Crooked Ghost – Colors Bleed

photo by Rome Widenhouse

If you look at the press release for new EP, Colors Bleed, it suggests the sounds within would make something appealing for the fans of bands such as The Smiths, Suede, The Cure, Muse, Siouxsie And The Banshees, Gun Club, and early R.E.M. With each a valid clue to the Crooked Ghost sound it is a list suggesting its thickly flavoured body but maybe not quite its distinctly fascinating and often consuming character.

Asheville, North Carolina hailing, Crooked Ghost has already made a potent impact in 2019 with their album Skeleton House, released this past February. Recorded with producer Edward Madill, Colors Bleed now sees the quintet cast tracks which are “bigger and brighter than those before” but within the shoegaze, post punk, and dream pop seeded tapestries there is no escaping the invasively intimate shadows and esurient often raw melancholy fuelling their hearts and imagination.

Latest single, Black Rainbow, opens up the release, its gentle melodic beginning an evocative coaxing. Soon it is building up into a creative crescendo, the lively rhythms of drummer Jon Wyatt uniting with the jangling prowess ringing from the guitars of Charles Reed and Ray Lark, with the latter’s similarly magnetic vocals swiftly adding to the catchy temptation. Already there is emotional weight and tempestuous to the track and its mental illness themed intimacy, the keys of Alex Cannon radiant smog within the textures as the bass of Chris Saldin brings firmer shape to its inherent shadows.

By the breath the song only intensifies its fears and emotional turbulence yet there is a melodic sun at its heart which just beguiled before Sinew In Red shared it’s even more fervid breath and conflict. Again there is an enveloping heat to sound and emotion at the core of the song, its dark embrace a fusion of enquiring warmth and invasive melancholy within the haunting bewitchment consuming ears and attention, it all enveloping like a kind of rapturous romance. As its predecessor, the track simply bewitched though again as with the first leaving a lingering touch built on doubt and hope in its wake.

The final pair of Golden Blue and Bright White Noise provided just as evocative explorations to keenly immerse in. The first rises from its crepuscular calm with melodic captivation wrapped in more strident sonic threads yet again there is instinctive warmth which seduces across both keys and guitars. Lark’s inimitable tones only add to the bracing emotion soaked soundscape, his voice and words crafted in open and candid reflection.

The closing song is in many ways the most intense and haunting track of all, its sorrow verging on claustrophobic and melancholy devouring  yet once more Crooked Ghost bring a glow and melodic captivation which lights its shadows alongside the listener’s thoughts and feelings.

Colors Bleed quickly proved a gripping release but became increasingly spellbinding as each fresh listen opened up more depth and temptation in its body and imagination.

Colors Bleed is out now: available@ https://crookedghost.bandcamp.com/album/colors-bleed

https://www.facebook.com/CrookedGhost   https://twitter.com/thecrookedghost

Pete RingMaster 05/11/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Medicine – Scarred For Life

photo by Beatrix Zilinskas

We have always had the appetite for covers as B-sides, part of EPs, or as bonus tracks on albums but never quite as keen on complete albums just providing versions of other’s songs and don’t get us started on the merit of cover bands finding great success on the back of others songwriting talent but there is always an exception and the new album from LA based Medicine is one such captivation.

The brainchild of guitarist/multi-instrumentalist/producer Brad Laner, Medicine was one of the most potent bands to shape the emerging shoegaze/noise pop sound and scene in the nineties. After a hiatus of several years they have returned with Scarred For Life, as mentioned a collection of covers which take on new character with the touch of the band. Each song though does not feel like Medicine has deliberately dissected and rearranged them instead they feel like they have simply evolved through an organic and instinctive embrace of the band’s distinctive imagination. It brings potent diversity and rich fascination to the release alongside pleasure which is only escalated with the return of original vocalist Annette Zilinskas (also originally of The Bangles and later Blood On The Saddle, Weatherbell, and 3 Hole Punch).

With a line-up completed by guitarist Matt Devine and drummer Jim Goodall, he again one of the original Medicine members, the band opens up Scarred For Life with its title track and their take on the Slapp Happy song. Immediately a thick jangle of guitar descends as rhythms infectiously manipulate. Within the clamour a melodic breath lures with its temptation in full bloom as Zilinskas’ magnetic tones blossom within the muggy treat.

It is a compelling start to the release which Sentimental Lady more than reinforces. The Fleetwood Mac track similarly has a certain clamour which rises around the entrancing melodic invitation which initially preceded it. It is sonic smog as intense as it is ravening but with a composed trespass around the melodic sun which warmly beguiles before Dead Time Bummer Blues hugs and incites the senses with its luxuriant if raw breath and folkish swing. As all songs within the release there is nothing less than captivation on the agenda with the Judee Sill written track amongst the most irresistible.

Neil Young’s Expecting To Fly follows, resonating on the senses before melodic misting envelopes all and its romancing heart shares harmonic smouldering amidst bracing fuzziness. Enthralling from first to last breath but with increasing effect as keys, provided by Solo Goodspeed, weave their noble threads, the track becomes something truly individual to Medicine, the same easily said about both Absolutely Free and Listen To The Band straight after. The Mothers of Invention original is pure infection, its carnival-esque undercurrent bound in a cast of esurient enterprise and theatrical drama as the band develop the tracks original seeds into their own unpredictably creative parade. It is a glorious encounter followed by another which had the imagination bouncing. The more familiar second of the two is engraved on ears by The Monkees and Medicine simply emphasize its more feral aspects though when we say simply there is nothing less than instinctive adventure in every revisited note and syllable.

Through the rich almost suffocating and inescapably infectious pop fuzz of Sally Go Round The Roses, a hit originally for The Jaynetts, and the pure contagion of The Sweetest Girl, band and album only got further under the skin. The second of the two proved a definite favourite here, the Scritti Politti track bred here on an electronic shimmer with dub instincts cradling sheer captivation in the band’s vocals. It is aural romance, melodies and harmonies rapturous caresses within walls of sonic anxiety and scuzz fed anticipation.

The Green Country provides a canvas for the imagination next, it’s electronically bred instrumental wired by just as intimate and suggestive guitar quick food for thought and emotive interpretation while Pickup Song with its sepia lit keys and atmosphere is an evocative embrace of shadows and melancholic magnetism around and inspired by the slowcore droned air of the Codeine original.

Both tracks simply fascinated as the album moved into far darker corners which are further engaged in album closer, Black Satin. The Miles Davies composed track is a jungle of sound and textures, a heated and slightly imposing yet addictively virulent incitement of sound and enterprise on body and emotion.

It is a great end to a release which has increasingly had us absorbed and pleasured. As we hope new material is on the horizon from Medicine, Scarred For Life is a spellbinding return to be getting on with.

Scarred for Life is out now through Drawing Room Records; available @ https://bradlaner.bandcamp.com/album/scarred-for-life-4

https://www.facebook.com/medicinebandsfv/   https://twitter.com/BradLaner   https://bradlaner.bandcamp.com/

Pete RingMaster 31/10/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Ummagma – Compass

Though any Ummagma release is welcomed with eager intrigue and anticipation by us among a great many the recent Caravan single raised the ante for the band’s new album with its captivation soaked release. The fact, though we have had numerous singles and EPs between, that Compass comes a lengthy seven years after its same day released two predecessors only added to the excitement coated suspense. What the duo’s third full-length offers is their most eclectic and rousing collection of tracks and quite simply their finest most exhilarating moment to date.

The pair of Canadian Shauna McLarnon and Ukraine hailing Alexander Kretov embraces everything from shoegaze, dream and synth pop to electronic and rock driven imagination with plenty more in the abundant enterprise of their new encounter. it is a release and collection of songs though which still revel in the atmospheric and ambient dreamscapes the Ontario based pair has earned thick acclaim and a potent reputation for. The album’s first single suggested that the Ummagma sound had evolved to a whole new tapestry of adventure and diversity, a bold aural kaleidoscope now confirmed and taken across a compelling array of individually and uniquely fresh landscapes by Compass.

The album opens up with Rolling and instantly infests the senses with its animated funk incited rhythms. Hitting its joyous stride soon after, the track bounces along dragging the listener to their feet, Kretov’s vocals a ringleader to the boisterous escapade. With its Talking Heads meets Dalek I Love You like shuffle, the track gets the release off to a thrilling start, one more than accentuated by successor Caravan.

The second track similarly had attention and instincts alive with its rhythmic introduction alone, bold tenacious beats a tribal intimation within the suggestive sonic vegetation that surround them. With body and imagination swiftly enslaved, McLarnon’s ever siren tones warmly caress as the song expands its scenically melodic emprise while the alternating blend of the duo’s voices only adds to the cinematic lure and enticing climate of the exceptional encounter.

Otherwise is next up, the song sharing another individual clime of sound and flavour as Caribbean-esque hues gently but firmly trot within an evolving dream pop serenade. More than ever it proved so easy to sink into the soundscapes of Ummagma as within just three songs Compass had unveiled a new plateau of craft, imagination, and temptation; an enticement nagging at the senses as eagerly within the electronic ambience coloured LCD. With voices as much a lively texture as the sounds courting the same evocative space, the track swept across the senses to, if not quite to the same heights as its predecessors, strongly captivate.

Equally the dream nurtured pop of Elizabeth 44 proved a beacon of persuasion and manipulation, guiding hips and attention with a knowing smile as McLarnon again beguiled, while Blown straight after was swiftly under the skin through its opening indie strokes of guitar alone. As its atmosphere grew and thickened with crystalline synth tempting and a hazy breath the track only enhanced its hold especially as cosmopolitan shapes and melodic silhouettes came forth to dance with keen rhythms and conjuring imagination.

The following predominantly instrumental F-Talking is one of those Ummagma tracks which sparks a fresh inference upon the imagination with every listen, its ambient search and discovery enthralling and interpretation never concluded with successor Galicticon, a spatial float across an expansive melodic sky of equal intimation, just as potent on ears and thoughts.

The diverse character of Compass continues at pace with Lotus strolling in on a shoegaze swing as Kretov walks its wiry threads. There is a touch of Paul Haig to the excellent song which only adds to its rich presence as too a Cocteau Twins like seducing which makes for a similarly alluring essence within the pastoral summer of High Day that follows with matching fascination.

The pair of Colors II and Cretu ensures a fair share of the imagination is cast on their adventures too, the first a slice of indie rock with a folk meets post punk shading and the second an ambient glide across mercurial and unpredictable scenery, every instrumental second a dawning of new suggestive sights to captivate thoughts and senses.

The radiant Bouquet brings Compass to a mesmeric conclusion, its hug shadow clad yet brightly seductive and breath foreboding but rousing. It is an eagerly magnetic end to an album which charmed, tantalised and absorbed from start to finish with moments of creative rapture set in between. Ummagma just go from strength to strength, from bold adventure to striking imagination releases by release; Compass the indisputable proof.

Compass is out now via Leonard Skully Records; available @ http://ummagma.bandcamp.com/album/compass

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

Pete RingMaster 31/07/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Ummagma – Caravan

This June sees the release of the first album in seven years from Ummagma and to herald its arrival whilst offering a rather delicious teaser the indie pop duo has just released the two track single Caravan. As ever the pair’s sound is as eclectic as it is evocative and as is the trend with atmospheric senses involving mastery the new single evokes and inspires the imagination to individual adventures alongside its own.

Emerging in 2003, Ummagma is the creative union of Canadian Shauna McLarnon and Ukraine hailing Alexander Kretov. Ontario based, the pair’s sound is an imaginative fusion of everything from dream pop and shoegaze to post-punk, indie, space rock and much more, it all immersed in a tapestry of ambient and electronic enterprise. The duo has regularly been compared to bands such as Cocteau Twins, Curve, and Daughter but as Caravan alone insists, references which only hint at rather than reveal the richness of the band’s music and imagination.

It is fair to say that our personal appetite to Ummagma’s music is constant but has flourished in varying strengths across their releases and ahead of that new album in Compass, has reached lustful greed courtesy of Caravan. The song instantly had ears gripped as drums set out their ridiculously hypnotic and rousing stroll. Atmospheric suggestion is just as swiftly at play with the imagination, its soundscape of warm wide plains blossoming with suggestive vegetation. McLarnon’s warm magnetic tones are also soon caressing ears as the song sweeps into a synth pop-esque canter, Kretov’s subsequent vocals just as tempting within the pair’s web of musical insistence.

The song is pure adventure, an intimate travelogue of intrigue, intimation, and craft which had the body bouncing and ears enthralled from start to finish.

Ty i Ya accompanies Caravan offering up its own individual temptation; one funk lined and eighties synth pop bred. There is something of Dalek I Love You to the song which only added to its quick appeal and it too brings an atmospheric cascade of enterprise and suggestion which mesmerised throughout even if with varying degrees of strength across its evocative landscape.  Ummagma is a band which is unafraid to push their boundaries and the imagination of others in unexpected ways, Ty i Ya proof it so often works a treat.

It is probably fair to say that any album, indeed release, from Ummagma is eagerly anticipated in numerous corners, Caravan ensures Compass will definitely be truly keenly awaited.

Caravan is out now through Leonard Skully Records; available @ https://ummagma.bandcamp.com/album/caravan with Compass released on June 21th also via Leonard Skully Records digitally, on black vinyl and on CD with artwork by Alexander Kretov.

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

Pete RingMaster 17/05/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Teksti-TV 666 – Aidattu Tulevaisuus

Hailing from Finland, Teksti-TV 666 creates a sound which is quite simply a web of entrapment, every strand bred from an individual flavour but all colluding in a compelling and inescapably contagious proposition called Aidattu Tulevaisuus. Simultaneously, the album is as punk and garage rock as it is shoegaze, metal, and psych rock bred with plenty more ingredients involved. Yet tagging it is easy, pure temptation.

The Facebook page for Teksti-TV 666 lists band members at eight, the press release for the their new encounter says six; a line-up which consists of four sometimes five electric guitars. Whoever is involved, how many strings are manipulated, what is easy to establish is that the band knows how to get under the skin with songs which dance with the imagination whilst toying with the senses. As evidenced by Aidattu Tulevaisuus, each track springs a multi-layered incitement whether a sonic roar or a calm bred intimation and all evolving in the ear with deception, craft, and imagination.

Aidattu Tulevaisuus opens with Turbo-Mondeo, the song emerging like sonic steam from a hidden pipe; coming closer until in engulfs the senses and that swiftly enterprising bond of guitars begin weaving their captivating tapestry. It is an assault though which is a blend of mellow and forcefulness, brewing a more volatile state as vocals and harmonies entice with a raw siren-esque hue. Already the variation in flavour and texture is uncaged, the track unveiling its tempestuousness in between unpredictable serenity for a perpetually infectious trespass.

The album’s track follows and immediately winds something akin to My Bloody Valentine, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and a punk nurtured Asylums round ears. That inherent catchiness surging through the first track is as hungry in the second, as too another entanglement of styles within a mercurial climate of intensity and creative rabidity before Rauhankone in turn spreads post punk toxins. Chilled and chilling with its industrial lining, the track saunters along like a garage punk honed Leitmotiv merged with a noise pop engaged Sex Gang Children; again a rich and intricately built palette of hues embroiled in its inimitable and unique contagion.

Serverny swings in next on a Nintendo core deceit, a devious lure soon unleashing a sonic turbulence which in turn breeds its own drone cast contagion. Its incessant nagging is tempered by ever warm vocals tones and the surf sighs of a guitar but always there boasting its own cyclonic lure. It’s repetitious but never predictable invention, qualities matched within closing track Katko. From its first breath, the song is a thrilling trespass with its eager groove and crisply landing beats, the brooding throb of bass just as enjoyably niggly and irresistible within the rousingly hypnotic post punk/ noise/psych rock integrated majesty.

It is all superb stuff, every track an inescapable joy which will, given the chance, surely devour vastly more than passions beyond ours. Sung in the language of their homeland we cannot not give a clue to the lyrical themes involved but it matters little as Aidattu Tulevaisuus is a true highlight of the year and Teksti-TV 666 a band which deserves all the attention possible.

Aidattu Tulevaisuus is out now via Svart Records.

https://www.facebook.com/tekstitv666/

Pete RingMaster 21/09/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Some Kind of Illness – Awakening

In a time where each day and every twist within it brings some form of tension or reflection of humanity’s quest for self destruction, we need a place to escape, to embrace a calming beauty within the chaos. One such place is the new album from UK duo Some Kind of Illness. The mesmeric Awakening is an oasis in the turbulence, a realm of elegant ambiences and warm melodies and though shadows and melancholy equally line the flight of the release they are all part of the evocation guiding ears and thoughts to an experience reflecting the album’s title.

Hailing from Farnworth, Some Kind of Illness is the creation of brothers Mark and Paul Hinks. The project emerged around 2014 bringing an alternative/indie guitar sound which swiftly drew positive attention especially with the release of the pair’s self-titled debut album in 2015 By then the band had become a busy proposition on the surrounding live scene and played numerous iconic venues across Manchester and Liverpool spreading out across the UK as well as shared stages with the likes of Tom Hingley and The Jackals and going into the following year, The Primitives. 2016 also saw the again highly praised release of second full-length Souls as well as the unveiling of Nick Connors’ film Northern Lights for which they wrote the soundtrack.

With Awakening, the pair has explored the qualities and depths of a retro Roland D-50 synthesizer and an 808 Drum machine around their weaving of guitar suggestion. The album also moves within a lighter climate of emotion in comparison to its predecessors, again its title echoed across tracks which are unafraid to hug shadows and darker feelings but explore the beauty in all. It opens with the instrumental caress of its title track, keys and guitars wrapping each other’s grace in a slowly revolving flume of temptation. Its hypnotic beauty is followed by the equally calm climate of Neon Glass though immediately beats are a lively lure. There is a great eighties post punk/new wave feel to the track, bands such as Human League in its first guise and Eyeless in Gaza coming to mind as the song seduces the imagination.

No More Waiting embraces similar hues within its gentle hug of ears; its ethereal atmosphere warmly clinging to the vocal declaration before the pop kiss of Violet Dream floats over the senses like the morning mist on an autumn day. The song features the enchanting tones of Hara Su, an engaging spice on the beguiling melodies of guitar and keys which tease ears. There is a hint of discord to the track too, a whiff of unsettlement which sparks thoughts as potently as the reflective prowess of word and tone.

The captivation continues through the Slowdive-esque Memories In A Window and the instrumental whispering of Ledana, both tracks an individual province of melodic suggestiveness and emotional intimation which lure ears and thoughts away from a moment of reality. They in turn are followed and matched in temptation by Cyclone which welcomes the innocence graced tones of Daisy Davies as it immerses the senses.

The dark touches of the real world continue to be eluded with the celestial flight of Icarus, its lofty beguiling atmosphere lined with darker omens as keys and vocals float across the rich captivation while with its own off world spatial hints, Snowflakes gently falls around the poetic portrait cast by Virginia Martelozzo. Each is a bewitchment which almost haunts the senses before the shoegaze shadows of Crystal Light bring the release to a lucent close. Melodies sparkle off of its energetic slumber, vocals similarly a vibrant lure into the track’s radiant depths.

It is a fine end to an album which simply grows more beguiling and impressive listen by listen. We all need an escape from the surrounding tempest, the compelling echoes and layers of Awakening just might be yours.

Awakening is available now @ https://somekindofillness1.bandcamp.com/album/awakening-lp

https://www.facebook.com/SomeKindofIllness/    https://twitter.com/skoiband

Pete RingMaster 16/09/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright