Jonny Polonsky – Kingdom of Sleep

photo by Jason Robinette

Earlier this year, NYC-based singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Jonny Polonsky released a single in the magnetic shape of The Weeping Souls. Whilst capturing the imagination it hinted that his forthcoming new album would be a myriad of temptation and now here Kingdom of Sleep has more than lived up to the suggestion.

The album is the sixth from Polonsky within his 23 years as a solo artist. His first album, Hi My Name is Jonny was released in 1996 with the last, Fresh Flesh, coming out in 2018; both as his releases in between no strangers to attention and acclaim. That time has also seen Polonsky collaborate with the likes of Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond, Maynard James Keenan, Tom Morello and Donovan, and form and play in the short-lived Big Nose with Brad Wilk and Tim Commerford (Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave). Kingdom of Sleep is the striking new adventure in his creative journey, a release self-produced by the artist and mixed and mastered by Mike Tholen (Chris Connelly, Revolting Cocks).

The album opens with Ghost Like Soul, a track featuring the spoken words of Cedric Bixler-Zavala of At the Drive-In/The Mars Volta fame. Immediately a crepuscular radiance envelops ears, keys and vocals a shadow wrapped seduction as an eighties synth pop essence spices the growing charm and touch of the track, Polonsky’s imagination and craft embracing a mist of various hues in the song’s haunting breath. From start to finish ears and imagination were transfixed, the song only increasing its evocative suggestion and presence by the minute.

cover by Jorge Castillo

The following Sign In the Window instantly reveals its indie pop instincts, the opening short choppy riffs of guitar quickly joined by Polonsky’s ever magnetic tones. In turn a melodic sparkle breaks as just as radiant keys brew their own magnetism within the increasingly infectious encounter. There is a bright Frank Black meets James Cook essence to the song which only adds to its catchiness before The Weeping Souls once more had ears and attention hooked. Again temptation is immediate, guitar and voice colluding in a rich lure draped in a seventies/eighties suggestion of indie pop offering up echoes of bands such as T-Rex, XTC and Love and Rockets.

Openly Polonsky’s songwriting is matched by his imagination and craft in strength and virulence, next up No Tears proving the suggestion with its individual mix of electronic and indie pop within an emotion soaked serenade. It too shares the instinctive catchiness which springs from every track within the album, its gentle sway and emotive intimacy no restraint to an inherent contagiousness as epitomised one again within the following Take Me Home. A darker climate hugs ears straight away; its breath almost claustrophobic but the evocative mist across a melodic crystal at the song’s heart springing psych nurtured sonic sighs. Fascination leaks from every note and syllable, keys and vocals the source of rich temptation within the track’s equally potent atmospheric haunting.

You Turn Me On simply charmed the senses next while the Aenerone broke upon ears like a dew blessed melodic sunrise; both tracks absorbing pieces of infection loaded emotive pop woven with originality and undisguised passion. As within most tracks within Kingdom of Sleep there is a mercurial essence adding a suggestion of contrasting emotions or intensity, a drama which only escalates their captivation.

The album ends with A Willing Eye, an acoustic hearted, electronically escalated seduction which maybe took longer to seduce than others before it but with its thick drama and web of irresistible sounds grew to enthral and set another firmly memorable moment within the similarly fascinating release.

Kingdom of Sleep is an album which had us hooked and absorbed from pretty much its first breath but inescapably so with every subsequent listen so we can only recommend you run the rewarding risk of ensnarement too.

Kingdom of Sleep is released May 11th via Ghostworks Recordings; available@ https://jonnypolonsky.bandcamp.com/

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Pete RingMaster 09/05/2020

Copyright RingMasterReview: 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

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 Pete RingMaster 19/10/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Kleenex Girl Wonder – Vana Mundi

Creating melodic centrepieces with a lyrical heart as rich as their aural temptation is seemingly as second nature to US singer songwriter Graham Smith as breathing; proof easily gathered over closing on three decades of releases either under his name or as Kleenex Girl Wonder. As the latter he has spun yet another feverishly flavoursome collection of melody bred pop ‘n’ roll songs in the shape of new album Vana Mundi, one of those albums which schemes to get under the skin and into the imagination as it echoes contemporary life in its own distinct way.

Latin for ‘Empty World’, Vana Mundi reaches into the heart of life, into its selfish and selfless sides with often the latter emerging from the exploration of the former. It is as intimate as it can be seen worldly, suggesting experiences have bred its heart and thoughts as much as observation. It opens up with Practical Effects and immediately holds attention with guitars creating a lively clamour followed by a gentle stroll with a swing which just infests hips. Smith’s vocals soon follow to similarly beguile in their own distinct tongue and breath. Thoughts sprung to Britain’s Astral Cloud Ashes the closest comparison we can suggest to the uniqueness of Kleenex Girl Wonder, wondering if this also one man project was inspired by Smith a touch in its own individuality.

The excellent opener is quickly followed and matched by the bouncy saunter of Greek Fire, the resonating thud of rhythms alone a potent lure behind the boisterous and flirtatious exploits of voice and guitar. With each passing second each aspect accelerates its lustful gait and appeal, only relaxing to repeat the irresistible cycle with even greater enterprise and energy. Superb in every essence, the song sets a marker to be regularly worried across the release if maybe not quite by next up Trattegio. In saying that, the song only has attention and appetite keen with its calmer and eagerly infectious endeavours featuring guitarist Thayer McClanahan and drummer Matt LeMay alongside Smith.

Not for the last time on the album, Kleenex Girl Wonder brings a slight Kinks like hue to ears; Sounds Good a mellow engagement with volatility in its depths which rumbles rather than erupts across its reflection while Sexy Legitimate Threat casts an acoustic hug which soothes as lyrics strike. Like a magnet the song just draws ears and the imagination, every listen more intense as its simple but richly layered body pounces with greater enjoyment the result before The Mesomorph prowls the senses with its controlled yet open rapacious intent and tone. The dark edge of bass and rhythms seductively collude with the melodic and harmonic intimation of Smith, every handful of seconds within the song adding fresh drama to its increasing ingenuity.

Impossible Shadow is similarly inventive and distinct with its folkish aural festivities and subsequent shadow lit calms. Alongside its predecessor this pair provides the most imaginative exploits within Vana Mundi, its most powerful and impressive moments among nothing but rich moments of invention; the latter especially with its XTC-esque adventure.

The rawer buzz of Ask Mountain is not slow in tempting with arousing enterprise either; its melodic clamour resourceful and deviously catchy as electronic beats dance. It is infectiousness just as prevalent within the buoyant romp of Sunday Night Fever, a controlled but busy song with waves of energy in its voice and intent.

The album closes up with Picture the Kid, another vociferously rousing encounter with a great Frank Black like hue to its creative theatre and expressive breath. It is an irresistible end to an unavoidably fascinating and enjoyable release. It was a pleasure from the first listen earning only lustier responses thereon in; the album of summer’s dark side.

Vana Mundi is available now via Reesonable Records @ http://kgw.me/album/vana-mundi

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Pete RingMaster 26/06/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Eureka California – Roadrunners

With their 2016 album Versus one of our favourite encounters in recent times, there is always certain anticipation here when the name Eureka California crops up. What that album maybe lacked in uniqueness it more than made up in imagination and individual enterprise. Now its successor Roadrunners has arrived to explore real originality in sound whilst accentuating the band’s instinctive rock ‘n’ roll clamour and rumble amidst fresh intricacy of invention.

Consisting of the vocal and jangling sonic rapacity of Jake Ward and the rhythmic manipulation of Marie A. Uhler, Eureka California has become one of rock’s keenly embraced propositions over the decade and a year since first emerging from Athens, Georgia. Across their three previous albums, the duo’s garage rock/pop has evolved with their craft and experiences. Last year saw the release of the Wigwam EP, a proposal which blended a new rawness with the punk like aggression of Versus. It also suggested a greater subtlety and technicality to their writing and sound which has now been given its head within Roadrunners. That raw edge of the EP is less pronounced but still an ear grabbing texture in the band’s new release. It all makes for a proposition which maybe took longer to take to, compared to its predecessor, as its layers were explored but emerged as Eureka California’s finest moment yet.

Fourteen songs rich, Roadrunners begins with MKUltra and instantly a cloud of inviting jangle surrounds ears as rhythms build their own potent tempting. Once hitting its calm but clamorous stride, the vocals of Ward erupt with matching appetite and dexterity to the sounds around them. Like a garage bred dissonance fuelled Beach Boys, the track dances in ears to give the release an immediate high point.

The following Perfect Grammar is similarly bred and woven but with a raw angst and air which sears the senses as it seduces them. Uhler’s beats inspire a simultaneous swing to the track which has feet dancing to its mix of the wild and composed before Threads steps forward to forge a new high within Roadrunners. From its opening hook to its swiftly advancing rhythmic flirtation, the track had us licking lips and keenly bouncing. There is a great seventies DIY indie punk lining to the track recalling the likes of Television Personalities and ‘O’ Level, which surrounds an indie pop holler forged with hooks and beats which with its portentous heart just infested instincts and imagination.

It is followed by the calmer melodic seducing of Time After Time After Time After Time. It too has an immediate and organic infectiousness which worms into the psyche before its more feral side rises up in tenacious rock ‘n roll. There is a hint of The Monochrome Set to the song at times as it matches its predecessor’s triumph, both in turn equalled by the rousing antics and rhythmic dynamics of Over It. The trio all vie for best track honours, together providing the album’s pinnacle point.

I Can’t Look In Yr Direction is next, its sonic angst matched in lyrical reflection as its mellower contemplative complaints flare up amidst searing aural flames while Howard Hughes at the Sands is an acoustic saunter with caustic eruptions. Both tracks intrigued as they captivated, neither quite emulating the glory of those before but only adding to the album’s thick lure; bait only accentuated by the short but rich rock ‘n’ roll of following instrumental Buffalo Bills 1990 – 1993.

Through the excellent post punk wired JJT and the unpredictable poppier escapade of SWDs, Eureka California continue to unfold the new invention in their writing and music. The latter is a glorious slice of hook woven pop ‘n’ roll with a Pixies tint while next up Gila Monster just seduces attention second by second from its initial guitar scratching to its summery discord. Its swing and jangle is like hay fever, persistently nagging away but in contrast only pleasurable before in turn Telephone Tone shares its own infectious warm canter with zeal lined calm.

Concluding with the masterfully flirtatious and simultaneously fiery How Long Has This Been Going On? and the Frank Black meets Pere Ubu flavoured Mexican Coke, the continuously appetising Roadrunners swarms ears with its sound and imagination. It is easily the band’s most inventive and individual proposition to date and in turn their most compelling and enjoyable; simply one of the must check out highlights of 2018.

Roadrunners is out now digitally and on CD and Ltd Edition vinyl via Happy Happy Birthday to Me Records (HHBTM); available @https://eurekacalifornia.bandcamp.com/album/roadrunners and @ http://hhbtm.com/item.php?item_id=652

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Pete RingMaster 26/06/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Maths and The Moon – Familiar Strange

MATM_RingMasterReview

This month sees the release of the eagerly awaited second album from UK alternative rock trio Maths and The Moon. It has been not too many weeks short of three years since their debut full-length, Night Train Daydream caught and captivated ears and imagination with its tapestry of droning seduction and fire drenched melodies spun with uncompromising invention. Familiar Strange is the natural and bold evolution of its predecessor’s sound and character; a generally calmer proposal with fascination and maturity flowing through every pore yet still creatively, an unpredictable and forcibly adventurous exploit.

Southampton bred and made up of vocalist/guitarist/principal songwriter Andy Fielder, drummer Luke Taplin, and bassist Matt Hirst, Maths and The Moon has persistently provided sounds and sonic explorations which have challenged as powerfully as they have enthralled. Formed around 2010, the band made its live debut supporting the legendary Can frontman Damo Suzuki, building on that thick interest sparking moment thereon in before sparking rich acclaim with Night Train Daydream in 2013. The album was an experimental fusion of psych rock and post punk with plenty more involved. Familiar Strange similarly embraces those hues but with an even richer array of equally dramatic flavours involved. It provides a sound and experience which is less spiky than on the first album, even more welcoming melodically and emotionally in many ways, yet still immerses the listener in landscapes as imaginatively scenic as they are emotionally invasive.

The trio has honed their sound and ideas into aural tales, where words and notes collude to cast individual glimpses into shadowed hearts and emotive reflections whilst, to use the words in the album’s press release, losing the listener “in the forest with nothing but shadows, memories and strangely familiar characters.” It all begins with recent single Futurist, a song instantly imposing on ears through the rumbling bass and some heftily swung beats as the guitar spreads an evocative jangle. That relatively forceful first touch soon mellows into a calmer incitement, the song prowling on its rhythms as the inviting tones of Fielder croon over the web of sonic enterprise and drama. The volatility which persistently courts the track does erupt in its chorus to fine effect, arousing ears and appetite further before the song swings through its merger of all aspects while smouldering harmonies and melodic flames colour the fiercely infectious encounter.

Familiar Strange _RingMasterReviewThere is a touch of Muse about the opener, but just a passing whiff before a Pixies-esque spicing emerges in the following Magic. Again it is a scent in an offering uniquely Maths and the Moon; a track which merges a charming sonic irritability with tenacious beats and the spiny lure of the bass. As with the first, the song is inescapably contagious, inciting body and ears with equal prowess and success whilst its fuzzy air and emotive drama seals the imagination’s involvement. Across its length, it blossoms an increasingly blistered surface to its melodies and voice, flirting with a Jesus and Mary Chain meets scorched shoegaze like glazing, while superbly continuing the impressive start to the album with a success quickly backed up by Amongst Trees and its shadow grasped balladry. It is a subdued and mesmeric persuasion where poetically suggestive guitar and voice hug ears as drums and bass build a pulsating frame around them. A thicker stroll of psych rock does emerge within the track, another enticement as catchy as it is soothing in the album, which in turn breeds a rolling rhythmic incitement which provides the hook for celestial harmonies and sultry melodies to hang around.

Howling is another with that alternative meets indie rock essence to its persuasion, the Maths and The Moon seemingly inspired again by the Frank Black kind of songwriting in the creation of their very own addictive tango on the ear. A sizzling slice of dark pop, the track hits the sweet spot dead centre, an accuracy matched by the outstanding In The Ellipse. The track is a ten minute instrumental providing a rhythmic canter with suggestive melodies and lively enterprise in its creative mane. The virulent ride has the scent of The Cure to it, their kind of emotive theatre laid in a tenaciously sculpted and offered gallop though an ever shifting and descriptive landscape.

From the warm and bright emprise of the last track, The Collector envelops ears with a haunting and intimately melancholic sigh. As with the previous ballad, the song is a minimalistic proposal coaxing ears and emotions, but luring full attention with an underlying infectiousness to compliment the maudlin shadows and the great repetitive coaxing around Fielder’s magnetic vocals.

In the band’s first album, Wire often came to mind but not with Familiar Strange, not until Boomerang anyway which weaves some colder steely hues reminiscent of the great band into its low key but snarling seduction of the senses. It is simply just another texture though, taken and twisted to suit and fit what, the album continues to prove, is their most distinctive and robustly compelling sound yet.

Familiar Strange is brought to a close by firstly the solemn acoustic balladry and heart of As The Crow Flies, though a song building a pyre of emotion and sound which burns with more intensity by its departure, and finally, the haze soaked psychedelic saunter and mesmerism of Psych-Seeing. Providing a riveting end to a thrilling encounter, the track glows and resonates across the senses like charmed smog with a melody spilling lighthouse at its heart.

It is fair to say that Night Train Daydream impressed and still does but Familiar Strange is Maths and The Moon on a whole other plateau offering their most exciting and accessible but still invigoratingly experimental proposal yet.

Familiar Strange is released May 20th @ http://mathsandthemoon.bandcamp.com/

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Pete RingMaster 19/05/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Universal Thee – All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace

Universal Thee_RingMaster Review

All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace is a flirtation which, whilst seducing ears with its pop charm, has the body bouncing and worming around like a slinky. The second album from Scottish alternative popsters Universal Thee brings a smile to the spirit and infectious revelry to the day and whereas their critically acclaimed debut album had ears and voices seriously enticed its potential has simply been blossomed to new refreshing heights in its successor.

Formed in 2010 as a trio with “a faulty Macbook for a drummer”, Edinburgh hailing Universal Thee first took their live steps two years later with an actual drummer. It was a show which had a low-key attendance to say the least but within two years the band was sparking really sparking eager attention, with first album Back to Earth at the forefront of the new thrust in their emergence. Since then their stature has only ascended, shows supporting the likes of Ded Rabbit and an appearance on the pyramid stage at the Kelburn Garden Party potent successes enhancing further their live reputation. Such the magnetic and contagious prowess of All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace, 2016 is looking like being another successful time, possibly the moment when the band’s individual sound and presence is grabbed by new and broader spotlights.

Led by the united vocal enticement of husband and wife, James and Lisa Russell, the Universal Thee has drawn references to the likes of Ash, Pixies, Weezer, and Queens of the Stone Age; they amongst many inspirations to the band as a whole and individually. There is also, by coincidence one suspects, an eighties new wave/indie pop scent to their music which reminds of bands like The Chefs, Girls At Our Best, and maybe to a lesser extent The Passions and The Chesterfields. As shown straight away with opener Why, they are all just hues to something distinct to Universal Thee.

art_RingMaster ReviewThe first song swiftly jangles in ears with alluring elegance as the beats of drummer Matt Grieve provide a feistier touch. The song soon strolls along with a fuzzy air to the melodies of guitarists Robin Spivey and James Russell whilst the bass of Andrew Perrie brings a delicious almost groaning temper to the radiance around it. The blend of James and Lisa Russell is another key element in its persuasion, their union carrying a great essence of discord which just seals the deal for ears.

Unashamedly catchy, the great start provided by the first song is continued and surpassed a little by the second. Keep Falling adds a grungy texture to its enticement whilst the bass courts a post punk appeal within a quickly captivating Weezer-esque saunter. Its hooks are as keen and inescapable as its melodic romancing and boisterous energy, a creative weave more than matched by the band’s brilliant latest single Speaker. The mellow but lively vocals from both the Russells, leads a swinging almost mischievous tempting that instantly seduces ears and feet. That earlier mentioned eighties new wave pop colouring is a rich essence to songwriting which also openly draws on the influence of Frank Black, creating a proposition easy to suspect that the Pixies man would be proud to claim as his own.

Xang is a mellower but still energetic proposal next, its shadow lined air and character a slightly melancholic and evocative caress framed by more forceful rhythms whilst Lost at Sea glides through ears with a heavier and grittier breath to its punk infused pop. Both songs keep an already happy appetite fulfilled if without, and maybe expectantly, matching their glorious predecessors, a success definitely achieved by the outstanding Hey. With tenaciously anthemic rhythms and a fiery glaze to its pop ‘n’ roll, the song is certain single material with all the addictive hooks and qualities needed. Quaint and ballsy simultaneously, the track has the body leaping to its compelling creative throes before Hamlet 3 hits the same sweet spot with its own unique Teenage Fanclub does pop punk like canter. The song simply epitomises the growth in the band’s craft and sound without any lessening of their invasive pop ingenuity and it is impossible not to be fully involved in voice and hips with the increasingly rousing encounter.

A calmer climate washes over the senses as Sail Away floats into view, though rhythmically it offers great agitated bait around which vocals and melodies provide a familiar yet indefinable lure. A romancing which breeds more volatile moments within its persistent smooch, the enthralling hug makes way for more galvanic pop ‘n’ roll in the irresistible shape of Hounds, it in turn leaving ears to the pop fascination of closing track Light On, two tracks ensuring album and emotions are left on the same high they started with through song one.

Universal Thee have the great knack of creating something you feel you already know but then you only come across exciting surprise after surprise whilst being infested with pop music to get greedy over. All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace is the sign of a band ready to step into the intensive recognition of national awareness and more; a success hard to see evading the quintet for much longer.

All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace is available from February 19th whilst the single Speaker is out now, both via Eventual Heirs Records.

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Pete RingMaster 18/02/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Louis Ramos – Under The Mortar

cover

It is proudly raw, it is old school DIY, and similarly bullish in nature but most of all though Under The Mortar, the new EP from US musician Louis Ramos is an unapologetically enjoyable and abrasing, not forgetting bracing proposition. In many ways there is no surprise at the potency of the release, as Ramos has frequently lit our and numerous other’s ears and imaginations through his band The Amputees. The New York hailing band he created and drives, has persistently offered magnetic slices of inventive garage punk, whilst his songs more often than not have sculpted a tenacious mix of infectiousness and intrusive voracity, generally coloured by his own guitar enterprise. Now he has done it again, though in a primal offering which is his most intensive challenge on the listener yet but equally one of the most fascinating.

Consisting of eight songs which delve into various strains of punk and fierce rock, Under The Mortar opens with its title track and swiftly has electronic rhythms jabbing ears and attention into action before the sonic coaxing of the guitars catch melodically alight. There is a spiciness to the emerging acidic infectiousness and restrained but magnetic grooving which emerges within the song and vocally Ramos uses a warm texture in his delivery which tempers and works with the more abrasive textures well. Like a noise rock interpretation of The Pixies with an underlying pop punk catchiness, the song provides a strong and enjoyable start to the release.

The following Killing Spree is simply one minute and a handful of seconds of unbridled punk rock, a sound closer to Ramos’ exploits with The Amputees and virulently addictive. It is also a potent lyrical swipe which impacts as potently as the busy fury of sound. Its brief but pungent ferocity pushes the EP up another step which is backed by the outstanding Cruel Lip. Think Melvins and Sonic Youth in an industrial sonic blender and you get a sense of the excellent song. Melodically seductive at certain moments and psychotically warped in other times, the track hits the sweet spot whilst ‘punishing’ agreeable senses with its sonic rabidity.

It is fair to say that Get Off My Dick is not as romantic as it sounds, but is a hostile threat of defiance and guitar sculpted ravishment. The track though never goes for the jugular, its gait even paced yet confronting as the fingers of Ramos lure out some insidiously appealing and scarring hooks and sounds from his guitar. It is also another offering which has ears and thoughts absorbed before handing its hold over to the furious protagonist that is Trepanation Nation. Hardcore seeded in many ways, the song brawls with and bawls at the senses and thoughts, but again has a certain reign on its assault compared to the earlier Killing Spree.

The senses get a real testing with Gods And Devils, a song where Ramos vocally croons with impressive radiance but within a sonically tempestuous smog of sound. The guitar offers a raw misting which smothers ears and psyche yet within its caustic touch the vocals and a melodic expression simply blossom. It is an intriguing and compelling offering, like Frank Black engulfed in a harsh winter of sound. Its striking blend of textures is somewhat emulated in the more hard/classic rock balladry of Trophies. It does not have the same immediate potency as its predecessor but over time grows to become another enthralling part of Under The Mortar.

The closing Little Jimmy is an acoustic serenade with a Bolan-esque lure to the vocals and provocative lyrics looking at amongst things, the social apathy to war. The less intensive track musically on the release, it makes up for it emotionally and makes a great end to an attention grabbing encounter.

Certainly Under The Mortar will not make a comfortable playmate for some but for uncompromising and unashamedly imposing punk/rock ‘n’ roll which makes additional demands, it is easy to recommend checking out. The EP takes us back to the days of unpolished, bedroom recorded punk demos; just one more reason to take a punt on Louis Ramos.

Under The Mortar is available now @ http://louisramos.bandcamp.com/album/under-the-mortar

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RingMaster 04/03/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

 

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Thom Bowden – Searching The Brittle Light

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From the release of his striking and impressive The Damage EP of 2012 there has been a healthy dose of acclaim placed around UK musician Thom Bowden and keen anticipation bred for his debut album. This week sees the unveiling of Searching The Brittle Light and those hopes are sure to be satisfied with the ten track encounter. It is not a release which impacts as potently and consistently as Bowden’s previous proposition but certainly it brings another wash of the rich potential within his songwriting and highly agreeable sound.

Surrey based, Bowden takes inspirations from the likes of The White Stripes, Nick Drake, Dresden Dolls, Fugazi, and Neil Young into his imagination catching enterprise. As mentioned The Damage EP brought strong attention and responses from fans and media alike, something you can only see the album repeating and increasing. A collection of songs written when Bowden was ‘at a low point in his life’, the album was recorded with and mixed by Steve Albini (Pixies, Nirvana, Manic Street Preachers) and mastered by Steve Rooke at Abbey Road. Inspired by some advice offered whilst the artists was in Chicago by Kim Deal, the album brings a raw honest intent and beauty to the ears. There is also a slightly more adventurous variation across the songs than on the last EP, a move you can only respect and embrace even with its slightly mixed success in comparison to the consistency of the previous release.

With guitarist Richard George and drummer Steve Matthews alongside Bowden, the album opens strongly with Click!, a song taking mere seconds to seduce ears and thoughts with its opening seduction of sultry blues kissed flames. a2137786508_2The slow swipes of guitar are soon joined by punchy beats and a darkly drawing bassline before the great expressively twanged and unpredictable voice of Bowden starts revealing the lyrical narrative. His voice and a rich essence of the music has a Frank Black like temptation which only adds to the smouldering enticement, an invitation which burns increasingly brighter as the song evolves and spreads its senses sizzling charms. The feisty stride of the track is an incessant call on the passions whilst the increasingly warped vocal delivery which by this point has a more My Red Cell essence, Bowden sounding similar to frontman Russell Toomey of the defunct Welsh band, only captivates with mischievous bait. It is a strong and gripping start to the album which without lighting fires sets up a keen appetite for its offering, a hunger soon spicily fed by the second song.

So So Long makes a controlled and infectious entrance, guitars and rhythms a simple but entrancing lure to which Bowden’s grazing tones lay angst spawned invention and caustic passion. The track never lifts its gait to anything more than a slow determined canter but with expulsions of sonic heat and expressive melodic energy, the song irresistibly wins over ears, again thoughts of the previously mentioned Welsh band coming to the fore. It is a masterful slice of sonic magnetism bringing a licking of lips. Its potent presence is followed by the ballad My Arms, the song a union of voice, guitar, and emotive textures which certainly stirs up thoughts and attention but brings an unexpected and underwhelming halt to the thrust of the album. Obviously a highly personal offering, it is hard and impossible to dismiss, or not enjoy, but the song is a wrongly positioned rein on the passions for personal preference.

The following Control brings the temperature and energy back with accomplished and thrilling enterprise. Rhythms roll invitingly through the ears as guitars swerve and let fly with melodic scythes of enticement and sonic tempting which reawakens a thirsty imagination. There is a definite eighties new wave feel to the track, another shade of familiarity which in different designs attractively flirts with most of certainly the rockier numbers on the release. As it continues to tease and impress, the glorious song casts a web of inventive guitar endeavour, melodic mischief, and sonic alchemy to treat and seduce the emotions; it all aided by an emerging Pixies sounding toxicity.

Next up How About It? slips into a gentler hug of emotive intimacy and melodic caressing around a spine of shadow involving rhythmic invention from drums and bass. It is a slowly burning temptation which takes longer than certainly the previous song to persuade but emerges as a deliciously riveting and evocative highlight of the release. Its broody success is followed by the forty five second instrumental , a piece which is just there before the outstanding With Pace unleashes its grunge spawned sinews and punkish desires. As its title suggests, the track romps with swift, heavily thumping feet and fiery riffs around which rapacious grooves and fuzz encased vocals flirt and rage respectively. There is no escaping a Nirvana comparison but as elsewhere it only spices up the brawling encounter. The album and Bowden seems to wear inspirations on their sleeve, definitely more than the EP, to predominantly bring stronger aural colours to embrace.

The raucous air and exhaustive pleasure of the triumph is swiftly tempered and brought back to the ground with the folk seeded reflection of The Water Is Cold, a decent and strikingly performed song but again an underwhelming shift in scenery and suasion. Its emerging emotional stringed flight and expressive vocal coaxing does light thoughts and feelings, but there is the thought that the track would be better served elsewhere in the order or set on a separate release to find the reaction it deserves.

The bluesy plaintive cry of In The Ground comes next to stir up a nest of satisfied thoughts and emotions with its persistent tendrils of sonic imposing and fiery enticement around another roar of vocal lament and expression. It is a track which you want more of before the final elegant balladry of Sweet And Tender brings the album to a musically and lyrically rueful close. Soaked in more folk seeded melancholy it is a captivating end to a fine if inconsistent album.

     Searching The Brittle Light is an impressive next step for Bowden but because of its intent and bravery in stretching its boundaries may be fails to match its predecessor. The songs are a clear step on in craft and maturity let alone invention but the album feels like two releases in one which defuses its impact whereas separating them into EPs of rock and ballad seeded tracks might have brought the showcase and clarity they deserve. Nevertheless Thom Bowden is an exciting talent which will be creating remarkable and keenly devoured statements ahead, we for one wait eagerly.

Searching The Brittle Light is available digitally, on vinyl, and CD now via Audio Candle Records and @ http://thombowden.bandcamp.com/

http://thombowden.com/

7.5/10

RingMaster 15/07/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Slippertails – There’s A Disturbing Trend

 

Slippertails_COVER

     US rock band Slippertails is a bit of a mystery you will find when looking for info on the creators of new album There’s A Disturbing Trend. Based in New Jersey and formed by its members in Bloomington, Indiana where they roomed together, the band is apparently a duo though the only name seemingly offered up is that of frontman Nick Casertano who recorded demos alone in his basement which would eventually become this album. Other than that it is pretty much left to the imagination to wonder what the band is about, but what is not a secret is the stirring addictive sound band and release persuades with. A merger of sludge bred tendencies within an alternative rock/garage punk narrative and steered by a hypnotic vocal drawl which at times embraces shoegaze mesmerism, Slippertails creates a presence which worms deep under the skin and into the psyche with irreverent contagion.

     The album is not a flawless affair if being critical but such its potency and potential it is hard not to be excited about the prospects and future creativity of the band whilst glossing over any small negatives. Varied in fuzz drenched sonic spice and caustic imagination which sears and scores the senses, There’s A Disturbing Trend has a nagging almost pestilential beauty which just empowers and improves over time and though a raw lo-fi proposition which maybe will grate on some, the nine track tempest of noise is a masterful slice of sonic alchemy. The immediate description of the band’s sound which comes to mind is Frank Black meets Everclear, the latter thanks to the vocal delivery and alternative rock/grunge tendencies of songs, with plenty of Melvins juices in the mix but that is only part of the story to be honest as the songs soon reveal.

     Opening with its first single Hip New Jerk, the album makes an energetic entrance with keen punchy rhythms puncturing the instantly compelling smog of scuzzy guitar. The vocals of Casertano soon seize control with a Frank Black like presence which infuses into the heavy garage punk sounds too. It is an irresistible lure of a starter with a very relaxed breath which fits in perfectly with the more boisterous and scowling aspects of the song. A great single and opener it makes an early strong plateau for the album to maintain which the following Failure matches with its different type of temptation. A slow almost stalking encounter for the ears, the track seduces and intimidates with equal efficiency, flames of guitar smouldering in the air whilst bass and rhythms scowl belligerently beneath them. Again there is a Frank Black like suasion which predominantly seems to guide the inspirations for the whole album but it is not so overpowering as to dismiss any of the uniqueness of Slippertails.

     Both Walk and Garden State Of Mind ignite the appetite into a hungrier state of eagerness; the first from a hypnotic drum coaxing evolving a garage punk tempting which latches on to the exceptional rhythmic bait whilst a sonic web of guitar toxicity and effect showered vocals play out their narratives. It is one of those songs which holds a virulence which the emotions unavoidably get infected by whilst its successor with another crawling sonic festering of an approach, wraps its fuzz sculpted arms acidically around the ears before serenading them with delicious vocal harmonies alongside the ever engaging core vocal causticity of Casertano. The pair only inflates the already buoyant pleasure spread by the album and though it at times takes time to fully recruit the passions There’s A Disturbing Trend by this point already has full command of thoughts and emotions.

   The following pair of Gold Tooth and I Will Peel You Open move into that Everclear side of things, the vocals very much reminding of Art Alexakis whilst the expressive emotive sonic casting is a close cousin to that created by the Oregon band. It is fair to say that both songs fall short of what comes before them, the second almost labouring in its persuasion, but still the two ultimately convince with a craft and infectiousness which can and does only enhance the presence of the album. Things are soon back on course though with the brilliant All Seeing Eye, a song which sounds like Jesus and Mary Chain in tandem with House Of Love as they seduce The Walker Brothers. It is a transfixing mesmerism which leaves imagination and senses lost in a fuzz drizzled evocation of an emotively crafted sunset.

     The brief punk surge of Altar Wine also has a sixties temperament to its aggressive outburst whilst closing song I Wanna Take Pills With You is a psyche addled piece of sultry enchantment, a shadowed soaked melodic psychedelic glow of danger and seduction. It is a slow burning conclusion which like the album just gets more potent and magnetically thrilling over time and plays. There’s A Disturbing Trend is a striking encounter which makes you work for its rapture but pays handsomely with some quite enchantingly abrasive treasures.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Slippertails/487759917932606

8.5/10

RingMaster 14/01/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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The Machismo’s – Good Things About To Happen

Sam Marsh portrait by Michael Smith

Sam Marsh portrait by Michael Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

www.facebook.com/themachismos

9.5/10

RingMaster 04/08/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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