The Refusers – Disobey

“An album called Disobey by a group called The Refusers – you can’t get any more defiant than that, and that is exactly what rock and roll is supposed to be.”

The words of band founder, vocalist, guitarist, songwriter Michael Belkin tells all about the heart and intent of the band’s new and third full-length, indeed their sound overall. It is a collection of songs which snarl with defiance and irritability yet infest ears and incite the body with broadly flavoured rock ‘n’ roll in decades courting styles. Lyrically it reflects and attacks with incisive honesty and rigour while musically it has the body bouncing; a combination which makes the upcoming release of Disobey one compelling proposal.

Formed in 2010, Seattle hailing The Refusers sparked real attention with their 2016 album Wake Up America. It was a release which reflected and roared at a corrupt and twisted political and social world. It is fair to say things have not changed for the better in the world over the past two years and Disobey equally preys on its perverse habits and immoral practices. It focuses on the bad heart of America but as we all know it is a ruin reflected across the world from corner to corner.

Belkin links up with a host of musicians for the new album including bassist Steve Newton, drummers Sebastian Belkin (Michael’s son) and Brendan Hill from Blues Traveler, and keyboardists Joe Doria and Eric Robert, who has performed with John Oates, Keb’ Mo’ and Lucky Peterson. Disobey opens up with Playing With Fire and immediately lures ears with its blues tinted groove and potent rhythmic shuffle. Belkin’s vocals are soon joining the bold mix, adding accusing sparks as the track burned its presence upon the imagination. It is an intriguing start to the release, a song which did not explode on the senses but got under the skin by the second to arouse attention and an anticipation of things to come.

The following Why Do They Lie strolls in next with a deceptively calm swing, keys a tantalising lure in its developing melody nurtured rock ‘n’ roll. An instinctive catchiness soon had hips swaying as feet tapped; the track a swift persuasion before the album’s title track aroused the senses with its classic rock meets The Cars like canter. As lyrics focus and ensnare thoughts great hooks and fire bred grooves ignite the appetite, Hammond keys a tasty companion to the magnetism.

Eruption brings a call for change on a great funk ‘n’ roll saunter next, guitar and keys again a masterfully alluring incitement to accentuate rather than temper the lyrical charge while My Baby Loves Rock And Roll is a mischievous contagion echoing its title. It is a romp of the familiar and fresh which just hit the spot, swaggering along like an old inhibition evading friend.

Across Disobey, there is a seventies/eighties glaze to its rock ‘n’ roll, the following Fake News epitomising that essence with its melodic rock though to pin down straight comparisons is difficult thanks to The Refuser’s individual character of imagination and sound. The track was another which had us hooked early though the album was just as effective at pleasing ears with a more persistent almost nagging temptation as through Government Slave, another classic/hard rock nurtured proposal with tenacious hooks and teasing grooves.

The final pair of Free The Captives and Emancipation close the album up; the first a calmer but no less assured slice of rock balladry wrapped in the ever appealing embrace of keys. Its successor is a final cut of addiction flirting captivation; its chorus especially irresistible. As the album, there is something of Midnight Oil to the track, more in lyrical insight but also a little in its sound even with its more classic rock breeding, which just adds to the appealing hues at work.

Defiance and rock ‘n’ roll go hand in hand; always has and always will. The Refusers mix both with craft and adventure within Disobey; an album which may not be the most unique but leaves its rich mark rather enjoyably.

https://therefusers.com/   https://www.facebook.com/TheRefusers/

Pete RingMaster 12/06/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Salt -The Greenman EP

SALT Gen Pub Photo

With every note and twist of invention soaked in drama and unpredictability, The Greenman EP from New Zealanders Salt provides one of the more fascinating and thrilling encounters of the year. Richly flavoursome and drawing on a vat of varied rock essences, with a just as tasty spicing of new wave and alternative rock, release and sound invite ears and imagination into a mischievous devilry which persuades like a mix of Wall Of Voodoo, Oingo Boingo, and Midnight Oil but with its own unique character. It is an adventure to light ears and thoughts, feet and emotions, and quite mouth-watering.

Formed in the latter part of 2010, Salt consists of vocalist/bassist/songwriter Brett McGuigan, keyboardist Rachael Jane, and guitarist Mike Nelson. The Christchurch trio awoke keen attention for their imaginative sound and presence through debut album Radio Station in 2012, a release also diverse in flavour and with rawer punkish tenacity to its creativity. Recorded with Thom O’Connor, The Greenman finds the band exploring more expansive and inventive pastures but still retaining the energy and vivacity which its predecessor expelled to fine effect.

Going to the Moon opens up the EP, a song which has already been heavily devoured around the internet from its initial unveiling. A sonic coaxing intrigues before making way for a feisty Salt - The Greenman - Album artwork front coverswagger of riffs and spicy keys, all within a punchy web of rhythms. The core temptation is soon completed by the appealing tones of McGuigan and accentuated by the tangy grooves and potent hooks which frequent the contagious encounter. Not quite space rock but with a definite spatial breath to its fluid melodies and inescapable catchiness, the song is a vibrant and captivating start to the EP.

The following Indiana Melancholy has a dour but no less riveting air to its prowl through ears. Slowly making its way across the senses with dramatic textures and expression vocally and musically, the track has the imagination absorbed and then inflamed with its inventive shadows and sonic exploration. Guitars and keys again provide thick colour to a powerful rhythmic canvas whilst extra theatre comes from the mystique fuelled grooves and sultry mix of lead and backing vocals across the band.

The EP’s title track takes over next, instantly bringing eighties new wave and melodic punk flavouring to an invigorating modern rock recipe. Insatiably addictive and fuelled by a slightly repetitive nature, the song swiftly draws an already greedy appetite into its seducing bait, tightening its grip with every anthemic call of vocals and virulence. Its commanding persuasion is matched by the outstanding Mad Situation, a track with a rhythmic enticing and carnivorous bassline to sell your soul for. As the second song, a darker landscape is explored but with an infectious toxicity just as habit forming as anything on the release. An infusion of post punk only adds to the strength and richest of narrative and sound, whilst the melodic poetry of guitars and keys highlight and shine upon the inimitable theatrical dark of the song.

The EP is concluded with the similarly sensational, Crossing the Highway, a creatively tenacious journey entwining wiry grooves around rhythmic sinews as flowing evocative melodies cast by the keys spread their curvaceous charm and seduction. The track is breath-taking, edging the others for best on show though all leave hunger for more and blissful satisfaction in their wake.

Salt is a band destined to steal hearts and spark imaginations, certainly on the evidence of the strikingly impressive and delicious exploits of The Greenman.

The Greenman EP is available now @ http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/salt42

https://www.facebook.com/SaltMusica/

RingMaster 30/11/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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The Menzingers – On The Impossible Past

As much as the likes of Bad Religion and Brand New continue to create essential punk sounds and offer insightful thoughts and incisive with their releases there seems to be a reached pinnacle. Their new material always engages and pleases but the element of surprise or boundary stretching has diminished, they are not predictable but you know pretty much what you are going to get. With Philadelphia-based punk rock band The Menzingers, though they bring a blend and attitude that incorporates elements of both bands they infuse it into their own heart spawn sensibility and fresh energy to give a variable and distinct engagement to light up the senses, something their influences used to do but now seem less able to.

The Philadelphia based quartet of Tom May, Joe Godino, Eric Keen, and Greg Barnett release their third album and their debut on Epitaph Records, in the expressive shape of On The Impossible Past on February 20th. Their previous two albums, released via small indie labels, gathered strong acclaim as did their dynamic lives shows and supports for the likes of Anti Flag and Against Me! All this led them to the attention of Epitaph founder and President Brett Gurewitz who has commented about The Menzingers that “These guys play the kind of pure punk rock that I grew up with. They are seriously talented songwriters and I’m happy to welcome them to the Epitaph family. “He is not far wrong about the band being talented songwriters as the songs that bristle and grab attention within On The Impossible Past are insightful, emotive and easily register on a formidable personal level.

The album does not attach itself with easy to digest hooks and obvious simple melodies but eases its way deeper through personal, reflective and emotive understanding that one can relate to instantly. The album saunters in on the opening subdued mix of guitar and voice at the beginning of  ‘Good Things’ before bursting into a strident clash of guitar and raised emotive vocal delivery from May. As the whole album proves to be, the song hits home without thrills and spills, a direct and compact piece of good punk rock that lets its energy and attitude give all the impressive enjoyment. It carries a combined Bad Religion and Stiff Little Fingers mix that is far more satisfying than the pop influenced flavours that come as part and parcel of most contemporary punk sounds.

This is not to say The Menzingers neglect or ignore melodies and pop accessibility as tracks like the inspiring ‘Burn After Writing’ and the brilliant ‘Gates ‘show. These songs swing upon the ear with ease and instantaneous appeal but are well crafted with defined skill and creativity a strong feature of the band’s music. The latter of the two is a wonderfully written and crafted song, a track that relates on many layers and lingers emotionally and aurally after its departure, helped not only by the emotive melodies and lyrical intent but also the vocals from Barnett. It is a song that epitomizes the bands passion and ability to touch the listener far deeper than the ear.

It is impossible to point out a weak song upon the album, and whether their music or release works for you or not there is no denying the skilful and cultured song writing on show. The album is also one of those rarities that is not only has an immediate attraction and lure but evolves into a stronger and more inspired release the more one shares  time with it. For all its high consistency though some tracks really stand out. ‘The Obituaries’ is a raucous anthemic track with scorched melodies, driven riffs, and an emotion that all can relate to. It is one of those tracks that you cannot resist joining in with no matter how much you try but the difference here it is not just a chant song, its passion to the fore throughout making it a special treat.

Songs like the stunning ‘Sun Hotel’ that carries a Midnight Oil feel at their bitter best and the irresistible ‘I Can’t Seem To Tell’ are of equal quality and take the album into essential listening territory all on their own. The second of these two is an amazing concoction of discordant acidic riffs and melodies, eager rhythms, and a moody bassline to drool over, a classic.

On The Impossible Past is one of the best punk albums heard in a long time and a refreshing and satisfying alternative to the easy and at times heartless pop punk that fills the genre currently. That is what The Menzingers have to their music, heart and that makes for a release that should have your attention.

Ringmaster 03/02/2012

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