Stu Rawle – Portland Pill

Stu Rawle_RingMasterReview

Stu Rawle is a name we might be hearing on an increasing number of lips in coming times, certainly if he can build on his potent and seriously engaging debut EP, Portland Pill. The release is a soulful three track shuffle bred from the British singer/songwriter’s individual electro acoustic/funk lined sound. It has an easily accessible character, hinting as to why Rawle’s music has lured names such as Ed Sheeran and Bon Iver when describing his sound. He has also been called the modern male equivalent to KT Tunstall but equally there is a uniqueness to his songs which, as shown by this first EP, increasingly sparks attention.

Originally hailing from East Anglia and now based in the Mile End, East London, Rawle has become an eagerly followed and praised live presence on the capital’s live scene. TV channel, London Live and local radio stations, have shown keen interest in and played his tracks to back up successful shows across venues such as the Troubadour and O2 Academy. Now the man is looking at stirring up his most successful year yet with the Portland Pill EP; national attention his next aim.

art_RingMasterReviewThe EP’s title track is first up to caress ears, it a song written back in 2013 and themed by “nostalgia and the growing complexities and pressures of young adulthood.” With its title inspired by Rawle’s own memories of Portland Bill in Dorset, where he spent numerous enjoyable times in his childhood, the song reflects on those imagination inspiring escapes we all have experienced at some time and temper times of pressure and intensity in life. Musically Portland Pill lays out an inviting melodic canvas for thoughts to swing across on a catchiness which swiftly has ears caught. Its body has a gentle sway and swell to it, like tender waves lapping the senses as the guitar courts the resonance of bass and crisp beats, and subsequently the emergence of floating harmonies and crawling keys.

In quick time feet and emotions are bounding along with the increasingly infectious and lively stroll of the song, a potent lure which is as ripe in the electronic and emotional reflection of Lightspeed too. The track was sparked by the death of Rawle’s grandfather, who suffered from Alzheimer’s. From the start Rawle’s emotive tones are immersed in electro smog, almost fighting to make their voice heard in a reflection of his grandfather’s inner suffering from the illness. Mesmeric and richly evocative, the lyrical perspective of the song and its imagination provide a gripping and powerful incitement for ears and thoughts, which in turn only offers greater insight into the talent and potential brewing within the artist.

Closing track is In Hindsight, an acoustic/electro pop tempting with bold energy and a flirtatious nature in sound. It quickly shows an enticing jazziness to its opening funk seeded swagger, a tenacious touch which is matched in appeal by the broody rising of shadows and their strings like enterprise. They simply court the imagination, adding another layer to the track’s provocative and feisty revelry where a great use of textures adds to the potency of sound around the ever impressing voice and expressive delivery of Rawle.

The first listen of the Portland Pill EP earned an appreciative nod, second and third a thicker want to know more, and fair to say from thereon in, the release and especially Lightspeed just continued to blossom with matching enjoyment. That name again which you might be hearing a lot of in the future? Stu Rawle.

The Portland Pill EP is out now on iTunes.

Pete RingMaster 29/02/2016

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Jacko Hooper – For You

Photo - Nicolas Primout

UK singer songwriter Jacko Hooper has come a long way since emerging in his school days with The Rylics, a trio of school friends. It has been interesting and enjoyable watching his progress as a songwriter and musician over the years, the different twists and turns in his evolution which whilst not always fed personal tastes always left attention and appetite for his endeavours intrigued. For You is the brand new EP from Hooper, his first official solo release and an impressively potent and appetising proposition.

As mentioned the journey for Hooper started in his schooldays and even then he and the band were drawing strong attention especially when from the ashes of the first band, IAM:YOURHERO emerged. The band drew a keen and attentive following of fans and underground media exposure like from our own Audioburger Radio whilst at the same time Hooper was working on his own solo acoustic material. IAM:YOURHERO subsequently became Kai with the threesome continuing to draw praise and a greater following but you could also sense interest in the solo work of Hooper was gaining impetus. Recent years has seen that side take centre stage with Hooper to continued success, his music gaining YouTube views of over half a million and self-released CDRs in 500 runs being sold out in just six days. Inspired by the likes of Jeff Buckley, Bon Iver, Thomas Dybdahl, and Fink, his songwriting and folk teased sound has hit a plateau, with For You the clear evidence.

Funded through KickStarter and recorded with producer Paul Steel over the space of eight weeks, For You steals ears and thoughts within moments of its first song. Eggs Shells caresses ears from its first stroll of chords wrapped in a1353093189_2an elegant melody. It is an immediate enticing which only grows its call with the incoming smooth tones of Hooper’s vocals, their mellow first embrace growing with the song to show the greater texture and power of his voice already realised in the rockier premises of his previous bands. The acoustic stroking of the song is a quality tempting but once the song opens up arms of strolling rhythms and bass shadows within the ever expressive design of guitar, it truly blossoms into a flame of emotive beauty. As the release, the song looks at love and fear and shows that whilst there has always been an intimacy to the music of Hooper which was in advance of his years, there is a real genuine maturity to his songwriting now.

The following November 5th Song also moves from a gentle coaxing into a firmer revelry of beats and vocal adventure amidst vibrant melodic enticing and atmospherically sown emotion. Also as its predecessor, the track grows and swells with poetic expression and a bulging bewitchment of melodic energy and passion spawned energy for an almost rigorous and wholly absorbing stomp of infectious invention. The earlier solo material of Hooper impressed but felt like it was still too deep in its growth and evolution to make a real mark at the time but the first two songs alone on For You show that the Brighton hailing Hooper has not only come to the end of that cycle to fulfil the potential seen vividly within him but opened up another wave of potential to be explored and realised ahead.

Run Away With Me is a guitar and vocal croon which comes drenched in intimacy and shadows, the occasional growl and constant angst of Hooper’s vocals enough to expose the raw emotion of the song. It does not match the might of the first two songs but then it is a different proposition with its open lean canvas beneath an emotive colouring. The closing live cut of Roaming is the same, guitar and vocal reflection at one in an evocatively lighted spotlight within scenery of crowding shadows. It is a fine song but one which may not stand out as strongly in the hands of another, the bluesy scent which soaks Hopper’s delivery bringing it character and irresistible body.

Despite the success earned and found previously, this feels like the point where Jacko Hooper has arrived and is about to trigger the real ascent of his emerging career.

The For You EP is available now via One Inch Badge on Ltd Edition 7″ vinyl and digitally @


RingMaster 16/07/2014

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Silhouettes – Gold Tag



Ahead of their debut album release early next year, UK indie electronic band Silhouettes unveil their new single Gold Tag. A rich magnetic call, the release easily tickles the taste buds and lights a smouldering fire of anticipation for the band’s upcoming debut album Ever Moving Happiness Machines, a teaser which suggests the upcoming full-length will be one to pay close attention to.

Silhouettes consists of Nathan Till (vocals, guitars), Jay Cuthill (samples, keyboards, production), Ben Blewitt (keyboards), and Xander Roberts (bass, vocals), the line-up expanding to a sextet for live shows. Formed in 2008 the band has earned a strong reputation for their live performances building a potent fanbase around home town of Wolverhampton and Birmingham. Their two previous EPs also drew good attention to the band but as their sound has evolved and shifted focus to a more enthralling electronic premise, the suspicion that Gold Tag and the subsequent album will take the band to greater recognition is unavoidable.

    Gold Tag opens with a sample of a child before guitars begin casting the air with simmering melodic drizzle, the crystalline rain mesmerising around electronic beats which punctuate their effect. It is a tantalising lure taken up numerous levels by the outstanding bass dance provided by Roberts, its tone throaty, bulbous, and contagious. As keys add their flavoursome potency the vocals of Till bring an expressive emotive spice which only goes to increase the temptation of the song. With the strong bass and rhythmic bait amidst melodies and hooks which infect the passions, there is a big feel of eighties indie pop band The Farmers Boys to the track, a suggestive spice that adds to the immense contagion. It is a masterful slice of electro and guitar pop merged into something attention seeking and winning.

The release comes with a longer version of the single, its added tail a hypnotic rhythmic fascination which does not bring anything majorly extra to the single but neither leaves it a lesser enticement, and an acoustic version of Creaking Universe, a song which shows the skilled craft of songwriting and presentation of Silhouettes. With references to the likes of M83, John Grant, Massive Attack, Bon Iver, Sigur Ros, and Radiohead placed around the band and that of Bukowski, Nick Cave, and Matt Berninger of The National to the lyrical side of the band, Silhouettes is a rising presence and attraction which has taken another potent step through the Integrity Records released Gold Tag, a single well worth investing time in.


RingMaster 25/11/2013

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