Virgin Kids – Greasewheel


Having more than teased with their self-titled EP in the November 2014, UK garage rockers Virgin Kids have unleashed their full sonic flirtation with debut album Greasewheel. Breeding their off kilter rock ‘n’ roll from an entangling of garage and post punk with psych and fiery pop rock, the London based trio cast an intoxicating enticement posing as an album which swiftly arouses the spirit and colludes with the imagination.

Formed as a bedroom project by Asher Preston, Virgin Kids fully emerged as a band late 2014 with childhood friend Paul Rosser and ex-Fawn Spots drummer Sean Hughes alongside the band’s frontman. Since then and the release of the aforementioned EP, the threesome has gained a potent live reputation, an adventure which has seen them share stages with the likes of whilst Jacuzzi Boys, The Coathangers, Kim and The Created, and Dirty Fences amongst others to date. Numerous comments about the band on stage talks of a “fevered intensity”, an element Virgin Kids has seemingly tried and for the main succeeded in now representing across Greasewheel.

The album opens with Bruised Knees, a kinetic jangle of guitar and contagious vocal urging from the first second. In no time, the song climbs over the senses, dark rhythms mixing with a fuzzy entrapment of ears in something which provokes thoughts of The Sonics, early Horrors, and The Hives in devilish union. A lively spark for the spirit, the track provides a great start to the revelry of the album, quickly backed by the more reserved but no less magnetic Cracks In A Colour. The band’s new single, it immediately swings with a graceful gait infused with appealing bass cast shadows. Soon that sixties seeded enterprise becomes a busier eruption of sound and energy, returning to the song’s initial melodic and controlled romancing before alternating between the two from thereon in.

art_RingMasterReviewFrom one pinnacle to another as My Alone stands tall from the off with its own individual sonic flirtation and seduction of ears. Like The Dickies meets Love Buzzard meets Asylums with a touch of Buzzcocks to its hooks and melodic grooves, the song is a glorious blaze of garage rock/pop, with a virulent harmonic invitation as inescapable as the anthemic rhythmic tenacity the track rolls along on before Never Nude slips in with a healthy whiff of seventies punk to its Thee Exciters/The Fleshtones like scent.

Both tracks on their own make Greasewheel an epic must listen, and are powerfully backed by the chaotic punk ‘n’ roll of Crook and the acidic Horrors-esque smooching of Shrink. The first of the two is another high point, its scuzzy heart and raw crescendos delicious tempering and companion to addictive grooves and melody sculpted hooks. Its successor proceeds to writhe with sonic temptation from its first breath, mellowing out into a psych pop seducing seemingly brewed from a blending of shoegaze and psychedelic pop. Equally there is a darker lining to the track which emerges more as it develops and spins a tangy web of guitar crafted suggestiveness littered with heavier rhythmic trespasses.

After the melodic lure of Shrink Wrap, a very brief epilogue like follow-up to its predecessor carrying a Teardrop Explodes air to it, the album concludes with the feisty pop jangle of Be Your Friend. Whipping up energy in body and voice to unite with its own, the song is an irresistible close to a similarly thrilling release. Greasewheel builds on the dramatic introduction of Virgin Kids’ first EP whilst creating its own unique character of sound and potential for bigger and creatively rowdier things to come. We for one cannot wait for their fruition over future releases whilst being a perpetual companion for this treat of a proposition.

Greasewheel is out now on cd, vinyl, and digitally through Fluffer Records in the UK and Burger Records in the US.

Pete RingMaster 14/03/2016

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Media Stres – E.V.I.L. II

Photo by Lucija Obadić

Photo by Lucija Obadić

Media Stres is an alternative rock band from Croatia which has already made some potent nudges on ears with their previous releases but now offers their biggest incitement on the broadest attention with new EP E.V.I.L. II. The five track release is the continuation of debut album E.V.I.L. (e-Virus Influenced Love), an encounter released in two parts with its second revealing the fulfilment and more of the potential fuelling earlier propositions.

Hailing from Cakovec, Media Stres emerged in 2012 drawing on inspirations from the likes of Biffy Clyro, Placebo, Muse, Royal Blood, and Punčke for their imaginative weave of sound ranging from alternative and progressive rock to post-punk and dirtier hues. Demo EP Fear and Panic was released in 2013 as the band unleashed their live presence and hunger which has since seen them play over sixty shows in Croatia as well as in countries such as Serbia, Hungary, Slovenia, Austria, and France. The first well-received part of the album, E.V.I.L. was unveiled in the December of 2014, an introduction for a great many to the band which quickly marked out Media Stres as a prospect to keep a close ear upon. Now the trio of guitarist/vocalist Karlo Komorski, drummer/backing vocalist Matej Obadić, and bassist Aleksandar Hutinec complete their first full-length with E.V.I.L. II, whilst setting down a new plateau to their adventure and invention, not forgetting compelling sound.

AlbumCover2_RingMaster ReviewWhereas its predecessor was themed by a narrative concerned with the impact of technology on society and how corrupt that society became with said technology, E.V.I.L. II is the exploration of people living in the shadow of two super states and having to decide to which of the two they belong. It opens up with the scene setting Nations and instantly bold rhythms from Obadić provide an anthemic lead into the waiting narrative, the gnarly tone of Hutinec’s bass quickly adds its suggestive tempting to the coaxing too. In no time the equally dramatic tempting of Komorski’s guitar stirs up song and air, providing a sonic breeze around the hypnotic lure of increasingly pungent rhythms. It is thick captivation crowding ears and appetite, one blossoming further as Komorski unveils the song’s tale with his potent vocals as the song bristles and feistily simmers with an essence of Muse and at times something slightly Manic Street Preachers like.

The outstanding start slips into the just as enthralling and quickly addictive Right or Wrong. Making a more reserved but no less gripping entrance with bass and percussive jabs early bait, the track is soon entangled in the sonic and melodic enterprise of guitar and a spicing which plays in many ways like a mix of Fatima Mansions and Interpol. The moment when the protagonists in the album’s story have to choose their homes, the track paints the drama of the situation with a fiery blend of contrasting textures and intimidating shadows which line every shaft of melodic light and infectious flume within the intensive oppression involved. A progressively lit slice of contagious rock, the excellent track is matched in success and drama by the grungier tones of Consolation and its Bowie-esque colouring to another rhythmically and sonically dynamic incitement. Even with its rousing rock ‘n’ roll, the song’s emotion is dark and fuelled by a loss of hope again enjoyably presented by the vocal expression and strength of Komorski whilst bound in the band’s provocative endeavours.

The break out of world war is the canvas for End Times, an apocalypse sound-tracked by the song’s lively canter with melancholic melodies and, as ever, powerfully alluring vocals and highly persuasive rhythms. The song is persistently boisterous in its gait, its swing a perfect temper and spark to the solemn weave of words and emotions cast in something akin to The Smiths and Teardrop Explodes with again that Fatima Mansions like creative spicing involved.

Hope with its brooding climate spawned from the initial magnetic groan of bass completes tale and release. Shadows again encroach alongside the scything strikes of guitar and rhythmic rumblings whilst a solemnity coats the sultry melodic tendrils veining the rebuild of a desolated land and an increasingly receptive imagination to the invention and evocative theatre of Media Stres. The track is superb, matching all that came before and leaving a lingering compulsion for ears and thoughts to keep E.V.I.L. II alone a persistent companion.

The first EP of E.V.I.L. was an impressive and resourceful adventure but its successor simply overshadows it in every aspect. Media Stres may still be a secret yet to be discovered by a great many but expectations and hopes are that the band is set to receive the full attention and support their striking invention and music undoubtedly deserves.

E.V.I.L. II is available now @

Pete RingMaster 09/02/2016

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Black – Wonderful Life Deluxe Edition


    Ever since its release in 1987, the debut album Wonderful Life from Black has held a grip on our passions here to lure more than the occasional dip into its emotive and eventful charms over the years. It was a release which seemed to be hit or miss for each individual and probably never really found the depth of success it deserved, though it and its notable title track single, certainly was not lacking in strong popularity just not to the heights one expected at the time. The re-release of the album in this deluxe edition hopefully will open up a new hungry awareness for album and artist, and quite likely more use of that single.

Black was the persona of singer songwriter Colin Vearncombe who went on to record a further three albums as this project, two more along with Wonderful Life for A&M Records and another, Are We Having Fun Yet? on his own Nero Schwarz label in 1993. Arguably for personal tastes the subsequent albums never found the heights of his first but still confirmed the artist as one of the most compelling and emotively instinctive songwriters across the eighties and nineties, with the man still igniting the appetite with his work under his own name ever since. The re-release of Wonderful Life offers not only the full album but a second CD containing the original version of his most successful single, a selection of B-sides, and a quartet of songs recorded for a 1986 Janice Long session. The package also includes a specially commissioned interview with Vearncombe in the album liner notes and is a package which ignites strong nostalgia and still smouldering fires.

The album begins with what was to be its most potent voice, the title track. It is a song which originally was released in 1986 on independent label Ugly Man, that version appearing on the second CD. Re-worked for Wonderful Life it reached the top 10 following previous single Sweetest Smile from the album into the same success, and has since received multiple cover versions by numerous artists and appearances within adverts, TV programs and films. With seductive warmth and melancholic kisses enveloping the ear there is no surprise to its popularity and growth as a presence in UK pop, though arguably it is not the strongest track on the album. Its gentle moody persuasion and uncomplicated walk across the senses made the song instantly accessible and persuasive, its touch leaving a melodic residue on  body and emotions which still sparks up active feelings even now.

Songs like Everything’s Coming Up Roses with its feisty rhythmic temptation, golden ABC like melodic strikes and compelling emotive narrative, and Sometimes For The Asking with its steely guitar voice and electro resonance as well as additional sirenesque female harmonies, both bring a richer soak of emotive elegance and triumphant energy especially in the second of the pair, to entrap the passions with greater contagious craft and imagination. This was electro and heated pop at its best with the skill to temper all aspects into a perfectly inciting wash.

It is probably fair to say that some tracks like Finder, Paradise, and I Just Grew Tired did not stray far from the core of his invention at the time to lie in the shade of other songs on the release but it is also hard to deny that they also offered an impossible to resist melodic hand which was soon eagerly grasped by thoughts and heart. For each less dramatic moment though there was always a fire of enterprise in the likes of I’m Not Afraid with is shards of horn delight and anthemic call, and the sultry embrace of Blue, a song which leaves tingles and raging aural hormones at large in its wake.

The biggest triumphs come later in the album with the sensational Just Making Memories, a song with elements of The Cure to its hypnotic bass prowl, the deliciously tantalising Leave Yourself Alone, and the dramatically engaging rock fuelled It’s Not You Lady Jane, a song which has blood coursing through veins with greedy energy. They all trigger greater flames in a fire of ardour and pleasure which erupted with the opening whisper of the title track, and completed what is still a tremendously evocative and thrilling album.

The second disc begins with the previously mentioned original recording of Wonderful Life, a version easily on par with the recognisable track. Following songs all engage with unreserved enterprise even if some shine brighter than others. Songs such as Birthday Night and Dagger Reel have a Spandau Ballet whisper to their stances and across many of the songs thoughts of other bands ring out, something never apparent on the actual album, though it is not anything other than a spark to interest and intrigue admittedly. Everything’s Coming Up Roses (The Fairly Mental Mix) shouts Paul Haig as it bubbles and simmers upon the senses with flushes of molten passion in places whilst Have It Your Own Way has elements of Echo and the Bunnymen to it, and Life Calls a more than pleasing Teardrop Explodes swagger. Another highlight on the disc is the Scott Walker toned Had Enough making a quartet of tracks which especially leave a deep satisfaction.

The re-release is a great opportunity for those new to Black and Vearncombe to discover some essential and classically shaped pop music and for those in the know to discover some new treats and bask in the nostalgia of one special album.


RingMaster 03/04/2013

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The Peter Ulrich Collaboration: The Painted Caravan

The Painted Caravan Pack Shot (Small)

    The Painted Caravan is an album which offers a gamut of emotions and inspires just as many in the listener. Occasionally it puts pressure on patience and in other moments leaves unsure thoughts and questions behind from its wash of creative intrigue, but given time for its creative argument to make its persuasion, the release from The Peter Ulrich Collaboration emerges as a resourceful, imaginative, and quite compelling release.

Peter Ulrich, the former Dead Can Dance and This Mortal Coil percussionist, has drawn much acclaim for his solo work since his enthusiastically received debut album Pathways and Dawns of 1999. The following Enter The Mysterium album of 2005 equally received impressive responses critically and with contributions to the 2009 album Ovations from Piano Magic and a guest live appearance with Daemonia Nymphe in London in 2012 amongst many things Ulrich has remained a stirring musical presence. With The Painted Caravan he returns with his most expansive sounding painting of a release yet, an album with a concept originally conceived and developed by Ulrich and Trebor Lloyd, the CEO of Canyon Records. Its realisation is aided and brought to life by a core of contributors alongside Ulrich and Trebor in David Steele (vocals/guitar), Sara Wendt (vocals), and Anne Husick (guitar), with additional contributions from other accomplished musicians. It is a collaborative effort which ripples with invention though arguably lacks the definition and consistency to ignite the passions as often as it should.

Released though Market Square Records, the album immediately immerses the listener in its colourful creative visual canvas with In This Or Other Skin, a song of war, loss, and passion soaked in simmering despair and a melodic heart. It is impossible not to be mentally taken across the Mexican border especially with the brass cries offering their gentle mariachi caress, and with the expressive vocals of one presumes Steele and the excellent aural kisses of the vocals of Wendt, the feeling of loss wrapped in reflective emotion is a delicious weave upon the passions and an strong impressive start to the release.

The following Pureland is another smouldering kiss upon the ear, the celestial harmonies and Gregorian like chants behind the golden tones of Wendt, mesmeric to the point of being siren like. Steel guitars of some descript add an off kilter tease to the track for further pleasure further enhanced by loping percussive beats and continually shifting harmonies. It is an inspiring and evocative encounter where the use of ethnic instruments and sounds, not for the first time on the album, leave a tingle of mystique and excitement behind. Further songs within the release employ the likes of Uilleann pipes, bagpipes, ocarina, Yuet ch’in (Chinese moon guitar), Mayan drum, Wagner tuba, and darabuka, to name just some and all bring a voice and colour to the release which is irresistible.

The Secret Gardener has a psychedelic breath to its seductive stance but loses out to the previous songs due to the less successful vocals. To be honest it is hard to tell which male voice belongs to which musician across the album with no sleeve indication but here they do not match up to those in the opener which is a shame as it defuses the quality of the song rife with dramatic brass flames, reminding of latter Teardrop Explodes, and stylish blues tinged guitar. The same problem hits Dark Lover, the lead vocals assigned to Jen Elliot and sadly for her up against Wendt she struggles to light any fires, though the song is still an enterprising Eastern European spiced involvement.

Across the album there are other songs and moments which do not quite live up to others though all are close calls rather than badly conceived ideas. Further major highlights which do excel and lift the passions continue with the new single from the release Children Of The Rain, the dramatic Drug Of War, and the traditional sounding folk ballad Hanging Man. The single is a magnificent summer of melodies and emotive warmth led by a glorious five pronged lead vocal persuasion from Wendt, Jen Elliot, Steele, Ulrich, and Saskia Dommisse, and though a little New Seekers-ish it is a joyful companion for the ear and thoughts. The second of the trio grips a strong vibe of The Mission and Dead Can Dance to add to its sinewy folk march and stands as the finest moment on the album whilst Hanging Man is a haunting tale of dark shadows and sinister deeds hypnotically brought by Wendt upon heavy impassioned melancholic sounds.

With the discord joy Fanfare For The Lost Tribe and Love’s Skeleton arranging final elevated pleasures, The Painted Caravan is an excellent album, and though it has times where it goes a little awry it is in hindsight as much down to personal preferences as to missed opportunities. The album is certainly one which deserves at the very least a moment of every ones time and stands as a release to  leave the listener engaged, involved, and satisfied.


RingMaster 04/03/2013

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Sebastopol: The Hateful Mob


    Taken from their critically acclaimed debut album Hello All Stations, This is Zero, the new single from UK band Sebastopol is an infectious little treat of a song which requires little effort to immerse within its melodic cinematic charms. The Hateful Mob slowly and seductively coaxes the passions into a vibrant stroll of warm temptation and visual evocation to leave a certain energy and lust to further investigate band, and if not an already had meeting, the album.

The 2011 formed London band consists of vocalist and bassist Nick Powell, guitarist Phil Richards, and drummer Tom Standage, a trio who grabbed strong eager attention with the previously mentioned album and first single from it, Send The Boats last year. Released via Warm Fuzz, the independent label run by award winning producer Ian Shaw, The Hateful Mob was recorded like the album at Drop Out Studios in Camberwell and mixed by legendary post punk producer Mick Glossop (Van Morrison, Magazine, Public Image, The Wonder Stuff). The band has been described as a modern, darker reboot of The Police and the new single is evidence to why though just as rightfully you could suggest the likes of XTC, Teardrop Explodes, and The Divine Comedy, certainly in regards to the new single, its enticing strong whispers throughout suggesting these further comparisons.

The single engages the ear immediately with beckoning melodic caresses of guitar soon accompanied by firm inviting basslines, crisp rhythms, and gentle vocal expression. It takes no time in captivating thoughts and senses with a delicious melodic hook linking the temptation of each declaration of passion driven verse and the subsequent chorus of simmering shadows behind shiny sonics and a golden contagion of melodic infection. Between the riveting summer of the chorus the verses smoulder emotively and musically, the bass of Powell especially inciting to the visuals instigated within thoughts by the song. It is an upbeat song which ignites a measured sense of loneliness, regret, and lost joy skilfully despite its continually catchy and bright gait, the songwriting a sculpted treat to inspire the sounds it bears.

If Sebastopol has yet to glow upon your ear than The Hateful Mob is an irresistible gateway to their accomplished and instinctively crafted addictive sound and equally impressive album.


RingMaster 02/03/2013

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