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 @

Pete Ringmaster

The RingMaster Review 23/11/2015

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Sperø – Pride EP


Crafting a sultry weave of blues and folk rock which is as intriguing as it is openly magnetic, US rock band Sperø makes a richly flavoursome proposition which is just as potent for the imagination as ears. The quartet has just released the Pride EP, a spicy collection of songs which sparks everything from feet through to emotions with sublime ease. Its initial touch admittedly was strong if not striking but by half way through the first track there was the realisation that it had wormed under the skin and seduced the psyche with inescapable majesty, and from there submission was inevitable.

The beginnings of Sperø come with self-taught guitarist Jesse Hofstee and classically trained pianist Hillary Laughery rehearsing together daily in Southern California in 2013. Exploring and crafting a sound which infuses classic and modern influences from the likes of Neil Young and Manchester Orchestra, the band subsequently expanded with the addition of bassist Nick Hankins and drummer Ryan Malette. They were soon taking their unique rock ‘n’ roll around the San Diego area to an increasingly growing and inflamed fan base. That first year saw the release of the well-received debut album Rational Paths, a potent entrance backed by the band’s live expansion touring up and down the West Coast and appearing at RedGorilla Music Festival. Now they unveil the Pride EP, a release “written as a testament to the great benefits of believing in yourself and working hard to get what you want”, and a proposition to seduce a new wealth of hearts and appetites it is easy to suspect.

Recent single Can’t Get More opens up the release and soon has ears grasped by vocal harmonies and fiery riffs. It is an attention sparking start which as swiftly relaxes into a smouldering Spero_Pride_Coverstroll of inflamed grooves cored by a tangy bassline ridden by the vocals of Hofstee. It’s a potent coaxing but still does not ignite a lot more than intrigue initially. That changes once Laughery opens up her rich and seductive tones as the chorus suddenly comes alive and feistily tempts, which in turn seems to incite the rest of the song. As mentioned earlier it is around halfway that feet and voice find themselves involved and that enslavement is realised and binding. The track is a glorious slice of emotively hued expression under a sultry climate, but even with its rich persuasion soon surpassed by the outstanding Friend.

From the first stroke of its acidic and irresistibly captivating groove the second song is in command of thoughts and passions, it’s aggressively shimmering air, a gripping wrap to the two vocalists and the dramatic elegance of Laughery’s keys. Growing with every chord and syllable, the track is soon rocking speakers and ears with a mix of blues and old school rock ‘n’ roll, a stomp sounding like The Black Keys meets Jerry Lee Lewis under the persuasion of The Lumineers. It is a blaze of a treat, a song as comfortable and commanding whether gently coaxing or rigorously stoking the fires of it and the listener’s passion.

The EPs title track idles in next, a lone acoustic guitar beckoning before welcoming the mischievous drama of beats and keys. As with the first two songs, there is a swagger to the encounter which even in its initial slow steps is unmistakable and inviting. There are also outbursts of creative urgency and intensity, again as in the previous song, which only ignites air and imagination as a tenacious blues tempting binds the whole climactic web. Everything aligns for another irresistible highlight of the release before the full on seduction of Better Man. With a shimmering crawl of a slim evocative melody courting the delicious vocals of Laughery, the song simply glows as it sublimely and tenderly enthrals the senses. Unbridled temptation from its first breath and atmospherically cinematic throughout, the song is pure magnetism of voice and electrified strings, with only the restrained ambience of keys for company.

The pungent presence of Talking Up makes the perfect contrast next, its bulbous bassline and electro baiting a thick shadow to the again sultrily laying sonic endeavour of guitar and keys around compelling vocals. Its psychedelic blues tinged air over another slowly strolling gait makes the brilliant track as gripping in drama and sound as anything before it, whilst the expulsions of sonic flame courted by just as inflamed vocals is pure mesmerism.

The release closes with the acoustic led revelry of They Say, a track part folk quick step and part funk induced devilry which with its layers of blues tempting and classical hued keys, ensures the EP leaves on richly lingering persuasion. The diverse two prong enticing of vocals is just as unpredictable and thrilling as the sounds around them and leave their and the band’s infection deep rooted and burning in appetite and emotions.

The Pride EP is a gem of an encounter from a band which manages to turn recognisable essences and spices into something unique and impossibly addictive. Quite simply Sperø and their sound is a hex on the ears and quite irresistible.

The Pride EP is available now

RingMaster 13/11/2014

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Jane Allison – Just Another Girl


The album may describe its creator as Just Another Girl but its contents give compelling proof that KarmaDeva’s Jane Allison Stanness is anything but as an artist and songwriter. Under simply Jane Allison, she has cast a blend of intimate acoustic and folk elegance with potent Americana flavouring into a collection of songs which seduce whilst embracing emotive shadows and personal angst. Equally there is an infectiousness to the tracks which adds an inescapable weave of colourful persuasion lyrically and musically, it all suggesting as mentioned that Allison is anything but just another singer songwriter.

The songs for her debut solo album Just Another Girl were written whilst Welsh born Allison was in Berlin, having moved there to finish the second KarmaDeva album. Taking inspirations from childhood heroes such as Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and Joan Baez, the songs were bred from her soul and inspired by the experiences and struggles of previous years. Recorded at The Tea Rooms studio in the heart of the Ardennes and produced by Alonza Bevan, Just Another Girl also sees additional guest guitarists on some tracks in the skilled shape of Country Dave Caven as well as Mark Legassick of Howlin Lord. The now Bristol based Allison, who also has notable acting roles and appearances under her belt, including the Julia Davis penned shows Hunderby and Nighty Night, as well as Human Remains and the Simon Pegg movie A Fantastic Fear Of Everything, takes little time to embrace ears and stroke emotions upon her first album.

The title track starts things off, warm vocals and acoustic guitar instantly smiling at ears alongside evocative melodies. It is a gentle start bringing the folk and country hues which vein the whole album swiftly into view before a subsequent 10351077_671996669557637_1070732306411286045_nbolder Americana suasion adds further texture and substance to the emotive encounter. It is an alluring introduction to artist and release, a soft and catchy coaxing awakening a quick appetite for the proposition which is soon reinforced by the first single from the album, Hymn To Hope. Similarly the track offers an elegant hug to the senses with its melodies and a great skittish rhythmic enticing which courts the thoroughly appealing and impressive vocals of Allison, her additional harmonies just as mesmeric as the track expands its provocative dance. As its predecessor, the folk seeded song complete with a healthy country twang, does not leap from the record but certainly raises further enthralling temptation for ears and imagination to immerse in.

Seizing a tighter grip on thoughts and passions is the following Fading Moon. From its first seconds there is a rhythmic tenacity to the track which even in its simple pace provides potent bait as vocals and melodies emerge and bloom around it. A folk charm soaks every note and syllable with essences of Fleetwood Mac making hints as the song wraps radiantly around ears and emotions. With a contagious swing to its respectful gait only adding to its captivating presence, the track is one of the biggest pinnacles of the album, though it inadvertently places a shadow over the next up Country Lovin’. To be fair the song also strolls along with a infectiousness which is impossible to dismiss and a fascination which actually slips pass our inherent disinterest in country music, whilst with each listen it just grows on increasingly open ears as Ms Allison lays an unexpected hex on the appetite.

Both Catch Me and All Over Now ignite imagination and ears with ease. The first explores western scenery beneath a sultry melodic sky, seducing from its first acidic twang and the open embrace of its Morricone kissed climate. It is a gloriously cinematic narrative with similarly captivating vocals whilst its successor is a slow croon with provocative key sculpted drama, and another track which simply blooms and increases its riveting seduction over time through its sixties enchantment. Each leaves a greedier taste in emotions and appetite before the brilliant Joan Of Arc offers its own impassioned balladry. Allison is scintillating, her voice as melancholic as it is beautiful, whilst the melodic lure of the track combines with her emotional majesty to send tingles down the spine.

From one impressive peak the album brings another straight away with Real Life. Again a sixties adventure cloaks the song, aligned this time to a seventies rock heart with psychedelic whispers. It is a transfixing encounter which shows the inspiration the like of Joan Baez has made on Allison. With guitars bringing electrified invention to the song, it leaves ears wanting more and duly served right away by the just as thrilling Wait For Me. It is a song bred from the same vat of invention and flavouring yet sculpting its own unique proposition within the album. In many ways the second half of the album is its strongest and most adventurous, pushing the creativity and presence of the artist to even greater heights.

Completed by the piano driven ballad Farewell My Boy, with Allison again vocally radiant, the melodically glowing Just Another Girl is a thrilling treat to lose thoughts and senses in with the richest rewards in return. Jane Allison is a bright spark in folk inspired invention with the potential to make a potent mark with her solo endeavours in the future.

Just Another Girl is available now @


RingMaster 11/09/2014

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Thom Bowden – Searching The Brittle Light


From the release of his striking and impressive The Damage EP of 2012 there has been a healthy dose of acclaim placed around UK musician Thom Bowden and keen anticipation bred for his debut album. This week sees the unveiling of Searching The Brittle Light and those hopes are sure to be satisfied with the ten track encounter. It is not a release which impacts as potently and consistently as Bowden’s previous proposition but certainly it brings another wash of the rich potential within his songwriting and highly agreeable sound.

Surrey based, Bowden takes inspirations from the likes of The White Stripes, Nick Drake, Dresden Dolls, Fugazi, and Neil Young into his imagination catching enterprise. As mentioned The Damage EP brought strong attention and responses from fans and media alike, something you can only see the album repeating and increasing. A collection of songs written when Bowden was ‘at a low point in his life’, the album was recorded with and mixed by Steve Albini (Pixies, Nirvana, Manic Street Preachers) and mastered by Steve Rooke at Abbey Road. Inspired by some advice offered whilst the artists was in Chicago by Kim Deal, the album brings a raw honest intent and beauty to the ears. There is also a slightly more adventurous variation across the songs than on the last EP, a move you can only respect and embrace even with its slightly mixed success in comparison to the consistency of the previous release.

With guitarist Richard George and drummer Steve Matthews alongside Bowden, the album opens strongly with Click!, a song taking mere seconds to seduce ears and thoughts with its opening seduction of sultry blues kissed flames. a2137786508_2The slow swipes of guitar are soon joined by punchy beats and a darkly drawing bassline before the great expressively twanged and unpredictable voice of Bowden starts revealing the lyrical narrative. His voice and a rich essence of the music has a Frank Black like temptation which only adds to the smouldering enticement, an invitation which burns increasingly brighter as the song evolves and spreads its senses sizzling charms. The feisty stride of the track is an incessant call on the passions whilst the increasingly warped vocal delivery which by this point has a more My Red Cell essence, Bowden sounding similar to frontman Russell Toomey of the defunct Welsh band, only captivates with mischievous bait. It is a strong and gripping start to the album which without lighting fires sets up a keen appetite for its offering, a hunger soon spicily fed by the second song.

So So Long makes a controlled and infectious entrance, guitars and rhythms a simple but entrancing lure to which Bowden’s grazing tones lay angst spawned invention and caustic passion. The track never lifts its gait to anything more than a slow determined canter but with expulsions of sonic heat and expressive melodic energy, the song irresistibly wins over ears, again thoughts of the previously mentioned Welsh band coming to the fore. It is a masterful slice of sonic magnetism bringing a licking of lips. Its potent presence is followed by the ballad My Arms, the song a union of voice, guitar, and emotive textures which certainly stirs up thoughts and attention but brings an unexpected and underwhelming halt to the thrust of the album. Obviously a highly personal offering, it is hard and impossible to dismiss, or not enjoy, but the song is a wrongly positioned rein on the passions for personal preference.

The following Control brings the temperature and energy back with accomplished and thrilling enterprise. Rhythms roll invitingly through the ears as guitars swerve and let fly with melodic scythes of enticement and sonic tempting which reawakens a thirsty imagination. There is a definite eighties new wave feel to the track, another shade of familiarity which in different designs attractively flirts with most of certainly the rockier numbers on the release. As it continues to tease and impress, the glorious song casts a web of inventive guitar endeavour, melodic mischief, and sonic alchemy to treat and seduce the emotions; it all aided by an emerging Pixies sounding toxicity.

Next up How About It? slips into a gentler hug of emotive intimacy and melodic caressing around a spine of shadow involving rhythmic invention from drums and bass. It is a slowly burning temptation which takes longer than certainly the previous song to persuade but emerges as a deliciously riveting and evocative highlight of the release. Its broody success is followed by the forty five second instrumental , a piece which is just there before the outstanding With Pace unleashes its grunge spawned sinews and punkish desires. As its title suggests, the track romps with swift, heavily thumping feet and fiery riffs around which rapacious grooves and fuzz encased vocals flirt and rage respectively. There is no escaping a Nirvana comparison but as elsewhere it only spices up the brawling encounter. The album and Bowden seems to wear inspirations on their sleeve, definitely more than the EP, to predominantly bring stronger aural colours to embrace.

The raucous air and exhaustive pleasure of the triumph is swiftly tempered and brought back to the ground with the folk seeded reflection of The Water Is Cold, a decent and strikingly performed song but again an underwhelming shift in scenery and suasion. Its emerging emotional stringed flight and expressive vocal coaxing does light thoughts and feelings, but there is the thought that the track would be better served elsewhere in the order or set on a separate release to find the reaction it deserves.

The bluesy plaintive cry of In The Ground comes next to stir up a nest of satisfied thoughts and emotions with its persistent tendrils of sonic imposing and fiery enticement around another roar of vocal lament and expression. It is a track which you want more of before the final elegant balladry of Sweet And Tender brings the album to a musically and lyrically rueful close. Soaked in more folk seeded melancholy it is a captivating end to a fine if inconsistent album.

     Searching The Brittle Light is an impressive next step for Bowden but because of its intent and bravery in stretching its boundaries may be fails to match its predecessor. The songs are a clear step on in craft and maturity let alone invention but the album feels like two releases in one which defuses its impact whereas separating them into EPs of rock and ballad seeded tracks might have brought the showcase and clarity they deserve. Nevertheless Thom Bowden is an exciting talent which will be creating remarkable and keenly devoured statements ahead, we for one wait eagerly.

Searching The Brittle Light is available digitally, on vinyl, and CD now via Audio Candle Records and @


RingMaster 15/07/2014

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I ♡ The Monster Hero – Rhythm & Pals

I heart The Monster Hero.mvc

As seemingly deranged as it is openly seductive, Rhythm & Pals the debut album from UK rockers I ♡ The Monster Hero is an encounter near on impossible to tear oneself away from. Creating a distinctive almost swamp like mesh of synth pop, psychedelia, and garage rock with rich noise and garage punk spicing, the album is a mesmeric and disturbingly compelling proposition. It could be the soundtrack to absorbing dreams or the seeding to voracious nightmares, either blossoming within it’s simply thrilling imagination flirting rapacity. Consisting of eleven highly persuasive and at times welcomingly invasive fascinations, Rhythm & Pals is a rare and uniquely exhilarating treat.

Formed in 2011 and hailing from Dublin, I ♡ The Monster Hero include the likes of Aphex Twin, Love, Neil Young, New Order, Suicide, The Cars, The Supremes, Velvet Underground, Electric Light Orchestra, and Prince Edward Island in their long list of diverse inspirations, seeds which are explored, warped, and reconstructed into something impossibly magnetic within the band’s own brew of imagination. The band consists of Andy Walsh, Simon Dowling, Philip Clarke, David Crean, and Paddy Walsh, a quintet certainly taking the album as evidence who whips up psyche engulfing toxins which are just as virulently and commandingly effective on feet, senses, and passions. Following a couple of weeks back the very tempting release of the single Tony Bailey, which opens up the album, Rhythm & Pals takes the listener and their swiftly submissive mind on a riveting life improving flight through aural alchemy.

Tony Bailey idles in on an electronic whisper soon expanded with Casio temptation and crisp eager rhythms into a toe tapping shuffle. Joined by soft and expressive vocals as the keys cloud the skies with great repetitive nagging amidst bright melodic colours, the song expels a warm kaleidoscope of invention and sonic hues for imagination and emotions to devour greedily. Cored by increasingly enticing rhythms and a developing throaty bassline, the encounter simply bewitches as it inspires body and appetite to join its magnetic calling. It is a track which romances as it wraps resourcefully around the senses, something emulated if in different shades by the next up Send Goodvibes Only. With a croon of House of Love around its smiling yet darker lips, the song is a poetic venture soaking the ears in elegant shadows and vibrant almost crystalline melodies, it all coming in a surface of scuzz kissed and fuzz fuelled enticement.

It is a strong start to the release but only an appetiser to greater things reinforced by the rhythmically fuelled Little Gems, a song with a potent swagger and a dirty atmosphere which without lighting fires keeps attention and a steadily growing appetite well contented. The ascent to higher plateaus starts with Bozo Vs Slug, another track gripping ears with an initial lure of rhythms, these driven by raw sinews and tenacity. Thumping out the frame for an emerging graze of garage punk and psyche infused rapaciousness to trigger an awakening feisty stomp, the drums incite song and listener constantly across an increasingly psychotic and powerfully contagious landscape. It is a glorious encounter which turns already sparked pleasure lustful, as does in its own unique way Whisper. Thirty seconds of sultry blues bred seducing with discord spawned toxicity under fuzz lined melodic vocals it is a mere slip of a temptress but wholly alluring.

Both Do Dah and the blues spawned Clipper 61 keep the album striding across its highest point. The first emergences from a spatial intrigue filled breath with vocal harmonies and a gospel spiced climate before folk canvased scenery flirts and dances with ears whilst percussive additives quickstep their way through the tantalising electronic haze. With every twist of sound and second of invention the song adds textures and spices without losing its bright simplicity, ensuring another highlight within the album is devoured. It’s successor rumbles and canters invitingly across senses with appealing shadows and irresistible dark emotive charms within a raw guitar sculpted suasion of captivating coarse and reserved rock ‘n’ roll. Occasionally ripe with the sparkling lure of Buzzcocks like addictive hook belted melody, it shows as most of their songs, that I ♡ The Monster Hero is masterful at merging uncompromising and undefined swamp of sounds with sonically barbed but seductively enchanting hooks, allowing both to prosper individually and as an united smothering, but nowhere more impressively than here.

The ear romancing Madeline soaks thoughts and emotions next, the track a mesmeric cloak of enveloping sound and ingenious intrigue before the similarly potent and melodically pungent Hatchet steals its fair portion of the passions, with again infection soaked rhythms and coaxing effect washed vocals. Both songs whirl and swarm over the senses in individual but uniformly successful ways, enchanting and bewitching with siren like accuracy, with the growing rhythmic and melodic emprise of the second as near to aural addiction as anyone is likely to come across.

Car #9 steps in just before the end of the album to steal best track honours, its carnivorous bass growl and irrepressible gripping hooks within delicious expansive melodies and vocals, pure primal and irresistible enslavement. A merger of decades and varied flavours, the song is pop ‘n’ roll at its most formidable and majestic leaving the closing Electric Chainsaw (I Can’t Get You out Of My Head) a task and a half to compete against. Its attempt is impressive and thrilling, the song another pop caress to embrace and bask within as vocal harmonies and shimmering melodies conjure the strongest psychedelic enhanced beckoning. It is an outstanding end to a scintillating encounter, an album which thrusts I ♡ The Monster Hero into an immediately intensive spotlight. Rhythm & Pals is just the start of major things you suspect for the band and something to definitely lick lips over.

Rhythm & Pals is available via Crocfingers Records now!


RingMaster 30/04/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Embracing individual shadows and unique lights: an interview with Katie Buckett of Jingo


Across the past twelve months or so, UK based band Jingo has been one of the biggest surprises and persistently unique propositions to keep the site excited and busy with a regular presentation of singles. Recently the band unveiled the final three tracks in a series of four which were released one by one over a four track period. As almost expected now but always impressed by, the songs came with individual character and stylishly varied sounds wrapped in an equally mesmeric imagination.

There was the poetically evocative Before You Were Born, a song which opens with the ever sirenesque voice of Katie Buckett courted by just as elegant melodic caresses and pungent keys. Heart bred and emotively enchanting, the song immerses senses and thoughts in a striking aural narrative which grows and brews in intensity across its length, Kate’s husband Jack alongside Joseph Reeves and Sahil Batra casting a magnetic web of sound and vocal support, not forgetting sonic drama which is mouthwatering. It is a glorious song which shares diversity and startling persuasion with Home, another song which is able to simultaneously seduce and inflict an intrusive adventure upon the imagination and passions. The drama of the previous song is again, as across most of their songs, a thick temptation which shares shadows and sultry colour with the equally delicious sounds and gripping premise of the encounter. The track is a brilliant aural movie for mind and heart, a provocative suitor for ears and senses, and an ingenious lover for the imagination, just like the last of the single released in that aforementioned quartet. Turn Around is rhythmic enticement around which vocals and harmonies flame and melodies dance with a flirtatious summer bred festivity. Again the track offers something new from and about Jingo. It is a trait all of their ten plus singles has succeeded in impressing by, here a Caribbean swagger and warmth aligned to a psychedelic coaxing a bewitching venture to which Katie excels, once again.

Jingo is a band which surely cannot be a British secret for much longer, their invention and craft too big to be contained you suspect and hope, especially with the forthcoming release of their debut album which the band are finishing as you read. With a long overdue move to find out much more about the band; its past, present, and future we had the pleasure of having Katie share time with us and revealing…


Hey Katie and welcome to the site, thank you for talking with us.

Thanks for liking our music.

Tell us about the beginnings of Jingo, where it all started and on which side of the ocean; oh and was it band or romance first? ;)

Jack (guitar) and Joe (drums) brought their band to New York for six months to live the dream. They rented a basement flat in The McKibbin Lofts, a converted warehouse in Bushwick where I had been living for a couple years. I ran an open mic in the building where I first met them and there was a really great community vibe in the area so I guess you could say music brought us together, but it all really came together when Jack and I got married and we decided I should move to London. It was tough, I trained long and hard, but sure enough I mustered the strength to swim across the Ocean. Soon after their other band came to an end, we started playing music and calling it a band little over a year ago.

So what specifically inspired the relocation to London from the US?

Well Jack said in the event of a nuclear catastrophe, in which the only way he could survive was to move to the US, he would only just consider it, so I packed my bags.

Did Jingo start out with any specific intent and vision for the music and its presence? jingo3

The most important thing has always been making good music. Sometimes I make the mistake of asking Joe if my hair looks okay and he always says, “I don’t give a shit.” People sometimes ask questions about our varying styles of songs or our fluctuating stage antics but we don’t really care. We’re still growing and I think our attitude towards the music will lead us in the right direction. A Jingo can be stuck in their ways and no one wants to be that guy.

As evidenced by the mass of singles released over the past couple of years, your sound is as diverse as it is contagious; how would you describe your music in a single sentence for newcomers?

Rock and Roll Dinosaur Electronia that the girls can dance to.

Listening to your songs you get the feeling that they organically spring to life with their own ideas on character and then you hone and sculpt them; how does the songwriting works within the band?

Usually I’ll have the skeleton of a song with some words and Jack will refine the melody, then we’ll jam it out in the studio. Sometimes it will start with a guitar riff or more recently we’ll jam the whole song into being. We never really know when a song is going to come out, but at the moment they are coming out our ears. We don’t like to be very formulaic we just take them as they come.

It is a democracy when it comes to creating songs or is there a core source more often than not?

It is a democracy in the sense that whatever sounds the best is law. Sometimes it’s a matter of demonstrating your point, but most times we end up agreeing in the end. People naturally fall into their roles. Jack is definitely the band leader, lyrics are mostly all me, but the all-round writing of the song is very much a group endeavour.

Your songs always, however emotively shadowed they might be, come with a stroll and smile; this is a reflection of you as people and your wants from good music?

I think that even if you write a sad or dark song, you want the listener to enjoy the experience of listening to your music. Bad experience can unite us and a bumping beat is the best remedy. And you can never take yourself too seriously.

What inspires the lyrical side of your music? Some of the songs are quite dark at their core.

It’s not the same for everyone in the band, but for me art can be a sort of therapy. There are some things that have happened in life that are hard to conceptualize in any other way besides writing a song. I had a troubled friend who killed herself and our song Jaclyn is a combination of anger and loving life in her honour. Sometimes rocking out and screaming your heart out is better than suppressing love and loss where no light can get to it.

As mentioned you have released a tide of singles, how do you see your sound has evolved and grown since the first and the recent Turn Around?

I don’t think we’ve found a specific sound yet, but we are starting to play a lot more songs that aren’t as dark. Jack had only just started music production with these first recordings, so we’re definitely improving fast in that way. We’re becoming a lot more relaxed with each other and with our new band-mate Chris, who also produces electronic music. We’re really excited for what the future holds.

You are obviously a band who pushes themselves and embraces different styles and flavours; what past and currently has inspired you most potently?

I think we all get down with the music our parents listened to in the 60s and 70s- Led Zeppelin, Jefferson Airplane, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, King Crimson, Jimi, Beatles, . We are all avid music listeners. Our heroes of now are Jack White, Queens of the Stone Age, Interpol, Jeff Buckley, Radiohead, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Neil Young, Pearl Jam, Tame Impala, Grizzly Bear, Lana Del Rey, Prince, Haim, First Aid Kit the list is endless.

jingo4Live you are renown for your exciting performances, your first ever show being support for Blur’s Graham Coxon. How did that come about?

We run an open mic called Cable Street Electric. Once in a while we do a charity night, one of those was at Mother London in Shoreditch. When they wanted to do their own charity night for Shelter, they thought of us and invited us to play, just so happens Graham Coxon was playing after us, pretty dope.

Would you say it put you swiftly under a certain spotlight or it did not really aid the emergence of the band other than in experience?

It’s always great to play for fresh ears. I don’t know if we really benefitted especially from that night as far as the band goes, but it makes for a great story and none of us will ever forget it.

I am assuming band members have a ‘real ‘life’ and job outside of the band, so how does Jingo manage to be so prolific with their songwriting?

We’re really lucky in that music is what we do. We intentionally don’t have full-time jobs so that we can put as much into our music as possible. We all have certain skills that we can get by with for living costs, but the music is always at the forefront of our minds. We practice often, have a good work ethic, but also have a ton of fun doing it.

What has been your favourite single to date, or the one which you feel epitomises Jingo for new ears?

That’s a hard one, I’m sure it’s different for everyone, but I really liked the release of When You Want Me. We won a competition where we got to record at Strongroom studios where Radiohead and a load of others have recorded. It felt for a second like we were big dogs and they treated us really well and we got to tinker with all their toys.

Tell us about your forthcoming EP? What can we expect and how does it push on from the excellent singles which have already seduced so many?

It’s a full album silly! We are releasing our last couple songs with the record and they are quite fresh so we’re really excited about it. Also I’m a painter, so I get to do some artwork for it so I’m pretty pumped about that. There are some surprises with all that and two new music videos coming out around the same time. We aim to please.

Your singles have all been released for free downloads, are you going the same way with the album?

Nothing is final but we are definitely selling our album. With putting out free singles we really wanted to build a fan base and give everyone a chance to get to know us, I hope our fans will return the favour and purchase a copy so we can make more and tour potentially.

What were the ambitions for the band when it first began and for you when first making music, and have they changed or evolved since?

The ambition has always been to make great music; I don’t think that will change. The next cloud would be to make a living at it, I think we are well on our way but only time and hard work will tell. Maybe I can get the guys to all wear animal costumes, I’d get a kick outta that.

What is planned for the rest of 2014?jingo2

There are definitely secrets in store of which I can’t divulge. All I can say is stay tuned; album, videos and more to come soon.

Again a big thank you for chatting with us and providing such great and richly loved songs for our podcasts :)

Thank you so much for listening and sharing, we owe it to people like you putting a signal out.

Any last thought you would like to leave us contemplating?

All you need is mom’s spaghetti, a brick and a bin bag.

Lastly if you could schedule a stage at a festival with Jingo headlining, what emerging bands which you have played with or come across would you invite?

Not Blood Paint, Bird Courage, Bailiff, Pat Dam Smyth, Bad for Lazarus, Steve Nelson

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 08/06/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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MONSTER JAW ‘Get A Tattoo’ on 30th June‏

Monster Jaw Online Promo Shot


 ‘Get A Tattoo’ is filled with solid guitar riffs and catchy choruses, making for a decent debut EP.’ 9/10 – Big Cheese Magazine


UK rock crew ‘Monster Jaw’ nationally release their debut EP ‘Get A Tattoo’ on Cobra Kitten Records / Code 7, Monday 30th June.

Spawned in early 2013 by charismatic front-man and chief songwriter Mik Davis, along with bassist Neil Short and tubthumper John Bradford, Monster Jaw hail from the gritty northern cities of Leeds and Newcastle. Drawing inspiration from their blue collar surroundings, the trio also pull influence from the songwriting wizardry of Neil Young and Kurt Cobain, through to the moody garage rock musings of The Jesus and Mary Chain and the post-grunge drive of Stone Sour.

Over the past year, the animated upstarts have toured throughout the UK serving up a resonant and atmospheric post-garage punk sound that is coupled with a tight, electrifying stage show. Successful supports with Stiff Little Fingers and New Model Army on their UK tours have only furthered the band, along with lauded acclaim from Big Cheese Magazine, heavy rotation from BBC introducing and widespread underground radio.

Monster Jaw also have a strong DIY ethos and decided to self release their debut EP ‘Get A Tattoo’ on their own record label ‘Cobra Kitten Records’. With national distribution set up for this and future releases, the band have the resources to take their music to the next level. The assiduous three-piece drafted in London-based Belgian producer Wes Maebe (The Libertines, Roger Waters and Robert Plant) to work on their debut EP and his expertise really shines on what is a formidable record. The EP’s namesake ‘Get A Tattoo’ gets things rolling, showcasing the trio’s deft ability to lay down an alluring slab of post-garage rock that packs a highly contagious refrain. The driving punk rock givings of ‘We Don’t Care About Anything’ is next up, highlighting the band’s raw sincerity and authenticity. Lastly, ‘Summer Girl’, with its atmospheric groove and soaring vocals, shifts gears and tips its hat to The Pixies in passing. Now armed with a killer record, Monster Jaw are set to raise the bar with further touring throughout the UK. Stay tuned for more.


Monster Jaw Cover