The Hot Soul Psychos – Everfunk Junior EP

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The Everfunk Junior EP is one of those releases which yes you have probably heard it all before but coming with such energy and passionate appetite to draw the funk out of its listeners it is one you cannot help liking, and liking a lot. The release comes from Irish funk rock band The Hot Soul Psychos, and consists of three tracks which stomp through and romp around the ear as well as the senses. It is not without flaws but overrides them with an infectiousness which is hard to dismiss or turn down.

Hailing from Newbridge , Co Kildare, the trio of vocalist/guitarist Dan O’Shaughnessy, bassist Ciaran Goulding, and drummer Domhnall Hurley have lit up their local scene and further afield with their energetic and sweat spraying live performances since forming just over a year ago. Their reputation continues to increase and with festival appearances at the likes of Fleadh Beag, The Galway Fringe Festival, Ballinamore Fringe Festival, Biker Rallys, and the Prosperous Music Festival filling the weeks ahead they are building up an intensive presence. Recorded with bass player Tom Cosgrave of Irish rock n roll trio The Minutes and mastered by Aidan Foley (U2, The Coronas, and Sinead O’Connor), Everfunk Junior EP is equally primed to take the band’s name and sound further afield.

Opening track Keep It That Way teases the ear with guitar caresses and rising percussive enticements, soon joined by the lurkingcover throaty menace of the bass, all restrained in their stride but eager in their temptation. Taking a breath’s pause the song then bursts into a strolling swagger of blues funk endeavour and vocal mischief, the clean vocals filled with party borne expression. The bass of Goulding snarls and carves a slightly carnivorous voice to its inventive provocation whilst the guitar paints a sonic narrative which is captivating. Admittedly the drop into an almost indulgent pass of instrumentation does not quite work but once into its swift footed stomp of again blues lit rock the track is a richly pleasing and contagious lure.

The following Connie instantly lays a web of growling guitar and bass calls upon the ear, their funk dance soon aided by a jumping rhythmic enticement and the again keen vocals. With equally a feisty rock core to its leaping invention the song gives open evidence to the band’s inspirations which include the likes of The Black Keys , Wolfmother , CCR , Rory Gallagher , Kings of Leon , and Jack White. Many will argue it is too close to some of these influences and it would be hard to argue but for a debut from a band obviously finding its feet still and the enjoyment it offers, laying the lack of true originality as a reason not to investigate Everfunk Junior would be a mistake.

From the again potent second song the EP is closed by One Es Dancer, another track which leaves its irresistible mark. Its start is outstanding, the guitars raising a fifties rockabilly like temptation which explores its imagination to create another flaming mix of blues, classic rock, and sixties inspired enterprise, whilst not forgetting its funk rock intent. It is a bouncing  and invigorating tease which leads feet and passions into its appealing aural escapade with ease and stands as the best track on the release.

There is a rawness to the release which at times brings the songs live to the senses but at other moments stifles the vibrancy of elements, as in the approaching climax of the final song but it never depletes the satisfaction gained, just suggests the band has things to work on as they evolve their sound one suspects into a more distinct and unique proposition. Available as a free download at www.thehotsoulpsychos.bandcamp.com/album/everfunk-junior the EP is well worth more than a minute of your time.

www.Facebook.com/TheHotSoulPsychos

7.5/10

RingMaster 02/07/2013

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Gwyn Ashton – Radiogram

Following up his acclaimed 2009 album, Two-Man Blues Army, blues guitarist Gwyn Ashton returns with new release Radiogram, a ten track feast of thrilling and sizzling guitar passion. With drummer Kev Hickman alongside, Ashton had created an album which shows why he is so highly rated by the likes of Robert Plant, Johnny Winter, and Don Airey. Radiogram is a vibrant slice of blues driven rock n roll, a collection of songs which burst through the ear with enterprise, invention, and mesmerising skill.

Welsh born and an Australian resident since the mid sixties to the nineties, the now European based Ashton has drawn great and eager responses to his music and play since picking up the guitar at age 12 and playing in his first band when 16. Across the past couple of decades he has toured with the likes of BB King, Ray Charles, Buddy Guy, Mick Taylor, Rory Gallagher, Peter Green, Junior Wells, Johnny Winter, Canned Heat, Robin Trower, Jeff Healey, The Yardbirds, Status Quo, and Magnum, whilst recorded with such luminaries as Kim Wilson (Fabulous Thunderbirds), Robbie Blunt (Robert Plant), Chris Glen/Ted McKenna (SAHB, MSG), Don Airey (Deep Purple, Whitesnake, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne), and Gerry McAvoy/Brendan O’Neill (Rory Gallagher). It is a CV to ignite the passions, something his new album easily emulates.

The sixth album from Ashton also finds an array of high profile guests involved alongside he and Hickman, those involved including  Don Airey, Kim Wilson, Robbie Blunt, Johnny Mastro (LA’s Mama’s Boys), Mark Stanway (Magnum, Phil Lynott), and Mo Birch (UB40, Go West, Culture Club). Radiogram only takes the length of its initial soundbite before enticing the emotions to wake up and pay full attention. Once into its stride opener Little Girl sizzles with heated riffs and forceful rhythms whilst the strong vocals cap the impressive first engagement of accomplished rock n roll. The track saunters and dawdles in turn as Ashton leaves fiery sonic shards across the song for a stirring start.

The album is a release which with great variety continually leaves one excited and wholly satisfied. Songs like the brilliant and best track on the album, Let Me In, with its teasing blues swagger and great mouth organ mastery, the classic sounding Dog Eat Dog, and the smouldering For Your Love to just pick a trio, all lifting one up in irresistible muscular arms to devour with ease their compulsive and rich majestic sounds from full imaginative hearts. The album is a release which you do not have to be a blues enthusiast to draw much pleasure from, even those with harder more abrasive tastes like us cannot avoid being magnetised by the craft and stirring sounds at work.

Also featuring a great version of the Willie Dixon/Muddy Waters song I Just Wanna Make Love To You and the simply hypnotic instrumental Bluz For Roy which closes the album and alone shows why the guitarist is so strongly thought of, Radiogram is one of the best  rock albums to appear this year. Gwyn Ashton may still be an undiscovered name for many outside of blues but the album will certainly go a long way to changing that as its impressive sounds reach wider searching ears.

www.gwynashton.com

RingMaster 29/10/2012

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