No idea what is in the water over at Stereogram Recordings but this past twelve months has seen the label release a clutch of albums that simply ignite ears and connect with the imagination like no others. Amongst them have been encounters with bands such as St. Christopher Medal, The Filthy Tongues, and The Eastern Swell. Now adding to that adventurous collection of treats is the self-titled debut album from Dundee based outfit Stoor, a release which just might be the most impressive and ridiculously addictive of the lot.
The Stereogram Recordings offering is actually a full re-release of the band’s first album which was self-released on vinyl last year but sure to be the first real engagement for a great many with a quartet which rose up back in the first breaths of the nineties. Musically Stoor seem to embrace post punk/new wave sounds found in the couple of decades before their emergence, and though it is bordering on impossible to pin down their sound imagine Josef K meeting Wall Of Voodoo at the behest of Dead Kennedys with the rhythmic virulence and discord of The Fire Engines and the warped imagination of Pere Ubu in close attendance.
Centred around the off kilter invention of bassist/vocalist Stef Murray, drummer Scott McKinlay, and guitarist Ross Matheson with guitarist Davie Youngblood completing the current line-up, Stoor get straight into ears and psyche with album opener Secret World Of Cement. It is an instrumental which gets right into our already existing passion for post punk devilry, sparking the imagination with its cinematic urban soundscape. Hips and feet are swiftly indulging in its virulent Fire Engines hued strains as hooks and melodies tease and tantalise within something wonderfully akin to the most addictive sixties TV theme tunes.
It is a wonderful start quickly matched up by Liberator, a track just as rapid in its persuasion as spicy lures of guitar link up with the tenacious rhythmic bait laid down by McKinlay. The vocal tones of Murray attract like a mix of Jello Biafra and Pere Ubu’s Dave Thomas, expelling their earnest cries from within another seriously catchy stretch of invention before the brilliant Aye, No raises the ante. A fiercely seductive bass line invades first, strolling from the initial clash of sound to be quickly joined by equally salacious guitar hooks following the same route as Murray’s grooving. Like a pied piper the union draws the listener into an explosive crescendo, riffs and rhythms colliding before the temptation begins all over again with even greater strands of delicious discord involved. All the time Murray places a potent vocal grip on an already eager appetite, backed by the band within what is one gloriously repetitive and enthralling swagger of a song.
Infect Me steps forward next to keep the enslaving of ears tight, its Gang Of Four like rhythmic escapade chaining attention alone, the brooding basslines and stabs of guitar extra chains to trap attention and ardour. Bursts of raw rock ‘n’ roll only adds to the magnetism as too the distinctive and increasingly flavoursome vocals of Murray, here finding a Stan Ridgway flavour to his excellent theatre of voice. Between them Murray and McKinlay rhythmically have the passions chained up like Houdini, though no escape is possible especially as Matheson and Youngblood create a web of melodic intrigue and deranged drama.
Through the heavier almost muggy escape of Devil Rides Out, a song with a touch of Scars meets again Pere Ubu to it, and the pulsating psych rock infested instrumental of March Of The Molluscs, the album adds further diversity and creative theatre to escalate an already established habituation to its additive prowess, backing their success up with the punk rock of Frack where thoughts of bands like Swell Maps and television Personalities are sparked, though, as constantly across the release, Stoor conjure up proposals unique to their own senses entangling invention.
The calmer saunter of Open The Box comes next, its character a more stable affair but prone to Devo-esque twists and turns before making way to allow the psychedelically spiced Hold That Thought to serenade ears. To its warmer and gentler nature though, there is an underlying tempestuousness which channels its energy into a swinging post punk canter a la The Three Johns.
The bands new single Witchfinder General has ears and lust over excited next, its rhythmic romp alone an unshakeable grip with Murray’s bass swing a predacious seduction reinforced by the tangy weave of guitar and the eager dance of the vocals. Dark and mischievous, compelling and shadowy, the track is superb, a certain doorway into the album come its release though fair to say any track is a suitable invitation.
Going out as it came in with a mouth-watering, imagination stoking instrumental going by the name of Sure Beats Me, a piece which plays like B-52s engaged in carnal knowledge with The Shadows, the album leaves only an urgent urge to dive right back into its body of fun.
Stoor may have been around for a fair few years now but this is the moment they should be enveloped by the biggest spotlights, courtesy of an encounter which has to be considered as an album of the year contender.
Stoor the album is released October 28th on Stereogram Recordings digitally and on CD with the single Witchfinder General out on October 21st.
STOOR are supporting Brix Smith & The Extricated on Sunday 30th October 2016 and The Membranes on Friday 27th January 2017, both nights at Beat Generator in Dundee.
Pete RingMaster 19/10/2016
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