Practical Lovers – Agony

 

Practical Lovers_RingMaster Review

Glorious is the only word for Agony, the debut album from UK synth pop duo Practical Lovers. It might be soaked in melancholy, be the outpouring of frustration and torment bred by lost and unrequited love, but the album is simply a majestic tapestry of skilfully cultured shadows and the beauty lying within all emotions.

The band is the union of singer songwriter Jack Wiles and his long-term musical partner Mark Connell. Originally it was intended as a solo project for Wiles with a collection of songs written “in an attempt to vent some of his frustrations with love in the 21st Century.” After introducing the idea and songs to Connell, the pair creatively united and stepped forwards as Practical Lovers, this around late 2010. The band signed with Nottingham based label I’m Not From London Records the following year, releasing a couple of singles over the next three whilst earning a rich reputation for their live performances. Now they unveil their eagerly awaited debut album, a stirring incitement of vintage synths and analogue drum machines bound in nostalgic radiance, heavy and seductive emotions, and compelling enterprise.

artwork_RingMaster Review    Every track within Agony is a love song; the dark side of and fallout from inspired explorations for sure, but all seeded in love. They come with an intimacy which feels like they are echoes of their creator’s heart and experiences and makes it easy to emotionally connect with, whilst each is presented within sounds which are as infectious and hopeful as they are similarly solemn to their lyrical pleas. From the opener band and release has ears and imagination chained, and emotions basking in the pleasure given.

Put It Bluntly tempts ears with a few dark pulses of synths whilst brewing a more feisty lure in the background, that swiftly coming forward and blossoming on the strains of a deliciously grouchy bassline. The inescapable enticement of Wiles’ wonderful dour lined and magnetic tones soon adds another rich texture and hue to the already invasively infectious encounter. That element of nostalgia is often eighties spawned and here on offer is a Paul Haig meets New Order coaxing with a touch of Interpol to it, a mixture only adding to the thrilling virulence of the song.

The following Never Again brings some fiery guitar to ears, the fizzy texture invitingly colluding with poppy synths as Wiles and Connell avail an already greedy appetite of their individual prowess. The fevered stroll does not hang around, offering a bubbly simmer over two minutes of inimitable bait before Inside Job provides another diverse and fiercely captivating string to the bow of Agony. Like The The in league with The Smiths, with Wiles vocally as throughout the album creating a vocal presence somewhere between Morrissey and Ian Curtis, the song is a plaintive serenade, a vibrant croon which whips up ears and emotion within seconds and increasingly involves the listener with every passing second.

A similar hue glows within Full of You next, though the track again reveals a distinct character of its own as synths smoulder and caress with emotive expression. The mix of vocals, presumably from the two artists, adds another riveting texture, though it is Wiles and the Smiths blessed earthy elegance that seals the deal between lustful ears and song, an ardour just as eagerly given to the Joy Division coated Nobody There which follows and straight after that the post punk scented brilliance of The Work Around. Hints of Blancmange and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark emerge from within the outstanding track, and in many ways, having seen OMD live in their first days, there is a definite resemblance between the bands if not exactly in overall sound.

No Reply slips into the dark corners of its emotive heart next, that Joy Division suggestion again an easy offer as the track morosely yet enticingly prowls ears before its big success is eclipsed by the skittish energy and devilry of Restless. Think Fad Gadget meets early The Correspondents with Editors in tow and a clue to its irresistible endeavour is close to the mark whilst for Textbook Romance maybe John Foxx era Ultravox and early Cure is a good hint. To be honest, for all the references sparked, each track is a thrilling proposal unique to Practical Lovers, just enhanced by a great weave of recognisable colours, whilst the second of this pair also unveil its warm party on the senses with a hopefulness arguably not explored as fully elsewhere.

The album closes off with firstly the insatiable contagion of Falling Down and finally the melancholic serenade of Grave of Romance, a song impressing initially and just seducing the passions to greater effect over time. Both also provide another aspect to the multi-faceted sound of Agony, an album which is blossomed from some of the harshest and deepest felt emotions possible but is anything but agony to listen to.

Practical Lovers is one of the finds for our ears of 2015 and Agony one of its most thrilling and invigorating releases.

Agony is released November 27th digitally and on limited edition cassette tape through I’m Not From London Records @ https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/agony/id1051440048

https://www.facebook.com/Practicallovers

Pete RingMaster 27/11/2015

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Masters of the Radio – Radio Forever

 

Radio Forever cover_edited-2

Fresh from installing a new line-up, UK synth rock band Masters of the Radio release new song Radio Forever, a rather flavoursome taster of the band’s forthcoming EP scheduled for later this year. Taking ears and passions back to an eighties landscape of electro/synth pop yet embracing a modern indie adventure in its magnetic body, the track is sure to get you, if not quite in the Summer mood certainly adding a touch of Spring to your step.

Bred in North England town Widnes and formed in 2008 by vocalist/songwriter Paul Ventux, Masters of the Radio raised a constantly growing and loyal following despite going through several line-up changes over the years. This month saw a new stability come to the band with new members, keyboardist Mr Darklight, bassist Taylor Manwo, and drummer Murphy the Destroyer linking up with Ventux. Refreshed, re-kitted, and with a tantalising sound to match, the quartet is set to make 2015 their year, an aim getting off to a potent start through Radio Forever which is taken from the EP mid-year planned mentioned earlier.

The song from its first breath has ears and imagination engaged through an eager simmer of electro coaxing, a lively bait soon taking crisp rhythms and a great dark lined bassline in tow. The swiftly joining vocals of Ventux similarly charm and invite the listener to embrace the song’s warm dance. As melodies broaden and become more creatively colourful in tandem with the growing infectiousness, especially around the almost mischievous chorus, it is impossible not to think of bands like Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, The The, and Paul Haig; the track seemingly drawing on particular essences of each to colour its melodic and evocative romance.

Radio Forever continues to flirt with and swing along its catchy landscape, every passing second becoming more irresistible to feet and voice, and most of all emotions. It is hard to imagine many not tapping a toe or offering a humming addition to its presence at the very least, and certainly easy to expect that a great many will be queuing up to check out the band’s future offering. We will see you all there.

Radio Forever is available now

https://www.facebook.com/mastersoftheradio

RingMaster 28/01/2015

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Filter Distortion – Transition

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It seems that the lure of eighties electro and synth pop will never diminish as old bands try to relive their past successes and new bands explore the spices of that decade in their own ideation. UK electro band Filter Distortion is a proposition which wears the inspiration of that era boldly on their creative sleeve, yet twists and transforms it into something distinctly fresh and modern. The proof is in new album Transition, a transfixing collection of virulent electro sculpted songs which ignite ears with infectious imagination and provides the first pop classic of 2015.

The Liverpool quartet of Ian Hall, Wesley Hughes, Phil Morton, and Phil Gofton spent the last year creating and recording Transition before working with engineer and producer Daniel Woodward on its mastering. The result is an encounter which croons and seduces the senses as only eighties electronic music can but with a hungry invention and enterprise bred by electro pop invention and evolution of today. From opening track Black and White, band and album has senses and emotions bound in melodic enterprise and magnetic sounds. Bookended by the revving of a motorbike, for a reason more obvious to the band, the song swiftly blossoms into an Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark like enchantment. Outstanding vocals are soon caressing ears within a weave of synth cast elegance, casting their temptation throughout as keys provide a spatial romance for the senses. It is an evocative embrace aligned to darker shadows which only add depth and intrigue to the rich charm and contagion of the song.

The outstanding start is swiftly matched by the vibrant and slightly livelier Pressure, though again it is a reserved stroll of a track with swarthy bass and rhythmic tones courting an evocative synth exploration. Finding a more Depeche Mode like flavouring to its enthralling recipe of craft and electronic persuasion, the track wraps inescapable and resourceful temptation around ears. That leads to an already hungry appetite for the release to get greedier and thoughts keen to dig deeper into the sound of Filter Distortion, something rewarded straight away by the addictive catchiness of Resonator Express and the emotive balladry of Midnight Drive. The third song on the release explores a different eighties seeded avenue as darkly lit strains of keys collude with melodic radiance, the union a riveting dance on ears whilst its successor produces a familiar tempting infused and invigorated with the lure of great vocals and tangy melodies. Thoughts of Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys return but equally those of The Correspondents as the croon and boom of the song provides another irresistible enticement.

     Frequency Modulation hits the dance-floor next, its bubbly electro canvas potent bait for feet whilst keys and melodies flirt salaciously as vocal samples inform and spark thoughts. Think Picture 28Thomas Dolby does EBM but turned inside out by the invention of Filter Distortion and you get a hint of the inventive and composed stomp lighting up the air before the masterful hug of new single Neon Nights and subsequently previous single Cameras in the Dark appear. The first of the two is pure contagion, chorus and hooks gripping drama revelling in the variety of the vocals and the sultry breath of the sounds around them. It is a captivating doorway into the album and the band’s resourceful sound matched by the second of the two tracks. Featuring guest vocalist Cheryl Anna, the song has a more indie feel with effect lined vocals and a pungent bass tone revealing new veins of the great diversity and exploration running through the band’s songwriting.

When the Lights Go Out provides a darker soulful offering next and though the song misses igniting the passions as successfully as earlier songs, it is an engrossing tune to capture the imagination before Lost Boys gives that OMD inspiration another airing. The track is glorious, every vocal and musical note an epidemic of insatiable persuasion. It is fair to say that there are only highlights on the album but some songs stand slightly above others and the album’s penultimate proposition has one of the loftiest views.

The closing Game Over ensures the album ends on a good and ear catching footing but with its lack of real vocals and unremarkable instrumental premise, it is the least favourite track upon Transition and the only time you almost hanker for another of the album’s treasures instead.

Filter Distortion is quite simply a band for electronic pop fans of all decades. Their sound bridges eras but develops its own personality and uniqueness in doing so, whilst in Transition, the band has as suggested offered the year its first essential pop triumph.

Transition is available now as a digital download and limited edition vinyl @ http://filterdistortion.bandcamp.com/

http://www.filterdistortion.co.uk/

RingMaster 13/01/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Silhouettes – Sacrifice

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Following the success of their acclaimed debut album and recent UK shows, British indie/electro band Silhouettes release their new single Sacrifice on November 10th as a free download. Taken from the Ever Moving Happiness Machines full-length, the track is an inescapable temptation and weave of the imaginative electronic and indie pop revelry the band has swiftly become renowned for. It is a treat for ears and unashamedly seduces with every vocal caress and melodic kiss.

Formed in 2008, the Wolverhampton quintet of Nathan Till (vocals, guitars), Jay Cuthill (guitars, samples, keyboards, production), Ben Blewitt (keyboards), Ben Dargue (drums), and Jay Roberts (bass) has increasingly earned a potent following and attention for their sounds and live performances. Early EPs awoke many to their impressing emergence but it was the single Gold Tag which on a wave of new invention and evolution in the band’s sound sparked a broader spotlight, one subsequently pushed much further by Ever Moving Happiness Machines. It was an album which instantly lit a fire of attention which is bound to be stoked again by the release of Sacrifice.

Opening on a wash of warm and magnetic keys veined by resonating beats and pulsating shadows, the song brings an Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark air to its celestial blaze of electronic colour. It is a dramatic coaxing elevated once the celestial tones of Till merges with the sultry climate. His delivery shows it is unafraid to mix things up as the vocalist subsequently adds a little post punk shadow to his narrative. Haunting and bracing with a golden stream of sun fuelled melodic endeavour across its transfixing atmosphere, the song is as unpredictable and keenly inventive as it is persistently warm and mesmeric.

If Silhouettes’ album has evaded your attention until now there is no finer a gateway into its majesty than Sacrifice. It is a potent taste of what is in store within Ever Moving Happiness Machines but only a hint of its rich adventure.

Sacrifice is available as a free download from November 10th @ https://soundcloud.com/integrityrecords/silhouettes-sacrifice-single-edit

http://silhouettesmusic.net/

RingMaster 10/11/2014

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Silhouettes – Ever Moving Happiness Machines

   Silhouettes pic

    Silhouettes last single Gold Tag offered a sizeable hint and thrilling teaser for the UK indie/electro band’s debut album, a taster which itself has continued to grow and impress since our coverage of its charms. Now that Ever Moving Happiness Machines has arrived all anticipations and expectations of the release have been fed and fully satisfied. The ten track encounter is an intriguing and inspiring slice of creative diversity and poetic imagination, a proposition which ignites the senses and thoughts in a richly varied and at times challenging way for an enthralling incitement which never leaves a moment devoid of emotive provocation or absent from riveting drama.

Hailing from Wolverhampton and formed in 2008, Silhouettes has earned themselves a sizeable reputation for their sound and live performances, a presence more than complemented by a couple of EPs. It was Gold Tag though which has arguably been the spark to a greater spotlight, its more electronic seeded presence a fascinating and tantalising evolution in the band’s sound. Created by Nathan Till (vocals, guitars), Jay Cuthill (guitars, keyboards, drums), and Ben Blewitt (keyboards), Ever Moving Happiness Machines has the potential and certainly the invention to push the band to the next level, and with a line-up completed by Xander Roberts (bass, vocals) and Ben Dargue (drums) live, Silhouettes is poised to take intensely emotive electronic music by storm.

Ever Moving Happiness Machines does not come without the occasional less impacting twist or turn but from the opening Gold Silhouettes coverTag it is an unrelenting feast of striking enterprise and emotional exploration which has ears and imagination hungry for the album’s impressive offerings. The first track immediately unveils an eighties influence, a flavouring which occurs throughout the album, as small but vivacious guitar crafted melodies entice the ears. As they find themselves joined by a magnificent and robustly throaty bassline there is a strong essence of The Farmers Boys at play, a spice which takes on a definite Orange Juice tang as keys and the great vocals of Till add to the exotically vibrant picture. The song strolls with a masterful confidence which in turn recruits a bold reaction from feet and emotions, its crystalline key sculpted melodies and expressive harmonies a seductive glaze to the contagious waltz. It is a glorious entrance which in its fullest form has appetite and imagination aflame especially through its ridiculously addictive rhythmic closing stretch.

From the lively enticement the album glides into the glistening evocative embrace of Creaking Universe. Its initial lure sparkles like sonic crystal, the keys erupting like dust in a shaft of light before a melancholic shadow and croon clouds over ears to tempt them with its darker touch vocally and musically. Slipping into a seductive breeze which soothes the ears and intrigues emotions, the song from a decent beginning becomes a potent magnet, its ever increasing pull through string orchestrated melodies and brooding textures masterful. Imagine The National meets the Walker Brothers and you have an idea of the voice and might of the track.

The next up Sacrifice is another track which needs time to grow but does so with immense success. It opens with a celestial blaze of electronic persuasion, an Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark like wind hugging the senses before the falsetto charm of the vocals lie romantically upon the ears. First impressions are strong and rewarding but as with quite a few tracks on the album, it is one which deviously works away leaving a haunting toxin which repeats time and time again, to return at any moment unannounced. The exciting track is instantly emulated by Cold Water/Grey Flesh, its chillier climate and singular expression a bewitching temptation which again is strong at first but masterful over time. With the keys casting an almost intrusive web which the guitars and vocals unveil colourful and poignant hues over, the song dances elegantly seeping a stark breath of lost hope and scenery. It is a highly evocative narrative which could be described as Joy Division meets Sigur Ros.

The intensive melancholy of I Miss You, I Want You, I Need You, I Love You carries a rich Radiohead vein to its despondent emotion and cold breath. It is an impressively crafted and presented piece of music and emotion but for personal demands fails to strike the flame other songs on the release do so easily, though the flume of strings create a resonating tempting for the imagination to immerse within. It is not a low point but one personal taste cannot connect with, something the brilliant Prufrock’s Dream has no trouble achieving. The new single from band and album is an enthralling adventure of sound and imagination. Written as the sequel to the TS Eliot poem The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock, the song teases ears with a sultry guitar weave at first before expanding into an exotically rhythmic and mystique soaked flame of sonic and melodic seduction. The guitars continue to bind the senses in a psychedelic glaze of Eastern promise and thought inciting majesty whilst the voice of Till croons with potent expression and absorbing texture. As it persistently flirts with ears and emotions entwining radiance and shadows, whispers of the likes of Teardrop Explodes, The Verve, and Nick Cave make their presence known in a song which is scintillatingly original and unique to Silhouettes.

Both Scuff Marks and Ferry Me Away slip in the wake of their glorious predecessor, though again it is primarily down to preferences. The first has a pulsating core and evocative ambience which increases potently over the length of the song for an enveloping climax, but again with a Radiohead similar breath it fails to spark any real reaction, though Silhouettes is a much more exciting proposition to be fair. Its successor also carries that Thom Yorke and co breeding but evolves into an emotionally infectious play with melodic toxins which seduce with wanton ease and a folk bred gentleness which elevates it to a stronger footing. Neither are songs to pass over swiftly but possibly suffer being stuck between the triumphs of Prufrock’s Dream and the outstanding Black Within The Black, a track unafraid to show its roots in the early days of The Cure. With the bass rapturous bait and rhythms pure anthemic lure, the track is an unbridled temptress to which Till brings his own style of haunted tones and expression for exceptional success. The song invades and seduces every pore and thought to provide another heady pinnacle.

Closing with the climactic Boys, a track from small melodic and expressive seeds grows into an epically shaped tower of intense emotion and powerfully evocative colour, Ever Moving Happiness Machines is a gripping adventure which provides a kaleidoscope of invention and imagination, not forgetting creative passion. It is not an album which quite succeeds with every chapter, but is a radiant success across its whole body as Silhouettes more than delivers on their original promise.

Ever Moving Happiness Machines is available via Integrity Records now!

http://silhouettesmusic.net/

8.5/10

RingMaster 02/06/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Lettie: Good Fortune, Bad Weather

Lettie might predominantly be tagged as electro pop but as her new album proves there is so much more depth and diversity to her sound and creativity. The UK artist is an imaginative and instinctive songwriter who weaves sounds and emotions with mesmeric and irresistible flourishes and skill. Unpredictable, insistently contagious, and persistently the cause of pure pleasure tingles within the senses, the new release Good Fortune, Bad Weather is a masterful and delightful feast for the heart.

To simplify a back story for an artist who has as many tales and sure to be inspiring moments to her life and career as the album, Lettie is a Suffolk girl who for the past decade has played in various bands and recorded solo material with Anthony Phillips (ex- Genesis) for Universal Publishing. It was in 2006 though that she met composer/producer David Baron and together it led to the recording of two albums in America. Things suddenly started to happen from this point with both Age Of Solo and Everyman without any real promotion gaining strong attention and acclaim. These led to a session for the BBC, special guest appearances on the tour of ex- Bauhaus frontman Pete Murphy in 2009 and also the following year, as well as guest slots with Chris Difford (Squeeze) and Roger O’Donnell (The Cure).

Personal tragedies surrounded the release of the albums for both Lettie and Baron and she returned to the UK, where she worked with a writer and producer in Oxford on her third album Other Days which never saw a completion as problems continually stood in its progress. A call from Baron led her back to America to work on a new, an invitation that has benefitted everyone given the wonderful result that has emerged in Good Fortune, Bad Weather.

From the moment opening song Swirl wraps around the ear there is a sense that something unique and special is on the horizon and the track takes no time to insist that feeling will be realised. From the brooding dark synth start with her sparking vocals on top, one is immediately drawn to an eager attention. A line mentions ‘the puppet master’ in an open swipe at a certain TV personality, television producer, entrepreneur etc, yeah him, but that term easily represents the skill with which Lettie caresses and weaves her sounds and ideas. Only difference is there is no self serving intent or dark lining to her creativity. Funny thing is if she was in front of the man you know he would not recognise the talent and pure artistry on offer.

Lucky steps up next with a beckoning graceful stomp across the ear, piano and guitar as melodically captivating as her stunning vocals. Nothing is forced, the song an organic summer upon the ear and thoughts that warms as it pleases.

The sensational Bitter actually puts what came before in the shade somewhat, great songs they are this track is simply delicious, a perfect slice of inventive, thoughtful and passionate. As with the album nothing is predictable or assumed, each note , harmony, and spiral of melody an inspiring and heart igniting joy. With a simple pulse but deep atmosphere the track explodes upon the senses like the brightest sun.

The addictive and pulsating electro Never Want To Be Alone sparkles in sound and lyrical poetry but has to make way for another of the strongest highlights on the album in the shape of 80’s electro pop flavoured Sanctuary. It brings the warm harmonies of Bat For Lashes alongside the hypnotic melodies of Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark though at times it could be Thomas Dolby and Shakespeares Sister partying with Propaganda. Yes it is that mesmeric and irresistible.

There is no weakness on the album, only varying heights for the continuous peaks of wonder. The sensational Digital with its Thompson Twins spice and sneaky Jona Lewie lurking melody both radiating nothing but pleasure, and the indie jewel that is Pandora with its jangly guitar and sultry flow, further incite a stronger an accumulating affection for Good Fortune, Bad Weather with ease. They also show the eclectic nature of the album, each song distinctly varied to each other and irrepressibly enthused with multiple flavours as the folk hearted Mister Lighter, the reggae pulsed title track, and Gwen Stefani pop of Aluminium Man show impressively.

Every song on the album deserves a mention but that is for you to discover as Lettie pleasures your very soul, though we have to mention Crash And Burn, another major highlight which lights up skies with shooting aural flashes and siren borne melodies. This is admittedly our first introduction to Lettie but it will not be the last, we want much more of this sensational stuff.

http://www.lettiemusic.com

Ringmaster 15/05/2012

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