensity. Fair to say the track steals the show, even outshining the impressive opener.

A melodic kiss is provided by brief instrumental Einn, more evidence, as if it was needed, of the skills of the band and the variety in their composing, before Smoke Signals intensely smoulders and bellows to keep a greedy appetite happy. In some ways the song and subsequently its successor lack the same spark of the earlier tracks, bringing less uniqueness to their proposals, but it and the gentler and captivating, but no less impassioned Victory Rose II, only reinforces the potency of a thoroughly enjoyable encounter. Each show that the band is right on course to be that something which is distinct from the crowd and with tracks like Tell My Wife I Said ‘Hello’ and Hurt Hands sooner rather than later.

As suggested earlier, The Rise requires maybe a touch more time than others to become the forceful pleasure it certainly is but give it that and Fenrir rewards with one consistently appetising and enjoyable adventure we can only recommend you go take a listen to.

The Rise EP is available now at the Fenrir Bandcamp profile.

Pete RingMaster 22/09/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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The Virgance – Paradigm 3

The_Virgance_Paradigm_3_promo_pic_1.jpg_RingMaster Review

Looking for an escape from the turbulence of the modern world, from the grind and imposition life so often brings the day? UK artist The Virgance is one who provides such opportunity through his new album Paradigm 3, a celestial post-rock fuelled instrumental flight on the wings of shoegaze expanding through immersive ambiences which just suck you right in. Close your eyes and drift in thought and the album simply transports ears and mind to another fascinating and warm landscape, though it too has shadows to intrigue the imagination and stir the emotions. The release is a fascinating exploration, one which occasionally ebbs and flows in potency from time to time with personal tastes but one which from its first mesmeric note through to its final wash of atmospheric beauty, leaves a rousing glow in its wake.

The Virgance is the solo project of Colchester hailing Nathan Smith, former guitarist of UK indie band Ripley and the co-producer of electronica outfit Loveless. Early 2014 saw Smith emerge with his debut album Lost Continent, a release luring critical acclaim and eager awareness the way of The Virgance. Its successor in the January of this year only lured greater plaudits and attention, Hiko Shrine reinforcing the reputation and expansive nature of Smith’s composing and sound which Paradigm 3 now explores to richer success.

cover_RingMaster Review   From opener 25 Years ears are entranced and the imagination ignited by the almost ravenous kaleidoscope of sound and textures slowly and magnetically swamping the senses. The guitar craft and enterprise of Smith is as lively and enthralling as the ambiences and beauty oozing from the keys, and equally the darker hues and character of drums and a bass which at times are virtually stalking the psyche from within the sonic drenching of track and air. For us the best instrumentals, even within an open theme or inescapable atmospheric suggestiveness making major hints on the imagination, are those allowing thoughts to conjure new and different exploits with each and every listen and certainly that is the case with Paradigm 3 and each individual emprise of sound and invention.

Through both the rockier Epiphony and the haunting Sequester Smith ‘traps’ the listener in a cloud of sonic seduction and less prominent but equally alluring rhythmic contrasts. The first of the two pieces blossoms with its great subtle repetition within an absorbingly crafted sonic journey whilst the second is like an evolving spatial mist, an enthralling brewing of slightly sinister tinged intensity in sound emerging within noir toned drama.

From one big highlight to another and the more minimalistic and earthbound Moonolog. A simple union of bass and guitar alone has ears gripped and thoughts involved whilst around them a tension slowly but clearly grows in the lining and atmosphere of the track. Calm and warm sonic caresses ultimately keep any volatility at bay but the hints are there to ensure the track continues to dispel expectations and predictability.

There is a great raw edge, and at times thicker expulsions, within Paradigm 3; another underlying constant which chooses its moments to temper the universal flight and fiery elegance within the likes of the senses smothering Saturnine which embraces controlled causticity to fine effect. In contrast, Down The River leaves rougher traits under wraps as its siren-esque swelter and ethereal vocal bewitchment, courtesy of Shauna McLarnon of dream pop duo Ummagma, swallow ears and emotions. The first single from the album, it sparks thoughts of new worlds and old civilizations but again terrains with fresh scenery every listen.

The album is completed by firstly Dissipate, a brief and fiercely potent stretch of sound and imagination which is as strangely harrowing as it is mystically compelling and finally No Return, itself a darker and seemingly harsher environment initially, but emerging like a celestial butterfly shredding warm resonance with every melodic flutter, though again darker elements bring an extra resourceful slither of intrigue.

   Paradigm 3 is spellbinding, an exploration you will only be glad you have not missed. It is best heard in one full odyssey of sound and stimulation though admittedly that does run the risk, if not paying attention, of tracks merging into one and another and losing some of their defining features. However you embrace the album though, it is a proposition that shoegaze and post rock fans especially will find great rewards in.

Paradigm 3 is out now on CD through El Vals del Conejo and as name your price download via The Virgance Bandcamp.

Pete RingMaster 22/09/2015

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Akoso – Todas Putas

Todas Putas_RingMaster Review

Let us introduce you to some rousing punk ‘n’ roll from a band which most probably you have yet to make the acquaintance if placed outside of their homeland. They are Akoso and have recently released their third album Todas Putas. It is a storming collection of middle finger raising tracks roaring at the world with a view emulating the album’s title, which in English translates as All Whores. It pulls no punches and even with all track sung in the band’s Spanish tongue, there is no escaping its lyrical aggressiveness and musical contagion.

Hailing from Montblanc and with a name meaning “harassment” or “abuse”, Akoso began some when between 2002 and 2003. They have released two albums previously, a self–titled offering in 2010 followed by Noctamid para dormer three years later. The years has seen numerous line-up changes around co-band founder and guitarist/vocalist Xavi Nuez and at one point after the recording of their second album, Akoso seemed to split or go on hiatus with Xavi going on to form The Sick Side. The album still found itself uncaged to strong responses but it was only in 2014 when the band re-emerged, initially for a one off show. Now a year or so later, Akoso has their third and most impressive offering to date snarling at the world, a fusion of antagonistic punk and raw rock ‘n’ roll very easy to get excitedly vocal over.

Mañana Será Otro Día sets the aggression fuelled treat off, though the song itself arrives on a relatively restrained canter of riffs and punchy beats. It has a growl to it though which stirs ears and a sonic enterprise to feed the appetite straight away, and though the song is not tearing up trees it is an enjoyably solid and satisfying start to Todas Putas.

Things get a touch spicier with the following Habitación 46, the guitars swiftly sending tendrils of bluesy endeavour through ears as a more grouchy mix of riffs and rhythms court the distinctive vocals of Xavi. As enticing as it is throughout, the track most catches fire when it kicks its energy and attitude up another notch, a move which lures in great backing calls and a more predatory nature in the grooves and bestial tones of the bass. It discovers a more adventurous nature over time which is explored much further in the album ahead, here that boldness coming in hints adding more flavour and spirit rousing urgency to the track before ¿Qué Es Esto? takes over. The third song equally opens on a controlled intent and energy only to find its greatest persuasion once it also explodes with creative tenacity into another charging attack, mixing both gears with pleasing results from thereon in.

The next up Esto Es Punk swings its rhythmic and belligerent prowess at full throttle from its opening breath, jabbing at the listener whilst inciting their eager involvement, especially when the great unruly and anthemic mix of vocals leads the way. The track is a proper, rebel rousing punk song setting up emotions and energy ready for the similarly tenacious Ella Arruinó Mi Vida and its musical and bedlamic vocal hooks. Like its predecessor, the track has everything you want from a slice of adversarial rock ‘n’ roll and plenty more to get additionally excited over, just as La Guerra. Opening with scene from the battlefield, the next track is quickly spilling tangy sonic bait as vocally Xavi explores the tale of a soldier on the frontline, his wife back home, and their ill-fated chance of a reunion. Again it is an encounter which just gets hits the spot with no extra frills or any intent other than to provide one meaty and thrilling slab of punk rock.

The social commentary of Crisis blazes away next, the guitars merging hungry riffs with fiery endeavour throughout its infectious provocation, especially in a volcanic expulsion midway. The bracing roar of the song is matched by that of the outstanding Fuck The System, which from its opening contagion fuelled hook, has ears and imagination enslaved, only increasing its grip with the repetition of that irresistible start and a fist raising chorus where for the only time English its used in a simple repeat of the song title.

The thicker adventure of that song seems to spark Islamismo Radical straight after too, its initial bait of brooding bass quickly followed by swarthy grooving which just gets more potent with every dangle of its tempting, which in turn seems to spark greater flirtatious hooks and melodic imagination elsewhere as it heads to another middle part which just erupts with compelling imagination inspiring subsequent adventurous exploits through the keys to emerge. The best track on the album by far, amongst nothing but great growls of sound and attitude, the track gives a clear view along with the song before it, of where Akoso has the invention and prowess to really stir up attention from a broader punk world.

Closing song Llegó la Hora, also takes a leap into new imagination in the band’s sound, its opening caress of piano emotive and elegant as it leads ears into the addictive textures and hard rock meets punk ‘n’ roll infectiousness of its body. It is the perfect anthem to end the rebel rousing exploits of Todas Putas and a final stomp to get thoroughly and keenly involved in.

Fair to say Akoso are not trying to inject major originality into punk or rock ‘n’ roll with Todas Putas, though they do have it within them as a couple of songs show, but rather provide a slab of sound to simply get people excited and invigorated. That they do with ease through an album that definitely deserves more than a moment of anyone’s time.

Todas Putas is available for streaming and free download now.

Pete Ringmaster 22/09/2015

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Bare Traps – Inside

Bare Traps - Inside_RingMaster Review

Following up the sizeable impact their debut single made with its release this past July, UK indie popsters Bare Traps have released a worthy successor called Inside; a song easy to expect earning similar reactions to those lured by the Every Time. Bursting with a melodic smile and funk bred rhythmic hips; the song is one feel good involvement for body and emotions.

Hailing from London, the quartet of vocalist Mikey Brown, guitarist Luke O’Gorman, bassist/keyboardist John Grant, and drummer Scott Dillon have drawn on inspirations from the likes of Blood Orange, The Smiths, Foals, and Chic for their sound, a mix which if exactly not in sound, in feel and texture you can certainly relate to as Inside incites instinctive festivity. Debut single Every Time took little time in sparking attention and support, its lively magnetism of melodies seeing the song entice over 5,000 plays on SoundCloud and rising to 7 in the Hype Machine Twitter Charts. Gearing up to unveil their first EP, recorded as the single with John Davis (Bloc Party, Led Zeppelin, The Maccabees, Arctic Monkeys, Beady Eye), Bare Traps now raise the ante with the even more danceable Inside whilst revealing a little more of the diversity seemingly bubbling away in their songwriting and sound.

The song opens on a shuffle of guitar enticing and rhythmic coaxing, that gentle but potent bait continuing as the bass opens up its dark throat and beats begin to bring livelier energy to their enterprise. The voice of Brown has a strong and distinctive expression to its tone, a texture aligning well with the smoother swing of keys and the guitars. With the pungent rhythms it all adds up to an inciting contagion which swiftly has feet and appetite in eager involvement. A whisper of an eighties bands like Heaven 17 and China Crisis hint at older minds across the enchantment of the song but equally it has an indie jangle and resourcefulness which resembles the essence of Foals and a little at times of Interpol.

Inside is also a grower, a song which just seems to gain more character with every listen and placed alongside Every Time, it is already easy to suggest Bare Traps has the potential, craft, and imagination to make a big impact ahead.

Inside is out now via iTunes.

Pete Ringmaster 22/09/2105

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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