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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Band Of Holy Joy – The Land Of Holy Joy

BOHJ_A_RingMaster Review

This past year, two singles from Band Of Holy Joy have sparked expectations of something special from their new album The Land Of Holy Joy, simply because of their own enthralling quality. Fair to say the UK band’s new release not only lives up to hopes and assumptions but leaves them looking rather inadequate. The nine track adventure of urban folk and indie rock is a blaze of ear thrilling and imagination igniting tracks ripe with unpredictable invention and the social commentary and honesty we have come to expect from the London band. Admittedly over their three decades of undeniably helping shape the British indie scene, we have not had the pleasure of devouring all of their eighteen previous albums here but of the fair few we have, Band Of Holy Joy have definitely eclipsed all with their finest moment in The Land Of Holy Joy.

The album gets off to a stunning flyer with its title track, the opener an instantly bewitching enticing of off-kilter guitar melodies from James Stephen Finn. Their discord lined twang has ears alert, whilst a swift healthy appetite licks its lips almost as quickly after as an exotic seducing from Peter Smith’s keys, matched by the flirtation cast by the bass of Howard Jacques, dances with the imagination. Like Eastern sent cosmopolitan sunshine over harsh realities hinted at by the plainer, distinctive tone of vocalist Johny Brown, the track is sensational; a provocative soundtrack perfect for the crisis felt right now by thousands upon thousands of people and Europe.

The outstanding beginning continues with the band’s last single Isn’t That Just The Life. The song enthrals like a sixties kitchen sink drama with, still for these ears, a female centred alternative to The Smith’s This Charming Man. With wistful keys, flames of sax from Smith, and great dourly resourceful harmonies, the song is an expressive croon with a swinging canter to its shadowed wrapped but surprisingly warm body, and also irresistible.

Street bred melancholy lines the following All The Girls Are Wearing Desert Boots Of Pale And Subtle Shade. It is a track which from its initial potent and gentle embrace of sombre air and emotion lifts in energy through emotive brass textures and an increasingly rousing incitement thrown by the craft of drummer William Lewington. Maybe a slow burner compared to its predecessors, the track easily has ears and thoughts hooked before making way for the funky carnival-esque theatre of Men Who Display A Different Kind Of Pain. Keys drizzle temptation and festival like drama over the senses in league with a similarly thick and colourful enticing from the guitar, whilst Brown adds rich vocal and lyrical openness in his ever pleasing mix of raw crooning and spoken narrative. More inventive and compelling with every passing minute and certainly each listen, the song is revelry of sound and honest drama coated with eighties warmth.

Another album pinnacle arrives with the brilliant Violent Drunken Strangers. Its entrance sees skipping beats aligning with a moodily captivating bassline and sultry tendrils of guitar which just seep into the psyche as Brown again varies his delivery to fine and impacting effect. The post punk like stroll and tone of the track is delicious, as too the emerging eighties funk kissed guitar and a vocal union which just ignites the passions. There are essences of bands like Bauhaus in atmosphere, Josef K in guitar jangle, and Original Mirrors to its lively revelry, and along with the title track, the song steals the show though great times simply continue as first the reflective melodic caress of Discredited Art Form cups ears and thoughts and straight after, A Good Close Friend offers its own elegant seduction and tenacious sixties fired enterprise up for eager attention. Both songs provide thoroughly enjoyable proposals whilst stirring thoughts, the second eclipsing the first but only by a spicy whiff of keys and one lively step.

A Place Called Home is another track which smoulders in ears and thoughts rather than quickly stirs them but with superb harmonies between Brown and a female vocalist, and a brass breeze which as the song has a shade of The Walker Brothers to it, lingering persuasion is the ultimate and successful result.

Closing with I’m Crass Harry, a bluesy look at a character which never gives up the fight despite enduring a constant tide of adversity, the album ends with a mighty finale. Merging spices found in the likes of reggae, punk, jazz, and other absorbing flavours into its musical tapestry around that tale of defiance, the song is Band Of Holy Joy at their best, what creatively they are and have always been about and another slice of proof as to why we say The Land Of Holy Joy is their greatest moment yet.

The Land Of Holy Joy is out now digitally and on CD via Stereogram Recordings and the Band Of Holy Joy Bandcamp.

Pete RingMaster 22/09/2015

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The Creeping Ivies – The Witch House EP

creeping ivies_RingMaster Review

All those with dodgy hips turn away now as we have one slice of physical slavery for you courtesy of The Creeping Ivies. Revealing a new wash of ingenuity in their sound which borders on pop, the Scottish band again enthrals and seduces with their unique style of garage rock ‘n’ roll which quite simply is impossible not to get a little lustful over. Consisting of three exotically and flirtatiously sonic slices of dark rock ‘n’ roll, EP and band have ventured into a broader landscape of invention and tempting which might be best described as The Shangri-las meets The Cramps meets The Revillos at a bordello of ill-repute presided over by Johnny Thunders.

The Creeping Ivies since forming in 2011 has been no strangers to acclaim here and across media and fans thanks to two dynamically thrilling and fiercely dynamic albums and a clutch of EPs which have just lit the fires of devilry. It is fair to say that each subsequent encounter has shown a potent evolution of the band’s garage punk/rock bred sound from the last, with a matching strength in temptation. Between last year’s outstanding album Ghost World and The Witch House, the band has seen one half of the duo in drummer Duncan Destruction leave and vocalist/guitarist Becca “Bomb” Murray subsequently joined by bassist Christy Taylor and stick man Ian Duncan. With a big change to a band which has also drawn constant acclaim for a live presence taking in shows with the likes of Viv Albertine, Vic Godard & Subway Sect, Bob Log III, and The Primevals amongst many acclaimed headlining shows of their own, there was a wonder of how things would move or indeed change ahead. The Witch House swiftly shows that as ever The Creeping Ivies are an irresistible creative lure revelling in their inspirations whilst breeding their own striking imagination as they go exploring new avenues. The hex that is their sound has developed an appetite for sixties inspired pop on the EP to go along with a passion for garage rock ‘n’ roll from across the decades. The result is an EP which is majestically glorious and ridiculously addictive.

witch house cover_RingMaster Review   It opens up with its title track, The Witch House flirting through the voodoo rhythms the band has so masterfully transfixes with from day one. Where Mr Destruction’s beats used to transmit intent and resonance like a virus through ear and bone though, Duncan’s beats are more tempered to match the, dare we say mellower, tones of the music yet cast an equally lingering network of anthemic persuasion. Murray’s guitar is just as swift in its spicy coaxing as her recognisable and exhilarating vocal shrills and punkish tone. Completed by the dark rumble of Taylor’s bass, the song swings with attitude and a flirtatious swagger ripe with simple but deeply rooting Ramones seeded hooks and nostalgia bred chords. The track is scintillating revelry to start things off but just the beginning of great deeds.

The following Only the Moon opens with its own infectious shuffle, led in by more flavoursome rock ‘n’ roll guitar and blossoming into a tenacious and composed canter of sparkling riffs and grumbling rhythmic shadows. From that same moment a vibrant melodic and catchy smile also brews, erupting in a chorus complete with inciting handclaps and a vocal tempting which only the deaf could refuse full involvement with. Surf breezes and a sultry air only adds to the compelling dance of the song; sixties pop meets modern garage psychosis at its very best.

The release comes to an end through Bye Bye Babe, a track as much seventies melodic infection as it is sixties garage rock and original 21st century devilment. The guitars seem influenced by bands like The Ventures and Johnny & the Hurricanes, rhythms by bands like The Orson Family and The Bomboras, whilst Murray is like a sultry Fay Fife. Wrapped in an invention and imagination which holds whispers of possible inspirations like Josef K and The Pixies, the song is honey for ears, manna for the psyche and a third kiss of brilliance in The Witch House.

There is no denying we have had a soft spot for The Creeping Ivies since day one but equally there is no argument in the fact the band just gets bigger, better, and more essential with every proposition with The Witch House EP the finest moment for the band yet. We keep saying that over each encounter and suspect it will not be the last time either. Ahead of Your New Favourite Garage Band, a forthcoming compilation of previous singles as well as EP and album tracks from the band, this moment in time feels like The Creeping Ivies are starting a new exciting chapter with thrilling new sounds. Time to get spooked and infested guys and girls…

The Witch House EP is out now with Your New Favourite Garage Band available from October 31st, both though Flowers In The Dustbin.

RingMaster 18/08/2015

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Ded Rabbit – Scarlet Cardigan

Ded Rabbit_RingMaster Review

Continuing a very healthy tradition of outshining their previous release with something even more irresistible and creatively mouth-watering, Scotland based indie rockers Ded Rabbit uncage their new single Scarlet Cardigan. It is a song which merges wonderfully raw textures with intricately inventive hooks, contagious energy with rousing vocal drama, and uniting it all in another exhilarating bellow. Ded Rabbit is a band walking the precipice of national exposure, something very easy to say after Scarlet Cardigan.

Ded Rabbit consists of four Yorkshire brothers, Eugene, Fergus, Eoin, and Donal Gaine, who moved to the Highlands in the mid-nineties, subsequently heading to Edinburgh for their studies and the moment where, in their words, that they “began taking music more seriously.” Since then as Ded Rabbit, the foursome has released a trio of increasingly acclaimed EPs, all recorded at Rocket Science Studios (Texas, Belle And Sebastian, Dougie MacLean) and earned a potent live reputation with a presence taking in shows with the likes of The 1975 and Man Made, their own headlining gigs, and festival spots at Rough Beats, Liverpool Sound City, and T In The Park where they headlined the T Break stage this year. Drawing on inspirations from bands such as Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Queens Of The Stone Age, Fugazi, Ian Dury and the Blockheads, Gang Of Four, Interpol, The Cribs, The Libertines and many more, the band’s EPs have been a just as magnetic affair, Wash Away and Wake Up In A Dream stirring up keen attention previously whilst the recently released Moving In Slow Motion has pushed even keener spotlights their way. As suggested earlier, their new release unleashes another rousing and masterful step forward in the sound and adventure of the band, Scarlet Cardigan which is the lead song from the last EP, setting a new dynamic marker.

The single instantly reveals a scuzzier air to the band’s sound, something explored more upon Moving In Slow Motion whilst also pushing the band’s cleaner melodic explorations. Vocals and hefty beats are the first union alongside slim but enticing guitar which in turn expands with melodic lures as the song itself blossoms into bolder incitement, a bulbous bass riff just whetting the appetite all on its own. The spicery of eighties new wave/post punk is at its strongest yet in the Ded Rabbit sound in Scarlet Cardigan but woven into something certainly with a whiff of Arctic Monkeys/The Cribs to it, but thrillingly original to the band. Raising crescendos of energy for its chorus and volatile calm for its agitated verse built passages, the track enthrals with unpredictability and breath-taking enterprise from start to finish.

Like a mix of Asylums, The Libertines, and The Woodentops, with at times essences of Josef K too, the free to download Scarlet Cardigan is another enslaving slice of indie rock ‘n’ roll from Ded Rabbit and another thick suggestion that the band ready to take the UK indie scene by storm.

Scarlet Cardigan is available now.

The Ringmaster Review 12/08/2015

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Flyying Colours – ROYGBIV EP

Flyying Colours_Reputation Radio/RingMaster Review

Like a favourite candy, the ROYGBIV EP from Australian shoegaze popsters Flyying Colours, is richly flavoursome, addictively captivating, and impossible not to treat oneself to another portion of. It is a delicious slice of aural contagion wrapped in inescapable melodic seduction, and one addiction it will always be ok to indulge in.

Hailing from Melbourne and formed in 2011, Flyying Colours cite My Bloody Valentine and Fleetwood Mac as influences to their own sonic explorations and with the former an immediate spicing and the latter becoming more apparent over listens, they make a healthy spicing to something individual to the band. Similarly the compelling beauty of a Lush and the psych pop seducing of House Of love also nudge comparisons yet there is a bolder, almost bruising texture to the Flyying Colours sound which adds stronger uniqueness to the creative theatre of songs and EP. 2013 saw the release of their self-titled debut EP, a full introduction to their attention grabbing, raw beauty clad sound which came after the first teaser of the single wavygravy. Its qualities and lures are now explored with new intensity and adventure through ROYGBIV, a success with the potential of awakening a really broad spotlight upon their presence.

Flyying Colours EP_Reputation Radio/RingMaster Review     Single songs and the EP as a whole, are as rich in aural colour as its title suggests, but an evolving kaleidoscope of sound rather than a structure of individually layered hues just lying against each other. It all has a changeable and transfixing quality which starts with I Don’t Want To Let You Down. A sonic jangle works on the senses initially with its bait quickly joined by the thick beats of drummer Andy Lloyd Russell. The persuasion of guitar expands the moment the two meet and collude in awakening imagination and appetite, a sonic smoulder with a lively underbelly casting its spell on ears as the equally magnetic vocals of guitarist Brodie J Brümmer caress. The song continues to stroll with warm intent, getting feisty at times especially in a vivacious chorus which sees second guitarist Gemma O’Connor add her siren-esque tones to the mix. The bass of Melanie Barbaro is arguably the most laid back thing on the increasingly fiery encounter, yet her strings only add thick seduction through their thickly magnetic shadows within the blaze of the song.

It is a potent and infection clad track quickly backed and surpassed by the voracious shimmer of Running Late. Guitars jangle and dance in ears, offering a feel of British eighties indie pop a la Orange Juice and Josef K, whilst both vocalists twin up their mellow tempting to stroke ears. There is an unmissable sparking between textures in the song, igniting the thick sonic haze of the encounter further and indeed a sway of bodies and movement of feet and emotions before it.

The increasingly impressive adventure and ascent of the release continues with Not Today, and straight away the song has ears and thoughts spellbound as an opening melodic mist is pierced by one invigorating and tantalising bassline. Its groove is matched by those of the guitars and also in the more low key post punk vocal delivery of Brümmer. That post punk essence is throughout the EP but especially here makes the most delicious lure, suggesting that if Joy Division had gone funky with their sound it would have been something akin to this hex of contagion. Spicy hooks and a rhythmic swagger relentlessly feed a quickly hungry appetite and impassioned lust for the incitement and it is no surprise the song is the lead invitation to the EP, and indeed a favourite across the band’s recent UK tour with Pinkshinyultrablast.

In The End emerges from the closing strains of the triumph, swiftly laying down its own virulent persuasion though reining in the dramatic urgency of its predecessor just a touch as it wraps ears in a thicker smooch. Like the last track though, it barely takes a minute before full involvement of the listener is enticed, the still tenacious energy of the song inescapable incitement to the body as feet tap rigorously and hips swerve to the flow of the proposal.

Final track Leaks almost bludgeons its way into view in comparison to other tracks, the muscular snarl of bass and matching jabbing beats a heavily boisterous lure courting a caustic yet bewitching sonic mesh of sound from the guitars, it all coloured again by the immersive vocals. It is a fiery end to the release, and another irresistible song showing, as each proposition within ROYGBIV, another twist to the sound and invention of the band.

Flyying Colours is cast as shoegaze but their outstanding EP proves that there is much more to their voraciously bubbling shimmer of sound, plenty to appeal to fans of melodic and psychedelic rock as well as those of psych and lo-fi pop.

The ROYGBIV EP is available via Club ac30 in the UK @ and in the US on Shelflife @ now!

RingMaster 18/05/2015

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Min Diesel – Mince

Photo by Lori Wilson.

Photo by Lori Wilson.

Mince, the debut album from Scottish band Min Diesel, is a clash on the senses and for some maybe a car crash as certainly their sound is not going to be an easy fit for many. It is a challenging proposition, and at times has even keen ears unsure but its real potency is in luring back regular attention which shows album and band are doing plenty right.

Aberdeen bred Min Diesel take inspirations from late-80s/early-90s punk, lo-fi and math-rock bands into their abrasing cacophony of sonic enterprise. They are a trio also becoming used to strong support and praise, through a live presence which has seen the band play with the likes of Errors, Acoustic Ladyland, Joan of Arc, Johnny Foreigner, Playlounge, Tuff Love, Hot Club de Paris, Sky Larkin, and Paws since forming in 2009 and a clutch of EPs. Two splits with Sidca and Pinact respectively in 2013 lured potent acclaim whilst last year’s Puzzle & Activity EP gave an enticing teaser to Min Diesel’s debut album now uncaged and prowling the psyche.

The threesome of Zippy, Stu, and David state inspirations come from the likes of Fugazi, Pavement, and Shellac whilst others have compared the band to artists such as Dinosaur Jr. and Stapleton. They are all understandable references though you can add many others, for us at times thoughts of Pere Ubu emerging in certain places across Mince. Equally though there is a freshness to the band’s sound which puts them at least one step aside of the crowd. Opener War Band swiftly entangles the senses in a healthy scrub of guitar and thumping beats, their union with the throaty lure of bass a magnetic invitation for ears and attention. The vocals come from within the thick mesh of sound, laying deeper in their textures than expected but working enjoyably as contagion brews within the enjoyable encounter. A searing spearing of guitar erupts in its closing moments, its acidic aggression imposing and magnetic as the track leaves with impact.

a2445096622_10   The following Pagan Pageant opens with a folkish air and quaint melody wrapped in caustic ambience, the blend further coloured by raw and often wandering vocals. Slightly deranged and openly wrong-footing, the song swings from good to not sure regularly but already there is that captivation at play meaning you want to indulge in its confusion and incitement again and again in response to its increasing persuasion. Next up Trail of T-Shirts is a more immediate tempting but also reveals stronger enticing over listens. Sharp hooks and spoiled melodies provide an appealing enticement whilst the energetic rhythms quickly bait ears and appetite, but it is the delicious discord coating the clang which steals the passions, another mighty aspect across the release backed as here by potent guitar craft and rhythmic juggling.

Kirk Session reveals a mellow though no less concussive quality to songwriting and sound next, the band casting a jarring croon of sound and vocal prowess which again will work for some and not others whilst Down on the Green straight after, goes for a more predatory intent for its pop rock cacophony. The bass discovers a bestial growl over which voice and guitar dance with brash yet warm resourcefulness. As it continues the track seems to turn a little mellower though ears are still resonating to the sonic jangle and rhythmic confrontation by its close.

The album hits its high spot with the next trio of tracks, starting with the virulent swagger of dB where again the bass is wonderfully bestial against the melodic ferocity around it. The song emerges like a tart mix of Swell Maps and Asylums though there is also a strong whiff of Josef K and very early Orange Juice to the encounter, all spicing adding to the invention of the best track upon Mince, though it is quickly challenged by Last Bus (Emm Es Bee ). The new encounter sways whilst caressing ears with citric melodies and a tangy sonic tempting, musically playing like a raw lemon on the tongue, making the senses pucker at its touch but sparking a hunger for more. Again though, it is the inventive discord trespasses which steal the show, adding greater intensity and weight to the thrilling croon.

Another song which half thrills but leaves questions in its wake, Musskulls is a psyche pop/noise rock tangle of sound and ideation. It twists and turns through coherent and deranged scenery with seamless and ultimately enticing adventure though vocally something goes a little astray. That said without finding the same spark as the last two songs, it still engages ears and thoughts forcibly and as the album grows with every listen.

Mince is brought to a close by firstly the volatile energy and aggression of Bastards, an encounter with a catchy melodic spine of infectiousness, and finally North-East Soul, a dark and raw serenade which sparkles with the Scottish lilt of the vocals, the first time the accent really comes into play within the album. Stray twangs and off kilter noise add to the drama and lure of the enthralling end to the encounter, the band almost exploring improvisation with sonic relish across the turbulent landscape.

We are on safe ground suggesting that Mince will not be a tasty offering for all but it is a release which needs time and focus to explore and come to terms with; for us as an example, it making an ok first impression but with regular engagement turning into a vat of increasing persuasion and thorough enjoyment.

Mince is available now via Struggletown in association with AlbTwo Records and Cool Yr Jets digitally and on Ltd Edition 12” cream or red/white vinyl @

RingMaster 12/05/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @

The Cathode Ray – Infinite Variety

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The energy around the arrival of and anticipation for Infinite Variety, the second album from Scottish band The Cathode Ray, ensured that intrigue and enthusiasm of a great many was high going into the release. It is fair to say that the proposition not only lives up to hopes and expectations placed upon it but leaves them lightweight against its kaleidoscope of fun, sound, and adventure. What was not predicted here was the nostalgic impact it had on ears and thoughts, as well as memory, for our first time with the band. Musically it weaves in essences from the seventies and eighties into an invigorating modern tenacity but it was finding out the background to the members which inspired us to first trawl through cases of vinyl on a nostalgia trip to relive old favourites ashamedly neglected over time.

Formed in 2006, The Cathode Ray was initially a song-writing collaboration between Jeremy Thoms and ex-Josef K frontman and solo artist Paul Haig, a band and solo project straight away dug out for a reprise in the ears. A couple of well-received singles followed before Haig left the project in 2009. Taking it over Thom enlisted guitarist Steve Fraser once of Edinburgh post punk band the Scars, another enslaving proposition for our passions way back, and alongside him drummer David Mack and bassist Neil Baldwin to complete a new line-up, the latter bringing another search through boxes to relive the glories of the disgracefully under-rated Bluebells and post-punk group TV21. Once that was out of the system it was full-steam ahead with Infinite Variety, an album swiftly living up and more to anything its creators may have helped craft before.

The album’s landscape uses various decades of sound as its palette, twisting and shaping them into unique and colourful proposals with a lyrical exploration to match. Said to loosely be a concept album, Infinite Variety visually and aurally references the natural world whilst looking at emotions involved with the human condition. The songs are kind of bundled into three areas; ‘fear, paranoia, lust and betrayal’ spicing the first few songs before looks at ‘transformation, honesty and realisation’ and subsequently love in various light and dark forms flavour the tracks. Like in a kaleidoscope though, it all seems to disarrange and evolve with every twist of a track to provide an on-going and increasingly fascinating adventure.

10425081_1014104828616219_3923383927065033299_n   That diversity to songs is one of many potent aspects to the album and it all starts with the outstanding Backed Up. A simple rub of guitar and accompanying cowbell prods make first contact, soon joined by crisp beats and an expanding coaxing of melodic enticing. The expressive tones of Thoms join the widening incitement next, his entrance awakening bolder enterprise in the guitars, whilst riffs and hooks come with a great post-punk spicing. The reserved but lively melodic invention provides a sultry colouring which the dark bass tones wonderfully temper whilst vocally Thom drives it all with a voice which is like a mix of Pete Shelley and Ste McCabe to offer another rich texture within the potent album starter.

It is a strong beginning straight away eclipsed by the outstanding Resist, one of the most addictive slices of warped pop you will come across this year. Its hooks instantly get under the skin and into the psyche, swiftly followed by the vocals and the thick bass bait. The song’s infectiousness is simply virulent bringing a whiff of The Revillos to its power pop stomp, a passing scent not as strong as the Buzzcocks like catchiness which oozes from the following Nowhere At All. Again it is merely a spicing though, this time to a captivating stroll of imaginative percussion, imposing rhythms, and addictive enterprise, all soaked in inescapable contagion.

Don’t Waste Your Words strides in next to bring an addictive lure of hip swinging rock ‘n’ roll. Feet and ears are an early submission, whilst the capture of the imagination is barely a drum stick swing away in the riveting temptation of the song. It is not alone in offering hooks and a presence which are indelible in thoughts and emotions even after the album’s departure, but it is probably the most intoxicating though matched straight away by the excellent Buck The Trend, a song with a healthy breath of Tom Verlaine and Television to it. Keys and guitar spin a gorgeous eighties web for the rhythmic and vocal prowess of the song to pull this way and that, a combination sculpting another major highlight in the album. There are times across Infinite Variety, like here, where thoughts wonder if the band may have missed the boat with their sound in the fact that The Cathode Ray would have surely been a big inspirational player in the eighties. Every time that suggestion raises its head though band and album almost in anticipation provides evidence to differ, like No Holds Barred which comes next, proving that they are definitely a perfect fit for the now. The song is a slower but similarly infectious offering with a held in check energy which still has body and emotions swaying feistily with its low key and thoroughly addictive swagger. Once more riffs and melodies combine to create a fresh twist and distinct romp of sound and invention in the album.

The brilliant Eureka Moment! is simply a montage of eighties goodness crafted into a transfixing and exotic jungle of imagination fuelled rhythms, Scars like sonic sweeps, and Bluebells bred melodies. It feels like a song dipping into its creators past exploits and those of others whilst equally drawing on new ingenuity. The John Foxx led version of Ultravox comes to mind as does The Creatures as the track seduces and incites but again they are just particular hues in an new enthralling and thrilling aural conjuring by the band.

This Force Of Nature brings its flowing melodic breeze next, female vocals seducing alongside the tones of Thoms, whilst Torn Apart explores an immersive and haunting cavern of sonic reflection which in many ways has seeds to the likes of House of Love and My Bloody Valentine. The absorbing and mesmeric encounter, as so many songs, keeps the album turning over in imagination and invention, as well as variety, before making way for the post punk croon of The Eyes Are The Window To The Soul. With a bassline which recalls early Cure and an Orange Juice like jangle to its chords, the song is bewitching and engagingly dramatic like a modern day Associates.

The album is closed by the elegant reflection of Saving Grace, a semi-acoustic ballad which simply whisks ears and thoughts off into hope soaked clouds under a smouldering exotic sun of melodic temptation. The song is spellbinding but also only telling half the story at this point. Around mid-way the calm is suddenly infused with ominous rhythms and sinister keys, nothing over imposing but certainly a brewing provocation which is soon ripe with surf rock tendrils of guitar and a tempestuous air. As if warning that good times still offer a stormy adventure, the track is irresistible manna for ears and imagination with seven minutes of sonic alchemy.

Infinite Variety is quite breath-taking, leaving thoughts basking and appetite hungry for much more. There have been many releases and bands recently creating real triumphs of nostalgia and new invention, but The Cathode Ray tops the lot.

Infinite Variety is available through Stereogram Recordings now on CD and download via

RingMaster 21/04/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @