Joakem – Mind Matter

Mind Matter is the striking debut album from Cyprus-based singer songwriter, composer, keyboardist Joakem; a release which just blossoms and further impresses play by play. Woven in a magnetic blend of progressive rock and metal it shares tapestries of craft and imagination, they all created with an instinct to tempt.

Joakem (Stelios Ioakim), from his beginnings as a classical pianist, has formed and played in a host of bands including alternative rock outfit Slightly Offensive and melodic death metallers Tørment. Musically, as in rich evidence within Mind Matter, he embraces various threads of styles and flavours in his atmospheric and progressively nurtured sound and as proven by his first full length, it makes for one seriously enjoyable proposition.

The album instantly began to keenly lure ears and attention as opener A Peaceful Place teased with rapaciously edged guitar, its full entrance joined by an equally enticing coaxing from keys. Already what proves to be a distinctive flavouring to the latter is working away on a swiftly found appetite before just as potently Joakem’s vocals add to the temptation. Immediately too, there is an infectious touch and tenacity to the song, one which as the track evolves and reveals a wealth of imaginative twists and turns only intensifies while across its irresistible length, various metal bred colours from extreme to melodic ignite progressive rock instincts to create one fascinating and thrilling start to Mind Matter.

The following Resurgence makes a just as persuasive first impression; Joakem’s almost carnival-esque keys dancing with ears and imagination as riffs reveal a similar creative bent. Lively rhythms soon add to the swiftly captivating incitement before an atmospheric calm if one carrying crepuscular shadows, emerges. This in turn breeds a new wave of tenacious enterprise with keys, vocals, and guitar colluding in the casting of a richly compelling aural painting within which its creator’s classical breeding is a perpetual lure as too the Dave Greenfield (The Stranglers) scented those keys.

One of the album’s early singles is next up, Generation Z a fiery fusion of rock and metal with a snarl in its breath and irritability in its body yet equally a song sharing a reflective calm and spirited animation in its respective tempting and rousing roar. Maybe not as immediately gripping as its predecessors, the track only needed one round of its chorus to banish doubts, that carousing bred on the ever alluring presence of Joakem’s voice and keys before Illusory stepped forward to share its own intrigue lined exploits. It too has a dark edge and tone to its bold exploration of a shady world in sound and word but as potently a melodic radiance which only adds to the thick intimation.

Through the constantly tantalising journey of The Path, another previous single which awoke plenty of attention the way of Joakem, and the mercurial trespass of Terra captivation tightened. The superb first of the two is a blend of aggressive disposition and melodic elegance, though charm fuelled by fire bearing melody while its successor shares an instinctive earthiness with almost psychotic inclinations, twisting and turning with almost bedlamic mastery. A track which took a touch longer to persuade in comparison to others, it emerges as another big highlight as Joakem makes use of his obvious vast palette of sound and imagination.

Treacherous is a far less tempestuous affair though it too erupts in a cyclone of composed melodic and metallic fury led by the driven winds of keys. As with all tracks, it fluidly surges and slips through an array of contrasts and contradictions, impressing with its unpredictability and bold imagination before Departure brings it all to a great close. From an evocative caress of piano, the final song serenades and arouses the senses before rising up in virulent coercion of vocal chords and ardour providing a glorious end to an equally magnificent release.

Wrapped in the stirring artwork of Alexandros Papantoniou, at times Mind Matter is simply sublime and in other moments ridiculously captivating, throughout casting a web of easily addictive enterprise which only leads to our recommendation that you go treat yourselves.

Mind Matter is available now for download/streaming on all digital platforms with physical copies available @

http://www.joakem.com/   https://www.facebook.com/joakemmusic   https://twitter.com/joakemmusic

Pete RingMaster 12/03/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Siblings Of Us – Gargantua

Creating a maze of intrigue and diversity smothered in a web of unpredictable imagination UK outfit Siblings Of Us offer up their new release. Any sound and encounter which refuses to be pigeonholed provides an instinctive lure and without doubt the Bristol trio and their Gargantua EP defies any attempt to pin them down as essences from synth and progressive rock entangle with elements of indie, new wave, and plenty more. It makes for an ear enticing proposition which admittedly left us a little bewildered, slightly unsure occasionally and thoroughly pleasured.

Emerging in 2016, Siblings Of Us consists of Fonzy Armour (vocals, guitar, synth), Zack Reed (vocals, synth), and Ellie Daymond (drums). Since venturing forth, the band has released two EPs, a couple of singles and a threesome of videos, all luring greater attention and new waves of fans. Gargantua is sure to continue the trend, its four tracks all providing a rich kaleidoscope of adventure with the conspiracy of a puzzle.

Gargantua opens up with Pizza Liza where synths immediately create a spirally coaxing before swinging rhythms and melodic heat accompanies the song’s emerging muscular presence. There is a natural catchiness to the weight though, synths all the while creating a bubbling sea of melodic intimation and temptation and at times adding a scent of The Stranglers’ Dave Greenfield to the fun. We will admit that the falsetto vocals of the band, a proposition something akin to The Bee Gees woozy after having their unmentionables firmly squeezed, was the one element personal tastes laboured with but certainly they are no weakness in the band or its sound especially as they add a touch of organic energy and a great emotional ‘desperation’ to things.

The following Chicago Glass Twins similarly strolls in with its old rock ‘n’ roll inclinations to the fore, synths and vocals flirting with ears as they ride the intrusive rhythmic tide craftily led by Daymond. Detours and suggestive interludes accompany the track’s bold trail of enterprise, every moment adding to its captivation as it outshines its predecessor before Breed & Company repeats the success as it flows into a calm, reflective mood and melodic croon. It too carries an intensity which erupts with Muse meets Axis Mundi imagination, the song bursting with volatility to fine effect.

The EP closes up with A Gang Called Wonder, a slice of infection loaded synthwave with predatory instincts and just a shade of mania to its intent. The track epitomises the whole EP; a fascinating and thoroughly magnetic affair that just demands attention.

By the record, the Sibling Of Us sound has evolved with eager adventure, Gargantua another highly enjoyable twist in its journey; a pleasure ensuring their next offering is going to be highly anticipated.

Gargantua hits all outlets on 2nd November, via RetroSynth Records.

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Pete RingMaster 30/10/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Jess & The Ancient Ones – Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes

Photo_ Jarkko Pietarinen

Photo_ Jarkko Pietarinen

After an impressive introduction through their self-titled debut album back in 2012, there is always a potent twinge of excitement when whispers and news of something new from Finnish psychedelic rockers Jess & The Ancient Ones comes forward. It happened with their impressive occult surf metal EP Astral Sabbat in 2013 and again now with second full-length Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes. It is fair to say though that as keen the anticipation it was not really expecting the full majesty and fascination which envelops ears from the band’s latest triumph. Spreading open psychedelic inspirations bred from the late sixties/seventies, Jess & The Ancient Ones boldly embrace a host of other ripe styles and rich flavours too, creating one of the year’s most breath-taking offerings in the process.

Formed in 2010 as a septet, the band has slimmed by one over recent times and broadened their sound to weave in as suggested earlier, a new kaleidoscope of distinct styles. There is also less of the occultist intensity found in the new album’s predecessor as a more earthly magical theming seems to fuel the lyrical exploration of Second Psychedelic Coming. The new album is certainly as raw and seductive as anything before, the creative heart of the band unashamedly honest and unworried about sounding overly polished as again ears are provided with a gritty and organic character to the encounter and the instinctive way that the Kuopio sextet grip ears and incite the imagination. With the striking new aspects and imagination to the band’s sound though, it all unites in either fiery roars or invasive serenade of sound, most songs a collusion of both and more.

artwork_RingMaster Review     It is fair to say that within seconds band and album had its first inescapable claw into the passions through opener Samhain. Moving in on ears via the potent rhythmic stroll cast by Yussuf, attention is grabbed and appetite sparked, especially as a provocative sample makes a lead for a web of surf bred guitars and sultry keys to offer the next mighty lure of the song. It is instant persuasion, especially once virulent hooks step from that smouldering hug, they in turn sparking unbridled infectiousness in energy and tone emphasized by the caped crusader like groove flirting at the heart of it all. The distinctive and ever compelling voice of Jess is soon in the midst of the thick tempting of course, wrapped alluringly in the guitar enterprise of Thomas Corpse and Thomas Fiend as a mischievous bass canter sculpted by Fast Jake and the flowing suggestiveness of Abraham’s keys bring more creative tonic for the imagination to work with. Quite simply the album gets off to a glorious and irresistible start, offering a joyful pagan and dramatic celebration to get lusty with.

The Flying Man steps up next, it too an immediate contagion of tenacious rhythms alongside a tantalising sonic weave. Soon the track shares a bluesy breeze in air and melodies as its body exudes folkish/Celtic hues, whispers of Jethro Tull/Horslips teasing throughout the pungent smog of evocative and sonic heat. The undiluted fascination conjured continues with In Levitating Secret Dreams, it also entwining surf and psychedelic invention with enthralling imagination. As the first track, the song has a keen catchiness which quickly has body and appetite enlisted in its adventure, that success the springboard for warm harmonies to surround Jess’ vocal bellow but equally a maze of classic and blues rock resourcefulness through the guitars, which with the inflamed theatre of the keys and of course vocals, takes the listener into a uniqueness of creative splendour.

The addictive invention of the album never misses a beat or a moment to grip attention through the rhythmic slavery perpetually sculpted by bass and drums, another of its variations setting the tone and potent entrance of The Equinox Death Trip. With keys carrying a great Dave Greenfield of The Stranglers colour to their psych rock imagination, the track blazes away in ears and emotions. Jess powerfully leads the fire as things feverishly rumble and sizzle on the senses in another major highlight in nothing but across the album, though its mighty presence is still eclipsed by that of Wolves Inside My Head. The track is a beast, flexing its energy loaded and creatively provocative muscles from its first breath but just as swiftly exploring an eventful tapestry of keen hooks, spicy blues mystique, and melodically incendiary flirtation, all matched in kind by bass and drums. Again samples are a strong additive, though it is the wonderful vaudevillian air to song and backing vocals that add the most irresistible glaze. A whiff of delta blues also spices the encounter but comes much more pronounced and tempting within the following Crossroad Lightning. A climatic croon with tempestuously restrained sounds, the song is pure bewitchment with a healthy glow of My Baby to its shamanic and melodic sultriness.

Through the blues infested psych funk of The Lovers and the jazz spiced psych theatre of Goetia of Love, ears and pleasure are full, each presenting an inimitable shadow kissed carnival of diverse sound and a temptation as nostalgic as it is incessantly fresh. The latter of the two is a real siren of enterprise and evocative brilliance leading the listener into the epic affair of Goodbye To Virgin Grounds Forever. At twenty minutes plus, the closer is a flight of perpetual evolution and imagination in its own right. Classical and melancholic flavours collude with voracious and contagion carrying exploits, they just a few of the aspects sculpting the ever changing canvas and experimentation of the spellbinding proposal. From voice to rhythm, individual craft to combined melodic seduction; the track is an unpredictable and increasingly magnetic journey which alone ensures Second Psychedelic Coming has to be declared one of the must investigations of 2015.

The potential and triumph of the first Jess & The Ancient Ones album led expectations of bigger and bolder things from Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes. It lets no one down!

Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes is out now via Svart Records and @ https://jessandtheancientones.bandcamp.com/album/second-psychedelic-coming-the-aquarius-tapes

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Pete RingMaster 07/12/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Archie and the Bunkers – Self Titled

Promo'15B_RingMaster Review

Dubbed as ‘Hi-Fi Organ Punk’, the Archie and the Bunkers sound, to simplify things, is a compelling mix of garage punk and masterfully stripped back rock ‘n’ roll infused with a contagious revelry which has ears and imagination spinning. Created on drums, organ, and vocals alone, it is an enticing which has feet and emotions fully involved in scant minutes whilst in regard to its creators, to use the phrase Paul from Dirty Water Records, who are releasing the US duo’s self-titled debut album, used when introducing them to us, “There is no one like them.

Formed in 2013 with a name inspired by a character in the classic US television sitcom All in the Family and its spin-off Archie Bunker’s Place, Archie And The Bunkers is the creative union of brothers Emmett (drums/vocals) and Cullen (organ/vocals). Weaving in inspirations from the likes of Dead Boys, The Animals, The Stooges, The Screamers, The Damned, Jimmy Smith, and Richard ‘Groove’ Holmes into their strikingly unique romps of attitude loaded sound, the teenagers began recording in their basement with the subsequent self-produced EPs Comrade X. and Trade Winds being released in 2013 and ‘14 respectively. Sculpted from the inventive and often skilfully agitated rhythms of Emmett and Cullen’s whirling vintage organ sound, the bands songs are a diverse fusion of blues, acid jazz, and psych rock melded into a core old school punk and garage rock devilment. As the band’s debut album shows, it is a tapestry that is wonderfully raw and intrusive whilst being simultaneously a lingering and bewitching tempting. Its flavours are often recognisable, and influences open but with the instinctive unfussy yet intricate invention of the brothers, it is a proposition like no other.

Standard 3mm Spine Album_RingMaster Review   Recorded with legendary producer/engineer Jim Diamond at Ghetto Recorders in Detroit, the Archie and the Bunkers album opens with the dark seducing of Sally Lou. Opening with percussive coaxing and almost as quickly the heavy haunting of organ, the song subsequently slips into gear and a gentle but purposeful stroll. As Cullen’s fingers dance over the keys of his nostalgia oozing instrument with at times, as in many songs, a potent hue of The Stranglers’ Dave Greenfield to its melodic weave, vocals twist and turn in emotion and intensity as slower croons evolve into brawling squalls and vice versa. It is a thick persuasion to start things off but one soon outshone by the energetic stomp of Lady in RKO. The dark psych ‘n’ roll of the starter is replaced by a coarser post punk swagger with more than a tone of The Fall to it, especially in the rhythmic shuffle and vocal incitement offered. The keys again hone a Doors bred melodic adventure into something distinct to the imagination of Archie and the Bunkers, but fair to say if you have ever imagined what music an illegitimate offspring of Jim Morrison and Mark E. Smith might conjure, this song is your answer.

   I’m Not Really Sure What I’m Gonna Do takes over with a ska infused entrance, the organ twisting into the opposite direction every time ears expect the track to bounce along on that kind of saunter. The chosen path is just as vibrantly magnetic and infectious though, its punk/psych catchiness an irresistible recruitment of body and appetite with a healthy dose of creative and vocal ire to its character. It is a blend not so thick in the following Knifuli Knifula, though its flirtatious weave of melodic spicery has darker hues hinting and suggesting too as feet get wrapped up in its addictive dance. Moving into slower more sonically sultry scenery only adds to the inventive theatre working away on the imagination whilst vocally the duo keep the garage and punk heart of their music potently lit for an already very keen appetite for the album by this point.

Roaming organ enticing over voraciously rolling beats brings You’re the Victim into ears next, its infectious bait unrelenting as the song expands its breath of vocal confrontation and enthralling melodic colour. The track is sheer captivation, the craft of both brothers as eclectic as it is impressively resourceful allowing the song itself to nudge individual thoughts of The Animals, Into The Whale and once or twice The Ramones across its fiery seducing.

Each passing song seems to increase the strength and impressiveness of the album, Different Track vigorously prowling ears with its belligerent voice and creative psychosis, emerging like a mix of The Dropper’s Neck and Asylums sent back to the sixties/seventies and dragged back to now kicking and screaming. It, as those before it, just whips up swift intrigue and hunger for more, which is just what the outstanding Miss Taylor with its rhythmic tenacity courted by the flowing temptation of the organ provides in riveting style. There is just time to catch a breath as the exceptional warped waltz relinquishes its grip, a moment for a quick gasp before Austria brings its cosmopolitan intrigue and great repetitive enticement to tease and excite ears and imagination. Once more, a scent of The Stranglers lines and spices up the excellent encroachment of sound and suggestion to leave satisfaction full and that urge for more rampant.

I Wish I Could ensures the thrills keep coming; its jerky energy and mischievous nature inciting an infection loaded slice of power pop built on the mischief of The Dickies and the plain stirring roar of Dead Boys whilst Trade Winds stomps around with even more seventies punk fuel to its raucous brawl of dirty addictiveness. The two songs steal the show upon the album, certainly emerging as the biggest favourites amongst nothing but, though they are quickly rivalled by the post punk/new wave/psych rock amalgam that is The Last Stooge. Again a thick grin is drawn by its brief but bracing ingenuity of sound and craft, a smile which started on track one and only ever ebbs and flows in its broadness across the rest of the album.

Completed by the tantalising instrumental serenade of Joanie, it is almost impossible to escape the lure of Archie and the Bunkers, band and album, without at least one more thick listen of at least a song or two, or more, not that there are any complaints of course. Your favourite album of the year it just might be, something unique to others it certainly is.

Archie and the Bunkers is out now via Dirty Water Records @ http://www.dirtywaterrecords.co.uk/shop/#!/Archie-and-the-Bunkers/c/13761039/offset=0&sort=normal

http://www.archieandthebunkers.com https://www.facebook.com/archieandthebunkersofficial   https://twitter.com/hifiorganpunk

Pete RingMaster 27/10/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Sara Lowes – The Joy Of Waiting

Photo Credit Emily Dennison

Photo Credit Emily Dennison

There is no other way of saying it, the voice of Sara Lowes is sheer mesmerism, an inescapable siren drawing the listener into adventures which musically transfixes ears and imagination just as potently. Her new album The Joy Of Waiting, is complete evidence of the fact, basking in these bewitching elements and in turn immersing the listener in charming and imaginatively charmed embraces. The successor to her acclaimed debut Back To Creation of 2011, The Joy Of Waiting is a quite simply a soul mate for anyone with a taste of melodic and harmonic alchemy.

Based in Manchester and North East bred, Lowes is the keyboardist in The Earlies and has working with the likes of Daniel Johnston, King Creosote, Jens Lakeman, Jim Noir, Jesca Hoop, and Dawn Landes on her CV. Her music draws on a diverse maze of flavours and styles, classically bred arrangements entwining and invigorating essences from progressive rock to pop, jazz to seventies psychedelia, and more besides. First album Back To Creation, as mentioned drew potent praise and support which The Joy Of Waiting can only emulate and reap greater rewards upon itself. Inspired by J.B Priestley, with a track using his name as a title, and looking at “observations on our perplexing relationships with time”, the lady’s new full-length is a spell of beauty and evocative reflections, and quite breath-taking.

The album’s title track starts things off and immediately is flirting with gypsy folk like strings which swirl provocatively around ears and emotions, their colourful expression joined by just as picturesque keys and melodies. There is a baroque like scent to the piece of music too, an older drama which wraps around the more fiery and sultry climate which emerges as the song continues revealing its heated landscape. Eventually the song drifts away and within a swift taking of a breath, the album swings straight back as Most Things and a riveting pop contagion which is soon dancing with the compelling tones of Lowes its puppeteer. The track is a ridiculously infectious kiss, a quite magnificent encounter courting sixties beat pop vivacity as fizzy tendrils of carnival-esque keys sport a creativity which reminds of The Stranglers Dave Greenfield.

Lowes has a voice which is hard to compare to another, though on the first songs and a few others tracks, she bears a resemblance to Brighton singer songwriter Cate Ferris, the following new saralowes2single I Find You another blissful example. The song is a smoulder of thickly simmering melodies and enchanting harmonies over a great distortion kissed rhythmic tempting. Keys again bring psyche spinning enterprise to spice up the song’s enthralling canvas, whilst the ethereal radiance of voice and surrounding sweltering sounds merge like a mix of Solar Halos and The Capsules. It is pure creative majesty and has ears and appetite enslaved by the time it makes way for the courtly hug of JB Priestley. Lowes straight away has ears and pleasure cupped as orchestral spices back her sunny presence, the opening gentle lure a passage into a feistier but no less radiant stroll of warm jazz seeded pop catchiness. As across all songs, there is a tapestry of different flavours and styles colluding in their support of the vocals, each song as here, as unpredictable as it is immediately accessible and magnetic.

The intimate balladry of Bright Day smooches with the senses next, its refined texture and voice a warm glaze over ears, even if not quite igniting them as its predecessors do. That success, is sublimely achieved by Chapman Of Rimes, a seventies bloomed pop rock flight with celestial harmonies and bold hooks under a blaze of brass seduction, and even more so right after by the excellent With A Mirror. The opening lure of bass and keys with rolling rhythms is enough to seduce unbridled attention for the new song, helped all the more by the vocal hints which whisper within the sultry enticement and rays of brass bred sunshine which light up ears. Like being lost in your lover’s arms, the song strokes and infuses body and thoughts with a romancing croon of voice and sound. That alone would be enough to wax lyrical about the song but with unpredictable and superbly infused twists of ideation amidst wrong-footing turns, the song is a master-class in songwriting and aural theatre.

Given the hard task to follow such a triumph is Little Fishy, and it makes easy work of keeping enjoyment clasped. From a celestial yet intimate soundscape cast by wistful keys and harmonies, the song emerges as something akin to progressive rock and lounge/electro pop, weaving its own virulent aural carnival.

The quiet reflection of For The Seasons calms things down next, the captivation a haunting ballad with a 10CC breeze to its air, before Cutting Room Floor slips into ears and simply radiates elegance and beauty whilst adding further fascinating diversity and invention to The Joy Of Waiting. The song is a gorgeous soar of melodic enterprise setting up the listener enthusiastically for the final pair of songs which are seemingly placed in different order on the physical and digital copy of the album.

The Clock Plays It’s Game provides a melancholic temptation which blossoms with the dark and light suggestiveness of strings against the just as potent call of Lowes’ voice and classically dramatic keys. Maybe not as immediately impacting as other songs, it is a lingering kiss increasing its stature with every listen, whilst Horizons is a track which just lifts emotions and spirit with sublime craft and open relish. Its swirl of hooks and melodies is a gala of folk pop smiles and sixties pop merry making and quite sensational. Whether the last song on the album or not, we suggest you make it that anyway as you leave its company with a song in the heart and melodic manna in the ears, a remedy sure to cure all ills and chase away dark shadows, much like The Joy Of Waiting as a whole really.

The Joy Of Waiting is available now via Railings Records, digitally @ https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/the-joy-of-waiting/id963782296 and physically @ http://www.saralowes.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/SaraLowesMusic

RingMaster 25/02/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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The Stranglers: Giants

With Rattus Norvegicus the very first album purchased by my own eager pennies The Stranglers and any release they offer up always makes the heart skip a touch and the juices of anticipation seep. Over their almost forty years in existence  the band never compromised in attitude or sound, and even if some releases did not match certainly the glories of the first decade or so, the band never offered half hearted or formulaic releases. The previous two albums Norfolk Coast (2004) and Suite XVI (2006) gave strong suggestion that the band were returning to the form that saw them as consistently one of the leading punk/rock bands. New album Giants not only confirms that feeling but announces The Stranglers have returned to being again a fiercely formidable band that easily can fire up the heart.

Giants is stunning, a release that dips into the strength and elements of previous releases to manipulate them into fresh sounds, alongside this the quartet go down new avenues and ideas for the creation of an eclectic album that impresses and excites. Since the days of Dreamtime albums have to a varying extent left one feeling hungry and dissatisfied, Giants though not only feeds the appetite fully it treats it to an excess of  quality and essential Stranglers.

Not only is the creative heart of the band back to full strength so is the bass of JJ Burnel, not that it has ever gone away but that element that makes one tingle right down into the deepest corner when its throaty grumbles erupt is back to its glorious muscular strength. The album opens with the first instrumental from the band for years and an instant notification that the band still is eager to incite the senses. Like a velvet clad grater the bass crawls over the ear whilst the guitar of Baz Warne lays its bluesy fingers firmly and wonderfully around the senses ably accompanied by keys from Dave Greenfield which courts the time of No More Heroes. The track though uncomplicated captivates from first note to last and sets up Giants perfectly.

The album never lets up in giving songs which wrap themselves eagerly and effectively around the senses. Whether vibrant and light or darker and with a firmer intent the tracks satisfy deeply with honesty and genuine imagination. Freedom Is Insane opens with waves upon the beach as emotive keys float through the air, with vocals from Burnell to match the song slowly dawns before exploding into a driven energy and depth reminding of the Raven days. Jet Black as always directs with the surest and firmest of hands whilst the keys of Greenfield call to the soul under his wizardry, it has been a while since his playing and conjurations sounded this wonderful.

Two songs in and the heart is won which the likes of the title track with its nostalgic prowl and solar powered melodies against gutsy vocals and basslines plus My Fickle Resolve only go to reinforce and increase the enthusiasm and desire to fall into the albums charms. The second of the two songs sways with a confident swagger as it strolls through the ear with a vibrant mesmeric English sound. The song radiates warmth and swings with a groove which takes one by the hand to encourage involvement physically and mentally.

Giants hits the deepest and most potently on two songs especially. Lowlands is a pulsating accosting of the ear with a resonance and chilled steel right out of Black And White. It barely takes a breath in its consistent pace and energy with Burnell and Warne in fluid unison musically and Greenfield treating us to more sounds that make the senses weak at their knees. It is one of those songs where its three minutes feels as brief as a thought swiftly flickering in the head to be gone before one can fully appreciate its power, songs like this is why replay was invented. Equally impressive, though the whole album is to be fair, is Time Was Once On My Side. A rock tune with seeds in the Meninblack period it leads one into new radiant pastures and creative wells within the band. The swift Madness ska pop moment raises a deep grin to add to the glow the song has already instigated.

With all four members exploring new avenues within themselves and re-energising past influences The Stranglers show they not only retain the strength and creativity we knew they had but are just as inspirational and important as ever. Giant is without doubt going to go down as a classic, with songs like Mercury Rising with its pop/rock blend of coarse and mellow and the Spanish sung metal tango of Adios (Tango), not forgetting the quirky simplicity of Boom Boom just as startling and thrilling as those mentioned.

In many ways with no disrespect to the band the album is a surprise though the band suggested they were always able to bring something special out in the previous releases. It is thoroughly exhilarating and pleasing to the highest degree, go find out for yourselves, you will not regret it. The Stranglers are back!

RingMaster 29/02/2012

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