Mayflower Madame – Observed in a Dream

MayflowerMadame_RingMasterReview

When looking back at the end of the year, we suspect that April will be noted as one of the most fruitful months for stunning albums, with a great many of them striking debuts. To a list running into double figures we can add the outstanding first full-length from Norwegian band Mayflower Madame. The band’s sound is a captivating weave of post punk, shoegaze, and psych rock textures but given its own distinct character by the imagination of the Oslo quartet, and Observed in a Dream a release which commands attention with a presence slightly nostalgic but as fresh as the dew on a spring morning, and as radiant.

Formed in 2011, Mayflower Madame has already drawn potent attention and praise with the Into the Haze EP in 2013 and last year their single Lovesick. Comparisons to bands such as My Bloody Valentine, Bauhaus, Spacemen 3, and The Jesus & Mary Chain have readily been offered, and understandably with the band’s provocative dark and sensuous sound. Live they have earned a strong reputation too, sharing stages with the likes of Crystal Stilts, Night Beats, La Femme, Disappears, Crocodiles, and Moon Duo along the way and making successful appearances at Norway’s largest festivals, Oya and Norwegian Wood. Now released on their own Night Cult Records and Custom Made Music in North America, Observed in a Dream is ready to wake up the biggest and most attentive spotlights upon the band.

As soon as opener Confusion Hill envelops ears it is a success easy to imagine, and then be sure of as each track seduces imagination and appetite. The first song emerges from a haunted atmosphere with already slightly portentous shadows to its air. Its approaching tempest though is quickly turned into a strolling seduction upon arrival, psych and surf rock flavours shining, almost sighing, over the infectious darkly hued prowl of Petter Gudim Marberg’s bass and Ola Jørgen Kyrkjeeide’s crisp beats. The guitars of Rune Øverby and Trond Fagernes swiftly spin a bed of evocative colour and suggestiveness too as the latter’s also quickly impressing vocals lay emotively upon the strands of sound. It is easy to see where those Bauhaus and Jesus & Mary Chain references come from, though the bigger and bolder the song becomes it reminds more of Gene Loves Jezebel, echoes and resonance on voice and melodies a delicious shimmer.

art_RingMasterReviewAn outstanding start is still eclipsed by its successor Lovesick, a song which plays second fiddle to no one. From its beguiling dark rock ‘n’ roll strum, the song canters along with a devilish swing led by another highly flavoursome throaty bassline and catchy riffery matched by flirtatious beats. Think The Birthday Party meets Helldorado and Tones on Tails as a clue to the track’s virulent alchemy; a song with as much fascinating drama as it has addictive infectiousness.  Its exceptional incitement is as good as matched by that of Self-Seer; another track rolling along on an enslaving rhythmic tenacity and ingenuity. It explores a mellower climate of sound yet still has an energy and sonic clang to physically stir the spirit. If looking for another hint, Echo and The Bunnymen would be a suggestion for the otherwise unique rock ‘n’ roll of the mouth-watering proposal.

A sixties instrumental twang adds to the seduction of Upside Down (The Death Loop), guitars a sultry lure with again a surf rock like tone to their imagination whilst within their searing elegance a cinematic drama infests rhythms and hooks. As much as there is variety to the sound within Observed In A Dream, so too the vocals craft similar diversity, here harmonies glowing with a hazy beauty around the matching delivery of Fagernes.

Latest single Weightless rumbles in next, carrying a far heavier tone and intent in its creative espionage and welcome trespass. A Play Dead/ Sisters Of Mercy like breath soaks the song, its heavy shadows and provocative textures as invasive as they are seductive. Personally, it is not the song we would choose to lead into the release of Observed in a Dream with other more irresistible options, yet the song in its brief moment is a thrilling and rousing protagonist only making the appetite for album and sound greedier.

The calmer landscape and presence of Into The Haze (Redux) hugs ears next, the song a gentle but again lively adventure into noir lit pastures with more cinematic lures whilst the album’s title track, which follows, from a similar template casts its own tantalising and riveting psyche embedding web of sound and emotion which at times is like The Shadows in collusion with House Of Love and Flesh For Lulu.

The album closes with the psychedelically atmospheric Forever//The End Of Everything, a track which equally expresses post punk discord and causticity within its pulsating and bewitching theatre of sound and emotion. It is a powerful end to a tremendous first introduction to most of us to Mayflower Madame. They and Observed In A Dream grab attention, grip tighter with every pleasure giving twist and turn, and emerge as a reason why Mayflower Madame is one of the most exciting bands to make their mark on 2016 so far.

Observed In A Dream is out now via Night Cult Records in Europe and Custom Made Music in North America as an Ltd Ed vinyl, CD, and Download. All options available @ http://mayflowermadame.bandcamp.com/

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Pete RingMaster 29/04/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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The Dwarfs Of East Agouza – Bes

Photo by Maged Nader

Photo by Maged Nader

Named after the Ancient Egyptian dwarf deity who was worshiped as the defender of all things good and enemy of all that is bad, and not the blur of motion at the front of the Happy Mondays, though you can easily see Bez being sent into creative spasms by its exceptional sounds, Bes is the debut album from The Dwarfs Of East Agouza. The six track double album is a rhythmic enslavement of the body with melodic jangles working away on ears and imagination; explorations of instrumental improvisation bred on a collusion of African and Krautrock enterprise and adventure.

The Dwarfs Of East Agouza is a trio from Cairo; a project coming together in 2012 when Maurice Louca (organ, synthesizer, beats), Sam Shalabi (electric guitar), and Alan Bishop (acoustic bass/alto sax/vocals) were living in the same apartment building in the city’s Agouza district. Soon their united craft and imagination began creating a unique style and sound further shaped by the Louca’s North African percussion loops and shimmering keys, Shalabi’s West African tinged free jazz guitar, and Bishop’s Krautrock-style acoustic bass. A late night jam session led to the recording of hours of material during a three-day studio run in April 2014, from which Bes eventually emerged. Released via Nawa Recordings, the album is a bewitching and bold gateway into the secrets and hypnotic realms of a North African adventure.

From its first moments, the album has thoughts composing their own exploits; imagined experiences and tales driven by the perpetual hypnotic lure of rhythms and shaped by the suggestiveness of the unpredictable sounds further flirting with and involving the listener. It opens with Baka of the Future and a lone seductive bassline quickly joined by the colourful twang of a guitar picked by fingers with mischievous intent. As the fuzzy shimmer of keys become involved with the virulent nudging of beats, a jazz funk tempting is soon moving feet and hips within an already sultry and mystique laced climate. Bishop’s sax is a warm evocative glaze to a quickly virulent infestation of body and psyche. Discord is no stranger to the adventure either, the off-kilter twinges and twangs of guitar as potent and delicious as the unruffled rhythmic spine which keeps the listener beguiled like a moth to a flame.

NAWA005_Cover_RingMasterReviewThe track is irresistible; almost ten minutes of primal yet free and skilfully sculpted incitement matched by the following Clean Shahin. Instantly the track reveals its own individual exotic character, a Persian like charm and scent around a rhythmic captivation aligned to an emotively thick guitar melody. The song’s gentle emergence has an air which, though not melancholic, is more reserved and serious than that of its predecessor. Over time though, its resistance to freeing its spirit and energy is loosened, the piece becoming livelier and more uninhibited as sonic eroticism seeps into melodies and its imagination.

Where’s Turbo? steps up next, rhythmically enticing like a lively belly dancer from the off. It is a lively blur of motion as a smoulder of surf rock/North African spiced grooves sway and seduce alongside the crystalline shimmer of keys and the heavy flirtatious sighs of bass. As with the first pair, its rhythmic suggestiveness is alone physically inescapable whilst the imagination is just as busy with the slimline but rich cocktail of sounds and textures.

It’s sixteen magnetic minutes and still a fleeting moment in the ears, makes way for the more primitive landscape of Hungry Bears Don’t Dance. There is a more primal tone to the track, its repetitive rhythmic prowl bestial in many ways yet around it, like shards and sparkles of light breaking through a thickly woven canopy, keys and melodies glimmer and shine. In no time the darker feel and shadows find themselves immersed in another enthralling tapestry of sound and suggestion before the equally shadowy Resinance takes the imagination into a psychedelic haze of seemingly intimate secrets and dark doorways. Again though, for every clandestine or furtive element there is an embrace of melodic reassurance, this time through the warm bubbling of keys.

The album is brought to a close by the 30-minute free-form epic Museum of Stranglers. It is hard enough to accurately represent the beauty and brilliance in sound of the album in word but this track is the hardest. Imagine though, inspired by its title, entering an off-putting dark yet inviting place and exploring a myriad of jazz crooned episodes involving a series of dangerous yet often beguiling protagonists; each twist in the creative and improvised journey of the piece the next story to immerse in within a persistently mesmeric embrace of similarly evolving sound.

It is an almost mind-blowing end to one exceptional debut. Bes is an album which has to be heard to understand and make any opinion on; thankfully we have and suggest that The Dwarfs Of East Agouza and their album needs to be part of your musical life and indeed imagination.

Bes is out April 29th via Nawa Recordings on 2xLP, 2xCD and Download across most stores.

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Pete RingMaster 29/04/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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

Dead Man’s Hand – Till Karma Forgets

DMH_RingMasterReview

Not to be confused with seemingly many other bands with the same moniker, Dead Man’s Hand is a band bred in the Seattle music scene but it is fair to say really hit their stride once its founders relocated to Kansas City. Now they are poised to release their new album Till Karma Forgets, a twelve song strong slice of raw rock ‘n’ roll which maybe does not leave ears awestruck but certainly provides them with a thoroughly enjoyable time.

Formed in 2012 by vocalist/guitarist Kasey McGrew when he teamed up with guitarist Bret Palmer, Dead Man’s Hand struggled with finding the right line-up initially; that was until the pair moved to Kansas City the following year where they found bassist Jeffery Kent and drummer James Aguiar. Soon the band found itself sharing stages with the likes of HURT, PopEvil, and The Dreaming at venues such as The Voodoo Lounge and Granada. 2014 saw Dead Man’s Hand touring with Burning and win Best New Artist in the Midwest Music Awards. Last year saw a second tour for the quartet, plenty of radio play, and more nominations at the 2015 Midwest Music Awards. Now following up an earlier demo EP with the same name, the band is poking at broader awareness for their accomplished and fiery rock ‘n’ roll with The Pavement Entertainment released Til Karma Forgets.

The album opens with the groove bound Hangman, a track making a controlled entrance before sauntering into the imagination with mellow lures entangled in more incendiary strikes of guitar. The vocals of McGrew, potently backed by Palmer’s strong tones, emulate the sound around them, crooning at certain moments and roaring with thick emotion in the songs eruptions of intensity. Easily revealing the unmistakable craft and skills of the band whilst pleasing ears, it is a great start to Til Karma Forgets backed as powerfully by the excellent Lock & Key. Grungier hues crowd the hard and melodic rock body of the song, all magnetic spicing adding to a great stock in grooves and rhythmic enticement around another catchy chorus. Whilst eclipsing its predecessor, a touch of southern goodness also comes out with the song overall reminding a touch of fellow US rockers Resin.

DMHart_RingMasterReviewPaint A Picture is a calmer emotive proposition next, vocals and melodies wrapping ears as feistier flames occasionally rise up around them whilst So What offers a grittier tempting of blues and hard rock which prowls ears with expressive guitar and vocals taking the lead. Its snarl only increases in its rousing chorus where the irritability, which seems to fuel bass and riffs throughout, adds more oil to the blaze.

Through the spicy grooving of Veto and the attractive intimidation of Wash Away, band and album keeps pleasure and appetite as keen as ever. The first of the pair is an especially unpredictable and magnetic affair as at ease aggressively growling at the senses as it is seducing them. Its successor evolves from a seriously coaxing lure from Aguiar into a predator with hungry riffs, and the still boldly rolling bait of beats, courting a less imposing vocal delivery. It is a great mix with the dark shadows and the song’s natural predation alone whipping up the passion as it steals best song honours on Til Karma Forgets.

Its title track comes next and it too marks a particularly memorable peak in the landscape of the album, carrying a slight Life Of Agony feel to particularly its more emotive and restrained moments. Despite its grouchiness and aggressive elements, there still feels like there is beast still trying to escape, and if there is any moan about the album it is that it does not fulfil the great and open potential to unleash this instinctive ferocity. Nevertheless, the track rocks like a disturbed bear before a milder but no less resourceful stroll with Slide Of Hand leaves ears thickly satisfied; guitars especially spicy and flavoursome within the encounter.

Another inviting strain of blues rock colours the swiftly infectious Beneath The Dirt next, where whiffs of Nirvana and Sick Puppies tempt thoughts. The track is yet another addictive episode in the album; a track, which like Til Karma Forgets as a whole, might not be venturing into unique pastures or setting the world on fire but without doubt leaves the listener gripped and hungry for more of its unbridled rock ‘n’ roll.

Through the scorching blaze of Masquerade and the emotively melodic Broken Ground, things continue to richly entice and firmly please; the first of the two another notable proposition, with Not For Nothing closing up the album in fine style too with its captivating, impassioned, and tempestuous balladry.

Though the album is missing that last spark or bite of intensity to really ignite the passions, it is not too hard to expect Dead Man’s Hand finding a host of new fans and plaudits with Till Karma Forgets, a release which offers honest rock ‘n’ roll with heart and quality.

Till Karma Forgets is released April 29th via Pavement Entertainment through most online stores.

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Pete RingMaster 29/04/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Astral Cloud Ashes – Flashback

Flashback (artwork)_RingMasterReview

Having made a strong and captivating introduction to itself with the single Too Close To The Noise Floor, the Channel Islands hailing Astral Cloud Ashes are about to follow up that success with Flashback. Providing another potent teaser to a forthcoming debut album, the new single also reveals another dynamic and colour to the project’s songwriting and sound. Whereas its predecessor was a lively stroll of infectious enterprise and energy, Flashback is a calmer and mellower emotive engagement and just as magnetic.

Astral Cloud Ashes is the new project from Antony Walker, one half of the duo Select All Delete Save As which especially earned deserved acclaimed with their album Ultra Cultura in 2014. Walker has been exploring his own solo creativity for a while, often under the name ALPA, amongst other monikers, but as quickly suggested by his first single as Astral Cloud Ashes, this new venture is one with the potential to match and even eclipse the previously mentioned ‘day job’ band. Sound wise Walker draws on inspirations from the likes of The Cure, Bloc Party, Interpol, At the Drive In, Mars Volta, and Say Anything for an indie/pop/rock persuasion, presumably self-tagged, as future-core.

Flashback caresses ears with a lone melody initially before the guitar is swiftly joined by a heavily shadowed bassline and floating melodic enterprise. At the same time, Walker provides an introspective narrative as gently provocative and ear pleasing as the harmonic embrace of sound around it. Guitar jangles, crisp beats, and emotive toning subsequently add to the web of alluring textures building the captivating proposal; a song wearing varying shades of The Lightning Seeds, Pavement, and Dinosaur Jr. to its melodic and evocative charm.

The track is a warm and fascinating encounter showing, as suggested earlier, another aspect to the band and offering another reason to keep an eager ear open for the first Astral Cloud Ashes album later this year.

Flashback is released May 4th across all major online distributors.

https://www.facebook.com/astralcloudashes/

Pete RingMaster 29/04/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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

11Dead – Walk With Me

art 11dead_RingMasterReview

No excuses, we are a touch late to the release of this single a couple of months or so back, but without doubt Walk With Me is worthy of gracing ears so better late than never we say. The addiction forging single is from UK rock band 11Dead, a Leicester bred project centred round its only full-time member Si.

The band was conceived by Si last year, inspired by and out of the love of listening to and seeing the likes of System Of A Down, Slipknot, and Marilyn Manson live. Sound-wise, 11Dead has a more hard rock seeded base but involving the intrigue and creative adventure of other flavoursome styles and textures in its design. The first track revealed was Bleed, a brooding and mesmeric stroll of inventive and emotive drama with an increasingly tenacious adventure to its body and heart which soon caught the ears and attention of many radio shows and fans.

Successor Walk With Me is a more lively encounter but one with an almost predatory air and intent to its prowling. Equally an almost cinematic air to its rock ‘n’ roll drama soon emerges too as well as a garage rock essence to the song. It is a gripping affair with plenty of unpredictable moves within its imaginative melodic rock, a creative theatre which in some ways reminds of fellow British artist, Johnny Wore Black.

The song continues to enthral and incite involvement from swaying hips and eager voice; alone sparking a real interest and appetite for what comes next from 11Dead. With new material being written and prepped for further encounters, the time is right to get on board with what just might be a heady and lively ride for Si and 11Dead from hereon in, especially if he can build on the impressive and contagious start provided by his first pair of songs.

Check out Walk With Me and 11Dead @ http://11dead.com/music

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Pete RingMaster 29/04/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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