Horse Party – Paydirt EP

photo by Kate Wood  White-Robot Photography

photo by Kate Wood White-Robot Photography

Often there comes an underlying fear with something that is so good it makes you drool but still seems to go unrecognised by the masses, that success always managing to evade the deserved. So it is with the music of Horse Party which continue to release fiercely exhilarating songs bred on a sound which is furiously fresh but with an old friend like invitation. The British alternative rock ‘n’ rollers have done so yet again with new EP Paydirt, a captivation of three fiery tracks breathing open diversity within the band’s superb fusion of emotive aggression and bewitching charm. It is an incitement which manages to be raw, mellow, and incendiary simultaneously, basically manna for ears and imagination. There is a line in the EP’s second song which declares “We are the eye of the storm”, and that sums up Horse Party and their gripping sound as a whole perfectly.

Since emerging in 2012, Bury St Edmunds based trio of guitarist/ vocalist Ellie Langley, guitarist/vocalist Seymour Quigley, and drummer/vocalist Shannon Hope have explored and developed their music through a host of songs, starting with the track Clarion Call which was even more impressively followed by their first official single Back To Mono in 2013. Grabbing ears and appetites of an increasing fan base and the underground media, the band pooled that early success, in turn sparking greater spotlight on them and acclaim, with their debut album Cover Your Eyes a year later. Equally the band’s live and hungry presence has also lured only praise and a potent reputation, Horse Party sharing stages with bands such as Tunng, Pinkunoizu, Shonen Knife, Heartless Bastards, Ghostpoet, Slaves, Levellers, Basement Jaxx, The Nightingales, Dingus Khan, We Are The Physics, and Vuvuvultures over the past years.

cover_RingMaster Review     This year has already seen a pair of striking propositions from the band with a new chapter in the movement and evolution of their sound. The double A-side single Out Of Sight/Receiver was first, its two songs revealing new growth and smoother textures to their still raunchily organic sound, an exciting turn taken forward again by What I’d Do just a few weeks back. The single was a rousing mix of bracing roars and intimate caresses, of light and dark emotions with again that now keener surface to an instinctively unpredictable and riveting enterprise. Paydirt continues the captivating adventure in sound but also as most of its predecessors comes with its own stock of individual surprises and addictive invention.

The EP’s title track is first, pumped beats and spicy riffs the first bait offered with the former just managing to hold a rein on urgency and the latter sizzling on flesh with their inviting tang. Within a few more breaths additional slithers of groove and nags of magnetism join in through the second guitar as Langley just as potently entices with her recognisable, melancholy lined tones. Alone the song has the appetite chained, lips only more ravenously licked as the track burst into scuzzy roars within an ever addictive stroll. Dark emotions and predatory shadows equally lurk throughout, as too a hint of bedlam in the song’s exciting tempestuous moments; it all uniting for another breath-taking Horse Party incitement.

Second track Animal similarly makes a rousingly compelling start with choppy rhythms and riffs which almost stalk the rich voice of Langley. It swiftly forges its own identity though as teasing melodies and caustic tempting spring from Quigley’s fingers on string, licking the senses like flames whilst Hope badgers with her flirtatious beats. A sublime breeze of psych rock brews within the track too, finding its moment to croon in an oasis of mellowness within the stormy textures of the song. A whiff of post punk only adds to the alchemy, with Au Pairs coming to mind as the track leads the listener on a merry escapade of drama and imagination.

The closing acoustic based seduction of October has ears enchanted as the EP completes its rich temptation. In every second of the song, melancholy smoulders through word and emotion whilst melodies and the vocal union of Langley and Quigley simply mesmerises. As in every release to date, increasing depths to the songwriting and invention of the band are revealed, sublimely in this third song and though it does at first take a touch longer to whip up the lustful reactions as earned by its companions within Paydirt, it has emotions and thoughts chained with increasing potency over every eager listen.

Paydirt is another irresistible gem from Horse Party, a band which it is impossible to tire of saying ‘ just gets better and better’. It is time for the UK to wake up, indeed Europe and the world, to the Horse Party; if you do not you are truly missing out.

The Paydirt EP is available via R*E*P*E*A*T Records/Pure Deadly digitally and on 7” vinyl from 4th September.

Pete RingMaster 31/08/2015

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Levellers: Static On The Airwaves

pic by Ami Barwell

Preferring a punk strain of folk rock there has never been real interest and need here to dive into the wealth of admittedly the generally enjoyable and well crafted folk tunes of Levellers through their soon to be 25 years of existence. The snarl of a Dropkick Murphys, the socially charged directness of a Flogging Molly, and the wicked mischief of a Smokey Bastard always held an irresistible lure in front of what is accepted as an enterprising but safe band in Levellers. This is just a personal preference but does mean it is hard to compare the brand new album Static On The Airwaves to their previous acclaimed and at times less eagerly accepted releases. The talk is that this their tenth album marks their return to roots and is possibly their best album in a long time, that is for fans to judge but it has to be said it is a surprisingly engaging album with more unpredictable moments than expected.

Produced by the returning Sean Lakeman who assumed the same role on previously acclaimed album Letters From The Underground, the new release has been the source of much eager anticipation and from the twelve tracks which confidently please the senses it should follow or maybe exceed the garnered praise of its predecessor. Released June 25th, via their own imprint On The Fiddle, the band does not exactly ignite any burning fires but there is a certain infectious lure from the majority of the songs to ensure occasional visits ahead when the muscle and intensity of other releases require a respite.

Opening with the title track, a brief defiant stir leading into first full song We Are All Gunmen, the album creates an intriguing atmosphere which the second track embraces. With its pulsating reggae spiced bass and resonating guitar slices behind the expected fine vocals of Mark Chadwick breeding an emotive breath, the song lights up the ear with its electronic spotlights and spikier guitar presence. A comment on the war like air which sweeps the world it is a strong and impressive track.

Next the two singles from the album take their turn. The first from the release is Truth Is which leaps in with an excitable energy and joyously melodic heart. The track is arguably not offering anything dramatically new but it is a deeply pleasing romp and an irresistibly catchy piece of fun. With fiddles and banjos at the ready it is an instant friend to party with any time of the day or night. The following After The Hurricane is a decent enough emotive piece of work where the words hold more grip than the music. It is well balanced with the melodic craft one expects from the band but it fails to induce an enthused response, though neither does it incite a thought about the skip button.

      Our Forgotten Town is a definite highlight to the album, simply adrenaline driven fiddles flashing with sonic sirenesque persistence across the senses with the vocals of Chadwick and band harmonising. A menacing tar thick bass essence adds a haunting ambience to what is a simply a thoroughly compulsive track and the biggest triumph of the album.

The likes of the enjoyable No Barriers with a deep stimulating intro which is unfortunately not sustained throughout the song, Raft Of The Medusa the true historical tale of French Naval frigate the Méduse, and the acoustically driven Traveller, ensure there is always something agreeable to focus on. The latter of the three carries a familiar gait which defies recognition but makes for an openly engaging companion.

The album ends on a high with firstly the dust kicking commentary on virtual reality lives Second Life. With its banjo leading welcome the song is a warm blend of heated harmonica, teasing keys, and contagious melodic energy. The more you hear it the more the song takes a deeper hold and is insistent on a return. The closing track The Recruiting Sergeant is a foot tapping reworking of the Black Watch anthem. Lyrically the band transports the song to modern times with the warning from a petty criminal who with persuasion enlisted and ended up in the stark reality of Afghanistan. It is equally poignant and irrepressibly fun, a great climax to the album.

Levellers fans will definitely love Static On The Airwaves and for the rest of us there is more than enough to make the album worth a visit but probably not to join their devoted followers.

RingMaster 19/06/2012

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