Forever After: Pictures EP

This year has seen many impressive and promising pop punk bands emerge but the majority offer the same conclusion, still to find a distinct personal voice to their sound. These bands share a similarity to each other and those before them to make the moment enjoyable but the future the canvas where hopes of standing out from the crowd, or not will play out. UK band Forever After is one of those rare exceptions, not only does the band ooze great promise ahead with the impressive EP Pictures but already has stepped into a unique place of their very own.

The bio for the Essex quartet states ‘for fans of Lower Than Atlantis, Deaf Havana, and The Maccabees. You cannot argue against that but easily can add the likes of Buzzcocks, Undertones, and Hagfish, such the feisty new wave and original punk essences which tantalise and molest the passions wonderfully throughout. Though not quite perfect Pictures is outstanding, an immediately exciting treat to fire up the heart which just gets better and better with every play.

Formed at the beginning of the year, Forever After soon had audiences baying for more with their live shows which included playing alongside bands including Mallory Knox and Ten Second Epic. Released earlier as a free download, Pictures too only excited a crowd looking for something different and with its official appearance November 5th, as the band prepare to record its follow up, a wider recognition seems inevitable once the four tracks thrust their wanton hook smart dance on more and more eager ears.

Touring The Map opens the release up with fiery riffs and thumping beats, as most pop punk songs do. It pulls attention its way without startlingly offering anything new, leaving expectations exactly where they are when being confronted by another pop punk effort. Into its stride the track whips out teasing hooks, beckoning melodic weaves, and the excellent distinct voice of guitarist Dom Littler. Suddenly you realise you are in the midst of a sonic storm of originality and outrageous infectiousness, the beats of drummer Craig Mcqueen persistently probing the ear whilst bassist Harry Stokley prowls the song with throbbing intent whilst adding his own fine vocals to back up Littler. This alone would certainly ensure a fresh sound and experience but with the excellent guitar invention of Sam Byford, his melodic weaves bordering on lustful irreverence, the song is an irresistible piece of aural mischief, the thing sonic wet dreams are made of.  The song is brilliant, one which leaves one breathless whilst in full union with its passion physically and vocally, and the beginning of one of the bigger musical indie thrills this year.

The following (Old) School, is as it says on the tin, well in part as original punk flavours vein this great slab of rock n roll. Slightly grittier than its predecessor but equally as contagious, the song is a kind of mix between Bad Religion, Radio Stars, and Maximo Park but again belongs to no one but Forever After. A more abrasive affair the hooks easily captures the imagination whilst the vocal harmonies and melodic flames from the guitars just ignite further thrills and appetite for much more form the band. Like the first, the song is a shifting beast of pleasure, the rhythms erupting into excited bursts and bass offering a swagger which sets it apart from but perfectly in league with the charge of the guitars.

The third track called Interlude is just that. It is an ok instrumental but out of place on the release and just feels like a filler which is needless on a brief EP. Saying that though it leads perfectly into final track Say It True so maybe just reinventing it and making it a proper intro to another great song would be a rewarding thing to look at. The closing track is a riot of manic guitars, anthemic energy and shouts, and challenging rhythms all wrapped in irresistible invention and magical enterprise. The track just kicks up a storm of pleasure from which escape is impossible and full engagement willing.

Pictures is outstanding, simply as, and Forever After a band destined to make the future one thrilling and explosive punk rock adventure.

RingMaster 04/11/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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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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Black Hats: Austerity for the Hoi Polloi

To be honest when the songs from the outstanding debut album from UK indie rock band Black Hats graced the ear there was an instant thought it was a new release from Young Knives even though the CD said differently. As Austerity for the Hoi Polloi unveiled its full might and collection of infectious and striking tracks there was obvious that there was much more going on within the songs but there is no mistaking that the band which came to mind first is a big influence to Black Hats, which can only be a good thing.

From Oxford, Black Hats consists of Ian Budd (bass, vocals), Nick Breakspear (guitar, vocals) and Mark Franklin (drums, vocals). Eighteen months or so as a band has seen them consistently and increasingly grab attention as they unveiled new songs, grabbed radio play including a live session for BBC Introducing (Oxford), and released their first EP Magnets. With the release of their debut album Austerity for the Hoi Polloi, one can only see bigger and more urgent things coming to hound and throw acclaim at their door.

As the opening guitars shower the ear with crystalline melodies, first track You Make Us What We Are immediately has the ear offering full attention. With a slight ska lilt to the riffs the song pokes and insists the senses take notice as a delicious dark bass line meanders wonderfully through the centre. It is very Young Knives which made the double take at first but as the song plays and captivates more and more the distinct and different qualities of Black Hats is easily apparent. The song never ignites into a full out frenzied party but borders it closely to make a song which is deeply engaging and openly infectious.

     Death By Record bounces in next with a punk urgency and inspired melodic mesmeric teasing. Checking into the band before writing the review there were quite often comparisons with Gang of Four mentioned which the first song never suggested at all which had one wondering where they were coming from. Here there is a definite feel of that band which spices the flavoursome song, to which you can add essences of Maximo Park and Baddies too. By this point an affair with the inspired basslines of Budd has been nurtured, his reggae grooves and punk moodiness an easy and impressive meld.

Already the album is destined to only acclaim which Blood And Space with its jazzed bass invention and thoughtful structure only enforces and the following and amazing Impossible View ensures is an even greater affection. The best song on the album it is instant addiction. The rhythms of Franklin cage the sirenesque melodic conjurations which light up the ear and beyond. Breakspear and Budd dazzle with inventive play and the sax that strikes ingeniously is glorious. With its ska lined riffs and rhythms alongside its indie pop heart the song is a full pleasure.

Impending single Fall Out and current one Kick In The Doors complete the album just as impressively as up to this point. The first is another ska riffed, dub beat spined feast of post punk power pop. A mouthful but it brings it all into its excellent vibrant body. The closing Kick In The Doors with its acidic striking keys clasping and squeezing the consistently striking guitar and bass invention leaves one as the release ends simply breathless and with no option but to dive right back inside Austerity for the Hoi Polloi again. To be honest any song would be the perfect entry point into Black Hats but this track certainly scoops one up welcomingly in its irresistible arms of intelligent and articulate pop-punk.

Normally when a band reminds of another as closely as Black Hats did initially there is a doubt about them but this trio soon put all those thoughts firmly away with their skilled, inventive, and completely absorbing impressive sounds. There is a new energy for indie music starting and it is in the shape of so pick up Black Hats and their simply wonderful EP Austerity for the Hoi Polloi.

RingMaster 30/04/2012 Registered & Protected

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