Shhh… Apes! – The Shapes of Apes to Come EP


An enveloping melodic caress and rich sonic exploration which draws on the imagination as much as the passions, The Shapes of Apes to Come EP is a refreshing and invigorating debut by UK project Shhh… Apes! Consisting of five tracks which paint and sculpt evocative landscapes and emotive endeavours, the release is an absorbing flight through thought ruffling, emotion seducing adventure. At times a consuming provocation on the memory and in other moments a lingering warm invasive enchantment, the EP is a magnetic embrace which is unique and adventurous, an encounter sure to provoke a lustful hunger for time and things to come.

The South Wales based Shhh…Apes! is the creation of Mark Foley, a man who has been in numerous bands such as Vito, Strange News From Another Star, Bravecaptain (Martin Carr’s post-Boo Radleys project), and The Secret Show (with Matt Davies of Funeral For A Friend). He also runs a rehearsal/recording studio called Musicbox as well as occasionally globetrotting as a tour manager; it is this busy life of Foley which has seen Shhh…Apes! take five years to emerge from its initial conception. Now finally ready to be unveiled, the project is ensuring it makes the strongest impression with its scintillating debut EP. Drawing in the talent of vocalist Lianne Francis, guitarist Stuart Michel, drummer and percussionist Andrew Plain, and trombonist Lewis Griffiths, alongside himself and producer Charlie Francis (REM, Future Of The Left ,The High Llamas) who also contributes keys to the release, Foley has  built a cast of imagination and invention which soaks each note and second of the release. Atmospheric, emotionally elegant, and rampantly provocative, The Shape Of Apes To Come is a minimalistically scented full bloom of expansive atmospheric captivation.

Painkiller is the opening encounter, its walking guitar coaxing, within a delicious corrupted caustic rub, the enticing beckoning into the a3982198468_2beauty hued dual vocal hug of Foley and Francis, their harmonies and soothing deliveries an exceptional temptation into the heart of the song and release. With great ambling rhythms skirting their every syllable, the song expands its melodic ambient delivering arms, expelling a flame of sonic imagination and breath-taking invention. Through its eventful soundscape the guitars and vocals lead thoughts through evolving incitement whilst the brass stroking of the ear only enhances the depth and potent colour of the bewitchment. It is simply a spellbinding experience.

The following I Am Thin adds spots of glockenspiel from Andy Cowan to the guitar and brass lined ambience which surrounds and gently crowds the ear from the start, whilst the air and intensity at work is a smouldering lure which gently boils across the opening half of the track as rhythms and keys providing a complimentary cloak to the guitar conjurations. It is an evocative template for the mind and imagination to toy and create individual plays with before everything takes a breather for the again vocal glamour of the pair to share their rich voice of sound and tale. A sultry air covers the ballad as it makes its final impassioned weave and though the track is not is immediate as its predecessor it is an aural incantation which lies deeply within senses and heart.

Both Fall and Three Horses make their individual enthralling and impacting sways, the first with a resourceful flaming of trombone with trumpet by Francesca Dimech around that again arousing vocal combination. Ripe in shadow and vibrant in melodic beauty, the track is a transfixing burn on the psyche whilst the following song is a melancholic ballad which holds hand with reflective thought and emotional seduction. The melodic encircling of the body raises goosebumps on the neck which hold tight from start to finish, its charm parading further expansion of the songwriting and imagination bearing upon the senses.

The release closes with the electro fizzing Angel Calling Down, the synths of the song bringing a psychedelic lilt to its inviting slow waltz. With the brass again building spires of tempting fire within the smothering humid air, the song is a mesmeric invocation which lifts its energy as it flies into a romping yet sophisticated dance. The best song on the immense release it brings The Shapes of Apes to Come EP to a sizzling conclusion.

Shhh… Apes! is a presence which leaves the kind of branding upon the mind and heart which burns deeper over time, its rewards majestic and innovatively seducing.


RingMaster 14/10/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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The Welcome Matt: The Panhandle Years

If like for us The Welcome Matt is a new name despite being around for many years and having numerous studio releases, the new album The Panhandle Years is a must investigation, especially if melodic yet feisty guitar indie rock is like an aural beacon for your senses. Consisting of eighteen tracks taken from the seven albums released by the band, it is a compilation to light up the appetite and fire up the heart, and an instant and not to be denied invitation to check out the releases spawning the songs making this album so enjoyable.

The Welcome Matt is the solo project of San Francisco based musician Matt Langlois, something which on the evidence of the compilation has been the source of rather impressive rock pop songs for quite a time. From 2009 to last year, Langlois spent all his concentration and time with the musical project, Members Of Sound. This involved releasing a new song every month for two years and resulted in two major CD releases from his work with an array of Bay Area musicians and producers. During that period Langlois also played around 200 gigs and made a video with singer/songwriter Megan Slankard. His bio says “My main objective was to maintain a creative state for a sustained period of time while chronicling the musician’s journey as I’ve seen it and known it.” As that statement and the songs on The Panhandle Years show he is an artist who puts his all physically and mentally into his music, the craft and emotive energy of songs an obvious clarity.

The album opens with the latest single Karma, a song which from its rhythmic teasing and mellow caresses takes no time in capturing the imagination. The vocals harmonies lead the infectious chorus and stride of the song whilst the heated sonics of the guitar leave trails across the surface of the song like the rays of the sun. It is a wonderful piece of rock pop and an instant long term love affair for the heart such the delicious enterprise and beauty.

Without knowledge of the chronology to the tracks and their placing it has to be said the high quality and consistent irresistibility is immense  across the tracks showing that Langlois has never been short on writing impressively imaginative songs and bringing them to the ear with great craft and invention.  The likes of the dizzying I Will, with its shuffling stroll and melodic guitar flames, and the Kinks spiced On My Way a song which is just glorious in its rich melodic textures and mesmeric charm, just ignite stronger passion for the release, each irresistible pieces of well defined and stylish rock n roll.

The Panhandle Years also has a strong diversity across its songs which is as absorbing as the vibrant sounds they carry, songs like the Bolanesque What Are We Gonna Do, the excellent and quirky 12 Stone Toddler sounding Longing with its magnetic hooks, and the country folk/Brit pop fusion Into Your Own, as well as the rock driven Tremorland with its excellent raw  surface, all leaving one basking in full pleasure from  very individual stances.

It is also fair to say every track is a delight, a stirring slice of thrilling and senses charging joy but some certainly stand tall alongside Karma, On My Way, and Longing as the biggest triumphs. There is the brilliant Obstacle Ground, a storming and electric enticement with discord twanging guitars and swaggering bass lines to the fore and sounding like something akin to early Squeeze, as well as In San Francisco (Wake Me Up) with its lush melodies and big hearted energy to leave one soaked in imaginative elegance and contagious might. Arguably the greatest song on the album is Sing Something, though that choice changes from listen to listen to be fair. The track just bursts with energising textures and compulsive grooves, with the only result being adoration in its direction. It is a flawless pop song , insatiably catchy whilst full of unpredictable invention to leave one enthralled and inspired.

The Welcome Matt is a band all melodic rock and indie pop fans need to know about and The Panhandle Years easily the perfect introduction.

RingMaster 25/10/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Sweet Davis: Bittersweet EP

With a creative elegance as striking as the emotive sounds and presence within its tender walls the new EP from Virginian trio Sweet Davis is a striking and captivating release. Carefully crafted and uncomplicated Bittersweet engages the ear and beyond with varied music which feels like an old friend you have never seen before. The bond between heart and sound undeniably meant to be, it is a musical destiny.

Consisting of vocalist Kristin Davis, her brother Pete on drums, and guitarist Matt Ascione, Sweet Davis evolved from The Young Citizens, the band Pete had. Previously unknowing of the full talent as a singer his sister was, a chance moment when she filled in for their absent singer during a jam session unveiled her stunning sound and skill and the seeds of the band began to sprout. Together they gigged around D.C. meeting and playing with varied musicians including Andy Waldeck from Earth To Andy. The current settled line-up came with the addition of Matt Ascione and the final element of Sweet Davis was in place.

The three songs on the EP epitomise Sweet Davis. They are graceful and vibrant, touching and expressive, and the strongest evidence that the band handle melodies with the skill of a magician. The song Ready is the impressive proof from its opening invitation of sombre guitar and emotive vocals from Kirsten. With a haunting keyboard adding an edge to the feeling of regret and the melancholic lyrical declaration the song captures melodies like a butterfly collector, manipulating them to bring forth the sorrow and emotional power of the words.  Reflective and personal the song easily finds the heart to share its emotion and inspire more in the recipient.

Too Shy like Ready, is inspired by relationships that have lost their glow and magic, the pop accessibility of the song tempered by the powerful image and feeling brought forth by the lyrics and voice of Kirsten. The theme within again is downbeat and realistic but countered by music that offers hope and an energy to persevere. If you are looking for pure pop music without the falsehoods and trickery that taints media powered commercial pop, then Sweet Davis have it in abundance on this and within all of their songs.

     Sparks is a newer song that shows the band is evolving all the time as songwriters and performers. From the initial sing-a-long infection of the chorus the song sweeps one up in its elevated arms to lift the heart and spirit in a warm glow of incisive melodies and sirenesque vocals. Again the use of keys is wonderfully added to expand the song into a weave of pop and country rock which can only ignite an outbreak of eagerness and smiles. It feels good, sounds great and makes you feel even better.

As mentioned earlier the music is uncomplicated but do not mistake that for simple or lightweight. The trio are masterful in making less sound more and more importantly turning it into songs which expand once inside the ear to excite every sense and thought. Sweet Davis make pop music which is unique and gloriously beautiful, Bittersweet the undisputable proof.

RingMaster 03/03/2012 Registered & Protected


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