The Strays – Drop Out Zone

With a description of “No Doubt meets Imelda May”, it was hard to deny an urge to go explore those it has been applied to. The fact that the protagonists in question’s debut album has caught the imagination of and been released by Western Star Records only added to that instinct. What we found was one rousing stomp of a release in the shape of Drop Out Zone from a band in The Strays which had us bouncing from start to finish with a highly appetising mix of rockabilly, garage rock, and fifties inspired rock ‘n’ roll with plenty more involved.

Cheltenham based, The Strays have already been teasing proper attention with the release of their first EP, Wham Bam, Thank You Ma’am, in 2017. It was an introduction of sound and potential potently reaffirmed by its successor Brand New Day the following year while the two records union together as Brand New Ma’am! earlier this year provided an ear grabbing tease for the upcoming adventure of Drop Out Zone. Of course some of us are only coming to the British quartet through the album but a look back shows The Strays an already captivating proposition with a sound to match but their new release sees the band at their most imaginative, adventurous, and striking yet.

With songs inspired by the band’s decision to quit their full-time jobs and focus on music and the struggles it brought and they conquered, Drop Out Zone quickly, hungrily had ears on board with the opening canter of first track, Hey Little Lady. Straight away the throaty lure of Kris Jakab-Hall’s bass colludes with the crisply landing swings of drummer Gary Chamberlain; their collusion instantly firing up attention and physical response before the spicy threads of Sam Cordery’s guitar added to the animated bait. The song’s subsequent potent stroll sees the magnetic tones of Stella Sonic complete the temptation, the spring in its step and grin on its face across as good as four and a half minutes setting the tone for the fun and enterprise fuelling the release.

Things only grow more compelling and contagious as 2Fives and Twos sets its creative trap, it too another song which needs mere seconds to grip ears and appetite as Cordery winds addictive melodic wires around both. Punk and rockabilly soon converge on the rock ‘n’ roll instincts of the song, its tenacious gait and contagiousness a quick infestation of body with the Pauline Murray-esque tint to Sonic’s voice icing on the delicious cake.

Night Time Is The Right Time grabs its portion of ardour next. Again the guitar casts a highly tempting lure to gets things boiling before, with matching flavours to those entangling within its predecessor, the track weaves its own individual boisterous romp. Sharp hooks and alluring harmonies go to highlight the inventive come-on before Oh Baby No opens up its jazzy arms to a seductive surf lined midnight stroll through rock ‘n’ pop drama. It is one of those tracks where it is easy to see where those No Doubt, Imelda May and for us Wanda Jackson references are bred.

The Strays certainly know how to kick a song off, each sparked by imaginative and irresistible leads and no more potently than that springing Get Out Of This Town into life. Guitar and rhythms surround ears with intrigue and salacious intent, nagging rhythms and a hooked loaded guitar groove taunting and dancing with attention before the song opens up into its swing-a-billy saunter, dragging the body easily along for the ride.

The album’s title track allows a breath to be taken though it too is a buddle of energy and infectiousness with its pop toned amble refusing to be ignored; Drop Out Zone proving increasingly manipulative by the second and chorus. It’s easy to ride contagion is soon eclipsed though as the psychobilly wired Can’t Get Through To You preys on ears with its Hillybilly Moon Explosion like predation and feral catchiness though it too is slightly outshone by its successor. Fire and Ice is a glorious fusion of hooked swamped rock ‘n’ roll flavours, a real temptress of a song soon ripping favourite track honours from any of its companions hands.

The intoxicating fifties country blues soaked nurtured rockabilly of Twelve Bar Booze, thoughts of Wanda Jackson again sparked by the great addition to the pleasure, and the heavy hard rock spiced rumble of Break Me Down effortlessly keep the album roaring in body and spirit, This Life following suit with its deviously persuasive foot stomping fusion of swing, garage punk, and rock ‘n’ roll, a full pleasure sounding something akin to The BeauBowBelles meets No Doubt meets The Creepshow.

Just Another Day completes the album, its fiery rock breath and instinctive rhythmic pulse swagger an unapologetically tempting canvas for the ever tasty tones of Sonic and the virulent craft and endeavours of the band. It is a fine end to an album which just got under the skin in swift time and devilishly nestled there thereon in; The Strays providing another of the year’s real pleasures.

Drop Out Zone is out now through Western Star Records.

https://thestraysmusic.co.uk/   https://www.facebook.com/TheStraysLive/   https://twitter.com/TheStraysMusic

Pete RingMaster 20/08/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Exes For Eyes – Of Strength And Sorrow

Since the release of their previous album in 2014, Canadian metallers Exes For Eyes have been on a hiatus of sorts but now they have returned with a new collection of tracks which not only enhance their established reputation but push it to a loftier height. Of Strength And Sorrow is a fury of bold adventure and eager enterprise, a release also relishing a greater diversity and imagination in the band’s sound whilst making for one striking encounter.

Ontario hailing, Exes For Eyes was borne from the musical vision and creativity of Dave Sheldon (ex. Man With Target, Annihilator) and the lyrical conception of vocalist Big James (Stab.Twist.Pull, Endast, Authors). Previous well-received releases proved an enticing cauldron of multi-flavoured metal endeavour with a progressive bent but the time between the previous Tongues Like Figure Eights and Of Strength And Sorrow has seen it grow, mature, and immerse in greater imagination without losing almost feral instincts.

Their new album opens with the outstanding Build, Work, Dream, Create; a track which if standing alone in major temptation would have brought the full-length strong praise. One of our favourite moments of the year so far, the song immediately launches itself with an irresistible groove within a barbarous but effortlessly contagious surge. It is eager enticement which continues to tempt and manipulate as vocals expel their intent and prowess with raw emotive discontent. The track is superb, groove and death metal essences colluding in its tempestuous roar, every second a cauldron of virulent enterprise and ferocity.

It is a thrilling start which Memories That Last follows and backs with its own inferno of rapacious sound and ear grabbing imagination. More uncompromising by the minute the track provided a quickly testing and swiftly rewarding proposal as imagination fuelled its every invasive throe before the song drifted away and the predatory presence of The Metal forcibly prowled. It was an initial stalking which subsequently erupted into a ruthless trespass, its stroll continuing to menace and bully as the band’s imagination flourished and shaped one enthralling assault marked with individual prowess.

Nothing Ever Satisfies in contrast provides a calm but just as enticing invitation, at least initially as the guitar’s melodic coaxing soon becomes a cyclone of resolute sound and voice around another irresistible collusion of grooves and hooks. A rival for the opener, the track continued to enthral and arouse as its turbulence fed off the mercurial volatility in its heart and roar; submission to its creative appropriation willing and inevitable.

Featuring Trey Xavier of In Virtue, The Fire Inside My Head entangled ears in another spiral of wiry grooves and rhythmic motivation straight after. It is an opening which intensifies by the breath, vocals adding to the attention grabbing pestering before the sonic wind drops and the bass brings its funk instincts to bear. That is just the invitation to a new progressive sigh of imagination laced with a slight Hed(PE) hue and another alluring aspect to the fascinating encounter. With keys providing perpetual intimation throughout, the song’s tempest ignites again; the cycle repeating with richer temptation.

Through the fierce yet melodically elegant Set It All On Fire and The Savage Self with its savagely contagious trespass, album and band only accentuated their expectation squashing prowess; both songs relishing the progressive bent in the songwriting and imagination of Exes For Eyes. It is also fair to say that both songs as most around them flourish with closer and continued attention, new textures and layers of enterprise emerging from within their masterfully sculpted furores, next up I Miss My Friends (Too Many Of Them Are Dead) reaffirming that quality as its solemn and melancholic beginnings inspire a melodic pyre of dexterity and guile within a voracious if mercurial landscape of uncompromising encroachment.

The likes of Hold On with its two chaptered proposal, the first as respectful and catchy as the other is invasive and confrontational, and the resourcefully animated True Self Reckoning ensure the album’s grip remained tight, their successor, Love, with Pepe Poliquin of BornBroken guesting matching their strengths with its own contemptuous strike, one which at times is melodically seductive and progressively illuminated.

Of Strength And Sorrow concludes with firstly Get The Fuck Out Of My Head which as keys haunt from its first sigh while rhythms simply enticed, both continuing to enthral as emerging drama and dark deeds rise, emerged another excellent track within the album. Methuselah follows one stirring moment with its own rousing presentation of invention and imagination, in many ways summing up the variety and adventure of the band’s sound in its own capricious multi-flavoured and dramatic body.

Though Of Strength and Sorrow had us hooked from the start it is right to say that the depth, layers, and expanse of its qualities and persuasion was only greater tapped with subsequent ventures into its increasingly and imposingly impressive body. Quite simply, Exes For Eyes are back and creatively deadlier than ever.

Of Strength and Sorrow is out now and available @ https://www.exesforeyes.com/

Pete RingMaster 20/08/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright