Unhappy Fly – Self Titled

UK hailing Unhappy Fly is described as a post punk and no wave supergroup but trust us that description of their sound is like simply calling the sea blue and vegetation green. As their self-titled debut album quickly reveals, every song from the quartet is a tapestry of flavour and temptation as diverse and vast as the landscape of those previously mentioned features of planet earth.

Across its eleven tracks every second of the Unhappy Fly album is a theatre of sound and drama woven from everything around that post punk/new wave intimation to folk, jazz, baroque, indie and rock and still we are missing a plethora of other spices in its creative recipes. The resulting fusion is brought with unapologetic pop instinctiveness as Unhappy Fly share one of the most enthralling and captivating moments of this year indeed of many before it and no doubt to come.

Unhappy Fly is the compelling coming together of vocalist/guitarist/pianist Xentos Fray Bentos and drummer/percussionist Richard Dudanski with musician/electronic instrument builder/vocalist Sarah Washington and saxophonist/flutist John Glyn. Those familiar with the four and especially the first pair will know of the varied experiences and adventures in their extensive musical histories yet it gives no real clue to the uniqueness of the Unhappy Fly album.

There is a pop perfection to every song within the release, each bringing a manipulative bounce and catchiness upon ears and body whilst weaving proposals as rich in styles and textures as a dressmaker’s wardrobe.  Now Alasdair Owns Me opens up the album and swiftly unveils its character of imagination and craft and the virulent temptation which flows through the release. Its gentle entrance on rhythmic coaxing amidst melodic strands is pure delight as too the soft tones of Bentos which as quickly tempt away. The song was already under the skin before it then erupted in pure animated and thickly assorted contagion. Few albums this year have made such a magnetic start as Unhappy Fly’s yet it is just the beginning of the bold adventure to come.

Boneyard follows and as its rhythmic pulse teased ears it too soon buried itself deep especially through its guitar spun hook. Melodic entangling of appetite continued to spread from the catchy heart of the song, keys adding a crystalline glamour as Glyn’s sax teases with relish. Infectiousness soaks every note and syllable, its mellow aside as thick in imagination and temptation as the rousing swing of the tracks persistently encouraging body. Such the majesty of songs it is hard to pick a firm favourite but this has a firm hand on the decision though successor Superfifcial does its best to muddy the waters with its flirtatious teasing of sound and Bentos’ inimitable ever enticing vocals presence alongside Washington’s similarly beguiling tones. Everything about the track is simple yet skilfully conjured and offered for two and a half minutes of pure pop pleasure.

The cosmopolitan tango of Holocene provides a jazz scented enticement which is again nothing less than full seduction, its funky breath and jazz folk hues an infestation of the imagination alone before Feet of Clay embraces the listener in a theatre of musical intrigue and stringed drama. Shadows and whimsical mischief equip the track’s irresistibility, a mandolin and richness of vocal dexterity accentuating its power and beauty.

Latest single, Electric Light is next and immediately had ears greedy and the body bouncing through its exuberant almost voracious catchiness. It is a pop song though unafraid to twist and turn through jazz lined surprises and fresh shades to its instinctive creative ebullience for one of the best three minutes heard this year.

Country bred sighs welcome Angry In The Head, continuing to colour its catchy swagger and emotive plaintiveness while Singing Flame and Hit ‘n’ Miss after it only ignite further pleasure being side by side with the release. The first has a sixties pop croon to its tenacious shuffle, Bentos and Washington providing a seriously magnetic vocal union against the gorgeous rhythmic manipulation of drums and bass, it all within a weave of sound which becomes more varied in flavour and dexterity by the second. It’s equally enslaving successor similarly has that nostalgic breath yet is all fresh and innovative in its diversely bred pop ‘n’ roll stroll.

The final pair of Big Picture with its fifties inflamed, seventies glam tinted rock ‘n’ roll and the moment of undiluted rapture that is Golden ensure the album leaves as memorably and hypnotically as it began. Both are as individual in presence as they are united in fascination and the inimitable prowess of their creators.

The Unhappy Fly album is a wonder of beauteous melancholy and shadow enhanced beaut. It also proved, to use the word again, pure rapture upon these ears and it is hard to feel we will not be alone in finding a greed for its thrilling adventure.

The Unhappy Fly album is out now via Emotional Response Records; available @ https://emotional-response-recs.bandcamp.com/album/unhappy-fly

Pete RingMaster 15/10/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Dizraeli – The Unmaster

One of our most enjoyable and invigorating moments within music came a few years back seeing Dizraeli & The Small Gods on stage at The Boileroom in Guildford, every second of their performance pure captivation. Now with his debut solo album, Dizraeli or Rowan Alexander Sawday as his mum knows him has released one of the essential albums of the year; maybe the most striking and yes important encounters of this and any previously recent twelve months.

The Unmaster is an autobiographically inspired collection of songs which rise from a period of turbulence and struggle for creator and the world around him. As global chaos and uncertainty seems only destined to escalate, Dizraeli found his own escape from the suffocating darkness of a mental breakdown to create a release which is as cathartic at its core as it is bewitching in its sounds and imagination. The dark times the Bristol hailing rapper, social activist, producer and spoken word artist went through are the seeds to the intimacy soaked yet creatively flirtatious songs of The Unmaster and we can only concur with the suggestion of its press release, “the album speaks of madness and collapse, struggle and redemption with searing honesty, surreal humour and a soundtrack unlike anything you’ve heard.”

Dizraeli breeds his sounds from a fusion of hip hop, grime and folk across a West African inspired percussive tempting yet there is much more to his music as avant-garde-esque and electronic uniqueness among other hues help build the drama of every one of the album’s twenty one tracks. Within those mutually compelling moments there are spoken word glimpses of the shadows within and observed by their creator before and in the album’s birth while other times are almost like echoes from his darkest moments given seconds to return between songs to impact and emotionally arouse as the longer incitements around them.

We will concentrate on the fullest moments of time within The Unmaster but as he slight but rich opening track I’m A Wave (Part One) reveals, every breath and moment within the release is as impactful and compelling as another. The first track looms upon the senses with grey flumes building an increasingly dark embrace which searches out every corner of the imagination before Madness strolls in sharing its own thoughts of a sunless climate intimate and socially spreading the world. Rhythms dance with a hypnotic shuffle as unique and manipulative as the sounds around them and the examination escaping the throat and thoughts of Dizraeli.

Alone the song provides a reason to check out the album but then again the same can be said of most tracks including Ketamine Honey. Its street lit beginnings within a crepuscular breath leads to another rhythmically inspiring proposal quickly escalated by the urban jungle of sounds and its author’s magnetic suggestiveness with a vocal presence to match. There is virulence to every aspect of the track which sparks eager participation as the imagination paints with its intimation, qualities just as rousing within the likes of Rising Son and especially My Mama. Following another brief slither of emotion drenched release posing as Daylight Came, the first of the two stretches from its poetic beginnings within a cosmopolitan lure of percussion to swing with a melodic and hope enriched smile. The track took me back in some ways to that time with The Small Gods but again grew to something truly unique to album and Dizraeli. Its addictive enterprise and insistence is matched by that of its successor, a delicious track which has a gospel like tincture to its proud declaration and ridiculously catchy exploits.

I Freak Out is another which was under the skin within seconds as wooden percussion quickly tempts a broader web of African inspired rhythmic enticement. Body movement was an inevitable response as too a devouring of its emotive tapestry, again a form of instinctive involvement repeated in this case within the evocative Oi Oi and its skilfully painted canvas. Every sound and syllable comes with an unpredictability and ingenuity which makes you stop and pay eager attention, our thoughts and appetite devouring every creative moment with relish.

The dub tinged Shift Up Fatih pulsated and beguiled from its first lungful, manoeuvring thoughts and pleasure with ease while after further slices of poetic and openly intimate incitement with Creatures In The Ceiling pure dark haunting seduction and I The Unmaster sheer tenebrific captivation, Everybody Here’s Golden adds its own plaintive look on a world clasped by insanity. Again as every word makes a poignant and striking impact so the sounds aligning their thoughts equally stir and motivate, a kind of creative animation which just as wonderfully lights up the dark carnival-esque dance of Show Some Love.

The Unmaster ends with the deeply and emotive personal affirmation of living that is After She Gave Me The Sea, arguably Dizraeli’s heart at its most raw and open before leaving on a final tapestry of sound and inspiration in The Infinite Mix.

We have done The Unmaster a slight injustice by not mentioning every gripping track within its fascinating body but equally left plenty for you to discover for yourselves. This is an album which will connect on different levels with different people and as a companion bring an understanding and reassurance to anyone with mental health issues. As suggested at the start, The Unmaster on numerous levels is one of the essential explorations of 2019.

The Unmaster is out now: available @ https://dizraeli.bandcamp.com/album/the-unmaster

https://www.dizraeli.com    https://www.facebook.com/Dizraeli/

Pete RingMaster 03/10/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

River Drivers – Big Oak Road

photo by Ron Donocoff

It is fair to say that at The RR our knowledge, awareness, and subsequently appetite for folk music is on the side of limited compared to other flavours of temptation. Even so a regular courting of folk punk offerings leads to moments more established in the traditional breeding of the genre which have from time to time sparked our pleasure and attention, the debut album from River Drivers now one such occasion.

Big Oak Road offers up ten songs which grab ears and imagination alike with their stories; tracks bearing tales of people and suffering so often borne from the affluence and powerful which prosper from and cause their struggles and hardship. They are accounts wrapped in sounds which proved just as captivating, Celtic, Americana, and Appalachian influences sparking the Philadelphia band’s own individual ideation and passion within a record which works and tempts on many levels and one which only nurtured the want to know more about band, folk music, and the background to the chronicles of life and history within it.

River Drivers is the creation of Kevin McCloskey (vocals, guitar, mandolin, banjo, bass) and Mindy Murray (vocals, guitar, banjo, bass) with Marian Moran (tin whistle, low whistle, concertina, melodica) and Meagan Ratini (fiddle, Irish flute, tin whistle) completing the quartet. We mentioned the flavours embraced in the band’s sound but equally there is a rawness in sound and emotion which has a punk breeding, no doubt a hue feeding on the years McCloskey was part of hardcore punk band Wrong Answer. It all adds up to a richly alluring persuasion within Big Oak Road and its mix of original and more obscure folk songs, and immediately within opener Children’s March (Mother Jones). It is a track which carries an infectious swing from its first breath, melodies coaxing swift engagement as McCloskey’s earthier tones draw the drama of the true U.S. Irish history plucked story inciting the imagination of song and listener alike.

It is a great rousing start to the release quickly matched in strength and captivation by the similarly lively and catchy Going Once. It too is a song inspired by a true story, that of a mother‘s plight finding a new home for her nine kids after their Torresdale farm is sold at auction for back taxes. The woman was Murray’s grandmother and brought to life magnetically by the vocalist’s emotive tones before a just as thick emotional intensity lines the voice of McCloskey within Crooked Jack, a cover of a song written by Irish singer songwriter/novelist/playwright Dominic Behan. As in its predecessors, the strings of the band’s instruments cradle and cast tempting shadows thick with warmth and melancholy; a craft heavy combination almost as romantic as it is dramatic and provocative and just as potent within the following Sí, Se Puede, another song drawing a picture of the hardship and exploitation of hard working men.

Isn’t It Grand Boys (Look at the Coffin) revels in its Irish breeding next, a Pogue-esque croon shaping its take on The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem classic. It is one of those songs which instinctively gets under the skin, a temptation relishing the enterprise of Moran’s whistle embracing breath, as too proves the album’s title track which is next up. This time the fiddle of Ratini primarily flirts with ears as it dances with the spirit and the other equally enthused textures making up the highly enjoyable song.

Through the great thick drama in sound and word of Cumann na mBan, the track proving another major favourite within the album, and the poetic rendition of traditional song, Moonshiner, greater attention was easily sparked by the band while the Tim Stafford written Union Man simply epitomised the strength of the release to pleasure, spark participation, and inspire an appetite to explore the origins of its story.

Big Oak Road concludes with Farewell Johnny Miner, just one more captivating slice of historically and intimately inspired folk written by Ed Pickford and invigorated by River Drivers, the band embracing its British heart.

The music world is so vast and rich that it is impossible to explore every plateau within its glorious landscape but we have definitely missed out not venturing into folk deeper and more often but grateful for having the rather excellent River Drivers and their similarly thrilling Big Oak Road as a new incitement.

Big Oak Road is released October 18th with pre-ordering available @

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

Pete RingMaster 03/10/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

St. Christopher Medal – Hoof!

Hoof! sees the return of a particularly firm captivation going by the name of St. Christopher Medal. It was four years back that the Scotland hailing outfit bewitched attention and praise with debut album Sunny Day Machine and can look forward to much more of the same with its successor.

In many ways simply taking up the persuasive enterprise their first album left us with, Hoof! takes the listener deeper into the imagination and evocative fusion of country rock and Perthshire bred Americana which marked its predecessor. It brings a realm of melancholic poetry and melodic intimacy to the bracing remote isolation of the highlands but hope embracing songs which for the main effortlessly nestled under the skin as they ignited the imagination amidst personal associations.

Hoof! opens up with its first single, Fallen Angel rising up from a stark breeze to magnetically head through ears. In moments the spirited sounds of the track embraced ears, the earnest tones and words of Alistair Mathieson riding the bold stroll of rhythms as the evocative tapestry of Andrew Jeffries’ keys and the piano of Liam Cassidy weaved its suggestion. It is an immediately infectious affair with a tenacious rock heart aflame with the almost searing enterprise of guitarist Kenny Mathieson and a great start to a quickly compelling release.

The sensitive hug of Country Music follows, the song wrapping its melancholic reflection with the familiar essences of the wrapping its title suggests. It is a flavouring which does not generally spark our fires here yet in the craft of St. Christopher Medal only enticed as its in-depth experiences echoed before Wayne, Moon Pilot emerged from its spatial poetry aligned flight with its own expressive saunter, melodies and heart sharing voice again simply relaxing into one magnetic union with just a tinge of Bowie to its cosmic glide. Once more the band equip beauty and elegance with a sturdy rock ‘n’ roll spine, the rhythms of drummer David Mack and bassist Billy Nisbet almost imposing as they fire up the heat of the spiral of melodic fire escaping guitars.

From the dark shadows and sorrow of Baseball Jacket with the vocals of Steph Fraser a radiant companion to the more homely tones of Mathieson, and across the expansive landscape of the ultimately insular exploration of The Desert Wind & The Jazz Wolf, band and album only continued to seize attention and appetite with the latter especially commanding though soon outshone a touch by the Americana poppiness of Family Tent with its thick swing and contagious energy.

There is no lessening of temptation as Silver Lake and The Ties That Bind share their individual consternations, the first sharing a downcast examination before the second reflects on life within a bolder country rock canter with a certain wild west romancing to it, the easily enticing pair though eclipsed by the simply bewitching Diablo, a song which just kissed personal likes with its smiling melodies and virulent hook.

The album closes out upon the ripe sunset of Those Nights and its title track, each easy but inescapable temptation which sparked thoughts as firmly as attention, the last especially irresistible whilst epitomising the craft, imagination, and soul-stirring heart-rending prowess of St. Christopher Medal.

Whether Hoof! will cheer you up when truly down is debateable but it makes for an understanding companion whilst providing music which just captures the imagination; what better reason to immerse in the melancholia rich world of St. Christopher Medal.

Hoof! is out now via Stereogram Recordings; available @ https://stereogramrecordings.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/st.christophermedal/   https://www.stereogramrecordings.co.uk/artists/st-christopher-medal/

Pete RingMaster 02/07/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Gumshoe – The Governor’s Brother

Condemned by love, life, and the leaden disparities which hungrily frequent the secret backwaters of everyday existence, the heart of the tales shared by Gumshoe are rich fascinations which simply seduce ears and imagination. Proof comes with the new album from the Athens in Georgia hailing US outfit, The Governor’s Brother a collection of dark intimation someone like David Lynch would relish giving a visual face to.

With the imagination teasing lyrical prowess of vocalist/guitarist Andy Dixon, his magnetic narration and the creative evocation of sound cast by bassist Jef Whatley and drummer John Norris, The Governor’s Brother simply dragged ears and appetite into its rich crepuscular landscape. Musically, Gumshoe conjures with a blend of shadow embracing folk, country, and blues; their sound matching and echoing the tenebrific stories explored.

The Governor’s Brother opens up with Barking At Shadows and its unrushed amble is an instantly captivating proposal. It is a lure only accentuated as Dixon shares the intimate breath of the song and the band spring its dawdling swing. Pure seduction as it draws the listener into its ill-lit heart the track is a compelling introduction and potent sign of things to come as confirmed by the following Call Me Mr. Rubber Belly.

The second song immediately shows a firmer hand but equally saunters along with a heavy, bordering on lumbering gait. Wiry blues nurtured tendrils of guitar illuminate word and voice as rhythms impose their thickly enticing bait; hues of punk and country rock colouring the brooding virulence which infested ears and imagination before Amorosa steals its own fair share of the album’s limelight with its unworldly   cryptid bred romance.

Next up, the irresistible I Am The Sun provides another instantaneous fixation as richly enticing flames of brass spring eagerly across another reserved yet eager stroll of sound and voice as firmly catchy as it is suggestive while Bye Bye Baby emulates its pleasure binding exploits with its own individually dancing jangle and vocal enterprise. Maybe taking a touch longer to warm up than its predecessor, the song soon has body and attention swinging to its pop ‘n’ folk rock exploits carrying a great warped Talking Heads meets Roy Orbison flavouring.

The album rounds its manipulation of storytelling and imagination with firstly C.L.A.U.S., a tenacious blues/surf tempting which sometimes is overrun with less collected lust as it serenades the focus of its inspiration, and finally the melancholy engulfed desolation bred croon of Never Enough. A track which haunts long past its departure, it is a riveting and delicious end to a release which is easily drawing us back time and time again.

An encounter which seems to further blossom as it reveals more of its portentous intrigue loaded  depths listen by listen, The Governor’s Brother is a bewitching anthology of word and sound; its dark poetry tantalising and accompanying but just as potent music a masterful insinuation in an album which just commands keen attention.

The Governor’s Brother is available now across most online stores.

https://www.facebook.com/gumshoetunes/

Pete RingMaster 8/01/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Matt Finucane – Disquiet EP

Following the release of Ugly Scene this past May, an “abrasive, noise-heavy protest” of an encounter, British alt rock troubadour Matt Finucane has its successor, Disquiet, poised for unveiling. Living up to its name, the EP is a collection of songs which as mellow and intimate as they are, come soaked in discord and melodic dissonance. They all breed a mix of challenge and seduction but most of all a fascination leaning towards needing more.

Having come across Finucane back in 2012 through his acclaimed album, Glow in The Dark, an encounter which had us simultaneously absorbed and confused, pleased yet unsure and most of all compelled to pay attention to its creator ahead, there has been constant intrigue to follow how things evolve. Fair to say feelings around Disquiet have not ventured too far away yet the enjoyment of his sound has certainly continued to grow through the offerings between both releases and is now at its most eager with the latest encounter.

As all his propositions, Disquiet is a DIY cast summons on ears and imagination as raw as it is creatively animated with opener Ulterior Motives quickly establishing Finucane’s distinct character of enterprise. Its acoustic/electric indie pop dances and flirts with ears though biding its time disharmony haunts the shadows brewing its infestation by the chord until eventually sparking a low key but inescapable cacophony for a captivating incursion of senses and song. The track epitomises the indefinable nature of his music; art and punk rock possible tags, wonk pop and dark folk others but honestly it is in a corner of its own.

The darker woozy presence of Happy Chains continues the contradiction and temptation, it’s off kilter shimmer and Finucane’s equally divisive vocals infesting melodic radiance like disorientating haze over a sunspot while the following People Move On exposes its fuzz seeded instincts. There is something akin to the kind of music artists like Frank Black and Pere Ubu have spread to Finucane’s sound, certainly a hue in its want and need to unsettle the expected and orthodox.

The EP concludes with firstly the warped melodic reflection of Always A Shadow, a track which feels like the aural side of a distorted mirror, and finally the seven minute plus journey of Dead Men Sing Us To Our Rest. In a cavernous embrace of echo and distortion, emotively and physically, the track is a malaise of frictious harmony, melodic discrepancy, and pretty much unnerving beguilement.

There is no doubt that the music of Matt Finucane is not going to sit easy with a great many but for those with a penchant for disturbing adventure and the song of the asylum, it and Disquiet should definitely be checked out.

The Disquiet EP is out October 19th via Crude Records; available @ https://mattfinucane.bandcamp.com/album/disquiet

 https://mattfinucane.net/   https://www.facebook.com/Matt.x.Finucane/

 Pete RingMaster 19/10/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

The Imaginary Hat – Age of Anxiety

Photo by Beth Eloise Fraser

Hailing from England’s capital, The Imaginary Hat creates a sound self-penned as 1920s Punk Rock. As much as your imagination might work with that tag it will only guess at the rich mix of flavours making up the band’s music and new EP Age of Anxiety. Alongside their fusion of rock, punk and 20’s inspired jazz you can find essences of rockabilly, swing, folk and more. It makes for a proposition and new release which is unpredictable, mischievous, and seriously appetising.

The London based outfit formed in 2014 and swiftly earned a potent, attention luring reputation for their music and live presence across the capital and beyond. This year has seen the band emerge with a new and expanded line-up and now second EP, Age of Anxiety, the successor to their well-received debut, Ladies And Gentlemen Kindly Remove Your Hats released this past January.

The spirited rhythms of drummer Phil Joyce kick EP opener Pretty Little Features into life, their increasingly tenacious antics luring ears, appetite, and the guitar jangle of Luke Fraser. Swiftly his vocals also jump in, the track bouncing round with its fifties rock ‘n’ roll scented jazz punk. With a touch of eighties band The Stargazers to it and also the jump blues hues of a Louis Jordan, the song leaps and swings, successfully insisting on the same from the listener. Punk riffs taunt throughout as the flames of Nick Smith’s Trombone unite with the sax of Oscar Ives-Owen; each adding to the virulent contagion of an outstanding start to the release.

A trombone sigh brings up the following Tick Tick Tick, its enticement soon joined by the boisterous stroll of Sam Dimond’s magnetic bass. Vocals again simply entice as they dance devilishly within the similarly insistent sounds around them, enterprise which becomes more bedlamic and frantic by the second but with reins which hauls the chaos back into a just as addictive imaginative canter. You can call the track whatever style you wish but at its heart it is punk rock and relishing its anarchy.

Right Side is next, uncaging a thick dark grumble around another instinctively catchy lure of rhythms. It is infectiousness and swing echoed in Fraser’s vocals as the track prowls, as good as stalks ears and imagination. Bordering blues funereal in gait, salacious seduction in tone, the track physically smoulders as it sears itself into the memory, it too becoming more hellacious in tone and texture by the handful of seconds.

The Imaginary Hat is back in full bounce with Monkey Glands straight after, the track like a swing jazz equivalent of Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers at their devilish while Until One Of Us Dies closes up the release with its dark seduction. Both tracks just hit the spot, the first a collusion of punk ’n’ roll fuelled flavours akin to Eighteen Nightmares at the Lux meets The Strangler Figs under the tutelage of Cab Calloway with its successor unleashing flames of jazz conjured rock with increasing rigour across a landscape as mercurial as it is dramatic.

Though into their fourth year, 2018 might be the moment The Imaginary Hat get crowded by much broader and eager attention. Their two EP’s this year, especially Age of Anxiety, give evidence that it is more than deserved.

Age of Anxiety is out now, available @ https://theimaginaryhat.bandcamp.com/music

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

Pete RingMaster 17/07/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright