The Cathode Ray – Heightened Senses

Four years and a few months on from being wholly captivated by our introduction to The Cathode Ray through the release of their second album, Infinite Variety, the Scottish outfit has done it all over again with its successor, Heightened Senses. It offers a collection of songs which revel in the band’s evolving sound and imagination, a proposition more unique by the release and as proven by their new release, more compelling.

The history of the members of The Cathode Ray, a project emerging from an initial writing collaboration between songwriter/vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Jeremy Thoms and former Josef K frontman Paul Haig, reveals a landscape of enterprise and influential bands. Numerous essences of those earlier exploits could be heard as a rich spicing across the last album which only added to its temptation but its successor has truly found its own unique presence and character, building on the majesty of the last album whilst exploring new individual adventure. Heightened Senses is a sublime set of indie pop songs, though that barely covers the wealth of flavouring they embrace, which so many bands new and existing could learn much from and be inspired by.

Released on ever exciting Scottish label, Stereogram Recordings, Heightened Senses sets out its tone and inescapable persuasion with Memories Of The Future. The first track swiftly gripped attention as an opening thoughtful sonic sigh welcomes the skilled swipe of steel strings amidst the melodic intrigue of guitars. As quickly the darker throb of Neil Baldwin’s bass joins the already magnetic affair, riffs and melodic enticement closely following to fully grip ears and appetite. Thoms’ tones soon stroll the song’s tempting wiring, infectiousness coating every note and syllable as a T-Rex meets Television hue spreads further goodness. The track is superb and if there is such a thing as the perfect pop rock song it has to be a contender.

The following Love and Death soon shows it is just as able to ignite body and imagination, its opening Orange Juice-esque jangle and Bluebells like swing across pungent dance-floor natured rhythms just the beginning of a contagiousness which advances through ears effortlessly as guitarists Phil Biggs and Steve Fraser match Thoms’ creative dexterity and join the synth prowess of guest Alex Thoms. With the beats of David Mack a perpetually welcome hounding of movement, the song simply had us bouncing before Another World seduced with its swaying croon of melodic temptation. With a chorus which almost mischievously had vocal chords in participation in between times of haunting radiance with its own instinctive catchiness, the song beguiled with ease.

 A Difference Of Opinion brings funk scented boisterousness to its melodic shuffle next, a whiff of Talking Heads spicing its flirtatious body. There are so many aspects to The Cathode Ray’s sound which draws you in, here guitars and harmonies leading the way with their tender touches amidst contagious enterprise. As those before it, there is only a compulsion on body and instinct to join the fun while Days Away with a similar effect on hips seduces with a gentler but no less virulent slice of pop imagination. Both tracks had us keenly involved and greedy for more yet are still slightly eclipsed by the album’s Arctic Monkeys/ Scritti Politti tinted title track. The band’s new single teases as it tempts, arouses as it dances in ears with Thom’s vocals as ever across the release a coaxing very easy to line up with.

Though it is hard to pick a favourite track within Heightened Senses, the Pixies meets Weezer antics of Make Believe and the ska ‘n’ pop of Before The Rot Sets In each set a firm grip on such choice. The first featuring the backing vocals of Robin Thoms is cast within post punk shadows but is as bountiful in melodic light and dextrous contagion as anything heard this year whilst its successor with a Police like shimmer courts and enslaves pleasure and imagination from start to finish as guitars spread their new wave/ rock ‘n’ roll hooked webbing around a chorus, graced by the additional tones of Laura Oliver-Thoms , refusing to take no to its consuming catchiness.

The Past Is A Foreign Land completes the line-up of temptation with its heartfelt balladry nurtured on melancholy and hope. It is a song with sixties breeding to its breath and melodic seduction in its voice. A song maybe without the invasive agility of many of its companions but seduced to similar heights nonetheless.

To be honest there was a thought at the time that The Cathode Ray would struggle to match let alone outdo previous Infinite Variety ahead but a thought very quickly thrown aside by the exceptional Heightened Senses.

Heightened Senses is out now Stereogram Recordings; available at https://stereogramrecordings.bandcamp.com/album/heightened-senses

Upcoming Live Shows:

Friday 1st November 2019. The Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh

Thursday 28th November 2019. Audio, Glasgow, supporting B Movie

Friday 28th February 2020. Mono, Glasgow, supporting The Monochrome Set

Saturday 29th February 2020. Beat Generator Live! Dundee, supporting The Monochrome Set

https://www.stereogramrecordings.co.uk/artists/cathode-ray/   https://www.facebook.com/thecathoderay/

Pete RingMaster 11/10/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Matt Finucane – Vanishing Island

As uncertainty consumes an isle through Brexit confusion, Vanishing Island sees the troubadour of disharmony, Matt Finucane is back to confront, provoke, and captivate in his unique way. As all its predecessors, the new album is a release which comes soaked in physical and emotional discord whilst wrapped in melodic dissonance. It is another complete lure of fascination from the Brighton alternative singer songwriter and without doubt his most pop infested outing without losing any of the disharmony which gives his music its richness;  a proposition which without quite putting a finger on the actual ingredient it has added alongside a general blossoming, is easily his finest incitement yet.

The past couple of years or so has seen Finucane especially lure attention and acclaim through the likes of the Disquiet and Ugly Scene EPs, though neither success has exactly been a stranger since the release of previous album Glow In The Dark six years back. Through singles and EPs since, his sound and songwriting has thickly enticed as it has continuously grown but as suggested Vanishing Island has something extra which truly set it apart as it boisterously got under the skin.

The album carries the raw jangle of early Orange Juice, the pop disharmony of Josef K, and the sonic dissonance of Swell Maps whilst lyrically and vocally Finucane again embraces the inspirations of Mark E Smith and Lou Reed but all essences warped and mutated into its creator’s own imaginative and individual proposition. Vanishing Island opens up with War on Pain and immediately is baiting keen attention through a rhythmic pulsation swiftly joined by the inimitable tones of Finucane, his vocal delivery as maverick as his music. As the song expands with real catchiness to its swing infested hips, drone inspired melodies weave patterns in its sky colouring the route to the subsequent turbulence which from a simmer bubbles up and over.

It is a great magnetic start to the album but soon eclipsed by the following pair of Submissive Pose and Menace. The first similarly tempts with a potent rhythmic beckoning, its first lure continuing to steer the track as its pop roar and rock antics collude. Openly virulent, almost taunting ears like a blend of Television Personalities meets Marc Riley and The Creepers, the song is delicious pop cacophony and one of the albums major highlights but soon matched by its successor, The third track prowls the senses, crawling over the psyche with its singular sonic intimation but again there is an inherent catchiness in voice and character which easily seduced from within its devious drone.

Next up, Looking for a Genius is no lightweight in temptation either, its bass strolling alone enough to bait attention and more than ably assisted by the relatively calm but corrupted melodic clamour of the guitar and the general pop nurtured balladry at its heart while in turn Perilous Seat explores its own low key yet boisterous intimate clamour; both inescapable epidemics of sheer catchiness.

The dark, haunting summoning and provocative fingering of Offertory provides yet another shade to the crepuscular depths and adventures of Vanishing Island before Expensive Habits infests hips once more with its inherent pop sway; the latter carrying a hint of bands like The Only Ones and The Freshies in its eager breath.

Through the sonically suggestive, untamed croon of Yr Own Way and the seared rock ‘n’ roll of Safehouse Rules, the album expands its creative landscape further with the conclusion of the creative tour of Vanishing Island being cast by the siren sigh of Time Begins. A slow burner compared to many before, the song is an evocative shimmer on the ears and imagination, a sail into the sunset off of the album’s creative shores.

Matt Finucane is a one of a kind proposition and Vanishing Island an inimitable offering in his own creative adventure.

Vanishing Island is released May 3rd with pre-ordering available @ https://mattfinucane.bandcamp.com/album/vanishing-island

 https://mattfinucane.net/   https://www.facebook.com/Matt.x.Finucane/

Pete RingMaster 08/04/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Stoor – Fleam

Though addictions are triggered early on they seem to put on truly inescapable nagging shackles over time but there is one for us which was immediate, thickly gripping and has just squeezed the life out of free will ever since and that is the new album from Scottish outfit Stoor. Admittedly the seeds had been sown and blossomed already for the Dundee quartet’s unique sound through their 2015 uncaged self-titled debut album but a craving Fleam has now escalated to all devouring heights. Like the last and first thought around sleep will be of a true if maybe unattainable love, right now our every musical urge starts and ends with Stoor.

It is hard to believe that Stoor is still not a band eagerly on the lips of thick waves of indie, rock, and post punk fans after their striking first full-length but surely a puzzle going to be solved through the aberrantly extraordinary Fleam. Again bred in a sound which has echoes and inspirations of seventies/eighties post punk and rawer new wave antics, Fleam has discovered a whole new level of virulence in the hooks, melodies, and imagination which made up its predecessor. It is a mischievously multi-flavoured experience though which leaves predictability and expectations barren on the kerbside of its compelling adventure.

Released through Stereogram Recordings who are ever reliable to bring fascinating proposals to the ears, Fleam opens with the appetite securing instrumental simply called Stoor Theme. As the album’s title represents, the band’s fresh sound strikes at the heart and cuts through the thick, wasteful but deceptive excesses which fatten the success and manipulate the common ear into providing undeserved attention and through the simple but incisive groove ‘n’ roll of its initial offering makes the first hook loaded score.

It is an imagination sparking, body twisting coaxing quickly matched in craft and temptation by successor, Pain. Instantly there is an air of sonic vexation from which a bold and boisterous stroll swings forth wrapped in the wiry enterprise of guitarists Ross Matheson and Davie Young whilst driven by the tenacious rhythms of drummer Scott McKinlay and bassist Stef Murray. The track was soon scooping up lusty attention and even more so as it twisted through a great and devilish pop infested post punk escapades within its undiluted rock ‘n’ roll. With Murray’s lead vocals just as magnetic and persuasive to participation, the track easily stole the passions.

It is a success soon shared across Fleam starting with the pair of Lovebombing and Dig. The first comes equipped with danger and threat as well as another dose of pure musical contagion that infests ears and instincts. Nurtured in punk ‘n’ roll ferocity and armed with a lyrical prowess which grips as effortlessly as the feral sounds surrounding it, the track simply enslaved before the second of the two sauntered in and exploded in a flame of melodic discord and eccentric invention. With a breath akin to The Nightingales in league with Television Personalities to it, the track burrowed under the skin laying bait and temptation which for just over two minutes feasted on any possible resistance to its esurient endeavour.

Ark follows, its opening lure loaded croon posted in a dusty mono background before eventually leaping through ears with Murray’s tones riding its undisturbed stride. Within, the primal edge to his bass is just as appetising but equally so are the strands of sonic thread igniting the senses courtesy of the rapaciously enterprising guitars; it all seemingly imposing greater temptation as the track’s volatility ignites and erupts in a predatory trespass.

Dancing around as the world crumbles, new single Atrocities is next and immediately has the body bouncing and imagination flirting with its XTC/ Orange Juice-esque celebration bred in a Fire Engines tuned jangle cast amidst the howl of windy discordance and apocalyptic corruptions. Haunting and rousing from its first sonic rattle, its uninhibited dust finally settles as the adventurous exploits of Agags Groove steps forth. As ever the persistently captivating and manipulative beats of McKinlay steer an inescapable quest for band and listener, the instrumental simply a web of intimation and temptation spanning past decades of flavouring woven into its own unique espionage.

McKinlay is even more a puppeteer within Founding Father, straight away directing body movement with provocative craft which soon invites guitars and bass to add their own similarly devious ideation and touch. Celestial melodies subsequently escape to expand the fascination and draw of another sublimely delicious moment within Fleam, the track as seductive as it is a cauldron of disquiet and dark suggestion before the following Unlike Them brings a declaration of defiance, anarchy and musical insurrection to bear on an apathetic landscape.

The album concludes with the incendiary magnificence of Chivers; a tapestry of rhythmic stalking, carnivorous basslines, and melodic friction united in irresistible incitement further loaded by thought grabbing vocals. Lure and challenge, a term which can be applied to the whole of the release, the song is unapologetic slavery and a glorious close to the album, its mercurial but always agitational and rousing body pure inspirational pleasure.

If Stoor had been there helping drive the Scottish post punk/postcard scene way back they would be cited as an inspiration for so many just as Orange Juice, The Fire Engines, and Josef K but do not confuse that suggestion with thoughts that the band is not one of music’s most fresh and exciting propositions right now and with releases like Fleam you can be sure they will be inspiring the creativity in numerous propositions to come.

Fleam is released on white and black vinyl, CD, and download via Stereogram Recordings March 30th across numerous online stores including https://stoor1.bandcamp.com/ with a special album launch show at Dundee’s Beat Generator Live! the release night.

https://www.facebook.com/stoormusic/   https://twitter.com/STOOR44   http://www.stereogramrecordings.co.uk/artists/stoor/

Pete RingMaster 26/03/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Marshmallow Coast – Memory Girl

As warm and boisterous as an eager summer day yet but one lined with intimate shadows carrying their own magnetic melancholy, the new album from Marshmallow Coast is little short of pure captivation. Across near on thirty minutes and eight cheerfully swinging tracks, Memory Girl is a fresh electro pop rock lover very easy to take in the imaginative arms and boisterously dance with.

Hailing out of Athens, Georgia, Marshmallow Coast is the brainchild of Andy Gonzales (The Music Tapes, of Montreal, Mind Brains).With Sara Kirkpatrick, Jim Hix, and Steven Trimmer alongside the band has conjured a release which embraces the senses like the rising morning sun. It is rich in warmth and hope, suggestive in knowing intimacy and understanding yet as mentioned has that darker intimation which haunts everyday life and new experiences.

Memory Girl begins with Warm Bodies and immediately the song’s balmy air and comfy touch hugs the senses. Its buoyant stroll is boisterous yet has a restraint which has hips swaying rather than the body bouncing but movement as inescapable as it is eager. There is an eighties synth pop glow to the track, a bright and engaging hue spilling across the whole of the release as swiftly confirmed by next up Take You On. With a gentler urgency to its gait as firm beats pounce with metronome like insistency, the song is a hazier affair compared to its predecessor. Indeed keys bring an almost dirty breeze to their otherwise crystalline shimmer at times, Gonzales’s tones falsetto similarly kissed whilst providing a warmly affectionate proposition to song and listener within the embrace.

 Lover’s Leap follows, sauntering in with a bold funk nurtured swagger as guitars melodically tease around it. Again the body was manipulated into involvement as the resourcefully infectious track cheerfully strolled along though once again a raw mist of sonic intimation rears its suggestive head throughout the captivation before making way for the equally inviting K. Freeman Enslaved with its Orange Juice-esque jangle and that eighties synth pop exuberance which itself brings a further XTC like imagination.

 Through the electro pop exploits of Sinz Of My Father, a track which is something akin to a meeting of Thomas Dolby and Devo, and Shooting Star with its tantalising celestial glide, the album just accentuated its hold on ears and appetite with the first of the two emerging as a real favourite play by play. They are in turn matched in success by the funk pop waltz of the increasingly compelling Foxy Boy, a track which almost stalks the listener with an infectious smile on its face and a seductive tease in its movement.

The album’s title track brings things to a close and though it is a song which did not grip our ears as tightly and dramatically as its predecessors, it left a warm glow and a taste for more of its mellow, thoughtful, and sultry intimation.

It is a fine end to a release which just grew in presence and temptation by the play; its summery haze a real but knowing escape to the shadows of daily life.

Memory Girl is out now through Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records.

https://www.facebook.com/marshmallowcoast/

Pete RingMaster 8/01/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Caesaria – Wavin’ Goodbye

Setting up the September scheduled release of a new EP, French outfit Caesaria have video/single Wavin’ Goodbye out to tempt: the song a slice of electro pop/rock bringing instant infection to ears and body.

Consisting of Théo Chaumard, Ced Machi, Thomas Fariney, and Louis Arcens, the 2013 formed Caesaria has already earned potent attention and support with their debut EP Sparks of Visions. Offering five tracks giving the dance-floor a busy time, the band has surrounded its success with a live presence which has included opening for Naive New Beaters and appearances at festivals such as Printemps de Bourges music festival and Les Eurockéennes de Belfort.

As mentioned, Wavin’ Goodbye is the prelude to their next EP, a song embracing familiar essences in its own fresh and energetic bounce. Keys shimmer in and around ears initially, closely following vocals cloaked in harmonies as eager to entice as the rhythmic coaxing now at play. Once into its infectious stride, the song glistens with melodic enterprise whilst its jangle feels like it is teasing the darker grooves of the bass. In some ways the track is like a fusion of Heaven 17 and Orange Juice, in other ways MGMT meets Empire Of The Sun comes to mind; all flavours which add to the overall shine of the song and its introspective theme of a dying person looking back on their life.

Increasingly accomplished and contagious, the track similarly growing in its creative textures, Wavin’ Goodbye provides plenty for body and pleasure to find a keen appetite for whilst setting up that forthcoming EP very nicely.

Wavin’ Goodbye is out now.

http://www.caesaria.fr/     https://www.facebook.com/wearecaesaria/    https://twitter.com/WEARECAESARIA

Pete RingMaster 04/04/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyrigh

Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire – Swithering

RHLF_RingMasterReview

With its Scottish meaning of uncertainty about things a contrast to the decisiveness ears and passions find for its imagination bred proposal, Swithering is quite simply an album glorious in every essence. The new full-length from Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire, it is a kaleidoscope of flavours and inspirations hinting at  some of Scotland’s most potent bands and more besides yet any influence feels a coincidence rather than a drawn spark for a release eclectic, unique, and increasingly irresistible.

Embracing the songwriting craft and class of vocalist/guitarist/pianist Roddy Hart, the Glasgow hailing septet band is completed by bassist Scott Clark, guitarists John Martin and Gordon Turner, drummer Scott Mackay, pianist/organist Geoff Martyn, and keyboardist Andy Lucas, with pretty much all also offering vocals and harmonies to the album as captivating as the melodies and lyrical adventures helping shape it.

With their critically acclaimed 2013 released self-titled debut album nominated for the Scottish Album of the Year and sparking US TV host Craig Ferguson to invite the band to perform on The Late Late Show on CBS that same year, that leading to a 5-night residency playing to a combined audience of over 12 million viewers, Hart and co had already plenty to live up to with their next move. A Scottish Variety Award for International Breakthrough Artist of The Year and a nomination for Best Band at the Spirit of Scotland Awards were followed by the band performing at the opening party for the Commonwealth Games and a celebrated show with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

Their reputation as a mighty live proposition was quickly established alongside their successes and relentlessly cemented by each further show and their yearly self-curated Roaming Roots Revue for Celtic Connections. For most of 2015, the band predominately concentrated on writing and recording songs now making up Swithering, a release co-produced by Paul Savage (Mogwai, Emma Pollock, Admiral Fallow) about whom Hart says, “He was key to adding a sense of perspective – and calm – to it all, allowing the madness of this new working relationship forming between us to unfold in the most creative way possible.”

art_RingMasterReviewIt is a creativity which looms impressively upon ears and thoughts from the opening strains of first track Tiny Miracles and persistently blossoms to greater heights across song and its subsequent companions. The opener flirts with the senses instantly, its initial guitar melody soon holding hands with Hart’s alluring tones and the rising caress of atmospheric keys. Quickly the track is strolling along with the darker shadows of bass riding the anthemic lure of drums as melodies and harmonies seduce from all angles. It’s controlled but enthused liveliness is as insatiable as the hunger of ears to devour it, an essence of Lightning Seeds coming to mind as the song grabs hips and imagination with consummate ease.

The diversity of Swithering is quickly established as the colder haunting charms of Berlin closes in on the senses. As Hart expresses his thoughts, the song reveals the city is much more than just a destination vocally and emotionally for the songwriter’s heart. There is a persistent eighties flavouring across the album, here the band creating a provocative flight through a Thomas Dolby meets James Cook tempting with Thompson Twins like revelry to its rhythmic enticing. The song is entrancing and again infected with a catchiness which takes a growingly incisive hold, a quality just as open and commanding as that shared by the Talking Heads spiced Low Light, a song also prompting comparisons to Bill Nelson as it dances provocatively in ears.

Again though, as those around it, it emerges as something distinct and individual to Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire, a trait only backed by the melancholic beauty and drama of No Monsters and recent single Violet. With keys and piano alone conjuring a palette for the imagination to conjure with, backed by the sweltering sighs of guitar and the vocal hug, the first of the pair gently but firmly bewitches before its successor with its own mellow countenance entices with an increasingly infectious swing.

Next up Dreamt You Were Mine is another song with a deceptive virulence which grows and breeds a welcome trespass loaded with an abandon which only consumes and inspires the listener while straight after Faint Echo of Loneliness shows Josef K invention in its indie pop/post punk like character. Both tracks broaden the creative landscape of the album while binding ears and appetite closer to its adventurous intent, though they are soon eclipsed by the majestic roar of In the Arms of California, surely a highly tempting single in the waiting with the suggestive flair of Pete Wylie and raw pop allurement of Orange Juice in its melodic serenade and impassioned blaze.

Through the haunted climate and reflective release of I Thought I Could Change Your Mind, a song slipping under the skin with every passing imaginative minute and in turn the climactic Strange Addictions, the album pours on the instinctive variety and invention within its creators. The latter is a tempest of emotion and sound as forcibly contagious as it is rousingly evocative and sublimely tempered yet complimented by the more composed but just as catchy canter of Sliding. Like so many of the tracks within Swithering, it almost instantly has highly persuasive claws into the listener, gripping tighter as it brews even bolder catchiness in its imposing intent.

Concluded by the dark, almost melodramatic carnival folk flavoured We’re the Immortals, a song musically and lyrically as intimate as it is majestically radiant and suggestive, Swithering is an adventure and event for body and spirit; a success epitomised by that final treat of a track. Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire are no strangers to attention and acclaim but nothing to what Swithering will surely spark.

Swithering is out now across most stores and on all formats, including limited edition 180g vinyl, through Middle of Nowhere Recordings.

http://rhlf.co.uk/   https://www.facebook.com/RoddyHartandtheLonesomeFire/   https://twitter.com/RHLFband   https://twitter.com/roddyhart

Pete RingMaster 13/12/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Fond Of Rudy – The Line

fond-of-rudy_RingMasterReview

It is never a bad sign when a song almost haunts the memory from the first meeting and that is an ability the new single from British indie poppers Fond Of Rudy possesses. Like Orange Juice caught in the Caribbean sun, The Line is a refreshing dose of summer goodness as virulently flirtatious as it is feverishly energetic.

Creating Calypso infested pop, the Brighton/London hailing members of Fond Of Rudy emerged a couple of years ago, taking their time honing their sound and line-up before this past January the foursome of vocalist/rhythm guitarist Matt, lead guitarist Ross, bassist Otto, and drummer Si became and found the final piece of the creative jigsaw.

fond-of-rudy-artwork_RingMasterReviewTaken from an EP set for release early 2017, The Line will be the introduction to a great many to the band’s lively and easily captivating sound and it needs a mere handful of seconds to make a strong impression. From its opening harmonic coaxing within a brewing harmonic atmosphere, the song has attention held, gripped even tighter as its bounty of spicy hooks and warm melodies surround a great blend of Matt’s potent voce as keenly backed by those of Ross and Otto.

Beats are crisp and the bassline the right engaging shade of shadow alongside the raw magnetism of guitar and harmony fuelling the whole riveting encounter. That earlier suggested eighties flavouring is pure magnetism with the virulence of the track’s catchiness carrying something reminiscent of The Woodentops in its irresistible and hungry temptation.

We are among those hearing of Fond Of Rudy for the first time through The Line and sure to be with a great many too already breeding a real eagerness to hear more of their tantalising music.

The Line is out now.

Upcoming Live dates:-

5th November – Tram & Social, London

12th November 2016 – Printers Playhouse, EASTBOURNE

http://www.fondofrudy.com/   https://www.facebook.com/fondofrudy   https://twitter.com/fondofrudy

Pete RingMaster 28/10/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright