Practical Lovers – Agony


Practical Lovers_RingMaster Review

Glorious is the only word for Agony, the debut album from UK synth pop duo Practical Lovers. It might be soaked in melancholy, be the outpouring of frustration and torment bred by lost and unrequited love, but the album is simply a majestic tapestry of skilfully cultured shadows and the beauty lying within all emotions.

The band is the union of singer songwriter Jack Wiles and his long-term musical partner Mark Connell. Originally it was intended as a solo project for Wiles with a collection of songs written “in an attempt to vent some of his frustrations with love in the 21st Century.” After introducing the idea and songs to Connell, the pair creatively united and stepped forwards as Practical Lovers, this around late 2010. The band signed with Nottingham based label I’m Not From London Records the following year, releasing a couple of singles over the next three whilst earning a rich reputation for their live performances. Now they unveil their eagerly awaited debut album, a stirring incitement of vintage synths and analogue drum machines bound in nostalgic radiance, heavy and seductive emotions, and compelling enterprise.

artwork_RingMaster Review    Every track within Agony is a love song; the dark side of and fallout from inspired explorations for sure, but all seeded in love. They come with an intimacy which feels like they are echoes of their creator’s heart and experiences and makes it easy to emotionally connect with, whilst each is presented within sounds which are as infectious and hopeful as they are similarly solemn to their lyrical pleas. From the opener band and release has ears and imagination chained, and emotions basking in the pleasure given.

Put It Bluntly tempts ears with a few dark pulses of synths whilst brewing a more feisty lure in the background, that swiftly coming forward and blossoming on the strains of a deliciously grouchy bassline. The inescapable enticement of Wiles’ wonderful dour lined and magnetic tones soon adds another rich texture and hue to the already invasively infectious encounter. That element of nostalgia is often eighties spawned and here on offer is a Paul Haig meets New Order coaxing with a touch of Interpol to it, a mixture only adding to the thrilling virulence of the song.

The following Never Again brings some fiery guitar to ears, the fizzy texture invitingly colluding with poppy synths as Wiles and Connell avail an already greedy appetite of their individual prowess. The fevered stroll does not hang around, offering a bubbly simmer over two minutes of inimitable bait before Inside Job provides another diverse and fiercely captivating string to the bow of Agony. Like The The in league with The Smiths, with Wiles vocally as throughout the album creating a vocal presence somewhere between Morrissey and Ian Curtis, the song is a plaintive serenade, a vibrant croon which whips up ears and emotion within seconds and increasingly involves the listener with every passing second.

A similar hue glows within Full of You next, though the track again reveals a distinct character of its own as synths smoulder and caress with emotive expression. The mix of vocals, presumably from the two artists, adds another riveting texture, though it is Wiles and the Smiths blessed earthy elegance that seals the deal between lustful ears and song, an ardour just as eagerly given to the Joy Division coated Nobody There which follows and straight after that the post punk scented brilliance of The Work Around. Hints of Blancmange and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark emerge from within the outstanding track, and in many ways, having seen OMD live in their first days, there is a definite resemblance between the bands if not exactly in overall sound.

No Reply slips into the dark corners of its emotive heart next, that Joy Division suggestion again an easy offer as the track morosely yet enticingly prowls ears before its big success is eclipsed by the skittish energy and devilry of Restless. Think Fad Gadget meets early The Correspondents with Editors in tow and a clue to its irresistible endeavour is close to the mark whilst for Textbook Romance maybe John Foxx era Ultravox and early Cure is a good hint. To be honest, for all the references sparked, each track is a thrilling proposal unique to Practical Lovers, just enhanced by a great weave of recognisable colours, whilst the second of this pair also unveil its warm party on the senses with a hopefulness arguably not explored as fully elsewhere.

The album closes off with firstly the insatiable contagion of Falling Down and finally the melancholic serenade of Grave of Romance, a song impressing initially and just seducing the passions to greater effect over time. Both also provide another aspect to the multi-faceted sound of Agony, an album which is blossomed from some of the harshest and deepest felt emotions possible but is anything but agony to listen to.

Practical Lovers is one of the finds for our ears of 2015 and Agony one of its most thrilling and invigorating releases.

Agony is released November 27th digitally and on limited edition cassette tape through I’m Not From London Records @

Pete RingMaster 27/11/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

For more exploration of the independent and promotional services check out

Mr. Strange – The Bible of Electric Pornography

Mr. Strange 2015 pic 5_RingMaster Review

For a long time Mr. Strange has been one of the British music scene’s most imaginative and unique songwriters and artists, and one of its biggest unrecognised talents. Whether as the frontman of the brilliant circus rock steampunks, The Shanklin Freak Show or in solo adventures, he has teased and stoked the imagination whilst exciting ears with perpetual regularity. Potent spotlights have always seemed to fall elsewhere though, but that might be about to change, in fact expectations are sure it will as new album The Bible of Electric Pornography spreads its electronic seeded sermon.

The persona and sound of Mr. Strange has undergone a rebirth, a major evolution in all aspects in the time between acclaimed previous album Wonderful World Of Weird and the new slab of alchemy from his deviant creativity. Embracing fresh industrial and electronic temptation whilst weaving in numerous other rich flavours, Mr. Strange has opened up all sides of psyche and imagination whilst wrapping new songs in the so-called deviancy that others claim is pestilence. Thematically The Bible of Electric Pornography is defiance and a middle thing to the oppressive ‘normal’, an anthem for the supposedly grotesque, for the freaks and the like-minded unique; an encounter which also happens to rock like a thousand orgies to stand in the words surrounding the album, as a “sacrilegious assault of electro-influenced filth!”

Mr. Strange EP album cover NEW_RingMaster Review   The album opens with Born Again, and the birth of they, of Mr. Strange. Upon arrival electro pulses and shimmering melodies crowd around the creative cot, his vocals providing the commentary as synths strengthen their drama and the atmosphere becomes shadowy. There is a portentous air to the track but one breaking into the dawning of climactic sounds and the heralding of Mr. Strange’s new realm of invention, which in turn sparks the stomp of Deviant Ritual. Making a sort of bridge between past triumphs, the song sharing open essences of The Shanklin Freak Show and previous solo album, keys swing and vocals entice as beats grip with potent temptation. In no time the track has the body acting like its puppet, limbs and energies flung around to the wicked swagger and infectious seduction of the outstanding protagonist.

Disco Bitch is on an immediate prowl next, though its gait has a more boisterous than predatory energy and design to it. Quickly into its robust stroll with compelling walls of electronic tenacity and enterprise, the track resonates with Being Boiled era Human League potency and colouring, a scent dirtied and fuzzed up by the craft of Mr. Strange as electro squirts lure and bassy rhythms dance with the passions. As its predecessor, the track is a blaze of dance-floor devilment and raucous sonic eroticism, incitements to get the defiant and proud party started before the album begins setting its sights on prosecutors, Electric Pornography continuing the festivity whilst flirting with the devil and its breed like a seductive pout of devilment. Amongst inspirations for the album, Mr. Strange offered Electric Six recently and definitely the track shares their kind of dance/rock devilry.

A thicker air of intensive energy soaks the following Tension, its emotive breath crafted and accentuated by darkly enticing rubs of guitar and moody bass tones as synths cradle the warmer hues of voice and melodies. It all unites in provocative electro rock persuasion which again has ears, hips, and thoughts emotionally and psychically involved.

A tirade of sample pieces spouting religious and social bigotry fattens God Hates Me next, keys initially a misting of melancholic elegance eventually brewing into more dramatic smog, though still with despair rather than outrage as its hue. The piece leads into the remarkable Jonathan, easily one of the pinnacles amongst a constant range of peaks within The Bible of Electric Pornography. It is a narrative for and growing support of the track’s oppressed champion which as the character, grows into its mesmeric creative skin as simple melodies align to weaves of electronic and industrial resourcefulness. Ebbing and flowing in intensity as the voice of Mr. Strange reveals all, the song is simply glorious, as lyrically impacting in its croon as it is invigorating musically, and easily one of the best things heard this year.

Do It Like… is another exhilarating whipping up of body and soul, a song inspired by Pete Burns and his life/attitude whilst musically drawing on the contagious invention of Dead Or Alive and indeed Nightmares In Wax which evolved into the former, and merging it with Celldweller like steeliness . Every element of the song has the body, inside and out, bouncing and swinging whilst again nudging thoughts with its lyrical potency.

The bubbly punch of I Like Girls & Boys is the next to take over, sculpting rousing crescendos of skittish beats and scuzzy electronics along its magnetic body, expulsions conducted by the ever Mr. Strange 2015 pic 7_RingMaster Reviewalluring tones of its creator. Though not in an obvious way, there is a definite feel of Fad Gadget to the song, to its theatre and emotive richness whilst My Addiction gets down and funky offering up hints of a Heaven 17 and Blancmange in varying degrees. By now it is not unusual to leave a song without a smile on the face and appetite, this of course no exception with its warmly stimulating hug.

The noir jazziness of Sodom Nights brings yet another eclectic shade to the album, its melodic waltz and electronic seduction a sultry fondling of the senses and inciter of lusty contemplations, that dark romance followed by the rapacious sinister sizzle of D/s, a fuzzball of temptation featuring Global Citizen. The crawling magnetism of the track is just sonic addiction matched by the bold lure of Stormtrooper In Drag, a striking cover of a solo song released in the eighties by Tubeway Army guitarist Paul Gardiner and featuring Gary Numan who co-composed, sang lead vocals, and played on it. It is one of those ‘lost’ gems now given new life, re-vitalised by Mr. Strange’s innovative touch.

Closing up the album is firstly Fag, a leviathan of rhythmic tempting with a Manson-esque snarl providing the most irritable proposal upon The Bible of Electric Pornography and in turn one of its numerous slices of ear slavery and lastly The Last Song. Providing a bewitching serenade with a message for those who hate change, and might argue about the new direction Mr. Strange has taken, its defiance to any complaints openly and mischievously argued by the strong and highly enjoyable Kraftwerk influence, the track is pure captivation bringing the album to a thrilling close.

Familiarity and uniqueness collude within The Bible of Electric Pornography, with the latter the overriding substance, the album leading the second coming of Mr. Strange and easily eclipsing previous solo offerings, as impressive and they were and still are. We are looking at a release boldly challenging offerings from the supposed electronic big boys and girls, challenging and surpassing.

Mr. Strange is dead. Long live Mr. Strange!” Time for all to join the resurrection.

The Bible of Electric Pornography will be released November 16th, pre-ordering available now @

Pete RingMaster 05/11/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

For more exploration of the independent and promotional services check out


Men In The Sky – If I Go

Men In the Sky_RingMaster Review

Dipping deeper into the pop rock infectiousness that lurked within the highly enjoyable walls of 2014 released EP, Version 1.0.1, UK electronic rockers Men In The Sky now unveil their new single If I Go. Still hugging ears with the electronic and synth sculpted prowess which marked that first encounter, the new track also shares open inspirations from eighties guitar pop to brew a virulence that has feet and hips as eagerly engaged as ears.

Men In the Sky cover_RingMaster Review   Men In The Sky is a Liverpool based British-Canadian collaboration consisting of band founder Gary Roberts (guitar and synths), Simon Mawson (vocals), Gavin Thomas (vocals), and Chad Montgomery (guitar). Last year saw the quartet joining Factory Records’ Michael Johnson in the studio to record and co-produce the Version 1.0.1 EP, a link-up repeated for If I Go with a freshly different but equally captivating result.

Whereas the EP sparked, across its diverse mix of songs, thoughts of bands like Depeche Mode, Visage, and Pet Shop Boys in varying degrees, If I Go invites thoughts of a Howard Jones, Scritti Politti, and Erasure with its melodic virulence and catchiness, though the potent whispers of Depeche Mode in the keys and New Order in the rich ambience seducing throughout the song are just as open.

An initial caress of guitar has ears quickly enticed, its invitation soon joined by a broader vision of its melody and a swift expressive weave of vocals and synths. The engaging swing of the song is a just as rapid temptation, its sway never relinquishing its alluring bait as melodies and sonic imagination flow effortlessly from guitars and keys. There is maybe an understandable familiarity to the track but that too only adds to the attraction and rosy colour of the song and its mesmeric persuasion. An electro pop tempting which you can imagine being as at home in the midst of its eighties inspirations as it is as a new flirty protagonist in the modern electro pop landscape, the single leaves ears and energies hungry for more.

If I Go is the best song to date from Men In The Sky, a venture into poppier climes it is easy to suggest could lead to rich success, if not now at some point ahead if its direction is continued to be explored more.

If I Go is released November 2015.

Pete RingMaster 02/11/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

For more exploration of the independent and promotional services check out

Mr Darklight – Into The Fury

Original DL_RingMaster Review

If the name Mr Darklight is familiar it is likely because you have already discovered his part in the electronic pop infection that is Masters of the Radio. Now the electronic musician/producer has unveiled his debut solo track in the shape of the captivating adventure of temptation, Into The Fury. It is a strange title as the piece of music never suggests turbulence ahead or within its heart, so possibly it is one moment in a larger journey, but what it does supply is a warm flight of imagination for ears and feet to feast on whilst casting cinematic suggestiveness for thoughts to run with.

Inspired by the likes of Daft Punk, Devo, Fatboy Slim, Gary Numan, Giorgio Moroder, Jean Michel Jarre, John Williams, Kavinsky, and Mike Oldfield as well as going by the nature of Into The Fury film scores, Mr Darklight quickly fills ears with the emotive tones of the piano. Its poetic breath and touch is the seed to a gentle but purposeful stroll through an instrumental landscape ripe with melodic essences of OMD and Depeche Mode. Thoughts are soon whisked into a magnetic flight by synths as they spread their broad ambience around the continually enticing evocative hues of the piano.

In a way the piece is like a travelogue of internal reflection or external air bound adventure, all depending which way the imagination goes with the track’s electronic clues as the guide with each listen. It is an absorbing and thoroughly enjoyable first meeting with the solo Mr Darklight, and hopefully the beginning of many such outings ahead.

Into The Fury is free to stream now.

Pete Ringmaster 24/09/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

For more exploration of the independent and promotional services check out

Glamour Assassins – Ain’t So Young

GA_RingMaster Review

The lure starts with a great name and becomes a vibrant persuasion with a debut album that gets feet moving and hips swaying. Glamour Assassins is that first bait, a title reflected perfectly in the melodic beauty and imposing potency cruising their music, and Ain’t So Young the captivating introduction to the Connecticut hailing band. The release offers a host of songs seeded in eighties new wave and synth pop but equally embracing dance punk and an indie rock flavouring. It is an encounter which has at times thick familiarity to it but also a striking freshness which combines for a persistently enjoyable proposition.

Hailing from New Haven, Glamour Assassins consists of Jared Savas, Nick Post, Jose Novo, Carrie Martinelli, and Gil Morrison, a group of musicians with a combined experience of playing with artists such as Dragonette, Matt & Kim, Plushgun, Freezepop, the Postelles, and Greg Hawkes of The Cars under their belts. As Glamour Assassins, they have earned a weighty reputation for an intense live presence which their album is now looking to back up with its theatre of striking songwriting from Savas and a sound which just wants to make you move as it feeds the imagination.

Produced by Joey Mascola and mastered by Grammy-nominated Emily Lazar, Ain’t So Young gets off to a rousing start and never really looks back. The Day Rock & Roll Died is the initial temptation, a song slipping through ears on a single guitar cast melody as keys and atmospheric tempting brews. It is soon into a catchy stroll, wiry hooks and a deep bass line colluding with punchy beats as the track quickly awakens attention and the first breath of involvement by the listener, especially when the vocals bring their strong persuasion to the mix with additional harmonies just as engagingly in tow. The track does not make a seemingly dramatic impact but swiftly the body is lending its moves and feet jabbing the floor as more enterprise blossoms in the increasingly infectious encounter.

cover_RingMaster Review    The rousing swing of the track is replaced by the emotive serenade of Hate Song Part I (Exile), a female delivered vocal caress on the senses awash with evocative keys and a laid back, shadow built bass prowl. It is a slither of a song at a breath over a minute but a transfixing set up for the electronic adventure of Phantom of the Disco. The band’s latest single is a bubble of dance bred electronica and varied impassioned vocals. There is a whisper of OMD to it, as too of Thomas Dolby and Blancmange, but they are mere essences in the thick ambience and emotional shadows fuelling the impressive drama.

Already there is no escaping the diversity to the album and Glamour Assassins’ sound, a quality continuing with the soulful roar of Sex Life. Synths once more envelop ears in a suggestive hue whilst the minimalistic beats and groaning bass lures bring the funk. Vocals and guitars add extra catchy and resourceful enticement in a track which you can easily offer hints of Duran Duran and Tears For Fears too. That recognisable air is in many guises a constant to the band’s sound it is fair to say, and just as honest to admit it only adds to the success and virulence of songs as proven by first the album’s title track and straight after London Fog. The first of the two thrusts indie tenacity and raw sinews into the mix, bouncing along with attitude and feisty energy as crystaline keys court jangly guitars across jabbing rhythms. In contrast its successor sculpts an aural theatre with an epic atmosphere which evolves into a more intimate and sinister proposal over time. Musically it is like eighties era Ultravox meets The Slow Readers Club with another bewitching range of vocals building unique adventure to the narrative. The track is as immersive as its title suggests if not as muggy with keys providing a shining provocative light throughout.

Indie pop ‘n’ roll has voice and limbs heavily involved next through Scumbag, bands like Late Cambrian coming to mind, whilst the contagion soaked Never Get Caught draws from Visage like territory for its pulsating seducing, though to this the band fuels the vocals with a rapacious edge and angst as the guitars spin a riveting web of sonic and melodic imagination which is seemingly Cure inspired. Once more Glamour Assassins turn familiarity into something of their very own though, just with an old friend like nature.

The album closes with Hate Song Part II (Death or Love), a track which kind of sums up the album and the band’s invention in one go. Part rock, part synth pop, and bursting with an array of crafty hooks, alluring grooves, and an infectiousness which never leaves ears and appetite alone, it is an impressive end to a thoroughly enthralling and enjoyable release.

Eighties new wave and synth pop seems to be having a strong influence on numerous emerging bands right now, of which Glamour Assassins is one of the most exciting and potential flooded propositions. Their album…well if you want to dance to some old school but freshly inventive contagion then Ain’t So Young hits the spot.

Ain’t So Young is available now

Pete RingMaster 10/09/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

For more exploration of the independent check out

Strobegirl – Alice

_RingMaster Review

Following the sixties elegance and tantalising charm of the singles Trophy Girlfriend and Honey Boy, Heather–Jane, better known as Strobegirl, slips into something even more bewitching and mesmeric with Alice. Seeding a theme bred in the Lewis Carroll classic within a dream pop landscape, the new single from the British singer songwriter/multi-instrumentalist is a blossom of harmonic seduction and ethereal captivation.

It was over two years ago that Strobegirl mesmerised ears with The Strawberry Sessions EP, a collection of synth/dream pop songs which danced with ears and imagination. Subsequently the Croydon musician released a handful of singles and EP which have either missed the same heights of that first release, or matched and once or twice indeed eclipsed its lingering beauty and enterprise. All offerings though have left a full appetite and pleasure in their wake it is fair to say, Alice no exception as it provides one of the most endearing proposals from the lady in recent times which certainly overshadows those thoroughly enjoyable recent singles.

Alice opens with an evocative ticking and a fall of crystaline notes, they the prelude to a nursery room ambience which swiftly offers childlike innocence which kisses the senses through the song’s imagination. As synths brew their mellow caresses and haunting shadows, the ever siren-esque voice of Strobegirl skips across the brewing canvas. It is a minimalistic soundscape blossomed, yet one in a perpetual dance of provocative textures and melodic flirtation. That nursery rhyme hue continues to add its colour to the warm hug but equally there is an adult intimacy to the lyrical side and creative drama of the song that just irresistibly fascinates.

The song just demands further attention, which means its companion song All Gone Wrong has to wait its turn before showing itself to be a just as fascinating offering, if not quite discovering the same instinctive and matching temptation in its presence and imagination as its predecessor. All the same with bubbly scenery within the mist like touch of keys, at times this brewing a Depeche Mode like ambience, and of course the magnetic vocals and harmonies from Strobegirl, the song drifts and lightly falls like morning dew over the senses. It does call out for a slither of unpredictability or something to wrong-foot and throw off expectations, but from start to finish it has ears and pleasure in its thrall.

Alice is the prize though and more proof that Strobegirl taps into a dreamscape/shoegaze coated pop which uniquely sets her apart from the crowd. Go gets seduced is our suggestion.

Alice/ All Gone Wrong are out now through Strobegirl’s bandcamp.

RingMaster 14/08/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Stillhound – Think This Way

stillhound_RingMaster Review

Backing up their well-received debut single Seethe Unseen of earlier this year, Scottish quartet Stillhound are poised to release its successor Think This Way, revealing more of the depth to the band’s songwriting and sound at the same time. Whereas the first single wrapped its radiance in just as fascinating shadows, the new offering explores a brighter and lively climate, though again the band blends contrasting darker hues to great effect. It is fair to say that the band’s first release potently sparked attention; now its successor is here to dance with those satisfied ears and lure many more matching appetites.

single cover_RingMaster Review     Formed by school friends Fergus Cook, Laurie Corlett-Donald, and Dave Lloyd, and with a line-up completed by latest addition Cat Myers, Stillhound create soundscapes of dreamy and almost spatial electronic pop draped in atmospheric evocations. As shown by both their singles to date, Stillhound have a sound as inciting to the body and at times the dance-floor as immersive to ears and imagination. They are said to have holed up “various mountain lodges in their homeland taking inspiration from art, geography, and the far flung soundscapes created by Boards of Canada to the pop aesthetic of Tears for Fears,” to write their songs and you can feel that kind of scenery impacting on the singles, especially Think This Way with its eighties synth pop essences within an expansive almost stark radiance.

The new single makes a low key start but within seconds is a pulsating and provocative saunter littered with small but enticing electro hooks, moodier bass tones, and sparkling harmonies around endearing melancholy oozing vocals. It is when the song kicks up a livelier energy and attitude fuelled by a driving beat around its chorus, that the Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith inspiration shines, though it is only one rich hue in a tapestry of sound and magnetic ambiences entwining the reflective and invigorating vocals.

Busy and eventful, Think This Way lights the ears with ease, continuing the strong emergence of Stillhound with craft and virulent coaxing. It is early days and only two songs in but already we, as so many, have a taste for the band’s inviting aural travelogue. It is not a ravenous hunger yet, but in time it may be, especially if the band can build on this potent next step.

Think This Way is released on 3rd August and available as a free download @

RingMaster 27/07/2105

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @