Pyramid Park – The Unexplained

With their debut album luring rich attention and plaudits since its recent release, Pyramid Park now unveil its first single in the fiercely infectious and emotionally open The Unexplained; a track which captivates in sound and character whilst providing a potent invitation into band and that first album, Vulnerability.

Pyramid Park is the creation of Cambridge based songwriter/musician Peter McAllen; primarily a one man alternative/ indie pop project though McAllen readily embraces the talent and imagination of others. Emerging from a time of “personal struggle” when he says “as a consequence I couldn’t seem to write songs that meant anything to me, and I was bored of my guitar playing”, Vulnerability, the album’s title track and subsequently its body, became his cathartic release.

The Unexplained was the last song to emerge for the album, taking a year to finish, before the whole thing saw McAllen uniting with producer Iain Hutchison in the studio. The single epitomises the emotive and melodic elegance to be found across Vulnerability, McAllen bearing his heart and thoughts with open intimacy. The single closes in from a distant melodic mist, keys shaping its invitation and impending drama. Once within touching distance, McAllen’s heart bred expression and tones caress ears and thoughts, keys and rhythms soon joining its reflection with a vibrant energy and an eager catchiness.

References to artists such as Phoria and Two Door Cinema Club have been laid at the feet of the Pyramid Park sound but for us the eighties scented character and swing of the song reminds of Paul Haig and to a lesser degree Heaven 17.

Hooking ears and imagination within a few breaths and increasing its captivation with its lively enterprise and emotional depth, The Unexplained is a stirring temptation for Vulnerability and the magnetic sound of Pyramid Park.

The Unexplained is released November 10th with Vulnerability available @ https://1pyramidpark.bandcamp.com/

https://www.pyramidpark.net/    https://www.facebook.com/1pyramidpark    https://twitter.com/1pyramidpark    https://1pyramidpark.bandcamp.com/

Pete RingMaster 07/11/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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

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Pete RingMaster 27/11/2015

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

The Cathode Ray_RingMaster Review

Photo and copyright Peter Tainsh

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

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

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

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

Photo by Hugh Womersley

Photo by Hugh Womersley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Jez Curnow

Photo by Jez Curnow

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

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

What comes next for The Cathode Ray?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pete Ringmaster

The RingMaster Review 23/11/2015

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Zurich – Small Wars

Zurich_RingMaster Review

Like Paul Haig meets Modern English in a creative hug with The Slow Readers Club, Zurich has a sound which leaves you awash with welcome nostalgia and invention soaked freshness. The proof comes via debut EP Small Wars; five tracks of post punk and eighties electro pop bred temptation infused into a fiery rock heart. At times rousingly anthemic and in other moments warmly intimate, the EP is a compelling introduction to the UK trio, one which early on had thoughts moulding the assumption that the Oxford hailing band is heading towards to major things.

Consisting of bassist/vocalist Adrian Banks, guitarist/vocalist Chris Gillett, and drummer Leigh Taylor, Zurich since emerging in the July of 2014 has built an impressive reputation for their live presence and sound in the always busy Oxford music scene. Now the whole of Britain gets to hear why with the Gary Stevenson produced Small Wars; an encounter which captivates from its first touch and just gets bigger and bolder in its persuasion and adventure thereon in.

cover_RingMaster Review     The release opens with Chemical, a song making a low key but instantly engaging entrance as atmospheric synths and melodies entice from the distance; coming closer with every passing second before rhythms and scythes of sultry guitar break loose to further spark ears and imagination. Already memories are basking in older essences as the appetite latches on to the robustly vocal textures of a fiercer but no less warm modern vivacity and invention. In no time the track is strolling along with infectiousness dripping from its every chord and rolling beat, their tempting matched by the excellent vocals of Banks and Gillett. The track is an instant friend, one you feel you know but only bringing new adventure and enjoyment the way of ears and emotions. Anthemic pop at its best, the song is a thrilling and commanding early persuasion from the EP, one masterfully backed by Alone.

The second track jabs with punchy beats as a guitar dangles its melodic bait initially in front of ears, a coaxing which maintains its potency and clarity as rhythms and more guitar swiftly add new eager energy and spice. A slower but still lively enticing compared to its predecessor, its canter bounces along drawing quick involvement physically as strings and a thick weave of keys build and unite in a highly provocative proposal for the imagination to get fully involved in. Once more vocals and individual prowess shines as openly as the collective enterprise in a song which as good as glows as it incites body and heart.

Small Wars offers its title track next, a smouldering croon with tenacious beats and a melancholy toned bassline which play against and with the lighter but equally emotive melodies of keys and guitars. Strings once more add further drama and emotional intimacy to the heartfelt dance of the song’s croon whilst its chorus just gets into the psyche from its first call, all aspects creating another major highlight of the EP before Invisible Man takes over with its own creative theatre. Straight away it offers melodic resourcefulness within a feisty serenade which can only be called Black like, the song growing and exceling as emotion packed sinews and inventive drama continue to blossom.

The EP is brought to a fine close by Menace; a pulsating shimmer of guitar and creeping keys its opening tempting and climatic beats and vociferously sultry endeavour it’s subsequent and gripping majesty. The bass of Banks is compelling in tone and expression whilst the rapier and adventurous rhythms of Taylor ignites the air around the increasingly volatile and imaginative journey of the song. Add relentlessly mesmeric keys and guitar craft which just rises to the occasion whilst pushing that same moment to new enthralling heights, you have one blaze of brilliance to complete an encounter just as constantly impressive.

Zurich is not a name which leaps out and grabs or indeed sticks in the memory as powerfully as maybe others but it does not need to when the band’s sound definitely does. Small Wars declares that fact and fair to say because of it we are already impatient to hear what the band comes up with next.

The Small Wars EP is available digitally from Kestrel Records on September 21st via the band’s Bandcamp.

Pete RingMaster 21/09/2015

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Wilhelm Tell Me – Growing Younger

WTM_RingMaster Review

Like a spring sun whose potency creeps on you until flesh begins sizzle, Growing Younger the new single from Wilhelm Tell Me warms up from an appealing first impression to become an offering which refuses to go away. With melodies that linger, hooks that grip, and vocals which simply tantalise, the single is a refreshing breeze on the senses from a band perpetually growing.

cover_RingMaster Review     The indie pop driven band hails from Hamburg and Copenhagen with a line-up consisting of vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Henning Sommer, bassist/backing vocalist Matthias Kranz, and drummer Paul Kaiser. 2011 saw the release of debut album Excuse My French and since then a clutch of singles and EPs before last year was given the A Short Story for the Road EP to enthuse over. Recorded with and produced by The Mars Volta keyboardist Lars Stalfors, the encounter awoke a new strength of attention and acclaim for the band which Growing Younger, itself taken from the EP, continues. The single has already teased and lured previously but given a broader re-release this September, it is a captivating welcoming fro newcomers to the vibrant sound of Wilhelm Tell Me.

Keys and guitar immediately invite ears and imagination, their melodic caressing leading into a slightly leaner but no less magnetic passage of pulsating bass and vibrant vocals, both laying in an evocative mist of keys spawned warmth. There is an on-going smile to the touch and melodic breath of the song which slips into a more eager grin as the guitars play with engaging enterprise and the song’s chorus dances around recruiting the listener’s involvement with increasing potency.

The song continues to please and ignite participation with a dancey catchiness which is Paul Haig like at times. Fair to say the song does not blow a major fuse in the passions, but certainly it is far more impacting than first imagined as its gentle hooks and mesmeric melodic charm just keeps repeating on thoughts and hunger. In many ways its return has come a few weeks too late as it is a proposition simply calling out to grace sultry summer nights.

Growing Younger is available from September 7th via nordpolrecords.

Pete Ringmaster 07/09/2015

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Masters Of The Radio – Origin of Radio

MoftheR

Masters Of The Radio is another band which tangles nostalgia and new strands of sound into fascinating and highly enticing slices of modern invention. It is an increasing trend it seems, especially within electronic and synth pop, and capable of producing some rather flavoursome and enjoyable propositions such as the UK band’s Origin of Radio EP. We had a striking taster of it with the single Radio Forever, released a few short weeks back, and now get the whole increasingly captivating meal with its four tracks of electro pop drama.

Hailing from Widnes, Masters of the Radio was founded in 2008 by vocalist/writer Paul Ventux. The line-up within the band has changed a few times over the years but this past January saw Ventux enlist new personnel in the creative shapes of bassist Taylor Manwo, drummer Murphy the Destroyer, and keyboardist Mr Darklight. The combination has ignited a spark in the energy and impetus of the band it is fair to say, one fanned by the aforementioned single and now in full flame with Origin of Radio.

10406701_10153744529814392_6293799804298505228_nThe EP opens up with You’ll Never Be Famous, a darkly hued song which from its first breath brings a noir lit landscape to its ambience and emotion. Within that though keys cast melodic warmth and intrigue which feeds both the light and darker elements of the song as rhythms almost prowl around the scenery. They carry no ill intent but certainly offer more depth to the shadows within the song. Despite those shades, it is a vibrant and catchy proposal bred on seeds of bands like OMD and early Human League, and swiftly has feet and imagination wrapped up in its presence.

The magnetic instrumental adventure of The Drive comes next, the steely bass lures of Manwo sparking appetite and imagination first and continually across the piece whilst Giorgio Moroder flavoured keys cast a seductive and lively spatial incitement sure to immerse thoughts whilst the bouncy rhythms will have bodies courting the dancefloor. A flight of melodic temptation with cinematic enticing, the track is a bewitching waltz ripening the passions up for the closing song. Before getting to it though there is the brief interlude of Intermission/Coming of the Light. Whether an introduction or warning, not too sure how to describe it honesty makes us admit it is skipped with most listens from a hunger to get to the enjoyable devilry of Radio Forever.

Like a mix of The The and Paul Haig, the song flirts straight away with an irrepressible melodic smile and an infectiousness to match. As melodies broaden and greater creative colour soaks the twists and vivacious rhythmic shuffle of the song, that early contagion just increases especially in the inescapable call of the chorus. It is a tremendous end to a thoroughly enjoyable release, and still the song which most suggests that Masters Of The Radio has the potential of seeing big horizons come their way ahead.

The Origin of Radio EP is available now

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RingMaster 28/04/2015

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The Cathode Ray – Infinite Variety

Picture 19

The energy around the arrival of and anticipation for Infinite Variety, the second album from Scottish band The Cathode Ray, ensured that intrigue and enthusiasm of a great many was high going into the release. It is fair to say that the proposition not only lives up to hopes and expectations placed upon it but leaves them lightweight against its kaleidoscope of fun, sound, and adventure. What was not predicted here was the nostalgic impact it had on ears and thoughts, as well as memory, for our first time with the band. Musically it weaves in essences from the seventies and eighties into an invigorating modern tenacity but it was finding out the background to the members which inspired us to first trawl through cases of vinyl on a nostalgia trip to relive old favourites ashamedly neglected over time.

Formed in 2006, The Cathode Ray was initially a song-writing collaboration between Jeremy Thoms and ex-Josef K frontman and solo artist Paul Haig, a band and solo project straight away dug out for a reprise in the ears. A couple of well-received singles followed before Haig left the project in 2009. Taking it over Thom enlisted guitarist Steve Fraser once of Edinburgh post punk band the Scars, another enslaving proposition for our passions way back, and alongside him drummer David Mack and bassist Neil Baldwin to complete a new line-up, the latter bringing another search through boxes to relive the glories of the disgracefully under-rated Bluebells and post-punk group TV21. Once that was out of the system it was full-steam ahead with Infinite Variety, an album swiftly living up and more to anything its creators may have helped craft before.

The album’s landscape uses various decades of sound as its palette, twisting and shaping them into unique and colourful proposals with a lyrical exploration to match. Said to loosely be a concept album, Infinite Variety visually and aurally references the natural world whilst looking at emotions involved with the human condition. The songs are kind of bundled into three areas; ‘fear, paranoia, lust and betrayal’ spicing the first few songs before looks at ‘transformation, honesty and realisation’ and subsequently love in various light and dark forms flavour the tracks. Like in a kaleidoscope though, it all seems to disarrange and evolve with every twist of a track to provide an on-going and increasingly fascinating adventure.

10425081_1014104828616219_3923383927065033299_n   That diversity to songs is one of many potent aspects to the album and it all starts with the outstanding Backed Up. A simple rub of guitar and accompanying cowbell prods make first contact, soon joined by crisp beats and an expanding coaxing of melodic enticing. The expressive tones of Thoms join the widening incitement next, his entrance awakening bolder enterprise in the guitars, whilst riffs and hooks come with a great post-punk spicing. The reserved but lively melodic invention provides a sultry colouring which the dark bass tones wonderfully temper whilst vocally Thom drives it all with a voice which is like a mix of Pete Shelley and Ste McCabe to offer another rich texture within the potent album starter.

It is a strong beginning straight away eclipsed by the outstanding Resist, one of the most addictive slices of warped pop you will come across this year. Its hooks instantly get under the skin and into the psyche, swiftly followed by the vocals and the thick bass bait. The song’s infectiousness is simply virulent bringing a whiff of The Revillos to its power pop stomp, a passing scent not as strong as the Buzzcocks like catchiness which oozes from the following Nowhere At All. Again it is merely a spicing though, this time to a captivating stroll of imaginative percussion, imposing rhythms, and addictive enterprise, all soaked in inescapable contagion.

Don’t Waste Your Words strides in next to bring an addictive lure of hip swinging rock ‘n’ roll. Feet and ears are an early submission, whilst the capture of the imagination is barely a drum stick swing away in the riveting temptation of the song. It is not alone in offering hooks and a presence which are indelible in thoughts and emotions even after the album’s departure, but it is probably the most intoxicating though matched straight away by the excellent Buck The Trend, a song with a healthy breath of Tom Verlaine and Television to it. Keys and guitar spin a gorgeous eighties web for the rhythmic and vocal prowess of the song to pull this way and that, a combination sculpting another major highlight in the album. There are times across Infinite Variety, like here, where thoughts wonder if the band may have missed the boat with their sound in the fact that The Cathode Ray would have surely been a big inspirational player in the eighties. Every time that suggestion raises its head though band and album almost in anticipation provides evidence to differ, like No Holds Barred which comes next, proving that they are definitely a perfect fit for the now. The song is a slower but similarly infectious offering with a held in check energy which still has body and emotions swaying feistily with its low key and thoroughly addictive swagger. Once more riffs and melodies combine to create a fresh twist and distinct romp of sound and invention in the album.

The brilliant Eureka Moment! is simply a montage of eighties goodness crafted into a transfixing and exotic jungle of imagination fuelled rhythms, Scars like sonic sweeps, and Bluebells bred melodies. It feels like a song dipping into its creators past exploits and those of others whilst equally drawing on new ingenuity. The John Foxx led version of Ultravox comes to mind as does The Creatures as the track seduces and incites but again they are just particular hues in an new enthralling and thrilling aural conjuring by the band.

This Force Of Nature brings its flowing melodic breeze next, female vocals seducing alongside the tones of Thoms, whilst Torn Apart explores an immersive and haunting cavern of sonic reflection which in many ways has seeds to the likes of House of Love and My Bloody Valentine. The absorbing and mesmeric encounter, as so many songs, keeps the album turning over in imagination and invention, as well as variety, before making way for the post punk croon of The Eyes Are The Window To The Soul. With a bassline which recalls early Cure and an Orange Juice like jangle to its chords, the song is bewitching and engagingly dramatic like a modern day Associates.

The album is closed by the elegant reflection of Saving Grace, a semi-acoustic ballad which simply whisks ears and thoughts off into hope soaked clouds under a smouldering exotic sun of melodic temptation. The song is spellbinding but also only telling half the story at this point. Around mid-way the calm is suddenly infused with ominous rhythms and sinister keys, nothing over imposing but certainly a brewing provocation which is soon ripe with surf rock tendrils of guitar and a tempestuous air. As if warning that good times still offer a stormy adventure, the track is irresistible manna for ears and imagination with seven minutes of sonic alchemy.

Infinite Variety is quite breath-taking, leaving thoughts basking and appetite hungry for much more. There have been many releases and bands recently creating real triumphs of nostalgia and new invention, but The Cathode Ray tops the lot.

Infinite Variety is available through Stereogram Recordings now on CD and download via http://www.stereogramrecordings.co.uk/audio/infinite-variety-the-cathode-ray-cddl/

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RingMaster 21/04/2015

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