Animal Noise – Sink or Swim

AN_RingMasterReview

The description on Facebook for Animal Noise describes the band as “a three from SE England as an experimental indie outfit, creating moody swamp songs.” The last three words especially sum up the tone of the seriously captivating songs making up their latest EP Sink or Swim. It offers four tracks of dark rock ‘n’ roll as ripe with folkish charm as they are vibrant with indie rock tenacity and blues infused drama. Like a rousing mix of Common Tongues, Billy Momo, and Milton Star; sound and EP leap on ears and ignite the spirit and imagination with consummate ease; the result a fun and rousing time for all.

Since releasing their debut album Run Loose in 2012, it is fair to say that the Colchester hailing trio of Josh, Birdy, and Jack have been the keen recipients of regular attention and praise. The release of their well-received album soon led to Animal Noise performing at the likes of Bestival and T in The Park whilst their songs have found a potent place in the playlists of radio shows  hosts like Greg James, Huw Stephens, Sara Cox, Scott Mills, and Tom Robinson through the extensive support of BBC Suffolk Introducing. Working with producer Tom Donovan on new songs in recent times has led to the arrival of the four-track Sink Or Swim EP which will be released on limited edition vinyl as part of Record Store Day on 15th April.

cover_RingMasterReviewRecently unveiled single and EP title track, Sink Or Swim is the first lure of the release and instantly it tantalises ears and imagination with its flirtatious and slightly agitated web of melodic enterprise. There is funkiness to guitar and bass as they align with skittish beats around the swiftly impressing vocals. The seriously engaging start is soon a heftier stroll of boisterous endeavour and energy, beats a beefy incitement within the feisty blaze of guitar and bass stringed revelry. Though it relaxes at times throughout, that first expulsion of creative zeal fires up the rest of a song thereon in; a contagion which simply gets under the skin with the great expressive character of the vocals leading the way.

The acoustic and rhythmic rumble of How Can You Love Me is next; its dark and sultry country air a lively shuffle of nagging riffs and tenacious beats again graced by potent vocal drama and similarly enthralling harmonies. As the first, even with it’s slightly darker and imposing character, the song has feet and emotions bouncing and fully engaged in its shadowed tale in no time, before the galvanic adventure of Alright provides a darkly hued croon over rhythms which still will not settle down. For whatever reason, the track reminds, as indeed other moments within the EP, of Eighteen Nightmares At the Lux. Admittedly the reason as to why is vague but there is a kinship in off-kilter dark rock ‘n’ roll ingenuity both bands share in their openly individual sound and writing.

The band saves it finest moment for closing track Bag Of Bones. Guitar and vocals offer the first persuasive proposal within the song, percussive enticing soon making an additional invitation to the already anthemic air of the track. With each passing second, there is a sense of energy and devilment brewing, thrilling dynamics which explode in a seriously rousing chorus driven by the tenacious urgency and roar of vocals backed again by bold harmonies. Ending on a finale which whips up feet and vocal chords, the outstanding song has a highly enjoyable feel of The Woodentops to it whilst bringing a thoroughly enjoyable EP to an epic end.

Sink Or Swim is an encounter which just leaves ears and appetite greedily wanting more; a hunger easy to assume Animal Noise will continue to happily and impressively feed ahead.

The Sink Or Swim EP is released April 15th.

Upcoming Live Dates:

April 28th, Paper Dress London

April 29th,  Colchester Arts Centre

April 30th, The Swan, Ipswich

May 1st, Cosmic Puffin Festival

http://www.animalnoise.co.uk/    https://www.facebook.com/animalnoise   https://twitter.com/animalnoise   https://www.instagram.com/animalnoise/

Pete RingMaster 15/04/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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The Filthy Tongues – Jacob’s Ladder

FilthyTongues Press Pic Jan2016_RingMasterReview

Seriously beguiling and theatrically suggestive, Jacob’s Ladder is the highly anticipated debut album from Scottish trio The Filthy Tongues, and a glorious adventure into the dark and magnetic underbelly of the band’s home and imagination. Consisting of eight slices of dark rock ‘n’ roll woven from an evocative tapestry of caliginous flavours and textures, tracks further infused with poetic lyrical drama, the album is an immersion into gothic cloaked and intimately alluring portraits of, in the words of the band, “a dark neo-feudal Edinburgh.”

The Filthy Tongues consists of vocalist/guitarist Martin Metcalfe, bassist Fin Wilson, and drummer Derek Kelly, a threesome who were the core-members of eighties/nineties band Goodbye Mr Mackenzie. The band, which also featured Shirley Manson as keyboardist and backing singer, evolved into Angelfish and recorded a well-received album with Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads, whose manager Gary Kurfirst gave a helping hand to the Scottish band. Subsequently Manson was lured to front a new project called Garbage whilst Metcalfe, Wilson, and Kelly became Isa & the Filthy Tongues and released a pair of albums with American-born Stacey Chavis as vocalist. Now the trio have stepped forward as The Filthy Tongues and uncaged a creative incitement which must rank up there with the finest offering to come from their creative minds and talent.

The album opens with its title track and a melancholic caress of strings which soon part for a vibrant stroll of dark bass and nagging riffs around distinctive vocals. A ripple of keys adds to the instant expressive character of the track, backing vocal lures just as potent as the track strolls along with a sinister yet mesmeric swagger. Like a mix of The Monochrome Set and Milton Star with a healthy scent of Nick Cave to it, the opener alone gives Jacob’s Ladder all the bait needed to tempt ears and appetite, whilst setting up an already eager imagination with the lust to delve into what is to come and enslave.

album_RingMasterReviewThe brilliant start continues with the rhythmically tenacious High. As the bass aligns it’s ominous yet invitingly throaty suggestiveness to the anthemic pull of beats, Metcalfe’s tones bring the narrative to pungent life like a lyrical Pied Piper within the post punk seeded and dramatic ambience of the sounds around him. It is gripping, irresistible stuff that demands increasing attention with consummate ease, much as the album and songs surrounding it, including the following Holy Brothers. Rhythms again create a bold canvas for keys and strings to share their provocative and melodic suggestiveness which in turn creates an aural sketch for vocals and words to captivate within. There is a slight feel of Fatima Mansions to that lyrical and indeed emotional prowess cast, a sharing of the descriptive and virulently compelling art of offering the imagination a fully equipped landscape to play with.

Long Time Dead brings a steely edge and attitude to its guitar crafted opening and subsequent body next, providing a dark country spiced proposal bred in the dirty back streets of life whilst Bowhead Saint swings and seduces with a delta blues kissed romancing of the imagination. Both tracks enthral and tantalise from within their individual creative skins and darkly lit hearts before Violent Sorrow shares its intimate and, as throughout the album, lyrically raw croon. Each of the trio leaves a lingering mark in their varied ways, all offering a long term flirtation with the psyche and passions.

A more physically agitated piece of rock ‘n’ roll, Children Of The Filthy keeps enjoyment and excitement as high as ever. Once more rhythms provide the irritable yet anthemic side of the song, vocals the dark scenic persuasion, and melodic and sonic imagination a bewitching poetic majesty which here is surf rock infused. The track is glorious, with Metcalfe vocally continuing to be like a Vaudevillian Poe sharing a dark tale to embrace and be inspired by. Its success is swiftly matched by the sultry exploration of Kingdom Of Ice, a song as enchanting as it is emotionally intimidating. Carrying a sound brewed with volatility, the closer is a firmly arresting proposal with as much suggestive depth and persuasion as the words it merges with, and a superb end to a similarly impressive release.

Jacob’s Ladder is destined to be one of the most acclaimed debuts of 2016, if it can truly be called a first release or simply another proposal in a long term evolution of three artists. More than that though, the record is a blend of fantasy and reality which ignites ears and emotions like a sonic poet; so being destined to emerge as one of the most acclaimed albums of the year might be the better suggestion.

Jacob’s Ladder is out now via Blokshok and available in varied formats and packages @ http://www.filthytongues.com

https://www.facebook.com/Isa-the-Filthy-Tongues-144934250476   https://twitter.com/filthytongues

Pete RingMaster 15/03/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Gazing into the fresh glow of The Cathode Ray with Jeremy Thoms

The Cathode Ray_RingMaster Review

Photo and copyright Peter Tainsh

2015 has provided many treats this year and definitely amongst them was the latest and second album Infinite Variety from Scottish indie band The Cathode Ray. It was an encounter embracing the nostalgia of the eighties through fresh and inventive escapades bred of the now. One of the band’s founders is Jeremy Thoms, he also the man behind the great indie label Stereogram Recordings, and someone who to describe as busy is a big understatement. Nevertheless, Jeremy kindly gave us a chunk of his time to talk about the album, The Cathode Ray itself from top to bottom and more, including an insight to his own musical loves…

Hi Jeremy and many thanks for giving us your time to talk with us.

Ever late to the party, we discovered The Cathode Ray through your new album Infinite Variety which came out a couple of months or so ago to, it is fair to say, swift acclaim. In a music world where it seems increasingly harder to actually get people to part with money or indeed offer full attention to things, did you have any particular expectations or hopes for its unveiling or is it more anything is a bonus for bands right now?

We didn’t have any expectations other than hoping that those who had liked the first album would stay with us for the second. We knew we’d made a good follow up album but, as you say, in an environment when it’s very hard to engage with people, nothing is guaranteed.

Photo by Hugh Womersley

Photo by Hugh Womersley

Originally the band was just you and Paul Haig, famed for Josef-K and his own solo career. The press release for the album suggests this was not originally intended to be a serious band project but a writing collaboration. Was that the case and what brought Paul’s involvement to an end?

Paul definitely just saw it as a writing collaboration – “a bit of fun” was one his quotes – with group recordings just being made to illustrate them. However, the reaction to them was so positive, one thing lead to another and I pushed for it to become a band and take it more seriously, which Paul wasn’t happy with so eventually he left. What confused matters in the press and public eye was that Neil, David and I were his backing band when he did a solo tour in 2008. However the emphasis then was completely on his solo work, and he had no intention of being a member of a band again after Josef K, which in the end we had to respect.

The double ‘A’ sided single What’s It All About? /Mind was released in 2006; I believe this was meant as a one off release?

Not initially but it ended up like that. Certainly with Paul participating. When we made the agreement with Pronoia Records in 2006, the album had been recorded with Paul’s full participation, but by the time we got around to discussing getting it released he had changed his mind. So he asked us to remove his lead vocals, which we did, although some of his guitar and backing vocals do remain on the first album.

At what point did that spark the appetite to push things further; as a full band and with more releases?

The point that changed everything was bumping into Steve Fraser at a TV21 album launch in 2009. I told him what had happened and he was keen to get involved. The minute we started talking music I knew he was the man. We didn’t even bother with an audition. I knew the songs were strong enough to survive without Paul’s involvement. That opened so many doors, being able to play live (which Paul would never have done as The Cathode Ray) and generally move things on after quite a difficult start.

Were some of you all already old friends and maybe previously worked together before uniting for The Cathode Ray we know today?

Neil Baldwin and I have known each other for 34 years (!) and have played in bands together intermittently since 1986. David Mack and I had been working together since 2000 so, yes, there was a certain chemistry. Steve was the “new boy” although we’d all known him on the Edinburgh scene previously.

I have to admit for once, and not intentionally, I read about the band and its background before hearing a note for a review, and to be honest once seeing a list of previous projects for members of The Cathode Ray2_RingMaster Reviewthe band which had been indelible pleasures in my personal soundtrack, subsequently luring a revisit to old favourites records after finishing the review too, there was an increased anticipation and eagerness to explore the band and album. Do you think having your musical histories has helped draw awareness to the band or not?

Well obviously there’s going to be a certain amount of that, but I do believe, hopefully without sounding conceited, that The Cathode Ray is more than the sum of its parts. But initially I guess it did help getting people interested through our various previous involvements.

There were whiffs of all some of your previous bands at times across the songs and often nostalgia blessed air of Infinite Variety, The Bluebells and Scars maybe most notably in our ears. You are a band unafraid to draw on previous adventures and spices to hone new and fresh exploits, as potently shown on the album?

The songs that I write aren’t consciously drawing on any of our past exploits, but I guess where you’ve come from does influence where you’re going. In any case, it’s probably coincidental, as Steve only toured with The Scars as a depping bassist so wasn’t involved in their creative process, while Neil only contributed to arrangements with The Bluebells. But inevitably, as we all come from that post-punk background, some of the sounds and styles of these bands are going to rub off.

How would you say The Cathode Ray has evolved over time and specifically between Infinite Variety and its predecessor, your self-titled debut album?

I would say the vague initial brief of merging post-punk Manchester with New York has simply broadened to the point where I regard ourselves now as a band that isn’t easy to pin down musically. Our original press release mentioned 60’s Garage, Soundtracks and Northern soul, to which one critic added Psychedelia, Glam-Rock, Euro-Disco, Krautrock and 90’s Alternative Pop when reviewing Infinite Variety. So it is definitely evolving. I’m currently demoing material for the next album and there’s even more interesting musical areas I’d like to explore. It’s good to surprise people.

TCR cover_RingMaster ReviewGive us some insight into the thoughts and intentions going into the writing and recording of Infinite Variety? Do you build a release on particular aims or ideas or predominantly let things organically evolve?

Things do tend to evolve organically. If you put too much pre-conceived thought into it, the music loses its spontaneity. Although I suppose one particular aim is not to repeat ourselves. Each album needs to be a significant progression from the previous one, so a certain degree of thought does go into that. Also, apart from melodies and lyrics, I’m always interested in rhythms and try to be as adventurous and varied as possible in that area too.

We described the album as a “kaleidoscope of fun, sound, and adventure”, a fair hint we think at the array of flavours and inventive spices fuelling and shaping the songs within Infinite Variety. In the hands of many bands it might be an incoherent mix, but you manage to seamlessly blend all spices and individual characters of songs perfectly. Where do you and the band start when composing songs?

Well I compose the songs and demo them first with the key riffs, chord progressions, lyrics etc. all in place. At that stage they often do sound fairly disparate. I then present them to the band in the rehearsal room and that’s when it starts to sound like The Cathode Ray. Steve, Neil and Dave all contribute parts and arrangements until we arrive at the finished article. Some songs like The Eyes Are The Window took a long time to come together and changed quite considerably from my original demo. Others end up fairly similar to the original template, but all manage to sound cohesive owing to the fact it’s the four of us playing them, I guess.

The album’s tracks manage to be rich and at times expansive in texture and flavour yet also ‘slim’, i.e. no excess baggage or indulgence. They manage to be an open evolution from your first album but also reveal a bolder leap in aural colour and character; how do you hear their relevance to older propositions as one of their creators?

Well obviously it’s difficult to be completely objective about something you’ve created yourself, but I see their place in relation to the first album as a natural progression. The leap in colour and texture which you describe is simply a way of moving the band forward, without cluttering things up unnecessarily. You use the word ‘slim’ and I suppose that comes in at the production stage – cutting off any excess fat!

How long in the making from first note to paper or thought through to last note laid down was the album?

The boundaries are always blurred as we always tend to have songs left over which were either written too late to make the cut or simply didn’t fit at the time. For example, This Force Of Nature had its origins as a completely different song dating way back to 2006. It had never sounded right so was left on the shelf. I went back to it in 2014 writing new lyrics and melodies and it quickly came together then. Eureka Moment and Buck the Trend were written in 2009 when Steve first joined. But the bulk of I.V. was written and recorded between 2012 and 2014 – around two and half years.

Our review stated spices of bands from around the eighties as rewarding aspects but over time sixties/seventies tones have emerged. I sense your own inspirations and musical loves go far back?

Oh yes – my musical tastes stretch way back! How long have you got? Songwriters have always been key to me. From Lennon & McCartney, Brian Wilson, Smokey Robinson, Jimmy Webb and Bacharach & David, through Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Scott Walker, Al Green, Bowie, Joni Mitchell, Robert Wyatt and Neil Young to Costello, Paddy MacAloon and Rufus Wainwright, the song is always key. Then there’s the bands I love – The Stones, The Velvets, The Doors, Faces, Roxy, Yes, Kraftwerk, Television, Talking Heads, Buzzcocks, Chic, Wire, Magazine, Pretenders, Joy Division, Dexys, Scritti Politti; Cocteaus, Talk Talk, Teenage Fanclub, High Llamas, Flaming Lips… the list goes on.

There is no mistaking that Scottish bands and rock ‘n’ roll of all styles and design bred there, has something unique to it, and we could go on a long list of examples. Can you define what it is in ‘the

Photo by Jez Curnow

Photo by Jez Curnow

water’ which helps breed such distinctive and so often inspirational bands from that part of the UK, as ones yourselves?

I think there’s an open-mindedness up here. Maybe Scottish bands tend to draw from a wider pool of influences than other parts of the UK. Or maybe it’s to do with being distanced from what’s happening down south – even in the age of the internet. It’s certainly true that scenes of their own do seem to crop up here around labels like Postcard, Fast, 53rd & 3rd, Creeping Bent and, possibly, our label Stereogram too, which has attracted similar kindred literate spirits. Either that or we all seem to be obsessed with the Velvet Underground!

What comes next for The Cathode Ray?

Firstly, we’ve got two more live shows coming up this year as part of The Stereogram Revue in Edinburgh and Glasgow, plus a new track called It Takes One To Know One on a compilation album. Then there’s a new video shot earlier this year at the Kings Theatre in Edinburgh by Jez Curnow to go with Saving Grace, our other featured track on the comp. After that we’ll be knuckling down to working on the follow up to Infinite Variety. I’ve got five or six new songs written and demoed, plus a couple of leftovers, so we’ll be getting on with them. Expect some new directions.

Your releases come out on Stereogram Recordings, your own label which seems to have out grown and blossomed far more than its original intent I believe. Can you tell us a little about it and what is ahead for the label too?

It has indeed outgrown its original intent which was simply to facilitate a release for the first Cathode Ray album, plus any other projects (The Fabulous Artisans) or archive material I had kicking about. But over the last couple of years it has been growing steadily with first Roy Moller signing up, followed by James King & The Lonewolves, Milton Star, St. Christopher Medal, Lola in Slacks and, Band Of Holy Joy. The critical and public response has been great which is hugely encouraging. As previously mentioned, we’re rounding off the year with two Revue shows which will feature the entire roster in some form or other (minus Milton Star who don’t have a live set up at present). These gigs will be accompanied by The Sound of Stereogram, a budget compilation in the spirit of New Wave in ‘77 or Pillows and Prayers in ’82, featuring both new and old tracks from all eight acts on the label. Next year promises some new signings plus new material from the existing acts.

My big thanks to you again for chatting with us; have you anything you would like to add?

Nothing to add except thanks very much for your support over the last year.

Lastly and looking at band’s influences on your Facebook profile, a list of bands littering my own record collection I have to say, can you indulge me and give us a few of the bands/records which inspired you to get into music and then as a musician push yourself further?

Well I’ve already mentioned a whole bunch of artists who’ve inspired me, so here’s some records that have been key: “With The Beatles”; “Motown Chartbusters Vol.3”; “Pet Sounds”; “Piper at The Gates of Dawn”; “Forever Changes”; “Loaded”; “Scott 4”; “What’s Going On”; “Exile On Main Street”; “Never A Dull Moment”; “Close To The Edge”; “Aladdin Sane”; ”Houses Of The Holy”; “Quadrophenia”; “Rock Bottom”; “Country Life”; “Zuma”; “Songs In The Key Of Life”; “Trans Europe Express”; “Marquee Moon”; “My Aim Is True”; “Never Mind The Bollocks”; “Risque”; “All Mod Cons”; “Love Bites”; “Fear Of Music”; “Closer”; “The Correct Use Of Soap”; “You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever”; “Rattlesnakes”; “Steve McQueen”; “Don’t Stand Me Down”. Again the list goes on…

Read our review of Infinite Variety @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2015/04/21/the-cathode-ray-infinite-variety/

https://www.facebook.com/thecathoderay   http://www.stereogramrecordings.co.uk

Pete Ringmaster

The RingMaster Review 23/11/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Los Bengala – Festivos Incluso

LosBengala_RingMaster Review

If it is released by Dirty Water Records it is going to be worth checking out. That is a theory we have bred over time which once again is proven to be spot on as Spanish duo Los Bengala turn the day into one of devilish festivity with debut album Incluso Festivos. Seeded in garage rock but embracing many more prime flavours of rock ‘n’ roll, the ten track encounter is a perpetual feast of sound and fun.

The list of inventive and thrilling duos is a growth industry in world rock, but there are some which just step out from the crowd to steal the show. Canada has The Black Frame Spectacle, the US has bred In The Whale, and now Europe has the mighty sounds and thrilling creative instincts of guitarist/vocalist Guillermo Sinnerman and drummer/vocalist Borja Tellez to drool over, and since being introduced to Incluso Festivos that is what we have been doing. Hailing from Zaragoza, Los Bengala is another tasty proposition emerging from the flourishing garage rock Latino scene. Last year saw the pair win a national battle of the bands competition in their home country and now have broader fields in their sight with Incluso Festivos which is co-released on their own imprint Wild Lion and Dirty Water Records, the latter spotting them playing a show last August in London with UK’s own garage punk geniuses The Mobbs.

The seeds of addiction are laid straight away through album opener La Caza, a minute and a half of rhythmic slavery. Tellez needs barely seconds to have ears and appetite gripped, his opening thuds soon a rolling jungle of rhythmic craft and incitement which just gets keener and more virulent with every rally. That alone would have left nothing less than lust behind but things only get better as the guitar of Sinnerman adds southern honed hooks and enterprise into the instrumental revelry. It is a scintillating anthemic start which is potently backed up by Sé A Dónde Voy. The band’s garage rock inspirations are ripe colouring in the jangle and eager energy spread by the song, its riffs and beats a persistent invitation for the Spanish sung lyrics to leave their expressive lures on.

cover_RingMaster Review   No Hay Amor Sin Dolor has the scent of The Clash to its opening bait of guitar next, a spice which continues as Tellez springs another fresh dose of rhythmic tempting into the brewing mix. The song has a definite punk breeding to its r&b invention and tenacious stroll whilst revealing another shade and arm to the Los Bengala sound and imagination. It is diversity which continues in Jodidamente Loco, a track which jabs and roars its way into the psyche with a mix of noise punk and dirty rock ‘n’ roll twisted into contagion of steely guitar, badgering beats, and volatile vocals. The track is irresistible, a song taking an already high plateau to the album up another notch before Máquina Infernal keeps release and listener on the same high with Latin lures and sixties toned catchiness.

65 Días next seduces with a psychobilly/surf croon, its sweltering air and haunting balladry mesmeric even as it subsequently lifts its tempo and emotional discord within the dramatic landscape. Like Reverend Horton Heat in league with UK band Milton Star, the song is bewitching, and increasingly so with every listen, much as the album itself.

Things get hectic and scuzzier again with the brilliant Aaah, a riot which reminds of earlier mentioned In The Whale but revealing its own groove infested, rhythmically incendiary, and unique stomp. Rock music does not get much better than this, just finds new ways to match such glory just as the band does with the swinging devilment of Ataco. Arguably the most pure garage rock track on the album though its successor might have something to say about that, it just grabs body and energies in its contagion led grip to take the listener on a controlled but exhaustion inducing stroll.

Perfect Body is the only English sung offering on Incluso Festivos, a mischievous celebration and virulent romp flinging grooves, hooks, and rousing beats around like creative confetti. The sixties, seventies, and the now are all rolled up into its infection loaded alchemy, body and emotions the swift slave to its glorious tempting.

The album is close by the similarly sensational Abran Paso, a song which again shows glimpses of The Clash as well as others like The Jam and less so Queens Of The Stone Age, but emerges as its own fascinating and torrentially captivating protagonist. It is a mighty end to a majestic encounter, and another reason to understand why the guys at Dirty Water got excited when first seeing Los Bengala. Thanks to them we now have one exciting and invigorating release courting, nay demanding broader attention and quite honestly the bottom-line is that you and the world needs this album in a fulfilled rock ‘n’ roll life.

Incluso Festivos is available now via Wild Lion/Dirty Water Records on vinyl, CD, and digitally.

RingMaster 25/08/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Old House Playground – The Great Escape EP

Picture 49_Reputation Radio/RingMaster Review

Listening to The Great Escape EP, thoughts wondered whether if Edgar Allan Poe was around today creating dark literary masterpieces, would he be listening to and most likely involving the music of UK based Old House Playground somewhere. Four tracks of dark rock ‘n’ roll bred with provocative blues climates and gothic imagination, all “with roots in the songwriting culture of traditional Greek folk music”; the band’s new seriously compelling EP suggests quite possibly yes as it thrills with its ripe bewitching drama and imposing atmospheres.

It was in 2009 that Old House Playground moved from Athens to Manchester to, in the words of their bio, “experiment with new musical paths and forms of expression.” Vocalist/guitarist Tryfon Lazos, drummer Andreas Venetantes, and bassist Conor Loughran were soon weaving inspirations from the likes of Tom Waits, Django Reinhardt, Nick Cave and Greek artists Psarantonis, and Marcos Vamvakaris into their own unique vision of an alternative rock/blues sound. The departure of Loughran before its recording saw debut album God Damn That Gold the creation of the remaining duo overseen by producer/musician Chris Evans. Its 2013 release via Evening Economies/Fat Bob Records was keenly received and praised, as too a UK tour in support of its unveiling. The band also ignited the attention of Vini Reilly through the band linking up with Sugar House production, leading to a subsequent collaboration seeing Old House Playground and Durutti Column together for the latter’s first Manchester performance for five years and Lazos singing onstage alongside Reilly that night. With bassist Jago Furnas enlisted last September, Old House Playground now release the magnificent tempting of The Great Escape, an encounter to inspire the imagination and feed a greedy appetite for dark treats.

Picture 47_Reputation Radio/RingMaster Review   Opener Polite Fiction immediately has ears and attention sparked with its initial psychobilly coated groove, and gripped with the quickly joining blend of vocals and spicy guitar enterprise. The tones of Lazos are a rich enticing and attention grabber, even as the song becomes a perpetual awakening of new sounds and textures sparking ears with embraces of fiery sax and brooding basslines amongst many things. An unbridled captivation with a predatory stride, the song blossoms into a sultry, jazz kissed seduction of Bernaccia and Tom Waits like essences courting the warped swagger of Eighties B-Line Train Disaster and the raw croon of Nick Cave. It is a delicious web of temptation, ears and thoughts embroiled in the swinging lures and smouldering drama cast by the openly inventive and descriptive craft of the band.

The exhilarating start is followed by Stardance, a similarly potent slavery of blues intoxication and rhythmic devilry bound in tangy grooves and vocal enterprise. Like its predecessor, the song has a flirtatious devilry to its sauntering gait and swinging energy, and like the first track provides an irresistible tapestry of darkly cultured hues entangled in delta bred blues persuasion. It is the devil’s music for sure and even more ridiculously addictive when exploring off kilter twists of sonic and melodic ingenuity aligned to the perpetual noir lit jazziness fuelling its inventive breath.

A western twang creeps in with the inviting caress of guitar bringing All Day Today into view next, the song’s country-esque acoustic folk charm enhanced further by the ever potent and alluring vocals of Lazos. Reminding in some ways of Swedish band Billy Momo and in others of Milton Star, the song is three minutes of dark seduction sparking ears and thoughts further before making way for the EP’s closing title track. Sweltering with sultry melodies and heated sonic mystique, the song is pure aural alchemy conjuring a majestic tapestry of wiry chords and acidic grooves within a suggestive landscape as intimate as it is evocatively expansive.

The track is a brilliant end to a seriously thrilling release. Old House Playground may have been in the shadows for many before the release of The Great Escape EP but it is easy to suggest the only dark hues around them will be those they seed, blossom, and embrace their music with from hereon in.

The Great Escape EP is available via Horus Music from 22th June @ http://oldhouseplayground.bandcamp.com/album/the-great-escape, digitally and as Limited Edition 10″ vinyl with 2 bonus tracks!

http://www.oldhouseplayground.net/   https://www.facebook.com/oldhouseplayground

RingMaster 22/06//2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Milton Star – Things Fall Apart

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Like for most a sound to riot too is a treat, music to change or ignite the day essential, but just as potent and thrilling are compositions which invite you immerse deeply into their depths so you can conjure your own emotional and visual experiences. Music to get truly lost in is the forte of UK duo Milton Star as evidenced by their previous two-song offering Salvation/ Storyville. Now the Scottish band returns with new single Things Fall Apart and arguably their most immersive and provocative embrace of sound yet. It is enveloping, it is sultry, and it is powerfully mesmeric; simply the track is a sinister fever of dark country romance to chill the bones and ignite the passions.

Things-Fall-Apart-cover  Milton Star consists of Alan Wyllie and Graeme Currie, two songwriters/musicians whose history together encompasses numerous projects and collaborations going back to the early days of post punk and most notably The Thursdays and Fast Records. The pair also understands the potency of fusing cinematic suggestiveness with atmospheric aural imagination, and indeed as evidenced by their singles how to achieve such fusions. Creating their music in a converted church in Fife which is also Wyllie’s home, Milton Star is the riveting equivalent of Nick Cave, Helldorado, and Mark Lanegan awash with the craft and vision of an Ennio Morricone and David Lynch, but with their own identity.

Straight away their new single has ears and thoughts engrossed, as a deep throaty tone resonates from within guitar, bass, and just the whole ambience of the piece. Things Fall Apart is an immediate seduction, its sombre gait and melancholic air a mesmeric croon on the senses reinforced by the grainy but vibrantly toned vocals. Whereas the band’s previous single had a slight mischievous essence, certainly to one of the songs, which reminded of Tombstone Three, this new proposition has an intimacy and drama which imposes itself on ears and appetite with more solemn intent. Its melodic prowess though brings smouldering warmth too, guitars and keys a haunting, at times almost regal caress inflamed with exotic hues that further enthral and spark the imagination.

The song is pure cinema, and pure aural temptation. Every listen increases its potency too, and from being a powerful successor to its stronger predecessor, Things Fall Apart has grown and evolved into the bands finest most pungent and thrilling incitement yet. Here is hoping an album is on the cards or at least a fuller adventure of an EP next.

Things Fall Apart is available from June 15th via Stereogram Recordings @ https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/things-fall-apart-single/id991360030

https://www.facebook.com/miltonstar   http://www.miltonstarmusic.net/

RingMaster 15/06/2015

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Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @ http://www.reputationradio.net

 

Milton Star – Salvation/Storyville

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Always partial to music which is as cinematic as it is sonically expressive, and especially keen on dark and sultry aural adventures which embrace emotive shadows as eagerly as they do melodic intrigue, the debut single from Scottish band Milton Star has come as a bit of a treat. Consisting of the songs Salvation and Storyville, the double A-sided encounter is a gothic romance for the ears and imagination. The two tracks cast evocative landscapes of smouldering emotion and heavy atmospheric colour uniting indie and dark country in one enjoyable and darkly feverish encounter.

Milton Star is the duo of Alan Wyllie and Graeme Currie, two songwriters/musicians whose history together goes back to the early days of post punk and across numerous projects, most notably the Thursdays who were signed to Fast Records. Getting back together in 2010 after both had been absent from the music scene for a few years, Wyllie and Currie now in a converted church in Fife, create and record their songs with a sound which have drawn the description, “think Velvet Underground meets vintage Glen Campbell via Rick Rubin collaborating on the next David Lynch movie or sound-tracking the latest HBO crime drama…” It is a hint in the right direction but as Salvation alone shows, there is plenty more within the band’s broad soundscapes and intimate canvases.

The track is a dark croon seemingly bred on a dark folk mix of Nick Cave and Mark Lanegan aligned to the visual drama of Helldorado and a whisper of the raw danger in a Tombstone Three. It Picture 3opens on an instantly gripping stroll of heavy beats which is swiftly joined by the sultry flames of guitar and great dark throated yet melancholically elegant vocals. There is an immediate theatre to the song, especially when voice and guitar add their provocative textures to the portentous heavy bassline and the crisp swings of the drums. The track is glorious and increasingly spicy as the two musicians weave in tangy grooves and emotive melodies which often come in a great ‘yawn’ of sound. With additional fifties rock ‘n’ roll stroking its gothic poetry, the song leaves thoughts lost in a soulful landscape of adventure and ears basking in syrupy sonic goodness.

Its companion Storyville similarly offers an intensive climate of shadows, this time the first breath coming around a grizzled bassline which instantly enslaves attention as the atmospheric lure of the track expands its coaxing. Slightly lighter than its predecessor but no less imposing with its bordering on caliginous emotions and aural colour, the song shimmers and smoulders with raw radiance and evocative expression, it all across that unrelenting bass spine. Not quite matching Salvation but certainly as enthralling and exciting, the song completes an impressive first excursion into the dark climactic majesty of Milton Star’s sound.

The single is sure to spark strong anticipation in a great many for more; future Milton Star adventures which if they are as dramatic and thrilling as this will be devoured greedily and noisily.

Salvation/Storyville is available from 12th January via Stereogram Recordings @ https://stereogramrecordings.bandcamp.com

http://www.miltonstarmusic.net/

RingMaster 12/01/2015

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Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

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