The Amputees – Scream EP

The Amputees pic

It has been over a year since US punks The Amputees released their excellent Commence The Slaughter EP, a release which certainly put the New York City based band on the radar whilst expelling a wealth of promise for their future endeavours. The Scream EP is the next encounter to be unleashed and it not only builds on that strong base but sees the band leaping up big levels in maturity, craft, and just plain quality. Released November 23rd via Money Fire Records, the five track release is an eclectic mix of numerous vibrant hues of punk rock for one very contagious slab of bustling rock ‘n’ roll.

The seven strong unit immediately has feet and emotions leaping with opener Beanie. A raucous riot of pop punk with a vein of a1402476998_2Ramones like addictiveness to its charge, the track is one of those anthems which lingers and hides in the psyche to appear at its own will at any time. Described as “a theme song dedicated to their bass player”, the song stomps with energy and craft, guitars carving up the air with infectious lures whilst bass and drums add a hungry texture which only adds to the contagious body, the snarling four string presence of Geena Spigarelli especially irresistible. The vocals of guitarist Louis Ramos backed by the appealing tones of Carrie Ramos reinforce the catchy and magnetic call of the song and against the strong driven rhythms of drummer Kaleen Reading make a tempering persuasion.

The outstanding start is soon matched by the darker colder charms of Holden. With riffs striding purposefully alongside again rigidly uncompromising rhythms, the song offers an intimidation missing in its predecessor and a heavier rapacious breath. Irresistible and resourcefully sculpted grooves vein the compelling track, their ridiculously addictive and almost insolent prowess mouth-watering assistance to the great vocals of guitarist Nova Luz, her voice and delivery helping send the track into comparisons to the likes of The Distillers and L7. The song continues the grip of the EP with ease, the first two songs already igniting a real passion for the release and giving a real task for the other songs to stand up to.

Both King Jubs and the title track go for it with relish, the first a thirty second stab of punk ferocity, prime old school hardcore punk spewing exhausting exciting venom whilst the second merges hardcore and pop punk into a fiery scuzz lined blaze of sinister garage punk, guitars and vocals a great caustic combination speared by those ever brisk and urgent rhythms. Though neither quite manages to rise to the heights of the opening pair of tracks, both leave hunger and emotions wanting much more for the diversity and matured strength The Amputees have bred.

The release closes with the contagion expelling 88, a song which has limbs and energy recruited with its Ramones meets Late Cambrian like blend. It is simple, raucous, and irresistibly incendiary to the passions and limbs. A final anthemic bait to send the EP off in fine style, the song equally ensures there is no option but to go back to the start of Scream and bask once again in its punk rock triumph.

The EP is the perfect invitation to newcomers into one of the US’s best emerging punk bands. A quick mention also goes to guitarist Gary Young, he another contributing strong craft to songs though it is hard to know which guitarist appeared on which song, and to Screaming Females’ frontwoman Marissa Paternoster who provided the great cover art to the release. If you are looking for punk which maybe is not yet ground-breaking but certainly refreshing and most importantly thrilling than The Amputees and the Scream EP is a must.


RingMaster 20/11/2013

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Wheatus – The Valentine LP


    Wheatus is one of those bands which continually has the shadow of their greatest/memorable hit looming over their subsequent songs and releases in the gaze of those outside of their potent fanbase, and like many it is an unavoidable shame as they certainly have much more to them than the raging success of one song, as shown upon new album The Valentine LP. Teenage Dirtbag for a great many will always be the sign post for the band but the ten tracks making up the new release stand as a clear creative marker, as so many tracks across their previous releases, to the greater strength and adventurous depths of the potent songwriting of the band.

The first full length release since TooSoonMonsoon of 2005, though there have been the Pop, Songs & Death: Vol. 1 – The Lightning and the Pop, Songs & Death: Vol. 2 – The Jupiter EPs of 2009 and 10 respectively, The Valentine LP  takes thoughts and senses on a warm and evocative ride through melodic and expressive imagination. It takes mere moments for opener The Fall In Love to draw out full attention, the metronomic beats of Kevin Garcia a persistent lure behind the coarse touch of guitar and the provocative bass. The distinctive vocals of Brendan B Brown as expected lay down the narrative and heart of the song with expressive style whilst the backing vocals of Gabrielle Sterbenz and Karlie Bruce offer a wash of sunlit harmonies to warm up further the pleasing temptation of the song as the keys of Mark Palmer dance around and court the ear with additional enticing splendour.

It is a strong start soon surpassed by Fourteen and Holiday, the first immediately catching the ear with the raw scuzz lined call of the guitars of Brown and bass prowl of Matthew Milligan before once again the vocal combination spark up the emotions and pleasure, whilst its successor is a vibrant pop rock flame that ebbs and flows with restraint and unbridled fun linked as tightly together as the melodic shimmer and sinew bursting bass are whilst being egged on by the deeper voiced keys of on this track Ken Flagg. It is a tantalising song which casts essences of the band’s debut upon the awareness of the world into their now firm songwriting maturity.

    Break It Don’t Buy It keeps the brewed heights of the record washing eagerly over the ear, its sultry and exotic suggestiveness a magnificent companion to the lively and contented stroll of the song. Once again the whole vocal aspect is as infectious as the sound but undoubtedly it is the ehru provided by Jack Hsu from The Hsu-nami which steals the honours and elevates the song into another sphere.

The next up title track is a smouldering caress with the ever striking and provocative discordantly attitude guitar and bass sound providing a potently hued canvas for the vocals and the combined keys of Flagg and Michael Bellar to colour its heart. It enchants and absorbs thoughts throughout, even if it lacks the final temptress glaze of the previous songs, whilst the excellent Mary Mary Sea Serpent evokes emotions with a soulful and passionate embrace. Such the strength of song lyrically and in delivery you sense there is a rich and deep personal element to the composition which only increases its captivating persuasion.

     Marigold Girl is another highlight, its again smouldering seduction bringing the prime Wheatus sound into a flourish of melodic and slight post punk discordance across the guitars and keys. There is also an open Beatles breath, to the chorus especially, that works depending on your appetite for such things but to be fair only flavours further an already enchanting and thrilling suasion.

The bedlamic opening to Lady Adelaide wets the appetite for the song ahead, its teasing mesh of noise and unbalanced energy a scintillating hook into a song which continues to allow the ‘chaos’ to share its glory amongst the melodic haze of energy and imagination. It is the least accessible track on the album but the most thrilling and ingenious with distortion and discord the perfect playmates for track and passions.

The Valentine LP is completed by firstly That’s True, a tender ballad sculpted by acoustic guitar and stalked by the brilliant rhythmic insistent alchemy of Garcia. If the track had stayed this way throughout it would have been a pinnacle on the album but with the additional adventurous twists of bass and harmonies alone it rises to another level. It is followed by Love Is Too Expensive, a closing fire of a pop song with again enterprise in its construction and direction. It completes a strong and pleasing album though it also adds a little irony in that as great as the release is it fails to ignite enough fires inside the passions to be a major triumph which suggests maybe the band has been overtaken by others openly inspired by Wheatus, such as the excellent Late Cambrian whose vocalist/guitarist John N Wlaysewski provides a sizzling solo on the concluding song. The Valentine LP is without doubt though a richly satisfying release and one which inspires plenty of wishes to return again and again to its body.


RingMaster 20/08/2013

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Late Cambrian – Peach

late cambrian 3 b

Cradling thoughts and emotions in a hug of melodic enterprise and magnetic warmth, Peach the new album from US indie rock band Late Cambrian is one exciting thrilling dance of vibrant personality and matching sounds. An energetic brew of alternative rock, mesmeric pop, and indie individuality, the second album from the band holds moments of sheer brilliance within a constant wash of imaginative and infectious excellence. Across its landscape of summer driven sultry sounds passions are ignited and ardour bred for an album which leaves a lasting glowing imprint on the senses.

Since the release of their debut album The Last Concert in 2011, the Greenpoint, Brooklyn band has stepped upon a steady and potent rise, the album receiving rich acclaim at home and abroad, especially in Japan, whilst the band has won numerous awards and had songs placed in shows such as The Real World and Married To Jonas. Their video for the song Ryan Gosling pulled in massive numbers being picked up by BlankTV and THECOOLTV, and the trio of John N Wlaysewski (lead vocals, guitars, synth, percussion), Nunzio Moudatsos (bass guitar, backing vocals), and O (Vocals, Synth), made big impressions at festivals such as The KahBang Music Festival, The Dewey Beach Music Conference, CMJ, and The Popfest along the way. It has been a heady time which Peach will surely reinforce and accelerate upon its release on April 30th.

The album opens with the teasing tones of Lovers Point, its initial quickstep of firm rhythms and fibrous guitar strokes soon LC Peach Album cover 1wrapped in great vocal harmonies. Taking a small breath for the vocals of Wlaysewski to begin the narrative within a warm hug of elegant melodies and entrancing synths, the song lifts its feet for a strolling flow of aural smiles and keen bounce to its gait. It is an irresistible welcome into the album, its demands minimal but rewards plentiful in their engagement and energy.

The tease of The Label Needed A Single wraps its mischief around the ear next, a groaning bassline veining another heated swerve of infectiousness and melodic enticement. Already two tracks in and references to Wheatus are unavoidable but as this track shows there is more to their imaginative devilment to avoid being so singularly tagged. Part pop punk and fully anthemic pop, the song takes the ear and passions to a hop of fluid irrepressible moves and sounds with an intent to raise others energies and voice in tandem to its own securely successful, something which you can lay at the feet of next up The Year I Cut The Cable too. With a swing to its jazz pop eighties whispering romp, the track exchanges heated ardour with the heart, the dual vocal tango of Wlaysewski and the delicious tones of O, her voice another standout glory of so many on the album, exploring song and listener with buoyant enterprise and keenness to match the sounds.

The pinnacle of the album follows in The Wolf, for this heart one of if not the best melodic thrill heard this year so far. As a fiery guitar opens up the airwaves and beats pounce upon the ear there is an immediate hook which the throaty bass and captivating gait of the vocals sends deeper into thoughts and emotions. The track is simplicity turned into a virulent conspirator to the passions, the wanton whisper to the twin interchanging vocals and Eastern delight lined lure playing in the background, epidemically anthemic.  Everything about the song is magnificent, pop at its most potent and triumphant and another where the varied and seamlessly twisting devilry has the voice and body of the listener adding their, in my case, blasphemous contributions.

Following such a powerful piece of brilliance would mean a dip for most releases but the likes of Patience Of A Monument with its gentle hazy aired persuasion and Made for Love, a track with a beginning which reminds of Wham!, sorry but it does, and goes on to coat the listener in a rich wash of hot melodies and pop punk sinew, without reaching the same heights have their own distinct plateaus of enjoyable textures and absorbing presences. Featuring guest appearances from violinist Tracy Bonham, Kevin Salem on elbow guitar, and Jack Hsu (The Hsu-Nami) on the erhu, the song is an emotive pleasure with a wonderful instrumental closure.

The track Ryan Gosling has led the band to stronger recognition as much as any song and again is a major force upon the album, the bulging rhythms and wickedly crafted hooks a charismatic grip laying an incendiary canvas for the equally galvanic vocals and harmonies. As with all the songs there is an honesty and lack of complication to the track which allows its rich heart to make the strongest arresting enslavement on what by now is rapture for the album.

The remaining songs continue the scintillating joy and craft already reaped with tracks such as the acoustic led summery skip of Poetry, the sultry Recipe, and the glorious Hypgnotica-Afternoon Special stepping to the fore though there is not one weak or track on the album all just powerfully magnetic. The latter of this trio is an imaginative predominantly instrumental canter through hot and suggestive melodic climes with evolving variation and intrigue to its gait.

Closing with Luddite, another bewitching piece of warm, a closing vibrant sunset featuring guest vocals from Brendan Brown and Gabrielle Sterbenz of Wheatus, Peach is a slice of musical brilliance in quality and effect containing most likely the song of the year, quite simply a must have release…


RingMaster 21/04/2013

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Late Cambrian: Social Season EP

The Social Season EP from US indie pop band Late Cambrian, is one of those releases you cannot help becoming enamoured with, its vibrant and excitable pop heart a smiling and infectious tease. The EP offers up five songs which ooze eighties new wave and melodic pop flavourings within the mischievous personality of a Weezer. It makes for in Late Cambrian, a band which you feel you already know as a friend before even the end of the first song and a companion to bring out the inner smile.

The Brooklyn band were formed by ex- Flying Machines and The Attorneys, John N. Wlaysewski (guitar, vocals, songwriter) who alongside drummer Colin Schiller began recording their debut album The Last Concert in early 2011. During working on the songs the band saw the addition of O (synth, backing vocals), her glowing voice enhancing some of the later songs recorded. By late March the same year, the band made their live debut with bassist Nunzio Moudatsos (A Crimson Affair) also on board. Social Season is the first release with the full line-up and probably the first enterprising introduction for many to the fun sounds of Late Cambrian, but better late than never.

The opening track Ryan Gosling has already garnered good acclaim and responses as the first single from the release across the US and beyond. The song drives a thumping beat through the ear guided by contagious riffs and jangling melodies which only ensure eager attention. Once the shining harmonies and warm vocals play within the sounds the pull is irresistible and openly anthemic, defying all not to join in with the simple chants and chorus. To be honest like all the songs, it does not try to bend boundaries or break out into new inventive realms for indie pop, but certainly makes finding many rivals in the deep contagion stakes difficult.

The following Trash Show has a slight punk swagger to its boisterous presence to bring a mix of Arctic Monkeys, King Prawn, and Presidents of The USA. As the guitars twist and flash across the ear and the vocals coax the senses into further addiction, the song is like an old friend returning home. The sounds and energy of the track is instantly recognisable but equally and immediately fresh and rewarding, indie pop punk at its best.

Already on a high the EP gets even better with Song 11, an enthused stomp which ignites all the primal rhythms and melodic passions within. The Monkees meets Blink 182 with Maximo Park for company, the song is a pulsating and riotous thrill which has an insatiable hunger to exhaust the senses and bring the heart to a climax. As before the song has one accompanying its voice and limbs thrashing to the wonderful discord which spices the guitars and boisterous energy. The combination of Wlaysewski and O when they come together is stunning and in general the harmonies are delicious. The song also features a solo from Brendan Brown of the band Wheatus which only ignites further enjoyment.

Hand Stamp reins in the energies a touch but still is a feast of melodic joy, the bass pulsating besides the air heating slices of guitar and vocal harmonic elegance. The track does not quite have the pulse rate soaring as previous songs but its warmth and sweet taste is a rewarding dessert to what came before.

Social Season ends with the instrumental Saint James, a track which probably means a lot to the band but is a little lost on others. It is a great piece of music skilfully presented but does not fit with what went before so feels ultimately like a filler. It does have a departure of sound which opens some different anticipation to things in the future from the band though to be honest.

Late Cambrian is one of those bands we all need, fun, excitable, and able to put a smile on the face with  richly pleasing and open infectious sounds.

Ringmaster 22/08/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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