The Slow Readers Club – Plant the Seed

TSRS_RingMaster Review

If there are any yet to fall into contagious arms of Cavalcade, the second album from UK indie/electronic band The Slow Readers Club, and indeed their rewarding sound then the new single from them is a major nudge in that direction. Taken from the encounter released earlier this year, Plant the Seed is a beacon for the seductively pulsating and captivating adventure of the band’s melodic imagination, and reason alone to take the band’s enthralling and emotively fuelled sound to the heart.

The Slow Readers Club - Plant the Seed - Artwork_RingMaster Review     To be honest virtually the whole of the Manchester quartet’s last album makes itself available as a potent single but for sure Plant the Seed is a rich flame within their fire of enticement. It also adds another confirmation to the quality of songwriting and simply creative imagination the band is renowned and being increasingly acclaimed for. Cavalcade declared The Slow Readers Club as one of not only Manchester’s but the UK most compelling and exciting underground bands; the single just confirms it again.

Plant the Seed opens on a teaser of rhythms alongside a spicy electronic melody, a tempting bait leading to the swiftly emerging vocal tones of keyboardist Aaron Starkie and guitarist Kurtis Starkie, both with their individual prowess wrapping ears in harmonic temptation. It is a rich seduction enjoyably given a just as gripping contrast by the pulsating and throaty lures of James Ryan’s bass and the clippy enterprise of drummer David Whitworth. It all unites with increasing potency as the song strolls through ears with a summery air and a skilfully sculpted range of textures, all thick enticement within the Depeche Mode meets Bronski Beat majesty of the song.

In some ways, Plant the Seed seems to have blossomed again in its own limelight, the single a glorious invitation hard to imagine many ignoring, and The Slow Readers Club, well they continue to leave us smiling with contentment.

Plant the Seed is out now via Scruff of the Neck Records through most online stores.

Pete RingMaster 25/11/2015

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Men In The Sky – If I Go

Men In the Sky_RingMaster Review

Dipping deeper into the pop rock infectiousness that lurked within the highly enjoyable walls of 2014 released EP, Version 1.0.1, UK electronic rockers Men In The Sky now unveil their new single If I Go. Still hugging ears with the electronic and synth sculpted prowess which marked that first encounter, the new track also shares open inspirations from eighties guitar pop to brew a virulence that has feet and hips as eagerly engaged as ears.

Men In the Sky cover_RingMaster Review   Men In The Sky is a Liverpool based British-Canadian collaboration consisting of band founder Gary Roberts (guitar and synths), Simon Mawson (vocals), Gavin Thomas (vocals), and Chad Montgomery (guitar). Last year saw the quartet joining Factory Records’ Michael Johnson in the studio to record and co-produce the Version 1.0.1 EP, a link-up repeated for If I Go with a freshly different but equally captivating result.

Whereas the EP sparked, across its diverse mix of songs, thoughts of bands like Depeche Mode, Visage, and Pet Shop Boys in varying degrees, If I Go invites thoughts of a Howard Jones, Scritti Politti, and Erasure with its melodic virulence and catchiness, though the potent whispers of Depeche Mode in the keys and New Order in the rich ambience seducing throughout the song are just as open.

An initial caress of guitar has ears quickly enticed, its invitation soon joined by a broader vision of its melody and a swift expressive weave of vocals and synths. The engaging swing of the song is a just as rapid temptation, its sway never relinquishing its alluring bait as melodies and sonic imagination flow effortlessly from guitars and keys. There is maybe an understandable familiarity to the track but that too only adds to the attraction and rosy colour of the song and its mesmeric persuasion. An electro pop tempting which you can imagine being as at home in the midst of its eighties inspirations as it is as a new flirty protagonist in the modern electro pop landscape, the single leaves ears and energies hungry for more.

If I Go is the best song to date from Men In The Sky, a venture into poppier climes it is easy to suggest could lead to rich success, if not now at some point ahead if its direction is continued to be explored more.

If I Go is released November 2015.

Pete RingMaster 02/11/2015

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Mr Darklight – Into The Fury

Original DL_RingMaster Review

If the name Mr Darklight is familiar it is likely because you have already discovered his part in the electronic pop infection that is Masters of the Radio. Now the electronic musician/producer has unveiled his debut solo track in the shape of the captivating adventure of temptation, Into The Fury. It is a strange title as the piece of music never suggests turbulence ahead or within its heart, so possibly it is one moment in a larger journey, but what it does supply is a warm flight of imagination for ears and feet to feast on whilst casting cinematic suggestiveness for thoughts to run with.

Inspired by the likes of Daft Punk, Devo, Fatboy Slim, Gary Numan, Giorgio Moroder, Jean Michel Jarre, John Williams, Kavinsky, and Mike Oldfield as well as going by the nature of Into The Fury film scores, Mr Darklight quickly fills ears with the emotive tones of the piano. Its poetic breath and touch is the seed to a gentle but purposeful stroll through an instrumental landscape ripe with melodic essences of OMD and Depeche Mode. Thoughts are soon whisked into a magnetic flight by synths as they spread their broad ambience around the continually enticing evocative hues of the piano.

In a way the piece is like a travelogue of internal reflection or external air bound adventure, all depending which way the imagination goes with the track’s electronic clues as the guide with each listen. It is an absorbing and thoroughly enjoyable first meeting with the solo Mr Darklight, and hopefully the beginning of many such outings ahead.

Into The Fury is free to stream now.

Pete Ringmaster 24/09/2015

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Strobegirl – Alice

_RingMaster Review

Following the sixties elegance and tantalising charm of the singles Trophy Girlfriend and Honey Boy, Heather–Jane, better known as Strobegirl, slips into something even more bewitching and mesmeric with Alice. Seeding a theme bred in the Lewis Carroll classic within a dream pop landscape, the new single from the British singer songwriter/multi-instrumentalist is a blossom of harmonic seduction and ethereal captivation.

It was over two years ago that Strobegirl mesmerised ears with The Strawberry Sessions EP, a collection of synth/dream pop songs which danced with ears and imagination. Subsequently the Croydon musician released a handful of singles and EP which have either missed the same heights of that first release, or matched and once or twice indeed eclipsed its lingering beauty and enterprise. All offerings though have left a full appetite and pleasure in their wake it is fair to say, Alice no exception as it provides one of the most endearing proposals from the lady in recent times which certainly overshadows those thoroughly enjoyable recent singles.

Alice opens with an evocative ticking and a fall of crystaline notes, they the prelude to a nursery room ambience which swiftly offers childlike innocence which kisses the senses through the song’s imagination. As synths brew their mellow caresses and haunting shadows, the ever siren-esque voice of Strobegirl skips across the brewing canvas. It is a minimalistic soundscape blossomed, yet one in a perpetual dance of provocative textures and melodic flirtation. That nursery rhyme hue continues to add its colour to the warm hug but equally there is an adult intimacy to the lyrical side and creative drama of the song that just irresistibly fascinates.

The song just demands further attention, which means its companion song All Gone Wrong has to wait its turn before showing itself to be a just as fascinating offering, if not quite discovering the same instinctive and matching temptation in its presence and imagination as its predecessor. All the same with bubbly scenery within the mist like touch of keys, at times this brewing a Depeche Mode like ambience, and of course the magnetic vocals and harmonies from Strobegirl, the song drifts and lightly falls like morning dew over the senses. It does call out for a slither of unpredictability or something to wrong-foot and throw off expectations, but from start to finish it has ears and pleasure in its thrall.

Alice is the prize though and more proof that Strobegirl taps into a dreamscape/shoegaze coated pop which uniquely sets her apart from the crowd. Go gets seduced is our suggestion.

Alice/ All Gone Wrong are out now through Strobegirl’s bandcamp.

RingMaster 14/08/2015

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Yukon Blonde – On Blonde

Yukon Blonde_Reputation Radio/RingMaster Review

There is a melodic humidity to On Blonde, the new album from Canadian indie rockers Yukon Blonde, a sultry and almost sticky feel and ambience embracing and seducing the senses song by song. Already renowned for their seamlessly crafted and contagious pop songs, the Vancouver band went into experimentation mode for their latest endeavour, weaving in textures and sounds bred within psychedelic, digital, and synthetic adventure. It was a move bringing bolder and more fascinating character to music and release whilst breeding an even greater virulence for their maybe unexpectedly purest pop encounter yet.

It is easy to expect infectious proposals from a Yukon Blonde release but the quartet of Graham Jones, Jeffrey Innes, Brandon Scott, and James Younger have found a new epidemic of persuasion and catchiness despite venturing into the ‘unknown’ with On Blonde. Frontman Innes has said about the album, “We were more ambitious writing On Blonde so it’s sort of ironic that in experimenting we created a more accessible record than ever before.” Easy to slip into and embrace, the Colin Stewart (Black Mountain, Dan Mangan, Sleepy Sun) produced, Tony Hoffer (M83, Beck, Foster the People, Air, Depeche Mode) mixed album simply backs up his words, starting straight away with opener Confused.

The first song instantly swamps ears with a buzzing electro tempting, the potent coaxing quickly joined by spicy guitar and crunchy rhythms. It is soon a stroll of magnetic melodic and vocal tenacity, eighties and spatial breezes a lively simmering within the vibrant body and energy of the song. Down below though there is an underlying rumble in the heart of the encounter, a stirring dark intent which gives real depth and intrigue to the refreshing pop romp. There is a bit of Weezer to the song, a bit of Super Happy Fun Club too, but it emerges as something distinct to Yukon Blonde just like Make U Mine which follows. Its body moves with a funky gait within a mellower more reserved energy, vocals and harmonies floating around ears as they forcibly flirt with the imagination alongside musical echoes of bands like Heaven 17 and Röyksopp.

Variety is a swift essence of On Blonde too, the first pair of tracks coming with individual characters but not as openly as the outstanding Como which follows them. Its acoustic lead soon lures the appetite into a summery canter of endearing melodies and vivacious vocals, all tempered by another great shadow wrapped bassline. A tinge of China Crisis teases throughout but equally a whisper of The Beach Boys floats with the tantalising harmonies as guitars dance with sparkling adventure and revelry within the hazy romance of a song.

yb-onblonde-Reputation Radio/RingMaster Review     I Wanna Be Your Man slips into a fuzzier and grittier landscape, one seemingly blossomed from a Bolan-esque seeding. It saunters around which attitude and confidence, every resonating bassy lure and sonic sizzle carrying a glint in their mischievous eye whilst unpredictable and tantalising twists and turns merge with the warm fluid flow of the bewitching proposition. In no time it has seduced and enslaved ears and emotions, an inescapable success and potency cultured just as powerfully by the similarly mouth-watering Saturday Night straight after. The song pounds ears with relentless rhythmic incitement around which eventful vocals and an elegant embrace of melodies rigorously serenade. Every second comes with a flirtation of sound and ideation but also that unpredictable essence which again as much as the fresh investigations of sound infused right across the album, is the spark to new adventure and ingenuity in the Yukon Blonde persuasion.

A sixties hued, folkish ballad in the shape of Hannah steps forward next; its harmonic charm an easy snare for ears. Once it has full focus it unveils bulbous bass tones and evocative drizzles of melodic expression to tighten its hold, though whilst again pushing the diversity of the album, it never manages to come up to the persuasive levels of its predecessors, something the admittedly enthralling Your Broke The Law also cannot quite emulate. In context though both songs are like a lover’s romance with the listener, never leaving them less than enamoured whilst allowing the likes of Starvation to steal more of the limelight which it does with consummate craft. Carrying a Depeche Mode/Daniel Miller like dark croon to its intoxicating enveloping of body and thoughts, the track swings and sways with irresistible and addictive ingenuity, never startling with its temptation but smouldering away for the same long-term effect.

From one triumph to another as the indie rock sculpted Favourite People bounces around with varied guitar jangles and contented bass grumbling within another rosy veil of keys. Just as the energetic musical creativity of the track, the vocals have an animated and frisky intent to their presence and enjoyment, and though once more it is a song which you can only really compare to Yukon Blonde themselves, there is a small urge to suggest the likes of XTC and Talk Talk as hints.

The release ends with the electro rock stomp of Jezebel, a sultry temptress of a song adding a final rich twist and spark in one masterful slab of aural gold. On Blonde is seriously compelling, a whole diverse summer in one spellbinding embrace. Yukon Blonde do not light a blazing fire in the belly and heart with the album but it is the hottest, spiciest warm glow felt from a release in a long time.

On Blonde is available now via Dine Alone Records / Caroline UK digitally and on CD/Vinyl through most online stores.

RingMaster 18/06/2015

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Defeat – You Know What You Are EP

Defeat pic

And so it continues, the emotion twisting sounds of Defeat have returned to voraciously crawl through ears and into the psyche. The UK duo have already increasingly trespassed into and seduced the senses through their previous encounters, each bringing evolution to their music and breaching new creative plateaus whilst suggesting there is more to come. The band’s new EP, You Know What You Are, is the realisation of much of this promise yet in turn it gives the feeling that they have still come nowhere to exhausting their potential, even though it sets the loftiest marker yet for the band in sound and invention.

Hertfordshire hailing union consists of vocalist Anthony Matthews and the master of synthetics Gary Walker, two school friends who have continually played together through previous guises from those days onwards. Each exploit has been a stepping stone to Defeat, and the breeding of a sound inspired by the likes of Nitzer Ebb, Depeche Mode, NIN, Front 242, Front Line Assembly, and Skinny Puppy. As Defeat, the pair swiftly lit attention with the release of their Outbursts! EP in 2012. Its emergence around a year after Matthews and Walker were truly able to concentrate on Defeat, lured an increasingly number of eager ears and appetites, backed by a subsequent remix EP entitled simply Defeat Remixed. It was debut album [Seek Help] in 2013 that pushed the band most forcibly onto the European EBM/ electro-industrial map though with its raw and magnetic atmospheres around angst soaked explorations. It was challenging and infectious, a fusion of dark climates and virulent electro pop digging now taken to even more experimental and striking depths with You Know What You Are. There is still that expected and inescapable catchiness, each track whipping up vivacious energies and anthemic temptation but equally they devour the most imposing and darkest corners of emotion and life.

YKWYA_cover     The EP opens with Want and instantly has ears intrigued and hungry as pulsating bassy electronics rap on the senses before being joined by a fiery melodic coaxing, It is a restrained but pungent start, rhythms quickly building up a head of intent and steam leading to a purposeful stride where the always expressive tones of Matthews invite and provoke. His delivery is part monotone, part dour, and all thick persuasion, the perfect temper and compliment to the bubbling electronic tenacity and haunting shadows respectively. As with previous encounters, the band’s sound stirs up welcome thoughts of Fad Gadget, the fusion of light and dark, invasive tempting and compelling contagion similar as Defeat sculpt their own unique incitement of dark pop.

The following Twist is just as dynamically gripping and texture entwining. Theatrical, gothic kissed keys spark the imagination first, the lure never relinquishing attention as a more caustic electro breeze joins the play. In no time the song is sauntering along with thickly jabbing beats, fizzy electronic tempting, and the narrative shaping delivery of Matthews. Things only blossom further as Walker infuses a great blistering of guitar, its presence adding to the sinister ambience evoked and fuelling the encounter. As its predecessor, there are moments of clear pop within the hazy almost portentous embrace of the track, those enticements boldly seeded in the eighties electro/synth pop which has also been a ripe influence on the band’s sound and songwriting.

Resist comes next and dares you to comply with its title, but to no avail as a Numan-esque smog wraps ears first before volatile electro sounds and rhythms rigorously simmer in an expanding provocative landscape of sour melodic tension and vocal prowling. There is always drama to the sound and narratives of Defeat, but possibly this song is their most incendiary on ears and imagination yet, thoughts especially running with its rich persuasion to create their own dark exploits alongside that of the song. It is a transfixing proposition matched by the outstanding Attention Seeker. This is a predator of a track, every beat carrying menace and each syllable a spiteful leer whilst synths cast a web of diverse colour and enterprise; even its addictive swing and spicy melodies seem to have a carnivorous grin to their tenacity.

The song is an invigorating and intoxicating anthem contrasted impressively by the next up Care For Me, a track uniquely individual but a match in magnetism and invention. Whereas Attention Seeker was open in its antagonistic charm, its successor embroils itself in another intriguing imposing caress of sound and reflective exploration. Spatial melodies seep from keys whilst guitars bring a raw fiery texture to the immersive croon, and within it all Matthews slowly releases deep rooted angst and emotional torment in the dark intimate tale.

The industrial air of Goodbye is an early hook which only thickens its bait as the song and vocals create an aural dystopia within an increasingly more rugged and inflammatory infection soaked stomp. It forces its dance upon feet and emotions, chaining their submissive enlistment into its ferocious staging of riveting sound and menacing intent. The track is a pulsating gem, at its heart pure slice of rock ‘n’ roll and in its increasingly psychotic character, pure inventive, belligerent devilry.

You Know What You Are is completed by a quartet of mixes, Ruinizer bringing the Bye Motherfucker Bye Mix of Goodbye, Paresis offering the Blackened Mix of Want, and Cease2Xist casting their Self Loathing Mix of How Pathetic, a track from the band’s Outbursts! EP. The cream of an enjoyable quartet though is the Shaken Not Stirred Mix by X-KiN of Twist, which features the exceptional vocals of Veronick. It is a gloriously fresh slant on the song with the lady’s voice enthralling as it takes centre stage.

Defeat have returned with yet another impressive step in their songwriting and sound whilst, as suggested earlier, implying that there is plenty more still to be unearthed in their imaginations and creativity. So whilst enjoyment boils over with You Know What You Are, anticipation is already on the rise again.

The You Know What You Are EP is available now digitally and on CD @

RingMaster 23/05/2015

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The Department – Alpha


Like an A-Z of synth and electro pop bred in a parallel universe, the debut album from Swedish/British synthwave band The Department is one of those introductions which simply absorbs attention. A feisty mix of nostalgia and fresh imagination with a perpetually virulent infectiousness, Alpha blossoms with familiarity and new invention, embracing past decades whilst opening up new adventures. Two years in the making it is mostly though, one fascinating and exciting proposition leaving ears and pleasure with seriously greedy appetites.

The Department is the creative project of Londoner Rob Green (vocals / synth), who used to make progressive house records in the mid-nineties under several monikers, and Gothenburg musician Magnus Lindström (synth) who also plays in Swedish electro band called Mr. Jones Machine. United as The Department in 2012, the pair has since played with the likes of Naked Lunch, The Woodentops, Ekkoes, and Kids On Bridges, and at such venues as Romo Night club in Sweden, the 100 Club, Analogue Nights, The Hope & Anchor, and The Macbeth, all to increasing attention and acclaim. As mentioned they have spent the past two years working on Alpha, a release which in return immediately thrusts the duo into the full gaze and frontline of modern electro rock and pop.

From the first embrace of opener Don’t Give Up, the band’s album is a revolving kaleidoscope of recognisable sounds and flavours crafted into original and bracing exploits. Song one makes a slow and suggestive entrance as electronic percussive coaxing brings a slightly portentous feeling to the immersive and stark breeze of the synths. As their presence and melodic expression expands, so does a warmer underbelly to the emerging song, spreading and intensifying with every passing melody and hook. Not only musically but also through the Dave Gahan like vocals of Green, there is no escaping the Depeche Mode essences flirting from within the melancholic yet vibrant landscape the song. It is a transfixing spice embraced by the expressive and evocative imagination of The Department.

The potent start to the album is straight away reinforced by both Take My Hand and Glass Houses, the first of the two opening with chilled synthesiser minimalism reminding of The Normal. Its industrial lilt leads to broader endeavour and a breath of early Human League to tempt the imagination, and if you had to pick any general if loose reference to describe Alpha, the late seventies era of the Sheffield band alongside Fad Gadget would be our choices. The song itself is a wonderfully small yet again busily lively encounter, sparking in ears and the imagination with its gentle revelry whilst its successor provides a more anthemic pulsing and melodic catchiness which offers hints of the synth pop days of Al Jourgensen and Ministry. It too remains a restrained and reserved romp of energy yet has plenty to urge feet into action, and at barely two and a half minutes long, is one sublime slice of synth pop.

16470_584444331690660_2953593570011598044_n  Come Inside has a great steely twang to its opening rhythms and opening hook, their union making for a compelling lead into another minimalist terrain as pungent and provocative as any full-blooded sonic rampage. Infection loaded, a given with every track upon Alpha, the song has a swing to its body and energy to its melodies which is almost Heaven 17 like, a whisper backed by the equally catchy essence of Green’s vocals.

The album’s debut single As If Transformed comes next, a captivation of cyber drama driven by effect wrapped vocals, sonic niggling, and a fuzzy bluster of electro wind around an endearing weave of melodies. The repetitive nature of lyrics and sound only adds to the theatre and shadowed heart of the encounter, an emotional edge which definitely has a Frank Tovey like exploration to them. Its dark fascination is mesmeric but instantly outshone by the tenacious beauty and vibrancy of Days Of Liberty, a song on an addictive rhythmic march whilst draped in just as irresistible and vivacious melodic radiance. It is pure addiction with NEXT SINGLE all over it.

Through the cooler air and emotion of Not For You and the wonderfully sinister seduction of Skin Vultures, the album’s magnetism is only compounded. The first of the pair provides a mellower tone and smoother flow to its presence compared to the previous song, with synths gliding over the senses as the baser elements of the track pulsate with heavy emotion and suggestiveness matched by Green’s equally expressive tones. The second of the two is seeded with a Fad Gadget like provocative drama, every slither of electronic bait and melodic entangling of ears, offering new avenues of reflective and emotive exploration. It is a dark caress of a song but again magnetically loaded with bewitching echoes and touches of warmth and captivating light.

The enchanting beauty and shadowed emotion of Slow Down keep thoughts and emotions gripped next, its elegant sonic poetry followed by the just as finely textured and enthralling Let It Go. It too opens its heart with a merger of light and dark, continuing the personal and musical intimacy which veins the whole album and arguably finds the most dramatic and traumatic depths within The Waiting Room. There is a thick Martin Gore feel to the songwriting and voice of the song; it’s haunted dark tones a seemingly volatile yet firmly bound incitement within the inescapable threads of melodic temptation lighting the gripping encounter. The track is gorgeous, a croon come dark serenade earning its place as the pinnacle of the album and as the most immersive and incendiary proposal for ears and imagination.

Even The Sun offers a potent and pleasing encounter next, though after the last song it is a paler incitement through no real fault of its own. It still feeds appetite and satisfaction nicely before The Gothenburg Reprise Remix of As If Transformed brings the album to a close. Anticipation for Alpha from fans has been eager and no one has been left short in pleasure and enjoyment by the outstanding release. The Department had some big expectations to live up to but they surpassed those with ease whilst giving us all a very welcome dose of nostalgia.

Alpha is available from March 27th via Hard Cell Records, digitally and on CD @

RingMaster 26/03/2015

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