The Hector Collectors – Remember the Hector Collectors? ..You Won’t Believe What They Sound Like Now!!!!!

There are some bands which truly are one of a kind and The Hector Collectors surely fit the bill and have so since the day they made their first inimitable steps back in the year 2000. Almost tinkering with a revival after their demise/hiatus around 2004, the Glasgow hailing mischiefs are back in full swing with new album, Remember the Hector Collectors? ..You Won’t Believe What They Sound Like Now!!!!!, an encounter which teases, flirts, and keenly pleasures ears in the band’s unique way.

Something akin to a blend of Television Personalities, The Freshies, and Half Man Half Biscuit, the quartet of vocalist A.J.Smith, guitarist I.D.Smith, bassist Joseph Greatorex, and drummer Gavin Dunbar have honed in on their poppiest instincts yet within Remember the Hector Collectors? though that creative dissonance which sets them apart still drives their lo fi revelry.

The album opens up with Drowning in Dorito Chips, rhythms immediately calling on attention before the track’s infectious stroll works on feet and imagination. Flirtatious keys add to the potent lure still led by those manipulative beats and the call of group vocals alongside A.J.’s magnetic lead. With a sniff of Josef K to its untamed pop, the song quickly and deviously got under the skin, establishing itself as surely the next single teaser for the album.

It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a 25 Minute Response Video to DESTROY your Argument follows with its own shade of the jangling goodness fuelling its predecessor; the song just as anthemic in its slightly more restrained but no less rascal of an incitement before Content Farm pokes at the appetite with its spikier pop punk antics with a mischievous wink at familiarity. There is a hint of bands like The Sums to the song and also within its successor, Bullies, another inherent indie pop soaked stroll which is pure pleasure courting nostalgia and modern DIY enterprise from within which a Top Buzzer whiff escapes. Featuring as a handful of tracks the featured keys of Dave Gillies, he one of a number of guests across the release including guitarist Cal Wiseman Murray, keyboardists Chris Elkin and Billy Samson, and backing vocalist Martin Smith,  the song like so many needs little help to captivate ears and a never too far from the surface smile.

The brief folkish medieval devilment of White Knight to F5 needed mere seconds to hook feet and lust, a success immediately repeated by next up Just Lovely, another incomplex pop jangle stocked with inescapable hooks and lo-fi misdemeanours recalling essences of bands such as Swell Maps and Fatal Microbes.

Across the pop ‘n’ roll of The Ad Hominem and the pop fray of Overton Window, band and album just accentuate their rich enticements, the first of the pair especially persuasive while Cognitive Dissonance eclipses both with its punk coated misbehaviour again hinting at the seventies and the antics of bands like O‘Level and Teenage Filmstars.

Edgelords provides a satisfying sing-along moment next, one proving very hard to resist within its melodic web with Abandoned Website following up its incitement with its own individual indie rural tinted jangle so easy to get involved with.

The album is completed by the outstanding Leeson Windfarm, a Scars hued encounter with espionage lined rhythms and intrigue loaded guitar. Vocally and lyrically, the song reflects on local and social observations, a regular spark to the band’s smart, playful words and those wicked song titles backed by similarly impish sounds.

As suggested at the start, The Hector Collectors is like few others, if any to be truthful, and as they re-energise their presence with new adventure in their sound that is not going to change any time soon, Remember the Hector Collectors? ..You Won’t Believe What They Sound Like Now!!!!! and its thickly enjoyable fun proof of that.

Remember the Hector Collectors? ..You Won’t Believe What They Sound Like Now!!!!! is out now; available digitally and on Ltd Ed vinyl @ https://thehectorcollectors.bandcamp.com/album/remember-the-hector-collectors-you-wont-believe-what-they-sound-like-now

https://www.facebook.com/thehectorcollectors/

Pete RingMaster 06/11/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

The Filthy Tongues – Back to Hell

Two years ago Scottish band, The Filthy Tongues released a debut album which quite simply blew us away. It was a striking and increasingly haunting incitement of “caliginous flavours and textures.” Such its gothic beauty and immersive intimation we wondered if the trio had already laid down their finest moment and would struggle to match let alone eclipse its majesty again. Oh fool us! The band has just unveiled its successor in Back To Hell, a web of instinctive drama and invasive magnetism which puts its predecessor and pretty much most things this year to date in the shade.

Edinburgh hailing, The Filthy Tongues consists of vocalist/guitarist Martin Metcalfe, bassist Fin Wilson, and drummer Derek Kelly; the three previously members of Goodbye Mr Mackenzie and Angelfish alongside Shirley Manson. After the demise of those bands, all ventured into different projects, musical and not, before Wilson and Metcalfe came together as acoustic duo The Filthy Tongues, named from a phrase from a Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie song. This project subsequently evolved, the three gents back creating together and vocalist Stacey Chavis joining what would become Isobel Gowdie & the Filthy Tongues (to become Isa & the Filthy Tongues). Moving on, the band became three again and The Filthy Tongues with the startling Jacob’s Ladder the irresistible wake-up call to their presence and dark world. That first album was a tapestry of sound and styles; everything from dark rock, garage punk, surf, dark folk and post punk aligned to plenty other rich flavours as the band created almost salacious realms of seductive craft and gothically shadowed deeds. Back To Hell is more of the same yet a whole new landscape of manipulative imagination, riveting sound, and lyrical weaving.

As its predecessor, Back To Hell ventures through the dark claustrophobic underbelly of the Old Town in Edinburgh yet equally it incites the imagination to broaden its landscape and conjuring. It opens up with the addiction sparking Come on Home, a track instantly sharing an electric mist of intrigue and dark suggestion before springing an infection fuelled stroll stalked by the vocal prowess of Metcalfe. Like the sounds, his voice has a dirt clad texture, a gravelly tone which just draws you into the narrative and atmosphere of the developing aural theatre. Keys similarly bring a teasing suggestion to the mix as rhythms and guitars openly simmer. Swiftly hips were swaying to its call, head rocking to its swing and voice aiding the wonderfully tainted harmonies. The band’s new single, it is just superb, that haunting quality in their music already seducing via keys and voice as guitars weave and rhythms coax.

It is an outstanding start reinforced by the senses transfixing tale of The Ghost of Rab McVie. Strings and their electronic counterparts quickly infest the imagination, the first from the suggestive touch and craft of Susannah Clark. Metcalfe is soon within their descriptive midst, voice similarly nurturing thoughts as the song leads the listener into its melancholic heart. There is a beauty to it though which just seduces ears and imagination but with an earthiness keeping the dark surroundings fully in view before the album’s title track provides the gateway into a nefarious journey. Feeling like being trapped in a Celtic Wickerman driven nightmare, the song simultaneously overwhelms, indeed suffocates, and seduces all with increasing intensity. It is quite superb with the craft of Clark simply irresistible.

Mother’s got a Knife follows, its animated shuffle also getting under the skin within the first dance of enterprise before slipping into a smouldering glide; repeating the captivating cycle in swift time. Like a mercurial fusion of Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers, The Bad Seeds, and Wall Of Voodoo with a Josef K lining, the track was another which seduced and enslaved with ridiculous ease such its masterful imagination and virulent breath.

Next up Leper Town was just as persuasive, its pop infested rock ‘n’ roll reminding of a few  in some small ways but as ever, so unique to The Filthy Tongues as it had body and thoughts bouncing and appetite for their invention greedy. That individuality is never absent from a song as proven once more by Carlos the Jackal, menace and tenebrific elegance soaking its predacious yet infectious prowl while Who are you? is the band’s creative theatre at its most compelling and beguiling. It too has a threat in its air and beauty in its dark drawl; addiction for its creative alchemy once more inescapable.

The album goes out on the mesmeric croon of Take it, a song with a whisper of U2 meets Helldorado about it and a dirty laced grace which just fascinates as layers of sound seduce. It oozes beauty, loneliness, and temptation; a crepuscular radiance of sound and emotion which steals attention from the real world.

It is a glorious end to another extraordinary encounter with The Filthy Tongues. Their Jacob’s Ladder was one of the essential releases two years ago, Back to Hell is THE most vital release of this so far and hard to see being eclipsed too often over the months ahead.

Back to Hell is released May 25th through Neon Tetra / Blokshok Records.

http://www.filthytongues.com/   https://www.facebook.com/The-Filthy-Tongues-144934250476/   https://twitter.com/filthytongues

Pete RingMaster 21/05/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Indigo Sixteen – Bring on the Rain

Not having previously come across their previous trio of singles, their new track Bring on the Rain is our long overdue introduction to Indigo Sixteen. It is a compelling jangle of indie/punk devilry from a band looking ready to step into the long line of unique and compelling Scottish propositions of decades past.

Creating a sound which by design or chance embraces the essences of classic bands like Scars and Josef K as well as British outfits like The Libertines and Skellums, Edinburgh hailing Indigo Sixteen emerged in 2013. Leaning on inspirations ranging from Kasabian, The Smiths, and Joy Division to The Jam, Daft Punk, Kraftwerk, and Nirvana, Indigo Sixteen previously released the singles Decide (2014), And What? (2014/15), and Come and Go (2016). Now it is Bring on the Rain ready to stir greater attention the way of the quartet and as it plays in the ears it is hard to imagine it not rousing up a host of new fans.

The vocals of guitarist Stephen Mallin pull the song into view, the equally alluring creative clamour of fellow guitarist Matt McPherson adding its melodic jangle to his and the rhythmic shuffle of drummer Callum Davidson and bassist Andrew Stears. Carrying an energetic and virulent swing to its gait and spirited tenacity to its character and enterprise, the song reveals its punk and indie sides with zeal, merging them into a proposition maybe not yet truly distinct but as gripping and exciting as you could wish for.

Those earlier suggested flavours swiftly come to mind in the song to add to its appeal and a quickly bred anticipation for the next band’s next steps.

Bring on the Rain is out now.

https://www.facebook.com/IndigoSixteen/    https://twitter.com/IndigoSixteen   https://www.instagram.com/indigo_sixteen/

Pete RingMaster 21/11/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire – Swithering

RHLF_RingMasterReview

With its Scottish meaning of uncertainty about things a contrast to the decisiveness ears and passions find for its imagination bred proposal, Swithering is quite simply an album glorious in every essence. The new full-length from Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire, it is a kaleidoscope of flavours and inspirations hinting at  some of Scotland’s most potent bands and more besides yet any influence feels a coincidence rather than a drawn spark for a release eclectic, unique, and increasingly irresistible.

Embracing the songwriting craft and class of vocalist/guitarist/pianist Roddy Hart, the Glasgow hailing septet band is completed by bassist Scott Clark, guitarists John Martin and Gordon Turner, drummer Scott Mackay, pianist/organist Geoff Martyn, and keyboardist Andy Lucas, with pretty much all also offering vocals and harmonies to the album as captivating as the melodies and lyrical adventures helping shape it.

With their critically acclaimed 2013 released self-titled debut album nominated for the Scottish Album of the Year and sparking US TV host Craig Ferguson to invite the band to perform on The Late Late Show on CBS that same year, that leading to a 5-night residency playing to a combined audience of over 12 million viewers, Hart and co had already plenty to live up to with their next move. A Scottish Variety Award for International Breakthrough Artist of The Year and a nomination for Best Band at the Spirit of Scotland Awards were followed by the band performing at the opening party for the Commonwealth Games and a celebrated show with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

Their reputation as a mighty live proposition was quickly established alongside their successes and relentlessly cemented by each further show and their yearly self-curated Roaming Roots Revue for Celtic Connections. For most of 2015, the band predominately concentrated on writing and recording songs now making up Swithering, a release co-produced by Paul Savage (Mogwai, Emma Pollock, Admiral Fallow) about whom Hart says, “He was key to adding a sense of perspective – and calm – to it all, allowing the madness of this new working relationship forming between us to unfold in the most creative way possible.”

art_RingMasterReviewIt is a creativity which looms impressively upon ears and thoughts from the opening strains of first track Tiny Miracles and persistently blossoms to greater heights across song and its subsequent companions. The opener flirts with the senses instantly, its initial guitar melody soon holding hands with Hart’s alluring tones and the rising caress of atmospheric keys. Quickly the track is strolling along with the darker shadows of bass riding the anthemic lure of drums as melodies and harmonies seduce from all angles. It’s controlled but enthused liveliness is as insatiable as the hunger of ears to devour it, an essence of Lightning Seeds coming to mind as the song grabs hips and imagination with consummate ease.

The diversity of Swithering is quickly established as the colder haunting charms of Berlin closes in on the senses. As Hart expresses his thoughts, the song reveals the city is much more than just a destination vocally and emotionally for the songwriter’s heart. There is a persistent eighties flavouring across the album, here the band creating a provocative flight through a Thomas Dolby meets James Cook tempting with Thompson Twins like revelry to its rhythmic enticing. The song is entrancing and again infected with a catchiness which takes a growingly incisive hold, a quality just as open and commanding as that shared by the Talking Heads spiced Low Light, a song also prompting comparisons to Bill Nelson as it dances provocatively in ears.

Again though, as those around it, it emerges as something distinct and individual to Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire, a trait only backed by the melancholic beauty and drama of No Monsters and recent single Violet. With keys and piano alone conjuring a palette for the imagination to conjure with, backed by the sweltering sighs of guitar and the vocal hug, the first of the pair gently but firmly bewitches before its successor with its own mellow countenance entices with an increasingly infectious swing.

Next up Dreamt You Were Mine is another song with a deceptive virulence which grows and breeds a welcome trespass loaded with an abandon which only consumes and inspires the listener while straight after Faint Echo of Loneliness shows Josef K invention in its indie pop/post punk like character. Both tracks broaden the creative landscape of the album while binding ears and appetite closer to its adventurous intent, though they are soon eclipsed by the majestic roar of In the Arms of California, surely a highly tempting single in the waiting with the suggestive flair of Pete Wylie and raw pop allurement of Orange Juice in its melodic serenade and impassioned blaze.

Through the haunted climate and reflective release of I Thought I Could Change Your Mind, a song slipping under the skin with every passing imaginative minute and in turn the climactic Strange Addictions, the album pours on the instinctive variety and invention within its creators. The latter is a tempest of emotion and sound as forcibly contagious as it is rousingly evocative and sublimely tempered yet complimented by the more composed but just as catchy canter of Sliding. Like so many of the tracks within Swithering, it almost instantly has highly persuasive claws into the listener, gripping tighter as it brews even bolder catchiness in its imposing intent.

Concluded by the dark, almost melodramatic carnival folk flavoured We’re the Immortals, a song musically and lyrically as intimate as it is majestically radiant and suggestive, Swithering is an adventure and event for body and spirit; a success epitomised by that final treat of a track. Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire are no strangers to attention and acclaim but nothing to what Swithering will surely spark.

Swithering is out now across most stores and on all formats, including limited edition 180g vinyl, through Middle of Nowhere Recordings.

http://rhlf.co.uk/   https://www.facebook.com/RoddyHartandtheLonesomeFire/   https://twitter.com/RHLFband   https://twitter.com/roddyhart

Pete RingMaster 13/12/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Stoor – Self Titled

stoorJosef K meeting Wall Of Voodoo at the behest of Dead Kennedys with the rhythmic virulence and discord of The Fire Engines

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.

art_RingMasterReviewInfect 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.

https://www.facebook.com/stoormusic/   http://www.stereogramrecordings.co.uk/artists/stoor/

Pete RingMaster 19/10/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Like Animals – Feral EP

Photo Credit: Travis Tiernay

Photo Credit: Travis Tiernay

Taking our introduction to Canadian trio Like Animals through new EP Feral, it did not take long for their sound to show it matched up to the release’s title; each of its five tracks an untamed slice of noisy revelry and warped imagination and all leaving the licking of lips and a taste for more.

Hailing from Orillia in Ontario, the trio of guitarist/lead vocalist Jamie Haffenden, drummer/backing vocalist Will Tennant, and bassist/backing vocalist Myke Caouette create what is declared in regard to the EP as deviant melodic math metal. Equally though, it has paws in progressive technical metal, noise rock, and hardcore ferocity we would suggest, all flavours amongst others spicing up the increasingly impressing Feral. Following previous EPs from Sweet Whispers, Plagued Ears to The Undertoad and The Wild, the latest encounter is another animal themed exploit challenging and unsettling the senses and gripping the imagination with its unbroken raw spirit and fierce exploration.

EP Cover - Like Animals - Feral_RingMaster ReviewThe EP opens with its title track and initially a low key, melancholically toned guitar coaxing which is quickly joined by Haffenden’s voice. A few moments more and Tennant and Caouette bring a bulkier incitement with their rhythms, each carrying raucous intent to their catchy nature; William English meets At The Drive-In coming to mind through it all. Subsequent jazz lined weaves of guitar and moody bass shuffles only divert the creative adventure to new thrilling detours though they never meander too far from the driving compelling core of the encounter.

Perpetually unpredictable and magnetic, the track is a gripping start to proceedings instantly backed by the Fall of Troy meets Red Hot Chili Peppers like discordance of The Lions Share. Everything from vocals to sonic tempting has an off-kilter edge and mania to it yet things never lose structure or captivation even as hardcore ferocity succumbs to advent-grade devilry, and in turn it to a punk fuelled uproar. Again expectations are left lifeless as the track continues to creatively twist and turn like a dervish before Lounge Lizard relaxes things with its unconventional balladry and skittish canvas of ear bait and invention. Every Time I Die in league with early Postcard Records era bands like Orange Juice or Josef K comes to mind at times, not for clear reasons the latter pair but close enough to suggest the ingenuity at play as the song seduces at times whilst on its way to a more volatile and explosively dynamic trespass of ears and passions.

The indie punk/technical rock discord juiced eccentricity of Caterwaul ignites ears and appetite next, bordering on frenzied reactions admittedly whipped up by its tempestuous landscape of bullish ideation and exhausting noise aligned to seductive asides and mellow trespasses. As creatively busy as it is though, The Jungle Book of Love provides an even more feverish incitement whilst bringing the heated confusion and clamorous beauty of its namesake to bear on ears and thoughts. Dipping into spices of Mars Volta and The Dillinger Escape Plan, the track is a tapestry of wilding craft and sonic, maybe slightly deranged, adventure.

That description easily applies to Like Animals as a creative force too, a thought cemented as Feral for the umpteenth time sets our passions boiling whilst words are written.

The Feral EP is released January 22nd @ http://likeanimals1.bandcamp.com

https://www.facebook.com/likeanimals/   https://twitter.com/likeanimalsOFCL

Pete RingMaster 22/01/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

For more exploration of the independent and promotional services check out http://www.zykotika.com/

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 @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2015/04/21/the-cathode-ray-infinite-variety/

https://www.facebook.com/thecathoderay   http://www.stereogramrecordings.co.uk

Pete Ringmaster

The RingMaster Review 23/11/2015

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