Kudzu – Defeated

With a sound as eclectic and unpredictable as it is ravenously catchy, US synth pop duo Kudzu have just released their new album, Defeated. It is an infestation of infectious hooks, flirtatious synths, and rousing escapades but to tag it merely as synth pop is an injustice to its diversity, the album a stirring web of post punk, electro punk, industrial and more across its seriously magnetic body.

Springfield based Kudzu consists of Seth Goodwin (vocals, synth, and drum programming) and Mark Gillenwaters (vocals and guitar). Inspirations to the project include the likes of Tears For Fears, The Cure, Spectrum, Guided by Voices, Sympathy Nervous, and This Heat but as suggested, their sound has a much broader tapestry which is as bred in the seventies/eighties synth landscape as the creative now. It makes for a proposition which is as familiar as it is boldly fresh and one massive treat of a listen.

It opens with the punk assault of Some Cops, a track bursting from its electronic shimmer with zeal and urgency soaked in creative dissonance. At the same time it is a virulently catchy incitement, its fuzzy fumes leaving the senses as woozy as the bone shuddering beats. Like Calling All Astronauts meets Artery at its core, the song equally embraces psych rock winds in its contagious turbulence to provide Defeated with one ear grabbing start.

Straight away the variety of the album is at play as the following and quite superb No Backbone breaks the dividing peace with electro pulses straight out of the early Mute Records catalogue. Instantly thoughts of bands like The Normal arise but are soon pushed to the background as guitar spun melodies and harmonic vocals tease and caress respectively.  The hook Gillenwaters casts with his strings is simply delicious, a psyche enslaving lure soon backed by the darker pulsation of keys and the snapping resonance of rhythms; kind of like a fusion of B-Movie, The Cure, and Modern English yet unique from start to finish.

The album’s title track brings a scuzzier breath to ears; its post punk irritability echoed in the John Lydon textured vocals but again there is a repetitious coaxing teasing and tempting at the centre of the fuzz ball which necessitates only submission to its infectious demands. As its predecessor, it brings another hue to Defeated as does next up Burn Yourself, though its electro punk surge is akin to the opener. With the increasingly magnetic vocals almost gliding over the tides of noise springing from synths and guitar, it was so easy to be swept up in the raw yet skilfully nurtured arms of the track as thoughts colluded with its lyrical insight. Defeated is described as “a reaction to mounting disappointments and frustrations with increasingly frustrating and disappointing realities” and with intimacy and a worldly observation its often dissonant words hit the spot whilst almost arguing with the rousing catchiness of their vehicles.

The mesmeric Balking the Grave is next, the song a riveting post/gothic punk shadow bound serenade which almost seeps under the skin with its slow drawl and bordering concussive clang while Sleep in Disguise is a boisterous slice of synth pop/new wave with the scent of bands like Mr.Kitty, OMD, and early Human League to its bright if slightly caustic breeze.  Both tracks border the irresistible yet still get slightly outshine by One Purpose with its flirtatious Blancmange like melodies and climate.

One definite peak in the lofty heights of Defeated is followed by the ear grabbing proposal of When You Were Mine. The song is almost like a weave of the best traits of its predecessors, a tenacious pop song with attitude and seduction in its raw charms which manages to grumble and serenade in the same breath before leaving to allow B.I.Y.E. to bring things to a transfixing close. With its cold scenery and instinctive bounce, the song merges the alluring traits of a Joy Division and Modern Eon in its industrially edged and melodically draped canter. It is a fine end to an album which we are finding hard to shake off as new propositions to look at build up. That is never a bad aspect to have and as Defeated is so enjoyable we are certainly not complaining.

Defeated is out now via Push & Pull Records; available @ https://kudzukudzukudzu.bandcamp.com/

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Pete RingMaster 09/03/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Haxby Swango – The Lately Low

HS pressshot2_RingMaster Review

Finding something particularly unique in music is not always an easy task but that is exactly what British alternative electronic duo Haxby Swango offer in sound and through their new EP The Lately Low. Both are an exciting and riveting proposition embracing a host of contrasting flavours within off kilter electronic waltzes, and seriously compelling.

The union of guitarist/vocalist Hutchy Swango and keyboardist Jack Swango, Haxby Swango can be described as a slightly deranged mix of Asylums, G.R.I.M, Mr. Kitty, and early Cure, but then again still far aside of that such the originality and imagination fuelling certainly every track upon The Lately Low. Recorded with producer Howie Weinberg (Nirvana, Beastie Boys, Best Coast), the virulent infection of idea and sound seduces ears and incites appetite within its first breath, a success already made with Anonymous Records who signed the pair upon hearing them and now release their new fascination of electronic enterprise.

Haxby Swango EP_RingMaster Review     The EP opens with Telephone and quickly has the senses and thoughts engaged as keys lay the foundation for the tantalising vocals of Hutchy. Initially wrapping ears with a boyish smoulder loaded with distinctive expression and tone, he quickly slips into a catchy rap within the increasingly dramatic flavour of sound. There is a touch of Great Imitation to the song as melodic and hip hop hues join the perpetually evolving electronic landscape. As lyrically alluring as it is vocally and sonically magnetising, the song quickly has body and passions aflame, its success quickly backed by that of its successor.

The Trapezist Sees Everything opens with an exotic Asian coaxing, which within a few sultry breaths blossoms into a temptation of melodic seduction and emotive expression crowded by pulsating textures. Again rap, hip hop, electro rock, and more collude to weave the captivation, though it is the vocals which steal the bulk of the focus even as bubbly rhythms and a spicily shimmering ambience make a potent persuasion too. Fair to say, with it all combined the result is one mesmeric and wonderfully bewildering adventure.

Next He Won’t slips in on emotive keys and an accompanying sample, spreading it’s tempting in a slightly slower misty lure compared to the more energetic incitements of its predecessors, though again synths alone have a tenacious gait and heart to their inescapable persuasion. Also as the first two songs, it nurtures a romancing of the imagination and a greedy appetite, an affair again equipped with a creative schizophrenia which leaves unpredictability as fiercely persuasive as the sounds and ingenuity it breeds.

The next track is called Schizo, a title feeling apt for the body of sound within the EP, and of course for the individual askew majesty of the outstanding track. Mercilessly catchy and virulently bold like a kaleidoscope of sound, the song is an irresistibly shadowed carnival of emotion and creative intent shaped and coloured by just as exploratory keys and the ever beguiling vocal croon of Hutchy. The Yorkshire lilt of his voice also offers a great hue to the whole tapestry of song and release, the closing L’ost a final confirmation of that and the invention and craft conjuring up The Lately Low. Enticing and enslaving with a sublime blanket of melodic beauty and creative rabidity, the song simply leaves a hunger for more in tandem with thick pleasure behind.

The press release with the EP described The Lately Low as “a Lynchian sideways look at contemporary pop music that’s stuffed with disturbing imagery and strange tangents.” That is a great summing up of the EP but still only one aspect to the rich dimensions and layers making up one of the year’s major treats.

The Lately Low EP out now on Anonymous Records @ https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/the-lately-low-ep/id1055378862

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Pete RingMaster 04/12/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Sumia – Until We Shine Again


With a sound which in so many ways reflects the warm and cold climates which embraces their home city of Jyväskylä across the seasons, Finnish band Sumia make a striking announcement of presence and intent with debut album Until We Shine Again. Emotionally and sonically bracing, whether soaked in heated passion or imposing shadows, the release is an attention grabbing and immersive adventure which captures the imagination from start to finish.

Though described as alternative rock and metal, Sumia brew a sound and melodic tension which employs essences across numerous styles and flavours ensuring each song is an individual encounter, though at times some too closely share textures and structures so that any individual emotive bite they might aspire too is somewhat defused. Against that though, soaring melodies and vocal harmonies within evolving rugged and mesmeric terrains never relinquish their transfixing beauty and gripping enterprise so that thoughts and emotions are constantly fully and eagerly involved in the album’s emprise. Overall Until We Shine Again is a riveting full introduction to a quartet it is easy to feel is setting put on an eventful and successful journey.

The album opens with the elegant melodic touch and potent sinews of Dive, the track immediately aflame with sonic beauty and emotive intensity. The song swiftly envelops and seduces ears with the fluid invention of guitarists Samuli and Jonni, the latter’s vocals just as enticing and impressive. A Deftones essence soaks the encounter but similarly with the dark voice of Jussi’s bass and melodic flames which shoot up around the spine of the song and vocals, thoughts of Pigeon Lake come to mind. Framed and punctuated by the accomplished rhythms of drummer Olli, it is a stirring and compelling start to Until We Shine Again.

The following Sirena makes a much sturdier and aggressive entrance without losing the magnetic melodic coaxing which washed its predecessor. Vocally too, Jonni offers a mellow hug though he too is unafraid to flare up with attitude and raw tones. A rugged rhythmic enticement continues to set an imposing air to the track; guitars and keys vibrant and acidic as they sear across that provocation in a song pushing the album swiftly to another level, one subsequently surpassed by the outstanding The White One. It is fair to say there is a familiarity to the band’s sound at times, as shown by the third song, but it only adds to the appealing drama and lure of the incitements on offer. As the track winds with restrained feverishness around senses and imagination, a Johnny Wore Black meets Palms breeze seduces ears with a touch as enthralling as it is intimidating. It is a glorious encounter, guitars and rhythms crafting a tempestuous beauty over which vocals roar with heated harmonies and emotional passion.

Ghost (The Healer) brings a similar melancholic glaze to its reflective melodies and shadows, throaty bass hues a dark temper to the rawer blaze of sonic intrigue and drama raging above. The song does lack the spark of the previous tracks yet still binds ears and appetite in a resourceful and enterprising provocation easily igniting another strain of hunger towards the album, something One Single Look is missing. To be fair, the elegant piano led exploration is a captivating caress of haunting melodies and searching emotions which alone bewitches like a mix of Nine Inch Nails and Mr.Kitty, but in the landscape of the album makes for an ‘interlude’ in the roar of the album for personal tastes.

Through Sunbath and Arc Lights the album is back seriously infecting the psyche, the first of the two songs a spellbinding fire of the ever enchanting melodic invention within the band aligned to increasingly impressive vocals which come as ethereal and haunted as you could wish. Seamlessly flowing through gentle kisses on ears to raging sonic storms, the track is a scintillating proposition. Its successor lacks its punch but instead offers a rigorously simmering radiance and forceful emotional angst which just as tightly enthrals thoughts and senses, especially with the bass driven rhythmic predation which lurks throughout.

With Next To The Wheel stepping forward next to tantalise more than impose itself on the listener, the album gears itself up for a potent close. The track ebbs and flows in energy and pressure but ultimately is another lively sunspot of melodic calm and emotive heat prone to appetising sonic eruptions much as Otus which smoulders inventively with nagging riffs and flirtatious hooks within another sultry fire of sound and emotional outpouring. Its engrossing unpredictable and richly enjoyable tempest makes way for the closing Crystal Plane, a final melodic furnace which has an open if undefined familiarity and makes a thrilling and powerfully infectious finale to a seriously impressing release.

The additional strength of Until We Shine Again is that with every listen its songs unveil a little more about the heart of the album. There is plenty going on in the belly of songs which can get missed over fleeting glances, rewards that only need time to please further and make Sumia’s debut album a prize to seek out.

Until We Shine Again is available on October 3rd on Inverse Records @ http://www.inverse.fi/shop/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=448


RingMaster 03/10/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Mr.Kitty album re-release with new material.

Voted as one of the top 5 albums of 2013 by various zines, "Life" first came to our attention last summer with the 
previous label generating a very limited CD run that sold out - and sold out FAST. A recent cassette edition by 
Ritual Tapes also flew off the shelves in a manner of days - and one of the big questions asked often to Mr.Kitty is
 "Will we ever get another shot to get this on CD?"
Being "Can-do" people, our answer was a resounding "Yes". Not only have we agreed to re-release this modern classic 
- we've gone one better and added TWO new tracks, both exclusive to this release.
"Hurt" is a brand new track - closing this chapter of Mr. Kitty's career. "Insects" - a firm album favourite, gets 
remixed by our own Synthpop/ New Wave project "IIOIOIOII" - who tunes into the true essence of the song and gives it
a seriously dark, "Witchy" sound.
We think this final, deluxe, definitive version of "Life" will make all fans and supporters ecstatic - and there's 
countless reasons why. Mr.Kitty is an act that deserves to be worldwide - and this is his time.
Life comes in 4-panel Digipak, released 28th March with all art, songs and concepts by Mr. Kitty. Remix and Mastering on Track 
17 by Christopher Gurney.


Mr.Kitty: Life


Like a knowing soundtrack to every aspect of its title, Life the new album from US musician Mr.Kitty is a canvas for reflection, emotive dance, and drifts into diverse enveloping feelings inspired by its elegant and beautifully sculpted beauty. The most complete and rounded release from the Dallas based artist to date, the fifteen track album is a rich and smouldering wash of electronic pop and new wave adventure, an album to ignite the senses and invite the passions into a long and ardour fuelled companionship.

Mr.Kitty is Forrest Carney, who takes his inspirations from an eclectic array of artists such as Joy Division, The Cure, Depeche Mode, Crystal Castles, Pictureplane, and Grimes. His music employs numerous flavours and textures in addition to the basic tag we previously mentioned, elements of eighties post punk, gothic emotiveness, and electro ambience all playing their part in the depth and distinct characters of sound and individual songs. Released with Engraved Ritual, Life is the fourth album from Mr.Kitty, and part of a four album series consisting of two “light” and two “dark” albums, this drawing on the lighter shade of his imagination, though it is not without its rich and mesmeric shadows.

From opening song Insects, the album as well as seducing the ear and senses provides a visual backdrop to its songs in its coveratmospheric narratives and colour soaked expressive breath. Evocative and with lush emotional hues, Life provides the paint box and aural paper for the listener to explore their own dark corners and heart bred thoughts as well as those offered by and of the artists himself. Insects is an immediate medium to ignite those interactive qualities, its animated stroll and pulsating rhythmic veining an absorbing lure with the crystalline electro oscillation alongside another mesmeric suasion. The vocals of Mr.Kitty soon caress the ear with a sultry lure to their soothing texture, the artist a constant tempter across every song with his impressive and expressive delivery. The eighties inspiration is open within song and album though only another breeze to the refreshing wind wrapping the listener from the very first minute.

The impressive start is soon equalled by both Heaven and Unstable, the first cradling the senses with a choral kiss of angelic harmonies before heady rhythms and cantering melodic synth fascination emerges to explore the lofty heights already in place. The song bounds over thoughts and emotions with eagerness but a respectful energy that seduces the imagination and opens up its romance and that of its recipient. Like its predecessor it is virulently infectious, the roaming electronic atmosphere a spark to the simpler but no less effective and irresistible hooks and has thoughts in lustful expectations for its successors, something the darker but no less contagious Unstable feeds with poise and beauty. Across its provocative and slightly sinister embrace there is a Depeche Mode call to the veiled heart but again only a taste fused into something transparently contagious and unique.

Through the harsher touch of Sacrifice with its riveting and senses worrying intro and caustic intent, Holy Death where the vocals have a Dave Gahan lilt at times, and the excellent Labyrinth, the album continues to stretch the journey and venture into a wealth of emotions and thought taunting scenarios. The latter of the trio brings a Visage like melodic tonic to its glorious smouldering presence and though at times you want to sing “Fade To Grey” as the bulbous melodies suggest their source, the song is another striking highlight.

Those pinnacles just keep coming though as tracks such as the exceptional London, a song enjoying the added siren call of female vocals within its Pet Shop Boys like waltz, the stunning gothic cast Dearlove, and the intense Choke with its shadow fuelled drama, all explore imaginatively further impacting emotion lit pastures. With so many songs there are rare moments where some hold a similarity as they hold hands but it is rare and such the strength and potency of each and every one it is an ‘issue’ you are searching for just to offer up as a temper to the otherwise full acclaim it is hard not to place over Life.

As the closing Father provides the deepest emotive honesty of the album, the artist unafraid to venture where pain dwells, Life leaves a powerful and lingering imprint on mind and heart. It is an outstanding encounter that leaves no emotional stone unturned yet does so with a light and melodic energy which captures the passions. Mr.Kitty is destined to take electronic pop to new fields, Life the impossible to dismiss evidence.



RingMaster 05/07/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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