Gazing into the fresh glow of The Cathode Ray with Jeremy Thoms

The Cathode Ray_RingMaster Review

Photo and copyright Peter Tainsh

2015 has provided many treats this year and definitely amongst them was the latest and second album Infinite Variety from Scottish indie band The Cathode Ray. It was an encounter embracing the nostalgia of the eighties through fresh and inventive escapades bred of the now. One of the band’s founders is Jeremy Thoms, he also the man behind the great indie label Stereogram Recordings, and someone who to describe as busy is a big understatement. Nevertheless, Jeremy kindly gave us a chunk of his time to talk about the album, The Cathode Ray itself from top to bottom and more, including an insight to his own musical loves…

Hi Jeremy and many thanks for giving us your time to talk with us.

Ever late to the party, we discovered The Cathode Ray through your new album Infinite Variety which came out a couple of months or so ago to, it is fair to say, swift acclaim. In a music world where it seems increasingly harder to actually get people to part with money or indeed offer full attention to things, did you have any particular expectations or hopes for its unveiling or is it more anything is a bonus for bands right now?

We didn’t have any expectations other than hoping that those who had liked the first album would stay with us for the second. We knew we’d made a good follow up album but, as you say, in an environment when it’s very hard to engage with people, nothing is guaranteed.

Photo by Hugh Womersley

Photo by Hugh Womersley

Originally the band was just you and Paul Haig, famed for Josef-K and his own solo career. The press release for the album suggests this was not originally intended to be a serious band project but a writing collaboration. Was that the case and what brought Paul’s involvement to an end?

Paul definitely just saw it as a writing collaboration – “a bit of fun” was one his quotes – with group recordings just being made to illustrate them. However, the reaction to them was so positive, one thing lead to another and I pushed for it to become a band and take it more seriously, which Paul wasn’t happy with so eventually he left. What confused matters in the press and public eye was that Neil, David and I were his backing band when he did a solo tour in 2008. However the emphasis then was completely on his solo work, and he had no intention of being a member of a band again after Josef K, which in the end we had to respect.

The double ‘A’ sided single What’s It All About? /Mind was released in 2006; I believe this was meant as a one off release?

Not initially but it ended up like that. Certainly with Paul participating. When we made the agreement with Pronoia Records in 2006, the album had been recorded with Paul’s full participation, but by the time we got around to discussing getting it released he had changed his mind. So he asked us to remove his lead vocals, which we did, although some of his guitar and backing vocals do remain on the first album.

At what point did that spark the appetite to push things further; as a full band and with more releases?

The point that changed everything was bumping into Steve Fraser at a TV21 album launch in 2009. I told him what had happened and he was keen to get involved. The minute we started talking music I knew he was the man. We didn’t even bother with an audition. I knew the songs were strong enough to survive without Paul’s involvement. That opened so many doors, being able to play live (which Paul would never have done as The Cathode Ray) and generally move things on after quite a difficult start.

Were some of you all already old friends and maybe previously worked together before uniting for The Cathode Ray we know today?

Neil Baldwin and I have known each other for 34 years (!) and have played in bands together intermittently since 1986. David Mack and I had been working together since 2000 so, yes, there was a certain chemistry. Steve was the “new boy” although we’d all known him on the Edinburgh scene previously.

I have to admit for once, and not intentionally, I read about the band and its background before hearing a note for a review, and to be honest once seeing a list of previous projects for members of The Cathode Ray2_RingMaster Reviewthe band which had been indelible pleasures in my personal soundtrack, subsequently luring a revisit to old favourites records after finishing the review too, there was an increased anticipation and eagerness to explore the band and album. Do you think having your musical histories has helped draw awareness to the band or not?

Well obviously there’s going to be a certain amount of that, but I do believe, hopefully without sounding conceited, that The Cathode Ray is more than the sum of its parts. But initially I guess it did help getting people interested through our various previous involvements.

There were whiffs of all some of your previous bands at times across the songs and often nostalgia blessed air of Infinite Variety, The Bluebells and Scars maybe most notably in our ears. You are a band unafraid to draw on previous adventures and spices to hone new and fresh exploits, as potently shown on the album?

The songs that I write aren’t consciously drawing on any of our past exploits, but I guess where you’ve come from does influence where you’re going. In any case, it’s probably coincidental, as Steve only toured with The Scars as a depping bassist so wasn’t involved in their creative process, while Neil only contributed to arrangements with The Bluebells. But inevitably, as we all come from that post-punk background, some of the sounds and styles of these bands are going to rub off.

How would you say The Cathode Ray has evolved over time and specifically between Infinite Variety and its predecessor, your self-titled debut album?

I would say the vague initial brief of merging post-punk Manchester with New York has simply broadened to the point where I regard ourselves now as a band that isn’t easy to pin down musically. Our original press release mentioned 60’s Garage, Soundtracks and Northern soul, to which one critic added Psychedelia, Glam-Rock, Euro-Disco, Krautrock and 90’s Alternative Pop when reviewing Infinite Variety. So it is definitely evolving. I’m currently demoing material for the next album and there’s even more interesting musical areas I’d like to explore. It’s good to surprise people.

TCR cover_RingMaster ReviewGive us some insight into the thoughts and intentions going into the writing and recording of Infinite Variety? Do you build a release on particular aims or ideas or predominantly let things organically evolve?

Things do tend to evolve organically. If you put too much pre-conceived thought into it, the music loses its spontaneity. Although I suppose one particular aim is not to repeat ourselves. Each album needs to be a significant progression from the previous one, so a certain degree of thought does go into that. Also, apart from melodies and lyrics, I’m always interested in rhythms and try to be as adventurous and varied as possible in that area too.

We described the album as a “kaleidoscope of fun, sound, and adventure”, a fair hint we think at the array of flavours and inventive spices fuelling and shaping the songs within Infinite Variety. In the hands of many bands it might be an incoherent mix, but you manage to seamlessly blend all spices and individual characters of songs perfectly. Where do you and the band start when composing songs?

Well I compose the songs and demo them first with the key riffs, chord progressions, lyrics etc. all in place. At that stage they often do sound fairly disparate. I then present them to the band in the rehearsal room and that’s when it starts to sound like The Cathode Ray. Steve, Neil and Dave all contribute parts and arrangements until we arrive at the finished article. Some songs like The Eyes Are The Window took a long time to come together and changed quite considerably from my original demo. Others end up fairly similar to the original template, but all manage to sound cohesive owing to the fact it’s the four of us playing them, I guess.

The album’s tracks manage to be rich and at times expansive in texture and flavour yet also ‘slim’, i.e. no excess baggage or indulgence. They manage to be an open evolution from your first album but also reveal a bolder leap in aural colour and character; how do you hear their relevance to older propositions as one of their creators?

Well obviously it’s difficult to be completely objective about something you’ve created yourself, but I see their place in relation to the first album as a natural progression. The leap in colour and texture which you describe is simply a way of moving the band forward, without cluttering things up unnecessarily. You use the word ‘slim’ and I suppose that comes in at the production stage – cutting off any excess fat!

How long in the making from first note to paper or thought through to last note laid down was the album?

The boundaries are always blurred as we always tend to have songs left over which were either written too late to make the cut or simply didn’t fit at the time. For example, This Force Of Nature had its origins as a completely different song dating way back to 2006. It had never sounded right so was left on the shelf. I went back to it in 2014 writing new lyrics and melodies and it quickly came together then. Eureka Moment and Buck the Trend were written in 2009 when Steve first joined. But the bulk of I.V. was written and recorded between 2012 and 2014 – around two and half years.

Our review stated spices of bands from around the eighties as rewarding aspects but over time sixties/seventies tones have emerged. I sense your own inspirations and musical loves go far back?

Oh yes – my musical tastes stretch way back! How long have you got? Songwriters have always been key to me. From Lennon & McCartney, Brian Wilson, Smokey Robinson, Jimmy Webb and Bacharach & David, through Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Scott Walker, Al Green, Bowie, Joni Mitchell, Robert Wyatt and Neil Young to Costello, Paddy MacAloon and Rufus Wainwright, the song is always key. Then there’s the bands I love – The Stones, The Velvets, The Doors, Faces, Roxy, Yes, Kraftwerk, Television, Talking Heads, Buzzcocks, Chic, Wire, Magazine, Pretenders, Joy Division, Dexys, Scritti Politti; Cocteaus, Talk Talk, Teenage Fanclub, High Llamas, Flaming Lips… the list goes on.

There is no mistaking that Scottish bands and rock ‘n’ roll of all styles and design bred there, has something unique to it, and we could go on a long list of examples. Can you define what it is in ‘the

Photo by Jez Curnow

Photo by Jez Curnow

water’ which helps breed such distinctive and so often inspirational bands from that part of the UK, as ones yourselves?

I think there’s an open-mindedness up here. Maybe Scottish bands tend to draw from a wider pool of influences than other parts of the UK. Or maybe it’s to do with being distanced from what’s happening down south – even in the age of the internet. It’s certainly true that scenes of their own do seem to crop up here around labels like Postcard, Fast, 53rd & 3rd, Creeping Bent and, possibly, our label Stereogram too, which has attracted similar kindred literate spirits. Either that or we all seem to be obsessed with the Velvet Underground!

What comes next for The Cathode Ray?

Firstly, we’ve got two more live shows coming up this year as part of The Stereogram Revue in Edinburgh and Glasgow, plus a new track called It Takes One To Know One on a compilation album. Then there’s a new video shot earlier this year at the Kings Theatre in Edinburgh by Jez Curnow to go with Saving Grace, our other featured track on the comp. After that we’ll be knuckling down to working on the follow up to Infinite Variety. I’ve got five or six new songs written and demoed, plus a couple of leftovers, so we’ll be getting on with them. Expect some new directions.

Your releases come out on Stereogram Recordings, your own label which seems to have out grown and blossomed far more than its original intent I believe. Can you tell us a little about it and what is ahead for the label too?

It has indeed outgrown its original intent which was simply to facilitate a release for the first Cathode Ray album, plus any other projects (The Fabulous Artisans) or archive material I had kicking about. But over the last couple of years it has been growing steadily with first Roy Moller signing up, followed by James King & The Lonewolves, Milton Star, St. Christopher Medal, Lola in Slacks and, Band Of Holy Joy. The critical and public response has been great which is hugely encouraging. As previously mentioned, we’re rounding off the year with two Revue shows which will feature the entire roster in some form or other (minus Milton Star who don’t have a live set up at present). These gigs will be accompanied by The Sound of Stereogram, a budget compilation in the spirit of New Wave in ‘77 or Pillows and Prayers in ’82, featuring both new and old tracks from all eight acts on the label. Next year promises some new signings plus new material from the existing acts.

My big thanks to you again for chatting with us; have you anything you would like to add?

Nothing to add except thanks very much for your support over the last year.

Lastly and looking at band’s influences on your Facebook profile, a list of bands littering my own record collection I have to say, can you indulge me and give us a few of the bands/records which inspired you to get into music and then as a musician push yourself further?

Well I’ve already mentioned a whole bunch of artists who’ve inspired me, so here’s some records that have been key: “With The Beatles”; “Motown Chartbusters Vol.3”; “Pet Sounds”; “Piper at The Gates of Dawn”; “Forever Changes”; “Loaded”; “Scott 4”; “What’s Going On”; “Exile On Main Street”; “Never A Dull Moment”; “Close To The Edge”; “Aladdin Sane”; ”Houses Of The Holy”; “Quadrophenia”; “Rock Bottom”; “Country Life”; “Zuma”; “Songs In The Key Of Life”; “Trans Europe Express”; “Marquee Moon”; “My Aim Is True”; “Never Mind The Bollocks”; “Risque”; “All Mod Cons”; “Love Bites”; “Fear Of Music”; “Closer”; “The Correct Use Of Soap”; “You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever”; “Rattlesnakes”; “Steve McQueen”; “Don’t Stand Me Down”. Again the list goes on…

Read our review of Infinite Variety @

Pete Ringmaster

The RingMaster Review 23/11/2015

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Pacific – What Are You Waiting For EP

Pacific_RingMaster Review

Already lighting up ears and a horde of eager appetites with two singles this year, UK alternative rock band Pacific finishes the year off in fine style with new EP What Are You Waiting For. With four tracks of the melody rich and adventurous infectiousness they are becoming renowned for, the release romances the senses and capture the imagination from its first lively caress. Equally there is a depth and invention to the Cheshire quartet’s sound and songwriting which invites numerous returns with new twists and layers being unveiled in return. It is maybe not a release to set the British indie rock scene ablaze but it is a proposition to give it a fresh and heavily flavoursome new proposition to enthuse over.

Pacific emerged in 2011 and quickly lured eyes and ears with early tracks like Dream of Mine and She Demands, with the first of the pair earning over 20,000 views on YouTube alone. The band soon found itself under the gaze and eager support of the likes of Huw Stephens on BBC Radio 1, BBC 6’s Mark Radcliffe, and BBC Stoke Introducing’s Rob Adcock, attention only increasingly enticed by the two singles this year, Those Nights and before it Time to Forget, the track opening up What Are You Waiting.

Pacific - What Are You Waiting For_RingMaster ReviewA drama lined caress of piano from vocalist Anthony Orzel entices ears and appetite first, its quick persuasion soon joined by the melodic smile of Dave Bithell’s guitar and in turn the punchy beats of drummer Drew Burns. A thicker and darker texture courtesy of bassist Daniel Orzel brings depth and great shading to the song too, tempering in a good way the impressive and rich vocals of Anthony. Settling down into a feisty endeavour with rhythms an energetic shuffle of enterprise, the song is soon swinging with emotive and infectious zeal, the open invention and craft of individuals uniting in a feel good yet emotively intense canter of sound and expression.

It is a mighty start to the EP, quickly flowed by the similarly engaging if less imposing stroll of Catch Her If You Can. Swiftly an eighties air prompts thoughts, a China Crisis hue gliding over ears and thoughts as the song sways with poetic melodies and warm suggestiveness. Captivation is again the order of the moment, vocals and imaginative temptation leading the elegant proposal of the track before it makes way for Run Away Boy. A dramatic edge is never far from the surface of a Pacific song, the piano crafting such attraction in the third track’s vocal reflection in sound and Anthony’s expressive delivery.

Those Nights brings the release to a strong close, piano and vocals again the initial arm around shoulders. Their emotive union is a rich enticement, leading into the livelier air and an increasingly energetic endeavour spread by the band in sound and invention. Strolling alone with a smile on its melodic face, as all the band’s songs in their individual ways, it hints at and tempts with suggestions of explosive twists, but instead keeps it all under a creative rein which only leaves ears seduced and appetite involved, and agreed for more fair to say.

Pacific more than offered evidence through their singles, that they were a band to get very interested in and subsequently excited about. Now they have confirmed it with For What Are You Waiting For and it is hard not to go along with that train of thought.

The What Are You Waiting For EP is released November 13th @

Pete RingMaster 13/11/2015

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Whitecliff – Young Lovers EP

cover_RingMaster Review

There has been a flowing amount of praise and expectations of big things ahead for Whitecliff since the release of their first single Everybody Knows a year ago, and the Liverpool based band can expect plenty more thanks to their excellent debut EP Young Lovers. The first band signed to 25 Hour Convenience Store, the label of Gary Powell from The Libertines, Whitecliff have crafted and delivered a new exploit to which acclaim is set to be a given. Three tracks of virulent and inventive indie pop rock, the Young Lovers EP is simply a tonic for the ears and imagination.

Consisting of vocalist Olli Nagy, guitarist Jonny Ball, bassist Paul Bates, and drummer Tom Taylor, Whitecliff recorded the Young Lovers EP with producer Ken Nelson (Coldplay, Paolo Nutini, Badly Drawn Boy), its mixing taken care of by Dan Grech (Lana Del Rey, The Vaccines, Circa Waves), both also scheduled to work with the band on their first album scheduled for recording next spring. The latest release opens with its title track, and an instant blaze of warm melodies and enticing hooks tempered perfectly by a moodier bassline. The voice of Nagy is just as swiftly enticing, his tones gentle yet forceful in their expression and power to match the potent rhythmic jabs and sonic seducing masterfully and creatively at play across the song.

It is a rousing rock pop incitement to start the EP but straight away eclipsed by The Talk. From its opening tease of guitar and accompanying groove, the song is a virulent stroll which just gets more flirtatious and compelling with each vocal harmony around the potency of Nagy and every catchy twist slipping easily into ears with lingering effect. There is a feel of Black to the song and the overall songwriting of Whitecliff, in the blend of emotive passages and inescapable melodically honed hooks which just light up ears and appetite with increasing effect over every listen.

Final song Say What You Want is the same, but individual in character with its emotive croon through crystalline melodies in a creative romance of the imagination. On first listen the previous two songs outshine the third but time and plays has seen it bloom into an irresistible serenade to rival all whilst revealing more of the depth and substance to the Whitecliff sound.

As we predicted the quartet will be no strangers to acclaim over the next weeks and months but already there is the thought that we have barely tapped into their potential, even with the strength of Young Lovers so exciting times for them and us.

The Young Lovers EP is out now via 25 Hour Convenience Store / Believe Digital through iTunes and Amazon

Pete RingMaster 13/10/2105

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Alphabet Backwards – Book About Foxes EP

AB_RingMaster Review

Continuing with their intent to write and record three separate releases in a year without the need of studios or labels, Alphabet Backwards now release their second in the tasty shape of the by Book About Foxes EP. It offers three songs which melodically smile as broadly as they physically captivate, tracks which continue the resourceful enterprise which marked its predecessor earlier this year, the excellent and acclaimed double A-sided single, Fingertips/Indian Summer. The EP is more of the same, fresh slices of warm creative adventure which individually explore their own unique magnetism and collectively leave ears and emotions engrossed. The British indie poppers certainly do not have sound which demands attention, or tone to their music which forcibly seizes the initiative between song and listener, yet as evidenced by Book About Foxes, it has a seductive mesmerism which is very hard to pull away from, that is if you would ever want to.

As with the last single, the Oxford quintet of Josh, Steph, Paul, Bob Tom, and James were again holed up in a remote part of Devon to create their new temptations. The EP’s songs were possibly written and recorded at Buckhouse Farm over the same intensive period of three weekends devoted only to making music which bred Fingertips/Indian Summer; either way it is obviously a process and endurance by the band which works as evidenced by the lure of the single and now the band’s EP, and no doubt to be confirmed by their third offering which is scheduled for March next year to mark and end the 365 day period and endeavour.

cover_RingMaster Review  Book About Foxes opens with Trips and a tangy bassline which is soon joined by grinning percussion and just as bright vocals from the band. With guitars wrapping their tender and elegant weaves around that initial bait and ears, the song is quickly skipping through the imagination, enticing with every poetic melody and warm tone of those varied voices. It is a catchy encounter though it never slips its reins as you might expect, its revelry composed rather than tenacious but perpetually engaging, especially as keys bring their fresh adventure and creative drama to the fun.

The strong start is quickly backed and slightly eclipsed by Second Hand Smoke, a song swinging with a tasty dark bass groove from the off and the ever enticing union of vocals. Crystalline melodies and spicy new wave hues only add to the contagious character and festivity of the song, its slightly sultry air and resourceful creative swagger piling on more reasons that the EP is surely going to be greedily devoured.

Chris de Burgh brings the EP to a similarly enjoyable close, the song thankfully not the man himself, its melancholic tinge as poetic and alluring as the shimmering melodies and vocal expression shaping the increasingly fascinating and persuasive song. The track just enthrals and certainly rivals its predecessor as best song, especially with its delicious twinges of discord throughout .

It is a great end to another compelling offering from Alphabet Backwards; a band which creates folk kissed, melody drenched indie pop that simply leaves a warm glow in ears and emotions.

The Book About Foxes EP is out now!

Pete RingMaster 28/09/2015

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Trash – Urban Glow EP

TRASH 1 PROMO_RingMaster Review

Consisting of six cheery yet melancholic indie pop tracks, the Urban Glow EP from British noise popsters Trash is a captivating jangle of sound and enterprise quickly giving big hints as to why there is a buzz brewing around the band and indeed the reason that UK label Clue Records has taken them to their bosom. There is simplicity to the Trash sound yet sparkling invention which lies behind that deceptive quality, that union alone resulting in songs which dance with the senses as the band offer lyrical propositions which may wear an alluring smile but look into the shadows and disappointments of finding things are never as rosy as they seem.

The EP’s press release reveals more in its description of the theme behind the band’s new release; “The tone of Urban Glow encapsulates anxiety, breakdowns and a typical British summer; glimpses of hazy sunshine, optimism and hopes of neverending highs, brought back down to earth by a rain shower on the horizon and the realisation that work/school/college/uni/love/life isn’t quite what you’d hoped it would be.” It is an open melancholia which is as magnetic as the warmer hues of the Chesterfield quartet’s inviting and infectious sound. Fair to say Urban Glow does not take the listener by the scruff of the neck with its impact and presence but instead entices with a seductive prowess to its character that only leaves thick enjoyment as its legacy.

TRASH - Urban Glow[Artwork]_RingMaster Review     The opening Intro does its job right away, is forty odd second a charming coaxing which lays out the melodic foundations for the feistier stroll of the band’s latest single 4 Miles to spring from. The song instantly casts a rhythmic enticement to involve feet and ears, that lure teased and stroked by slithers of expressive guitar and less sparky but potently evocative vocals. It is a tempting mix which just blossoms as fresh adventure fuels the guitars and rhythms breed more tempting shadows, whispers of pop punk also joining their revelry as additional nostalgic hues recall an eighties/nineties lo fi/high essence.

It is a catchy proper start which continues with the excellent Drift, its mellow but keen swing feeding off essences to be found in bands likes the House Of Love and especially The Mighty Lemon Drops. It is an infectious shuffle of a song which smiles with melodic tenacity and atmospheric warmth yet again has that gloomier tinge to its lyrical and emotional underbelly; a combination of character which lights up the EP’s title track right after.

The EP just gets better with every passing song, its fourth offering aural magnetism that simply captivates as it spins a creative and inventive web of sound and ideation. Once more there is that simplicity to its hooks, harmonies, and fuzzier lining, but all aligned to each other with adept and imaginative prowess. Ending in a wonderfully rousing climax, the song departs to leave Sad Boys (All I Wanna Do) the opportunity to close the EP off in similarly fine style, which it does with ease though maybe the keenness for its predecessor remains slightly richer. As virulently contagious as anything on the EP but with its own individual festival of tangy grooves, spicy hooks, and infection loaded invention, the song gives Urban Glow an enthralling and fiercely enjoyable finale which alone lives up to the general sense of the EP’s title.

Just as each song seems in varying degrees to eclipse the one before, each listen of the Urban Glow EP impresses more than the one before. It is heavily enjoyable stuff and the fact that at the same time as getting involved in its success, you feel that the band is barely tapping into the potential of their creative depths only breeds real excitement bred for what is to come from the band.

The Urban Glow EP is available now digitally and on Ltd Ed CD via Clue Records @

Pete RingMaster 28/09/2105

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Bare Traps – Inside

Bare Traps - Inside_RingMaster Review

Following up the sizeable impact their debut single made with its release this past July, UK indie popsters Bare Traps have released a worthy successor called Inside; a song easy to expect earning similar reactions to those lured by the Every Time. Bursting with a melodic smile and funk bred rhythmic hips; the song is one feel good involvement for body and emotions.

Hailing from London, the quartet of vocalist Mikey Brown, guitarist Luke O’Gorman, bassist/keyboardist John Grant, and drummer Scott Dillon have drawn on inspirations from the likes of Blood Orange, The Smiths, Foals, and Chic for their sound, a mix which if exactly not in sound, in feel and texture you can certainly relate to as Inside incites instinctive festivity. Debut single Every Time took little time in sparking attention and support, its lively magnetism of melodies seeing the song entice over 5,000 plays on SoundCloud and rising to 7 in the Hype Machine Twitter Charts. Gearing up to unveil their first EP, recorded as the single with John Davis (Bloc Party, Led Zeppelin, The Maccabees, Arctic Monkeys, Beady Eye), Bare Traps now raise the ante with the even more danceable Inside whilst revealing a little more of the diversity seemingly bubbling away in their songwriting and sound.

The song opens on a shuffle of guitar enticing and rhythmic coaxing, that gentle but potent bait continuing as the bass opens up its dark throat and beats begin to bring livelier energy to their enterprise. The voice of Brown has a strong and distinctive expression to its tone, a texture aligning well with the smoother swing of keys and the guitars. With the pungent rhythms it all adds up to an inciting contagion which swiftly has feet and appetite in eager involvement. A whisper of an eighties bands like Heaven 17 and China Crisis hint at older minds across the enchantment of the song but equally it has an indie jangle and resourcefulness which resembles the essence of Foals and a little at times of Interpol.

Inside is also a grower, a song which just seems to gain more character with every listen and placed alongside Every Time, it is already easy to suggest Bare Traps has the potential, craft, and imagination to make a big impact ahead.

Inside is out now via iTunes.

Pete Ringmaster 22/09/2105

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Glamour Assassins – Ain’t So Young

GA_RingMaster Review

The lure starts with a great name and becomes a vibrant persuasion with a debut album that gets feet moving and hips swaying. Glamour Assassins is that first bait, a title reflected perfectly in the melodic beauty and imposing potency cruising their music, and Ain’t So Young the captivating introduction to the Connecticut hailing band. The release offers a host of songs seeded in eighties new wave and synth pop but equally embracing dance punk and an indie rock flavouring. It is an encounter which has at times thick familiarity to it but also a striking freshness which combines for a persistently enjoyable proposition.

Hailing from New Haven, Glamour Assassins consists of Jared Savas, Nick Post, Jose Novo, Carrie Martinelli, and Gil Morrison, a group of musicians with a combined experience of playing with artists such as Dragonette, Matt & Kim, Plushgun, Freezepop, the Postelles, and Greg Hawkes of The Cars under their belts. As Glamour Assassins, they have earned a weighty reputation for an intense live presence which their album is now looking to back up with its theatre of striking songwriting from Savas and a sound which just wants to make you move as it feeds the imagination.

Produced by Joey Mascola and mastered by Grammy-nominated Emily Lazar, Ain’t So Young gets off to a rousing start and never really looks back. The Day Rock & Roll Died is the initial temptation, a song slipping through ears on a single guitar cast melody as keys and atmospheric tempting brews. It is soon into a catchy stroll, wiry hooks and a deep bass line colluding with punchy beats as the track quickly awakens attention and the first breath of involvement by the listener, especially when the vocals bring their strong persuasion to the mix with additional harmonies just as engagingly in tow. The track does not make a seemingly dramatic impact but swiftly the body is lending its moves and feet jabbing the floor as more enterprise blossoms in the increasingly infectious encounter.

cover_RingMaster Review    The rousing swing of the track is replaced by the emotive serenade of Hate Song Part I (Exile), a female delivered vocal caress on the senses awash with evocative keys and a laid back, shadow built bass prowl. It is a slither of a song at a breath over a minute but a transfixing set up for the electronic adventure of Phantom of the Disco. The band’s latest single is a bubble of dance bred electronica and varied impassioned vocals. There is a whisper of OMD to it, as too of Thomas Dolby and Blancmange, but they are mere essences in the thick ambience and emotional shadows fuelling the impressive drama.

Already there is no escaping the diversity to the album and Glamour Assassins’ sound, a quality continuing with the soulful roar of Sex Life. Synths once more envelop ears in a suggestive hue whilst the minimalistic beats and groaning bass lures bring the funk. Vocals and guitars add extra catchy and resourceful enticement in a track which you can easily offer hints of Duran Duran and Tears For Fears too. That recognisable air is in many guises a constant to the band’s sound it is fair to say, and just as honest to admit it only adds to the success and virulence of songs as proven by first the album’s title track and straight after London Fog. The first of the two thrusts indie tenacity and raw sinews into the mix, bouncing along with attitude and feisty energy as crystaline keys court jangly guitars across jabbing rhythms. In contrast its successor sculpts an aural theatre with an epic atmosphere which evolves into a more intimate and sinister proposal over time. Musically it is like eighties era Ultravox meets The Slow Readers Club with another bewitching range of vocals building unique adventure to the narrative. The track is as immersive as its title suggests if not as muggy with keys providing a shining provocative light throughout.

Indie pop ‘n’ roll has voice and limbs heavily involved next through Scumbag, bands like Late Cambrian coming to mind, whilst the contagion soaked Never Get Caught draws from Visage like territory for its pulsating seducing, though to this the band fuels the vocals with a rapacious edge and angst as the guitars spin a riveting web of sonic and melodic imagination which is seemingly Cure inspired. Once more Glamour Assassins turn familiarity into something of their very own though, just with an old friend like nature.

The album closes with Hate Song Part II (Death or Love), a track which kind of sums up the album and the band’s invention in one go. Part rock, part synth pop, and bursting with an array of crafty hooks, alluring grooves, and an infectiousness which never leaves ears and appetite alone, it is an impressive end to a thoroughly enthralling and enjoyable release.

Eighties new wave and synth pop seems to be having a strong influence on numerous emerging bands right now, of which Glamour Assassins is one of the most exciting and potential flooded propositions. Their album…well if you want to dance to some old school but freshly inventive contagion then Ain’t So Young hits the spot.

Ain’t So Young is available now

Pete RingMaster 10/09/2015

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