Ex Norwegian – Pure Gold

Pure-Gold-cover_RingMaster Review

There is always a sense of anticipation and indeed excitement when faced with a new release from US band Ex Norwegian, but in approaching their new album Pure Gold, there was a heavier sense of intrigue involved too. It was the first encounter since the serious illness which band founder Roger Houdaille suffered, the proceeds from the album going towards the emergency hospital bills incurred, and brings a collection of re-interpretations of tracks by other artists alongside original compositions from a new line-up to that which created the acclaimed and outstanding Wasted Lines album of 2014. So there was a wondering if the release was merely a filler in the future of the band but fair to say and straight away ears and imagination were alive whilst being immersed in the recognisable but ever unpredictable Ex Norwegian pop/indie rock sound, and the diversity of flavour that breeds to show it was anything but.

The creative union of Houdaille (vocals, guitars, keyboards, percussion), Giuseppe Rodriguez (vocals, bass, moog), Lucas Queiroz (vocals, guitars), Fernando Perdomo (drums, slide guitar), and Michelle Grand (vocals), with occasional guest organ prowess from Chris Price, tempt and grip ears straight away with album opener It’s A Game. A String Driven Thing song arguably made more famous by The Bay City Rollers, it quickly has feet in an eager shuffle and appetite licking lips with its catchy pop rock stroll. Ex Norwegian cast a vibrant energy to the song without losing its folkish charm whilst the great blend of vocals between Houdaille and Grand is almost flirtatious in its persuasion. There is also an Abba-esque hue to the great start to the release, though the fade-out is a touch annoying just to be picky.

Asking Too Much steps forward next and just as easily has attention enthralled with its melodic caresses and infectious persuasion as a healthy scent of Kirsty MacColl like folk pop flavours it. As the first, the song has a simplicity which is as inviting and enjoyable as the nuances and melodic enterprise the band inject into its design, the result another lively excuse to romp; a similar invitation given again by the feisty rock infused Beeside, a Tintern Abbey song. Sultry air and fuzzy breath soaks the song to great effect, whilst its psych rock character becomes increasingly compelling with each passing second and smouldering melody.

Already it is fair to say highlights are the order of the day so far, another provided straight away by the band’s impressive cover of the Melanie song Cyclone. Providing an inflamed melodic roar led by the superb tones of Grand, her harmonic expressive serenading ears as potently as the fiery side to her great voice, the track swiftly gets under the skin. It’s successor, the boisterous and show stealer On The Sidelines, is a match in such invasive potency, it playing like a feisty Martha and the Muffins but creating its own unique personality with every swinging rhythms, melodic temptation, and gripping hook. For us every Ex Norwegian album seems to have one song which especially hits the sweet spot, On The Sidelines that irresistible offering within Pure Gold.

A new wave essence fuels the following Other Half, a touch of Graham Parker to the song lighting up ears with a nostalgic bluesy air whilst the Paul McCartney track Keep Under Cover is given a virulent tonic of adventurous infectiousness and quite simply a tenacious fresh breath. Both tracks again leave body and emotions smiling and greedy for more, the album’s title track eager to satisfy with its mix of dark funky basslines, surf harmonies, and romancing melodic seduction. There is a less dramatic feel to the song compared to other tracks but with keys an emotive haze around the contagious lure of the bass and the lacing of spicy blues guitar, it is a robustly catchy proposal very easy to get fully involved with.

A fine take on the Jimmy Campbell song Close My Case And Move On comes next, Ex Norwegian accentuating its emotive heart and intimacy with a sturdier frame and tangy country rock colouring. A fascinating canter of a song with an element of pleasing discord to its nature too, it is maybe not as immediately impacting in comparison to the more boisterous approaches of other tracks within the album, but it matches all in persuasion before Shadow Ships and a version of Tell Me Your Plans by The Shirts brings things to an enjoyable close. The first of the pair merges Americana with sixties pop vibrancy, creating a richly satisfying if not fevered incitement; Tell Me Your Plans providing that with its again sixties hued interpretation of a great power pop offering.

From start to finish Pure Gold is a thoroughly engaging and highly enjoyable romp. It might not quite match the triumphant majesty of the band’s last album yet it is a different kind of proposition. For pleasure though, it is a rivalling success and reason enough to suggest Ex Norwegian is one of our brightest pop rock bands.

Pure Gold is released December 11th via Dippy Records @ http://shop.exnorwegian.com/album/pure-gold

http://www.exnorwegian.com     https://www.facebook.com/exnorwegian/     http://twitter.com/exnorwegian

Pete RingMaster 02/12/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Ian Prowse – Companeros

ian-prowse_RingMaster Review

It is fair to say that Ian Prowse has given British rock some impressive and successful times through previous bands Pele and Amsterdam, but it is hard to remember a time as rousingly enjoyable as his new solo album Companeros. The release is a collection which embraces a mighty handful of songs written by comrades he has met and/or admired, and tracks which have “never entered the national psyche, but should have.” The press release does not give enough info to say if all the eleven songs are covers or mixed with originals, but one thing it does get right is in declaring Companeros ‘stuffed full of rock and roll infused with Celtic soul and song wise it’s his most listenable set of tunes yet.”

That actually underplays the impact and virulent contagion unleashed by the crowd funded album to be honest. The successor to the Prowse’s acclaimed debut solo album Who Loves Ya Baby of 2014, the Tony Kiley produced Companeros hits the ground running and never looks back until the final note of its last emotion inciting song.

It all starts with Town And Country Blues, a superb version of a definitely shamefully neglected song from a similarly undervalued band. The track from Jim Jiminee has lit our personal fire ever since the band’s debut album Welcome To Hawaii hit the sweet spot in 1988, so there was an instant smile when it burst from the speakers upon Companeros and even more so with Prowse offering a contagious and lusty version. With horns and that Celtic essence colouring the track from its first breath and the distinctive voice of Prowse superbly shadowed by captivating female tones, the distinctive take on the outstanding song just has bums bouncing in seats, bodies to the dance-floor, and a greedy appetite ready to devour the rest of the release.

album-cover_RingMaster Review     English folk singer/ songwriter Alun Parry has his song My Name Is Dessie Warren embraced by Prowse next, acoustic and sultry electric guitar hugging the vocals from the start with a restrained but pungent bass line and jabbing beats emerging as the song catches the imagination with increasing energy and expression. Once more ears are left seriously satisfied though maybe not as much as they are by new single Mississippi Beat, a magnetic encounter featuring a duet between Prowse and acclaimed Irish singer Pauline Scanlon, who is one half of folk duo Lumiere. The song, written and recorded by songwriter Jez Wing and his band Cousin Jac, wraps the senses in melodic beauty and emotive temptation; the siren-esque tones of Scanlon the perfect contrast and company to the plainer but no less expressive tone of Prowse and the piano courting both with its own intimate elegance.

What Am I To You steps up next, its summery stroll pure infection from its first rhythmic shuffle and twinkling melody whilst the voice of Prowse delivers further mellow catchiness to the song’s swing before You Can’t Win Them All Mum has its turn to seduce ears with a smouldering air and potent lyrical reflection and intimacy. Originally by The Lost Soul Band, the song like its predecessor just lights the imagination and with its great sax flames, sparks a new hungry wave of appetite, though both tracks get slightly overshadowed by the pair of Derry Gaol and St. Patrick’s Brave Brigade. Not for the first or last time there is a whisper of Elvis Costello to a song on the release; the first of this pair openly hinting whilst merging it with an equally enjoyable whiff of Thin Lizzy in its magnetic slice of rock ‘n’ roll and a whiff of a Horslips like spice in the enterprise of the guitar and keys. It’s just as enticing successor is a swarthy and potent version of the powerful Damien Dempsey song, its sultry climate a mesmeric lure into the honesty of word and voice stirring up thoughts and emotion from within.

Diversity across Companeros is never in short supply as proven again by Johnny & Marie and its fifties rock ‘n’ roll infused revelry. Written by fellow Liverpudlian and city legend Phil Jones, frontman of eighties new wave band Afraid Of Mice, the song was originally released that same decade by Jones as part of the duo Up And Running. Given the creative stamp of Prowse’s enterprise and carrying the swagger of an artist you just know has a lusty affection for the material, as well as again being backed and warmly spiced by female vocals, the track has hips swaying and feet flirting with the dance-floor with consummate ease.

An indie/funk rock flirtation is uncaged by the following Conscience, the track another irresistible physical beckoning enslaving the listener before Spare Change and its Graham Parker like r ‘n’ b/punk rock stomp turns the heat up even higher with its slim but undiluted rock ‘n’ roll intoxication. It is hard to pick a best song from such a rewarding bunch on the album but certainly the penultimate track upon Companeros is up there shouting loud every time.

The album is finished off by a glorious nine minute live cut of the Amsterdam track Name & Number; the version a sure fire cert to again have bodies and energies aflame with its Celtic festivity and instrumentation aligned to one organic creative grin. It is a superb end to a thoroughly enjoyable and uplifting release. In these times of turbulence we all need something to light the soul; Ian Prowse and Companeros has that tonic in brilliant abundance.

Companeros is available now!

Pete RingMaster 21/09/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Celeb Car Crash – ¡Mucha Lucha!

CCC_RingMaster Review

Fusing a great blend of nineties rock and pop punk into a modern alternative rock invention, Italian quartet Celeb Car Crash have a sound which feels simultaneously fresh and familiar. It is a mix which makes their latest EP, ¡Mucha Lucha! an adventurous but equally, an instinctively enticing proposition. Bringing three varied and fiercely magnetic slices of melodic rock ‘n’ roll to bear on ears and appetite, the release alone suggests that Celeb Car Crash are pushing towards major attention.

Consisting of vocalist/guitarist Nicola Briganti, drummer Michelangelo Naldini, guitarist Carlo Alberto Morini, and bassist Simone Benati, Celeb Car Crash emerged at the end of 2012 and quickly set about recording their first encounter. Ambush! was unveiled in the April of 2013, backed by the video /single Dead Poets Society. Gaining strong attention from fans and media alike, the album was supported by an extensive tour across Italy, Switzerland, France, and the UK and shows supporting bands such as Gotthard and Coheed and Cambria, all reinforcing the emergence of record and band. After another well-received single the previous year, 2014 saw the band again concentrate on tours and shows, ending with Celeb Car Crash winning the Red Bull Tourbus contest against 1700 other entrants, resulting in the band playing three shows as support to Lacuna Coil and the chance to record a new single. That was to be Because I’m Sad, the opening song and lead to the ¡Mucha Lucha! EP.

celeb-car-crash-300x300Celeb Car Crash - ¡Mucha Lucha!     Backed by two unreleased tracks on the EP, the Olly Riva and Mario Rice produced Because I’m Sad gets things off to a gripping start. From its opening coaxing of acoustic guitar and the swiftly magnetic voice of Briganti, the song has ears in the palm of its hands, especially as the gentle opening soon sparks a feistier burst of rhythms and riffs. Quickly blooming greater colour and richer tempting through spicy hooks and anthemic enterprise, it continues to evolve, breaking into a tenacious canter reminding of bands like Everclear and Jimmy Eat World. It is a recognisable essence though which only adds to the potency and arousing drama of the song, and indeed its virulent infectiousness.

The following Next Summer has a more hard rock endeavour to its character but also a rhythm and blues spicing which has thoughts of Graham Parker hinting as it continues to explore its wiry walls and throaty canvas. Sharing the same boisterous energy as its predecessor and ripe with melodic flames and catchy hooks, the song shows another hue to the songwriting and sound of Celeb Car Crash, a raw and dirtier toning bred from more fresh and varied sources of rock ‘n roll gripping the imagination.

The EP is completed by ¡Adiós Talossa! (tututu), a sultry seductive affair from the off with warm emotive coaxing cast from the trumpet of Damiele Ravaiolli. Growing and blossoming with every passing minute, the bewitching track grows into a grungy pop punk affair around a compelling rhythmic stomp. Whispers of Green Day, Nirvana, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and again Graham Parker all seem to collude as a thicker aural colour continues to enrich a captivating encounter spawned from the band’s own invigorating ideation.

The opener and closer definitely steal the show upon ¡Mucha Lucha! but the thoroughly enjoyable Next Summer also shows that Celeb Car Crash have real variety and depth to their music and writing. A little late to the party, the EP is actually our introduction to the band but one which has sparked a keen appetite to see where they go next. An intrigue we will surely not be alone in.

¡Mucha Lucha! is available now via Sliptrick Records through most digital stores.

http://www.celebcarcrash.com/ https://www.facebook.com/CelebCarCrash/

RingMaster 22/07/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Black Checker – Fast

Black Checker

As 2013 comes to a festive close the unexpected treats just keep coming this time in the sizeable excellence of the Fast EP from Washington, DC rockers Black Checker. Made up of six rivetingly addictive and thoroughly contagious slices of hungry punk pop with a power pop excitability, the release stomps with a presence which is hard not to be captivated by and breed a keen appetite for. There is something also familiar to the band’s sound which only endears itself to the imagination, an essence which is recognisable and undeniably fruitful in furthering the EP’s appeal. Black Checker may be new to most outside of their home state but Fast suggests it is only brief situation on the band’s richly potential rise to full recognition.

The trio of vocalist/bassist Jim Cordes, guitarist/vocals Tony Porreco, and drummer/vocals Names Thompson immediately spark attention into life as opening track Bagel Girl mischievously bounces into view with great jagged ska kissed riffs and a broody bassline. There is a warmth and swagger to the track which rapidly draws out a strong hunger, the rhythmic tempting and slightly gravelled vocals of Cordes just as appealing. Thoughts of Joe Jackson and Super Happy Fun Club are sparked at times as the track continues to stroll with confidence and skilful temptation drawing in emotions, additional fiery guitar invention and an intensifying feisty energy only adding to the irresistible lure.

The following Can’t Let Go takes the impressive start up another level or two, the track a rousing feast of rock pop with Black Checker - Fast - coverstriking sinews and anthemic melodic fire. The drums of Thompson provide a hypnotically addictive frame for the charged riot of riffs and sonic endeavour to playfully incite the imagination within whilst again bass and vocals grip the ears with relish and thrilling temptation. It is a scintillating track which almost alone cements the presence and strength of the band and its sound as a new rapture in the passions. Black Checker has been tagged with comparisons to the likes of The Replacements, Cloud Nothings, Hüsker Dü, and Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, references which are easy to understand but certainly this song amongst a few suggests an even closer link to another band, unfortunately that reference evades realisation as this is written which is extremely frustrating, like trying to pick up a needle wearing boxing gloves, so close but so far.

    Never Doesn’t Mean Someday bursts in next with another riot of pop punk to greedily devour. The bass produces a great funk gait to its dancing on the ear riff whilst the guitars flirt with enthusiastic and accomplished devilry, grooves and hooks stoking the passions with addictive taunting and creative mischief. Though the song does not quite find the same heights as its predecessors it still takes the listener to an insatiable voracious rock ‘n’ roll party as hosted by Rocket From The Crypt. Its successor Blick Badger also keeps the quality and variety coming on strong, the opening range of riffs provided within a cavernous air to set up thoughts for the emerging blues kissed adventure. With a whisper of Graham Parker to its suasion the song provides another absorbing and firmly enticing recruitment of thoughts and emotions.

The jangling scythes of guitar which sculpts next up Man Enough soon has feet joining up with the bruising and thrilling urgency of its proposition. Vocals and rhythms are no weak link in the submission of the passions either whilst the melodic fire scorching every note and the rapacious energy driving the track forcibly through the ear  make virulent contagion which refuses to take no for an answer from a now lustful hunger for more.

The closing track A New Way opens with a reggae seeded gait and lilt from bass and guitars whilst the riffs and their neat hooks are close cousins to those crafted by early XTC. It is a magnetic start which then slips from its initial pedestal as the song sweeps into an emotive and restrained embrace, though the return of the opening enticements does spark things up when they interject across the track. It is an undeniably strong and superbly crafted song but against what came before pales in success and presence. Nevertheless the final song still only reinforces the impressive presence of the band and their mouth-watering sound.

Fast is a storming slab of rock pop/ power punk which excites from start to finish declaring Black Checker as one of the finest and promising first encounters for us this year. Expect to hear the name a lot more ahead.

http://blackcheckerband.com

https://www.facebook.com/blackcheckerband

9/10

RingMaster 18/12/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Jeker’s Cardboard Condo – Self Titled

cbc front page

More than just a band name and album title, Jeker’s Cardboard Condo is an album which steps forward from within classic rock familiarity and assuming expectations to present one extremely captivating and enjoyable encounter. It is not going to rival others for best of lists come December but for honest and instinctive rock ‘n’ roll with an infectious voice and magnetic heart it stands side by side with most.

The story behind the name and release is the type of tale music and blues rock was created to soundtrack. The protagonist of the tale is Mark Jeker, a guitarist/vocalist/songwriter who decided to devote everything to his music amidst disillusion with life. The man in his bio states, “I left everything behind, my home, my family, myself respect and sometimes, my dignity.” Living in his pickup truck and playing with his cover band to raise any kind of funds, Jeker wrote and worked on his music, moving from parking lots to fields and gas stations in the truck as he continued to write and play guitar. The demise of his home/vehicle saw him travelling to NYC looking for inspiration in the streets and the people he met and money earned from street performing just about paying for his trips. As bar gigs in Jersey slowed in the summer he began sleeping on the streets and river banks with guitar and writing pad, with time also spent in subways and in line at soup kitchens. One rainy day in July 2010 he built his own cardboard shelter with refrigerator boxes, an old tarp and some duct tape. Decorated with whatever he could find and artwork from a graffiti painter friend, his home was christened Jekers Cardboard Condo. With visits from fellow shack dwellers building into Cardboard Condo parties things were as settled as the situated allowed, but of course never thankfully to be permanent. Gigs started picking up bringing some finance back into his days whilst a meeting with guitarist singer and song writer, Joe Fallon led to an invitation to records some songs. Further help and support from friends musically and in living and travelling aspects, continued an upswing in Jeker’s fortunes as did continuing shows which helped finance a place to live and recording equipment. Continually working on recording songs and creating the album through 2011 into 2012, Jeker’s Cardboard Condo was finally completed and released, the result an album with true spirit and a instinctive breath filled with easy to access rock passion.

Assisted by Fallon (guitar/bass/vocal), Mark Clese (guitar/bass/percussion), and Tony Morra (drums/percussion) across the songs making up the release, Jeker’s Cardboard Condo gets off to a very decent start with Cardboard Condo. From a fiery start the track settles into a strolling gait with flames of blues guitar and the distinct vocals of Jeker providing an openly honest narrative of the tale we tell above. It is a strong, if in hindsight underwhelming compared to what is to come, introduction which makes for a warm and energetic welcome to the artists and release.

The following Knock is another matter; it’s laid back but beckoning start doing enough to pull in stronger attention before the harmonies and melodic poise of the song rewards by taking senses and passions into the rocking heart of the encounter, its pop hooks and earthy vocals delivering the sealing persuasion for thoughts and appetite. Just hinted at on its predecessor, there is a strong whisper of Graham Parker to this track and the vocal delivery of Jeker which adds another potent dimension to things. Jagged riffs spark another rise in a hunger for the track especially as a Tom Petty essence also makes an appearance as the song rises to an infectious and lingering climax.

Mind’s Eye has a similar glaze to its presence as its predecessor, a Parker/Costelloesque lure irresistible once it wraps around the excellent bass temptation leading into the song at the start. As with all the tracks it is fair to say there is nothing staggeringly new being unveiled but equally there have not been many classic rock albums with such an endearing, uncluttered but imaginative, and convincing suasion to ignite the same level of pleasure either in recent months or so.

Deception is a song which took time to fully win over thoughts and emotions, but after numerous plays it emerged as an addictive little tease which secured strong ardour for itself, though the song always feels a little weak until it is into its stride where it just excels. Its presence is soon equalled and subsequently surpassed by the rock pop contagion of Sometimes, a song which defies you to resist joining in and have feet tapping without reticence, the again Graham Parker smelling Anyway, and the excellent That’s Life with its sizzling blues toned guitars and David Essex like touch, yep honestly.

The brief piano cascade of drama to welcome in Blue Diana, strikes up strong anticipation which is then left disappointed by the following stance of the song. The track is a pleasing and potent part ballad flame of passion and creative skill, a song which has little in flaws but after such a big trigger just does not match the hunger which was sparked, though the melancholic strings and throaty evocation to the tail of the track go some of the way. The same applies to My Reality, its eastern rhythmic invitation outstanding and a seed for lust which the weakest song on the release throws away. In saying that the track is still an easy to ride to make peace with just not one able to satisfy the thirst its entrance bred.

Closing with the impressive Angel in My Pocket and its emotional tonic, Jeker’s Cardboard Condo is a thrilling stomp of a release which does not try to be anything but honest and passionate, something it and its creator achieves with ease. Not your album of the year maybe but certainly able to become one of your favourite aural long term friends.

https://www.facebook.com/JekersCardboardCondo

8/10

RingMaster 16/09/2013

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Mike Marlin – Grand Reveal

 Mike Marlin pic

     To be honest initially the new album Grand Reveal from Mike Marlin threw thoughts and expectations into mystified disarray, the artist instantly going against what was presumed for our first encounter with the man. It also did not take long to be deeply enamoured with his enterprise and inventive uniqueness. Marlin creates what can only be described as dark folk, though that also limits the impression of what is on offer across the striking album. The songs making up the release evoke and provoke thoughts and emotions but constantly within its startling and varied breath, there is an underlying virulent infectious lure. It is not always marked and at times no more than a whisper but at all times the barb hooked is available and potently contagious.

Born in London in the sixties, Marlin has had an eventful and dramatic life to simplify things. Losing an eye as a four year old while playing in the garden, the traumatic event and the subsequent cruelty of other children shaped he and his determined fire ahead. Something of an academic child prodigy he won a scholarship to Oxford to study Physics at seventeen. At this point he truly began his musical education constantly attending gigs and seeing the likes of Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, Eddie and the Hot Rods, Dr Feelgood, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Stranglers, and The Undertones to name just a small few. Playing bass in a band in Oxford came next before Marlin dropped out of education and started working in the small family broking business. The next twenty five years or so saw Marlin go through a family meltdown, start a series of technology based companies, and in 2008 decide to be a novelist Throughout he had also written songs with no intent to unveil them for public consumption but in 2009 he met musician and producer James Durrant and they recorded as a creative experiment the album Nearly Man, which Mike now describes as “the greatest hits of a man who never had any hits”. A recording by him of Staying Alive brought him to the awareness of agent Neil O’Brien and one year later from singing his first song to anyone Marlin found himself supporting The Stranglers at the Hammersmith Apollo on their 2011 UK tour. Later that year debut album Man On The Ground was recorded with producer Catherine Marks, as well as joining another Stranglers UK and European tour.

Entering the studio again last year with Marks for Grand Reveal, what has emerged is an album which reaps depths of emotions Mike Marlin - Grand Revealand striking ingenuity which one assumes have seeded from the journey Marlin needed to make in his life. The album starts with the first single taken from it, Skull Beneath The Skin. An ambient key shaped entrance evokes the imagination at first and though it does not light instant imagery there are shapeless ideas bred from its elegant presence. Soon a lone guitar is stroking the ear whilst Marlin brings his excellent part croon part growling vocals to bear on the lyrical narrative. Into its full stride there is certainly a Psychedelic Furs lilt to the eager stroll of the song and vocals, the refreshing sounds and passion offering a R&B swagger to the almost punkish attitude. It is an excellent start which entraps full focus before handing over to the title track, a song with a slow loping stance within an emerging sweltering air rich in emotive shadows and snarling ambience.

The impressive start continues with War To Begin and Amazing, the first a track with a repetitive persistence coring a fiery embrace which sizzles and burns upon the senses. Like many of the songs on the album its catchy temptation is irresistible with the vocals of Marlin are an appetizing graze within the melodic energy of the confrontation. The second of the pair is a dawdling tension of feeling and atmosphere with an agitated yet hypnotic pulse to add steel to the emotive charge. The beginning of the track is compelling enough but when it flares up with an electric abrasion from the guitar and heightened fire to the vocal attack, a major highlight is bred.

As it progresses The Grand Reveal increases its potent attraction with further pinnacles coming through the outstanding sinister dark folk triumph of The Murderer, the song easily the best on the album with its distorted innocence and sultry intrigue not to mention malevolence, the warm sixties tinged Forgive Me Yet with its vibrant brass shards of colourful sounds and Cajun banjo coaxing, and Doesn’t Care. The last of the three songs picks at the ear with glistening spots of sonic brilliance whilst the guitar picks its moment to precisely play the passions like a siren. It is a kaleidoscope of emotive craft and richly appetising enterprise, something which describes the whole album perfectly.

With every song offering a shadowed tale lyrically and musically to whip up imagination and pleasure with their diverse inventive aural fuels, Grand Reveal is a rare and rewarding feast which no one should pass upon.

http://www.marlinmarlin.com/

8.5/10

RingMaster 08/04/2013

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Mike Doughty – Yes And Also Yes

The time for presents and treats maybe over with the festive season a swiftly departing memory but Mike Doughty in the form of his brand new album has presented the heart with one of the biggest gifts possible. From start to finish Yes And Also Yes is a glowing joy, a release rippling with well crafted exciting songs to offer a feast for the senses. Consisting of fourteen vibrant, witty and mesmeric indie pop songs the album gives an engaging and diverse presentation of inspired quality song writing and its realisation.

Yes And Also Yes is Doughty’s fourth album and a natural continuation of the sound that blessed previous release Sad Man Happy Man of 2009. It has not taken a giant leap on from its predecessor sound wise but the songs within Yes And Also Yes have a rounder feel, a more defined sound, I guess the best word for it is maturity. The album is as ever from the former Soul Coughing frontman full of fun, the wealth of great songs carrying a mischief that can only endear the album further. The title of the release comes from the headline for his profile on an online dating site and just epitomises the wordplay and humour he instinctively graces his songs with.

For those new to the man, Doughty’s music is an imaginative meld of indie, pop, subtle rock, folk, Americana and plenty more. Each track has an individual life that gives a great variety to the album, but to be honest it is the extra little offbeat and unique unpredictable sounds and twists that he often employs as additives to spice songs up that make the man really stand out far ahead of the crowd. Unpredictable and sometimes darkly surprising these moments elevate songs far beyond the norm though no song could ever be called predictable. Slight discordance, heart twanging strings, and skilful slightly dark inserts are among the enterprising ideas unveiled throughout the album to wonderful effect; he even uses a capsule of the antidepressant duloxetine for percussion.

Opening track and single ‘Na Na Nothing’ immediately sets the upbeat tone that veins the album even within its more emotive subdued moments and has the juices of anticipation running long before its end for what is ahead. It is incessantly catchy and impossible to resist joining in on for its chorus, the song simply and eagerly leaping through the ear to play joyfully and warmly on the senses. The overall sound on the track and often elsewhere especially vocally in songs is like a heady exhilarating mix of Frank Black and Graham Parker with splashes of choice Elvis Costello essences.

Into The Un’ a song about goth kids on LSD in a train station, continues the wonderful start but then again every song does so that by the closing note of Yes And Also Yes one has the same feeling as going through the first. The high level is maintained impressively but a few songs really played the heart like an instrument to satisfy and impress thoroughly such as ‘Strike The Motion’ with its pulsating mesmeric keys behind the song’s front giving as does the following ‘Have At It’ a stirring sound that plays like the union of Costello and Rocket From The Crypt, and ‘Makelloser Mann’. Brief and sung in German, Doughty simply singing a bunch of random, peculiar phrases, the music has a lovely B52’s sounding riff and melodically teasing keyboard, more evidence of the variety and creativity within the album.

The great songs keep coming, ‘The Huffer and the Cutter’ brilliantly worded and full of dark additives, ‘Rational Man’ with its irresistible acidic strings over a metronomic eagerness, and ‘Weird Summer’ with its vastly varied landscape of sounds and flows bringing a Green Day riff, Doughty rapping, and more disturbed strings, all to play with the senses. The country lined ‘Holiday (What Do You Want?)’ featuring Rosanne Cash has to be mentioned too, and for one that has as much enthusiasm for Xmas songs as TV talent shows have for quality the song was rather pleasing.

Released on Doughty’s own label Snack Bar January 23rd, the album is a must hear. We have not really touched on the great lyrics throughout but that can be an extra undiscovered treat on investigation the release for you.  The album coincides with the release of Doughty’s autobiography ‘Book of Drugs’. Dealing mainly with drugs, music, and the “weirdness, and messed-up-ness, of life in Soul Coughing” the book is another highly anticipated discovery.  Treat yourself to at least one; even better spoil yourself with both.

For more on both check out Mike Doughty’s official website @ http://www.mikedoughty.com

RingMaster 14/01/2012

 

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