Audra – Dear Tired Friends

photo by Jaymz

A decade is a long time to be without something but well worth the wait when it comes to the new album from post punks Audra. It is ten years since the Arizona hailing band released third album Everything Changes and it is fair to say a great many have been eagerly and patiently awaiting its successor and just as simple to assume they are going to greedily bask in the dark beauty of Dear Tired Friends.

Formed in 1991 and primarily brothers Bart and Bret Helm, Audra enfold the inspirations of post punk and its numerous shapers alongside the eclectic imagination found in the likes of the Velvet Underground, Jane’s Addiction, Joy Division, David Bowie, James, and Tom Waits within their sound. As Dear Tired Friends proves it emerges a riveting often haunting embrace of intimate shadows and bewitching melancholy framed in post punk starkness and gothic rock romanticism.

An album which “deals heavily with loss and letting go” and described as “a testimony of the effect the last decade had on each band member”, Dear Tired Friends opens up with the song Tired Friends and took barely a handful of seconds to seize attention with the sizzle of Bart’s guitar across the bold but controlled rhythms of the band’s drummer, Jason DeWolfe Barton. From there pure addiction grew as the track unveiled its post punk prowess around Bret’s potent tones, the imagination only further ensnared as a calmer passage of reflection bares the heart of the track. It is a compelling and irresistible start to the album and quickly followed and matched by the outstanding Wish No Harm.

This is a song which began back in the early nineties and reappeared on a cassette they found when the band was assembling demos for what originally was to be a 4-track EP. Completed last year, Bret adding lyrics and melody to the original demo, Wish No Harm became the lead single for Dear Tired Friends and there could be no finer invitation to the album. The opening bassline was immediate manna to the ears, its lure unapologetic flirtation echoing the core essence of eighties post punk and only enhanced by the swiftly following enticement of vocals and guitar. There is something of Bauhaus meets The Cure to the song with a just as flavoursome tease of bands such as Leitmotiv and Gene Loves Jezebel but nevertheless stands unique to Audra and their dark imagination.

Another Fallen Petal is next up, the song a slowly unfurling piece of emotive solemnity and melodic intimacy within the mournful yet radiant embrace of keys. With the pure captivation bred leaving a lingering presence in thoughts, the song simply beguiled as too its successor, Drinking Yourself To Sleep. Fuelled by an instinctive catchiness bred in all tracks however their darkness and character, the equally enthralling song bears a glam rock lining to its harmonic stroll with psych rock currents in its breath.

Sunglass provides another romance of ears, keys and vocals almost crawling over the senses with the subsequent blaze of guitar sparking a Bowie-esque hue to the soulful and atmospheric piece of dark rapture while Planet Of Me steps forward with a knowing swagger to its rousing virulence. Featuring Mike VanPortfleet of Lycia as guest on lead guitar, the track is a weave of contrasts and stirring imagination; it as striking in its calm as it is in its lively eddies of contagious enterprise.

Across the fertile almost invasive liveliness of Sliding Under Cars and its Numan-esque poppiness, through The Sound/The The styled bold rapture that is Fireflies, and over the doleful but enslaving fascination of 1987 we can only say that Dear Tired Friends engrained itself deeper under the skin and into the passions before Falling brought it all to a close with its dark wave nurtured seduction. Volatility lies in the heart of the song, never fully erupting but teasing fiery emissions to the surface as it adds to the inherent beauty and splendour which lines its shadowy magnificence.

We all may have lingered ten years for a new adventure with Audra but we can tell you that every long second was worth the wait and more.

Dear Tired Friends is out now digitally and on CD and vinyl; available @ https://audra.bandcamp.com/album/dear-tired-friends

https://www.audramusic.com/   https://www.facebook.com/audramusic   https://twitter.com/audramusiccom

Pete RingMaster 28/11/2019

Copyright RingMasterReview: MyFreeCopyright

She Made Me Do It – Drenched

pic by @dcmusicvideos

There is nothing better than an encounter which immediately enthrals attention and appetite but is only scratching at the depths of temptation and adventure within. The Drenched EP from She Made Me Do It is one such offering; a release which instantly had ears pricked and the body bouncing but was just revealing the seeds to blossoming levels of imagination and seduction.

The four track release is another in a long line of rich enticement from the duo of Shaheena Dax (Rachel Stamp) and Will Crewdson (Rachel Stamp, Adam Ant, Scant Regard, The Selecter, Bow Wow Wow, Flesh For Lulu) and one of the pairs’ most deviously tempting offerings. From start to finish it is a magnetic almost teasing fusion of dark shadows and elegant radiance bound in an equally rich mix of punk, new wave, post punk and alternative rock adventure. The successor to their 2017 album, The Frantic Legion, the compelling exploits of Drenched sees the band’s sound even more defined yet bolder in its adventure and tapestry of flavours. Through the captivation and intimation of Dax’s golden yet often almost portentously lined vocals and the descriptive yet rousingly tenacious antics of Crewdson’s guitar to the suggestive caresses and intriguing shimmers of their keys, She Made Me Do It create a captivating web to immerse in and dance with.

Produced by Crewdson and with Joe Holweger providing drums, Drenched opens up with the swiftly irresistible Bones. Straightaway post punk tendrils escape Crewdson’s guitar, their clinging hues something akin to the claws cast in the past by the likes of Leitmotiv and Sex Gang Children. Escalating these lures by the second, the track builds into a lumbering but lively stroll where Dax soon springs her own potent temptation as bass and drums steer the dark throes of the song’s canter; the punk hues of guitar only adding to its anthemic and equally predacious swing. Inescapably infectious but with that great edge of danger and intimidation, the song, as indeed the EP, needed a mere play to get under the skin and only burrowing, deeper and deeper thereon in.

The following Broken Morning is a just as skilful manipulator of ears and appetite even as it instantly reveals a much warmer and calmer nature. That is no chain to an instinctive catchiness and creative eagerness though, the song devilishly impossible to resist joining in with especially when faced with one contagion laded chorus and again a swinging energy which enlivens the body and spirit of song and listener alike. There is something, if right now indefinably, familiar to the track but a hue which only adds to its compelling design and persuasion.

Ashes is next up, electronic pulses gently but firmly resonating before the dirtier breath of the bass joins up quickly followed by the similarly beckoning strains of guitar and voice. A song which relishes its electro pop instincts as fully as its rock ‘n’ roll heart, it offers a tapestry of flavours and creative twists, all as unpredictable as the track is unsurprising in its voracious zeal and stirring enterprise.

The release ends with the melodically celestial beauty of Time, a song of intimate and spatial elegance over an earthbound spine that just as easily ignites the imagination as the siren-esque flight above.  It is a hauntingly mesmeric conclusion to a release which as we said just grows more impressive and tantalisingly by the listen. It is a heavier, more guitar driven rocker than predecessors but equally richer in its melodic and broad weave of flavours and adventure; a must in anyone’s book.

The Drenched EP is out February 1st on Catranstic Records with pre-ordering available @ https://shemademedoit.bandcamp.com/album/drenched-e-p and https://shemmdi.com/store

 

https://www.shemmdi.com/   https://www.facebook.com/shemademedoitpage   https://twitter.com/SheMMDI

Pete RingMaster 30/01/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

System Of Hate -There Is No Madness Here

The world may be on a downward spiral to destruction guided by the corruption of humanity but it is also spawning some glorious reactions along the way and maybe none as thrilling as the second album from UK outfit System Of Hate. Part commentary, part serenade to apocalyptic horizons, There Is No Madness Here is a tenebrific tempting bred from the united breaths of punk rock and post punk, and simply one of 2018’s finest moments.

Released via Louder Than War Records a few weeks back and the successor to the band’s well-received 2016 debut, Unhallowed Ground, the ferociously compelling There Is No Madness Here is an honestly snarling, venomous contagion of sound and observation. As with their first full-length, the Barnsley hailing band has linked up with producer Matt Ellis for their latest meshuga of blackened intimation and dark punk enterprise. It roars with inescapable uniqueness yet keenly embraces the hues of bands such as Killing Joke, Angelic Upstarts, Leitmotiv, and Theatre Of Hate for a proposal as psychotically clamorous as it is skilfully woven.

There Is No Madness Here opens up with its title track, instantly enticing with a wiry guitar lure before slipping into a lively predacious prowl eagerly twisting and turning with every passing moment. Equally Dave Sutcliffe’s vocals stalk ears with lyrical suggestion as an anthemic breath fuels the whole sonic web in a proposition virtually impossible to resist participating in.

That irresistibility is an on-going tempting across the album as proven by the following pair of Black Fire and We Who Walk With God. The first is similarly portentous but with an infectious swing which lines its dark inference. The sonic lattice of Patrick Crawford’s guitar is wrapped in the similarly suggestive lure of keys cast by Martin Roberts, both aligned to the dark pulsation of esurient rhythms sprung by bassist Shaun O’Neill and drummer Carl Gulliford with vocals a raw angst lined narrative to the black infestation. The second presented an even darker and heavier trespass as it unsettled and ensnared the senses. Both tracks, as indeed all across the release, are loaded with appetite entangling hooks and acerbic melodies creating an array of temptations which needed little time to get under the skin.

In The Shadow Of The Cross teases and nags as it rises to its feet next, every tendril of guitar and caress of keys a blend of danger and enticement until the track breaks into a just as magnetic ravening canter. There is a great touch of Sex Gang Children meets 1919 to the track while there is something of an Adicts hue to the punk bred Your God Is Dead. Even so, System Of Hate’s sound is strictly individual and as virally rabid here as in the subsequent caliginous joys of Tears Of Blood, with its wolfish grooves and toxic air, and in turn within the abrasive and bracing sonic plague that is Resurrected.

The latter has the senses feeling flailed and energised; its defiance and animosity a rousing incitement matched in its own particular way driving by the raucously anthemic Rising and its fiery winds. If its predecessor was an announcement of intent, this track is the threat in full holler and again a song impossible not to get embroiled in.

The album concludes with firstly Ill Are The Cursed, a calmer melodically alluring but no less imposing and rousing proposal and finally the track System Of Hate. The closer harries and taunts ears with its sonic exploits whilst seducing with its acidic melodies and raw siren-esque vocal harmonies. It is a last incursion of sound and adventure which sums up the album’s heart and the band’s music and imagination perfectly as indeed the thrilling contagion of each aspect.

We have come to the album’s apocalypse later than others but join the call that There Is No Madness Here is and will be as relevant to the world and humanity’s decay as to post punk and punk ‘n’ roll for years to come.

There Is No Madness Here is out now via Louder Than War Records.

http://www.systemofhate.com/    https://www.facebook.com/systemofhate/   https://twitter.com/systemofhateuk

Pete RingMaster 04/01/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Quantum Leap – No Reason

Creating a tantalising yet portentous fusion of post punk and garage rock, Swedish trio Quantum Leap make their major entrance with a debut album which through its dark climes and apocalyptic tones makes for one hungrily infectious and enthralling proposition. No Reason, in the words of its introduction, “invites you to a heavy and dark feast celebrating the very last setting of the sun”, a beckoning as arousing as it is threatening.

Hailing from Uppsala, Quantum Leap consists of vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Björn Norberg, bassist Andreas Hennius, and drummer Mats Gustavsson. With a diversity of musical backgrounds taking in thrash, death and black metal, electronica and pop, the three came together in 2014. A demo was released in 2016 after the band linked up with producer Tomas Skogsberg of legendary Sunlight Studios (Entomed, Refused, Backyard Babies, Dismember). That led to a contract with Swedish label Viskningar och Vrål (Whisperings and Growls), who now release the fiercely magnetic No Reason, the release again seeing the trio working with Skogsberg and featuring guest musicians in Lea Martinelle (saxophone), Rosa Kristalova (cello), Mattis Fredriksson (accordion), Daniel Söderberg (on modular synthesizer), and Janet Simmonds (backing vocals).

It opens up with That’s The Reason, a swiftly compelling trespass of post punk bringing an initial menace of sound before rumbling through ears on a rhythmically driven stroll wrapped in sonic dissonance. Norberg’s vocals, as strong and magnetic as the web of sounds around them, are soon accentuating the lure. It is a dark, suffocating, and invasively heavy confrontation but inescapably contagious with echoes of eighties bands such as Joy Division, Play Dead, and Leitmotiv to its rasping winds.

It is an outstanding start which swiftly aroused a keen appetite for things to come; one soon reinforced by the following In Between Worlds. It too springs from a raw sonic misting into a virulent attack, its swing eating at instincts and psyche with viral tenacity whilst spreading another exploration of stark, ravenous times. There is more of a noise infested rock ‘n’ roll attack to its post punk, bass and drums a rapacious incitement upon which guitars and keys spread a toxic glaze while escalating the infectious and fractious catchiness of the song.

With an even darker climate Blind comes next, the track a calmer but equally emotionally and atmospherically invasive proposal. It offers a more art/alternative rock spicing with not for the last time within the album a Bowie-esque hue which only adds to its persuasion before Yeah sees the band embrace a metal lined garage rock flavouring with matching success. The diversity within the band’s sound is in full swing at this point, each song revealing a new shade and flavouring to keep things unpredictable and intriguing. Trust quickly backs this variety up with its seventies psych toned dark rock. Though all uniquely different, the quintet of tracks so far all slip perfectly alongside each other, the alluring overall Quantum Leap voice uniting their eclectic characters.

The Fiction In The Daily Life bounds in with a mix of garage punk and heavy rock straight after; the excellent track swiftly stirring up attention and pleasure while Sea repeats that tempting straight after with its again Bowie reminding saunter. There is a definite Heroes like feel to the track which maybe does not lead it to impress as some of its companions within the album but only richly pleases within its fuzzy climate.

Through the bruising and hungrily rousing rock ‘n’ roll of All I Ever Wanted and the Bauhaus meets Wire like gothic/post punk air of I Don’t Know attention and enjoyment only escalated, both tracks unsettling magnetism while Dreaming taps a poppier gait to its darky lit romancing to equally attract. A bit like a blend of Modern English and Modern Eon with once more that hint of Bowie, the song entices from start to finish.

The album concludes with firstly the groove wired heavy punk ‘n’ roll of Mayday and lastly the senses consuming, imagination sparking sonic tides of Like A Memory From A Long Time Ago. With a melodic Skids like current ebbing and flowing in its infectiously sinister but thickly alluring ominous waters, it is a last entrapment for the suggestively impending apocalypse and another sepulchral proposal which is quite irresistible.

Quantum Leap have uncaged a debut which simply demands attention of the band and their dark foreboding layered sound…so stop reading and go explore.

No Reason is out now through Viskningar och vrål.

https://www.facebook.com/quantumleap2/

Pete RingMaster 06/06/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Head On – Ubik

photo by Aggeliki Mourtzouchou

Cold and calculating yet atmospherically immersive and at times invitingly suffocating, the debut album from Greek outfit Head On is a sonic trespass of the senses which simply commands attention. It is an invasive confusion of noise skilfully and deliberately woven to entangle and distract, disturb and invade; one which ignited the imagination at virtually every turn.

Head On are a quartet from Athens which creates a post punk bred sound infested with the raw snarls of grunge and heavy expansive climates of post rock. In fact it is a sound which embraces the causticity and dark depths of many flavours for its physical and emotional dissonance. Ubik is the band’s first album; an introduction quite easy to see taking the band’s presence far beyond their local borders.

Produced by the band with Iraklis Vlachakis, Ubik swiftly takes hold of close attention with opener Entropy. The instrumental is a rousing invitation into the release immediately revealing the aural palette the band creates from; its drifting waves of post rock nurtured sound lapping a post punk hued landscape. In no time the imagination was keenly involved and even more so as the track slips into the nagging prowess of next up Σήψη (Decay). Riffs and dark grooves collude in its similar swells of sound, casting hooks for ears and appetite to be ensnared by as vocals prowl the murky intimation for something akin to a blend of Joy Division and Leitmotiv and quite addictive by its close.

Lexicon follows with its own arsenal of compelling textures and trespasses. As vocals again almost stalk proceedings, the bass uncages a delicious dark nagging on ears around which guitars spin a rapacious web of grooved bait. It is highly magnetic and even more so when the track twists into grunge lined punk rock, the captivation only more tempting in its second cycle before Dylarama springs its own punk infused challenge on ears and an already greedy appetite. The track is a lime pit of varied rock ‘n’ roll; scorching and eating away at the senses with its sonic tides and attitude, a PiL like glaze liquor in its tart toxicity.

The stark soundscape of Imipolex G is next, a track with a hint of Alien Sex Fiend to its dissonance and Sex Gang Children to its emotive character. Harsh and corrosive yet with a melancholic elegance which boldly simmers up at certain moments, the song grips ears with ease if not quite to the intensity of successor Life Seems Johnny Rotten. It’s Bauhaus seeded groove and spirals of guitar swiftly enthral, the subsequent vocal drone and melody infested post punk stroll elevating the song’s thick magnetism. A kaleidoscope of sounds and hues, the song is glorious expanding its lure as its tight senses encroaching tunnels of noise erupt into expansive sonic scenery.

Across the great irritant that is No Harm, a track which niggles and nags the senses into easy submission, and the rich rock ‘n’ roll of Broom of the System the album just accentuates its potency and variety in sound. Both embrace a mix of flavours with the second especially making a bold side step from post punk instincts with its heavy and classic rock spiced escapade though it still retains the steely repetitious instincts of that core genre in its depths.

Closing out the album is Scum Manifesto, a sonic scalding which boils from imposing calm into an acrimonious flood of noise and intent. It entices until it is ready to unleash its venom, which it does like pouring boiling oil on the senses. It is masterful end to an album which increasingly impressed play by play.

If not with Ubik, though the album has everything needed to lure rich praise, Head On is facing the prospect of real attention within the European rock scene. How their sound will evolve is intriguing and already keenly anticipated here but more of the striking same next time around will do very nicely too.

Ubik is available now digitally and on 12” vinyl @ https://headongreece.bandcamp.com/album/ubik

Upcoming UK tour dates.

Jun 28 The Pig and Fiddle, Bath

Jun 29 New Cross Inn, New Cross

Jun 30 The Pipeline, Brighton

Jul 01 The Old England, Bristol

https://www.facebook.com/Head0n/

Pete RingMaster 06/06/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Secret Sight – Shared Loneliness

Back in 2014, we like so many others were impressed and hooked on the debut album from Secret Sight. It was a release which surprised having come out of the blue awareness wise and introduced us to the captivating dark post punk/gothic rock sound of the Italian band. Now the Ancona hailing outfit has repeated the feat with their second full-length, Shared Loneliness; a collection of songs as striking and captivating as their predecessors but with a maturity and enterprise which sets it apart.

Secret Sight emerged the same year as their Red Cat Records released debut album Day.Night.Life, though there is a 2013 self-titled EP under the name Coldwave before then. Recorded with Paolo Rossi (Soviet Soviet, Be Forest, Brothers In Law), Day.Night.Life swiftly sparked support and praise carrying attention, the band supporting its release with an extensive tour around Italy, Switzerland and Austria where the plaudits continued coming. A quartet at the time, the band has since slimmed to a trio with former vocalist Matteo Schipsi leaving, vocals being shared across guitarist/synth player Cristiano Poli and bassist/synth player Lucio Cristino. With its line-up completed by the dramatic rhythms of Enrico Bartolini, Secret Sight linked up with producer Alessandro Ovi Sportelli for Shared Loneliness, resulting in an album which has mellowed out in regard to the raw edged post punk tone of its predecessor but blossomed in its haunting melancholic drama and melodic suggestiveness.

As with their first album, the band’s sound harkens back to eighties post punk/new wave and their gothic companions but with a bolder identity and imagination belonging to Secret Shine. It opens with Lowest Point, the initial coaxing mist of synths soon joined by the atmospheric lures of guitar and bass, keys simultaneously thickening as melodies simmer and echo in the ears. The instrumental’s shadows carry over into the following Stage Lights where the mesmeric groan of the bass and aligning dark textures seduce the imagination ready for the song’s spirited stroll which erupts soon after. Like a fusion of Leitmotiv and The Sound the track dances on the senses, its rhythmic shuffle sculpting their own catchy charm to the temptation. Superb in voice and enterprise, the song swiftly grips attention, vocals as enticing as the sounds around them and with a great nagging essence to its tenacious rhythms, infectious melodies, and tantalising hooks, the tone and heart for the album is set.

The following Blindmind matches its success with its own compelling design and creative intimacy. As in the last song Cristino’s bass makes an addictive proposal, moody and melancholic in its bold exploits with the same traits fuelling the adventure and intimation of Poli’s guitar which beguiles the imagination in its own right. To be honest all three musicians seize attention with their individual prowess but uniting perfectly to create an even greater temptation, that aforementioned maturity lining every twist and turn.

There is also a breath and tone to the song which reminds of The Cure around their second album, a thick shadow draped air which is as open in songs like next up Fallen and its successor Flowers if to lesser degrees. The first of the two similarly bounds through ears, emotively conjured melodies webbing its rhythmic canter as a China Crisis like catchiness brews while the second with a calmer energy has something of a Modern English to it. Though neither song quite matches up to those before them each leaves pleasure high and attention glued before Swan’s Smile envelops the senses and drives the spirit with its sprightly canter. With a scent of The Danse Society cast, the track simply made an already keen appetite hungrier for more, a want quickly satisfied by the rampant dynamics of Over led by the skilful endeavour of Bartolini. A fusion of post punk with gothic and synth pop, it is a rousingly infectious affair with theatre in its veins and emotional drama in its voice.

The pair of Surprising Lord and Sometimes completes the album in compelling style, the first a pulsating and again relentlessly catchy incitement on body and pleasure as dark and imposing as it is hopeful and anthemic. The evocative balladry of the final track ensures the pleasure listening to Shared Loneliness is relentless even if the song does not quite meet the lofty heights of many of its companions such their might. Epitomising the release in its emotional depth and musical enterprise, it is a fine end to another mouth-watering outing with Secret Sight.

We suggest focusing on the CD edition of the album as it carries a quite excellent cover of The Sound song The Fire as a bonus track, Secret Sight not detouring too far from the original but giving it all the energy and passion it and that great band deserves; just a shame it is not on all versions.

Shared Loneliness is available now through Manic Depression Records for its vinyl edition, Unknown Pleasures Records for the CD, and digitally @ https://secretsight.bandcamp.com

https://www.facebook.com/secretsight

Pete RingMaster 16/01/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright