Exit Calm – The Future Isn’t What It Used To Be

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After a relatively quiet couple of years since the release of their debut album in 2010, UK rock band Exit Calm returned earlier this year with the well-received single The Promise and now fully step into view with the new album The Future Isn’t What It Used To Be. The nine track release of soaring epic melodies and matching textures continues on where its predecessor left off though finding a stronger emotive and compelling depth to wrap the senses and lose the imagination within. It is a skilfully crafted and beautifully imagined collection of songs, and though a release which ultimately does not ignite any real sparks and fires inside, leaves the listener with a healthy appetite and easily provoked satisfaction.

The South Yorkshire quartet of vocalist Nicky Smith, guitarist Rob Marshall, bassist Simon Lindley, and drummer Scott Pemberton, certainly stoked up a strong wealth of acclaim and hunger for their previous album and live performances which has seen them play alongside the likes of Modest Mouse, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Boxer Rebellion, and Soulsavers as well as lighting up stages at the likes of the V Festival and Tokyo’s Liquid Rooms. Embroiled in the inspirations of the likes of the moodier guitar led bands of the nineties, the sound of Exit Calm has a calming yet provocative effect on the ear and the new album is primed with plenty of fire hot impacting sounds. It is probably not too harsh to say that there is not a wealth of moments and songs which linger in the memory past their company but within their embrace the listener is immersed in some striking and potently enterprising adventures emotionally and aurally.

The first single from the album The Rapture opens things up, guitars conspiring to raise tingles with their resonating voices and sonic ec_album_covercaresses. The throatier call of the bass brings welcome shadows whilst the melodic and sonic flames lick with restraint but potency at the ear awaiting the entrance of the excellent vocals of Smith. With a scorching breath to the climactic spires of melodic and passionate intent, the song swamps the senses in a pleasing and heated hold of imaginative narrative and impacting reflective sound. There is an early U2 whisper to the track especially vocally which does it no harm, and a feel of My Bloody Valentine to its body that makes for a satisfying and beckoning temptation.

Both Albion and Fiction continue the strong start, the first a reserved but heated flame of melodic textures and evocative hues and its successor a wash of jangling guitar teases and bass shadows around a vocal and melodic expression which pulls in the essences of Jesus and Mary Chain into the band’s own distinct poetic sound. Though neither song reach the heights of the first, both cast an absorbing and magnetic lure over ear and thoughts, the second of the two almost finding a presence which leaves a mark on the memory away from its caress.

New single When They Rise adds a little Oasis like confidence to its energetic yet reined in swagger and with an Inspiral Carpets gaited infectiousness makes an obvious lure into the album for newcomers even if the track is not the strongest on show, that honour belonging with ease to Holy War which follows the quietly contagious and slowly persuading Higher Bound. The simmering ballad is ripe with tender and descriptive melodies which outshine the vocals but against the pinnacle of the album The House Of Love toned song has a fight to stand out. Holy War instantly has a drama and imposing presence to its entrance and progress, a guitar scripted blaze and rhythmic mystique making a sirenesque plea to the passions whilst the band offers an invention and entrapment which dances and incites the imagination. The melodically colour strewn song stands head and shoulders above the rest of the album and is the one time the release repeatedly makes a suggestive and vibrant return away from the record.

The Promise slips in to a sixties wrapped elegant glaze upon a shoegaze wash, though one which is unafraid to add some muscular tempting especially through the drums. This brings a Birdland toned fire to the smouldering though without the scuzzier raw aspects they were renowned for. Glass Houses equally grabs attention with an intense heat to its sonic ceiling under which guitar and bass around the fine vocals paint an emotive picture, whilst the closing Open Your Sky provides a final nostalgic tease with its opening melodic gambit raising thoughts of The Walker Brothers to evolve into an Echo & The Bunnymen sounding embrace with psychedelic flames kissing the surface.

There is no doubting that The Future Isn’t What It Used To Be is a fine and impressively crafted as well as presented release, but apart for one maybe two moments it fails to grasp and find a memorable hold on thoughts and passions away from its body. In its arms though the album is a satisfying pleasure which confirms if not stretches the already impressive status of the band.

http://www.exitcalm.net/

8/10

RingMaster 22/09/2013

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Calling All Astronauts – Post Modern Conspiracy

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There are times when a band fills a gap in a genre or sound with something distinctly unique and impressive but is still wrapped in a mystery as to why it has not been delivered wider awareness and recognition. One such proposition is UK electro goth punks Calling All Astronauts, a band which from its first release has lit up ears and passions with their stirring and incendiary blend of guitar carved alternative rock, gothic soaked shadows, and electro/industrial bred toxicity. It is a stunning fusion which ignites the passions and incites thought led rebellion. So as to why still the Fulham based trio even after a clutch of outstanding singles are still relatively undiscovered just defies understanding but with the release of their exceptional debut album Post Modern Conspiracy, the hopes and feeling that things will surely change are at a peak.

The fourteen track release is a blaze of imaginative and snarling sounds, the band’s potent lyrical attack on society given an CAAimposing and riveting platform of caustic and invigorating rock in which to shell its restraints. Consisting of David B (vocals, keys, programming), J Browning (guitar), and Kristi Bury (bass), Calling All Astronauts has left a searing mark with their tracks since releasing their first two track single Living In The Shadow Of The Red Flag/ Someone Like You. The seeds of the band go back further though with J Browning and the band Caffeine, who he played in, being managed by David (ex-US:UK) whilst Kristi and David were also previously married to each other. Since emerging in 2011 the band has earned strong acclaim for their live performances which has seen them play alongside the likes of Echo & The Bunnymen, PWEI, Sigue Sigue Sputnik, and A Place To Bury Strangers whilst also headlining and selling out Alan Magee’s Death2Disco at Notting Hill Arts Club. A quartet of singles has also fired up greedy anticipation for this debut album within fans and the blogging media alone, an appetite which will be soon breathing heavily and intensely over the impacting triumph the album it shows itself to be. Two of those singles took the band to the No. 1 slot in the Twitter Music Chart to breed further excitement and dare one say impatience to the wait for the long time in the making Post Modern Conspiracy, but there will be no complaints, only feverishly devouring musical jaws upon its exhilarating body now it is here.

The album opens with that previous single track Someone Like You, a song which rips the attention from everything else but its own pulsating invitation. From the first second the bass and guitar snarl at the ear, Kristi offering an intimidating seduction with her dark conjured tones and the guitar of J producing an acidic groove which triggers instant rapture. With heavy dark shadows offering their own vibrant compulsion before the senses there is a distinct eighties wash at work with the likes of Play Dead and Leitmotiv coming to mind as the song prowls and stomps with irresistible potency from first note to last. Virulently contagious and equally magnetic creatively, the track is the perfect and strongest start to the album, an immense beginning soon matched and continued by Freaks and What’s So Good About?

The second track drapes itself in even darker intensive shadows, the beats and electronic invention caustic and magnetic whilst the guitar and bass bring their own individual abrasion to the brooding encounter. More reserved than the starter and with an even harsher lyrical bite, the song places down a gnarly canvas for melodic flames and senses plucking electro scorches to lay their heat and colour. It is a mighty lure driven by the dour yet vibrant vocals of David, the extremes perfectly expelled in a delivery which walks the same shadowed sun as the sounds.

The tracks Scenesters Vs. The World and Politicized – Ignorance Is Not An Excuse attack and evoke attitudes and thoughts with composed and cutting invention in word and sound, the first drenched in a dramatic noir atmosphere around its sinewy exploration and the second locked in an tempest of sonic grazing, coarse riffs, and rapacious energy which provokes and riles up the passions in similar strength to the opener. Through the song and album there is always a loud hint of Sisters Of Mercy spicing things up, essences which are seeded in the early days of that band and filtrated into something which lingers and imprints with thrilling enterprise from the creative ingenuity of  Calling All Astronauts as shown in these songs alone. The mistake to avoid though is to think with these references that band and album are re-treading old sounds and times, but as the likes of the industrial punk fuelled It Could Have Been Lust and the sinister, haunting gothic and bruising ebm embrace of Eye Of God show, that is far from the truth, both songs stunning and riveting unique journeys.

The highlights keep coming track after track, such as in the immense shapes of Simple Man, a song which provokes the senses with thick ambience within which a melodic kaleidoscope sends shards of light and electro seduction into dark corners and the excellent Winter Of Discontent, a confrontation which unleashes another epidemic of infectious and evocative persuasion. The second of the two stands full and bold with an anthemic calling within its premise of dark times, a resonating drone cured atmosphere enveloping the senses and thoughts whilst the emotive vocals and fierce flames of guitar alongside thick bass caresses ensure a forceful and fully inciting treat.

Each subsequent track upon Post Modern Conspiracy cannot resist also capturing and firing up the imagination and passions, Faith In Your Cause and Feel The Pain (Again) especially adding intoxicating fuel to the fire raging within for the release whilst closing track Red Flag confirms again that this is a band of incalculable craft and promise, its invitation of Skids like guitar borne sonic tempting and passion sodden emotion a final irresistible thrill.

Calling All Astronauts as proven by their outstanding album stands before UK rock as one of its most inventive and provocative sparks, and this is just the beginning.

http://callingallastronauts1.bandcamp.com/releases

http://www.callingallastronauts.com/

10/10

RingMaster 15/05/2013

 

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Julian Cope: St Julian

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    Musically many great things have spawn from the city of Liverpool with some obviously making major impacts on the direction and life of music. One giant moment is often overlooked or under- appreciated though and that is the formation and subsequent demise of Crucial Three. The punk rock band was a swift breath in the history of UK music which left without posing any footprint in the dirt of rock or a live note explored in its six weeks of existence. What it did do was make the first step for three important figures to ignite their creative imagination. From its brief life came forth singer Ian McCulloch obviously to be famed with Echo & the Bunnymen, guitarist Pete Wylie who went on to make equally impressive sounds and flavours through the varied guises of Wah and his solo work, and the ‘genius’ Julian Cope. The future Teardrop Explodes frontman maybe a flawed genius but lyrically and musically deserves to be placed within those realms. Equally there will be as many who will offer the other extreme of opinion on the ‘eccentric’ artist but for those he ignites the passions of he is one of the true greats.

The re-release of his St Julian album in a deluxe edition triggers all the rapture and pleasure which was rife around the man at the time and through those heady Teardrop Explodes days of the late seventies. Bringing forth arguably his finest moment as a solo artist certainly commercially, complete with a second disc of B-sides and re-mixes which graced the singles from the album, the release is a potent reminder of the often puzzling but always dramatic imagination and intriguing talent of a man who turned pop rock into an art form, even if often it was not seemingly appreciated sadly.

From those fleeting moments at the very start Cope formed UH? and A Shallow Madness with McCulloch which led to a permanent rift and antagonistic relationship between the two when Cope sacked the latter from the group, and also Nova Mob with Wylie, all again short lived bands. 1978 saw the formation of The Teardrop Explodes with drummer Gary Dwyer, organist Paul Simpson and guitarist Mick Finkler. Cope was the principal songwriter and bassist with a vocal delivery which was as magnetic as it was striking. Two impressive albums and a clutch of acclaimed singles, including Reward which achieved their highest chart entry of 6, followed as did instability in line-up as well as an indulgence in drugs. Cope himself verged on teen idol from the enterprising and successful debut album Kilimanjaro but the band failed to replicate the same triumph with the darker and more expansive Wilder and after a failure to make a third album and a disastrous tour, they split in 1982. The following year Cope began working on his first solo album World Shut Your Mouth, a release which left fans satisfied but failed to spark great positivity from elsewhere though it contained songs which generally held the pop spark of the Teardrops releases whilst being something which seemed to expose personal depths and the struggles of Cope whilst attempting to clean himself up. The 1984 record failed to sell with any strong purpose as did its successor Fried which arrived six months later. It offered a rawer side of his creativity and something new but repeated the lack lustre performance of his first in drawing appreciation and sales outside of his core fan base. Its failure led to Cope being dropped by Mercury Records who had released both albums.

With a new manager Cally Callomon encouraging his final clean-up and a new image and attitude, Cope signed with Island Records UMG_CD_BOOK_SADDLE_JUL00.qxtand released in 1986 St Julian. With a line-up of guitarist Donald Ross Skinner, drummer Chris Whitten ( ex-The Waterboys), and bassist James Eller (ex- Teardrop Explodes) beside him, Cope emerged with a ‘rock god’ persona though even at the time there seemed a delicious tongue in cheek mischief to it all. The songs within the album were big hearted encounters with bulging rhythms, insatiable hooks, and a drama which was compelling. It is one of the classic pop records of the era and anyone who begs to differ should indulge in the rampaging energy and swagger of World Shut Your Mouth, the sultry and compelling elegance of Planet Ride, and the belligerent rock track Pulsar with its Stranglers like snarl all over again. Singles like the fiery Spacehopper, a track which was borne out of writing sessions with Ian McCulloch years earlier, and the pulsating Trampoline, as the album as a whole, stood tall and above the majority of the other now termed classic eighties pop tracks of the time without puzzlingly retaining the retrospective and deserved grand acclaim the rivals bask in.

In hindsight surveying the mass of work from the man since and his apparent and exploratory ‘drive’ to go against the grain and stretch the underground pleasures of sound and creativity, as well as the B-side tracks which supported the singles from St Julian, one wonders if Cope was truly comfortable in this period though with songs rich in his always dramatic and evocative lyrics and sounds which invigorate and thrill with intelligence and instinctive contagiousness, you could never tell. The second disc at times supports the thought with songs like the Celt folk rock voiced Disaster, the mesmeric Almost Beautiful with its ambient majesty , and the dirge toned post punk challenge Warwick The Kingmaker delving into other provocative areas of Cope’s songwriting and invention. A mention for the brilliant cover of the Pere Ubu track Non-Alignment Pact has to be made, the song a classic already given an equally towering breath from Cope to have the passions sparking.

The years and releases since has seen Cope rightfully not compromising in his artistic vision and invention whilst keeping to the shadows to produce music which has ebbed and flowed in stature but is always riveting. Real success has eluded him musically though one senses he is not bothered and is more at ease with his creative powers than in those earlier times. He has also carved out a big and probably more recognition soaked career as a writer of underground music critique/ exploration and on the wide investigative scope of Archaeology and antiquarianism. St Julian is his finest moment for a great many and as the tracks swoop like gods to rile up and split open the heart into rapture it is hard to disagree.

http://www.headheritage.co.uk/

10/10

RingMaster 04/02/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Goodbye, Labrador – A Thousand Times Before

If you are looking for a stirring and heated soundtrack for your summer days than A Thousand Times Before from Goodbye, Labrador is easily one of the best candidates. The six track EP is a stunning voice for hazy days and heated emotions with its dreamy and infectious immersive sounds the perfect backdrop to emotive and passionate endeavours.

     Goodbye, Labrador formed in 2008 and finds its members based in Barcelona, Brooklyn, and Prague. 2010 saw their self titled debut EP pull in enthused attention as the members came together for shows in Portugal supporting Ölga and its recording. Now the quartet of Martin Pípal (guitar, vocals), Phil Gold (guitar, percussion, vocals), Gonçalo Hipolito Martins (bass, vocals), and J. M. Silverman (drums, percussion), return with their second release through Dead Fisherman Records to once more place their masterful touch upon the senses. As with their first EP the band upon A Thousand Times Before create dream state borne sounds steeped in eighties post punk invention and nineties art rock imagination. Recorded with Eduardo Ricciardi at Golden Pony Studio in Lisbon, the release is a delicious palette of melodic imagination and emotional caresses brought with stirring energies and sleepy calm.

     Goodbye, Labrador open up the EP with the golden toned Intrepid. The first notable thing is the striking bass sounds of Martins and their captivating presence as they explore and expand the shadowed corners of the light bursting from each and every song. Alongside the beguiling guitar play they create a balance which steers the majestic flow of the songs deeper and with stronger contagion aided by the wonderful duality of the vocal attack. The male and females voices sweep the lyrics through the ear on whispers and rays of warmth for the fullest pleasure and it is hard to think of another band recently able to find the consistent heights in this vocal craft as Goodbye, Labrador do. As mentioned the band find influences in the heights of the eighties and as the EP plays the likes of House Of Love and Felt easily slip in to view as comparisons.

Sirens takes over next and easily emerges as the best song on the release. It immediately lures full attention as the bass paves the way with its heart exciting tones whilst the song is soon lighting up the atmosphere with imagination and spiralling melodic enterprise. There is a great discordant feel to the track too especially through the explosive guitar manipulations and energy which reminds again of Felt but also others like The Passage and Birdland with its rawer surface. With a fiery climax to crumble before, the song is simply outstanding and alone ensures the band is one to always keep an eager eye on.

The likes of Falling Away and Embrace The Stranger continue the growing affection inside with their well crafted sounds and shapes. The first of the pair is an easy to consume continuation with dwells on the plateau built from the starter whilst the second with a slight Pixies air to its bewitching presence ventures into further cascades of sonic beauty and incendiary discord lined aural explosions. All of this drama and stirring wonder comes within that dreamy magnetism, the expertise of the band to merge both so fluidly and contagiously deeply impressive.

The excellent Silence Of Me and the emotive Memoir complete the line-up of excellence just as enjoyably as what came before. As the former of the two weaves its startling melodic prowess one realises the band is finding the levels of melodic infection in their emotive hooks as those which made the likes of Echo & The Bunnymen and Wah! so essential.

If there is one slight criticism for the release it is the similarity across the surface of songs which makes it easy without retaining an element of focus to find the songs merging. Of course given firmer attention the songs without fail unveil a wealth of diversity and invention which is undeniable. A Thousand Times Before is a gem of a release which makes one hope Goodbye, Labrador get together often and bring much more of their outstanding creativity and sounds to our ears.

RingMaster 05/08/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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