The Mystery Plan – Zsa Zsa

photo by Daniel Coston

Presenting a host of vibrantly tempting and almost ridiculously infectious escapades, Zsa Zsa is the new album from US outfit, The Mystery Plan. It is a record which flirted with feet, teased ears, and courted the imagination; seducing all with sublime almost mischievous enterprise from start to finish.

The Charlotte, NC hailing band sees Jason Herring, Amy Herring, Jeff Chester, Otis Hughes and Patty McLaughlin once more give an escape from everyday dramas with its own captivating theatre of sound and invention. Zsa Zsa is their fifth album since emerging in 2010 and in many ways their most striking. It features numerous guests including producer John Fryer, Micah Gaugh (The Veldt / Apollo Heights), and Ian Masters, former bassist-vocalist of British shoegazers Pale Saints; all bringing fresh ingredients to a recipe of imagination which revitalised the soul in these spirit subduing times.

The bewitching Those Stars breaks the silence as the album takes its first breath, the track immediately seducing our attention as the simmer of cymbals align to the leisurely swing of the bass. Its alluring moodiness is soon sharing the air with the jazzy flames of an equally steady and evocative sax; it all combined with the tantalising words and wistful tone of swiftly enslaving vocals, a picturesque captivation.

It is a delicious start to the release which is immediately matched in craft and enslavement by the pair of We All Get Down and Al Gore Rhythms. The first simmers in to view through keys, a just as minimally touching guitar laying its gentle melody alongside as the harmonic grace of Amy and Patty’s vocals caress song and ears alike. A weave of dream and folk pop with much more in its texturing, the song has a touch of XTC to its beauty while its successor is a body manipulating, feet leading slice of trip hop flirtation. It too soon reveals plenty more to its design and a character with magnetically soulful vocals at its heart.

And the addictive persuasions continue as recent single, Ballad of JC Quinn, steps up next to get under the skin. The harmonic lure of the band’s ladies leads ears into the tantalising rhythmic shuffle of Otis and Jeff, their animated temptation echoed in the lively keys and melodies of Jason’s guitar while entangled in the steel guitar intimation of Peter McCranie. Mesmeric and dreamy yet with a rich physical tempting which feet and hips cannot deny, the song had us under its spell in no time before Lolaphone gave its own instructions to the willing sway of the body. Its electronic nurturing reminded of Paul Haig, eighties flavoured hue and catchiness working limbs as the innocence of a child’s creative voice toyed with thoughts. Though maybe not breeding the same lust as those before it, the song just as skilfully took the day away before passing it on to its following companion.

Bonny is another which instantly had feet and hips lending their participation; its indie wired, nova seeded stroll a fusion of moodiness and flirtation refusing to be ignored while Long Way To Heaven escalated the temptations of it and all before to steal the show for our ears. From the virulent charm of the vocals to its rhythmic saunter and through the arousing twang of guitar to the evocative mood of keys, the track seduced every aspect of our listening bodies.

Through the folkish charisma and indie rock revelry of Sweet Tart and the crepuscular dream pop of Electric Love, a track loaded with mystique and a touch of darker intimidation, band and release only reinforced their hold; both demanding a share of favourite song limelight with every listen.

We All Get Down returns within Zsa Zsa with the Rob Tavaglione mix of its provocative fascination before Distant Sirens brings the album to an imagination provoking close through piano, keys and flute; each fuel to suggestion within the instrumental evocation and its fusion of ethereal beauty and street dirty reality.

As the world continues to be held down by nature and our reaction to it, escape and release is a longing we all share and one which the gorgeous Zsa Zsa offers in its unique and enthralling way.

Zsa Zsa is out now via Ten Millimeter Omega Recordings; available @ https://themysteryplan.bandcamp.com/album/zsa-zsa

https://www.facebook.com/themysteryplannc/   https://twitter.com/mystery_plan

Pete RingMaster 23/05/2020

Copyright RingMasterReview: MyFreeCopyright

Cauls – Epoché

It is hard to know what happens to UK outfit Cauls between releases but there seems to be a regular threat of demise around them. That might be over dramatic or not but between the 2012 release of the 2 EP and five years later debut album, Recherché, the band almost came to an end. Now they have returned with Part 1 of a “2 part Prog extravaganza” and again it sees the band rise from another threat to existence and as before with one of the most striking and compelling things from them yet.

It was the departure of vocalist Michael Marwood when he relocated to New Zealand which almost brought the Newcastle upon Tyne band to an end since the release of their acclaimed full-length. Another option considered was going on as an instrumental proposition but it was the discovery of trained soprano Katie Oswell which brought back the spark and inspiration to continue and listening to Epoché we can all be thankful to that unearthing. It is fair to say though with their sound richer, fuller and bolder than ever, the addition of a second guitarist and keyboardist has been just as important to the impressive evolution from the enterprise making Recherché so enjoyable and eagerly praised.

As mentioned Epoché is the first part of the new album with Part 2, Ataraxia, due later this year. The four track encounter is a tapestry of progressive and melodic rock equally embracing an array of other flavours and styles within its inventive walls. Inspirations to the sextet of Chris McManus, Graham Morris, Kye Walker, Michael Anderson, Josh Ingledew, and Oswell include the likes of The Mars Volta and Tool and in some ways both can be suggested without that info by listening to the new release yet it firmly and swiftly sets out the individuality which has increasingly grown across the band’s records.

Bloodlines opens things up and swiftly reveals the new imagination and depth to the band’s mix of alternative and progressive rock. Its gentle and intriguing, almost sinister beginnings evokes attention and anticipation, both increasingly rewarded as Oswell soon reveals her striking presence within the growing web of guitar and keys bred enterprise. Engaging melodies rise from all aspects, the song’s creative tension soon breaking in a vocal and sonic roar just as contagious as the lead to its eruption. The haunting aspect of voice and melody continues to seduce within the more tempestuous landscape uncovered, every moment and turn bringing new adventure and temptation to consider and devour.

It is a superb start to the encounter, fascination already keenly bred and soon as busy as ears with the following and more animated exploits of The Martyr. It’s robust and muscular beginnings though soon ebbs to another melodic calm to radiate seduction and intimation yet that too a mere moment in the mercurial soundscape unveiling before the listener. Oswell is a magnet in its midst, every rising of her lyrical and vocal fire matched by a fervour and fever in sound and the progressive imagination and craft breeding them.

The serenity bringing the following Lilith to the surface is another wrapped in shadow and portentous suggestion, its tranquillity seemingly ill-omened though Oswell soon appeases the threat with her radiance; keys and guitar a similar caress. It is a disquiet which will have its say though and subsequently ignites another restless landscape in just one more song within Epoché which left us enthralled in so many ways.

There is a great challenging aspect to the Cauls writing and sound too which some might take less openly to than others but equally it brings a freshness and drama to their music which hungrily rewards. Even so their new offering is also arguably their most catchy and dare we say at times rock pop friendly with final track, The Saboteur, epitomising that infection. As those before it, it is a tempest of tension and physical agility but often erupts into the catchiest most virulent moments led by the swing of Oswell’s delivery and a flurry of ear grabbing hooks. It ensures a song which from start to finish lures and holds attention with ease and increasing captivation, much as the release itself.

Whatever the challenges Cauls have faced between records, it consistently seems to bring them to a greater state of invention and imagination, Epoché the greatest outcome yet.

Epoché is available now @ https://cauls.bandcamp.com/album/epoch

https://www.facebook.com/Caulsband/

Pete RingMaster 19/05/2020

Copyright RingMasterReview: MyFreeCopyright

The Spiritual Leaders – Albania Away

It may not be as obvious as Manchester, Liverpool, or Bristol for producing great bands but over recent years we have found that Cavan in Ireland has been doing just that, our ears captivated by the likes of The Radioactive Grandma, Juggling Wolves, Ape Rising and Fertile Reptile among many. Now we add The Spiritual Leaders to the list, an indie rock trio which as their new mini album shows offer a rich and varied palette of sound.

The Spiritual Leaders consists of vocalist/guitarist David Reilly, lead guitarist/bassist/keyboardist Fergus Brady and drummer Cathal Brady. The band released a self-titled debut album in the closing weeks of 2012, a record introducing a sound seeded in the inspirations of artists such as The Smiths, Radiohead, Joy Division, New Order, Whipping Boy, Pixies, Stone Roses, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jeff Buckley, and Van Morrison but as within latest offering Albania Away bears its own individuality.

Recorded and produced by Rob Newman (Therapy?, Pet Crow) in Snug Recording Studios, Derby, Albania Away quickly fascinated with opener Picture on the Wall. An electronic thread led to a lively rhythmic shuffle and subsequent melodic jangle with an eighties indie hue. As Reilly’s vocals join the temptation the swing of the track is in full command, the song catching the imagination with its Lloyd Cole tinged character and boisterous sound.

Fatten the Calf follows and it too embraces an eighties indie/new wave lining around its infectious swing led by the seriously magnetic bass. Though seemingly slim in its textures, the wonderfully unpredictable song is a thick weave of enterprise and post punk nurtured suggestion while next up You Know Me bristles with more muscular rock ‘n’ roll attitude and a matching physical touch yet also has tinges of that post punk breeding within discord spun enterprise akin to The Pixies.

Predominantly instrumental, the outstanding Bell Jar is a captivating slice of melodic intimation with XTC-esque radiance to its atmospheric stroll while Temporary, which features Barra McGuirk on lead guitar and synthetic strings, made for beguiling acoustic companion, its stringed serenade a haunting pleasure.

Underwater With You superbly completes the release, initially an electronic teasing which is soon bound in melodic guitar wires alongside subtle but equally fertile rhythms and voice. It too has an evocative quality, an atmospheric air coloured by the band’s craft and imagination.

With every listen Albania Away captivated and fascinated with increasing strength, ears increasingly seduced by each passing minute; The Spiritual Leaders giving more proof that though still a relative secret beyond its borders Cavan is a hot bed of unique sound and real pleasure.

Albania Away is out now; available @ https://thespiritualleaders.bandcamp.com/releases and https://open.spotify.com/album/0nwrKNcbi3xF03VMQYUjqF

https://www.facebook.com/thespiritualleadersrock/

Pete RingMaster 14/05/2020

Copyright RingMasterReview: MyFreeCopyright