Mike Doughty – Circles Super Bon Bon Sleepless How Many Cans? True Dreams of Wichita Monster Man Mr. Bitterness Maybe I’ll Come Down St. Louise Is Listening I Miss the Girl Unmarked Helicopters The Idiot Kings So Far I Have Not Found the Science

pic: ericmpearson

pic: ericmpearson

It is well documented and proclaimed by Mike Doughty himself that Soul Coughing was one of the darkest and painful periods in his life, one which has been an ‘out of bounds’ subject musically really ever since his departure from the band at the start of this century and becoming clean from the drugs which stalked that time. The publishing of his The Book of Drugs earlier this year saw Doughty address that darkness but in many ways the fact he has gone on further to look back and revisit Soul Coughing songs for his new album is a striking surprise. In many ways book and new album Circles Super Bon Bon Sleepless How Many Cans? True Dreams of Wichita Monster Man Mr. Bitterness Maybe I’ll Come Down St. Louise Is Listening I Miss the Girl Unmarked Helicopters The Idiot Kings So Far I Have Not Found the Science, a title made up by listing all the song titles within it, is a ‘cleansing’ of the shadows and demons bred in that moment of his life. Revisiting and re-interpreting some of his favourite songs, his intent he states of wanting “to separate the songs — not the recordings, but the songs — from the darkness” and “wanting to figure out what I meant, who I was, where I was when I wrote the songs “, Doughty has created an album of classic tracks stripped and in most cases given a new irresistible aspect in which Soul Coughing fans and those new to the man will eagerly devour.

Admittedly our introduction to Mike Doughty came post Soul Coughing, awareness of the band solid but direct knowledge of their sounds restricted to two or three well-trodden songs recognition wise. This made Circles Super Bon Bon… an album which is more than a re-interpretation for our imagination, a release which for its majority is a uniquely new endeavour to contemplate. This is a plus in many ways though it means any comparison between the originals and what Doughty originally visualised and is explored by him now is for a future discussion. From those which can be compared, Doughty has thinned them down yet built them up with a funk bred energy and a lighter vitality; it is a touch which works a treat though arguably relinquishes some of the potency of the dark spawned lyrics and their provocative impact. The PledgeMusic financed album is an enthralling and invigorating encounter all the same, one which bridges Doughty’s recent solo exploration and Soul Coughing whilst showing the distinct differences.

The album opens with Sleepless, an evocative gentle caress of keys teasing the ear as electronic beats build a cage for music and 539618_10152183023660200_1861384510_nthe unique tones of Doughty to court and at times prowl. The song walks with intent and a slim intensity but one which still offers a shadowed intrigue clad clime around which a reserved yet eager funk seeded swagger adds its adventure. It is an absorbing clarified and tantalising persuasion which ignites a sturdy appetite in those new to the songs and those one suspects well acquainted with the tracks.

Both How Many Cans? and True Dreams of Wichita place a contagious grip upon the senses and emotions, the first with a pulsating lure aligned to another funk kissed dance. Keys and especially the excellent emotive dark tones of the upright bass of Catherine Popper, who stirs up a mystique and compelling resonance across the whole release, enslave the imagination whilst the rhythms with a near metronomic tempting drive the track perfectly. To be honest the drum programming is the one limiting and less successful element of the album, though not enough to make any ruinous contribution as shown here but for personal preferences a live percussionist at least would have added even greater depth to the invention. The second of the pair instantly seduces with the bass again a temptress which cannot be denied from its opening breath whilst Doughty with his eager croon pulls the song into a keen and enthusiastic stroll which is pure infection. Samples also make their small stabs throughout to add further unpredictability to a song which revitalises and improves strikingly on the original.

Super Bon Bon is one of the loftiest pinnacles on the album, the addiction sparking low key magnetic stomp fusing jazz blazes and funk romping to a kinetic compulsion which hot steps across the senses for the fullest temptation. Its might is not quite matched but impressively supported by the likes of the soul flamed Mr. Bitterness, the almost bedlamic virulently contagious Monster Man, and the melancholic beauty that is Maybe I’ll Come Down, a darkly hued enticement which seduces from first note to last. To be fair every song upon Circles Super Bon Bon… is a masterful reflection and unleashing of what Doughty intended initially for the songs, some with more potency and temptation than others as shown by the excellent sinewed stomp of Unmarked Helicopters and the evolving electronic frenzy of So Far I Have Not Found the Science, both two more passion igniting enterprises.

Circles is another track which is more dramatic in its new vision whilst retaining the essence which made it an insatiable tempter of hearts. Losing its discord lilt for a sturdier folk voice but still retaining the hypnotic impossibly addictive bait of the original, the track is a major triumph and opening into the original intent of Doughty. In this instance being able to make the comparison to the first version, a track which has gripped our psyche from its first unveiling, the impression of the dark clouds around him and song back then is pronounced, though you always have to bear in mind the input and creative design of the rest of the band in the creation of the songs which purposely impacted on its shadows too.

Completed by the radiant yet raw shine of St. Louise Is Listening, the album is a captivating insight and though for personal tastes Doughty has achieved greater potency with his recent solo releases, the Good Goose produced Circles Super Bon Bon… makes for one intriguing and with some real gems within it, thoroughly satisfying release.



RingMaster 25/11/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Senser – To The Capsules


It is always hard not to have an extra buzz to the anticipation of a new Senser release and the unleashing of their fifth studio album To The Capsules is no exception. Following the Biting Rhymes EP, an interim covers release between albums, the new ten track tempest from UK’s crossover legends shows the band at its most eclectic yet. Experience and maturity has certainly not diluted their want and intent to stretch their boundaries and on the evidence of the new release Senser have openly taken their consistently adventurous confrontational enterprise and inventive provocation to new levels. The debate is still going on in thoughts as to whether the album is their finest moment to date but certainly with a compelling expanse of imagination within a sumptuous storm of metal, hip hop, and electronica to simplify it all alongside the as expected political and social lyrical confrontation from the sextet, To The Capsules is a bright blaze in a fiery musical year.

Fan -funded through a highly successful Pledgemusic campaign and released via Imprint Music, the self-produced album takes the strong base established on the band’s comeback record How To Do Battle of 2009, and expands it into an intensive, incendiary, and satisfaction filling encounter. With a live presence which has accelerated into one of most exciting and inspiring over the past couple of years, Senser stir things up to another tempestuous height with To The Capsules, a record returning the band to the fore of genre merging invention and antagonistic ingenuity.

Big bulging magnetic rhythms open up the release, the initial pulsating lure of Devoid an immediate seizure of ears and thoughts. Senser-To-The-Capsules-cover-hi-resSoon after the guitar of Nick Michaelson is sending scars of searing sonic temptation across the rhythmic slavery, the merger only accelerating the hunger already brewing from the album’s entrance. Taking a stand of classic metal seeded enterprise alongside the still compelling rhythms, vocalist Heitham Al-Sayed unleashes his distinctive and passionate narrative delivery. It is prime Senser at this point but with a growl and predation which is as fresh a bait as ever laid down by the band. The album features guest vocalist iMMa across its length, the excellent vocalist having toured with the band since founding member Kerstin Haigh stepped down last year, and even as support on the song through the chorus raises the temptation and sultriness wrapping the metal bred intensity. As the predatory bass stalking of James Barrett and the outstanding drum exploits of Johnny Morgan, as well as the desk twisting skills of Andrew Clinton (aka DJ Awe) conjure greater shadows and traps for the listener to be enthralled by, the track is an immense and memorable lure into To The Capsules.

The following Time Travel Scratch drips intrigue and simmering seduction from its opening sample and coaxing, the DJ craft of Clinton stalked by the bestial bass sound conjured by Barrett immersed in a psychedelic funk kissed weave of imaginative persuasion. The track at times reminds of nineties UK rap group Honky, its grooves and senses mesmerising rhythms a similar toxicity wrapped in a soul and jazz funk fusion. The invigorating dance makes way for another lofty peak for the release. Witch Village with more than a whispered element of the weight and might of debut album Stacked Up to it, courts groove metal vengefulness and classic rock melodic enterprise for a result which is an aggressive and fearsome blaze of aural exploration and lyrical incitement.

The brilliant Wounded Spectre continues the torrent of diversity already rampaging across the album, its hardcore/punk rabidity linked to an alternative metal invention. Riffs are a carnivorous instigator of the passions whilst the sonic noise rock like stabs from Michaelson fall like shards of aural manna around the vocal vociferousness provided by Al-Sayed and iMMa. It keeps the album at its highest plateau, and is soon backed by the scintillating Break The Order, the track two and a half minutes of thrash ‘n’ punk fury. Take a pinch of Motorhead, The Grumpynators, Fuckshovel, and maybe a little Five Finger Death Punch and you have another piece of Senser alchemy to bask within.

The sultry sirenesque beckoning of iMMa within Alpha Omega and its sweet Eastern bred toxicity only increases as the track unveils intensive sinews and spite and melodies as virulently tempting as any release this year, whilst its successor Liquidity is a beguiling fluid heat of rap vocals, scratching squeals, and a psychedelic wash with a flavour of Dizraeli and the Small Gods to it. Neither track triggers the intensity of passion as their predecessors but both leave appetite greedy and satisfaction full to continue the raging pleasure.

Echelon features Kerstin Haigh on vocals alongside Al-Sayed and is another which just fails to reach earlier heights but for unpredictable and exhausting adventure is on the frontline, the track a bruising and uncompromising scorching fire of metal and hard rock rapaciousness. In its distinct character Chemtrails which has UK hip hop artists Junior Disprol and Manage guesting on its offering, also has a hunger which toys with rabidity within its electronic swamp and brass irresistibility. It is a challenging swarm of aural fascination, a glorious investigation which adds another startling aspect to the album whilst setting up the closing seven minute epic, Let There Be War. Despite the track epitomising all the strengths and invention of Senser it is a little disappointing, lacking that essential spark though like the other songs which slip below the album’s fullest heights, it is more down to the quality surrounding them on the album than any major shortcomings within its skilled and provocative walls.

      Nevertheless To The Capsules is a thrilling and richly exciting release and Senser back as one of the most innovative and boundary worrying bands in British rock, metal, rap….well within any genre they wish to employ.



RingMaster 25/11/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Canvas Wall: Thinking Out Loud

After the first listen to the debut album from UK alternative rock band Canvas Wall came to a close the first reaction was WOW! Subsequent plays and attention to Thinking Out Loud only enforced that reaction to louder and greater heights as the album showed itself to be one of the more inspiring releases this year. Every song no matter its delivery, whether reserved and expressive or charging and dramatic, is a big hearted anthemic infection which is irresistible to resist. The album has a familiar gait brought through unfamiliar sounds and songs to make for a strong and frequent companion long into the future.

The band formed in 2008 from the seeds of the combined of talents of Simon Dounis (vocals, guitar)and Craig Rogerson (drums),who were already playing together in Malta. Relocating to the UK, the pair was joined by Alvin Ho (guitar) and Nathan Bryans (bass) as the band found a full and powerful line-up. The next couple of years saw the quartet working on new material as well as touring, with their live debut coming at the 100 Club in London. Their debut single Sooner or Later and the quickly following by Close to the Edge, both found strong responses and good acclaim in 2010 from media and fans alike. With a video for the second song the following year made by the world famous visual effects company, The Mill, building and increasing the momentum of the band, new album Thinking Out Loud has all the armoury and stunning sounds to throw Canvas Wall right into the deserved headlights of mass exposure.

Financed through Pledgemusic, the album is an instant glamour for the senses with opener City Lights, its charms and melodic infection as dazzling as the subjects in its title. With stomping beats and charged riffs the song paces the senses with eager intent, and once joined by the impressive vocals of Dounis who instantly marks himself as a fine and impressive voice, it draws an even deeper connection from its guest. With big melodies to accompany the bulging anthemic feel it offers, the track is a magnetic lure from which there is no willing return, a stirring and impactful beginning from which any album could learn a thing or two.

The following Make it Count takes a step back on the energy though is no less dramatic in its presence. Already by this he second song that earlier mentioned familiarity is a strong caress upon the ear though no one comes to mind as an obvious comparison. With the big boned rhythms and burning melodic power there are pop essences of a Lloyd Cole and The Commotions and the rock textures of a Soundgarden or Pearl Jam but it is all uniquely and thrillingly Canvas Wall.

The excellent Stand On A Mountain and new single The Road To Bliss continue the stunning quality, the first another part stadium rock like powder keg of infection and the second, an eighties whispering electro touching slice of imaginative and towering triumph which ignites tingles where tingle fear to tread.

As the likes of the swaggering I Wish You Well, the riveting Take It All with its twisting dynamics and a title which epitomises the whole attitude of the album, and the brilliant Close To The Edge ignite the heart, the release is verging on places only loved ones can access. The latter of the three is an orgasmic aural slice of magnificence which will forever play in the head every time the band name is mentioned. With power chords as incendiary as any storm and a passion which is impossible to resist the song is a colossus of rock pop majesty.

From beginning to end Thinking Out Loud is a stunning romp from which the deepest satisfaction is spawn, the further likes of Don’t Look Down, What Have I Done, and Not In My Hands to name just three more, continuing the constant rapture. Canvas Wall are a big band with even larger sounds and the time ahead just the gateway for them to explode to the greatest heights.


RingMaster 10/09/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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