Crooked Ghost – Colors Bleed

photo by Rome Widenhouse

If you look at the press release for new EP, Colors Bleed, it suggests the sounds within would make something appealing for the fans of bands such as The Smiths, Suede, The Cure, Muse, Siouxsie And The Banshees, Gun Club, and early R.E.M. With each a valid clue to the Crooked Ghost sound it is a list suggesting its thickly flavoured body but maybe not quite its distinctly fascinating and often consuming character.

Asheville, North Carolina hailing, Crooked Ghost has already made a potent impact in 2019 with their album Skeleton House, released this past February. Recorded with producer Edward Madill, Colors Bleed now sees the quintet cast tracks which are “bigger and brighter than those before” but within the shoegaze, post punk, and dream pop seeded tapestries there is no escaping the invasively intimate shadows and esurient often raw melancholy fuelling their hearts and imagination.

Latest single, Black Rainbow, opens up the release, its gentle melodic beginning an evocative coaxing. Soon it is building up into a creative crescendo, the lively rhythms of drummer Jon Wyatt uniting with the jangling prowess ringing from the guitars of Charles Reed and Ray Lark, with the latter’s similarly magnetic vocals swiftly adding to the catchy temptation. Already there is emotional weight and tempestuous to the track and its mental illness themed intimacy, the keys of Alex Cannon radiant smog within the textures as the bass of Chris Saldin brings firmer shape to its inherent shadows.

By the breath the song only intensifies its fears and emotional turbulence yet there is a melodic sun at its heart which just beguiled before Sinew In Red shared it’s even more fervid breath and conflict. Again there is an enveloping heat to sound and emotion at the core of the song, its dark embrace a fusion of enquiring warmth and invasive melancholy within the haunting bewitchment consuming ears and attention, it all enveloping like a kind of rapturous romance. As its predecessor, the track simply bewitched though again as with the first leaving a lingering touch built on doubt and hope in its wake.

The final pair of Golden Blue and Bright White Noise provided just as evocative explorations to keenly immerse in. The first rises from its crepuscular calm with melodic captivation wrapped in more strident sonic threads yet again there is instinctive warmth which seduces across both keys and guitars. Lark’s inimitable tones only add to the bracing emotion soaked soundscape, his voice and words crafted in open and candid reflection.

The closing song is in many ways the most intense and haunting track of all, its sorrow verging on claustrophobic and melancholy devouring  yet once more Crooked Ghost bring a glow and melodic captivation which lights its shadows alongside the listener’s thoughts and feelings.

Colors Bleed quickly proved a gripping release but became increasingly spellbinding as each fresh listen opened up more depth and temptation in its body and imagination.

Colors Bleed is out now: available@ https://crookedghost.bandcamp.com/album/colors-bleed

https://www.facebook.com/CrookedGhost   https://twitter.com/thecrookedghost

Pete RingMaster 05/11/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Ummagma – Compass

Though any Ummagma release is welcomed with eager intrigue and anticipation by us among a great many the recent Caravan single raised the ante for the band’s new album with its captivation soaked release. The fact, though we have had numerous singles and EPs between, that Compass comes a lengthy seven years after its same day released two predecessors only added to the excitement coated suspense. What the duo’s third full-length offers is their most eclectic and rousing collection of tracks and quite simply their finest most exhilarating moment to date.

The pair of Canadian Shauna McLarnon and Ukraine hailing Alexander Kretov embraces everything from shoegaze, dream and synth pop to electronic and rock driven imagination with plenty more in the abundant enterprise of their new encounter. it is a release and collection of songs though which still revel in the atmospheric and ambient dreamscapes the Ontario based pair has earned thick acclaim and a potent reputation for. The album’s first single suggested that the Ummagma sound had evolved to a whole new tapestry of adventure and diversity, a bold aural kaleidoscope now confirmed and taken across a compelling array of individually and uniquely fresh landscapes by Compass.

The album opens up with Rolling and instantly infests the senses with its animated funk incited rhythms. Hitting its joyous stride soon after, the track bounces along dragging the listener to their feet, Kretov’s vocals a ringleader to the boisterous escapade. With its Talking Heads meets Dalek I Love You like shuffle, the track gets the release off to a thrilling start, one more than accentuated by successor Caravan.

The second track similarly had attention and instincts alive with its rhythmic introduction alone, bold tenacious beats a tribal intimation within the suggestive sonic vegetation that surround them. With body and imagination swiftly enslaved, McLarnon’s ever siren tones warmly caress as the song expands its scenically melodic emprise while the alternating blend of the duo’s voices only adds to the cinematic lure and enticing climate of the exceptional encounter.

Otherwise is next up, the song sharing another individual clime of sound and flavour as Caribbean-esque hues gently but firmly trot within an evolving dream pop serenade. More than ever it proved so easy to sink into the soundscapes of Ummagma as within just three songs Compass had unveiled a new plateau of craft, imagination, and temptation; an enticement nagging at the senses as eagerly within the electronic ambience coloured LCD. With voices as much a lively texture as the sounds courting the same evocative space, the track swept across the senses to, if not quite to the same heights as its predecessors, strongly captivate.

Equally the dream nurtured pop of Elizabeth 44 proved a beacon of persuasion and manipulation, guiding hips and attention with a knowing smile as McLarnon again beguiled, while Blown straight after was swiftly under the skin through its opening indie strokes of guitar alone. As its atmosphere grew and thickened with crystalline synth tempting and a hazy breath the track only enhanced its hold especially as cosmopolitan shapes and melodic silhouettes came forth to dance with keen rhythms and conjuring imagination.

The following predominantly instrumental F-Talking is one of those Ummagma tracks which sparks a fresh inference upon the imagination with every listen, its ambient search and discovery enthralling and interpretation never concluded with successor Galicticon, a spatial float across an expansive melodic sky of equal intimation, just as potent on ears and thoughts.

The diverse character of Compass continues at pace with Lotus strolling in on a shoegaze swing as Kretov walks its wiry threads. There is a touch of Paul Haig to the excellent song which only adds to its rich presence as too a Cocteau Twins like seducing which makes for a similarly alluring essence within the pastoral summer of High Day that follows with matching fascination.

The pair of Colors II and Cretu ensures a fair share of the imagination is cast on their adventures too, the first a slice of indie rock with a folk meets post punk shading and the second an ambient glide across mercurial and unpredictable scenery, every instrumental second a dawning of new suggestive sights to captivate thoughts and senses.

The radiant Bouquet brings Compass to a mesmeric conclusion, its hug shadow clad yet brightly seductive and breath foreboding but rousing. It is an eagerly magnetic end to an album which charmed, tantalised and absorbed from start to finish with moments of creative rapture set in between. Ummagma just go from strength to strength, from bold adventure to striking imagination releases by release; Compass the indisputable proof.

Compass is out now via Leonard Skully Records; available @ http://ummagma.bandcamp.com/album/compass

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

Pete RingMaster 31/07/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Polar Station – Lowlands

Listening to the sound of Italian band Polar Station is like waking up in the morning sun. It is warm, perpetually tantalising with just a hint of indefinable intrigue bringing the unknown to the senses and imagination and within their debut album, Lowlands, just captivating.

Hailing from Frosinone, the 2013 emerging quartet consists of Silvia Zambon (vocals / synth / vocoder), Cristian Angelini (guitar), Daniele Gabrielli (synth / programming / FX), and Manuel Bianchi (drums /electronic percussions). The band released two EPs in 2014 and ‘15 respectively which received good praise and attention. Both showed their sound to be a magnetic blend of electronic variety with dream pop sensitivity and magnetism, aspects now colluding to make for one infectious and compelling exploration within Lowlands.

The album opens with the band’s well-received single of last year, What It Feels Like. Vocoder spawned vocals initially lure ears amidst a synth cast crystalline shimmer before the angelic yet earthbound tones of Zambon embrace the senses. Her voice is pure beauty, essences of suggestiveness and melancholy lining its grace and magnetism, the latter a description which perpetually repeats across the whole landscape of the album. The instinctive sway of hips told all about the persuasion of the irresistible encounter, a temptation just as vocal within its successor.

Wake up Call makes a gentler entrance but one just as vibrant, stretching its elements and essence around the golden coaxing of Zambon and elegant melodies from Angelini. The song continues to slowly rise with every second of sound and voice pure sunshine for ears and spirit until finally drifting away into the more industrial lure of Something. Its earthier synth beckoning is soon enclosed in the seduction of Zambon’s vocals, synths and guitar teasing and tempting with melodic enterprise and mystique alongside. Both songs never find the boisterousness of the first yet each provides a sublimely bewitching and individual kiss on the senses and imagination to be just as potent.

Through the creative and emotional drama of Silence and the haunting elegancy of Fragile, the album reveals new shades of sound and light whilst stretching its captivation. The second of the two is a brief almost interlude like moment yet rich in heart and melodic suggestion to be its own potent moment within Lowlands before Ordinary Life dances romantically on ears and thoughts with melodic temptation and electronic delicacy as rigorous in intimation as it is gentle on touch. There is flame to its breath though, heat shaped by the excellent touch of Angelini.

The shadow kissed smoulder of Midnight is equally as romancing on the ear, its dark but radiant layers enthralling under the alluring glaze of Gabrielli’s ever tempting synth while Committed to What provides noir lined atmospherics over an inescapably catchy shuffle pulsing with the creative manipulation of Bianchi. Again both songs bring fresh angles to the sunspot that is Lowlands, each a new transfixing escape.

The album closes out with Golden Flares, a starry serenade of voice and sound with bold strength to its depth and a hint of tempestuousness to its heart. As the album, it is a song which instantly grips attention and appetite but only blossoms to greater heights over time and listen.

Polar Station is a band most likely in the colder reaches of attention for most but after Lowlands could and should be a blaze on the broadest radars.

Lowlands is out now on iTunes and Spotify.

https://www.facebook.com/PolarStation/

Pete RingMaster 02/05/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Bloody Knives – I Will Cut Your Heart Out For This

BK_RingMasterReview

The tone of its title, I Will Cut Your Heart Out For This, pretty much sets you up for the emotional trespass and sonic attitude of the new album from Texan trio Bloody Knives. It is a dark invasive suggestion echoed throughout the eight tracks’ scarred nihilistic hearts and a sound which crawls over and smothers the senses. Equally, it comes fuelled by melancholy thicker than Victorian London fog which at times is just as oppressive and invasively enveloping as the caustically natured sounds and as compelling as the raw beauty also invading ear and imagination.

Consisting of Preston Maddox (bass, voice, keyboards, samples, programming), Jake McCown (drums, noise, programming, art), and Jack O’Hara Harris (guitars, noise), Bloody Knives creates soundscapes which immerses the imagination in the darkest corners of life and emotion, into the harshest shadows within fiercest betrayals and deeds. Trying to accurately pin down their sound, lyrically and emotionally, is like trying to grab air, music and album simply a dense kaleidoscope of flavours and thought grasping dramas. The trio certainly find the coldest and rawest aspects of styles like dream pop, shoegaze, and psych pop to weave into intoxicating tempests also shaped by essences of post punk and industrially honed ethereal droning. It is a mesmeric and disturbing mix stealing attention instantly within the opener of the Maddox and Ian Rundell (Dead Space, Ghetto Ghouls, Xetas) recorded and Adam Stilson (New Canyons, Airiel, The March Violets) mixed and mastered I Will Cut Your Heart Out For This.

The album opens with Cystic, an instantly blistering nagging on the senses as guitars and keys sizzle venomously around the infectious stroll of the bass and Maddox’s morosely inviting and solemnly mellow vocals. Like a mix of My Bloody Valentine, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and Crispy Ambulance yet, as all tracks, something uniquely Bloody Knives, the song bites, grumbles, and entices with an inescapable virulence before it evolves into the following Blood Turns Cold. There is an even darker, almost desperation hued emotion and air to the second track, its character uncompromising and ravenous as icy melodies and melancholic vocals lace the transfixing drone of the encounter.

art_RingMasterReviewA bolder, antagonistic post punk undercurrent runs through the next up Reflection Lies, the bass leading those magnetic textures within another imagination sparking smog of sonic and melodic dissonance cast by guitar and synth, while Black Hole swings and rumbles with celestial and almost carnivorous washes of sound and emotion, each evolving and expanding in the ears with every passing minute. Both tracks majorly beguile and intimidate in varying ways and each ignites the senses, but the second of the two with its punk growl and techno flirtation within ravenous atmospheric explorations is especially irresistible.

Through the plaintive tone and sonic trespass of Static, where a great catchy Leitmotive like nagging emerges, and the dark, deranged almost funereal waltz of the instrumental —-, ears and thoughts continue to be potently challenged and eagerly involved whilst Poison Halo offers an even fiercer  wall of aural and emotional density. As ever the raw and suffocating hues of sound are expertly tempered by the coldly engaging delivery of Maddox and the often seemingly toxic melodies, the bass again sparking the contagiousness underpinning every song in one way or another.

Finishing with Buried Alive, a captivating assault of sonic and emotional discordance equipped with keenly edged scythes of guitars, psyche invading keys, and that ever successful rousing bass tenacity not forgetting the fiercely persuasive vocals, I Will Cut Your Heart Out For This is a thrilling confrontation and adventure. It takes the listener to new, invasive places in body and emotion yet rewards with spirit arousing challenges. With only the drums having their bite dulled by the swamp of sound around them as a minute niggle, I Will Cut Your Heart Out For This is simply one easy recommendation.

I Will Cut Your Heart Out For This is out now via Saint Marie Records @ https://saintmarierecords.bandcamp.com/album/i-will-cut-your-heart-out-for-this available digitally and on Vinyl limited to 500 (200 Black and 300 Ox blood / Electric Blue)

https://www.facebook.com/thebloodyknives

Pete Ringmaster 16/05/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

For more exploration of the independent and promotional services check out http://www.zykotika.com

She Drew The Gun – Memories Of The Future

she drew the gun_RingMasterReview

Fronted by and centred round songs inspired by the real life experiences of Louisa Roach, She Drew The Gun is a proposition easy to get physically and emotionally involved with, especially with debut album Memories Of The Future leading the way. The eleven track release is a romance of evocative sound and insightful word wrapped in the most delicious melodic and harmonic temptation. It is also a collection of songs unafraid to embrace shadows of the heart and life in its often wistful but always mesmeric weave of voice and sound.

The Wirral hailing She Drew The Gun sound lays somewhere between dream pop and folk punk, the former the predominate hue in the project’s unique proposal. It is a sound and certainly style honed by Roach through her early days performing at open mic events and various acoustic shows. The linking up with percussionist Sian Monaghan added another depth and shade to her music which soon after found eager support from Steve Lamacq. With bassist Jack Turner joining up, the trio received an invitation to perform a BBC introducing live session at Maida Vale last year which was backed by numerous acclaimed underground releases, all leading to the creation and unveiling of debut album Memories Of The Future. With the line-up since completed by keyboardist Jenni Kickhefer, a jump to 2016 sees a year looking like being a major event in the emergence of the band led by the release of  the James Skelly (The Coral) recorded album’s and new adventures into the UK live scene, not forgetting that She Drew The Gun has just been announced as winners of the Glasto ‘Emerging Talent’ Competition.

Memories Of The Future opens up with Where I End And You Begin, a gentle swing of a song with fuzzy air and the instantly distinctive tones of Roach enveloping ears with seductive prowess. Harmonies only add to the coxing as rhythms add their slightly darker but no less forceful touch. There is a bit of fellow UK band Horse Party to the song but quickly it shows itself an individual as Kickhefer’s keys lay a tender evocative breeze upon the senses and an imagination already stirred by Roach’s lyrical charm.

art_RingMasterReviewThe excellent start continues with the similarly magnetic Since You Were Not Mine, a siren of melodic and harmonic enslavement from band and Roach. For indefinable reasons, and as its predecessor, there is something familiar about the song but nothing easy to pin down as it has thoughts and body swaying to its poetic waltz before If You Could See takes over charming ears with its slightly darker emotion and more haunted ambience. Spatial yet intimate, the song finds increasing zeal in its gait and catchiness without ever hitting anything beyond second gear, a restraint which bewitches as potently as the wash of melancholic beauty serenading ears.

From its opening rhythmic shuffle Chains has feet in eager movement with hips, increasingly so too as its infectiousness roams the low key but open drama of rhythmic and electronic enterprise as vocal captivation plays. The song is an enslaver of body and appetite, as too the following Pebbles with its acoustic hug where Roach steals attention from the world with voice and guitar. It is a success she constantly repeats as in the jazz and folk scented What Will You Do. It is a glorious enchantment that quickly and increasingly seduces the passions especially with its touch of  creative theatre which reminds of Gabby Young & Other Animals but also in its relaxed but virulent tempting too. The track is just another triumph in an already lofty range of such and joined straight way by Poem where voice and word command attention as around them guitar and keys provide an equally provocative climate; this time Young Marble Giants being sparked as a relatively close hint to its majesty.

A pulsating resonance echoes across the sounds of I Am Not Alone next, the song a hypnotic pop croon as emotive as it is infectiously compelling, whilst the following Be Mine takes ears into another acoustic romance courted by the romance of stringed and key spun shadows aligned to rhythmic drama. Both tracks put a hex on the senses, inciting rapturous smiles in return for their unique endeavours before the rawer tenacity of Pit Pony takes the album into another enjoyable twist of imagination with its Red Blood Shoes tinged pop ‘n’ roll which has the body bouncing and appetite greedier still.

Closing on the warm solemnity of Or So I Thought, voice and keys an emotive ‘psalm’ for the senses, Memories Of The Future leaves ears and pleasure basking. It is a spellbinding collection of tracks bred from songwriting which seems to instinctively connect with the listener. The buzz around She Drew A Gun has been feistily brewing in past months and now it is very easy to see and hear why; with even greater things surely yet to come the way of the band and us.

Memories Of The Future is released April 22nd via Skeleton Key on CD, vinyl, and download across most stores.

Upcoming Live Shows

APRIL

22 YORK – The Fulford Arms

24 GLASGOW – The Hug & Pint

26 BRISTOL – The Louisiana

28 LONDON – The Victoria

29 LIVERPOOL – Buyers Club

30 BIRMINGHAM – The Sunflower Lounge

http://www.shedrewthegun.com/   https://www.facebook.com/SheDrewTheGun   https://twitter.com/shedrewthegun   https://www.instagram.com/shedrewthegun

Pete RingMaster 21/04/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

For more exploration of the independent and promotional services check out http://www.zykotika.com

High Tiny Hairs – Self Titled EP

cover_RingMaster Review

Take a pinch of sixties garage rock, a whiff of seventies/ eighties psychedelic pop, and a scent of the punk rawness which has spiced any decade you care to mention in some form or other, and you have something akin to the sound of High Tiny Hairs. The new project from former Fuck Knights guitarist and Nightingales front man Ben Bachman, the band is a raw and magnetic tantalising of ears in sound and invention with a potent self-titled debut EP to introduce themselves by. Receiving its UK unveiling this month, the six track encounter almost licks at the imagination with its stirring flavours and mesmeric sonic colours, each song flirting with bright hues around darker lyrical shadows.

Formed by the Minneapolis based Bachman with inspirations of artists like Alex Chilton, Brian Eno, and Syd Barrett spicing his creativity, High Tiny Hairs almost instantly captivates body and thoughts from the EP’s first breath. With Ioana Cristina Mirica, Sergio Hernandez, GD Mills, and Eric Levy alongside Bachman, the band instantly tempts with a web of inviting guitar as opener Chaos Ensues begins to blossom in ears. That alone seems to merge sixties lures with new wave enticement before glowing vocals caress a broadening and increasingly catchy landscape being laid by the song. Its prime hook is like a familiar friend yet defines pinning down whilst the fiery vocals and rosy yet chilled melodies within a sturdy rhythmic and sonic frame, suggests something akin to The Raincoats meets Melody’s Echo Chamber meets Horse Party.

The potent start continues in the rawer brilliance of Ghost Shadow, a song best described as The Electric Prunes in a mesmeric romance with The Sonics and indeed Syd Barrett. With the increasingly tempting charm and flirtation of a Farfisa organ coating and seducing respectively the jagged bones of the song and a swiftly greedy appetite for it, the track is a wonderful unruly smoulder of raw garage bred dream pop and swiftly matched in persuasion by the sultry pop rock of First World Problems. Keys and vocals again tantalise as the jangle of guitars and the ever darkly toned bass both skip over and prowl their companion’s warmly enticing adventures, the result another pleasing escapade for the listener.

Redd Room slips into its sixties seeding with relish from the first second, keys again embracing the pop of that era whilst adding a seventies psych rock smile. Around and within this though, starting with a great opening hook out of the De Staat songbook, the band infuses a weave of matching magnetic styles and sonic resourcefulness. The song does not quite match up to its predecessor but nevertheless has feet and hips swaying with as much contentment as that growing in ears.

The haunting stroll of Night Time Wander steps forward next, again catchy and lively exploits of rhythms and guitar, as well as the fascinating lure of the vocals, embracing and infusing the “sombre and sardonic musings” of Bachman. Feet have no resistance to the song, nor healthy enjoyment before the closing Girl Like U completes the EP. The last song, as Redd Room earlier, is missing that certain something for personal tastes which lit the EP’s other tracks so potently, yet it provides a slice of sixties honed pleasure to broadly smile about whilst finishing off a great introduction to High Tiny Hairs, an EP which in many ways brings the sound of summer across numerous decades into one sultry adventure.

The High Tiny Hairs EP is available on limited edition cassette and digital download via Sir Gregory Records now.

RingMaster 24/08/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright