AM Taxi – Shiver by Me

As much as craft and imagination guides our choice of musical pleasures and favourites it is instinct and organic connections which truly steer reactions and loves, both fully behind our swift and unconditional ardour for Shiver by Me. Not that the creative invention and agility of AM Taxi and their release falls short, it all going to make for one rousing slab of punk ‘n’ roll, but quite simply it is an album which just knows what our personal wants and pleasures are and feed all with tenacity.

The successor to We Don’t Stand A Chance, the Chicago band’s well-received 2010 Virgin Records released debut, Shiver by Me provides a romping, stomping fusion of old school punk and alternative rock with modern pop instincts. It snarls as it bounces, reeking defiance as it unleashes virulent catchiness across eleven boisterous encounters, all the while leaving ears and appetite greedy for more. It bursts into life with a bang and never leaves a want for anything thereon in.

Saint Jane provides that explosive beginning, cavorting rhythms linking up with a teasing guitar jangle as vocals wait to add their lively energy. Hitting full swing as guitarist Adam Krier adds his lead tones, the track is an insatiable pop punk temptation springing seventies punk with indie pop feverishness. There was no escaping its manipulation of body and vocal chords nor the swift ardour sparked and carried on by the following Harpoon. Echoing its predecessor, the track is just as persuasive and irresistible vocally as it is musically, Krier and the band’s backing effortlessly getting under the skin just as the swinging beats of Chris Smith, the brooding but eager grumble of Jason Schultejann’s bass and the melodic shenanigans of Jay Marino’s guitar alongside those of Krier. With devious hooks at every twist and turn, the track is viral contagion to which personal hollering was inevitable.

Next up Movie About Your Life proved to be no less of a puppeteer either, its acoustic strum and persuasive handclaps teasing to the great vocal snaring quickly in tow with melodic intimations lining the captivation as it bubbles up while Swim Before You Sink (Short Time on Earth) straight after uncages bold imagination brewed rock ‘n’ roll which fed every want in the personal book. Both tracks are simply outstanding continuing the impressively rousing roar of the album already in full flow.

Fighting in Cars is relatively calmer but still a spirited proposition with its lithe rhythms and melodic web while L’ Patron provides an ear romancing saunter with a fire in its belly and passion in its heart. Each of the pair hit the spot with their openly individual proposals; success fully matched by the indie rock hued punk pop canter of Stuck Around. The hook springing and vocal prowess of the band, let alone an inexhaustible rhythmic agility, is persistent across each track within the release and no more tantalising than here.

Through the Clash kissed Brandy Don’t Let Me Down and the reflective and skilfully dramatic Minute Alone, the album is as compelling and striking as ever, both slices of pleasure matched in creative kind by the soul nurtured Shaken Over You. Sam Cooke is named by the band as one of their influences, an inspiration breeding this treat, a song elevated further by a Jam-esque whiff.

The album closes with Warsaw Blues, a gentle slice of melodic intimacy which maybe did not inflame the passions as those before but left a certain pleasure and appetite for more of its almost smouldering temptation.

Shiver by Me is one riveting adventure from start to finish and AM Taxi a band no punk or rock ‘n’ roll fan should skip by without giving at least a curious listen.

Shiver by Me is out now @ https://amtaximusic.bandcamp.com/album/shiver-by-me and also available on limited vinyl this April through Mutant League Records.

https://www.facebook.com/amtaxi/    https://www.amtaximusic.com/  https://twitter.com/AMTAXI

Pete RingMaster 11/02/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Matty T Wall – Sidewinder

It is easy to get the feeling that Matty T Wall is a well-respected and keenly supported artist in his Australian homeland, his new album carrying all the intimation and just as simple to expect its fine body of songs to push the man towards far broader international attention. Sidewinder is an imaginative and inventively accomplished proposition bred in the blues and its roots but Wall is an artist also unafraid to embrace an array of other flavours modern and past. This makes for a release which captivates and surprises with regularity; a record which is a real pleasure to join.

With bassist Stephen Walker and drummer Ric Whittle alongside, Wall creates a tapestry of genres and styles with his openly creative and individual playing. His guitar spins tales as potent as his voice, evidence immediate in album opener Slideride. The instrumental in seconds had ears gripped, the fuzz of guitar and tease of keys provided by Gordon Cant instant devilry inciting body and imagination as the track’s devilish stroll erupted into life. Flames of horns from Steve Searle just added to the manipulation, the song a swinging rousing slice of enterprise kicking the album off in magnificent style.

It is a start kept lively and potent by the album’s following title track. Blues and hard rock unite in a song which swiftly has the body bouncing, Wall’s vocals a rich ingredient in its growing engagement with ears. It has a traditional air to its flavouring but united with bold enterprise from modern imagination providing something unashamedly familiar but keenly fresh.

As suggested earlier, there is an eclectic character to the album no better epitomised than by the following Something Beautiful. A cover of the Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews track it is a glorious slice of pop shaped rock which just radiates temptation from the magnetic vocals to the uncomplicated but flirtatious tease of guitar and the understated but potent moody hues of the bass. It is a superb rival to its predecessors for best album song and in turn matched by another cover in Wall’s version of Sam Cooke’s Change Is Gonna Come; itself a firmly captivating take on a great song with the strings of Jonas Petersen an added pleasure.

Can’t Stop Thinking shares its seductive prowess next, the fiery vines of Wall’s guitar compelling heat to the darker stroll of the bass and the crisp raps of Whittle’s beats. Cant’s organ is a link between the shades, a suggestive glaze and temper to the song’s electric jazz fire. From its relative calm, the rock ‘n’ roll of the excellent Shake It had the body bouncing with ease straight after, its blues intoxication a boozy but defined incitement firmly rivalled by Going Down. The latter is a version of the Don Nix classic originally recorded by Moloch in the late sixties. It is a song given numerous outings by an array of acclaimed artists over the years and Wall’s ballsy rendition ranks high among them.

The jazzy flirtation of Aint That The Truth is a mellower but no less enticing turn in the album’s adventure; a song which lured participation in voice and hips as easily as it had ears hungry for more. Its summery swing was unadulterated temptation setting up the appetite perfectly for the rawer antics of Sophia’s Strut. Whether it was or not, the instrumental feels like an improv slice of fun taking the listener into the charged surroundings of an old school blues club, the track rocking out with Wall’s open craft and its inherent devilment.

The groove woven Walk Out The Door is an even more compelling moment in the release with its fusion of funk, jazz, and blues rock a spark to losing inhibitions as another pinnacle within Sidewinder emerged with style and relish. Bred from essences drawn from across the decades, the track swiftly proved addictive on its first listen before compliant ears were just as drawn by the intimate balladry of Leave It All Behind and its delicate melodies, evocative vocals, and the melancholy draped magnetism of strings.

The album concludes with a cover of the Chris Thomas King song Mississippi Kkkrossroads, Wall adding to its hip hop/electric blues credentials with his own rock ‘n’ roll instincts. It is a great end to an album which has increasingly impressed and aroused. Matty T Wall might be a new name to a great many outside of the Australian rock scene but not for much longer if Sidewinder gets the attention it undoubtedly warrants.

Sidewinder is out now via Hipsterdumpster Records across most online stores.

https://www.mattytwall.com/   https://www.facebook.com/mattytwall/   https://twitter.com/mattytwall/

Pete RingMaster 13/08/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Arranging the alternative: an interview with Mike Doughty

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Never reluctant to keep us guessing, intrigued, and thrilled by his consistently inventive creativity and releases, Mike Doughty recently gave the world his new album The Flip Is Another Honey. The release was an enthralling collection of covers given the unique imagination and vision of the Brooklyn singer songwriter, songs teased and seduced into little irresistible jewels crafted with mischief, invention, and inspired vision. The release of the album gave us a great opportunity to talk with Mike again and find out the inspiration and heart to The Flip Is Another Honey and more…

Hi Mike and welcome back to The Ringmaster Review.

Before we move on to your new album it seems you have been very busy since we last talked to you around the release of Yes And Also Yes. Are you a man who has to be creatively active or are you able to find down time in that respect to re-energise the artistic batteries?

I guess I don’t really do down time, artistically. I’m always working on something, even when I’m not working on something. When I’m on vacation, I relish journaling in an unusual place, and when I wander around, half my mind is on what I’m going to write about what I see.

You have just released the wonderful album The Flip Is Another Honey. I read you got the great title from an old Variety review in 1956 of the Jerry Lee Lewis single Crazy Arms. How did you come across this and how does it relate to the contents of your album?

The review was quoted in Nick Tosches’ “Hellfire”, which is a biography of Jerry Lee. Great book. The phrase basically means, “the B-side of this single is also really good.” I don’t know if I had a logical reason for picking the title–just an intuitive one.

Are the tracks you cover on The Flip Is Another Honey ones you grew up with, ones which inspired you at certain times, songs 487617_10151459081085200_1323909964_nwhich inspired ideas just for the release, or a mix of all?

They’re songs I’d been playing by myself in the green room, before and after shows. Some of them, improbably, sounded good in my voice-those are the ones I recorded. There are plenty songs I love to sing that sound shitty in my particular style, (and, on the ones that I sounded good in, I often had to omit or duck a high note in there someplace).

I learned “Country Roads” to impress my girlfriend, who’s from West Virginia (and, apropos of nothing here, has a giant tattoo of the cover of “Trout Mask Replica” on her ribcage.)

How long has the album been in the making from the first seeds of the idea and how long did the actual physical recording take?

It was quick. I had the tunes selected when I hired Kevin Salem to produce–we set a date six weeks later, I programmed and arranged the songs, and then I came up to Woodstock to lay it down. It took–four days? I think. Maybe five.

How easy or difficult was it to settle on the chosen 15 on the album?

I do my best to make those kinds of choices quickly, and intuitively, without a lot of psychic self-torture. So, easy.

Apart from three tracks with your long time collaborators pianist Dan Chen and cellist Andrew “Scrap” Livingston, you played every sound on the release. Does that also apply to the ideas and way you approached each song or did you engage thoughts of others on those?

I like to coax something unique out of the people I’m working with, rather than dictate. The people I play with are adept at jumping into a song with very general directions from me, and able to bring their full selves into the instrumental parts they create.

Obviously, I wrote all the parts on the album, but I also worked with Kevin, the producer, as I’d work with a musician–I tried his suggestions, like, “Why don’t you phrase the vocal like such-and-such?” Along those lines.

As much as I would love to ask questions about every track on The Flip Is Another Honey, we will look at the songs which lit the biggest fires inside if that is ok.

OK!

Firstly can I ask about your version of Take Me Home, Country Roads, a song I will admit I have never taken too and as good as your take on it is I am still not convinced but that is personal taste only ha ha. You brought the wonderful voice of Rosanne Cash into the song with you, how much persuasion did she need if any to lend her vocal charms to the song?

Virtually no persuasion. Super bizarrely, she’s a big fan of mine.

The album opens with the excellent Sunshine where you sample John Denver’s vocals to merge with your rapping. Where did the idea to approach it this way get its inspiration and when gaining permission from the John Denver estate for the use of the Denver sample did they have any inkling of how you would wonderfully interpret the song?

Often times, when listening to songs, I’ll pick out sample-able parts–it’s kind of a tic. I guess I just was listening to it on my headphones on the subway, and suddenly I heard the sample.

I was terrified that the John Denver estate would be super affronted that I’d messed around with their dude so oddly–I sent them the completed track–and I was thinking of other singers to do the part when they wrote back to say they were ultra-enthused about it. Weirdly. So great.

Mike DoughtyThe song is a major highlight on the album for us; did the track emerge on the finished record as you initially envisaged it when coming up with the idea?

Oh yeah. Being based around samples, there were fewer variables

Tell us about the two Cheap Trick covers Southern Girls and Reach Out. There is a passion in the tracks which suggests maybe this band had a big impact on you and your heart. 

Yes yes. Actually, when I was 13, I waited outside Eisenhower Hall in West Point, NY, to meet them. I asked Rick Nielsen to play “Reach Out”, and he was totally confused by that. I guess it was a song they threw onto the soundtrack of the animated movie “Heavy Metal” (super corny and great 80s sci-fi), and didn’t think much about. It was written by the bass player who filled in for Tom Petersson, when he was absent for a couple of years–maybe that indicated an also-ran-ness. But I loved it.

Reach Out merges seamlessly into the Josh Wink anthem Higher State of Consciousness. What sparked the allying of the two songs in one compelling encounter and was it always your intention or something which evolved during recording?

Totally evolved. As we were tracking guitars, I played the riff, absent-mindedly, as the playback track faded out, and Kevin was like, “Oh my god, play that part again.” He didn’t realize it wasn’t something I was just improvising!

For us the biggest pinnacle on the album of nothing but great heights is Ta Douleur. You give it a new breath and energy which escalates in the passions for an insatiable almost lustful pleasure. Tell us about the song and its meaning to you, the Camille original and what you have done with it.

I heard it on the radio–WFMU, which is a great New-York-area musical treasure–and iTunes’d it instantly, and listened obsessively. I have a pretty believable French accent, because my dad worked in Belgium for a year when I was a kid–didn’t pick up much of the language, but I absorbed the pronunciations–and I messed around with the tune just to see what it was like–and I liked it. Now, I did have to eliminate the sections that I was unable to sing, which excise a little bit of the elegance, but turn the song into kind of an unstoppable train. Honestly, I could only pick out a few phrases here and there that I could understand in French, and didn’t really understand the overall until I Google-translated the lyrics.

Some songs you have covered faithfully in your own inimitable style and others you have re-invented. What sparked either decision on each song which way to approach them and have any subsequent ideas not used for the album stayed alive in thoughts for an unveiling at some future point?

I made a deal with myself not to do any Magnetic Fields covers. I’ve done a whole bunch of them, throughout my recordings. But, I have ideas for arrangements of covers of three or four more Magnetic Fields songs! It’s an involuntary function of my consciousness.

Claudia, their drummer and manager, asked me to open for them on a tour a few years ago–I already had my own tour booked, and it broke my heart that I had to say no. I literally could’ve gone to them and said, “Listen, whatever songs you’re not playing in the show, I’ll play them–I will do the part of your repertoire you’re not doing!”

There are a couple of show tunes on the album too, is that a medium you would consider writing for, like to create a soundtrack for a musical?

I actually studied playwriting, intensively, and still write one-acts for the 24 Hour Company, sometimes. Couple years back, they did a benefit on Broadway and I had Julia Stiles and Michael Kenneth Williams–the guy who played the iconic role of Omar on “The Wire”–in mine.

But, no plans, as yet.

Is The Flip Is Another Honey a project you might follow-up with a similarly inspired release at some point?553922_10150926960595200_77130733_n

Quite possibly. I think that, as singers get older, they become more nuanced interpreters of songs–both their own, and others’

What is next for Mike Doughty, creatively and to narrow it down musically?

I’m messing around with songs I wrote for Soul Coughing, trying to figure out how to reclaim them.

Many thanks for taking time to talk with us Mike.

You’re very welcome–thanks for your support!

Would you like to send give us a sales pitch for people to check out your excellent album The Flip Is Another Honey? 😉

THE FLIP COMES WITH FREE CANDY AND PIE!

And finally are there any other songs that you would love to put your distinct touch upon which did not come up on the album?

Allow me to delve into fantasyland for this question–I so wish I could do justice to Sam Cooke’s songs. What an incredible voice that guy had.

The RingMaster Review 08/03/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Waves Of Fury: Thirst

Sounding like the deliciously steamy hybrid from a union of Sam Cooke, Thee Vicars, Rocket From The Crypt, and Jesus and Mary Chain, Thirst the debut album from sonic teasing crew Waves Of Fury is quite magnificent. Consisting of ten garage punk filtered rock n roll/R&B classics, the release pulsates with an instinctive and inspiring brew of infectious sonic grazings wrapped in warm and refreshing imagination. It is excitable yet equally held by a restraint which allows every individual element and idea to shine within the acidic surface smouldering of sound. Quite simply Thirst is a triumph of noise and heart.

The Somerset based quintet of Carter Sharp (vocals, guitars), Jamie Bird (pianos, vocals), James McPhee (drums), Fil Ward (guitars, vocals), and Bim Williams (horns), has been making distinct waves both sides of the pond, the band undertaking  successful tour of Southern States in the US before venturing into the studio to record their album. With its magnetic charms and sounds Thirst is destined to spark an even fuller and wider recognition, it is hard to imagine a release this dynamically compulsive doing anything less.

The album opens with Death Of A Vampire, its initial shadowed music hall like echoes the introduction to a storm of fiery horns and fuzzy guitars paced by flattened chilled keys. As the distinct hollow lilted vocals stroll within the sounds the track flares up again and again with shimmering melodic expulsions and contagious enterprise. It is a merciless lure, a barbed splendour to envelop and seduce the senses and passions, something which can be applied to Thirst as a whole. There is a tomb like atmosphere to the song which only accentuates its immediate and masterful inventive presence.

From the incendiary beginning the following I Don’t Know What To Make Of Your Fucked Up Friends and Businessman’s Guide To Witchcraft offer their own caustic fires to overwhelm the heart. The first is a riled Motown gaited piece of magic which like an insidious puppeteer controls limbs and voice whilst unleashing its own cutting intent and opinions. The second is an amazing mix of shall we say Joy Division and The Four Tops, a constrained riot of sound and passion yet unbridled in its mesmeric strength and teasing. It is glorious, arguably best track on the album though that does wander as a choice with each listen of Thirst.

As tracks like the dark and schizo spiced Killer Inside Me with its scuzzed breath the perfect shadow to the melodic shards hooks and barbed horns, Pretender Soul, and The Everlasting Thirst state their claim on the affections the strong variety to the songs and writing of Sharp is unmissable. The second of this trio is a gentle emotive breeze within a flesh burning sonic heat whilst the latter is an acutely driven stomp across the ear with spotlights of horns sparking up a dazzling sheet of nagging sonics and consuming energy. The album is a perpetually twisting joy, each track bringing something new and unexpected but with a swagger to turn heads and ignite desires for much more.

After the brief Buddy Holly like pleasure of Nervous Exhaustion, the album closes on the mighty Viodrene, a song which just hypnotizes with its varied ideas and noise wrapped in a furnace of raw guitars and explosive horn crescendos. With an excellent break midway to allow a breath before the equally staggering conclusion, the track is all you need to know about Waves Of Fury and their quite brilliant sound. Lyrically the album is inspired by gothic writers like Poe and Saul Bellow but also by life and everyday manipulations, this song dealing with celebrity culture in an acerbic and mischievously skilled ingenuity.

Waves of Fury have created an album and songs which take all the wonderful discord and cryptic facets of melodic and sonic elegance and conjure them into their own unique and irresistible beauty. Thirst is outstanding and will easily makes a late and formidable impression on those best of year lists.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Waves-of-Fury/204286162955259

RingMaster 29/10/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Thee Vicars: I Wanna Be Your Vicar

It has to be said that whenever there is a new release on Dirty Water Records there is always a twinge of anticipation and excitement, rarely has there been deep disappointment in the quality of the music from their bands. The same applies to the new album from Thee Vicars, a release that thrills and excites whilst lifting emotions no matter their starting point to a height of grinning satisfaction. Following up their excellent single Everyday, the band from Bury St Edmunds, England have released a collection of unfettered and eagerly pleasing garage rock, mod, 60’s beat, and R&B rock tunes that light up the emotions and heart.  Simple, direct and hell of a lot of fun I Wanna Be Your Vicar is nothing but a piece of irresistible pleasure.

I Wanna Be Your Vicar is the third album from the band which is now down to the trio of Mike Whittaker (bass/vocals), Chris Langeland (guitar/vocals), and Alex De Renzi (drums). Released May 7th the album sees the band even tighter than ever and still fuelled by their irrepressible garage sounds but with an even more varied and flavoursome result. To date the band has shared stages with the likes of The Horrors, Black Lips, and The Mummies to name three and it is obvious they have absorbed and twisted the inspiration gained into their own extra spices as shown on the album. The music of the band is not the height of originality though there are not many that bring the vibrant mix this band do, but it is completely and deeply captivating and infectious.

The release opens with the playful and feisty title track, its mischievous beckoning charm an instant connection for the ear and beyond. The guitar of Langeland jangles and slices through the ear with sharp skill whilst the bass of Whittaker is a boisterous yet almost shy presence alongside. Leading it all to bear is the excellent beats of De Renzi, her rhythms direct and enthused but tight within the compact structure here and of each song perfectly. With the added keys laying their impulsive fingers and palms on the song it is an opening gem that only raises the enthusiasm for what is to follow.

Next up I’ll Be Gone raise things another level with its sparkling sixties punk flow, each note and word carrying a wink and a smile that only inspires further emotional applause and adoration. The infection really started from the first note of the release but as this and each subsequent songs swaggers and teases one is drawn defencelessly into adding their own willing vocal sounds and eager limbs, the contagion impossible to prevent.

What follows from now on is an unrelenting pleasuring of the senses from the next up Johnny Cash tinged Lights through tracks like the early The Horrors meets the Stones I Feel Alright with its agitated energy and disruptive beats and the impassioned love song Your Eyes with its more than strong sense of an illicit longing through to the rock n roll/mod stomp of Crocodile Chomp, a mix of Sam Cooke, Chuck Berry and Thee Mighty Caesars. Each and every song in their different guises ignite and warm the senses with an excited love of their inspirations and what they bring that can only be transferred to the listener and their hearts.

As great as the album is to this point the band save the best tracks for the latter stages starting with the brilliant Hauser & O’Brian. With a Troggs meets My Red Cell sound the track is glorious, a patient stroll with rasping riffs and caustic melodies and a siren touch. It is caked in the garage dirt and scuzzy sound that simply excites like a wanton temptress, the always distinct vocals of Whitaker finding an extra nasally and emotive depth. The song is soon equalled by the bristling Kinks tasting Satisfy You and of course the magnificent previous single Everyday. The more the single has pleasured the ear in recent weeks the more it has captured the heart with its insatiable mixture of the doo wop of 70’s band  Darts and the electrified rawness of 13th Floor Elevators and again The Horrors, all treated with the inspired uniqueness of Thee Vicars.

I Wanna Be Your Vicar is a fully rewarding pleasure, a release to make you feel good no matter the nature of your day. Thee Vicars stood right at the front of garage styled rock and punk and with his album have announced they plan to be there a long time.

RingMaster 19/04/2012

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