Kleenex Girl Wonder – Vana Mundi

Creating melodic centrepieces with a lyrical heart as rich as their aural temptation is seemingly as second nature to US singer songwriter Graham Smith as breathing; proof easily gathered over closing on three decades of releases either under his name or as Kleenex Girl Wonder. As the latter he has spun yet another feverishly flavoursome collection of melody bred pop ‘n’ roll songs in the shape of new album Vana Mundi, one of those albums which schemes to get under the skin and into the imagination as it echoes contemporary life in its own distinct way.

Latin for ‘Empty World’, Vana Mundi reaches into the heart of life, into its selfish and selfless sides with often the latter emerging from the exploration of the former. It is as intimate as it can be seen worldly, suggesting experiences have bred its heart and thoughts as much as observation. It opens up with Practical Effects and immediately holds attention with guitars creating a lively clamour followed by a gentle stroll with a swing which just infests hips. Smith’s vocals soon follow to similarly beguile in their own distinct tongue and breath. Thoughts sprung to Britain’s Astral Cloud Ashes the closest comparison we can suggest to the uniqueness of Kleenex Girl Wonder, wondering if this also one man project was inspired by Smith a touch in its own individuality.

The excellent opener is quickly followed and matched by the bouncy saunter of Greek Fire, the resonating thud of rhythms alone a potent lure behind the boisterous and flirtatious exploits of voice and guitar. With each passing second each aspect accelerates its lustful gait and appeal, only relaxing to repeat the irresistible cycle with even greater enterprise and energy. Superb in every essence, the song sets a marker to be regularly worried across the release if maybe not quite by next up Trattegio. In saying that, the song only has attention and appetite keen with its calmer and eagerly infectious endeavours featuring guitarist Thayer McClanahan and drummer Matt LeMay alongside Smith.

Not for the last time on the album, Kleenex Girl Wonder brings a slight Kinks like hue to ears; Sounds Good a mellow engagement with volatility in its depths which rumbles rather than erupts across its reflection while Sexy Legitimate Threat casts an acoustic hug which soothes as lyrics strike. Like a magnet the song just draws ears and the imagination, every listen more intense as its simple but richly layered body pounces with greater enjoyment the result before The Mesomorph prowls the senses with its controlled yet open rapacious intent and tone. The dark edge of bass and rhythms seductively collude with the melodic and harmonic intimation of Smith, every handful of seconds within the song adding fresh drama to its increasing ingenuity.

Impossible Shadow is similarly inventive and distinct with its folkish aural festivities and subsequent shadow lit calms. Alongside its predecessor this pair provides the most imaginative exploits within Vana Mundi, its most powerful and impressive moments among nothing but rich moments of invention; the latter especially with its XTC-esque adventure.

The rawer buzz of Ask Mountain is not slow in tempting with arousing enterprise either; its melodic clamour resourceful and deviously catchy as electronic beats dance. It is infectiousness just as prevalent within the buoyant romp of Sunday Night Fever, a controlled but busy song with waves of energy in its voice and intent.

The album closes up with Picture the Kid, another vociferously rousing encounter with a great Frank Black like hue to its creative theatre and expressive breath. It is an irresistible end to an unavoidably fascinating and enjoyable release. It was a pleasure from the first listen earning only lustier responses thereon in; the album of summer’s dark side.

Vana Mundi is available now via Reesonable Records @ http://kgw.me/album/vana-mundi

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Pete RingMaster 26/06/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Astral Cloud Ashes – Dear Absentee Creator

Eighteen months or so in the making, Dear Absentee Creator is the keenly awaited successor to the critically well-received debut album marking Astral Cloud Ashes out as one inescapably magnetic encounter.  Released in 2016, Too Close to the Noise Floor was a collection of songs which intrigued as they pleasured, fascinated as they almost forcibly introduced an ear grabbing new artist to the British music scene. Now Dear Absentee Creator takes all the prowess and potential of its predecessor to the next level with eleven tracks which seduce the imagination and stir ears with their infectious adventures.

Astral Cloud Ashes is the solo project of Jersey hailing multi-instrumentalist Antony Walker who had already caught our ears and appetite as one half of also Channel Islands bred outfit Select All Delete Save As . Formed in 2016, the band swiftly sparked keen interest with the title track of that subsequent first album. The full bodied Too Close to the Noise Floor really stirred attention and praise with its release later that first year and a sound which lies somewhere between the embraces of indie rock, alt-pop, and math rock being self-tagged as Future-core. To be fair, enjoyably it is a proposition very difficult to pin down, familiar in some ways, boldly individual in a great many others, and as proven by the new encounter, always at ease captivating the senses.

Whereas Too Close to the Noise Floor saw backing vocalist Jason Neil a thick presence alongside, Dear Absentee Creator is all Walker with just a few guests in pianist/vocalist James Elliott Field (Tubelord, Tall Ships) on the album’s closing song and drummer Max Saidi on three others as well as Melle Brower (vocalist for Dutch metallers Illusionless) providing cymbals on Clockhand Reversal. Mastered as that earlier album by Tim Turan, Dear Absentee Creator references Satoshi Nakamoto in its title, the creator of the world’s first ever cryptocurrency in Bitcoin, whose true identity has never been known to anyone and has not been heard of since the final weeks of 2010.

It opens up with the melodic enticement of News Anchor Breaks Rank, a short mellow invitation with drama in its heart and touch as Walker’s ever resourceful vocal mix rises within a guitar nurtured weave. It is the opening breath to next up Moonphase Bloom, and outstanding track which helped spark anticipation for the album with its release as a single last year. A virulently infectious and lively slice of pop rock as tempting when it is a melodic smoulder or a rousing rocker, the track just draws ears into the sound and imagination of Walker like a magnet; its success as a single pure evidence.

Old Moods follows, it too a bouncy proposal with emotion lining every melody and word, adventure each twist and turn. Almost fiery in its eruptions and firmly mesmeric in its melancholic calms, the song is a skilfully woven clamour drawing on a host of pop and indie flavours with subtlety and open hunger before A Reformatted Heart goes off on its own catchy stroll wrapped in melodic intimation.

Already four tracks in and Dear Absentee Creator showed a feistier character and contagion of sound compared to its predecessor with the same calm elegance and lively imagination which helped the first album stand out. It has a roar to it which just incites attention even as in next up Ryukyu Kingdom Declares Independence, a song which ebbs and flows in intensity almost reflecting from a standstill at times as Walker croons throughout with a gentle touch.

Similarly Ironed Shirts bounces along with a mercurial gait, every move inviting a willing body to match its changeable energy, the imagination bound in its expectations escaping invention, while Dallas Knows the Reason just enthrals from its emotive harmonic gaze to its voracious rock explosions. The grumble of the bass is irresistible, the flames of guitar compelling as the track seduces, lulls into false safety, and preys on ears and thoughts with its tenacious sound around a tale of a gun-wielding girl from Texas.

The piano led, metronomic tease of the following Clock Hand Reversal is just as richly enticing, that clever bait opening up a tenacious shimmer of melody and harmony with a volatile underbelly which springs up again and again to add to the track’s captivation.

The fuzzy pop ‘n’ roll of Satoshi Nakamoto vs Unyielding Desire for BAU is a quick match in wrapping up ears and appetite in its creative tapestry, the melodic senses entangling of Gush just as charismatic and increasingly gripping before Kimobetsu Love brings the album to a fine conclusion. A song which blossomed over plays rather than making the immediate impact of some of its companions, it epitomises the imaginative and arresting not forgetting perpetually enticing sound of Astral Cloud Ashes.

It is increasingly impossible to compare the band’s sound to others such its growing uniqueness but imagine a pinch of House Of Love intimacy, a slither of Weezer infectiousness, and an infusion of XTC melodic imagination all blended together in a Tubelord fired mortar and you get an idea of the creative breath and pop rock fun of Astral Cloud Ashes.

Dear Absentee Creator is out now across major online stores and

https://astralcloudashes.bandcamp.com/album/dear-absentee-creator

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

Pete RingMaster 26/05/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Astral Cloud Ashes – Dallas Knows the Reason

With the recent announcement of the release of second album Dear Absentee Creator early 2018, British alternative rock outfit Astral Cloud Ashes have provided a highly flavoursome teaser with new single Dallas Knows the Reason. The liveliest slice of rapacious rock ‘n’ roll from the band yet without losing the melodic enterprise and bold touches which has marked the band out as a very appetising prospect to date, the song grabs attention with ease, luring the body into similarly eager involvement.

Astral Cloud Ashes is the solo project of Jersey, Channel Islands hailing vocalist/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Antony Walker, though he is someone unafraid to embrace other’s talents if needed, his forthcoming album proof in featuring James Elliott Field (Tubelord, Tall Ships) and Max Saidion on certain songs. Through singles and impressive debut album Too Close to the Noise Floor, the band stirred close attention and acclaim across 2016; a success, if Dallas Knows the Reason, backed by its just as magnetic predecessor Moonphase Bloom also taken from Dear Absentee Creator, is a sign of things to be soon discovered which could very well escalate.

Infused with lyrical content dealing with a gun-wielding girl from Texas, Dallas Knows the Reason instantly lures ears with vocal harmonies and lyrical suggestion, rhythms lurking with a firm hand as melodies meander just waiting to explode into life. That they do as the song quickly hits its tenacious stroll, rhythms now bounding through ears as the bass grumbles alongside the fiery exploits of the guitar. It is a highly infectious affair, its slight lulls intensifying the song’s swing once it erupts again.

Walker’s vocals are as distinct and warmly infectious as ever, leaping across the robust endeavours of the song with matching magnetism as feet and hips respond to the natural flirtation of the track’s rock ‘n’ roll. Increasingly more compelling with every listen, Dallas Knows the Reason sees Astral Cloud Ashes launching upon a new plateau of sound and imagination. Bands such as The Pixies, The Cure, Tubelord, and XTC are often referenced with Astral Cloud Ashes but song by song as shown here its sound is becoming more unique which makes the anticipation for Dear Absentee Creator all the keener.

Dallas Knows the Reason is available now @ https://astralcloudashes.bandcamp.com/track/dallas-knows-the-reason

https://www.facebook.com/astralcloudashes    https://twitter.com/AstralCloudAsh    https://www.instagram.com/astral_cloud_ashes/

Pete RingMaster 19/12/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Astral Cloud Ashes – Too Close to the Noise Floor

Album Art_RingMasterReview

With three attention grabbing and imagination sparking singles under the belt, Astral Cloud Ashes unveil debut album Too Close to the Noise Floor. It is a collection of songs which arouse and serenade the senses, often simultaneously as the project’s mesmeric songwriting and emotive melodic elegance seduces.

Astral Cloud Ashes is the new project of Jersey bred songwriter/musician Antony Walker, previously better known as one half of the Channel Islands hailing Select All Delete Save As. Having already created music under the name ALPA, amongst other monikers, Walker quickly sparked attention to his latest project last year with first single Too Close To The Noise Floor, the now title track to the new album. Primarily a solo project but with backing vocalist Jason Neil a permanent fixture in the band, Astral Cloud Ashes draws on inspirations ranging from The Cure, Bloc Party, Interpol, At the Drive In, Mars Volta, and Say Anything as well as flavours bred in indie and alternative rock/pop. Equally though, the album shows bold ventures into more progressive and post rock pastures without losing the instinctive catchiness and melodic romancing found in those earlier propositions.

Mixed across its tracks by Gareth [The Fold], Edd HartwellPaul Miles, Daniel Szanto,  and Walker himself, with the mastering undertaken by Tim Turan, Too Close to the Noise Floor opens with The Man I Had To Become. Instantly a temptation of bubbling guitar captures ears, the coaxing quickly joined by a wave of rhythmic jabbing and a thicker weave of melodic guitar and harmonious vocals. It is a gentle yet boisterous affair easily whipping up the imagination and spirit with Walker’s distinctive tones the mellow flame within a more combustible web of enterprise. It is a great mix which marked those early singles but already seems to have blossomed within the album into a more adventurous and confident entangling of the listener.

The great start is followed by the album’s title track, Too Close to the Noise Floor showing a rawer, more imposing energy as it takes the imagination into the intimacy and adventure of cosmonautics but equally involves “family values and unwanted first-world paranoia” in its energetically hugged theme. Punching its rhythmic and contagious essences home, it also carries a hazy climate to its atmosphere with the bass a deliciously throaty lure amongst nothing but virulent temptation. Embracing a XTC feel and Melvins like revelry, the track has body and appetite eagerly involved in swift time.

Grateful for the Ghost In Our House steps forward next and as the last track showed a more formidable presence to its predecessor, this song reveals a fiercer predation to its opening and subsequent invention within another wash of suggestive melodies and smouldering dynamics. Though not in the actual sound, it is easy to see where an influence of The Cure comes into play, Walker creating an emotional and musical drama which has the senses riding a roller coaster.

Recent single Get Real follows, strolling along with the ever present catchiness which Walker conjures with seeming ease across every track. Guitars pop and bubble throughout the song as rhythmic tenacity creating an anthemic frame to the vocal and melodic ingenuity before Flashback takes over. A calmer and mellower engagement but even more emotively forceful, the song caresses ears with a lone guitar melody before being joined by a heavily shadowed bassline aligned to a broader floating melodic enterprise. Vocally, Walker provides an introspective narrative as provocative as the poetic almost volcanic fuzziness of his guitar. Adding another individual shade and hue to the album, the track shows the broader landscape of Walker’s songwriting and an intimacy, whether personal or observational, which fuels his words.

With drummer Max Saidi guesting, Avant Blah! strolls boldly in next, its lo-fi pop ‘n’ roll blending Weezer infection with Pavement-esque invention while its successor Lites almost lumbers into view in comparison with the brooding bass and irritable riffs to the fore. In all songs there is a great repetitious quality brewed by Walker, here almost coming over drone like to great effect around the solemn melody and the similarly melancholic vocals. As it expands though, a wave of rich textures and rousing energies flood the song, returning throughout the low-key yet thickly enjoyable, almost imposing encounter.

The excellent This Once Great Place has an air of The Cure again with its atmospheric landscape, reminding of the A Forest/Pornography era of the trio across its own captivating journey before the equally impressive Housing in a Bubble makes a grab for best track with its more punkish/grungy roar of sound. Everything about it has a snarl not heard on the album previously; revealing more of the diversity the release carries whilst stirring up a fresh greed in ears and pleasure.

Our Holiday brings Too Close to the Noise Floor to a sombre and enthralling close, the track initially a dark sigh but soon building its own catchy canter loaded with spiky hooks and spicy melodies around another slightly foreboding and compelling bassline. Once more thoughts of Robert Smith and co are sparked but again as a flavour in something individual to Astral Cloud Ashes. It is a riveting end to a striking and increasingly impressive first album from Walker.

The clues to the project’s potential were there in its first trio of singles, and now confirmed and partly realised by Too Close to the Noise Floor. The feeling is that there is plenty more to come and to be explored within that promise, and going by the strength of this thoroughly enjoyable offering, we are all in for many treats ahead.

Too Close to the Noise Floor is released July 11th @ http://apple.co/1RFvoL8

https://www.facebook.com/astralcloudashes   https://astralcloudashes.bandcamp.com/   https://twitter.com/AstralCloudAsh

Pete RingMaster 08/07/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Astral Cloud Ashes -Too Close To The Noise Floor

ACA_RingMasterReview

Antony Walker is one half of the Channel Islands hailing Select All Delete Save As, a band we have taken a shine to especially after the release of their 2014 album Ultra Cultura. The Jersey bred musician has also created music under the name ALPA, amongst other monikers. Now though he has unveiled a new project and a debut single which suggests he is tapping into a new vein of fascinating adventure in songwriting and sound.

The band is called Astral Cloud Ashes; predominantly a one man project though it occasionally features Jason Neil also. Musically tagged as future-core, the band’s sound on the evidence of the new single is an imaginative weave of indie and alternative rock but equally involves elements of noise and pop rock. To be honest, Too Close To The Noise Floor enjoyably makes it hard to pin down the music but if a mix of The Pixies, Swell Maps, Weezer, Bloc Party, and early Cure appeals, then it is a song to seriously explore.

Mastered by Tim Turan, Too Close To The Noise Floor takes the imagination into the intimacy and adventure of cosmonautics but equally involves “family values and unwanted first-world paranoia” in its energetically hugged theme. Guitars and rhythms descend on ears from its first breath, creating a hazy breeze which relaxes as Walker’s warm tones lay engagingly across songs and ears with some great vocal backing adding to the appeal.

There is punchiness to the song too, beats and bass jabbing and prowling respectively alongside the spicy melodies and vibrant hooks that entice. There is raw feel of XTC to the song in particular moments, maybe a whiff of Melvins too, all going to provide a refreshing hip flirting and pleasure inciting proposition.

With a debut album scheduled for later in the year to be anticipation wrapped from hereon in, Too Close To The Noise Floor is a thoroughly enjoyable and attention grabbing introduction to Astral Cloud Ashes, and potentially what could be Walker’s most successful project yet.

Too Close To The Noise Floor is released March 7th across all major online distributors.

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

Pete RingMaster 29/02/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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