White Clouds & Gunfire – Zero to Hero EP

Zero to Hero EP the debut EP from UK pop punksters White Clouds & Gunfire warms the ear and emotions like a summer sun, its melodic radiance and infectious rays hard to resist dipping into. It is one of those releases which you can only find good things to say about, its songs accomplished and vibrant their sound refreshing and flying on heart borne enthusiasm. Unfortunately it also suffers like the majority of releases from melodic rock/pop punk female fronted bands; it sounds like many many others. The band do nothing wrong, the tracks within the release easily accessible and deeply contagious but it still spawns a likeness of sound to that section of the genre. This year alone has seen the emergence of bands such as Me & The Mountain, Hitchcock Blonde, Held By Horses and Leopards, all like White Clouds & Gunfire impressive and all seemingly borne from an overall similarity.

That is the negative out of the way with only enthused emotions inspired for every other aspect of band and release. Formed in 2008, White Clouds & Gunfire have taken time to get into their stride due to line-up instability but 2011 saw a turning point with everything coming into focus and evolving. The Peterborough quintet have drawn strong acclaim across the written press and lit up stages alongside bands such as Army Of Freshmen, Sonic Boom Six, OPM, MC Lars, The Hype Theory, and As We Climb as their enthusiastic work ethic and exciting sounds drives them to greater heights. The Zero To Hero EP is the next step, their national introduction and charge further afield with shows and presence.

You Think You Know Me opens up the release and immediately noticeable is the great growling bass of Rob Woods and the teasing vocals of Eveline Verdegaal. Both have a startling presence which only sparks full attention, though the rest of the band are no less impressive. The opening of the song is restrained in energy and invention but still forms a strong base for the vocals to flourish within. The guitars of Jake Matthews and newest member Ben Scarr (current guitarist with As We Climb) surge and rub against the ear with skill and intelligent melodic touches. The song is constantly intriguing with its additives and slight asides to keep a captivation well within it grasp.

The following Satellite takes the levels higher, its acidic sonics sharp and precise whilst the bass again grumbles magnificently, its tone the perfect temper and compliment to the golden tones of Verdegaal, the sparkling harmonies, and warm melodic flourishes. The track bounces along with unbridled energy but it is a careful mix of smart ideas and finely shaped play which with focus shines brightly. It is all driven by the thumping beats of Lewis Fountain, his powerful rhythmic frames the key to pulling it all into a tight explosion of sizzling enjoyment.

The remaining pair of songs continue to firmly engage, both Stand And Be The Hero and Turn Out The Lights burning a soft spot in the heart. It really is impossible not to have a real attraction for the band, their enchanting fiery breath and sculptured imaginative ideas an insatiable melodic kiss. The first of the pair brings a heavier intensity to its gait, the forceful beats and riffs forging a stirring spine to further fine melodic enterprise. The closing song is simply a greedy riot of catchy and hungry hooks and melodies. Though his vocals have backed up well on other songs, Scarr brings a fuller presence alongside Verdegaal to the song, maybe something to explore deeper and further ahead to set them apart from others, especially when it works this well. The song has a familiarity to it which makes it easy to accept its invitation to join in and ends the release off on a real high.

Zero to Hero is a great feel good slab of melodic rock which deserves much attention. Like other similarly fuelled releases this EP may struggle to make its distinct mark within the field but if there is a band with the talent to find that unique voice ahead it is White Clouds & Gunfire.

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RingMaster 10/10/2012

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Actions! : South Of The Water single

Since receiving the promo for the debut single from UK power pop band Actions! the band has announced its demise due to personal commitments of its members. Despite this South Of The Water is easily worth checking out as the band bid their hello/farewell on a bit of a bang rather with two songs that displays much promise for what one suspects could have been a rather notable pop punk styled band.

The band started in the opening weeks of 2011 though bassist Mat Wilson and guitarist Ryan Stuart had played together from Year 9 in school and alongside drummer Laurence Mosley since 2008 when he jammed with their previous band. With the addition of vocalist Emily Cracknell last year Actions! became a complete and focused entity.  Taking open pop punk influences from the likes of Blink182 and Amberlin as well as the pop styling of a Jessie J and Pink the quartet has developed a sound which is tight, energetic, and eagerly accessible,  the single suggests the band were still yet to find their completely distinct sound but with rhythms that pump up the blood, guitar melodies which easily draw attention, and the excellent rich vocals of Cracknell  the band was easily one of the more interesting and promising pop driven rock bands to emerge in the UK, as successful supports slots with bands such as Inme, Skindred, Paige, and Not Advised proved.

Released May 21st, the two songs making up the single were recorded  at the beginning of the year and more than deserve firm attention  even if the band are no longer a breathing creature. The song South Of The Water opens with a slow enchantment from the appealing and impressive vocals of Cracknell with a subtle melodic guitar in company. As the emotive bass of Wilson steps into view with the firm and punchy beats of Mosley alongside, the song spreads its wings and pulls one into a vibrant blend of impassioned guitars and flavoursome guitar driven rock. It is Cracknell that lights up the song most, her delivery and great voice well formed and captivating. The song does not explode within the ear but swarms around and warms up the senses with a fine all round display of craft and intent.

The second track on the release is a more direct pop punk energised pleasure. One Minute Smile dances and beckons with simple riffs that spark and again excellent vocals which lead every aspect of the great song with an assured belief and confidence. As with the first the song does not stand atop a hill of originality but satisfies and entertains with an accomplished ease and ability which is just as full and pleasing.

With essences of Paramore as apparent as previously mentioned references the band fit alongside the likes of Me & The Mountain and Hitchcock Blonde in promise, sound, and creativity. That promise is strong and unmistakable from this their debut and departure so it is a shame we will not get to watch and hear a great band evolve into one suspects would have been something even more special.

     South Of The Water is a fine single that deserves plenty of attention and will leave many upon hearing it with disappointment that this is all we have from Actions! to enjoy.

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RingMaster 08/05/2012

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