Sonnymoon: Self Titled

Photo credit- Patti Miller.

Unclassifiable, almost indescribable, and thoroughly enthralling, the new self titled album from US experimentalists Sonnymoon is a bedazzling jewel of this musical year. It is a release which magnificently stretches the sounds conjured within as much as the listener, an album which at times is pure rapture and celestial manna for the senses and in the moments where individual taste means a less cohesive connection only ever leaves one smoking in grateful  thought and imagination.

Sonnymoon consists of Dane Orr and Anna Wise, who met whilst studying at the prestigious Berklee College of Music. The Boston duo already have found acclaim through debut EP Golden Age of 2009, two track release Blast Off at the tail of last year, and the 2012 EP earlier this year. The new album is the band at its most magnetic yet, a journey of intangible and mesmeric soundscapes which almost defy logic but fluidly bring everything into a seamless and ingenious union. It is near impossible to describe their sound but calling it a fiery blend of The Sugarcubes, Rip Rig & Panic, De Staat, Propaganda, and Peaking Lights, is kind of in the ball park. The release is provocative and evocative, something to fire up the mind whilst igniting the heart.

Released through Plug Research, the album is in the mind twisting the psyche immediately with opener Wild Rumpus. Released as a single earlier this year, the song is a kaleidoscope of invention and its sonic offspring. It enters on a disorientating wind of electronics expulsions sending thoughts scattering in all directions before settling into a lively trip of eager jumbled rhythms, disharmonious whispers, and celestial dazzles. The enchantment which is the voice of Wise permeates the assembled entourage of sounds like a siren, her wonderful tones pulling everything round her like a melodic magnet. It is a stunning start soon accompanied by further outstanding pieces off composition and its realisation.

The warm perpetually evolving Greatness holds the heart in a seductive embrace with again Wise shining like a sun amongst the ever shifting infectious sounds of Orr. Completely different from its predecessor but still as innovative and compulsive, the track sparks the remaining fires the first left merely smouldering.

The album is kind of in two halves though it is preference to the sounds which makes the distinction. The first part is an energetic nonstop escalator of imaginative and air juggling invention whilst the second is a more relaxed and unassuming collection of songs though no less visionary. The likes of the wonderful sultry jazz coated Kali and the simmering Watersboiled accompanied by the irresistible temptations of Flit, Fleet, Float, and Nothing Thought, has every thought and emotion lifted and immersed into the beauteous contagion the songs offer. Kali is aural sex, its seduction through harmonies and shadowed caresses addiction forming whilst the following Watersboiled is a simmering orgasmic treat with sizzling harmonic kisses and splintered melodics upon dark pulses. It is again an infection of the deepest form and along with its sister in delicious wantonness just before, they are not only the best moments on the album but arguably in indie music this year.

As mentioned the latter part of the album has a more reserved and settled presence though there is no lack of unpredictable and thrilling invention, just an overall smoother flow of whispers and stroking warmth. Songs like the slightly corrosive Others By with its squeezed ambience forming bulges of disturbed energy and scorched melodies and the woozy Every Summer Night leave one lost in wraps of feverish sound and vision whilst the closing Just Before Dawn just sends chills through the body. Its first half is a wonder borne of Young Marble Giants, that same simple elegance pouring from every note and syllable into the ear. Nearing its fourth minute and halfway in, the song dons an orchestral lined cloak and transports the listener into a world of courtliness driven by natural peace and grandeur.

To be honest this only gives you a glancing blow at representing the majesty which is called Sonnymoon, band and album. It is a release which inspires and incites with every second whilst offering the time of your life in fractured excellence and discordant blinding beauty.

RingMaster 16/09/2012

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Emperors Of Wyoming: Self Titled

Though the sounds which make the debut self titled album from Emperors Of Wyoming a release sure to ignite a multitude of hearts, they are not generally those which feed our personal passions but it is impossible not to be impressed and persuaded by the wealth of invention and inciteful songwriting enclosed. The ten songs of Americana, country and folk rock which call out from within the Wild West cloaked release, are heart borne slices of organic and distinctive sounds, the album itself one to evoke satisfaction and instinctive joy.

     Emperors Of Wyoming consists of Wisconsin musicians, brothers Frank and Pete Anderson, Phil Davis, and Butch Vig, four artists who all played in Madison bands in the seventies and eighties, sometimes together though never as a foursome. All are men with a friendship between them which time had no erosive power upon. Vig, who went on to be one of the most influential producers as well as the drummer in Garbage, played in a band with Phil called First Person before the pair began Fire Town, a band with similar elements to The Emperors Of Wyoming and went on to release two albums with Atlantic Records. The other members also had their important entrants in the Wisconsin scene but most importantly the friendship between the four never faded after they went their separate ways in life. 2009 saw them all come together with the idea of starting a new folk/country rock/band. They took their time to write and create the album, with all men using the internet to share their individual instruments, parts, and ideas with Frank Anderson as the hub. It has to be said listening to the songs one would never have the suggestion of this background to the recording in their minds, the sound a tight and cohesive presence in the ear.

Released through Proper Records, the album opens with the emotive The Bittersweet Sound Of Goodbye and instantly the album offers a natural breath which carries the essences of Tom Waits, Tom Petty, Johnny Cash, and to a lesser extent Bob Dylan. It has its own unique voice though with engages from the first song with its whispered passion and concise play through to the final track of the album.

Next up Avalanche Girl is a stroll of jangling guitars and the Midwestern sensibility which pervades the whole release. It is a warm and melodic piece of country pop which easily slips through the ear with an infectious gait to its classy walk.

The Stones like I’m Your Man with its southern twang, the Traveling Wilburys toned Cornfield Palace, and Brand New Heart Of Stone, a resonating song with a Neil Young whispering, all treat the ear and emotions to skilfully crafted and heated slices of classic America. They are songs with a mesmeric quality without being overly infectious but sure to light up smiles on all who relish americana and country rock at its best.

Of all the songs the excellent Cruel Love Ways had these resistant intentions wrapped up in blissful satisfaction with its vibrant heart and rock energy. A song to easily lose oneself within, it is the best track on the album and one which blends the classic aspects of the release with a modern thrust.

Ending with two covers, the first a reworking of the traditional Wisconsin river ballad The Pinery Boy and the other a version of the John Martyn track Bless The Weather, the album is a sure fire heart pleaser for all with an americana and country rock passion, and to be honest it even had moments which had these muscular preferring preferences feeling nothing but enjoyment.

RingMaster 16/09/2012

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The Rapids – Self Titled

It is fair to say UK rock and metal music is in a rather healthy state right now with impressive and promising bands seemingly bursting from every area of the country if not street corner. Another you can add to the list is Portsmouth rock band The Rapids. Their outstanding self titled mini album gives evidence of a band on the rise with its varied and vibrant tracks and is sure to build on the already strong responses bought towards the band.

Already gaining a great reputation for their lively gigs the band this year has not only graced and impressed at Guilfest but become the only UK band chosen out of 5,000 worldwide applicants to play the Taste of Rock 2013 World Tour. The quintet of Joshua Elkington (vocals, guitar), Phil Crawford (lead guitar/vocals), Jamie Ware (bass), Jackson Charles Allgrove (guitar), and David Bicheno-Samways (drums) are on a definite rise with radio play building for their forthcoming single Overflow taken from the album as well as more and more live shows.

The release shows the diversity of the band, at times they are a punk rock riot and in others a brew of rock n roll with multi flavouring to captivate the senses. Their live performances have been labelled as ferocious and that intensity and energy is easily indicated upon the album. The release certainly points to the band being one to catch live as well as bursting with promise.

The best two tracks open up the riot of feistiness with firstly the magnetic Another Light igniting the senses. With a welcoming hook to drool over amongst the breaking riffs the track swaggers with an energy and attitude which are as boisterous as they are heady. Choppy riffs excite the ear whilst melodic strikes burn the air around the eager vocals and rampaging presence of the band. The song is simply thumping rock n roll at its best.

The following Overflow is even better, a punk rock storm to leave one breathless. From its opening bristling riff the track is pure addiction for the senses. As catchy as any punk classic the song rifles the ear with eager riffs and addiction making hooks plus a chorus which is impossible not to add one’s own flat tones to. Vocally there is a Richard Butler of Psychedelic Furs tone to the voice of Elkington whilst the guitars swing hooks and melodies like sabres borne from the likes of Vibrators or Buzzcocks. It is a storming aural contagion of the highest order and from the opening duo of songs alone the keenness to follow the progress of the band closely is rife.

The emotive slower paced Lifeline comes next with flaming guitar play heating up the air around the ear. The song does not find the heights of the first pair but more than offers plenty to enjoy whilst opening up the diversity within the sound of the band. It is a powerful track unveiling further the creative songwriting and individual skills of the bands members.

The flying Can’t Start returns to the insatiable hungry energy from before whilst blues soaked veins flicker like lightning within the stylish rock sounds. The song grips tight and has one wrapped in its senses ruffling  intensity and when the guitars light the touch paper to their scorched melodic enterprise it is another slice of irresistible rock n roll.

The remaining three songs lack some of the potency of the previous tracks though all only go to enhance thoughts about the band. Production wise there is a slight difference too making one wonder if they come from a different session or in another’s hands. Maybe It’s You and the lighter melodic hard rock toned and excellent Waves still leave excited anticipation for future releases though as well as full satisfaction whilst Everything (Summer) which sounds more like a demo track inspires the need to catch the band live.

The Rapids more than live up to the growing ‘one to watch for the future’ calls surrounding them with their album and marks them for us as certainties for big things. The album is a free download from their bandcamp page so there are no excuses available to not to ride the force which is The Rapids.

RingMaster 06/08/2012

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