The Machismo’s – Share One With A Friend

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At times listening to Share One With A Friend, the new album from The Machismo’s, it is hard to decide whether it is a kaleidoscope of its author’s talents and imagination or a bedlam of the same. It is one of the most eclectic and unpredictable escapades you could wish to be confronted with and one of the most inescapably enjoyable.

The album consists of fifteen one of a kind slices of creative exploration and mischief, and the first new songs from the band in eighteen years. Its sound ranges from indie and alternative to punk and noise rock with experimentation at every turn. The band itself probably described their music and release best via their Facebook page where it says they are “Putting the Punk and the Weirdness back into Indie.” with “Now includes added poetry….” as an extra essence. It is a suggestion that they certainly live up to within Share One With A Friend.

The band itself is the brainchild of Sam Marsh, once of the compelling and irresistible Jacob’s Mouse. Initially a solo project, The Machismo’s formed in 1995 and recorded two full albums in Sam’s home cassette portastudio. Recruiting additional members for their live exploits, the band never really exploded into serious action though and disappeared with many recordings put aside unreleased as Sam moved onto other projects. Almost two decades later though, he relooked at those songs and releases that lay awaiting attention and realising their quality and worth, released the 1996 recorded debut album Good Things About To Happen in 2013 whilst also reviving the band with Rachel Marsh and Karly Stebbings. The album was a striking invitation for those of us missing the Bury St Edmunds hailing band first time around to explore, and it seems a spark for Sam himself to push The Machismo’s on with new zeal in what is a very exciting music scene within his home town right now. As mentioned, Share One With A Friend offers the first brand new tracks from the band in a long time whilst equally offering reasons to suggest that The Machismo’s is one of the most compelling propositions within the British music scene, past and present.

The album opens with the warm and fuzzy indie pop of The Loveliest, the song a sizzle of melodic guitar jangle and robust rhythms around the expressive tones of Sam. It has an echo of the tracks within that debut album as a raw and unfussy elegance captivates as potently as the catchy swing of the song. It is a straight forward start, in comparison to things to come, and an alluring one with its additional folkish hues before the unpredictable tango of Vrrrm! takes over. Beats throw their agitated lures all over the place from the start, though finding more restraint as punkish flames of guitar align with the great dual vocal persuasion. The further ears get into it, the more volatile and thrilling things become; all the time a debut album era Squeeze essence adding to the off-kilter indie punk attraction of the song.

cover_RingMasterReviewThe outstanding Collapse To Be Rebuilt grips ears and imagination next with its garage punk infused punk ‘n’ roll. With an addictive swagger as riffs and rogue voices add their unconventional roars, the Iggy Pop meets Pere Ubu like stomp has ears and body bouncing, and an already awoken appetite licking its lips and greedy to indulge in the following dark theatre of Bad Dreams.  Straight away a grumbling static storm crowds and rumbles around vocal poetry as a single slim guitar melody adds its own melancholic emotion to that of the vocals within the thickly compelling piece.

It is hard not to think of Jacob’s Mouse a little as the sultry sway and bewitching climate of When You Know It’s Real seduces ears next, its bulbous rhythmic swing the spine for flirtatious melodic vocals and the percussive imagination making equally irresistible advances within the excellent track. It has a brilliance of presence and fun which is emulated instantly by the punk devilry of Rise Again. Snarling guitars opens up and a flirtatious noir lit hook pushes on the irresistible encounter; the latter swiftly joined by the swinging vocal persuasion which as much as anything urges hips and spirit to get involved. Twanging bass groans, sonic sighs, and ear clipping beats only add to the smile inducing adventure of drooping hopes and their Viagra crafted resurrection; whilst the combined festivity of all creates one of those moments that only lingers.

Through the likes of the muggy aired and sonically bracing Should Recognise and in turn the folkish canter of Plastic Surgery, with Sam again leaning on his poetic craft as much as his musical prowess, band and album surprise and enthral, using the following Belvia to stir up an even stronger hunger with its scuzzy pop punk trespass. It has an old school punk tone to its rapacious character and energy too, a hue which only adds to the dirty and inviting bait rushing through ears.

Post punk meets indie discord is maybe the best description for the ear grabbing, pleasure giving lo fi stroll of Gotcha!, bands like The Three Johns and Swell Maps coming to mind for certain essences of the song. To be fair though, any references are hints to portray the individuality of song and The Machismo’s free and rebellious experiments of sound and imagination which continue to evade expectations with the folk laced croon of A Better Man and the addiction forging shuffle of The Storm. Like The Jazz Butcher meets Mark E. Smith but not, the latter track is manna to ears and passions; the kind of stripped back rock ‘n’ roll with a grin in its heart that all music should be bred from.

The album concludes with the trio of firstly, the melodically salty and slightly Cajun scented However Nice You Are, There’s Always Someone Who Think’s You’re A, the Pixies-esque garage punk rumble of Class A High, and finally the nursery bred and chimed ingenuity of Machismo’s 4 Tha Kids!; all three songs offering yet more fresh twists in the album’s tale to feel stimulated and refreshed by.

The Machismo’s is not exactly a new band but their presence and invention within the album feels like something that is, which of course the album’s songs are.  So if you are looking for the unconventional but something damn good too, then go Share One With A Friend.

Also worth noting as treating yourself with is The Poets Pendulum: Is It Good Or Is It Shit?, an album of Sam Marsh’s poetry which he has been bringing to the band’s live shows for quite a while to eager responses. Both albums are available as Name Your Price Downloads @ https://themachismos.bandcamp.com/album/share-one-with-a-friend with Share One With A Friend also available on very Ltd Ed vinyl.

https://www.facebook.com/TheMachismos   http://themachismos.tumblr.com/

Pete RingMaster 21/04/2016

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Slice Of Life – Love And A Lamp-Post

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Since co-founding and being the raging roar of punk band Crass in 1977, Steve Ignorant has challenged and examined life and society with voracious intent. It is a constant part of his art whether music or in other mediums, a skilled confrontation which never loses its potency it seems, certainly taking his new band and release, Love And A Lamp-Post ,as the freshest example. Slice Of Life is an acoustic project employing poetry and spoken pieces within a maybe best described as folk street punk embrace. It is a fascinating window upon life, a snarl at prejudices and wrongs with gentle personal contemplation. The album ebbs and flows in potency at times but at no point are ears and thoughts less than thoroughly involved and wanting more.

Slice of Life sees Ignorant linking up with pianist/vocalist Carol Hodge who also worked with Ignorant on the Last Supper project, guitarist Pete Wilson who again was part of Last Supper, and upright bassist Lucas Martin. The result is a release which swiftly sparks the imagination as it makes its reflections and incisive commentary on a life we are all part of in some form or other.

The album’s title track starts things off, a caress of acoustic guitar soon lying with a pungent expression of keys and dark bass shadows as vocals provide the crooning narrative. It is a tantalising proposition, melodies a tangy hue to the plainer but no less magnetic and eventful tones of Ignorant. There is a drama to the lyrical and musical character of the song which is more black and white TV play like than cinematic but certainly a visually sparking essence soaking the whole album and is reinforced as the opening of next up Killing Time lures with a smiling street bred skit. It reminds of the Johnny Wore Black album Walking Underwater from earlier this year which employs samples taken from a documentary based on the streets and real everyday life. As the opening to the second song leads into its captivating heart, the track also reminds and confirms something Ignorant said about Love And A Lamp-Post recently; “Years ago I read a book called Brighton Rock, for days the atmosphere of that story stayed with me and I’ve always wanted to create an album that would have the same effect on people.” Blessed with siren-esque harmonies from Hodge which seduce as this time Ignorant’s expression of piano keys colour his potent words, the song makes it easy for thoughts to slip into the small and imposing creative theatre and inescapable honesty of its incitement. The track mesmerises the imagination much as its successor Happy Hour with its initial sixties like melodic temptation leading to a more sultrily exotic 86701stroll of radiant keys and smouldering chords. The piano of Hodge is a lingering tempting providing rosy colour to the rawer reality of vocals and seductive bass.

Next up is You, a short spoken prose piece pointing an uncompromising finger at portions of society and those who govern it. Thoughts bring forth references to the recently released Waging War album from UK punks The Duel, which used a similar ingenuity to matching success between and to open songs. It is a potent piece benefitting from its brief presence, a short sharp poke before Here I Stand steps forward with its guitar and vocal questioning. It is richly effective bait for thoughts but spreads further into the passions with the delicious flames of trumpet provided by Dave Land.

Eleven Chimneys is like its predecessor a song which opens with strong appeal but finds greater compelling persuasion as other elements join the spine of provocative vocals, this time it being the temptress like harmonic breeze of Hodge, her voice as virulent a lure for ears as her rigorous piano charm and Ignorant’s lyrical prowess. The song serenades as it opens its personal angst, bass and guitar adding varied shades to the elegant yet unfussy nature of the excellent encounter.

From the wonderfully anthemic The Way Things Are where everything resourcefully colludes to raise an emotional call to arms, the album moves into the riveting spoken tale of The Home Coming. It is a sublimely descriptive portrait of a lonely soul, memories and bleak hues of life the persistent scenery for the heart of the track’s protagonist. With slim but complimentary hints of piano, the piece is a powerful moment on the album, though not one personally to explore with every listen of Love And A Lamp-Post, more a moment to use sparingly to keep its potency at full strength.

Final track Slice of Life leaves imagination and ears basking in another masterfully crafted embrace of low key but vivacious melodies with passion fuelled and uncompromising words. The song is an irresistible finale to an enthralling and thoroughly enjoyable release. There has been no diminishing of Steve Ignorant’s discontent and ability to challenge society’s ills over the past three decades and more, it just comes with broader invention and absorbing adventure as proven by the excellent Love And A Lamp-Post, which as the band name says is just a warts and all Slice Of Life.

Love And A Lamp-Post is available now via Overground Records @ https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/love-and-a-lamp-post/id925320410

https://www.facebook.com/SteveIgnorantSliceoflife

RingMaster 02/2/2014

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