Blacktop Mojo – Burn The Ships

The past four years since forming has seen Texan rock band Blacktop Mojo court a potent reputation for their sound and live presence, all the time increasingly nudging global attention to turn their way. The release of second album Burn The Ships is the moment that awareness just might happen, the release a striking and thickly accomplished slab of highly flavoursome, sinew moulded rock ‘n’ roll.

Formed in September 2012 by vocalist Matt James and drummer Nathan Gillis, Blacktop Mojo swiftly leapt into the live scene with the intent of playing as many shows and tours as they could. It is a hunger which prevails to this day, the Palestine, TX quintet sharing stages with the likes of Bon Jovi, Candlebox, Drowning Pool, Aaron Lewis, Saving Abel, Puddle of Mudd, Whiskey Myers, Dirty River Boys, and The Bigsbys among a great many others over the years. Debut album I Am stirred things up at home with its release in 2014, similarly inviting broader notice of the band’s hearty hard/melodic rock sound. Burn The Ships though is a wake-up call to bigger spotlights upon the band, the Philip Mosley produced and Austin Deptula mixed and mastered encounter a fiery roar very hard to ignore or avoid finding a healthy appetite for.

The Blacktop Mojo sound is arguably not the most unique, the band drawing comparisons to the likes of Shinedown, Black Stone Cherry, and Soundgarden yet has an individual character and diversity which lifts it from the crowd with ease. All the evidence lies within Burn The Ships and its inventive and impassioned rock ‘n’ roll; a proposition hitting the ground running with its majorly rousing opener Where The Wind Blows. A lone melody with a country rock twang makes the first beckon, a sister lure swiftly by its side before muscle bound rhythms loom over ears amidst the continuing invitation of that initial welcome. Soon into its thick and potent stride with the growling tones of Matt Curtis’ bass rich bait alongside the meaty swipes of Gillis, the track has its infectious claws firmly around ears and appetite with James’ delivery leading the way and in turn the listener into one peach of a chorus impossible not to get fully involved in. With the riffs of rhythm guitarist Kenneth Irwin equally steering the temptation as lead guitarist Ryan Kiefer spins wiry grooves, it is a seriously compelling proposal,

The following End Of Days is just as formidable and satisfying, its robust rhythms and gnarly grooves alone gripping body and an instinctive passion for heart bred rock ‘n’ roll. As its predecessor, the song carries an irresistible chorus to back up the already successful lures at play and the album’s powerful start, success its title track continues. As provocative guitar temptation wraps its flame lit charms around ears, Burn The Ships quickly shows itself an equal to those before in enticement, gaining even greater strength in that trait as its groove takes on a nagging quality as it meanders around the vocal potency of James. With Seether-esque hues involved, the song croons and roars; flexing its muscle as it spins its inventively intoxicating sonic web with each passing second. The track is pure drama and the pinnacle of the album though challenged throughout.

The earnest strains of Prodigal follow, its Staind lit serenade a mellow emotive caress allowing for a breath whilst enjoying its melodic heat, suggestive flames building  into a bigger blaze before Shadows On The Wall smoulders and erupts in a 3 Doors Down scented fire next, subsequently  followed by the virile throes of Sweat. The trio do not quite teach the heights of the first three tremendous tracks but each with their individual natures and temptations leave plenty to embrace and firmly enjoy.

The snarling properties of Pyromaniac bring the album back to its loftiest heights, the song as heated as its title suggests with irritability in its riffs and a bass grumble so easy to grow lustful for. Melodically, there is a 3 Days Grace air contrasted and complimented perfectly by the grungier textures at work on the senses, both linked by an instinctive catchiness  which again features in potent form within the predacious 8000 Lines, a song stalking ears with rapacious riffs and antagonistic beats as sonic enterprise and vocal drama ignite. The track is outstanding; its unpredictability enhanced by melodic beauty as an oasis of calm shares ears with its tempestuous heart.

Both Dog On A Leash with its red-blooded plaintive call and the reflective cries of Make A Difference leave satisfaction full, each revealing further twists in the album’s make-up and enterprise while Chains brings a web of athletic grooves and beefy rhythms in a burly persuasion raising the ante again. It is pure captivation preying on an already eager appetite for sound and encounter.

Concluded by the emotionally charged Dream On and the melancholic musing of Underneath, the impressive Burn The Ships has plenty to see the band make the next step towards global recognition. Its songs are shapely and sound rich if not always on the truly unique side. Its craft and imagination more than compensates though as ears embrace the open potential also lying within a triumph of a listen.

Burn The Ships is out now through Cuhmon Records @ https://blacktopmojo.bandcamp.com/releases or http://www.blacktopmojo.com/store

http://www.blacktopmojo.com/   https://www.facebook.com/BlacktopMojo   https://twitter.com/blacktopmojo

Pete RingMaster 15/03/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Unbridled arousals and stomps: exploring The Conniption Fits.

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Formed in 2004, The Conniption Fits create their own ear catching mix of alternative, progressive, and indie pop; rock ‘n’ roll which rouses the senses and imagination and has so across a host of releases. Drawing comparisons to the likes of Jimmy Eat World, Green Day, Foo Fighters, Silversun Pickups, U2, The Police, and David Bowie and having shared stages with artists such as Weezer, Panic at the Disco, Kings Of Leon, Train, 3 Doors Down, Fastball, Mighty Bosstones, 7 Mary Three, Blue Oyster Cult, Mountain, Warrant, and Cinderella among many over time, the New Hampshire hailing trio make a noise which easily sparks the appetite. Grabbing the chance to learn more about the band, we had the pleasure of chatting with member and The Conniption Fits co-founder Stevens.

Hello and thanks for taking time out to talk with us.

Can you first introduce the band and give us some background to how it all started and what brought you all together?

That’s a long story.  I’m Stevens Blanchard, lead singer guitar player for The Conniption Fits.  The drummer, Shawn Snyder and I met back when we were kids.  My current band needed a drummer and he was a friend of a friend, not to mention a fantastic drummer with tons of attitude.  When that band broke up, we founded The Conniption Fits.  Jamie Hosley, or bass player, came along when we were looking for a new bassist.  Again, he had a reputation as being “the man” when it comes to bass, naturally we had to have him.

So The Conniption Fits is not the first band for you? Has previous projects had any impact on what you are doing now, in maybe inspiring a change of style or direction?

I think I just answered that above, but yes.  We had a previous band, Motorplant, which did quite well for about 8 years.  You can still find all of the music that Motorplant produced all over the web including iTunes and Spotify.  When Motorplant disbanded, we wanted to head in a slightly more alternative direction.

What inspired the band name?

If the conniption fits, wear it.

Was there any specific idea behind the forming of the band and what you wanted it and your sound to offer?

Far from it…We just enjoy playing and entertaining.  As far as the sound goes, I just want to create ear candy.  Songs with depth sonically and lyrically that are accessible and a bit unpredictable at the same time.

Do the same things still drive the band when it was fresh-faced or have they evolved over time?

Always evolving…You can tell album to album.  Every record seems to represent where our minds were at musically at that period of time.  I’m always hearing new bands that are doing really cool things that we want to incorporate into our own stuff.  I’d say we listen as much, or more, than we play.

TCF2Since your early days, how would you say your sound has evolved?

We deliberately try new things.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.  On our second album, A Heaping Helping of Perspective the guys thought it would be cool if we recorded live without a click track.  I hated the idea, being a stickler for tempo.  It led to a different album and different songs for sure.

Presumably across the band there is a wide range of inspirations; are there any in particular which have impacted not only on the band’s music but your personal approach and ideas to creating and playing music?

Too many to mention, from Jazz to Metal…Speaking for myself I’d say bands like Nothing But Thieves, The Shins, Bear Hands, Coldplay, Eve6, Green Day, Foo Fighters, Kongos…  I love creative rock/pop/alternative songs that still have a hook, but avoid the same four chords and progressions that are so typical.

Is there a particular process to the band’s songwriting?

I am usually the idea man then we flush it out as a group.  Sometimes I’ll record the whole song then we will replace the drums and bass later. I’m into results; I don’t care how we get there.

Where do you, more often than not, draw the inspirations to the lyrical side of your songs?

Life; I’ll sing lyric variations to a demo while I’m out for a run.  I usually find cool ideas that way.  I also hear the parts that suck and need to be changed.

Can you give us some background to your latest release?

I Need You (Ay-O) is an old relate that became new again when it started treating on-line. We’ve always loved the song and are happy to have it finally breaking through the “clutter”.

Give us some insight to its theme.

I need you is about wanting to leave a relationship, but continuing to be drawn back in; then dealing with the fact that needing somebody can be for very different reasons.

Are you a band which goes into the studio with songs pretty much in their final state or prefer to develop them as you record?

I own the studio we record in.  It’s an amazing luxury because we are not “on the clock” burning money.  So we just show up with nothing and play.  Often I’ll have scraps of ideas ready to jump off from.

Tell us about the live side to the band, presumably the favourite aspect of the band?

Yeah, live is where we bring it.  We entertain.  We always have a great time and that usually transfers to the audience.  It’s also the only real way we’ve made any money.  So we play live to survive, and we love it.

It is not easy for any band to make an impact regionally let alone nationally and further afield. How have you found it your neck of the woods? Are there the opportunities to make a mark if the drive is there for new bands?TCF_RingMasterReview

Not easy, but work hard and offer something great.  It doesn’t even have to be unique, just great.  Make people say “holy shit!”, and you’ll do fine.

How has the internet and social media impacted on the band to date?

The internet grants everyone access, even the garbage.  I think we handle it well, but there is that constant drive needed to stand out in all the noise.

Once again a big thanks for sharing time with us; anything you would like to add or reveal for the readers?

Check out our website, http://www.conniptionfits.com/ to listen to all of our songs for free and look for our new EP this summer!

https://www.facebook.com/conniptionfits/  https://twitter.com/conniption_fits

Pete RingMaster

The Ringmaster Review 01/07/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Kolo – Do You Want To Rule The World

Kolo_RingMaster Review

It is hard to tell if Do You Want To Rule The World, the debut album from UK rockers Kolo, is getting its first outing this September as kind of implied by its press release or came out earlier this year and is now getting a national reboot come Sept 25th. What we can tell you though is if you have yet to get a taste of Kolo’s vibrant pop rock sound, the album is very deserving of a hefty moment of your time. It might not blow you away, though it could easily do that too, but as we found, band and album only provide a perpetual lure to return and party in its infectious melodic revelry.

The band emerged in 2006 when Exeter bred vocalist/guitarist Jon Burnell, equipped with a wad of songs inspired by “all the tramps and slightly weird people who come into the record shop” , moved to London and subsequently linked up with Spanish born bassist Dani Mourinho and Croydon drummer Steve Fuller. 200 or so shows down the line, the band found itself invited to support 3 Doors Down, this notable moment in their emergence followed by the band performing at a host of O2’s around the UK and the recording of their first EP. Recorded with producer Sean Genockey at the legendary Rockfield Studios in Wales, and mixed by Kirk Kelsey, it was a well-received introduction selling over 4000 copies and whilst providing a further spark to the band playing in the US and chances to share stages with the likes of Scouting for Girls, Mr Hudson, The Rifles, and Infadels.

In March 2014 the band flew to Nashville to record Do You Want To Rule The World with 3 Doors Down guitarist Chris Henderson who had personally invited Kolo to record their album at his own studio. Seemingly released worldwide via LHM Records this past May, we are assuming September’s outing is another additional and welcome nudge on the world’s attention, a persuasion for more take notice of what really is one thoroughly enjoyable and increasingly compelling encounter with the almost exhaustingly energetic and creatively lively Kolo.

cover_RingMaster Review     Their album opens with the previously successful single Castro, its gentle emergence offering no hint to the anthemic roar to follow. With muscular beats and a meaty bassline joining early harmonies and melodically climbing guitar, the song slips into a controlled but feisty stroll which is never afraid to spring a flurry of fiery energy and catchy hookery the way of ears. It is a great invitation into the heart of Do You Want To Rule The World and quickly backed by the sturdier but no less infectious Be Someone. Again Mourinho provides a bass temptation to get hungry for whilst guitars and beats collude to cast a boisterous enticement catching ears as potently as the alluring tones of Burnell. The song is a kind of mix between Foo Fighters and Sick Puppies without sounding overly like either and the perfect set up to the stirring air and magnetic textures of Andrea which comes next.

The song is another melody driven warm tempest of enterprise for which the word rousing fits perfectly whilst its successor Mr Bigshot recruits ears and feet with a smiling swagger which you would swear came from an ELO seeding. With more bounce and swing than a bungee rope, the song leaps around inciting the same in others whilst entangling their vocal chords in its rich virulence of pop and rock at its united best. It is not particularly demanding or ground-breaking but all irresistible, heart-warming temptation.

Rule The World courts the alternative rock emotion of a 3 Days Grace in its pungent and energetic croon lit by the rolling bait uncaged by Fuller at choice moments whereas the outstanding Break Your Face dangles spicy slithers of grooving from its Stereophonics meets Fall Out Boy creative theatre to become more captivating and impressive with every passing minute. Both tracks hit the spot for body and soul, a success also pretty much found by High Heels and its harmonic mellowness over more of the rhythmic energy and prowess which as much as anything stands out across the album as a whole.

Variety is another strong feature to the songs within Do You Want To Rule The World, and maybe no more openly than through King Of The Street People which from opening with an enticing merger of voice and emotive strings twists into a breath-taking, urgency fuelled saunter sure to set dance-floors on fire and coax appetites into pure greed. It is pure pop and instinctive rock ‘n’ roll with a classical air and hungry rock breath, the provocative lure of strings a perfect companion to the grouchy voice of the bass and the contagion of the song an exhilarating soundtrack to the creative drama thrilling the imagination. As Break Your Face, the song is Kolo at its musically ingenious best and if there is anything to say ‘against’ the album, it is that the band does not take this boldness enough into other tracks.

The haunting start to Earthquake is a mesmeric lead for thoughts and the following adventure of changeable energies and similarly mercurial melodies and textures, its success making way for the pop infection that is closing track Dreams, another fiery serenade of vocals and guitars with a rhythmic skeleton equipped to be as tender as it is dramatic. The pair provides an enjoyable end to an album which maybe is not ground-breaking in any major way but reveals more as it only improves with age.

Kolo is a band to make you feel good and make your body move in ways you thought forgotten. Their songs are rock pop to lick your lips over but be warned once they infest there is no shaking them off… thankfully.

Do You Want To Rule The World is out now via LHM Records through most online stores.

Pete RingMaster 24/09/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Kirra – Run Away

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With the release of their Sounds from an Empty Room EP last year, US rockers band Kirra suggested they were a prospect with the potential to make great strides in the rock world. Now the release of debut album Run Away compounds that theory whilst showing some of the strong evolving steps expected. The twelve track encounter is a seriously accomplished and forcibly solid proposition, aspects alone making Kirra a band to culture an appetite for and the album something to thoroughly enjoy. With moments of inspired invention and explosive imagination on board too though, it also shows a promise and ability to light addictive fires. If you are looking for a hard rock proposition with a freshness and increasingly striking adventure to spark the day, then Run Away is worth a long hard look.

It is fair to say that the Oklahoma City quartet has been healthily feeding an increasing spotlight and growing fan base at home with a live presence which has seen them play across America whilst taking in shows with the likes of 3 Doors Down, Primer 55, Puddle Of Mudd, Kill Devil Hill, Screaming for Silence, and Saving Able along the way. With its seeds coming in the wish of lead guitarist Daxton Page, after leaving a rock school program, to start a band, Kirra began coming together once drummer Zach Stafford was introduced to Page through friends. Subsequently bassist Ryne McNeill was found through an ad, who in turn suggested vocalist and rhythm guitarist Jesse Williamson to the band. With the line-up completed, Kirra worked on songs and released that first EP in 2014, with the single from it, Downfall finding strong acclaim and support from online media and social media fans alike. Run Away is the band’s offering to the bigger picture of the rock scene, and a sizeable nudge on their awareness and attention the self-produced, Ricardo Sasaki mixed is.

The electronic opening of first song Tappy Gilmore instantly livens up ears and imagination, its initial lure soon bolstered by sinew driven rhythms and a strong caress of riffs. It is a bright Kirra_Cover_1600X1600-2opening enhanced again by the vocals of Williamson and a slight Alter Bridge like enticement in the muscular and welcoming proposition. It is also a punchy introduction to the album with great flare-ups of aggression and energy in the melodic landscape of the song.

A darker predatory intimidation comes with Fly next, especially through the great throaty bassline of McNeill and the raw brush of riffs. Swiftly putting the previous song in its shade, it prowls ears as vocals again provide a pleasing if less incendiary colour to the antagonism. With alluring craft and sonic enterprise from Page igniting the imagination and senses as the song relaxes into further inventive temptation, it continues to impress and like the album as whole, gains greater strength and potency over subsequent listens. It is a definite grower much as the following Lies and its successor Lay You Down .The first of the two has a Chevelle spicing to its potent persuasion whilst the second is like a boxer jabbing away from its first breath before building a pungent stroll of darkly tempered and fiery rock ‘n’ roll. Though neither song finds the same level of energy in emotions and praising, each leaves ears fully contented and thoughts hungry for more, a want straight away encouraged by the album’s gentler title track and fed fully by the outstanding stepping forward of Chemicals.

     Run Away the song, is a great croon with another imposing bass sound to match as emotional and sonic flames provide a lingering incitement but it is Chemicals where things catch fire, and for us the album offers it’s seriously stirring and thrilling moments. The song again through the bass, immediately opens up new provocative shadows. It is gripping dramatic bait soon complimented and expanded by the stomping beats of Stafford and an abrasing scrub of riffs. Just as impacting in the triumph though is the continually twisting and riveting ideation which veins the song, guitars and rhythms never staying in one place or offering any particular intent for too long. It helps create a predator of a song with a metal and sonically progressive breeding as flavoursome as its melodic rock enterprise.

This new plateau is continued through the mellower but no less exciting and dramatic Downfall and the sturdier confrontation of Should’ve Been Gone where muscles and textures show as much a threat as they do an inescapable seduction. Both songs reveal new depths and imagination to songwriting and sound, pulling every skill and inventiveness of the band members into enthralling and gripping scenarios. The latter for no obvious reason reminds of Bush at times but both tracks show an originality which lurks in Kirra and shows itself in varying strengths across the album.

Drown and Stay keep satisfaction and enjoyment high, even though neither can quite match the might and exploration of its predecessors despite showing more contagious sounds and courageous invention, especially through the devilish lures of bass and guitars. As in all songs the lyrical narrative comes packed with emotion and reflection on the two tracks, as evidenced again by the mellower and increasingly magnetic balladry of Forgive Me. The song ebbs and flows in its power a little, but with a chorus which just feel bigger and bolder with every roar it is another memorable pleasure from Kirra.

Completed by the brash energy and invigorating creativity of Too Far Gone, the album is a mightily promising and exciting full introduction to the band. It shows a few wrinkles which should naturally iron out in the band’s organic evolution, like the excellent vocals of Williamson lacking a rawer spark or snarl at times to match the more rugged sounds around him. There are songs too which never explode as they hint they might, and you wish they would, but all are things easy to expect being worked out as the band grows into the force their album suggests is in the making. Most importantly Run Away leaves nothing but fattening satisfaction and enjoyment in its wake, and a want to hear much more from Kirra.

Run Away is available from January 21st @ https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/run-away/id956087310

http://www.kirramusic.com/

RingMaster 21/01/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Alex Von Z – Implicate Order/Life’s Addiction EP

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Showing two sides of and the extensive diversity within his sound,  Alex Von Z is unleashing a gem of an EP stroke album which is as accomplished and incendiary to the passions as you could wish from any release. Combining the four track  Implicate Order EP and the three track single Life’s Addiction, which first made their appearances in October and December respectively last year, the release is a thrilling and impressive blend of melodic rock and aggressive metal shaped rock n roll.

Alex Von Z (Alex Seleznov) comes from Aurora, Colorado and has spent years investigating and discovering his spiritual and musical progression resulting in the two releases which now are combined into one exhilarating package. Varied and exuberant with a craft to his musicianship and songwriting which is irresistible, Alex combines multiples flavours with stated influences coming from the likes of 3 Doors Down, Eddie Vedder, John Lennon, Blind Melon, Collective Soul, Chris Cornell, Counting Crows, Billy Joel, Matisyahu, Buckcherry, Tesla, System of A Down, and many more. The result is songs which impact musically and lyrically, music which rather than make demands requests and invites passionate union with a presence and warm touch so easy to greedily devour, whether it is offering a melodically soaked seduction or holding a more caustic and aggressive stance.

The Implicate Order part of the release is a gentler companion to its partner but no less impressive, the songs a mix of 179656_429175313827183_1432529483_nacoustically led and melodically persuasive pop rock, for want of a better term. With tracks taken from the upcoming album of the same name, it lights up the senses with contagious recruitments for voice, senses, and passions.  Opening track Drawn starts with shimmering sonics before immediately opening its melodic arms to embrace in an acoustic cored smouldering piece of melodic elegance. The clean tones of Alex add to the warm ambience and by the time the first run of the chorus comes in the song has enlisted gleeful participation and addicted attention. As it stretches its stride with ardour seizing melodic flames and classic rock whispers expanding the strength and lure of the song, it is impossible not to be wholly enamoured with the enterprising treat on offer and anticipation for the songs to follow heightened.

What It Should Be steps up next with a more ballad like breath though there is still a underlying keenness almost urgency to excite the listener, something it does with ease. The temptation of the keys and again classic rock toned guitar reaps and gives further reward from the song whilst its smooth and compelling again is an easy consumption increasing the already brewed hunger for the release. The track does not quite reach the pinnacle of its predecessor but still makes a very strong declaration as does the excellent Chocolate Covered Karma, a rock n roll riot of invention which has loud whispers of a Buckcherry or Motley Crue to it. Like the others even with its sturdier swagger, the track is virulently infectious and stirs the passions with the ear catching guitar craft from Alex which spirals within the rampaging eagerness of the sounds.  All three songs have a familiarity to them which enforces their tempting hook upon the emotions and senses, but a recognisable element which brings the listener into the heart of the pieces like old friends enjoying new escapades. Completed by the full version of Drawn, a track which it is impossible to tire of whatever its length, it is a richly enjoyable and impressive first part.

The Life’s Addiction portion of the release, featuring songs taken from the Life’s Addiction album, reach into the harder rock heart and musically imposing side of Alex’s songwriting, and quite simply leaves the listener breathless. The title track of this section instantly lets its riffs gnaw on the senses whilst harsher flames of guitar and rhythmic intimidation seize their moments with strength. The vocals are still the impressive clean smooth style which transfers into the more imposing arena with accomplished ease whilst imagination is rife within the song, arguably more so here than in the mellower tracks before. Guitar invention and its finely crafted delivery is almost siren like in its pull and bewitching magnetism within the song, and the overall attack stirring and rampant with a slight wantonness to its inducement. Once finished with the emotions the song passes over to the stunning Rise and Fall, a track pulling progressive rock and classic metal into a dazzling tempest of crafted intensity and explosive heavy rock hunger. The most inventive and imaginative song of the whole release with striking musicianship to match, it swaps some of the infectiousness of earlier songs for a potent weave of thought grabbing brilliance with equal impact in its distinct stance.

Completed by What About Me, another outstanding burst of hard rock with a carnivorous greed to its energy and play, the whole package is a sensational introduction to an artist which blends artistic craft and imagination into sounds and songs which you want to hear and hear constantly, their epidemic like hold on the passions as intense as the invention breeding them. An outstanding release from a fantastic artist, enough said.

http://www.alexvonz.com

https://www.facebook.com/AlexVonzmusic

9/10

RingMaster 20/04/2013

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