a blue flame – when your whole world turns to dust

Last year ears and acclaim were seriously caught up in the swinging rock pop adventures of What We’ve Become Is All That Now Remains, now a blue flame follow up its success with when your whole world turns to dust, a release which may be takes a touch longer to spark the same kind of reactions but gets there all the same.

a blue flame is the solo project of Leicester based songwriter Richard Stone and when your whole world turns to dust his third album with the first, someone else’s dreams will fill our home released in 2013 as Woodman Stone.  For his new offering Stone has ventured down the gentler melodic side of his previous album but managed to find the same eclectic flavours which marked out its praise collecting presence.  Essences of folk, swing, and cabaret peak out within when your whole world turns to dust. There are moments when it rocks with full eagerness but generally it basks in a mellower climate yet the same instinctive infectiousness which drove its predecessor again infests the new album whether tempting with an emotive croon or a spirited roar.

With a host of skilled musicians such as Andy Robertson, Adam Ellis, Damon Claridge, and Tony Robinson alongside the vocals and guitar of Stone, the album opens with Back to the Stars and immediately has the body moving to its slow sway and smouldering jazzy hug. The dark inviting prowl of the bass is courted by the seductive flames of brass, both suggestively skirting the magnetic tones of Stone. It is pure captivation setting the release off in fine style.

The following We Feel Like We Feel brings a 60’s pop scent to its melodic surf twanged breeze, a touch of The Everlys flirting with its Bit pop suggestiveness. It is a mix of essences then emulated with different flavourings within the excellent Don’t Wait where it is hard not to be reminded of The Divine Comedy, its English heart and infectious canter a tapestry of imagination and creative zeal.

A Mariachi scented Latin lure graces the show tune-esque rapture of the outstanding 21st Century Blues, a song which almost creeps up on you with its addictive chorus and imagination sparking enterprise but sure to have you making vocal contributions in no time before The Future’s a Mystery lays reflectively upon  ears and thoughts. Its calmer air and tone is an emotive caress, a melancholic serenade given greater emotive depth and texture by the cello of David Dhonan.

The acoustic cored stroll of A Better Way wears a great fifties influence to its intimate saunter, Robinson’s brass lures, as the lyrical reflection , an easy tempting to get carried off by while The Words Wouldn’t Form dances with ears and appetite draped in folkish hues. At this point we are midway through the release and Stone’s songwriting and imagination increasingly shows itself to be as ripe and magnetic as it has ever been but stepping forward with fresh maturity and boldness track after track.

The summery All We Need to Know similarly leans on English folk bred inspirations for its engaging meander, textures given more urgency and mischief in the rousing stroll of Everything’s a Lie immediately after. The second of the two also has an indie pop catchiness and joviality which takes thoughts to bands such as Jim Jiminee and The Sundays, a flirtatious element quickly grabbing feet and appetite.

The song’s energetic intent is gathered up and given further tenacity in Empty Head, the first in a pair of tracks which launch the kind of rock pop antics which lit up the last album. There is a fire in its belly and devilment in its character which simply carries the listener eagerly away into the waiting rock ‘n’ roll jaws of See What Tomorrow Brings. It too has a sixties essence in its tone, the keys as much to credit for the inviting flavouring, but equally a meatier almost rapacious edge which only inflames song and the pleasure it brings.

Completed by the smoky jazziness of Love Will Set Us Free, the increasingly compelling when your whole world turns to dust leaves real anticipation of major things, if not now, ahead for Richard Stone and a blue flame. Whether the album outshines one of our favourite releases last year in its predecessor, we are still debating but certainly it rivals it and most other melodically teasing offerings out this year.

when your whole world turns to dust is available now @ https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/when-your-whole-world-turns-to-dust/id1279472334

https://www.facebook.com/ablueflame

Pete RingMaster 02/10/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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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Ocasan – Confessions EP

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Quite simply if there has been a better slab of pop rock than the Confessions EP from UK rockers Ocasan this year than we must have missed something very special as the Buckinghamshire trio has just set a very high bar for the scene. To be fair the band has pretty much matched the quality of this release already in the past twelve months with their two previous EPs, London Town and Whitey Two Step, though Confessions has the edge over both. The third of a trilogy of releases which makes up the band’s second album Elixir, which presumably itself will get an individual release ahead, the EP is a riotous stomp of contagious hook loaded songs which give feet, ears, and emotions a fun filled work out.

Hailing from Milton Keynes, Ocasan formed in 2007 and were swiftly earning attention from fans and the underground media, which in turn led to a wider spotlight, especially with the release of debut album Ricochet in 2011. Live too the band has drawn acclaim and constantly left audiences regaling their performances whilst touring relentlessly across the UK and Europe, as well as taking in Russia, Canada, and festival appearances at the likes of Spirit of Burgas and AmpRocks. The three EPs introducing and making up Elixir sees the band press on the strongest spotlight yet, one to match the open maturity in songwriting and sound soaking them. Confessions is the prize of the lot with its dark tone and seductive shadows, though each EP brings an invigorating and potent aspect to what will surely be a greedily devoured album.

The best way to describe Ocasan’s sound is The Police meets Fall Out Boy and eighties band Jim Jiminee with, in the case of the new EP, a healthy and warped spice of Oingo BoingoLondon Town and Whitey Two Step, t. It is a sound Confessions - Artworkwhich is familiar yet new simultaneously and from opening track Invincible, manna for the ears. An opening bait of rhythms from drummer Luke McDonnell sets ears and attention alert before chunky riffs from Nick Burns and a pulsating bassline laid by Nathan Naidoo go to work on the imagination. Just as quickly stabbing reggae spiced enticement openly seeded in the likes of The Police, flirts as Burns’ vocals impressively unveils the song’s narrative. Sinews and rugged rhythms add to the captivating mix, expelling moments of rigorous intent within the warm stroll of the song. There is also a drama to the track, and ultimately the EP, which arguably has not wrapped the band’s previous encounters, an imposing almost theatrical essence which helps the songs leap out with their inescapable lures.

The impressive start is followed by the similarly flavoursome Dark Cloud, guitars instantly cladding ears in melodic enterprise as equally expressive and vibrant vocals join the transfixing call of the magnetic track. As catchy as anything on the release, there is also a heavier rock tone and underbelly to the excellent encounter which nicely tempers yet compliments the melodic roar of song and vocals. Its success though is soon paled by the outstanding Parasite, one of the songs of the year in our book. From the first bulging note of the addiction forging bassline opening the song, passions are gripped and enslaved. Beats pound masterfully across this irresistible bait too, the central bass hook swinging like a lust fuelled temptress as the guitar sends sonic slithers across its temptation. It is a delicious start which only ignites again as the band’s vocal adds anthemic mischief before Burns like a vaudeville host parades the track’s tale. With more ingenious snags than barbed wire fencing, the song is simply glorious and has voice and body grooving to its tune quicker than Usain Bolt in a tail wind.

The title track brings the EP to a close and returns to the same sultry charm and warm melodic endeavour which started it all off, though through its own individual and riveting design. Easy going and smoothly flavoursome, the song is less inventive than certainly its predecessor but another stylish and virulently infectious proposition to reinforce the potency of the EP and increasingly impressive creative adventure of the band.

Confessions may at times feed more than wrong foot expectations from those well aware of Ocasan, but it also adds to the release’s strength to provide one of 2014’s most enjoyable and exciting rock ‘n’ pop releases.

The Confessions EP is available now @ https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/confessions-elixir-3-ep/id922878604

http://ocasan.co.uk/

RingMaster 230/09/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Me For Queen – Iron Horse

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It has to be admitted that the thought of an album set around two wheeled exploits was intriguing but did not exactly spark eager anticipation, but readers do not let that colour any decision to check out the bewitching and thrilling embrace of Iron Horse, the debut album from Me For Queen. Themed by the adventure of cycling in the city, exploring and inspired by events and emotions found by experiences of the band founder’s on a bike, the release lays down an inescapable seduction which bewitches ears and imagination right through to the passions.

Originally the solo project of Talk In Colour’s Mary Erskine, Me For Queen has subsequently grown to a full engagement with the addition Will Dollard, Nick Bowling, and Andy Paine. Last year saw the release of the Live at Red Gables EP, a well-received release sparking strong interest in this following Pledge Music funded release. Talking about Iron Horse, Erskine explained that “there are tracks about the freedom of cycling, the rage and fear you sometimes feel on your bike when surrounded by cars, and a white bike tribute”, going on to add “You’ll like it whether you cycle or not.” That last declaration is certainly very easy to agree with. Equally the album’s tales can be translated to more general experiences in everyday life, how people connect and live within each other’s space for example. It is a fascination of sound merging various flavours into one bike inspired festival of creative enterprise, the album’s sound and presence as cosmopolitan as the pastime and scenery it colours.

The tempting of wheels starts off album and opener The Deer and The Dark, voices from surrounding scenery adding to the atmosphere of the song. Soon though, the attention grabbing voice of Erskine breaks its air with rich mesmeric charm, swiftly joined by a rhythmic coaxing coloured by radiant keys. The song swiftly turns into a funk seeded stroll weaving enchanting melodies into its dramatic lyrical and ambient sunset. Employing samples and riveting brass temptation, the track provides a glorious canter of enterprise and endearing harmonies for one scintillating entrance into the album.

Its glory is matched straight away by Bike With No Name, male vocals taking the lead fully backed by the increasingly transfixing voice of Erskine. With a folk intimacy to its again funky gait, the song idles up to the imagination and 10553901_829249350419623_3979257569886355370_ocaresses it with a seductive blend of vocals and flirtatious melodies from guitar and keys. A darker throat of bass only adds to the infectious bait but it is the pair of vocalists which ignites emotions most prominently and potently. Though music wise there is a distinct difference, vocally and in the impact and quality of their union, the two singers remind of Dizraeli and Cate Ferris from Dizraeli and The Small Gods.

An intriguingly enticing bass lure opens up the next up Zebra, its tone kissed by discord blessed resonance. It is soon joined by both sets of vocals as a jazzy climate and seducing comes over the senses. The song is a delicious blend of distinctively different shades, melodic flames and light slowly grazing on the emotions whilst the darker shadows of bass and a slightly twisted invention to certain chords and notes add a mouth-watering and unpredictable texture to the sultriness. Its glorious presence is matched straight away by Traffic Light Crush, an irresistible croon with romantic tones and catchy revelry in its magnetic dance. Thoughts of eighties band Jim Jiminee easily come to the surface as the brief track sets down another majestic pinnacle on the album, its tango of sound and imagination refusing to leave even after the song has departed ears.

The first single from the album, Slow Jam (Look Out) comes next, its soulful swing of melodies and emotion revealing vocals a gentle and elegant kiss on the senses. As the album, it is impossible not to be thoroughly captivated and mesmerised by it, every aspect from the breath-taking vocals of Erskine to the smouldering flame of trumpet, and the velvet hug of bass to the sizzling harmonies, a poetic toxicity seducing and immersing blissful ears and thoughts. Its gentleness is emulated by the funkier flight of Freewheel, a melodic glide which strokes thoughts and passions from start to finish with a lean structure within provocative beauty.

Both Wobbly and White Bike add new tantalising hues to the release, the first a wash of emotive melodies over a skittish percussive tempting, which itself is hand in hand with the heavier, ever enticing tone of bass. There is a relaxed giddiness to the song too, imagination swirling in its creative sun and similarly flowing sounds before moving on to its successor. The second of the pair slips into something even more leisurely comfortable energy and gait wise whilst turning up the heat with its impassioned and earnest climate lyrically and emotionally as it fully enchants the senses.

For personal tastes the first half of the album is the strongest with its array of lively explorations but there is no escaping or dismissing the spellbinding beauty and majesty of the two songs, and also the following Rat Race. With bubbly electro spicing starting things off before vocals and bass soon lay down their catchy lures, the track is a compelling portrait of fleet footed life. Sounds almost flit across ears, each a different personality in the vibrantly moving scenery whilst the lead vocals provide a singular almost out of sync view inside the tunnel flowing fast around them.

The album is brought to a close by firstly the emotive balladry of Road Out, a track which brews and grows into an imposingly drawn ambience as its melodies and vocals immerse ears, and lastly Wheelie. The final track is a fifty second electro jazz funk romp which hits straight away like The Tom Tom Club but leaves before you can really get your teeth into it. It is a final smile though to an exceptional release.

Iron Horse is simply majestic, a richly hued collection of sounds crafted into an unforgettable and virulently infectious soundscape of adventure. Me For Queen may not have you turning to peddle power with their album but will surely have you breeding a hungry appetite for their sensational sounds.

Iron Horse is available now @ https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/iron-horse/id913647443

http://cargocollective.com/meforqueen

9/10

RingMaster 12/09/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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The Toniks – Rise And Shine

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Listening to Rise And Shine the debut album from UK popsters The Toniks you cannot help at times thinking this is a band which has the misfortune to have missed their time slot in music history. Certainly they have a potent place in the now as their album shows but with songs ripe with sixties melodic and pop sensibility which sits easily within the pop mischief of Herman’s Hermits and the Englishness of The Kinks, and a new wave soaked infectiousness which is a close cousin to bands such as The Farmers Boys and Jim Jiminee, you can only imagine the Guildford quintet would have found a potent place those eras. In a never ending torrent of new and existing bands all fighting for attention, real and online, any band is in for a greater struggle than ever to just cross the gaze of fans though with Rise And Shine, The Toniks have given themselves a definite fighting chance.

The brainchild of vocalist/bassist Mark Taylor and guitarist Jez Parish, The Toniks has been making a solid ascent for quite a while now; their infection loaded pop songs gripping ears and emotions. With the current line-up of guitarist Tom Yates, drummer Colin Marshall, and Jessica English on keys alongside Taylor and Parish in place since last year, the band has continued to draw acclaim for their strong live performances, which recently has seen the band playing across Europe and in Canada. Since forming they have also gained support from the likes of Graham Dominy (Eurythmics, Razorlight, Imelda May) who provided them with free studio time after hearing their music. It has all added to a slow but potent rise which the album can only increase as it sweeps across greater numbers.

The band is no stranger to this site, The Toniks a constant on the playlist of shows from our associates Audioburger.com for the 1235338_10151581120132610_2076276580_npast few years. This meant that the album faced expectations but it is fair to say it pushed them aside to emerge an even more vibrant and irrepressible encounter than imagined. Produced by Dominy alongside Taylor and Parish and released on Smile Records, Rise And Shine goes straight for the feet and passions with its title track. The song is total contagion, from the moment the opening soar of harmonies and keys behind the mellow tones of Taylor stroke the ear it teases with a seducing wantonness which explodes into one of the catchiest tunes heard this year. Bred from the seeds of sixties pop, the song romps and strolls with a massive smile in its melodies kissed by brass spawned sunspots. The eighties reference is most apt and virulent right away as the starter has voice in league with its stomp and like the best pop songs, becomes an old friend within moments.

The following Won’t Let You Down is much the same in its individual character, guitars and keys coaxing the imagination as they craft hooks and melodies which sparkle as they tempt. The backing vocals of English along with Parish make a great compliment to the delivery of Taylor, her voices especially soothing and one hopefully the band employ more ahead. More restrained than its predecessor but still a catchy saunter to capture the imagination it easily continues the pleasing start as does next up You and I and Simple Things. Like the first pair they are songs very familiar to us but each finding a new freshness and energy to their suasion and presence through the new recordings and re-workings brought by the band for the album. You and I is a bouncy incitement of respectfully jabbing beats and cheery guitar swipes tempered by darker bass tones. It has a harder rock core to its bewitchment but one which submits to the inventive and sultry flumes of brass as well as the continually persuasive melodic weaves which lie around the addiction causing hooks. Its successor comes with a slower croon to its presence as well as a gentle caress vocally and musically. The bass stands potently to the fore of the song, its steady heavy presence seemingly given preference upon the song and actually works well adding variety to the simple but wholly effective melodic colour which engages the imagination and lures another belt of hard to resist involvement from the body.

After passing the charms of Weather quickly the album settles into a steady enticing with Figure It Out and Never Real, both songs a spark to fill the appetite further though a shade below the standards set. Going back to the first of these three, Weather is another ridiculously ear catching invitation to participate with and enjoy slice of pop which most will drool over but it has never found a place here, it one of those irritants which niggles though it is simply down to personal taste alone. Of the other two, the first builds from emotive keys and expressive vocals into a more than decent ballad which grows and expands as it plays out its narrative and the second a satisfying rock pop breeze, both providing healthy appetising treats to mull over and return to before making way for another highlight.

Secret’s Safe also hits the rockier depths of the band, a blues whisper to the guitars equally egging on the thumping rhythms and hard hitting vocals, though Taylor has a voice where snarls never rear their head to be honest. There is an essence of The Jam and The Motors to the energetic and rampant charge of the song, a pop punk quality which sets it to the top of the release, well until, after the thoroughly enjoyable and infectious There You Go, the outstanding Scapegoat steps forward. The scuzziest track on the album with a punk breeding to its creativity, the track is a riveting blaze of rock ‘n’ roll with all the contagiousness the band can conjure reaping the heat of the blues kissed guitar flames on top of barbed melodic hooks.  It is a magnificent track, The Tonik’s finest moment yet.

The closing Wonderful Then concludes the album with a classic pop song graced by mesmeric strings, the cello caresses especially delicious, and resourceful evocative keys behind stirring harmonies. It is a final reminder of the depths of the songwriting of Taylor and Parish and though you cannot talk of them in the same breath yet as Difford and Tilbrook there are some familiarities at times to the construct and melodic structures of songs.

Rise And Shine exceeded expectations to stand as one of the better real pop albums out this year. If The Toniks have yet to touch your ears their debut album is the perfect way to put that right.

http://www.thetoniks.com/

8.5/10

RingMaster 05/12/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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