The Imaginary Hat – Age of Anxiety

Photo by Beth Eloise Fraser

Hailing from England’s capital, The Imaginary Hat creates a sound self-penned as 1920s Punk Rock. As much as your imagination might work with that tag it will only guess at the rich mix of flavours making up the band’s music and new EP Age of Anxiety. Alongside their fusion of rock, punk and 20’s inspired jazz you can find essences of rockabilly, swing, folk and more. It makes for a proposition and new release which is unpredictable, mischievous, and seriously appetising.

The London based outfit formed in 2014 and swiftly earned a potent, attention luring reputation for their music and live presence across the capital and beyond. This year has seen the band emerge with a new and expanded line-up and now second EP, Age of Anxiety, the successor to their well-received debut, Ladies And Gentlemen Kindly Remove Your Hats released this past January.

The spirited rhythms of drummer Phil Joyce kick EP opener Pretty Little Features into life, their increasingly tenacious antics luring ears, appetite, and the guitar jangle of Luke Fraser. Swiftly his vocals also jump in, the track bouncing round with its fifties rock ‘n’ roll scented jazz punk. With a touch of eighties band The Stargazers to it and also the jump blues hues of a Louis Jordan, the song leaps and swings, successfully insisting on the same from the listener. Punk riffs taunt throughout as the flames of Nick Smith’s Trombone unite with the sax of Oscar Ives-Owen; each adding to the virulent contagion of an outstanding start to the release.

A trombone sigh brings up the following Tick Tick Tick, its enticement soon joined by the boisterous stroll of Sam Dimond’s magnetic bass. Vocals again simply entice as they dance devilishly within the similarly insistent sounds around them, enterprise which becomes more bedlamic and frantic by the second but with reins which hauls the chaos back into a just as addictive imaginative canter. You can call the track whatever style you wish but at its heart it is punk rock and relishing its anarchy.

Right Side is next, uncaging a thick dark grumble around another instinctively catchy lure of rhythms. It is infectiousness and swing echoed in Fraser’s vocals as the track prowls, as good as stalks ears and imagination. Bordering blues funereal in gait, salacious seduction in tone, the track physically smoulders as it sears itself into the memory, it too becoming more hellacious in tone and texture by the handful of seconds.

The Imaginary Hat is back in full bounce with Monkey Glands straight after, the track like a swing jazz equivalent of Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers at their devilish while Until One Of Us Dies closes up the release with its dark seduction. Both tracks just hit the spot, the first a collusion of punk ’n’ roll fuelled flavours akin to Eighteen Nightmares at the Lux meets The Strangler Figs under the tutelage of Cab Calloway with its successor unleashing flames of jazz conjured rock with increasing rigour across a landscape as mercurial as it is dramatic.

Though into their fourth year, 2018 might be the moment The Imaginary Hat get crowded by much broader and eager attention. Their two EP’s this year, especially Age of Anxiety, give evidence that it is more than deserved.

Age of Anxiety is out now, available @ https://theimaginaryhat.bandcamp.com/music

https://www.theimaginaryhat.com/    https://www.facebook.com/theimaginaryhat/    https://twitter.com/theimaginaryhat

Pete RingMaster 17/07/2018

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Electric Swing Circus – Self Titled

ESC

Electric swing is not a genre or sound to have made a previous invitation to our ears but if the rest of the scene is as impressive as the debut album from UK sextet The Electric Swing Circus, these hips are poised for a future of swerving passion. The self-titled release from the Birmingham swing troupe is sensational, a mischievous seduction which takes feet, senses, and heart by the hand and leads them on a non-stop dance of melodic rascality. Fusing 20′s swing with fiery electro beats with extra teases of dubstep, breakbeat and jungle, the band has conjured an album which has the cure for all ills, shadows, and musical frigidity, a thirteen track release that entices thoughts and body into a quick step of bone swaggering, hotfooting devilment.

Formed in 2011, The Electric Swing Circus took no time in taking up residency of the Hot Club De Swing and Electro Swing Club UK wide. Within three months their live performances and sound earned the band the coveted title of Best Live Act in the ElectroSwing Peoples Favourite Awards 2011, this recognition enhancing the almost instantaneous seduction the band has brought to the scene and continued to reap growing recognition and acclaim within as they continually light up venues and festivals. Add the fact that the video for their track Penniless Optimist since its release late 2011 has been swamped with over 100,000 views this is a band on a potent ascent.

Fronted by the ‘sassy Sisters of Swing’, Eleanor Rose and Laura Louise, the band combine the skills and temptation of Tom Hyland (guitar), Patrick Wreford (bass guitar/double bass), Chandra Walker (drums/keys), and Rashad Gregory (synth, samples and programming), with a delicious vocal temptation to spark the warmest spirited tease possible. The enterprise and frisky adventure of band and songs riding the senses and emotions with class and ravenous hunger igniting the listener and their bodies into a whirl of movement and pleasure, each and every song in their individual stances and devilry succeeding with fascination and imagination.

The album opens with a twenties tease, a vintage breath driving the initial sound before big arching electro beats and pulses a0145031471_2resonate from within the distant coaxing. The vocals of the girls court and glance the ear with shafts of beauty, their whispers soaring through the mystique and lush lure of the brief intro ESC. It is a gentle beckoning soon exploding into a riotous shuffle of melodic invention in the form of Bella Belle. Romping with crisp beats, a sizzling electro rub, and brass flames around the sirenesque tones of the leading ladies, the track is a mesmeric stomp which leaps around the senses like a mix of Molotov Jukebox, Art Of Noise, and the Andrews Sisters.  It is a song where if not even a toe is moving its flesh in time to the rhythmic suasion, paramedics are needed to check for signs of life.

From the excellent introduction the album continues to take the listener on a vibrant and invigorating stroll through melodic and passionate aural sport, both Swingamajig with its kaleidoscope of sonic colour and creative tempting and Big Ol’ Bite complete with roaming rhythmic fingers and provocative bass licks not forgetting sultry vocal wantonness, opening up varied halls of smouldering elegance and blazing glamour whilst the outstanding Valentine brings another level to twist and let loose rapid shoe enterprise upon. Opening with French vocal enchantment over an eager Parisian melodic sway both Eleanor Rose and Laura Louise lay down their strongest emotive beckoning before combining for an intense union coated by a dark synth lined electro caress. It is an impressive switch leading into a thrilling infection baited chorus which climbs up and down the passions like a lustful puppeteer, the alchemy bringing them out in full bloom to continue romping in the sweltering sun of the track. The stunning and unexpected electro mastery and ingenuity is another irresistible contributor to one of the best tracks not only on the album but heard this year and take a potent place alongside the equally enthralling and incendiary melodic twenties inspired revelation.

The album is a continuous treat of gentle kisses such as the emotive Harvey and energetic exploits of varying gaits such as from the atmospheric heat offered by Mellifluous and the rampant Minnie with its busy and rich tapestry of electronica and swing, the song a reimagining of Cab Calloway’s classic Minnie the Moocher brought in a jazz/dub like persuasion. Every twist and venture of the release is intriguing and deeply compelling with more tracks like The Penniless Optimist leaving no room for indecision about their glory. The song with wonderful throaty bass badgering and fizzing keys brews up its appetite and that of the listener to lurch into a heavy treading irrepressible waltz around the ear, its call and hook impossible to resist as feet and assorted limbs let alone emotions, jump on board with unbridled energy. As with most of the songs it is an irrepressible invitation and offers full clarity as to why it helped propel the band forward back on its first appearance.

Both the tender Put Your Smile On and the dubstep fuelled Ruby unveil further diversity and individual beauty, the latter an exciting unpredictable expanse of invention before the fire that is Little Phatty takes hold for one last course around the dancefloor. Its excellent blend of swing, jazz, and electro is a striking strut for passions and body which makes the perfect ball of energetic climaxing for the release before allowing the closing cover rendition of Everyone Wants to Be a Cat to bring a gentle relaxing sunset to the album. Well that is until midway the drums rustle up the energies for another contagious fling of grinning swing and electro taunting to leave the appetite lost in hunger for much more.

If you have yet to make acquaintance with one of the best bands around and a genre which just might hold the key to your passions, then to go to Electric Swing Circus and their the self-titled debut, this is not a recommendation but a command….what still here?

http://www.electricswingcircus.com/

10/10

RingMaster 23/05/2013

 

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