12 Stone Toddler – Idiolalia

Whilst it is hard to believe wishes generally do come true we have to question that when a long time hope has just been realised with the release of a new album from one of the UK’s most unique and irresistible bands, 12 Stone Toddler.

The band created two of the last decade’s most essential albums for us in the 2007 released Does It Scare You? and its successor two years later, Scheming. They also uncaged a host of tracks which defined the inherent brilliance and unpredictability of their songwriting and sound including The Rabbit, a song which first had us deviously hooked on the band and has never escaped our personal playlist ever since. Though thickly wrapped in acclaim, the band never quite had the rich attention and recognition they deserved outside of their more local surroundings and subsequently seemed to step back into the shadows as its members explored other projects. It is a band though which we know has been the inspiration to a great many artists, all who will be rejoicing with us and fans at their return and a new album in Idiolalia which is 12 Stone Toddler craft and goodness at its most inimitable and mischievous.

With a new line-up seeing guitarist Helen Durden and drummer Robin O’Keefe alongside founder members and songwriters in keyboardist Ben Jones and bassist/vocalist Chris Otero, the Brighton hailing band has linked up with Freshly Squeezed Music for the release of Idiolalia. Immediately as its opener teases ears there is affirmation of what we already knew, the 12 Stone Toddler sound is impossible to pin down or make assumptions about. Musically the band embrace and indulge in strong flirtations with everything from and within rock, pop, and indie to swing, jazz, and more vaudevillian hued exploits; every emerging track individual in character and sound but united in the quartet’s one of a kind touch and imagination.

My Machine starts things up and once its mechanical workings are in order springs a swagger led stroll which needed mere seconds to get under the skin. With a steam punk like breath, the track continues to swing and sway on a manipulative rhythmic pulse, carnival-esque melodies escaping keys to spice guitar bred hooks as the familiar and potent tones of Otero provide a ringmaster like touch. It is an irresistible and irrepressible start to the album instantly setting down a rich marker in the second chapter of 12 Stone Toddler.

The following Give Me the Creeps is just as rousing and magnetic, building its own inescapable lure over a handful of seconds before casting an individual appraisal of life with melodic charm and fascination stirring enterprise. As with their music, the band has always conjured imagery and sparked the imagination with their lyrical prowess and as shown by the first two tracks alone they have lost none of that dexterity.

The animated surf swing of the outstanding Piranha just captivated and mastered inhibitions in hips and feet next while Mirrorball latches fifties seeded breeding to jazz nurtured devilment in its swingbeat flavoured gait for matching success. Add the insatiable rock ‘n’ roll of Just Enough Rope and the almost somnambulistic canter of Carried Away, a track which just blossoms by the listen with its melodic radiance creating something akin to Skylarking era XTC, and you have the kaleidoscopic nature and sound of 12 Stone Toddler in a beguiling nutshell and their ingenuity. The third of that foursome of treats is a wonderfully nagging proposal, its groove niggling away as keys squirt their melodic spicery across the fevered body infesting jive invading the passions.

Across the eager eventful waltz of Heavy Sleeper and the smouldering and increasingly heated melodic sunspot of Nice Surprise, ears are only pleasured by instinctive temptation. Both though still find themselves eclipsed by the following pair of Ride a Donkey and Runaway Train. Neither track was included in the promo sent our way but found to be joining the rest within the album and together providing another major highlight. The first teases with its air scything lures alongside Otero’s enticing vocals before the track’s swarthy landscape embroils country sighs with seaside town quaintness before its simply superb successor takes the listener on a journey of sound and voice escalating the intimation of its title note by syllable.

The final trio of tracks leave no second of sound or pleasure void of bold adventure and imagination, Dig a Hole kicking off the home straight with its virulent manner and step before the senses romancing saunter of The Borrowing Song serenades with the theatre and unpredictability you can actually expect from a 12 Stone Toddler offering. The album closes with one half of the band’s current double-A sided single, Heaven Was Closed, the other part of that teaser opening up Idiolalia. It is a warm and sultry piece of pop rock which simply seduced by the play.

It has been a long wait for 12 Stone Toddler to stir back into life but an intermission in their creativity well worth enduring as they are back as inventive, compelling, and intoxicating as ever.

Idiolalia is out now via Freshly Squeezed across most major stores.

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Pete RingMaster 06/10/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

The Imaginary Hat – Age of Anxiety

Photo by Beth Eloise Fraser

Hailing from England’s capital, The Imaginary Hat creates a sound self-penned as 1920s Punk Rock. As much as your imagination might work with that tag it will only guess at the rich mix of flavours making up the band’s music and new EP Age of Anxiety. Alongside their fusion of rock, punk and 20’s inspired jazz you can find essences of rockabilly, swing, folk and more. It makes for a proposition and new release which is unpredictable, mischievous, and seriously appetising.

The London based outfit formed in 2014 and swiftly earned a potent, attention luring reputation for their music and live presence across the capital and beyond. This year has seen the band emerge with a new and expanded line-up and now second EP, Age of Anxiety, the successor to their well-received debut, Ladies And Gentlemen Kindly Remove Your Hats released this past January.

The spirited rhythms of drummer Phil Joyce kick EP opener Pretty Little Features into life, their increasingly tenacious antics luring ears, appetite, and the guitar jangle of Luke Fraser. Swiftly his vocals also jump in, the track bouncing round with its fifties rock ‘n’ roll scented jazz punk. With a touch of eighties band The Stargazers to it and also the jump blues hues of a Louis Jordan, the song leaps and swings, successfully insisting on the same from the listener. Punk riffs taunt throughout as the flames of Nick Smith’s Trombone unite with the sax of Oscar Ives-Owen; each adding to the virulent contagion of an outstanding start to the release.

A trombone sigh brings up the following Tick Tick Tick, its enticement soon joined by the boisterous stroll of Sam Dimond’s magnetic bass. Vocals again simply entice as they dance devilishly within the similarly insistent sounds around them, enterprise which becomes more bedlamic and frantic by the second but with reins which hauls the chaos back into a just as addictive imaginative canter. You can call the track whatever style you wish but at its heart it is punk rock and relishing its anarchy.

Right Side is next, uncaging a thick dark grumble around another instinctively catchy lure of rhythms. It is infectiousness and swing echoed in Fraser’s vocals as the track prowls, as good as stalks ears and imagination. Bordering blues funereal in gait, salacious seduction in tone, the track physically smoulders as it sears itself into the memory, it too becoming more hellacious in tone and texture by the handful of seconds.

The Imaginary Hat is back in full bounce with Monkey Glands straight after, the track like a swing jazz equivalent of Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers at their devilish while Until One Of Us Dies closes up the release with its dark seduction. Both tracks just hit the spot, the first a collusion of punk ’n’ roll fuelled flavours akin to Eighteen Nightmares at the Lux meets The Strangler Figs under the tutelage of Cab Calloway with its successor unleashing flames of jazz conjured rock with increasing rigour across a landscape as mercurial as it is dramatic.

Though into their fourth year, 2018 might be the moment The Imaginary Hat get crowded by much broader and eager attention. Their two EP’s this year, especially Age of Anxiety, give evidence that it is more than deserved.

Age of Anxiety is out now, available @ https://theimaginaryhat.bandcamp.com/music

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Pete RingMaster 17/07/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Cut Throat Francis – Ghosts EP (Extended Edition)

Originally unveiled last year, the Ghosts EP from UK outfit Cut Throat Francis has just had a re-release as an extended edition through ScreamLite Records. Offering four slices of the Bristol band’s acoustic gypsy folk swing, the release is a second chance for those missing its first appearance to discover a juicy treat for ears and body; one which really should not be missed.

Formed in the summer of 2017, the quartet of vocalist/percussionist Harriet Hayes, guitarist Randolf Morton, bassist Danny Riches, and Jonny Staines on mandolin and banjo quickly whipped up local attention and venues with the lively flirtatious sound now fuelling their debut EP backed by successful festival appearances. The second unveiling of Ghosts given the push it deserves will surely give a potent nudge to richer and broader attention, national appetites destined to be on greed alert hereon in with the luck all introductions need.

The EP opens with the quite irresistible I’m Not Ready; the song four minutes plus of virulent energy and infectious enterprise. A stroke of guitar is the first tease, Hayes’ magnetic voice the second with swinging grooves wearing Eastern European flavouring swiftly following. Like a blend of Molotov Jukebox and The Penny Black Remedy flirting with The BeauBowBelles, the track had feet shifting and hips swinging in no time with its chorus seeing a bold escalation as vocal chords also refused to show restraint.

Individual prowess is as rich behind the song as united enterprise, a core just as potent as the EP’s title track follows. Ghosts is a gentle serenade with a just as tenacious if more understated swing compared to its predecessor. Magnetism is certainly as thick and forceful though, Hayes’ alluring tones as strongly backed by the voices of the rest of the band and their melodic manipulations. Once more an instinctive sway took hold of us to match the song’s; it’s inescapable contagion deceitful in its apparent calm but perpetually fuelled by the lope of the bass and the caress of the various picked strings.

New track Hubert is next, another sauntering along with a knowing swagger bringing a touch of bands like Tanks The Henge with it through its more gypsy punk nature. Male vocals lead this time, their raw rasp a great lilt contrasting the warmer textures making up its melodic swerve, one soon infesting limbs and heart.

The EP ends with These Last Kind Words, a track featuring the guest fiddle prowess of Susan Moffatt. It too has a gypsy punk edge to its vibrant folk canter, banjo whipping up song and appetite with its mischievous chords as vocals entice. Feeling like it was recorded live, the track is a rousing conclusion to one highly addictive proposition, one suggesting seeing the band live has to be a must at some point in time.

Quite simply, the Ghosts EP is a treat and if like for us it escaped you first time around we suggest you make amends now; just be sure to get your hips and imaginations are ready.

The Ghosts EP is available now through ScreamLite Records @ https://screamliterecords.bandcamp.com/

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Pete RingMaster 05/06/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

a blue flame – when your whole world turns to dust

Last year ears and acclaim were seriously caught up in the swinging rock pop adventures of What We’ve Become Is All That Now Remains, now a blue flame follow up its success with when your whole world turns to dust, a release which may be takes a touch longer to spark the same kind of reactions but gets there all the same.

a blue flame is the solo project of Leicester based songwriter Richard Stone and when your whole world turns to dust his third album with the first, someone else’s dreams will fill our home released in 2013 as Woodman Stone.  For his new offering Stone has ventured down the gentler melodic side of his previous album but managed to find the same eclectic flavours which marked out its praise collecting presence.  Essences of folk, swing, and cabaret peak out within when your whole world turns to dust. There are moments when it rocks with full eagerness but generally it basks in a mellower climate yet the same instinctive infectiousness which drove its predecessor again infests the new album whether tempting with an emotive croon or a spirited roar.

With a host of skilled musicians such as Andy Robertson, Adam Ellis, Damon Claridge, and Tony Robinson alongside the vocals and guitar of Stone, the album opens with Back to the Stars and immediately has the body moving to its slow sway and smouldering jazzy hug. The dark inviting prowl of the bass is courted by the seductive flames of brass, both suggestively skirting the magnetic tones of Stone. It is pure captivation setting the release off in fine style.

The following We Feel Like We Feel brings a 60’s pop scent to its melodic surf twanged breeze, a touch of The Everlys flirting with its Bit pop suggestiveness. It is a mix of essences then emulated with different flavourings within the excellent Don’t Wait where it is hard not to be reminded of The Divine Comedy, its English heart and infectious canter a tapestry of imagination and creative zeal.

A Mariachi scented Latin lure graces the show tune-esque rapture of the outstanding 21st Century Blues, a song which almost creeps up on you with its addictive chorus and imagination sparking enterprise but sure to have you making vocal contributions in no time before The Future’s a Mystery lays reflectively upon  ears and thoughts. Its calmer air and tone is an emotive caress, a melancholic serenade given greater emotive depth and texture by the cello of David Dhonan.

The acoustic cored stroll of A Better Way wears a great fifties influence to its intimate saunter, Robinson’s brass lures, as the lyrical reflection , an easy tempting to get carried off by while The Words Wouldn’t Form dances with ears and appetite draped in folkish hues. At this point we are midway through the release and Stone’s songwriting and imagination increasingly shows itself to be as ripe and magnetic as it has ever been but stepping forward with fresh maturity and boldness track after track.

The summery All We Need to Know similarly leans on English folk bred inspirations for its engaging meander, textures given more urgency and mischief in the rousing stroll of Everything’s a Lie immediately after. The second of the two also has an indie pop catchiness and joviality which takes thoughts to bands such as Jim Jiminee and The Sundays, a flirtatious element quickly grabbing feet and appetite.

The song’s energetic intent is gathered up and given further tenacity in Empty Head, the first in a pair of tracks which launch the kind of rock pop antics which lit up the last album. There is a fire in its belly and devilment in its character which simply carries the listener eagerly away into the waiting rock ‘n’ roll jaws of See What Tomorrow Brings. It too has a sixties essence in its tone, the keys as much to credit for the inviting flavouring, but equally a meatier almost rapacious edge which only inflames song and the pleasure it brings.

Completed by the smoky jazziness of Love Will Set Us Free, the increasingly compelling when your whole world turns to dust leaves real anticipation of major things, if not now, ahead for Richard Stone and a blue flame. Whether the album outshines one of our favourite releases last year in its predecessor, we are still debating but certainly it rivals it and most other melodically teasing offerings out this year.

when your whole world turns to dust is available now @ https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/when-your-whole-world-turns-to-dust/id1279472334

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Pete RingMaster 02/10/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Counting Coins – All That I Need

CC_RingMaster Review

It has been a hectic year so far for UK rockers Counting Coins; live shows and tours across the UK and Europe a source of great attention and praise for the band as well as recent single Don’t Look Down, and it continues with the unveiling of its successor. The second single taken from the Hull based quintet’s forthcoming album, All That I Need bobs along on ska bred riffs and devilish rhythms bound in spicy melodies that incite ears and imagination as potently as the equally effective vocal and lyrical incitement. It is one of those invitations impossible to refuse as it gives body and lust a rousing run out; simply one endearing and energetic romp of premeditated goodness.

artwork_RingMaster Review     Formed in 2009, Counting Coins has grown a seriously anthemic fusion of ska, gypsy punk, swing, and hip-hop over the years. From their first pair of EPs, Take the Ride and Reach for the Sky in 2010 and 2013 respectively, the band has shown a creative tenacity that wakes up the instinct to romp and stomp. Their live presence has only increased their reputation, the sharing of stages with bands such as Random Hand, Sonic Boom 6, The New Town Kings, The Talks, Jaya the Cat, Babar Luck (ex-King Prawn), The King Blues, The JB Conspiracy, and Neville Staple adding to an increasingly acclaimed reputation. A few weeks back Don’t Look Down had bodies of fans and media jumping around physically and in praise, a repeated success well within the creative grasp of All That I Need.

Opening on a lone and instantly enticing guitar, the bass soon adding its exploits, the track is quickly swinging along with a melodic smile and rhythmic temptation. The vocals of Harry Burnby just as swiftly bring another strain of infectious enterprise, his bouncy delivery matching that of strings plucked by Matty Dennison and Rob Green. In full stroll, like The Beat meets Reel Big Fish but with more variety to its hues, All That I Need swaggers with joyful tenacity as flames from trumpeter Will Chalk blaze over the throaty lure of bass and the keen swipes of drummer Sam Burnham.

It is an easy going proposal offered by the song but a virulently captivating one which has feet jumping, vocal chords exercised, and emotions flying with the outstanding encounter. The last Counting Coins single meant that interest of the band’s new album was thick and now with All That I Need doing the tempting, and with a great video in tow, anticipation is full and a touch impatient.

All That I Need is available from November 23rd across a global range of digital platforms including iTunes, Spotify, Amazon Music and Deezer.

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Pete RingMaster 23/11/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Bud Sugar – Blinkin’ Thinkin’

Bud Sugar_RingMaster Review

If you were sitting on a bus and a band leapt on and starting unleashing live their sounds what would your reactions be? If it was Bud Sugar it would most likely be of surprise and delight, as was the result when the British band engaged in such “guerilla marketing tactics” in their home city of Hull in collaboration with bus company Stagecoach. It is just one of the escapades the band is renowned for in supporting and promoting their emerging presence and sound. Now for a broader attention, the band is infesting ears with new single Blinkin’ Thinkin’, a song which quickly shows why such antics have only helped the band entice new fans, that and their well-received self-titled debut album of last year.

Artwork_RingMaster Review   Carrying a sound which the band self describes as “Cod Head Skank”, a fusion of ska, reggae, and swinging dance hall shenanigans, Blinkin’ Thinkin’ opens its lure with simple and gentle melodic caresses alongside distinctive vocals. With backing harmonies just as inviting, the song quickly shows it wants to throw off any reins though, which it does with joyful gaiety and energy soon after. In no time the quintet of Bacary Bax, STAN, Dyl, Live Lans, and Reason are spreading infectious rhythms and mischievous hooks around like confetti but in a tight manner which only accentuates their lures and addictiveness.

Across its vibrant body, the track ebbs and flows in its energy with every mellow seducing offered loaded with the promise of juicier treats, beats, and hooks which come the way of the adrenaline sparked roars and a vociferous festivity filled with an array of varied styles and flavours.

Blinkin’ Thinkin’ might have missed the boat in that it is easily a song for the summer but hey autumns can get quite spicy and frivolous too, so get some Bud Sugar down you is our recommendation.

Blinkin’ Thinkin’ is out now on iTunes.

http://www.budsugar.co.uk   https://www.facebook.com/BudSugar    https://www.twitter.com/Bud_Sugar

Pete RingMaster 04/10/2105

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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The BeauBowBelles – A Thing of Reality

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I will be honest, for the first time, other than rooting for Finland’s Lordi a few years back, there was a flicker of interest in this year’s Eurovision song contest once learning that the UK entry had a sound seeded in the ever infectious realm of swing. Any hopes and attention were defused of course once having heard the song and finding it had turned an instinctively contagious sound into something yawningly bland. It was poor old school with no adventure and modern imagination fuelling its proposal; once again the contest living up to its uninspiring reputation.

What does this have to do with the new proposition from The BeauBowBelles you are probably asking right now? Well the failure of seeing what is in and the choosing of what represents our voraciously inventive British music scene just leaves thoughts bewildered when, if we go down the swing road, the likes of the Electric Swing Circus, Molotov Jukebox, and especially The BeauBowBelles are creating irresistible and inventively magnificent propositions. Whether any of them would want to be involved in such an event is another question but each spins a web of virulently inventive escapades bred from diverse and colourful sounds, and this is where the seriously impressive A Thing of Reality, the debut album from The BeauBowBelles comes in.

The London quartet’s new melodic jaunt is a mouth-watering adventure of folk swing cast in unique sceneries of personal intimacy and expansive revelry with every track. It can stomp like a dance hall, seduce like a temptress, and reflect with emotive elegance, but whichever avenue a song escorts the imagination to it has body and attention enthralled. In many ways the delicious exploits of A Thing of Reality is no surprise having been spellbound by their first EP To The Moon in 2013 and a year later the single All Over That. They were sparkling appetisers for this first full-length dance but only a hint of its majesty too.

An album version of that last single opens up A Thing of Reality, and again as the first time around, All Over That easily captures the imagination with its opening embrace of melancholic yet smiling strings within seconds. No matter the number of times heard, the entrance of the song casts a spell, which the quartet of Bertie Anderson (vocals, violin), Emma Price (vocals, flutes, accordion, bells), Ros Wilks (vocals, violin, keytar), and Marcus Daborn (guitar, kickdrum), proceed to turn into a blaze of swirling devilry. That is a little down the line though, as guitar and a sultry kiss of brass light ears next, their coaxing the perfect company to the tantalising vocals. It is like an emotive waltz, a rising dance which is soon quick stepping with flirty riffs and mesmeric coverharmonies. Then the romp truly begins as thick basslines and vivacious energies descend on the senses, awakening an even more wanton appetite for its offerings. A gentle relaxation breaks the surge momentarily before the devilment swiftly returns for another whirl of rhythmic hips aligned to tenacious gypsy punk curves, all aligning for one infectious melodic shuffle.

The brilliant start is matched straight away by the following Lo Ho Down. Again a slow temptation brings the track into view, a reflective shanty of sound the initial invitation. It is also just an introduction to livelier things, a folk emprise with Celtic breath showing its light feet and keen moves soon after before drawing on even broader spices as a country and jazz persuasion adds their hues to the continually evolving canvas and gait of the contagion.

The summery charm of Blue Tree floats in next; it’s almost whimsical spots of melodic colour a smile on the ear within which voice and strings paint an increasingly colourful and vivid picture. There is a sixties pop air to the heart of the song and a classical elegance to the narrative of the violins and horns, both sparking up the imagination for the emerging anthemic stroll of the excellent encounter. Three tracks in and the album is as varied and creatively expansive as anyone could wish for and continuing to move into new pastures as the warm deceptive balladry of Sleep and the delicate flirtation of Fly Away seduce and serenade the senses. The first gentle strokes ears with its calm melodies and evocative textures yet has a mischief in its heart as it brews up a stirring chorus with invigorating rhythms and similarly gripping theatre. From a calm start the track turns into a chest beating, rattling romp of a croon and again has emotions and body lustfully involved. Its successor remains the serene host of bright melodies and magnetic adventure it initial portrays, though it too breeds a drama which adds an anthemic edge to it all.

A fifties rock ‘n’ roll revelry aligns to the insatiable energy of swing for Lotions, its rousing body and temptation a feisty waltz for feet and energies. The track makes for another mighty pinnacle on the album, from voices to percussion, strings to keys, and the rest, inescapable bait in a creative emprise stealing the passions. It is exhausting fun after which a breath can be taken with The Boy with a Boater on his Head, though it too is a transfixing sway. There is that particular English uniqueness to its music which no one else outside our shores can emulate but equally a country-esque whine and pop swagger makes rich spices in the fascinating mixture.

The graceful Sophie is a celestial kiss of harmonies and emotional intimacy, a resourceful ballad which as previous songs climbs from mere riveting hugs into almost riotously melodic dramas, keys especially poignant here. Its alluring smooch is subsequently followed by the vaudeville delights of Fools & Fairytales. The track ebbs and flows with cinematic essences and stage like performance from the sounds. It is like a soundtrack to a play wrapped in folk lore and personal exploration, and again aural theatre is the best way to describe the song and its spellbinding fantasy, that and ingenious majesty.

The smouldering seduction of Make Up brings the album to a close; its seventies psychedelic pop and classical grace an absorbing end to one irresistible and thrilling release. Certain songs overwhelm body and soul whilst the rest like an epidemic relentlessly seduce every pore; the result an irrepressible gest to light any and every day.

A Thing of Reality is available now digitally and on CD via Woodster Records @ http://thebeaubowbelles.bandcamp.com/album/a-thing-of-reality

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RingMaster 10/03/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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