The Written Years – Self-Titled


 Photo by Steven Toews

Photo by Steven Toews

    The Written Years is a Canadian band which we feel confidence in suggesting you will be hearing a great deal of over coming years. The reasoning for that comes with their self-titled debut album, an emotionally and melodically fuelled release which mesmerises ears and potently inspires the imagination. Consisting of eight songs which bring an original blend of post and alternative rock with folk and melodic inspirations, the album is a compelling flight of what the band calls “Winter Music”.

     Hailing from Kelowna and now based in Vancouver the trio of Wade Ouellet (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Kodie Krogh (guitar, vocals), and Kane Enders (drums), The Written Years has built a strong and well-followed presence with their inventive and original sound as well as acclaimed live performances. Casting tales of affection, belonging, loss, and nostalgia, their first release has all the potential and beauty to inspire the same reactions further afield, awakening new hungry appetites across the rest of North America, Europe and beyond. Aided by the talents of numerous guest musicians, the album is a masterful persuasion of open and smouldering temptation; one where resistance is unlikely to make much of an attempt to fight.

    Opening track It’s Not Your Fault emerges from a shadowed yet crystalline ambient mist with jangling sonics teasing ears twycover-largebefore a firmly placed stroll of guitar and keys bred melodies and colour breaks out. It is an immediately magnetic offering, especially as the song expands its evocative suasion to embrace the strong and expressive vocals of Ouellet. Steady punchy rhythms keep a dark edge skirting the warm touch and gait of the song, whilst harmonies fly with charm and energy across the sultry sky of the encounter. It is an infectious introduction with a tinge of the anthemic persistence Doves place in some of their creations.

    From a fly on the wall like studio link, second song I Would Miss My Home If I Knew Where It Was bounces into view with broad rhythmic shoulders and sonic tenderness to the fore. There is a wonderful folk expression to the indie spawned narrative as well as a creative revelry which dances with the imagination and passions. With wonderful additional vocals provided by Julia Huggins alongside those of Murray Ash, the song is a delicious romp with heady edges and darker depths. Already The Written Years show themselves to be unique to most, their sound a fresh mix apart from any other yet discovered but certainly for European readers there is a comparison to Irish band Knots which you could draw to give a sense of the invention at play.

     Homesick Dirge is a slow invasive treat, its title a just description of its sound though the track never reaches into the darkest funereal realm which might be assumed. Pungently emotive keys wrap equally passionate vocals whilst guitar and bass craft a web of intrigue and provocative colour to fill the heavy hearted yet refreshing canvas laid by lyrics and voice. A slower burn on the passions than its predecessors, the track over time is just as potent and challenging, as is the next up The Phone Is Ringing. Apparently the chord progression of the thought caressing song was the first element of the album, its creation six years ago the spark to the album which was completed with its final master in 2013. The track simply croons and lures the emotions from start to finish, every note and syllable drenched in enveloping melancholia.

     An elevated pace and urgency returns with You’re Too Kind, strumming guitars and lurking basslines entrancing ears whilst keys and vocals get to work on the senses. There is a sixties pop energy to the song, and element of sound which dare we say has a touch of Walker Brothers to it. The track is a masterful charge of inventiveness and emotional incitement, mini crescendos and resonating melodies flaming highlights in the outstanding proposition.

    Both Hospital Rooms and Are You Okay? keep satisfaction and full enjoyment high, even if the pair do not quite match the heights already set. The first is another with a punchy gait to its canter, rhythms crisply punctuating flames of melodic poise whilst its successor like most tracks is a weave of intimately touching and evocative feelings, the pair only increasing the greed of ears and passions for band and album.

   The release is closed by The Station, the song a glorious hug of hypnotic rhythms and bass persistence entwined with mesmeric melodies and thought caressing vocals, which reminds a little of Scottish band, Letters. It is an engrossing end to a similarly riveting release. With the bridging studio fiddling between songs the only negative thing on the album, their presence more a distraction which at times disrupts the flow of the release for personal tastes, The Written Years’ debut is just irresistible, an attention enslaving introduction to a band we are destined to be wrapped up in time and time again.


RingMaster 19/03/2014

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The Darlingtons – Who Says There’s No Beach In Doncaster EP

The Darlingtons Press Photo

Soaked in a melancholy which enthuse their hearts rather than casting them in darker oppressive shadows, the songs and sound of UK indie rock band The Darlingtons is an absorbing and magnetic wash of imagination and craft. The Taunton band has a presence and ability to reflect the darker shadows of ordinary life in a way which pulls no punches but still brings a breath of hope and consolatory comfort; most of all though it provides one pleasing and evocative encounter which plays like a new old friend and emotional co-conspirator.

With already their debut EP Decades Dance under their belt and the experience of having a label ‘behind’ them, the foursome of Kiran Roy, Daniel Young, Alex Bispham, and Chris Holmes now forge their own furrow and fight their own battles alone, and earning plenty of acclaim for their live performances and now their second EP through it. Who says there’s no beach on Doncaster? Is a collection of six live tracks bringing the band’s stage potency directly into the ears of the listener. It is a raw and unafraid to show warts and all encounter which declares the quality of songwriting and sound of The Darlingtons with unrestrained ease, and probably with such intensity to the emotive strength of the quartet, does so far better than any studio release might be able.

Opening song Bats is an immediate attention grabbing proposition, rhythms a bold enticement around which the guitars float andWho Says There's No Beach In Doncaster Front Cover flame with melodic enterprise. Everything takes a step back soon after arriving, apart from the continuing to jab rhythms and moody bass, to allow the excellent vocals to begin their narrative. It is compelling stuff which only intensifies as the guitars return their sonic embracing and vocal harmonies skirt the emotive vocal delivery. Though arguably not as tender in its touch, there is a feel of the House Of Love to the song which seduces as successfully as the every punchy rhythmic frame. It is a mesmeric lure and already a powerful declaration of the band in songwriting and live performance.

The following Ship At Sea has turmoil in its presence from the first note, keys offering an unsettled emotive suggestiveness whilst the drums prowl the song as if expecting dark clouds and trouble ahead. The rhythmic aspect of the band is a scintillating temptation throughout the release, constantly offering immense and dramatic textures and cages which thrust the song to the heart of imagination and emotions within its recipients. Within the song the still impressive vocals find themselves a little overrun by the intensity and rhythmic intent but not enough to defuse their effect and reflective potency whilst the guitars and bass conjure individual entrapments for the senses which are as irresistibly toxic as they are mouth-wateringly enterprising, especially the twang lilted bait laid down in the latter part of the riveting track. With a slight resemblance to Prince Edward Island and evocatively Scottish band Letters, the track leaves a lingering breath-taking impact in its wake.

Both Don’t Give Me Hope and For Some Else In Time keep the band’s hold on the passions secure, the first an insightful beckoning lyrically and musically around again rolling hypnotic rhythms which slowly builds its atmosphere and intensity into a climactic finale which never quite reaches the full blaze its hints at but certainly has the air smouldering brightly. Its successor equally burns with a resourceful but reserved suasion which leaves the appetite well catered for and want for more an open greed. Neither of the songs quite matches the might of the previous tracks but with elements which fully seduce and overall a presence that breeds satisfaction, the pair only enhances the experience of Who Says There’s No Beach In Doncaster?.

The opening to Everything is a surprising welcome, guitars prancing with a festive heart and dark bass romping within their eager caresses. It is not that the other tracks are manna to the pessimist but the shadows are noticeable by their absence at the start of the song and when it sparks its rhythmic and guitar spawned explosive fuel. The track then does step into that melancholic shade again which initially disappoints but only until the song merges both extremes into a vibrant and magnetic dance of sound and emotional expulsion. Though the song also falls just behind the outstanding start to the EP it provides another varied and flavoursome treat, rhythms and guitar strokes addictive, keys and vocals alluring.,

     Watch Yourself brings the release to a close in fine style, the song an infection loaded slice of indie pop with a heavy emotional body which a virulently anthemic chorus. It completes in Who Says There’s No Beach In Doncaster? an exciting and robust encounter from a band we are going to hear a lot of in coming years you suspect and one definitely that should be seen on stage.


RingMaster 22/11/2013

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Gabby Young & Other Animals: The Band Called Out For More


The only word to describe The Band Called Out for More, the latest album from Gabby Young & Other Animals is glorious. Actually there are plenty of other words just as apt, bewitching and scintillating two examples, all emotive descriptions which are deserved by the release and its creators. From the beautiful sleeve, which I am still failing to put back together the right way after numerous hours of trying…damn you Ms Young, the album tantalises and seduces from start to finish. Consisting of thirteen songs which merge the instinctive essentials of gypsy folk, pop, rock, jazz, and cabaret, The Band Called Out For More is a mesmeric melodic burlesque, a carnival of imagination  which burns brightly and incessantly like a heaven bred temptress.

Gabby Young’s musical journey to this place in time saw her as the youngest ever recruit to the National Youth Choir at the age of 12. The Wiltshire girl then with her intent of becoming an opera singer in tow was sent off course by the discovery of Jeff Buckley and the jazz greats who began to inspire her thoughts, passions, and ultimately a change of direction. Making strong impressions at open mic nights and playing with an array of bands next filled her journey which had seen her relocate to London whose music scene she soon embraced. At the age of 22, thyroid cancer threatened to take her classically trained voice and it was at this point that she ‘took her songwriting seriously’ and started pulling her experiences into her songs and their creation. In 2008 the lady with drummer/guitarist Stephen Ellis formed her eight piece band and using crowd-funding recorded her debut album two years later, an acclaimed and excitedly received release. Followed by numerous gigs and festival appearances including Glastonbury her stature was cemented in the passions of a growing legion of fans. Playing around the world since has only elevated her strengths and presence which The Band Called Out for More with its compelling dance of Circus Swing and Burlesque Folk, has and will accelerate to even greater levels.

If one song on an album alone can make you immediately decide about a release it is In Your Head which instantly has the passions in a a4126194190_2waltz with its vibrant and sensational sound. Opening with a tease of drums and rich vocal harmonies skirted by a blaze of brass, the song takes a mere second to lead senses by the hand into a sultry stomp of swing and folk pop to which full involvement is the only outcome for feet, hips, and heart. With essences of the Electric Swing Circus and Molotov Jukebox to its stroll and warm kisses and pecks of Parisian elegance and soul borne melodies, the treat of an encounter is insatiable in its energy and generous in its rewards.

After such a potent start expectations suggest maybe a sight dip was in store though hopes argued in the albums defence and were soon backed up by the excellent Goldfish Bowl. Acoustic guitar and the ever strong and entrancing vocals of Young lures the appetite back into the album with charm and lyrical tempting, beckoning them into the folk washed riot of indie pop called the chorus. Into its infectious stride with rhythms and vocal harmonies enslaving the emotions further, the ever fine guitar play and song imagination grins as they tease and coax their eager victim with relish.

Both Walk Away and Male Version Of Me offer a sirenesque bait to devour with greed, the first bringing a sixties enchantment through the guitars and brass as well as the keys led sway of the song. With the fabulous lush and powerful operatically trained voice of Young soaring the heart of the song whilst notes gleefully ride her delivery, the evocative ray of warmth leaves a thirst for more brewing whilst its successor from a riveting ballad like persuasion expands into a sunset of melodic colour and welcoming harmonies which simply wrap tender arms around what is by now simply ardour.

The album continues to impress and stoke the fires with the fiery Open, a track which walks through the ear with crystalline keys and emotive strings around the vocals before spreading its arms for a near on big band wind of passion soaked melodic enterprise wrapped in the continually bewitching intricacies and swerving delights of the band’s imagination. This is swiftly followed by the smouldering breath and beauty of Clay Heart and the graceful poetry of Neither The Beginning Nor The End, two more pieces of songwriting and musical adventure which impact and bring vibrant hues to thoughts and emotions.

Horatio steps forward next to stand as another major pinnacle in nothing but plateaus. Its initial slow emotive call is pure allurement and the doorway into an even greater heated glamour as the track explodes into a western carved atmosphere of Latin tempered love and deliciously contagious fire. Musically and vocally the track brings the desert sun on the senses whilst lyrically the bar room narrative is coloured by a full portrait of keys. Like a mix of Helldorado and Saint Agnes, the song is sheer majesty.

From the equally hot ballad Honey with searing brass rapture into the heart bred Segment the album takes the breathless body on another monumental inciting journey. The second track like many on the album lays down a weave of polite inducement before bursting into almost rapacious greed to control the body. As stunning and anthemic as love, the track builds and expels crescendos of ever intensifying melodic might and beauty, the emotional potency of the song burning the hairs on the back of the neck. Reminding of Scottish band Letters, it is simply one more sensational moment on the album.

Completed by the regal The Answer’s In The Question, the gypsy lit folk tones of Curtain Call, and the dramatically thrilling carnivalesque title track, Young assisted by Ellis, Niall Woods, Ollie Hopkins, Rich Watts, Paul Whalley, and Milly McGregor has created a sublime album which simply makes every adventure and day one drenched in sun and warmth. Released on her own Gift Of The Gab Records, The Band Called Out For More is one of the reasons we get up in the morning and life feels so good. A must not be missed release.


RingMaster 27/08/2013

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John Wean : M.A.P.

M.A.P. is the excellent new single from Scottish indie rockers John Wean, and a track to cement their status as ones to watch very closely. Since forming in 2009, the Uddingston spawn quartet has made steady progress up to the point right now where they seem ready to mesmerise the country. Writing songs about love, life and girls, the band themselves say the first couple of years were not as productive as they should have been in sound and arguably progress, though the band were never lacking enthusiasm just a direction for it maybe. After reassessing things the band ended 2010 with a successful support slot for Tom Hingley at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow. Arguably this was the point where the rise in recognition and stature began for the quartet of Conor Cartwright [vocals / guitar], Stuart Anderson [guitar], Jude Smith [vocals / bass], and Simon Coakley [drums]. The past couple of years has seen by request from the promoter a return to the same venue to this time support Young Rebel Set, the band selling vastly more tickets compared to their first already impressive fan attendance, their own successful shows, as well as the release of debut single Desperate Dan (She Told Me She Was Single), all adding to the elevation of the band which the acclaimed New York Doesn’t Love You EP from earlier this year, only enhanced.

M.A.P. is taken from that release and continues the impressive presence of band and sound. Produced and mixed by Ewan Davies [producer of the debuts from Arctic Monkeys, Darkness and Editors], the single is an immediately pulsating proposition from the stirring bass tease and rapping drums beats. Its instantaneous engagement though is soon expanded by soon to join in sharp guitar melodic strokes which just sizzle with heated elegance. The song is perfectly chiselled offering a crystalline radiance to its warm caresses and sharp lyrical design which is openly infectious and wonderfully enterprising.

Standing for ‘Morning After Pill’, M.A.P. is in the words of the band “a tongue-in-cheek hymn to the conflicting thoughts that can swamp the brain in the moment of realization that all has not gone as planned!” It certainly holds a mischief whilst finding a place to incite thoughts, with the music as skilfully shaped as the words and also laced with a light almost whimsical whisper to its captivating persuasion.

If John Wean is yet to appear on your horizon then M.A.P. is the perfect introduction. With a flavoursome breath which combines  the likes of Letters, Prince Edward Island, and The View, John Wean are about to leave a very appetizing taste in the mouth of UK indie music.

RingMaster 26/10/2012

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Tall Ships: Everything Touching


Through their EPs and singles UK alternative band Tall Ships has garnered strong praise and inspired an equally enthused anticipation for their debut album Everything Touching. With the release the trio has matched and exceeded expectations with a  mesmeric piece of inventive songwriting and craft which thrills and excites across its precise and imaginative presence. It has one drooling with discord laced sonic scorching, robust and instinctive rhythms, and enveloping atmospheres, all brought with intrigue and at times slightly unusual but always successful ideas.

The trio from Brighton/Cornwall fuse a tight and infectious weave of alternative, math, and indie rock into even more acutely gripping conjurations to dazzle and incite the senses. Previous EP There Is Nothing But Chemistry Here arguably was the moment the band lit interest in their sounds on a wider level, something which Everything Touching one can only assume, will accelerate dramatically. The album offers songs which are intricate and clever but never with a hint of indulgence or waste to their composition and realisation. They are like a latter day version of early XTC fused with the technical hooky hunger of Baddies and the expressive touch of Letters, a mix which simply lights up the air. The songs in whatever shade of imagination they come in are a heated breath of individuality to immerse within or share emotions with, usually both.

The album starts with the first single from the release, T=O. It is a hypnotic taunt of sonically scything guitar strokes and brooding rhythms which are as persistent as they are a niggling joy. A bruising slice of noise pop brought with a flowing melodic caress the track removes itself from the coarse rub to place a warm elegant kiss from keys and vocals on the ear. It sends shivers down the spine before the re-emerging abrasive pleasure returns to lift the intensity and temperature once again. It is a wholly contagious start as incendiary as it is a smouldering.

The following instrumental Best Ever is equally irresistible, its opening crunching energy and rampant beats alongside dazzling sonic pick pocketing of the senses the illegitimate offspring from parts of the Go 2 album from XTC. Like the opener the hypnotic bulk of its body finds the piece harsh in its touch but delicious in the effect. The sudden repose into solitary guitar strokes is un predicted and time for thought before the return to the almost corrosive flight of the track returns for a sizzling crescendo.

Next up  Phosphorescence and Oscar spark further fires inside, the first a dazzling and almost disorientating wash of melodic freshness and eager passion surrounding another deliciously resonating citrus sonic niggle whilst the second jangles with a flattened hook and grumpy bass sound behind warm and soothingly tender harmonies and melodies. The tang to its flavouring is again XTC like, reminding of the Drums And Wires through to English Settlement era.

The album includes two re-workings of songs released on the earlier EPs in Ode To Ancestors and Books, both with a different face to their body and openly hungrier without losing their former potency. The first of the pair is a lovely brew of emotive whispers leading to choppy golden pokes of sound and soaring harmonies and impossible not to be enamoured with through the breeze of the song and its open heart.

The ending stomp of the song is repeated in a different gait in Gallop, the last single from the album. It is a romping rebel rouser of thoughts and reflective feelings brought with a hint of mischief and contented acceptance. After this point the album feels like it shifts  its intent, the final four songs of the album shimmering and immersive cuts of shining harmonics and teasing melodies without the greedy appetite to  raise a little storm. They also do not quite match the triumph of the earlier songs but all leave one basking in pleasure and gratitude  with the closing Murmurations just aural poetry of evocative sounds  with a slowly rising intensity and towering grandeur.

Everything Touching is an outstanding release and Tall Ships a band to be watched and enjoyed very closely now and in the future, a band to surprise, thrill, and leave you gasping.

RingMaster 14/10/2012

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Joyce The Librarian: Follow Me, I’m Right Behind You

Follow Me, I’m Right Behind You is the new single from UK folk/acoustic ensemble Joyce The Librarian, a song which not only ensures the summer ends with some additional warmth as it passes the reins on to the following season, but also makes the forthcoming debut album from the band one to cast a close ear over upon its release on November 5th. Released through Folkwit Records, the album They May Put Land Between and band has already garnered some eager anticipation and the new single will only swell any expectations with its melodic caresses and inspire many more to welcome the charms of Joyce The Librarian.

The Bristol band consists of singer-songwriter Martin Callingham (voice, guitar, bass) alongside Houdie (voice, organ, chimes) Tom Van Eker (voice, guitars, drums) Will Simpson (voice, cello) Anna Strudwick (cello) Jim Cormick (trumpet, flugelhorn) Kate Fox (violin) Susanne Lambert (drums) and Ali Chant (drums, tambourine). The music they wrap around the ear is a gentle, subtle, and charming weave of beauty which one is unlikely to feel anything but warmth from and for. Their self released EP The Weight Of The Line of February this year caught the imagination and had people taking a keener notice which Follow Me, I’m Right Behind You will only ignite further as the unveiling of the album comes nearer.

The single opens on a gentle beckoning guitar; its lone winks an aural invitation impossible to refuse. A secondary guitar soon joins adding its own warm sonic charm, both framing the expressive vocals and glorious harmonies. The song is instantly mesmeric and once the emotional beauty of the cello makes itself known there is only rapture guaranteed. There is something irresistible and powerful about a cello and it is no different here, the song dipping into a further dramatic depth which brings essences of Scottish band Letters to mind. The melodic kisses of the song are reserved yet firm to only elevate the enchantment whilst the individual elements, skills, and harmonies simply join together to create something which is quite gorgeous.

Whether the album can lie up to this initial teaser we will find out but if it only has a few moments of wonder like Follow Me, I’m Right Behind You within its walls, it will be worthy of all the attention it is likely and destined to receive.

RingMaster 21/09/2012

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Maz Totterdell: Sweep


There is never a shortage of talent in music but sometimes someone comes along to leave mouths open within a wave of musical and creative magic. Such a person is Maz Totterdell, a singer/songwriter so immense in promise and already realised talent that it is frightening. At just fifteen years old she releases her debut album Sweep on May 28th through Series 8, a collection of songs and artistry to catapult her in to headier skies from the already acclaimed plateau she graces. It is not just the music and songs which impress but the remarkable maturity to it all that belies her years.  This is a life yet to truly live and as the album caresses and lights up emotions and thoughts the sense that once Totterdell has felt the experience of life in its full there will be nothing she will not be able to portray within or bring to her rich and deep creativity.

From aged nine Totterdell was performing at open mic nights in her home of Devon, the following year saw her in the final of UK Unsigned at the Hackney Empire. At eleven she turned to writing her own songs and teaching herself the guitar and within two years was playing her own compositions to eager audiences in local venues and festivals. First single came in the shape of the excellent Counting My Fingers, a song that found dedicated and persistent play on Radio 2 and 6 Music through the likes of Sir Terry Wogan, Steve Lamacq, and Radcliffe & Maconie. Now with Sweep it is hard to imagine anything but a full thrust of affection and praise flying her way and upon the album, the astonishingly striking and deeply pleasing.

      Counting My Fingers opens up the album to instantly light up the senses, its eager heart an immediate infection. The semi acoustic sway of the song has a mesmeric effect upon the ear drawing the warmest reaction and participation to its addictive chorus and energy. Musically it is uncomplicated and maybe unadventurous but that is its charm and the perfect canvas for the excellent vocals and teen angst Totterdell unveils.

New single Heart In Your Pocket steps up next to continue the great start. The song is a slower emotive piece of folk pop which wraps its almost pleading energy around the ear with a gentle yet firm intent. Predominantly the songs are Totterdell in voice, guitar and/or keys with the accompanying skills of a few aiding the realisation of her imaginative and passion drenched invention. On this song amongst those helping is Paul Bateman on bass, his delicious distant growled notes in the shadows of the song bringing an edge of disruptive peace and happiness and instils a resonance and depth to the track.

The likes of the excellent Delirious which sees Totterdell hypnotising thoughts with voice, harmonies and guitar alone, the sneaky Lazy Day and a song far more addictive then you initially realise, and Willow (Angel Child), all leave one immersed in pleasure and lingering satisfaction. The latter of these three is a folk gem as instinctive as they come with simply stirring emotive violin assistance from Sarana Verlin and the first song that Totterdell unveils her full potential, its glorious seeds of astounding promise ahead firmly planted.

As much as the whole album delights and impresses the final two songs seal the fullest captivation. The Leaver’s Song is a stunning piece of songwriting which leaves one glowing in respect, adoration, and anticipation for the years ahead. From its gentle guitar and voice intro the song beckons with a tenderness and enchantment that gives an irresistible platform for the melancholic breath that lies on every note and chord. As the song fills out into its full height the power of the song and Totterdell are astonishing. It is impossible not to feel it in every sense and emotion. She captures the same majestic mix of sound and passion that the Scottish band Letters conjure and it is the mightiest moment on the album.

The closing Little Puzzle, a cheeky little gem of a song with mischievous melodies and childish percussion, simply leaves one with sunshine in the heart and smile on the face as the album waves its goodbyes. It is an aural sunset that offers the promise of an even bright day ahead, something the whole album does in sound and promise.

Sweep is wonderful, a true pleasure. The scary thing is that Maz Totterdell is far from the finished article, many aspects of her skills and craft are open to improvement but one knows that will come with experience and dare one say age. To be so impressive and produce music like this already is staggering and yes frightening of what she should achieve in her future. Cannot wait!

RingMaster 23/05/2012 Registered & Protected

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Matt Norris & The Moon: This Kingdom EP

We cannot claim to have an in depth knowledge of folk music let alone the traditional Scottish Folk and the more contemporary folk which are both said to influence the sounds of Matt Norris & The Moon, but it is impossible to miss the fine and vibrant sounds which weave their graceful elegance and passion within their debut EP This Kingdom. The release is a mesmeric introduction to most for the band with four songs thick in emotion and defined in craft and passion.

Formed in 2009 by Matt Norris (guitar, lead vocals) and Tom MacColl (bass) who met at the University of Edinburgh, the band soon expanded with the addition of Dave Law (trumpet, mandolin) after the duo started playing at his open mic nights, as well as Helen Cookson (fiddle, flute) and Dale Birrel (keys, accordion). It did not take them long to become a strong presence in the newly emerging Edinburgh folk scene and beyond with the quintet, after working hard realising and giving definition to their sound, sharing stages with the likes of Ben Howard, Villagers, Lucy Rose, Pete Roe, Rachel Sermanni, Alphabet Backwards, Kitty the Lion, Dry the River, Three Blind Wolves, Woodenbox and Chasing Owls and initially making a mark with tan opening set at the Edinburgh Hogmanay Concert in Gardens supporting Sons & Daughters, Bombay Bicycle Club and Primal Scream. Their music is a warm and open blend of smoothly caressing harmonies, thoughtful melodies, and heart fuelled coming together of striking guitar and double bass with sparking trumpet, fiddle, flute, and accordion. All combined they make sounds which fill the songs with an evocative breath and captivating energy.

Released on 17 Seconds Records the EP instantly enchants and takes one into the rich and impassioned heart of the release. Opening song Roots Below slowly dawns on the vocals of Norris wrapped in a welcoming trumpet and gentle guitar grasp. The wonderful voice of Cookson adds an extra flush of warmth as the song slowly opens its arms before pulling one into its full and energised embrace. One fully unveiled the song is an enthusiastic and infectious stomp that gives a hope and life to the lyrical tale engaged in the aftermath of a broken relationship.

The quieter and emotive Eyes of a Storm follows next bringing an air of uncertainty and hope walking hand in hand. It carries a traditional Scottish lilt to its conversation with the senses, the accordion and fiddle sparking feelings and thoughts into action. In two songs the band shows a varied swim within their songwriting, both songs connecting with passion through different musical doorways and something the other compositions match equally.

Shadow from the Sun is the best track on This Kingdom and a song which removes one from their thoughts into a full and rounded vision of a soul in reflection. From the enchanting flute lighting up the ear the song is a busy and controlled stroll of inventive melodies, stirring guitar, and an impressively balanced uplifting flurry of flute and trumpet imagination. The song is uplifting and leading towards a defiant climatic realisation and strength, its power and lass easily capturing the imagination and heart.

The EP closes with The Shallows an atmospheric and slightly mournful song which opens through a brooding slightly droning entrance with great bass moodiness from MacColl. The song reminds a little of another Scottish band Letters in its atmosphere and darkened sense of frustration and wastage of time.

This Kingdom is an impressive and evocative release that touches deeply with skill and understanding. It is a masterful pleasure and indicates Matt Norris & The Moon as a band that not only in folk music but further afield has a promising and distinct future ahead.

RingMaster 11/05/2012 Registered & Protected

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Letters:The Halfway House

Having already treated us to the exceptional sounds of the singles Pipe Dreams, Grand National, and Flash! Lights, Edinburgh dark cello pop band Letters return with new track The Halfway House as they build towards their forthcoming debut EP Older Motion Pictures due on the 19th of May. Once more the band ignites the senses with an expressive and emotive song that leads one in to their distinct world of creativity and beckoning shadows.

Letters have just touched a year as a band and with each release seem to grow and mature into an even stronger emotive force. Though only a few songs into their existence you feel each time they are already at their height, the singles so impressive but each subsequent track takes another distinct step forward, the band finding more and more within them and their creative well. This makes the anticipation for the EP even more acute and impatient.

Recorded and mixed with Stephen Watkins of TAPE Studios, The Halfway House is a stunning song bringing bulging dark rhythms and throbbing riffs into an even tighter mesh with glorious harmonies and impactful emotions.  Unavoidably the centre to the song is initially the wonderful vocals of guitarist Mikey Ferguson and the delicious moody cello ingenuity of Georgie Williamson, whose own vocals make the perfect contrast and companion to those of Ferguson. As the song plays and plays upon the ear though it is not long before the energy and artistry of the whole band reveals itself as the heart to their poignant and impressive sound. Fellow guitarist Ed Ellis lays intricate guitar sounds to exploit in the best way the senses whilst the bass of Dougie Fuller yet again sets the darkest deepest tone to the song with a greedy passion. With the rhythms of drummer Kerr Donaldson framing and guiding, the song takes the heart on an anthemic journey that leaves one mesmerised and glowing.

The Halfway House builds to an infectious crescendo that leaves one breathless, though they have you hooked and gasping within the opening seconds of the song to be honest. The band takes you on an honest stark trip with their every song, The Halfway House the most visual and effective yet. Lyrically the band weave images and emotions just as they do sound, and are proving to be one of the most complete bands that grace the ear right now and it feels only a few steps away that the strongest recognition awaits.

Letters offer the soundtrack to your emotions, heart, and shadows; they make exceptional music and perfect songs as The Halfway House proves. The only problem with them is whatever they give is never enough. One blissful single and one is longing for more, for the EP and for sure once that feeds our greed the longing will be for an immediate album. Letters are not just good; they are an essential breath within music.

RingMaster 19/03/2012 Registered & Protected


Letters head out on a Scottish tour with ‘Where We Lay Our Heads’ in March to celebrate the single release.


21st – Glasgow – Captain’s Rest

22nd – Inverness – Hootanannys

23rd – Thurso – Newmarket Bar

24th – Skye – Saucy Mary’s

25th – Edinburgh – Wee Red Bar


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The Machine Room – Love From A Distance EP

Whatever is in the drinking water up in Scotland that is dripping into its musical creativity long may it continue. This especially applies to the city of  Edinburgh with bands like Letters, My Tiny Robots and Dead Boy Robotics have more than made a stir over recent months and releases. Joining them is The Machine Room who will release their new EP Love From A Distance on March 5th. The new EP follows up previous acclaimed singles Girly which formed part of a split release with a song from Dead Boy Robotics for the TAPE singles club and Camino de Soda, which finds a place also on the EP.

The Machine Room create music which soothes the senses, its dream pop/shoegaze caresses a smooth yet startling stroke across the ear and beyond. The quintet of John Bryden, Tom Adam, Adie Emanuel, Scott Hitchings, and Ryan Marinello explore and bring forth music and expression influenced by the likes of New Order, Depeche Mode, and seemingly at times with a spice of the likes of Blancmange, though The Machine Room never more than dip their toes in the easily accessible waters of electronic eighties pop.

Consisting of four quite varied songs within the overall jangly guitar and broad soaring synth sound, the EP is an expression of love gone wrong and its contemplation. The opening song Cost Of Progress immediately stands out and remains through the length of the EP the strongest and most engaging song. With a nagging bass throughout and dazzling spotlight like melodies the song sways and leans upon the ear wonderfully with more than a heavy feel of eighties band The House Of Love, and with the wonderful falsetto sound of vocalist John Bryden has a definite flavor of Shine On from the Guy Chadwick led band to it. Attentive and attention seeking the song is a glorious flight for the ear to catch a ride upon and the one song that surely will take the band to more and more hearts.

The electronic driven Your Head On The Floor Next Door comes next, dripping with an ethereal gentleness which sparkles within its harder crystalline flow; the song dazzles rather than erupts within the ear. It is another song that one can see many finding the doorway to the bands sounds through, its honest well lit journey a simple joy.

Previous single Camino de Soda fingers the senses with care and an easily pleasing nature. It is not hard to see why the song drew much attention to the band when it was released the latter part of last year but against the previous two songs it does dim in its light a little despite being an attraction the ear cannot deny.

The heavier tones and emotion of Picking Holes completes the release to further delighted satisfaction. Again with a New Order like touch the song offers an emotive mass that soaks the feelings with a melancholic density to temper the other more vibrant sounds previously unveiled on the release, though at no point can the EP be accused of being in party mode.

      Love From A Distance is a refreshing release that coaxes rather than enflames the senses. It does not hold a song with an infectious hook or hypnotic melody to easily captivate but offers a mesmeric charm and knowing arm around the shoulders for the same result. For sounds where emotion and touching sounds walk arm in arm The Machine Room is your destination.

RingMaster 28/02/2012 Registered & Protected


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