The Poly-Esters – First Cut

The Poly-Esters pic_RingMaster Review

And the excitement builds…alongside thick anticipation for The Poly-Esters and their proposed debut album for 2016. The reason all stems from the band’s freshly unleashed EP First Cut, three tracks of attitude drooling punk rock which just gets under the skin in a relentless incitement of rousingly fiery rock ‘n’ roll. It is a proposition which is potently nostalgic, furiously fresh, and one more defiant slab of loud proof that British punk ‘n’ roll outshines all on its day.

The Poly-Esters is a Blackpool bred force consisting of guitarists/vocalists Lola Fenix and Catlow, bassist/vocalist Syphi Lizz, and drummer Elliska Tron. Formed we believe in 2014, it is fair to say that the quartet has been stirring up an eager fuss for their riot grrrl/grunge punk fuelled rock ‘n’ roll as evidenced by their storming performance and subsequent reactions at the Nice N Sleazy Festival and Rebellion this year. Now it is their debut release attempting to do the brewing of hungry attention and already in its few weeks out, First Cut has done a stirring and sterling job.

The Poly-Esters_RingMaster Review     From their first track upon First Cut, The Poly-Esters fall on ears with the belligerent nature of Vice Squad, the ravenous and resourceful tenacity of The Kut, and the off kilter invention of The Raincoats. A strain of familiarity colludes with one of brand new imagination as opener Fooling Noone straight way gets to grips with body and emotions. Instantly riffs and wicked beats are raining down on the senses but tempered by the infectiousness which is just as swiftly fuelling the persuasion. In no time a healthily luring hook is working away in the swing of things too whilst the raw coated and seriously engaging vocals from all three string manipulators are as magnetic as the sounds around them. The track stomps along before suddenly slipping into something unpredictable and transfixing, a great discord kissed shimmer of calm which has a definite spice of The Slits to it. Things are soon feistily rocking again of course, bringing the song to a bruising and boisterous close whilst setting the EP off to a tremendous start.

Things only get better though, second track Cracked wrapping ears in a sonic mist from within which a flirtatious bassline winks and a searing flame of guitar erupts. The beats of Tron leave nothing in the locker as they join the affair but as in the first song, the instinctive catchiness of the band’s sound involves rather than intimidates. It does have an inherent snarl though which escapes through vocals and the rugged seduction on offer, it here aligned to riffs and short grooves which finger the imagination and a rhythmic inducement acting as a protagonist to well flung bodies.

Binge And Purge completes the line-up of thrills and again finds something to just outshine its predecessor. Opening with a rhythmic enticing which is almost duelling with ears as it crawls over their already eager appetite, the track’s predatory start is further enhanced by the acidic caress of the guitars but urged into a more even tempered stroll. That initial stalking of the senses is soon back igniting ears though, bringing an extra tingle of pleasure with it. That earlier reference to The Raincoats is most rowdy here but again The Poly-Esters use the hues to create their own landscape of imagination and thick temptation in on irresistible proposal within another in the shape of one thrilling introduction to the band.

Whenever the band’s first album is out it cannot come quick enough. We often label bands as ones to watch, and always with strong evidence but with The Poly-Esters watching is too late, climbing on board their ascent from the off and feeling their punk ingenuity manipulating body and soul, the only option.

The First Cut EP is out now via the band’s Bandcamp profile.

Pete RingMaster 03/09/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

For more exploration of the independent check out http://www.zykotika.com/

The Decline – Resister

The decline_RingMaster Review

Third album in and Australian skate punksters, The Decline, continue to offer contagion fuelled stomps that simply rouse up the spirit. Resister is packed to the rafters with imagination crafted and wholly magnetic propositions, tracks which only want to offer a good time whilst uncaging a lyrical substance easy to get involved with. Pop/skate punk boundaries are certainly not worried too forcibly by the thirteen track adventure but any resistance to its unstoppable virulence is swiftly dead in its invigorating waters.

Formed in 2006, the Perth hailing quartet made its first strong attention grabbing mark with debut album I’m Not Gonna Lie to You in 2010, an encounter straight away pushing the band towards international awareness. Its acclaimed successor of the following year, Are You Going To Eat That, helped spark the opportunity for The Decline to undertake a headlining tour of Europe as well as a Japanese tour with Israeli pop-punkers Useless ID and So-Cal 90’s super band Implants. Across the years the band has continued to share stages with the likes of Descendents, Unwritten Law, Frenzal Rhomb, Propagandhi, Bodyjar, Bouncing Souls, Anti-Flag, Lagwagon, No Use For A Name, No Fun At All, Guttermouth, and The Flatliners, they amongst a great many others. 2014 saw the release of the crowd-funded Can I Borrow A Feeling EP as well as another hectic tour schedule whilst after a line-up shuffle earlier this year, The Decline set about recording Resister, its immediate unveiling coming just before the band hits the festivals Punk Rock Holiday in Slovenia, Munich’s Free and Easy Fest, and Rebellion, the latter one part of a UK tour running through August. With further global shows in the offing too, Resister provides the most potent incentive to check the band out and make this a summer of insatiable romping.

Resister Artwork_RingMaster ReviewThe release opens with New Again, a short, punchy encounter which quickly sets the creative scene for the album. Jangling melodies flirt with muscular rhythms whilst the potent vocals of guitarists Pat Decline and Ben Elliott unite and entwine across the tenacious start to the album. There are no surprises but plenty of fiercely flavoursome sounds setting up ears and appetite for the following Giving Up is a Gateway Drug, the first single from Resister. With the thumping beats of Harry steering the song into view, his drums a blur of activity, the song twists and turns with emotion and energy. Every second is a tempestuous and easy persuasion for ears, vocals again slightly outshining the sounds, but all aspects crafted with inventive and unpredictable elements.

As strong as its start is, Resister kicks up another gear or two from I Don’t Believe onwards. Featuring guest vocals from Cameron Baines of Bodyjar, the third track boldly enters on rolling anthemic rhythms, they in turn laced with sonic spicing from the guitars before it all colludes in one seriously infectious incitement. A whiff of older schooled punk embraces poppier exploits resulting in a rigorous and pungent anthem swinging punches at the music scene and stirring up new hunger for the release. It is an appetite fed just as healthily and fully by Almost Never Met You, a song littered with tangy riffs, sparkling hooks, and the ever impressing vocal combination. The throaty bass twang of Ray Ray as good as steals the show but is matched all the way by the spices just mentioned and a Green Day meets Bodyjar essence coating the excellent encounter.

Both The Blurst of Times and You Call This A Holiday? keep the album’s new levels roaring in ears and thoughts, the first with fiery atmosphere and attitude to body and voice, and the second through its seamless and magnetic passage from a riveting acoustic/vocal lure into another throttle to the floor ball of creative and physical energy. Each, but especially the former, has an air of The Living End to the full-blooded tempting whilst Camberwell Street straight after, explodes with a richer hardcore but melody drenched escapade. It does not quite live up to its predecessors, but again with skilled endeavour and ideation spicing every aspect the song, hits the spot nicely before making way for the similarly successful Broken Bones.

The thickly pleasing Wrecking Ball fires up the passions, even with its opening barbershop skit. Subsequently into an unbridled bellow of aggression and explosive energy, the track is an easy persuasion of rippling rhythms, inescapable hooks, and more potent vocal combinations. But as good as it is though, it gets over shadowed by the outstanding You’re Not The Waitress, another pop infused punk tempest which is pure contagion.

The thirty second Little Voices is more of the same, revealing a similarity to the previous track and others around it without losing its individual potency during a short tenure of ears. It stirs the emotions nicely which Underworld Tour takes on a thrilling ride straight after with its NOFX/Motion City Soundtrack/ Set Your Goals like fusion of sound and imagination. Again rousing is the best word to describe its heavy satisfaction breeding character as it leaves the listener on a high ready for the closing catchy onslaught of Start Again. The song sums up The Decline sound perfectly, melodically hot, energetically sizzling, and creatively lively in a gripping finish to a fine album.

As suggested earlier, major surprises come in rare batches across Resister yet few moments truly feed expectations and every song is a galvanic exploit hard to turn away from. That certainly works for us!

Resister is available now through Pee Records (Australia) @ https://peerecords.bandcamp.com/album/resister, Bird Attack (USA) @ https://birdattackrecords.bandcamp.com/album/resister-4, and Cargo Records (Europe/UK).

The Decline UK tour dates:

Sat 8th – The Maze, Nottingham

Sun 9th – Rebellion Festival, Blackpool

Mon 10th – New Cross Inn, London w/ MDC (Millions of Dead Cops)

Wed 12th – Brudenell, Leeds w/ MDC (Millions of Dead Cops)

Thu 13th – The Hope And Ruin, Brighton

Fri 14th – Owl Sanctuary, Norwich w/War On Women

Sat 15th – Nice N Sleazy, Glasgow

Sun 16th – Exchange, Bristol w/ Teenage Bottlerocket

Mon 17th – The Fighting Cocks, Kingston

https://www.facebook.com/TheDeclineMusic   http://www.thedeclinemusic.com/

RingMaster 03/08/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @ http://www.reputationradio.net

 

Brassick – Self Titled

Brassick band_RingMaster Review

Building on a reputation earned from their first release and a live presence which has venues aggressively rocking, UK punks Brassick have released their self-titled debut album and fair to say whatever acclaim already garnered should be outshone by all offered this anthemic snarl. Raw and uncompromising yet loaded with a hardcore roar and fierce inescapable hooks to drool over, the release is poised to put the Birmingham quartet of the broadest punk maps.

Formed in 2012, Brassick quickly sparked local attention and support with their fusion of punk, ska, and metal essences. That presence soon gripped wider recognition through the band’s unrelenting live presence which has seen them play with the likes of GBH, Cock Sparrer, UK Subs, and Subhumans amongst many, and the release of the Broke And Restless EP in 2013. Last year saw the foursome continue to ignite the UK live scene, venues and festivals coming under their fiery growl and culminating in a highly successful spot at Rebellion alongside bands such as NOFX, Street Dogs, Stiff Little Fingers, Killing Joke, and The Duel. Already charging through Britain and Europe again this year with festivals and another Rebellion appearance on the schedule, Brassick have made 2015 their biggest year yet with the release of their rousing album.

Produced by bassist Jake Cunningham and guitarist Peter Macbeth, the album opens with Hollow Cries and sirens infusing cold portentous air. Punchy rhythms splinter the scenery next, all embroiled in a sonic mist before the song strides clear with anthemic riffs and rhythms sparked further by the instantly gripping vocals of Nicola Hardy. There is a great essence of attitude and snarl to her tones to match and incite the sounds around her, a pulsating bassline and inflammatory guitar enterprise colluding with the healthy swipes of drummer Jay Jay Khaos open evidence in two riveting and highly persuasive opening minutes.

Brassick cover_RingMaster Review     The punchy exploits of Same Sound bound in next, riffs and beats a feisty lure reinforced by the vocal defiance of Hardy. The metallic edge and texture of the track reminds of US punk metallers Mongrel, whilst the scything expulsions breaking up the song midway are the trigger to adventurous twists before the assault returns to its initial confrontation and sets ears up perfectly for the outstanding tempting of Media Faces. Like early The Duel with a Ruts like reggae predation, the track prowls and roars, forcibly stirring up appetite and imagination through the magnetic guitar craft of Macbeth and the irritable infection of sound and vocals.

Fall Because They’re Blind backs up the potent start to the album though it does not have that extra spark to match its predecessors. Nevertheless with Cunningham’s alluring bass enterprise and an old school punk leaning around Hardy’s ever inciting delivery, the track hits the spot before Drown takes over to stalk the senses. Bass and riffs are a deviously intimidating nudge whilst the beats of Khaos refuse to hold back on their provocation but it is the inventive atmospheric twists and varied vocal persuasion that gives the track an extra impressing potency.

The lyrical and emotional charge of the band pulls no punches on political and social commentary, and breeds a strong and impacting landscape in Sirens where authority wails and anarchic ambience wash over ears as bass and guitar spin their evocative and dramatic web around Hardy’s spoken and accusing narrative. It is a powerful proposal which stands alone or works as the turbulent lead in to the brawling antagonism of Free For All and its UK Subs/Angelic Upstarts like old school growl. The song in turn allows no breath to be taken as it seeds the beginnings of the outstanding Cynical Ties and another stock of gripping irritancy, sharp hooks, and anthemic defiance. There is a great street punk dirtiness to the album and especially accentuates the power and addictiveness of this track and in turn its successor Let Us Go. There is a touch of The Objex to the heart and fire of the second of the two but equally a seventies breeding and modern fury come together to ensure another stirring up on the body and passions.

The grouchy tone and belligerence of Leeches nags and grumbles next, its angry belly bound in more of the unpredictable and striking imagination shaping songwriting and sound which to be honest the band does not use quite enough across the album. When they do it turns great songs into venomous enslavements as here, richly emphasizing the potential coursing through the whole of the album.

The fun and enjoyment comes to a close with the mighty Vagabond Smile. Instantly its rhythmic shuffle traps ears, the song is in control, tightening its grip and lure as vocals across the band come together in a middle finger raised defiance complete with virulent grooves, sharp hooks, and incendiary attitude. It is a riotous end to an invigorating and refreshing album. Brassick use their inspirations and the seeds of punk rock to create their own, not majorly unique, but seriously enjoyable rock ‘n’ roll. Already anticipation of bigger and bolder things from the band is ripe and right now thick pleasure full thanks to their first album.

Brassick is available now @ http://www.brassick.bigcartel.com/ and through STP Records @ http://www.stprecords.co.uk/page4.htm with CD version out September 18th.

https://www.facebook.com/brassickmusic

RingMaster 09/07/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @ http://www.reputationradio.net

Keeping it loud: exploring the world of STP Records with founder Stu Taylor

STPlogo

It is hard not to be rather excited about an ever thriving UK punk and rock ‘n’ roll scene which right now seems to be bubbling rather rigorously with great bands, inspiring releases, and memorable live events. Certainly in the underground, intoxicating and thrilling propositions seem to be a perpetual temptation for our ears, new and older bands with their shows and releases breaching new tenacious creativity with impassioned roars bred from aggressive and uncompromising rock ‘n’ roll. Helping provide support and an outlet for many of those incitements are serious music fans like Stu Taylor and his STP Records. From putting on shows on the Manchester music scene through to becoming a regular port of call at the Rebellion festival, Stu and STP has become one of the most potent and respected presences in the underground scene. Embracing punk to punk n’ roll, basically anything exciting them with flavoursome unbridled rock ‘n’ roll, the label has brought fans some essential and refreshing releases whilst introducing wider attention to their creators artists, and its founders a continual supply of history lingering shows and performances in Manchester and around the UK. Without wanting to sound like an advert, as a music fan and reviewer it is impossible to miss the open appetite and professionalism, insight and passion in wanting to help promote good bands and music within STP. Hearing of new plans and adventure afoot within the label we thought it was time to explore more the people behind many of our favourite encounters of recent times. So we grabbed Stu, piled him with a torrent of questions and went about learning about the background to man and label, future plans and their inspirations, the team behind the face and label, and how he ‘annoys’ the STP ladies at shows…

1185331_483457091780505_1556240827_nHi Stu, a big thanks for taking time away from important things to chat with us J

Can we start by asking some background to and what inspired you to set up STP Records?

The release side of things came about as an offshoot from the shows we have been doing at The Star and Garter here in Manchester since the mid Nineties, and those shows we started to do as bands were simply not playing Manchester. So with a friend, Ian, we used to travel to shows to see bands and simply asked them to come and play in Manchester. Like most promoters, we have been privileged to see a fantastic array of bands down the years, and sometimes that can lead to those bands becoming very good friends as well.

You know how it works, you are in the same room with bands sharing a beer and chatting away about anything and everything, a band mentions that they want to get their songs heard but either don’t know how or have anybody willing to release things.

The very first time we released something was for a band called Sadie Hawkins Dance and it became a collaboration with some Norwegian labels (October Party Records, Goldenmusic, Fucking North Pole Records) so we could get the hang of doing things.

The rest as they say is history as we continue with shows and releases.

Did you have a particular intent with it?

There was no particular intent and no initial thought other than to put on shows in Manchester to begin with to save us travelling when bands we liked were touring. Likewise there was no particular intent with the release side of things other than helping friends out and of course you have to like what you’re releasing as well otherwise it just becomes impersonal. As with anybody that attends a show, I suppose you could argue that the initial intent was, and still is, to have fun doing things and as any of the bands we have worked with will attest, I have always maintained that, and that extends to releases, the fun aspect from start to finish that hand in hand with the hard work and financial outlay leads to that smile when you get that finished product in your hand for the first time….something you don’t get with a download.

Obviously punk rock in its various shades is the focus of STP and your passions as a fan. Has this bred from mere love of the music and like us a hunger to hear and embrace the best of the genre or was there been a musical side to you before moving to create the label?

Various shades sum us up quite well, as we hope our selection of releases to date reflects. Of course in some instances we have more than one release from a band and whilst that becomes immediately identifiable to those buying from us, and fans of that band, we also think that the cross selection of musical styles on offer at STP Records keeps things interesting for us and others, at least we hope so.

Love of music as opposed to a musical background has of course kept us fuelled, and continues to do so, so yes we do like to hear and embrace all that several genres of music have to offer.

That having been said I can bathroom sing up there with the best of them in that tone deaf way so many of us enjoy so much, coupled with that at show beer fuelled singing which again many partake in so I don’t know if that counts as musical background, if so I’m an expert.

How would you say STP has evolved most dramatically since those early days?

Three areas to cover here; live shows, releases, merchandise…

On the live show side of things, from those first tentative steps of winging things and not really knowing what was involved, we now have our own backlines, can and have put on shows in various size venues not just in Manchester but around the UK, and are more than happy to share that equipment and knowledge, which we do frequently.

Regarding releases, again initial enthusiasm has now given way to full knowledge of every release from inception to final product, and in partnership with bands we like to ensure releases get honest reviews which benefit ourselves and bands in regards to constructive positive/negative feedback. We do enjoy reading fuller reviews rather than the one or two sentence variety but do appreciate some zines etc. do not have the space to carry fuller reviews, but all are welcomed.

Merchandise has become an offshoot of both shows and releases and for STP has built into a stall that we are able to adapt in size from a full 3 sided 18ft stall at large shows to a couple of release boxes at local shows. We have also rather than just concentrate on tee shirts and releases, added a whole range of items that cater for people wanting to buy jewellery, hair dye, boot polish, and a whole range of quirky and one off items sourced from a variety of places on our travels.

I think the largest evolvement for STP however is the name getting out and about by word of mouth combined with an online presence, and of course being out and about and recognised. We also count ourselves very lucky that without question, everybody we have worked with, whether band, festival, zine etc. has also endorsed what we do and for that we are grateful; this could I suppose count as a fourth area of evolvement.

For us STP Records is much more than a label, it is a proposition truly supporting the independent punk scene and its artists well beyond just providing an outlet for their releases. We can assume this was and is increasingly the driving force for the label and your personal endeavours?

Very nice of you to say so…Of course we do support as much as possible artists we release for and are reliant on sites like The Ringmaster Review to help us achieve that alongside venues / promoters / radio stations and the general public; all of these combine to hopefully get people out to see a band for the first time if they have not yet seen them or bring them back if they like what they see / hear first time round.

Of course anybody can release anything or put on a show to support a band / scene, and it will always be a work in progress in an ever evolving / changing entity as there is always room to take on board new thoughts. Support within not just the independent punk scene, but any scene / genre works 2 ways for us, we will give it unconditionally and are grateful if we get a return and likewise sometimes we get support and will return it. It doesn’t always work this way but it’s the same in any walk of life so it’s nothing new, you just have to accept it for what it is and move on focusing on what’s relevant to what you are doing, and again this train of thought comes with experience. We like everybody else have made mistakes in this area but for where we are now, we concentrate on the positive and it is this on-going positive thinking that has become our driving force.

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Stu, Sam, and Babs

STP is basically a one man band? How difficult was it to set up the company and more so keep it going in the modern music scene?

Whilst it may seem like a one man band, it’s truly not. Initially a good friend Ian Lewis helped me set up shows back in the early nineties which is where we moved from being paying customers to promoters. Today we also have Samantha Mason (my better half), Barbara Taylor (sister) and Laurence Smith (nephew) who help out in their own inimitable way regards merchandise stalls, taking money / tickets on the door, carrying gear and basically supporting what the public perceives as STP in the manifest form of myself.

Of course people see what I do publicly, with bands and online and it’s easy to see how that is taken as a one man band but the above 3 people are as much STP Records as I am.

I would also count the many promoters we have done joint shows with, the staff past and present at the wonderful Star and Garter in Manchester, the bands we have released with, the people who have paid for our releases or come to our shows, and the staff and promoters at venues worldwide who have booked our bands and played our songs, and Rockers England store on Oldham Street for selling tickets and CD’s…all of these when added together knit a far and wide STP blanket under which we can sleep soundly.

As previously mentioned, anybody can set up a label, put out a release, put on a show. You just need a basic amount of research and how you take it forward is dependent on what you want to put into it or get out of it. And as anybody doing any of these will tell you, you learn as you go, you will make mistakes, you will do things right, you will upset people, you will be upset by people but if you take all that on board and continue, you will know if it’s right for you.

The modern music scene shifts all the time and you have to continuously look at things and not be afraid to change things, and I’ll cover this a little more in one of your other questions coming up a little further down.

Whereas previously you have been running the label alongside ‘real life’, I believe you have recently made STP your full-time job and attention?

I have indeed for many years been fitting a lot of what I do around a full time job. The only time this has been any different was a few years ago when I gave up work to work alongside the fantastic people of Vice Squad until a short illness took me away from this and back into work…but that’s another story for another day.

But yes, the decision was taken by myself with full support from Samantha to hand in my notice at work and I did indeed walk away from the day to day routine. Of course this decision was taken as we have paid off our mortgage and having worked since leaving college. It’s still a little strange for me after 7 weeks…and to be honest as I have mentioned to a few folk, how I fitted so much in before I will never know as I now seem to have so much to do but I am slowly incorporating appreciating time, nature, and more alongside thinking ahead for what I want do personally regards bringing money in, which for the moment is unimportant, and also for changing what we do STP wise, again something I will talk about further down the set of questions.

Was this move something you have intended for a while?

I had intended to do this a while ago as mentioned when I was out and about with Vice Squad, and indeed the last couple of years it has been the main thought to change my life outlook and something I am now dealing with on my own terms with the full support of family and friends as I look to integrate STP into an acceptable lifestyle for myself, Samantha, family and friends.

2015 will see a new shift in direction for STP I believe, can you explain what will be changing and growing with the label?

2015 will see a small change in that following a hectic release schedule in 2014 we have slowed down a touch this year, again to fit into my current lifestyle change. We have just released Horror Movie Matinee by The Obnoxious UK, again another band who over the course of a year or two have impressed with their attitude and friendliness as well as their music naturally, and sometimes you just have to release something to help bands like this get a foothold and that is indeed at this moment in time what I am doing. Outside of this we are planning only another 4 releases this year from Dirt Box Disco, Brassick, The Kingcrows, and Healthy Junkies as we also chase up another 2 outstanding releases from late 2014 yet to emerge….but again, I will cover the change and growth question more in your upcoming 2016 question.

Stu & laurence

Stu & lawrence

What about the live side of your work, shows etc.?

Live wise this is a bit bitter sweet at the moment. Our venue of choice for the last 3 decades for putting on shows in Manchester has been the Star and Garter. The venue has now been issued with a compulsory purchase order connected to the upcoming Northern Rail hub work (a story you can look up elsewhere) and that work is scheduled to begin early 2016.

Now a question I have been asked hundreds of times in the last few months is where will I do shows in Manchester…well the simple answer is that I will not be.

I simply cannot bring myself to begin to build the amazing relationship we have built with this venue, it is something unique and if any promoter elsewhere has the same length of time relationship, you will know exactly what we mean. It will be a sad day if/when it closes but I have taken the decision now to hold a last finale weekend for STP shows here and this will take place on Sat / Sun December 19th / 20th and we are urging people to get their tickets for this as for both ourselves at STP and the venue, it will be an emotional one to bow out on and we are hoping we can sell out 2 nights with everyone simply having an amazing time.

We of course have done shows in other venues in and around Manchester as well as further afield, but in a sporting context we view these as away fixtures with Star and Garter shows our home fixtures. We are truly privileged to have worked with the owners, staff past and present and clientele on some truly amazing shows and there are some amazing stories behind some of those shows.

For the future, the only STP shows that will surface will be Dirt Box Disco shows as that is the band we currently work with on a full time basis, and the occasional album release show for when we do decide on a new full release for a band, but none of those will be in Manchester.

How do you see the UK punk scene right now? From the outside its looks and sounds like it is in one of its healthiest states ever since the late seventies. How have you found it working within it?

Very active would probably be the best description. There is an awful lot going on, more so in some places than others but overall it’s in a good place. There’s a healthy mix of young and old, sometimes combining, sometimes not, but overall keeping things going.

There has always been something happening somewhere since the late seventies regards shows, releases, cafes, record shops and that continues today and long may it do so when we finish and leave our little dent in history.

Working within, we have covered every emotion over the years and I think it’s safe to say that’s the same for anybody who has done it. There is good and bad in all walks of life and people will continue to see it first-hand week in week out, but it all blends into making an ever evolving and hopefully thriving set of conditions for others to jump on board and augment, and as we have aged and grown we have learnt to respect anyone who gets on a stage, anyone who works behind that stage, anyone who puts on a show, anyone who releases anything, and anyone who buys anything or attends anything; they are all jigsaw pieces working to finalise an ever unfinished puzzle.

Can we ask a few things about your own musical tastes etc. like what were and have been the bands inspiring your passions as a fan and to get really involved with music? Has it always been punk first spreading outwards?

I hope this was intended as one question, if not apologies for my making it so but it seems apt. As those who know me well know, the only other interview I have ever done was in November 2006 for http://www.fungalpunknature.co.uk and I hit on this very briefly in that interview. Like anybody else of my age group, music played a big part at school and has remained a big part ever since, and hopefully will do so as I approach the big 50 this year and look beyond that.

I have always been drawn towards noisier bands and fortunate enough even at that young age not to pigeonhole things, something that was sometimes frowned upon for peer pressure purposes in the playground, but nonetheless has stood me in better stead for choosing to look at a broader spectrum. Both Rock and Punk gave me the door to finding that need for loud bands and that was augmented by Indie and extreme metal so to answer the second part of this question, it’s not always been punk first spreading outwards, but a good mix of bands and styles, and to answer the first part there are far too many bands over several years to point at. Of course I feel spoilt at having so many good bands over several good decades to watch and listen to and I hope to continue to be spoiled for a while yet.

How about live, what were your earliest pleasures watching gigs and which again especially went towards sparking an appetite to get involved?625591_3939692244749_705180367_n

Anybody who has been bitten by the watching live show bug will know, it starts young…From watching bands at Butlins Holiday Parks as a kid, to watching bands in school, then progressing to venues and pubs (and underage entry and drinking ones included); there have been many a place and reason for going to see something. My earliest pleasure, and still my favourite pleasure (sometimes much to the STP girls displeasure), I have always loved being in venues as early as possible and I continue this today taking in as much as possible and thus giving every band playing my eyes and ears.

Locally, despite closing venue issues aside, we still have many places to go and watch bands ply their trade on a stage, and that’s the same for most towns and cities. We have of course lost many a venue as well already (Banshee, Boardwalk, Metro, International, Rockworld, Gallery etc. etc.) but there are still places to see live bands and always will be, so as long as there are bands to watch and get involved with, that appetite will hopefully remain intact.

Is there anything about the punk scene or the UK music arena in general which has you feeling excited and alternatively things which frustrate even anger as a fan and a label owner?

Pretty much year on year, it’s the not knowing what’s coming next regards a new band, or a new album that keeps me on my toes. With so much talent out there, you just know that somewhere down the line you’re going to want to do something for a band that will hopefully pass on that excited feeling to others, but of course its individual to each and every one of us and it’s also that diversity of feeling that excites as well. Nothing angers me anymore as either a fan or label, I simply now accept things for what they are, do what we do as a label to ensure the best possible platform for our releases and shows, and then quite simply enjoy things and of course if that translates back into someone else being excited about things, all the better.

You mentioned the great releases lined up for the rest of the year, including Dirt Box Disco’s next album, a highly anticipated release from a band we like so many love with a lustful greed. What can you reveal going in 2016?

As previously mentioned above, regards this year and 2016, we have releases planned for indeed Dirt Box Disco, Brassick, The Kingcrows, and Healthy Junkies, and of course you have already reviewed our first release this year from The Obnoxious UK. That’s going to be pretty much it for 2015 as well as our last few shows in Manchester. Of course we will be out and about as usual around the UK (and possibly further afield) at various times this year and for the 2016 part of this question, let me jump straight to the next question and tie it in……..

Are there any ideas or irons in the fire to which you can hint at if not yet fully reveal?

2016 will see a change in thinking regards us releasing things on CD. A continuously shifting attitude to CDs will mean we will literally be doing at the maximum around 3 or 4 full releases in CD format, and by full releases I mean having pressed quantities of 500+, and even then I may even trim these to 300 copies and maybe add a vinyl option.

We do currently have 2 projects for vinyl in the works, one outstanding and one upcoming and we are going to look at maybe releasing some runs of 300 regards vinyl for initially Dirt Box Disco, and then maybe take a look at our back catalogue regards vinyl and in the case of something that may excite us around the corner, possibly a new band release as well.

I am also in 2016 going to be resurrecting and expanding our STPLE range of CD releases. These are Limited Edition releases of just 100 copies of a CD. These will be aimed at bands from overseas looking for some UK zine coverage and radio play, as well as new UK bands that have been in formation for no more than 12 months. The aim for these is to sell 50 to cover costs and use 50 to promote new bands and bands from abroad that folks have not yet heard….we have done 4 of these to date and they proved a very popular concept, plus of course if you own one you know that they are extremely limited with no repeat run by STP Records, so you have to be quick off the mark to order when we start these in January.

And of course our connection with the rise and rise of Dirt Box Disco will continue apace as we plan for 2016, which will see a change too, but I won’t reveal anything on that just yet, people will have to keep watching the sites and social networks.

Where can people best keep abreast of STP and indeed buy its releases etc.?

http://www.stprecords.co.uk/ is our website and of course you can find STP Records on Facebook and Twitter as well.

Thanks again Stu, any last words?

Absolute pleasure, the questions had me re-visiting some memories and I have no doubt omitted a fair bit but as with all things, anybody reading this can come and see me at a show, on a merch stall and ask me about any of this or anything else

Finally a slightly unfair question but is there one release coming up which you are especially excited about?  

Always excited, as mentioned already, about every release so no single one takes precedence over another in the excitement stakes.

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 26/03/2015

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Foreign Legion – Light At The End Of The Tunnel

12 Jacket (3mm Spine) [GDOB-30H3-007}

    As shown by their new album Light At The End Of The Tunnel, Welsh punks Foreign Legion has never strayed too far away from their roots but continue to invigorate and push their core sound with a passion and energy which never becomes tiresome. The band’s latest riot bridges their old school punk/oi background with a modern punk ‘n’ roll confrontation resulting in twelve songs which make swift anthemic stabs with contagious endeavour aligned to antagonistic intent.

     Formed in 1984, Foreign Legion has built an attention grabbing presence which has endured and widened over the years. A trio of full-length releases continued to set the band apart from the pack, especially the acclaimed Mick Jones produced What Goes Around Comes Around of 2002, whilst split releases with Major Accident in 2000 and Sledgeback in 2010 amidst their own EPs and compilation gracing songs, have proved the band a potent encounter within the modern era of punk rock. On stage again the quartet has forged a formidable reputation, the band playing across over 15 countries and sharing stages with bands such as Cockney Rejects, Guitar Gangsters, Control, The Warriors, GBH, The Ruts, Stiff Little Fingers and many more. They are also the only Welsh band to play the legendary CBGB’s in New York which makes an additional potent mark on their career’s CV alongside their numerous festival appearances including the likes of Back On The Streets, Punk & Disorderly and the Rebellion Festival, where the band is set to ignite the crowd again in 2014. Released via Aggro Beat in Europe as a Green With Red Splatter vinyl and Rebel Sound in the US as an equivalent in Mint Green with both issues limited to 250, Light At The End Of The Tunnel provides another feisty and tasty morsel from Foreign Legion to enthuse over.

     Light At The End Of The Tunnel makes a strong and appealing start with opener Jenny and its successor What A Place To Be, if neither really inspires a greedy appetite in the emotions. Both tracks still grab attention easily to set things off promisingly, the opening song entangling ears with welcoming guitar strands of melody from Simon Bendon punctured by the firm beats of drummer Glyn Bendon. Soon into its stride with the track’s narrative unveiled by founding band member and vocalist Marcus Howells, the restrained and easy to access stroll makes a simple and catchy romp before the second song on the album similarly has feet and voice in tandem with its infectious if undemanding beckoning, the bass of Steve Zuki the most irresistible lure.

    The album catches fire from here on in with firstly the excellent Regenerations (Council list. Riffs and rhythms bring an instant entrapment of the imagination before soon being reinforced by the swiping vocals as the song looks g at local governments and the decline of British towns and all that inspires. The track is a contagious two minutes plus of uncomplicated but thoroughly inciting social commentary in the renowned Foreign Legion style, though again maybe there is a spark missing in comparison to the following tracks. There is an undeniable greater potency to the song which the band and album expands further through songs like My Radio. A great bass intro from Zuki sets the track off in compelling style, its swagger and groove matched by the hooks of the guitars and the effect rubbed vocals. Infection again wraps the song, its virulence at new heights for the release with riffs and rhythms an additional thrilling toxic bait.

   Both Hey Girl and George Best continue and elevate the new plateau of the album, the first a Peter and the Test Tube Babies meets The Clash like provocation which takes mere seconds to seduce senses and passions whilst the similarly bred second creates a terraces like anthemic quality for an Serious Drinking mixed with Angelic Upstarts eyeballing, both songs enlisting full physical and emotional participation to its recruitment drive. As probably recognised, Light At The End Of The Tunnel just gets stronger and more impressive the further into its body you delve, the likes of Stalker with its deviously addictive bass hook, another striking offering from Zuki who adds something extra to the album arguably lacking on earlier releases, and the excellent Market Trader adding to the weight and bait of the release. The second of the pair again deals with the decline of towns, this through the intervention of supermarket chains and the likes, whilst raging and infecting with resourceful invention. #

     The uncompromising Three Years, and its unbridled assault on child abuse and feeble punishments, scars and provokes with greater venom and passion within the album before Miners and Drunken Heroes uncages a raw, caustic sonic grazing and belligerent defiance respectively. All three songs stalk and coax with spite and energy before the closing song covers them with its shadow. Phoenix from the Flame is a pure punk rock anthem, a band banner which alone places Foreign Legion band amongst the highest echelons of British punk, its body holding all the cards and bait to ignite crowds and recruit new hearts.

   Closing on its finest moment Light At The End Of The Tunnel is an outstanding punk quarrel and maybe the best thing Foreign Legion has set loose to date, certainly the rival to past glories. Punk right now feels like it is moving to a new heyday and records like this only reinforce that notion.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Foreign-Legion/149893361856696

8.5/10

RingMaster 03/03/2014

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Healthy Junkies -The Lost Refuge

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Our attention was first given a tasty prod by UK melodic punksters Healthy Junkies back in 2011 by their track Manifesto taken from debut album Sick Note, its impressive enticement soon backed up once discovering the singles Copycat and Trash My Love. There was a certain promise and persuasion about the songs which made you suspect that the band had even greater moments and triumphs up their sleeve. The release of new album The Lost Refuge proves that that hope and assumption was more than valid, in fact such the exciting invention and presence of the release it shows maybe a depth of underestimation was at play too.

The seeds of the London based band came with the meeting of Parisian vocalist Nina Courson and guitarist Phil Honey-Jones at the venue Punk in Soho in 2009. Each in different bands, they found a mutual love and sharing of inspirations which fired up their individual creativity, influences that included the likes of Iggy Pop, Nirvana, The Doors, Blondie, Killing Joke and Sonic Youth. Linking up they were soon joined by drummer Adam Lewis and bassist Tjay Tarantino. Lewis recorded the two previously mentioned singles, and also plays on one of the tracks on The Lost Refuge, before leaving with Steve Nightmare taking over the sticks. From their first gig at an all-day punk festival in Brighton in 2010 the band has gone on to play with great success numerous shows across the UK including headlining the new band stage at the 2012 Rebellion punk festival and this year having their new album’s launch party again at the Rebellion Festivals in August, a show which saw Danny Fury (Lords of the New Church, Sham69) on drums and Dave Renegade on bass in a changed line-up since the recording of the album.

Signing with STP Records for the release of The Lost Refuge earlier this year has given Healthy Junkies a stronger platform to launch the stp1album from, though you can only feel it would make its mark such the quality and devilish temptation. The release opens with Resistance, riffs and harmonies teasing around the firm rhythms to fully engage the ear before the song hits its stride. With sonic lures riding the senses alongside the strong vocals of Courson, the track makes a satisfying introduction if a slightly underwhelming one, especially when compared to previous songs and the suggested heights they offered ahead. Nevertheless there is little wrong with the song just a lack of a gripping bait or spark to ignite thoughts and emotions.

There is no such problem from the second song on though, the album unleashing a mischief and contagious invention which now confirms and extends those earlier hopes and sets fire to the passions. Spoilt Brat offers a restrained chug of a persuasion initially as the dual vocals work their temptation. The thumping beats and moody bassline flicks more switches as the song erupts into a thrilling blaze of aural and lyrical attitude which takes hold of the emotion’s shoulders and leads them on a pop punk lilted stroll of undoubted quality. The band reminds of eighties pop punk band The Photos as the track dances on the ear which only adds to the pleasure. It is instantly followed by the excellent Play Me and its coaxing of grazing riffs and jabbing rhythms. Once in full flow with hooks and melodies laying deep barbs in the passions, the track is a fiery stomp with a blues flame to the solo and seductive licks to the vocals, especially in the restrained moments before the song bursts into sonic crescendos.

From one major pinnacle the album steps into another and the magnificent Scam Update. Coated in a definite Penetration like confrontation and old school punk urgency yet with a melodic indie breath, the track is an enthralling and magnetic glory, the little twists of ska punk strokes and grungy intensity imaginative manna. It probably takes the best song award though it does change with each listen as the likes of the next up pair of If You Talk To Her and Swansong as examples, challenge each and every time. The first of the pair casts a sinister cosmic wash over the listener before a pulsating bass tango avails the song of its charms amidst the cracking rhythmic cage set by Nightmare. In full flight the song is a sonic thrill with a whiff of wantonness and surf rock to its invention and scent of sultry melodic sex to its dance. A scintillating and irresistible provocateur it is soon matched by its successor and its cantankerous vaunt, its rhythmic slavery as inescapable as the vocal enticement and the near on psychobilly guitar mystique which strokes the imagination before launching into a raw and rewarding riot. It is another major highlight in so many.

The fun and decent enough cover of La Vie En Rose is followed by the pleasing prowling sleek Cat Story, with Lewis on drums, and Mad Parade with its hungry riffs and throaty bass call seizing the ear tightly for the playful keys brought by Honey-Jones to whip up another rise of appetite especially with the musicians equally impressive guitar ingenuity. Old school pop punk with a muscular heart and steely frame, the song is another deviously potent suasion and yet one more exciting treat.

The quality and triumphs just keep coming, the likes of the bewitching and elegantly forceful Shine A Line and the charismatically riveting and rapacious Witches Of Lust unleashing in their own unique ways more punk alchemy to enslave the passions. The album as a whole is diverse and inventively distinct from song to song, the final pair of the pop rock shaped Coz It Sucks and the magnificent Sex War with its dub scythes of invention stoking the fires as melodic pop flames to fly whilst the vocals of Courson and Honey-Jones create a sizzling duelling attack. Ruts meets Dangerous Girls with Pauline Murray at the helm, the track is a mighty end to a robustly thrilling album. Healthy Junkies have come of age and you only sense they will get better. A must investigate release!

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Healthy-Junkies/128020360589230

9/10

RingMaster 12/09/2013

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Mystery Blue: Conquer The World

MysteryBlueBand

Classic metal has never found an easy welcome with personal tastes here but if it consistently sounded as irresistibly fun as the new album from French power metallers Mystery Blue does the genre would have received open arms far more often. Conquer The World, the new and seventh album from the Strasbourg quartet, is quite delicious. It cannot be claimed it is transforming the heart of classic metal/rock or even directing the genre to new avenues nor offering anything particularly new, but it does leave a deepest of satisfaction and pleasure seldom found in the majority of similarly soaked releases anywhere. It is just a great energising enjoyment which has the heart racing and fist pumping, simply rock n roll at its stirring invigorating best.

Mystery Blue was founded in 1982 by guitarist Frenzy Philippon and found a strong recognition within the hard rock/metal sound of the time. Their self-titled debut album of 1984 and its successor Circle Of Shame two years later found good success and acclaim as did gigs alongside the likes of Motörhead, Def Leppard, Saxon, Vengeance, H-Bomb, and Satan Jokers, but it was followed by the splitting of the band. 1996 saw Philippon resurrect the band with vocalist Nathalie Geyer, bassist Dany Ohlmann, and drummer Vince Koehler completing the new line-up. The album Spirit Of Your Song came out to a good response, with the successive releases Metal Slaves, Claws Of Steel, and Hell & Fury marking the band with ever increasing acclaim and recognition. A couple of bassist changes led to Matt Gabnai joining the band in 2011 and the foursome entering the studio to record Conquer The World with Uwe Lulis (ex-Grave Digger, Rebellion). Since returning Mystery Blue has gone on to share stages with bands like Paragon, Rebellion, Wolf, Adx, No Return and more as well as impressively gracing many festivals, and alongside their albums especially the new one released  via Road Show Productions, has found a place to the fore of current classic/power metal.

The title track bursts into life after an initial barrage of inciting drums which then fades away making one wonder why and their mystery_blue_conquer_the_world_highpurpose though all is forgotten as soon as the song itself emerges powerfully from the rhythmic mists. It opens with a charged and heavy grind of riffs and the enthralling vocals of Geyer. She has a classic delivery which sweeps over the ear like a mix of Doro and Toyah, and once a handle is found with it is a great aspect amongst so many on the album. The song itself is a ‘traditional’ sounding track which does everything right without pushing its limits for an easily accessible and pleasing start to the album.

Things leap another level with the following Innocent Crime and Running With The Pack. The first song matches the opener in energy and irresistible washes of catchy hooks and enthusiastically driven riffs whilst bringing a more complex structure to the songwriting. It ebbs and flows seamlessly whilst all the time creating a pulse racing energy to envelope and reward the listener whilst the second is a different chunkier and sinewy encounter. The bass growls with deeper resonance whilst the rhythms slap harder with more malice behind the enterprising guitar play. With additional vocals from Andreas Babuschkin of Paragon finding a great unity with those of Geyer, the song is a thrilling and contagious instigator to heart, voice, and limb, and one of the biggest highlights.

It is closely matched by the likes of the excellent Evil Spell where Geyer at times wonderfully wrings notes from her throat alongside her great melodic castings, the thrashy Cruel Obsession with its crushing almost psychotic breath, and Road Of Despair. The last song is a thunderous runaway colossus of bloodletting riffs and bone cracking rhythms cored with a ravenous bass conjuration and infectious vocal squalls. It is a magnificent track stealing top honours amongst many impressive rivals.

The album does lose its grip a little with Ticket To Hell and the power ballad Keep On Dreaming due to personal preferences in regard to their classic metal intent, but even then it is still hard to pull away from their company. Conquer The World is an outstanding album which thrills and raises the heart rate from start to finish with mischievous imagination and irrepressible passion. It is a must check out for not only classic rock and metal fans but for all those with an ear for crusading unbridled fun.

www.mysteryblue.com

RingMaster 02/01/2013

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