The Sums – Better

Another band who found themselves caught up and severely losing out in the collapse of Pledge Music, The Sums persevered with the recording and release of their new album, Better, to bless the year with one of its finest and most irresistible collection of rock/pop songs.

It has been a tough time since their last album for the UK outfit, the death of lead guitarist Lee Watson hitting band mates, fans and indeed music hard but using his memory and enduring inspiration the Liverpool quartet forged ahead with long-time friend in guitarist Richy Northcote joining up with vocalist/guitarist Peter ‘Digsy’ Deary, bassist/vocalist Chris Mullin, and drummer Chris Campbell. As mentioned Better had its own trials and tribulations to face but has just been unveiled to light up ears and spirit with almost mischievous intent.

The album opens up with Kick Da Bucket, a rousing slice of rock ‘n’ roll with an edge to its voice and virulent groove to its character. With Digsy like a carny barker in the midst of its melodic carnival, hooks and melodies bring an enslaving swing to the song as rhythms dance and prey on a swiftly subservient appetite for its eager stomp. The track is superb but only a sign of things to come as Better unravels its web of enterprise, variety, and adventure.

Here To Stay is next up and immediately shares its own seductive melody to hook just as quick attention. Its gentle but assured swing is pure summer glee but as ever there is that shadow in word and tone which gives it an easily relatable grounding. Not for the last time across the release there is something akin to Hed PE meets Steely Dan to a song, a comparison which may only be heard in our ears but feels the best way to suggest the enthralling feel and presence of the infection escaping the speakers before All Messed Up brings its pop rock canter to bear on greedy ears. Already three songs in, the broad tapestry of sound and flavouring within the album is inescapable, the band providing their most diverse and fascinating release yet but it is still unmistakably The Sums in every aspect. With keys adding to its infectious weave the track joined its predecessor in hitting the spot in quick time.

The calmly thoughtful repose and serenade of Go is melancholic rapture urging people to reconnect with the world and each other, its orchestral breath and intimate touch captivating while I Run A Mile straight after provides a funk nurtured shuffle for body and voice to get eagerly involved in. Brass and keys smoulder across Mullin’s and Campbell’s rhythms, the rousing bass of the former almost sullen between the crisp swings of the latter as Digsy and Northcote spring their equally engaging prowess.

Though even after a wealth of plays, it has proven impossible to pick a favourite track but Give Me Something always figures to the fore in thoughts, the song viral in its rhythmic nagging and dirty rock ‘n’ roll breeding and simply beguiling in its pop catchy and melody rich croon. Nail us down and it would have to be the moment which brought the greatest lust but constantly challenged as shown by its immediate successor, Contraception Is Rife. With a country rock twang, the pop breathing balladry of the track is again full captivation which Nowhere Left But Home soon shares through its own distinct croon.

Better is brought to a close through firstly the glorious Cold One, it’s almost Lowry painted air enough to get the imagination weaving with the tones of Digsy and Mullin alone pleasure bound, and lastly Salt Of The Earth. The final track simply brings a smile to the face, its acoustic sway and vocal glee total captivation from which pure contagion erupts in a devilish chorus.

And that is Better, an album which brings a warm glow to the year’s cold closing weeks and confirmation that The Sums is one of Britain’s finest rock and pop bands which not enough people know about though that could and should all change now.

Better is out now through https://www.thesums.net/better-new-album-out-now/

https://www.thesums.net/   https://www.facebook.com/thesums/   https://twitter.com/thesumsmusic

Pete RingMaster 22/11/2019

Copyright RingMasterReview: MyFreeCopyright

The Vintage Calvinos – An Invitation To Infamy

Being engulfed in fascination for something is one of life’s pleasures and stepping into the kaleidoscopic world of An Invitation To Infamy is certainly both. The debut album from The Vintage Calvinos is an absorbing tapestry of sound and suggestion loaded with observation, insight, and a creative devilment which just gets right under the skin.

The band is the creation of song writer/bassist/vocalist David Baird who lured in some of the finest Scottish musicians to the Aberdeen based project and indeed, in the case of backing singer Xavia, literally just passing by talent of drawn to the pied piper-esque sounds coming through the windows of The Anatomy Rooms where the band was rehearsing. Together they have created a web of temptation in skilfully conjured word and multi-flavoured music which has the body swaying and imagination swinging in joyful enterprise and contemplation. From pop to indie, rock to folk and a host of numerous other spices, An Invitation To Infamy is a beautiful collusion drawn from the hearts of a collective of musical adventurers.

The instantly compelling rub of drama soaked strings as Prelude leaps upon ears and imagination sets the scene and tone of things to come, its vocal compulsion subsequently slipping into a warm slow waltz with a flowing energy which soon has hips leaning to and fro as guitars and strings engage with the romancing keys in entwining dulled yet potent percussive beats. The forcibly engaging piece leads into the waiting arms of Last Tango which opens with melodic drama somewhat akin to War of The Worlds. Its rich strains soon twist into a rolling stroll with more infectiousness than a viral cold and a net of creative intrigue which has ears and thoughts enslaved. Baird’s great vocals are more than matched by the backing of Xavia, both wrapped in the melodic dexterity of Paul Davidson’s guitar. With a second never wasted on predictability, the track is superb, almost reason enough alone to accept An Invitation To Infamy.

So Many People follows, the buzz of life breeding a slow carnival march, one seemingly infusing the tiredness of perpetually imposing life with the joy of being. Brass blows with an enticing clamour as rhythms throb, a welcoming cacophony parting for the melancholic spicing of Baird’s vocals and the stirring scythes of strings and in turn uniting for a creative throng which just magnetises the senses. Like a sonic pagan scented Lowry composition with a broader outlook, the track utterly seduces before new single You Are Always on My Mind infests the psyche. The striking coaxing of Mitsuki Takayama’s violin instantly grips, a hold tightening as the song evolves into a sixties pop scented canter. There is no resistance to its teasing temptations and lively catchiness, the quickly involved antics of body and vocal chords swift evidence. Davidson’s wall of keys is just as irresistible along with the theatre of strings and the rhythmic saunter of Baird’s bass and Fraser Peterkin’s drum beats.

The indie seduction of This Handsome Boy absorbs attention next. It is a track with a touch of Lightning Seeds to it at certain moments and pure pop contagion throughout led by the golden tones of Iona Macdonald and warm surges of brass expelled by trumpeter Bill Thompson, trombonist Denis Webb, and saxophonist Dave Carter. Sometimes there is something about it which feels quite familiar yet for no obvious reason as it floods ears with instinctive pleasure.

The album’s first single, No Room at The Inn released a couple of weeks ago, steps in to captivate straight after with its gentle stroll. Its proposal is low key, compared to other songs, but rich invitation into the album’s broadening musical and lyrical craft while Clouds smoulders with elegance and undiluted captivation. At times it sounds like a blend of Steely Dan and Weekend, a wistful seduction with intensity in its heart and an energetic adventure in its nature.

Through the haunting entrance and golden incestuous intimacy of Alice and the minimalistic but rich stirring of Lost, band and album continue to bewitch with adventurous diversity and creative revelry. Both tracks simply enthral whilst manipulating the body before Teardrops in My Eyes swaggers in with sorrowful melodies and sinful energy to reinforce the submission of ears and appetite before The Vintage Calvinos.

The dusky rock ‘n’ roll of Rock Dreams Part 2 is like a soundtrack to many of our musical upbringings and warm homage to its kings and quite irresistible as too after a magnetic instrumental reprise of No Room at The Inn, is closing track The Beautiful and the Damned. A shadow draped ballad to the lost and the lonely with the darkest outcome, the song is simply sultry aural beauty epitomising the craft and debut of The Vintage Calvinos.

With a host of other striking individual contributions involved in the collective creation of An Invitation To Infamy, all deserving recognition, the album is one of the year’s most essential encounters. The first listen is gold but only an appetizer to the delights and unbridled pleasures which follow with every subsequent union between ear and sound.

An Invitation To Infamy is released October 27th on Stereogram Recordings with the single You Are Always On My Mind out October 20th.

The album’s launch is to be held at Under The Hammer, North Silver Street, Aberdeen on Saturday 28th October 2017 from 2pm.

http://www.stereogramrecordings.co.uk/the-vintage-calvinos/    https://www.facebook.com/thevintagecalvinos/

Pete RingMaster 17/10/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

John Thayer – Face To Face EP

JT_RingMasterReview

Recently singer songwriter John Thayer released new EP Face To Face, a handful of songs which instinctively captivate as warm and suggestive melodies unite with emotion fuelled lyrics and vocals. There is also an intimate drama to each song which often blossoms to broader heights even as Thayer keeps it personal with his introspective exploration and reflections. The result is a release which captures ears with swift success and only lights the imagination further with subsequent listens.

The brother of Tommy Thayer, the lead guitarist in Kiss, John creates a sound inspired by the likes of Yes, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Steely Dan, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and The Who and based, as suggested by his latest offering, around ear seducing melodies. 2013 saw his indie/pop rock sound quickly grab ears and support through debut album Laurel Street, released as the new EP on EON Records.

Already stirring up eager attention, latest record Face to Face was co-produced by John and singer/songwriter producer Rob Daiker (Meredith Brooks, The Fame Riot) at Commune Studios in Portland Oregon and mixed by Greg Collins (U2, Matchbox Twenty, No Doubt). Straight away it seizes ears and imagination with its title track, the opener caressing both with gentle keys and ethereal harmonies initially. That earlier mentioned drama is just as swift in working its charm, coating the emerging orchestral bred keys and vocal expression of Thayer. Equally there is an instinctive catchiness which arises through the song, riffs and hooks mellow but potent as they add inescapable infectiousness to an affair which takes little time to seduce and involve the listener while providing an impressive start to the EP.

art_RingMasterReviewNot Afraid follows and quickly eclipses its predecessor as a thick wall of dramatic rhythmic and sonic energy hits ears. The song soon relaxes as Thayer’s vocals begin sharing melodic sighs and expression though the bass continues to bring dark shadows while prowling the calmer waters, lurking and waiting to join the frequent expulsions of that initial energy with erupt. It is gripping stuff reminding of British artist Johnny Wore Black, and with great unpredictability to its twists and dark hues to its emotion easily takes best song honours upon the EP.

In many ways the song sets a plateau the release never reaches again but enjoyment and creative imagination is still a potent proposal as firstly the melancholic stroll of Really Doesn’t Matter warms the senses to be followed by the evocative serenade of Angel. As the heart bred and felt tones of Thayer slip enjoyable through ears both songs are a flame of melodic enterprise within that ever dramatic air to richly satisfy.

The EP closes with Lonely Eyes and a tapestry of string bred shadows and guitar shaped intensity entangled with suggestive vocals and poetic melodies. There is something cinematic about the song too even as again Thayer ventures into the deepest emotions of the song’s heart. With a flame of a solo and the perpetual majesty of orchestral temptation, the track provides a striking end to an increasingly captivating release.

The Face To Face EP is our first moment shared with the songwriting and sound of John Thayer and like so many others we are sure, it will not be our last.

The Face To Face EP is out now via EON Records through most online stores.

https://www.facebook.com/johnthayermusic

http://www.johnthayermusic.com

Pete RingMaster 02/09/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Interview with Roger Wells and Jason Applin of Union Starr

Falling Apart Together from UK rock band Union Starr has easily been one of   highlights to come out so far this year. The debut album from the band is a magnificent collection of melodic heartfelt songs that offer a fire and light to brighten everyday and to bring a sunshine to the heart through wonderfully crafted songs and lyrics to easily find a connection and understanding with. The album took ten years to finally have the opportunity to treat our ears, which it does so wonderfully.  This was one of the things we asked about when we had the great pleasure of having Roger Wells and Jason Applin of the band sit down and tell us more about themselves, Union Starr and the album.

Hello and a big welcome to The Ringmaster Review, many thanks for taking time out to talk with us. 

Firstly could you please introduce the members of Union Starr?

Roger Wells – Vox\Guitar, Jason Applin – Vox, Mark Lyons –bass, Simon Nash – Guitar, Neil Macurley – Keyboards,  Patch Hannon – drums and Steph Moorey – backing vox.

The seeds of the band began a decade ago I believe what was the inspiration that led to Union Starr?

Roger: I remember the original inspiration being a ‘Best Of Bread ‘album cover from the seventies. Four bearded men standing in a cornfield, sun setting behind them, cheese cloth shirts flapping. Classic stuff!

Jason: Rog and I have been listening to lots of things like Crosby, Stills and Nash and Steely Dan, sort of as a reaction to the indie we’d been living for the last 5 years. We both liked the idea of writing something so consciously timeless and high fidelity.

There was a musical past for you guys before the band too?

Roger: Yes, I was one of the founding members of Resque and played bass for Airhead for a couple of years.  I went on to form Pallet and after a Reading festival appearance alongside Jason’s band Bennett, we were inspired to work together and formed Union Starr.

Jason: Yes, Rog will no doubt tell you about his. Obviously Patch was int The Sundays, and I had been in a band called Bennett who had minor success largely to John Peel being a fan.

The promo sheet came accompanied our review copy of your wonderful new album made the time that led to the beginning of the band sound like a last chance saloon moment certainly emotionally for you musically if not deeper, was that the case?

Roger: No, not really, for me it was more the beginning. Having been mainly a bass player until then, I started playing guitar and song writing.  This wasn’t something I thought I could do so for me this is where it felt it all started for me.

Jason: I suppose there was a feeling of wanting to do something that was critically acclaimed rather than just indie kids liking it, but now 10 – 12 years on I feel completely the reverse, I don’t care who likes it, I just want people to enjoy it.

I have read somewhere that Union Starr almost ended before it started, that there was a falling out? Is that correct and if so what brought you back on course?

Jason: It wasn’t so much a falling out, more of drifting apart and then that kind of lack of communication ends up being a chasm in itself so I think we sort of filled that space with problems that weren’t really there. But, to my mind what happened when the album was finished, was that we fell out with the production company because they wanted our publishing as well as the record. So the whole thing basically caved in and Rog made it clear that he didn’t really want to work with me anymore. At the time that really pissed me off because I felt I was being made the scapegoat for everything going wrong. And it all sounds very melodramatic but conception and writing of the album itself took almost 2 years. And at the time I though Rog’s actions spoke volume about the true level of our friendship. I should say that I don’t think that anymore.

Roger: There was no falling out as such, between Jason and I, just a series of misunderstandings and things left unsaid.  It happens in most close relationships I imagine. I think because the actual process of writing together was such an easy and enjoyable place for both of us, we kind of carried on knowing that what we had was worth pursuing….

Does the album title Falling Apart Together reflect that period and the friendship between you two?

Roger: Very much so. It kind of says it all.

Jason: Yeah, the album title encapsulates 2 things, the first being that the majority of the lyrics I wrote were about the failing marriage I was in at the time. And the second is a nod towards that, for the best part of 11 years, the album destroyed a friendship.

Initially you were just a duo or there were other musicians helping out before you found the drumming skills of Patch Hannon (ex- The Sundays), to add permanently?

Jason: Simon Nash was always very key and involved right from the start. The others apart from Patch were pulled in to make up the band when we first attempted to record the album. At that time we had a drummer called Martin and it’s actually his drumming that remains on the song ‘Don’t Worry Baby’. We sacked him and as we knew Patch and had started working with Nick, using his brother just fell into place. Stephanie does not appear on the album but is a full time member of the current line up.

Roger: Simon Nash our guitarist featured heavily in the initial ideas for sound as it was his home studio that we spent time in. The three of us would sit and listen to loads of different stuff and draw inspiration from each others take on things ranging from sixties spy films to The Beta Band, Steely Dan, XTC…… Loved those nights…..

How and when did the link up with producer Nick Hannon happen?

Roger: We had known Nick for sometime before Union Starr as he used to play bass for Jim Jimenee and The Deep Season and had recorded demos with various bands that Jason and I had been in. So it was kind of a no brainer as far as we were concerned….

Jason: I knew Nick from the days in Bennett and we’d used his studio to record our first album. I think Rog might have known him too but I’m not sure. I can’t really remember but I think I might have played him some demos or something and he offered to work with us after that.

 Again the impression given from bio etc is that this all happened early on and it has taken ten years to reach the release of  your album Falling Apart Together can you put in perspective the time span and placing of things please?

Roger: The album was all ready to release in 2001 but the production company folded forcing us to shelve the album and with tensions running high and a feeling that all was lost I just kind of walk away from the project and my friendship with Jay.  We did talk, however in summer 2005 and began to discuss getting together with a view to at least gigging the album, but again it wasn’t happening…..

It was only when we met again at Mark Lyons (Bass) birthday party in 2010 that we decided to finally do something about Union Starr. And that is where we decided to put together the Woodenhouse Record Label, a label that would encompass Union Starr and projects that had been worked on during the bands lengthy hiatus.

Jason: Approximately 11 or 12 years ago we wrote and recorded the album. We then immediately split up, Rog and I didn’t really communicate too much for about 10 years. The last year we performed at Mark’s 40th birthday party, got talking about the album and decided to form Woodenhouse Records. That’s it.

Moving on to the album Falling Apart Together, so all the songs on it were written during the previous ten years or from a certain period?

Roger:  All the tracks on the album were written and recorded in Reading and Nashville between 1998 and 2000….

Jason: All the songs were written approx 11 or 12 years ago.

The album is a collection of beautifully crafted and inventively melodic songs but also heartfelt, is there a lot of you personally and emotionally in the compositions?

Jason: Yes.

Roger: For Jason definitely. As the lyricist it was bound to. For me melody is all, so I feel very much part of every song…

There are numerous spices that flavour your distinct songwriting and impressive sounds on the album, what influences have predominantly affected you musically and as people?

Jason: I think we always wanted to make something that was uplifting and it’s odd, but the only word I can think of is ‘summer’ I think there is a lot of countryside in that album.

Roger: To many influences to name, but on the whole, the Seventies, early and late, lay under the whole album.

There is a definitely eighties flavouring too, we got whiffs of the likes of The Bluebells, XTC and The Lightning Seeds, is that a period especially from the UK that has made a big impact on you?

Roger: I have more than a fondness for the bands mentioned and would also include The La’s, Wonderstuff, The Cure, Wire, Banshees, and many more. So, yeah, the 80’s made a huge impact on me….

Jason: I’ve always loved XTC; I don’t have interest in the Bluebells or Lighting Seeds. It’s odd, a few people have said that there is an 80’s vibe to it, that’s not conscious, I think if anything we were looking for a mid 70’s feel. But having listened to it recently I can see why people might say that and I’m totally comfortable with it.

How does the songwriting work within the band?

Roger: Generally I’ll come up with an idea or part formed song with a definite melody but with little or no lyrics and Jason and I will sit and arrange it. Then I’ll make the tea whilst Jay writes words…

Jason: The majority of the stuff Rog writes the basic song structure and often a sort of hummed melody line for the vocals. On the album I wrote all the lyrics and a couple of the songs I had more steer in. A Real Fool and I Kept Knocking for example, where I take the main vocals.

 So the songs start from the music aspect more often than from a thought or lyric to inspire them?

Jason: Often the music that Roger played me would evoke certain feelings or emotions that in turn would steer the lyrical content.

Sorry for going back to the promo sheet again haha but one line states ‘A year long process defined by fear and qualms, the end result was an album and a band that was completely unrecognisable to them but they still had great respect for.’ Could you explain and elaborate on that for us please?

Roger: I could try. But I’d rather not. Not my words……

Jason: I think that’s just a reference to the sacking of Martin, the fact that when we went into it we probably all had a little bit more of an equal say in things. I think we froze Simon out a little bit which these days I feel bad about, and Rog and I took control. Then I felt that Rog was very much courted by Nick, the producer, as the main talent and as such I felt a little bit side lined myself. But ultimately what we ended up with was the right album, so maybe those decisions were the right ones. I should caveat all that with the fact that this was 10 years ago, or more, so a lot of it is a bit foggy. 

Falling Apart Together includes the excellent singles ‘I Know About Art’ and current one ‘Photograph’ which preceded it at the beginning of the year, did the response and acclaim towards them fill you with confidence on how the album would be received?

Roger: Of course, it not only gave us confidence with regard to Falling… but also has given us immense hope for a follow up album we are in the process of demoing….

Jason: Honestly, I was hoping for more reaction to the album than we seem to be picking up at the moment, but it’s early days. All I know is that we’ve played only our second and third gig In 12 years recent and both Rog and I noticed that there were lots of smiling faces in the audience so we must be doing something good.

I am always intrigued about the line between the self belief within artists for their work and the leap into the unknown and the anxiety at how the outside will perceive their creations. Which aspect has been to the fore for you leading up to the album unveiling?

Roger: The only feelings I have had are of pride and a great sense of relief that this album has finally seen the light of day. I have never been endowed with much self belief to tell the truth.

Jason: I think it’s on such a small scale that we are doing this that it’s relatively easy not to be too anxious about it.

Our favourite track was I kept Knocking, a storming and vibrant yet steely track, could you give some background to it?

Jason: It was originally a song about a trip to Nashville that Rog and I took and a girl that we met there who could drink us under the table. But we got the basic track down and it just sounded shit. Nick and I had been joking around with the concept of country garage music (as in dance rather than 60’s punk) and so Nick started mucking about with sequencers over what we had done. And that gave us the basic track. The lyrics I can’t actually take credit for even though officially I do on the copyright etc, as it is a direct lift from a letter that was left outside the studio by a UPS delivery driver.

Roger: The song started life as an ode to a girl from Nashville but didn’t make the cut for the album. However, during a lull in recording Nick Hannon and Jason started mucking about with sequencers and various other sounds and created ‘I Kept Knocking’ from the drum track of the original song. The lyrics are taken directly from a note pinned to the studio door by a UPS delivery driver who could not make himself heard above the din of the recording of the track…..

Has there been a big feeling of relief now Falling Apart Together has finally come out and has the journey to this been a test of your patience more than people will imagine?

Jason: I don’t think its relief, there has been something niggling me for the last 10 or 11 years whenever I think about it. And I found it difficult to listen to. But now friendships have been mended, and the thing has seen the light of day. At least it means I can comfortably listen to it again.  Probably the nicest thing to come out of it would be hooking up with Roger again.

Is this a time to sit back and enjoy the inevitable acclaim or is Union Starr already looking ahead?

Roger: The new album is in full swing. Some of it has been written whilst sitting back, some of it whilst enjoying the acclaim.

Jason: No, we’re already writing new things and we plan to bring out an EP in August that will bridge a gap between the album and whatever comes next. At this stage I’m hopeful that it won’t be 11 years before the next album comes out.

Are there live shows promoting the release coming up?

Jason: Live shows for Union Starr are very difficult due to physical location of the band (I live in Reading, Roger lives in Devon etc) However, we are trying to do a few shows and have been invited to play a couple of small festivals over the Summer.

Roger: Jason and myself will be supporting Newton Faulkner as a duo at The O2 Academy in Oxford on the 10th May and Lemington Spa Assembly on the 13th May. We shall be playing with the full band at Reading Plug and Play on the 12th May and The Elderflower Field Festival in Lewes on the 26th May.

Other dates to follow…….

Do you think your next album will be an easier ride, not in creating it but just in the whole aspect of bringing it to life and into the world?

Roger: I would like to think so. It is so much easier for all of us now as we have our own record label.

Jason: Yes because we now can do it completely on our own without the need to involve anyone else. I think Rog and I are both conscious of the fact that we want the songs to be better than those on the first album. So that will take as long as it takes and therefore that could be a difficult ride.

Falling Apart Together is released on Woodenhouse Records, your own label as you mentioned earlier.  Has this been a decision from the start or one that you made to ensure a release of the album?

Roger: A bit of both really. It is nice to be in control of your own work.

Jason: Woodenhouse was initially formed specifically for this recent release. Originally I think we envisaged the record being licensed to a regular label.

I guess having your own label means the pressure to get the album out swiftly is removed haha.

Roger: Quite the opposite. We now feel a real need to make up for lost time! Our aim now is for Union Starr to release an album a year. Union Starr was never supposed to move at such a glacial speed. Let the great thaw begin…

Does the label have other artists to share?

Roger: We have Jason’s other project Damn Damn Patriots and Beartown Zodiac. Dates for releases can be found at woodenhouse.me.uk

Jason: Yes, we currently have a band called Damn, Damn Patriots (which happens to be my side project) which is musically as far removed from Union Starr as you could possibly get. We also have an artist called Beartown Zodiac on the label and we hope to bring his album out in the autumn. In my opinion, his album will blow anything else we have done out of the water.

 A kind of repeat question but what is next for Union Starr and you as musicians?

Roger: To remain the best of friends and keep doing what we’re good at…

Jason: Union Starr are currently writing and demo-ing songs for our next album and will be playing a few small festivals over the summer. Personally I’m also concentrating on the release of the Damn, Dam Patriots album scheduled for July.

Thank you so much for sharing your time with us and good luck with the album though we feel you will not need it.

Roger: Pleasure, Thanks.

Jason: I think we will! Thank you for your support, keep spreading the word.

Have you any last thoughts to share with us?

Jason: No

Roger: I’m off to the beach. We should all live in Devon!

And finally could you give us one song or release that has given you the biggest inspiration or incentive to do what you do so impressively?

Roger: Elbow’s entire back catalogue would be a good start…Great stuff.

Jason: This is a hard question because things that influenced me to do Union Starr all that time ago are not necessarily songs that I find inspirational today. But I would say that at the time ‘You don’t have to cry’ by Crosby, Stills and Nash was pretty much there in my mind all the time.

For more info on Union Starr go to http://woodenhouserecords.webnode.com/

Read the review of  Falling Apart Together  @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/union-starr-falling-apart-together/

The Ringmaster Review 13/10/2012

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Sport of Kings – Logic House EP

Released the tail end of 2011 The Logic House EP from Sport Of Kings is an unassuming release that captivates without truly leaving a lasting impression. Maybe not strictly true as at times melodies of lead track ‘Free Jazz’ can make unannounced appearances in the head though not always with the recognition of their source. The EP is a release that whilst it graces and pleases the ear with its subdued energy and expressive melodies it leaves little lingering taste to tease one to return to it as often as maybe it deserves.

The Brooklyn, New York based band in many ways began when songwriter /guitarist Richard Kelly moved to Brooklyn from Dublin. In Ireland he was part of the acclaimed Capratone who found some success with an EP and album in their homeland. Taking a break from music Kelly set up in Brooklyn ‘Scientific Laboratories Music Studios’ which has attracted the likes of Yeasayer, The Ravonettes and Au Revoir Simone to make use of its facilities. He returned to playing his songs in a four piece indie band with bassist Ben Haberland, from which the departure of their guitarist led to the band taking the decision of replacing him with a keyboard player ,which they found in Matt Beckemeyer, and deciding the specific instrument had to be a Fender Rhodes electric piano. This move reflected their love of Steely Dan and the smooth rock of the 70’s of which this instrument played a major part. The choice led the band aside rather than away from the indie rock sound they were playing into a new direction as they fused their own music with this gentler 70’s flavoured rock sound. The band then proceeded to add a three piece horn section of trombone player Mac Walton, his brother tenor sax player Jas Walton, and trumpeter Billy Aukstik, and in addition to that recruit NYU Jazz School prodigy and Body Language drummer Ian Chang and Chris Hembree on Moog, the band unveiling itself in 2010 to much feverish acclaim.

Free Jazz’ opens the release with an almost self indulgent fanfare which can be forgiven with the engaging easy flowing joyful sound that follow. With a laidback confidence the track sways and washes over the ear with gentle tones and a summery warmth. The track is actually quite visual or inspiring of them, a stroll along a sun kissed river side or a caress in the departing dusk of a summer’s day filling thoughts. The track is quite lively despite the imagery expressed with the brass lifting the track in a pleasant blend with the smoother less urgent sounds. They have captured the Steely Dan type feel perfectly but still kept it as their own song.

1964’ follows with a slightly more robust intent, though again it saunters with the mellow undemanding flow of the band with a smile on its face. As with the first track, though the songs are well crafted endearing tunes it is the horns that spring board them to an elevated height that engages the senses fully. Kelly’s guitar features more strongly here but stays as part of the overall song rather than leading as in most bands. Haberland’s bass is a vibrant feature throughout the release and adds the bite alongside drummer Chang the songs need.

Preface’ and ‘Some Histories’, apart from a summer single mix of the opener, complete the EP. Both are less urgent pleasant tracks that please whilst playing but despite again their great craft do not ignite beyond the instant. To be fair this will vary in personal taste from person to person and one can easily see these being favourites for others, especially with again a lovely blend of brass and emotive almost reserved flow from the rest of the band and Kelly’s vocals. In some ways the two tracks remind of latter XTC, around the time of Skylarking to Nonsuch and that can never be a bad thing.

If you are looking for pulse racing sounds then Logic House is not for you but anyone with a love of modest but generous songs and melodies will find much enjoyment from Sport of Kings’ debut.

RingMaster 12/01/2012

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The Janks – Hands Of Time

Hands Of Time the debut album from Los Angeles based band The Janks is ear catching and attention grabbing as well as intriguing and ultimately with a little extra attention for full appreciation very enjoyable. The band has been gaining strong acclaim and support for their varied and surprising sounds in their homeland, with the album hitting worldwide that eager following is sure to grow and quickly.

Since forming in 2009 the band, made up of brothers Zack and Dylan Zmed and best friend Garth Herberg , has worked hard and intently on their eclectic rock/folk sounds and striking an identity in peoples thoughts with local shows and gigs across the US. Hands Of Time was recorded throughout 2010, the final fourteen tracks emerging from 30 prospective songs to give the release a vibrant and emotive substance as well as an air of unpredictability. In the words of Dylan Zmed upon the release “The album is like musical theatre, the first half develops the plot of a young boy who comes from a broken home, while the second reflects the visceral intensity of growing up from separated roots. At the end, we see there’s possibility for change” and though it is not as obvious as one imagines that is the overall sense one gets as the songs deliver their essences.  

The album opens softly with the title track. Jangly melodies and smooth harmonies ooze from the song and its story telling as engaging guitars play eagerly around an intermittent teasing lure of a carnival hook. This leads into the country folk of ‘Billy The Kid’ and the following ‘Dead Man’. Both songs shuffle along with emotive elegance, delicate harmonies, and concise arrangements. Though soft sounds are in abundance there is a darker element lyrically that lines the songs behind the mellow beauty though it is not until further into the album that musically the tone also changes.

It is with the second half of Hands Of Time and ‘Rat Racers’ that distinct variations and enterprising sounds erupt out. This song after a soft slow start bursts into a reggae pulse and schizophrenic array of electrified sweet cacophony. Though the album to this point has been solid and more than agreeable it is from this point the release lights up. ‘Separation From Your Body’ is a good rock/folk song in the vein of Steely Dan and brings all the elements of the band’s songwriting into the open. Melodic and harmonious with an engaging discordant tension the song is one of the more memorable and powerful.

The electric scuzz of ‘Demon Dance’ and the lively dementia of the brilliant bouncy folk driven ‘Drama King’s Ball’ both raise the temperature wonderfully, the trio wasting no time by taking it easy on the intrigue and mystique of what is coming next. What is to follow is two again mesmeric  tracks in the brief and addictive carnivalesque instrumental ‘Adolescence’ and ‘Child Prodigy’ a song that gives its own kind of rock opera inspired by the likes of Queen.

The album closes as it started with a couple of soft harmonic ballads which are impressive in their construction and sound but do feel as does the opening half of the release, like a drop in levels against the middle excitement. The album is ambitious and overall achieves its intentions admirably and at times wonderfully and for fans of the likes of Flaming Lips or Fleet Foxes this is a must investigate release.

Released on Cargo Records, Hands of Time is fresh and enterprisingly different, despite a little inconsistency though some of that can be put down to personal taste rather than quality. The Janks are without doubt a band to watch closely and their debut an album one to listen to often as each play reveals a little more of its depth and great enterprise.

RingMaster 06/11/2011

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