The Machismo’s – Good Things About To Happen

Sam Marsh portrait by Michael Smith

Sam Marsh portrait by Michael Smith

Earlier this year we were treated to the re-releases of the first EP and album from the mighty under acclaimed early 90s alt-rockers Jacob’s Mouse and now if that was not enough to feast upon, also via Sturm Und Drang Recordings we are being blessed by Good Things About To Happen, the solo album of Bury St Edmunds-based songwriter/producer Sam Marsh, and the vocalist/drummer of said previous band. Under the name The Machismo’s, Marsh started writing and recording around the time of the demise of Jacob’s Mouse in 1995. He recorded two full albums in his home cassette portastudio subsequently whilst assembling a live band to take the music to the masses. It was seemingly not a ‘serious’ intent as Marsh moved onto other projects and the songs and albums were put aside unreleased. Thankfully twenty years on the man re-looked at this work and realising their quality and worth has brought 1996 debut album Good Things About To Happen to the world, a gift to us all with its exceptional songs and invention, the release easily one of the most enjoyable encounters this year.

The Machismo’s is very different to the almost psychotically arranged sounds of Jacob’s Mouse, but like that band the album has a seed of discord brilliance and startling yet thoughtfully composed simplicity that is just riveting and the spring board for thoughts and passions, from him and in us. Also like his previous band, the presence of The Machismo’s is impossible to place just in one box, or at times even find a pigeonhole for. A blend of acoustic and folk caresses placed in an experiment of noise pop and synapse teasing enterprise, the best we can do in description, Good Things About To Happen instantly tells you all you need to know about album and artist with its opening title track, and it has to be said that its seductive sting is instant and lingering.

The first song almost lumbers into view as heavy acoustic riffs and equally weighty rhythms introduce themselves but there is a vibrancya0731346688_10 and energy to it that draws limbs and emotions to their eager feet. Composed and performed by Marsh alone, as is the mixing and production, the song takes a mere breath to impress, the range of guitar tones and vocal invention side by side each other irresistible whilst the dark twang of chords and the almost sinister throaty bass stalking of the senses just delicious. As mentioned discord adds its fingertips to the surface of all aspects too, adding a richer tang to the aural spice that tempts reactions into aural lust. Infectious and hypnotic, the track is a thrilling introduction to something which expectations and hopes came nowhere near in assumption.

The following Macho Theme and Jilt compliment the start potently, even if they miss gripping the opening plateau set by a whisker. The first is a sonic wash of caustic garage rock with punk shadows, guitars slashing across the ear with fire bred intensity and sinew clad rhythms caging senses in an enslaving web of beats and intimidation. Its successor then comes in to slowly swarm over the body with slightly acidic melodic hugs aided by a rhythmic shuffle. As with most songs, Marsh offers a twin vocal attack that is quite riveting and here mesmeric in its charm and persuasion, matching the mix of beauty and cutting invention veining the sounds. With a barbed groove that is rich in familiarity and a melodic toxin, the track is a slow burner that creeps up on and steals the passions over numerous plays. The great thing about the album and emphasised by this track alone, is that the seeming familiarity is so often from songs and bands coming after the writing of the never released album two decades ago, coincidence can be a tease at times.

From the immense start there is another elevation in excellence starting with Down The Drain, the track a sauntering slice of sonically sculpted R&B with the individuality, in not so much sound but unique composition and fusing of discordant fuel and melodic fire, that marks the solo work of Frank Black, and also the contagiousness. There is dark blues sultriness to the track too which brings Black Keys/Jack White essences to bear. After next up Ickworth Park Song, another track which took time to persuade with its noir elegance, Loosen Up strolls down the senses into the heart with its rhythmic trot. Across its stroll the guitar forges a repetitive coaxing that is irresistible whilst the UB40 like prowl of the song carved by the excellent bass lure and dark almost carnivorous second guitar is a blissful counter to the again excellent dreamgaze like vocals of Marsh, though they too have a steel and raw edge.

A pinnacle though it is, Good Things About To Happen only moves on to greater things as surrounding the supremacy of the tautly harmonious New Start and the intriguing Rogue Males, there are the show stealers When You Know It’s Real and The Storm. The first of the two struts with an opening reggae seeded lope of guitar cuts and roaming heavy bass drawl, both ridden by the drifting vocals of Marsh. Teasing upon dubstep, the song evolves into an imagination capturing leisurely drift that has thoughts climbing all over the idea that the song is like World Domination Enterprises and Shriekback playing together under a summer haze with Dalek I Love You and The Gist. It is a glorious amble for the passions easily matched by the final song. The Storm is sheer brilliance, a track which again suggests others though damned if they come to mind within its familiar presence.  Crafted with a virulently addictive heart stroking mesh of repetition, vocal evocation, and rhythmic conjuring, it is a stunning end to an equally majesty release.

We may have unknowingly had to wait a long time to devour creativity of this quality but Good Things About To Happen is now here to make our hearts and the world a better place. Roll on album two.


RingMaster 04/08/2013

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Baptists: Bushcraft

photo Milton Stille

photo Milton Stille

    Bushcraft on first play announces itself as something special, but it is with subsequent visitation to the debut release from Canadian hardcore bruisers Baptists that you realise just how impressive it really is. It is an album which needs and deserves a constant focus before you reap all of the rewards on offer but from its initial immense presence emerges as an album to set the genre ablaze.

The Vancouver band from its formation in 2010 was soon creating a big reputation and eager acclaim for their ferocious live shows amidst the underground scene with their self-titled 7” single selling out instantly upon release in 2011 through like Bushcraft, Southern Lord. The past year has seen the band writing and creating their first album as anticipation for it increased, something the release more than satisfies. Recorded at Godcity studios with Kurt Ballou, the eleven track album is a fury of attitude, aggression, and superbly sculpted sonic imagination wrapped in a bruising uncompromising tempest of intensity.

The opening sizzling discord of Betterment has the senses on edge, its ominous atmosphere setting the album off in intimidating cover300dpistyle. As heavy oppressive rhythms and bass chords slam down upon the ear amidst the sonic resonance, the drums rise to begin a confrontational provocation with guitars igniting the atmosphere in similar incendiary style. The scowling antagonistic vocals add to the intense encounter and though brief the track scorches a path for the rest of the album with skill and magnetic violence.

Both the following Think Tank Breed with its sadistic scything sonic niggling and rampaging rhythmic spite and the savage Bullets, a song violently cavorting with a seductive groove and malevolent caustic persistence musically and lyrically, lift the already awakened passions further to seize and confront thoughts and emotions. Like the album as a whole, the tracks challenge and defy in word and sound to recruit the same thoughts and responses in the listener whilst basking in a furnace of enterprise and anger which evolves before and within the ear.

Each track on the album is a vehement stick of driven by adrenaline, discontent, and senses searing invention with the likes of In Droves, Still Melt, and Crutching Trails, leaving impressive and diverse lingering scars upon the listener but it is into the latter part of the album where the band really ascends into infernal fires of excellence and evocative imagination. Mortar Head is a white hot blaze of acidic and destructive malignant musical contempt which magnetises and intrudes with equal staggering results. It is savage, unrefined, and unreservedly without interest in respite for the listener.

The album bring its finest moments to aggravate further the bruising already smarting from the previous encounters through firstly the harassing title track which leaves one drenched in fatigue well before its infernal riot of two and a half minutes is up. It is a blistering assault physically and mentally which reveals more with each energy consuming encounter. The discovery of deep  riches found within continual play is especially apt with the best track on the album. Soiled Roots is a sensational seduction of the senses which from its fiery acidic initial caress unveils a slow doom laden crawl which permeates every aspect of the body. It is a carnivorous adversary which swelters in primal belligerence and ingenious invention to excite and provoke with equal success.

Completed by the rabidly hungry and gripping Russian Spirits and a final dissident conflict in the beautifully contagious discord rippling Abandon, Baptists has produced in Bushcraft an album which intrudes and exalts on every level. Hardcore has received a new detonation of contention, passion, and imagination to be inspired with, and undoubtedly it will not be the last from this outstanding band.


RingMaster 21/02/2013


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