The Horror Vacui – Scissor Crystal Eyes

Established in their home state of Tennessee, alternative rock band The Horror Vacui seem ready to take the next step into a wider recognition and spotlight. That is certainly the impression one gets from their new EP Scissor Crystal Eyes. Following up their well received debut album, the new release is an impressive and expressive collection of songs which shows a band accomplished in sound and songwriting.

The Nashville quartet of Kyle Kelly (vocals, guitars, synth, percussion), Ted Fox (guitars, piano, percussion), Rico Whitfield (bass, synth, vocals), and Jonathan Parrish (drums), from the EP alone seem a quartet with firm sights and intent on their direction musically and as a band. The impression one gets from the four songs on show here is that the band is still evolving into their own distinct sound but possess already craft and invention to create striking and fully enjoyable songs.

Formed in 2010 with their first album coming the same year, the band immediately after the release of their debut won the Ditto Music Live Battle of the Bands, a prestigious event which saw them beat 42 other established acts in Nashville. A flow of live shows and first single Melete Thanatou followed, all gathering more and more acclaim which with the release of Scissor Crystal Eyes which was recorded with Lloyd Aur Norman and Jonathan Paul Parrish at Villain Place, should only grow and grow.

The Horror Vacui, pronounced vac-u-eye, open up the release with the best song Futile Arrangements. With an immediate hypnotic hook and pulsating bass the track brings an instant heated presence before the ear. The vocals of Kelly have an expressive emotive tone and combined with the electrified atmosphere brought by the synths and guitars there is a Placebo/At The Drive In feel to the track as well as flavouring which reminds of the likes of Post Adolescence and Mind Museum. The song has an almost bristling intensity throughout which ruffles the senses whilst exposing them to excellent melodic caresses and sonic invention. As it makes its journey the song opens its slightly discordant charms to even greater effect and emerges as certainly one of the most infectious but fully rounded songs this year.

The following Million Gunshots enters on a more restrained though no less passionate swagger. Another great riff and sound from the bass fuels the song alongside incisive guitar play and firm and punchy rhythms. It has a more fluid flow than the opener though maybe lacks the jabbing intensity, but is an equally impressive piece of songwriting and realisation. It almost stalks the ear with an intimidating energy whilst distracting it with excellent melodic and sparking invention, and continues the excellent start to the release.

All In My Mind and Time To Die show a variation in the release and sound of the band. The first is an emotive ballad which coaxes the ear with crystalline melodies and crooning guitar designs. From personal preference it lacks the power and thrill of the previous song but there is no denying the beauty and passion which lights up the air within the song. The second is a similar heart borne track which tugs on the emotions with a needy plea and outstanding grace. It is rare for a ballad to have an anthemic feel but the song certainly gathers up ones thoughts and emotions to bring them into play through its ambient and feistier moments. It is a glorious song which grows and grows on the heart through each visit and finds a definite place in ones affections.

The EP closes with Ink Spills, a song which with its almost grouchy bass sounds adds further variety to the release. It has a strong and full atmosphere with again a heart spawn passion and instinctive energy. The heaviest and most intense of the songs power wise it is an excellent slice of rock which only lacks a lingering presence after its departure to truly ignite fires.

Scissor Crystal Eyes will be an introduction for a great many people to The Horror Vacui and it could not be a finer welcome to their natural and striking sounds. The band are well on the way to finding and exploring the markets further afield they seek with this excellent EP, now it is up to you to welcome them.

http://www.thehorrorvacui.com

Ringmaster 30/07/2012

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Candidate23: Stay Awake EP

Photo @ copyright Jeb Smith

The new EP UK indie band Candidate23 graces the ear like a breath of fresh air, its masterful weave of striking melodies, expressive vocals, and heart borne invention instantly making one stand up and take a focused attentive look which many other releases fail to achieve. All bands deserve and get from music lovers a respectful attention but some demand a little bit more by offering something extra. Upon their Stay Awake EP  the quartet do just that to take one on a fulfilling emotional ride from first note to last, the vibrant experience a complete and joyful pleasure.

Hailing from North West England the band formed in 2010 and have already made a noticeable mark through sharing stages with the likes of Funeral for a Friend, Young Guns and The King Blues as well as with debut single One For You in the November of their formation year and its successor Confusion, both riding high in the iTunes Rock Chart in 2011. Their sound is tagged as indie pop but there is a height and depth to it that goes much further in sound and within the listener.

The release starts off with Mona (I’m not leaving) and an immediate engagement with the ear is achieved through its persistent yet unobtrusive guitar welcome and keys that soar with style around the ear. As vocalist Will Hayes adds his impressive tones the song takes a deep breath before swelling with a purring bassline from Ryan Dennett alongside firm beats from Jono Tringham and the expressive guitar play of Alex McIntyre and Andy Perrin. With a flavour that reminds a little of Mind Museum and Post Adolescence the song leaves the emotions pumped and eager for more.

The title track steps up next with a less boisterous flow from the first but with just as satisfying results. Vocalist Hayes within two songs shows what a fine talent he is, his vocals strongly expressive and with a depth that is controlled and easily impressive. The song does not grab as firmly as the opener or as those that follow but more than provides the evidence of the songwriting skills of the band and the realisation of their well rounded and imaginative ideas.

10 Minutes Of Fame is an emotive song which caresses the ear with a textured drama and weight that pulls one deep within its captivating heart. The song opens up the band to nothing but praise, the song though less instant as maybe the others taking the senses on an impactful stroll through the artistry and passion of Candidate23.

The best song on the release closes things up beautifully. Karma is majestic, its glowing soundscape a warm and vibrant field of sound to share feelings and thoughts with. The picky guitars play the senses like a harp whilst the rhythms and bass add a bubbling vein to the song, and the orchestral sounding expanse that washes over at times adding to the wonder and magic of the song.

Candidate23 at times remind of other bands but one can never truly pinpoint who or how but there are moments on Stay Awake when thoughts of bands like Placebo, The Verve, and Doves flit through. Their sound has a friendliness which seems familiar but has a distinction which is fully their own. We will hear a lot more of Candidate23 as they make what is surely a rapid rise and an eager anticipation is in full flight after this release.

http://www.candidate23.com

RingMaster 29/03/2012

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Varnish: Each To Each

here has been a ceaseless flow of bands harking back to and using revitalised flavours from the post-punk bands of the 80s for a while now. Many have impressively reinterpreted those obvious influences whilst others are open in their borrowing but a few have created an instinctive sound that would see them as a major force back then and a thrilling proposition now. One such group is Seattle band Varnish, a group that mesmerises and inflames the senses of most who come across their discordant jangly charms and striking cutting melodies.

Formed in 2007 by vocalist and lyricist Amber Bird and guitarist Jason Cope the band has collected many adoring hearts whilst winning over their hometown and in past months by flexing their darkly angelic wings further afield through channels such as the Reputation Introduces Radio Show. Varnish is completed by drummer aNdi pUzL (though the recorded tracks on the EP feature Ben Crosby) and bassist Johnny Straube whose own excellent band Post Adolescence where he caresses the ear as guitarist and vocalist, is also a leading and strongly acclaimed band in Seattles vibrant musical scene. The quartet have united to deliver a sound that is refreshing and equally nostalgic and a debut EP Each To Each, that lights up the heart with clean but dirty punk sounds and intense but undemanding energy.

In their bio the bands says their music consists of “Songs about the hopes we cling to and the regrets that cling to us. Rooted in rain-soaked cities and dry mouths, Varnish want to stand by you when the lights go out and occasionally point out the stars”.  Those two sentences sum up the music and the lyrics perfectly and gives you a clear idea of the poetic but incisive writing of Bird. The songs bring out the darker sides of life and relationships, those showed corners all have or will experience at some point but there is always a spark to turn things into a hopeful positive, if even a mere glimpse of light. Lyrically and musically there is a perfect union, the words as open and dark as the sounds and the music as lively and refreshing as the lyrics.

Each To Each in a way comes in two parts, the eight track release made up of five studio recordings and three live tracks. Recorded at the world famous London Bridge studios and produced and mixed by Mark Clem (Blanco y Negro, Post Adolescence) at his own Soul Kitchen studio the five recordings are impressive to say the least. Each song is a mini classic using upright riffs and minimalistic tones that fluctuate between urgent directness and more expansive eager crescendos. Believe It opens up the release with a probing pulsating bassline and chatty guitar riffs that taunt and tease openly. The songs sounds like a hybrid of the militant punk of Au Pairs and the sparse simplicity of Young Marble Giants, two iconic post-punk UK bands from the 80s.

Not Complaining is almost predatory in its mid paced subdued beat from Crosby and Straube, the rhythm seemingly looking and waiting for the moment to pounce. Again there are unavoidable comparisons to bands like Au Pairs and the offbeat frivolity of Martha And The Muffins but all in an extremely positive and deeply enjoyable way. Bird delivers the words with confidence and a heartfelt energy showing she is living the song as she performs not just singing some words. This is especially apparent in Bruise Me where she almost spits out the words with a keenest verging on malice and bitter venom. Musically too the track has a belligerence and spite from the grumbling menacing bassline and cutting strokes of a fuzzed up guitar.

The remaining two studio tracks carry on the impressive quality and sound. Slipping comes with a Joy Division toned sound that opens into a jangling melodic warmth with Cope meandering wonderfully behind Birds spoken parts. It is the most varied of all the tracks though not as instantly addictive but that makes it a gem of a different colour. Tied To My Chair is an attitude soaked punk song with a glorious FU bassline and dirty bleeding guitars. The song has a feel of X-Ray Spex about it especially in Birds again spiteful vocal display.

The three live tracks featuring aNdi pUzL on drums are admittedly not of the best production quality but more than show a band that is worth checking out live and songs that one is eager to hear at close quarter or from the studio. Insignificant Other and Wanna are again true punk songs with the latter showing Bird giving a Siousxie Sioux like performance.

Each To Each is an outstanding release that for the listeners of Reputation Introduces is an almost greatest hits type EP, with a few of the songs being aired eagerly on the live radio shows. If there is one complaint it is that Varnish have unleashed an EP so addictive one cannot get it off the playlist long enough to review anything else.

Get Each To Each @http://varnish.bandcamp.com/

http://www.varnishcentral.com/

RingMaster 12/12/2011

MyFreeCopyright.com Registered & Protected

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