The Toniks – Rise And Shine


Listening to Rise And Shine the debut album from UK popsters The Toniks you cannot help at times thinking this is a band which has the misfortune to have missed their time slot in music history. Certainly they have a potent place in the now as their album shows but with songs ripe with sixties melodic and pop sensibility which sits easily within the pop mischief of Herman’s Hermits and the Englishness of The Kinks, and a new wave soaked infectiousness which is a close cousin to bands such as The Farmers Boys and Jim Jiminee, you can only imagine the Guildford quintet would have found a potent place those eras. In a never ending torrent of new and existing bands all fighting for attention, real and online, any band is in for a greater struggle than ever to just cross the gaze of fans though with Rise And Shine, The Toniks have given themselves a definite fighting chance.

The brainchild of vocalist/bassist Mark Taylor and guitarist Jez Parish, The Toniks has been making a solid ascent for quite a while now; their infection loaded pop songs gripping ears and emotions. With the current line-up of guitarist Tom Yates, drummer Colin Marshall, and Jessica English on keys alongside Taylor and Parish in place since last year, the band has continued to draw acclaim for their strong live performances, which recently has seen the band playing across Europe and in Canada. Since forming they have also gained support from the likes of Graham Dominy (Eurythmics, Razorlight, Imelda May) who provided them with free studio time after hearing their music. It has all added to a slow but potent rise which the album can only increase as it sweeps across greater numbers.

The band is no stranger to this site, The Toniks a constant on the playlist of shows from our associates for the 1235338_10151581120132610_2076276580_npast few years. This meant that the album faced expectations but it is fair to say it pushed them aside to emerge an even more vibrant and irrepressible encounter than imagined. Produced by Dominy alongside Taylor and Parish and released on Smile Records, Rise And Shine goes straight for the feet and passions with its title track. The song is total contagion, from the moment the opening soar of harmonies and keys behind the mellow tones of Taylor stroke the ear it teases with a seducing wantonness which explodes into one of the catchiest tunes heard this year. Bred from the seeds of sixties pop, the song romps and strolls with a massive smile in its melodies kissed by brass spawned sunspots. The eighties reference is most apt and virulent right away as the starter has voice in league with its stomp and like the best pop songs, becomes an old friend within moments.

The following Won’t Let You Down is much the same in its individual character, guitars and keys coaxing the imagination as they craft hooks and melodies which sparkle as they tempt. The backing vocals of English along with Parish make a great compliment to the delivery of Taylor, her voices especially soothing and one hopefully the band employ more ahead. More restrained than its predecessor but still a catchy saunter to capture the imagination it easily continues the pleasing start as does next up You and I and Simple Things. Like the first pair they are songs very familiar to us but each finding a new freshness and energy to their suasion and presence through the new recordings and re-workings brought by the band for the album. You and I is a bouncy incitement of respectfully jabbing beats and cheery guitar swipes tempered by darker bass tones. It has a harder rock core to its bewitchment but one which submits to the inventive and sultry flumes of brass as well as the continually persuasive melodic weaves which lie around the addiction causing hooks. Its successor comes with a slower croon to its presence as well as a gentle caress vocally and musically. The bass stands potently to the fore of the song, its steady heavy presence seemingly given preference upon the song and actually works well adding variety to the simple but wholly effective melodic colour which engages the imagination and lures another belt of hard to resist involvement from the body.

After passing the charms of Weather quickly the album settles into a steady enticing with Figure It Out and Never Real, both songs a spark to fill the appetite further though a shade below the standards set. Going back to the first of these three, Weather is another ridiculously ear catching invitation to participate with and enjoy slice of pop which most will drool over but it has never found a place here, it one of those irritants which niggles though it is simply down to personal taste alone. Of the other two, the first builds from emotive keys and expressive vocals into a more than decent ballad which grows and expands as it plays out its narrative and the second a satisfying rock pop breeze, both providing healthy appetising treats to mull over and return to before making way for another highlight.

Secret’s Safe also hits the rockier depths of the band, a blues whisper to the guitars equally egging on the thumping rhythms and hard hitting vocals, though Taylor has a voice where snarls never rear their head to be honest. There is an essence of The Jam and The Motors to the energetic and rampant charge of the song, a pop punk quality which sets it to the top of the release, well until, after the thoroughly enjoyable and infectious There You Go, the outstanding Scapegoat steps forward. The scuzziest track on the album with a punk breeding to its creativity, the track is a riveting blaze of rock ‘n’ roll with all the contagiousness the band can conjure reaping the heat of the blues kissed guitar flames on top of barbed melodic hooks.  It is a magnificent track, The Tonik’s finest moment yet.

The closing Wonderful Then concludes the album with a classic pop song graced by mesmeric strings, the cello caresses especially delicious, and resourceful evocative keys behind stirring harmonies. It is a final reminder of the depths of the songwriting of Taylor and Parish and though you cannot talk of them in the same breath yet as Difford and Tilbrook there are some familiarities at times to the construct and melodic structures of songs.

Rise And Shine exceeded expectations to stand as one of the better real pop albums out this year. If The Toniks have yet to touch your ears their debut album is the perfect way to put that right.


RingMaster 05/12/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Kosheen: Independence

Five years after previous album Damage, British electro/rock band Kosheen return with Independence, a release to set them again to the fore of electronic manipulation and melodic grandeur. The album will be an irresistible treat for fans of the band and electro music, the exciting and adventurous soundscapes and sparkling pop excursions within, a teasing and magnetic delight. For those like arguably us who prefer their electronic sources to intimidate and force reactions rather than invite like Kosheen, there is still more than plenty to enthuse over and recommend to more eagerly devouring hearts.

Consisting of sound conjurors Markee Substance and Darren Decoder alongside vocalist Sian Davies, the trio in the intervening years between albums have been working on other projects and in the case of Davies, collaborating on songs as a guest with varied producers, including DJ Fresh for the track Louder. The time has also seen the band leave their label to set up their own, Kosheen Recordings, and taking charge of their own destiny.

Independence immediately seizes attention with its warm charm whilst offering an enterprising sheet of ideas and imaginative sounds track after track. It opens with Addict, a song which has a familiarity from its initial emerging shadowed whispers through to its rich creative sounds and glorious vocals. It is hard to say the track sounds like anyone or thing else but it certainly sways in the ear like a previously introduced and welcome companion. The mesmeric kiss of the track is irresistible whilst the darker pulses add a luring depth to keep things balanced and wholly intriguing. The voice of Davies is as ever just sensational, her vocal caresses worth the admission fee on their own whilst the compulsive eighties early Human League aural kisses equally ignite a feverish appetite for their potent sound.

First single from the release, Get A New One, follows to leave one enamoured and breathless, its electronic spotlights and meandering weaves dazzling one into subservience. As much as one tries to stay away from the reference there is a certain Eurythmics spice to the track which dances like a flaming beacon within the pulsating and delicious sounds. The song stomps with sultry teases and melodic pouts whilst hypnotizing senses and passions with rapture seeding mastery. It is easily the best track and the perfect invitation to ensures delving into Independence is the minimum thing to do in regard to the band.

Tracks like Tightly with its celestial shimmering and the brilliant Bella Donna only elevate the majestic creativity and enchantment, both aural roses in bloom with sensationally vibrant colours and fragrances with the second in particular just a siren but with a heart to leave only rapture from its embrace. At this point the album is already showing strong diversity as it pulls the ear into the pounding dance excursion of Dependency. Initially it appears to be unveiling sinister dangers for the senses to enjoy and contemplate but midway evolves into a mellower soulful melodic declaration before merging the two. For those previously mentioned harsher preferences, the song offers much but delivers less, though it is impossible to say it does or offers anything wrong, or is less than impressive.

From here on in the album is arguably more inventive as a perpetually twisting affair but loses the contagious command and appeal of the opening parade of songs, for again personal desires. Manic is an acutely crafted flight through chilling shadows and heated shafts of melodic sun whilst the instrumental Zone 8 is a canvas of evocative manipulations and striking cosmic expulsions which in its relatively short journey works extremely well. Neither leave one entranced as with previous songs but like the remainder of the album are an array of intriguing ideas and contagious tapestries. Tracks like the glorious Something New, which emerges as a definite favourite, and the summery hazy pool of sound that is Out There as well as the early Depeche Mode like Waste, do though ignite strong emotions and the intent to return often, showing there is easily more than enough quality to draw in again these sonically blood thirsty tastes.

It is fair to say Kosheen have returned stronger than ever. Whether Independence is their finest hour is for their fans to say but certainly it is an album which exposes a well of pleasure with ease.

RingMaster 29/10/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Lizzie Nightingale – Tiny Teardrops

Lizzie Nightingale is a singer songwriter hailing from Glasgow who is beginning to stir up some real attention and enthusiasm to her inventive and delightful sounds. Her new EP Tiny Teardrops, is set to bring her to wider attention as it offers up something ripe with unexpected delights and joyful enterprise. It is a weave of harmonies and melodic grace brought with an air and ambience which ruffles the air around the sure elegance of the songwriting and its realisation. It is a surprising treat to be honest, one’s assumptions challenged and shown a uniqueness and imagination to be admired.

With her informative years soaked in the sounds of artists like Eurythmics, Kate Bush, David Bowie, and a healthy dose of Motown through her singer/performer Mother, Lizzie Nightingale released a collection of demo tracks which drew strong support from BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 2 and Galaxy FM and went on to sell thousands in the UK and Japan. Recently she has been working alongside Gary Powell of The Libertines. Tiny Teardrops sees her stepping out once more into a solo spotlight with her evolved and distinct sound.

The EP opens with the mesmeric Alone, its instant presence an ear spotting cloak of crystal melodies followed by warm orchestral arms. The song skips with an emotive heart which captivates throughout, the voice of Nightingale lighting the atmosphere with its classy tones and the strings behind her igniting deeper pleasures. There is a simplicity to the song within its expansive presence with further endears to make a track which leaves one tingling in delight.

The following Footsteps is a concentrated ballad, its expression and emotion dripping from every note and syllable. Vocally Nightingale has a wavering to her sound which flutters with power but also brings an extra emotive breath to an already touching song. The track shows clearly the lyrical and songwriting skill of the artist and her ability to light up the senses whilst evoking strong thoughts and affection.

The title track again has an uncomplicated essence which tantalises and at times hypnotises whilst its sweeping charm is undeniably infectious. As it progresses the song becomes even more addictive its reserved energy streaking into enthused breaths of melodic hooks and unbridled beauty. Best song on the release it fully shows the talent of Nightingale.

Sparkle and Lights both caress the ear with a sure and gentle touch brought with eruptions of increased energy and heart borne passion. Again as in all songs Nightingale employs unpredictable sounds and unique asides to explore the heart of the compositions to fire up stronger affection for her music. It is imaginative and skilfully brought together to make a release in Tiny Teardrops which startles and gratifies in equal measure.

Completed by a remix of Alone by Matty ‘Parka’ Thomson and Sparkle by Team Tartan, Tiny Teardrops is an impressive and pleasing EP to mark Lizzie Nightingale as an artist destined for great things. Check out the EP @ and enjoy.

RingMaster 07/08/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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