Gazing into the fresh glow of The Cathode Ray with Jeremy Thoms

The Cathode Ray_RingMaster Review

Photo and copyright Peter Tainsh

2015 has provided many treats this year and definitely amongst them was the latest and second album Infinite Variety from Scottish indie band The Cathode Ray. It was an encounter embracing the nostalgia of the eighties through fresh and inventive escapades bred of the now. One of the band’s founders is Jeremy Thoms, he also the man behind the great indie label Stereogram Recordings, and someone who to describe as busy is a big understatement. Nevertheless, Jeremy kindly gave us a chunk of his time to talk about the album, The Cathode Ray itself from top to bottom and more, including an insight to his own musical loves…

Hi Jeremy and many thanks for giving us your time to talk with us.

Ever late to the party, we discovered The Cathode Ray through your new album Infinite Variety which came out a couple of months or so ago to, it is fair to say, swift acclaim. In a music world where it seems increasingly harder to actually get people to part with money or indeed offer full attention to things, did you have any particular expectations or hopes for its unveiling or is it more anything is a bonus for bands right now?

We didn’t have any expectations other than hoping that those who had liked the first album would stay with us for the second. We knew we’d made a good follow up album but, as you say, in an environment when it’s very hard to engage with people, nothing is guaranteed.

Photo by Hugh Womersley

Photo by Hugh Womersley

Originally the band was just you and Paul Haig, famed for Josef-K and his own solo career. The press release for the album suggests this was not originally intended to be a serious band project but a writing collaboration. Was that the case and what brought Paul’s involvement to an end?

Paul definitely just saw it as a writing collaboration – “a bit of fun” was one his quotes – with group recordings just being made to illustrate them. However, the reaction to them was so positive, one thing lead to another and I pushed for it to become a band and take it more seriously, which Paul wasn’t happy with so eventually he left. What confused matters in the press and public eye was that Neil, David and I were his backing band when he did a solo tour in 2008. However the emphasis then was completely on his solo work, and he had no intention of being a member of a band again after Josef K, which in the end we had to respect.

The double ‘A’ sided single What’s It All About? /Mind was released in 2006; I believe this was meant as a one off release?

Not initially but it ended up like that. Certainly with Paul participating. When we made the agreement with Pronoia Records in 2006, the album had been recorded with Paul’s full participation, but by the time we got around to discussing getting it released he had changed his mind. So he asked us to remove his lead vocals, which we did, although some of his guitar and backing vocals do remain on the first album.

At what point did that spark the appetite to push things further; as a full band and with more releases?

The point that changed everything was bumping into Steve Fraser at a TV21 album launch in 2009. I told him what had happened and he was keen to get involved. The minute we started talking music I knew he was the man. We didn’t even bother with an audition. I knew the songs were strong enough to survive without Paul’s involvement. That opened so many doors, being able to play live (which Paul would never have done as The Cathode Ray) and generally move things on after quite a difficult start.

Were some of you all already old friends and maybe previously worked together before uniting for The Cathode Ray we know today?

Neil Baldwin and I have known each other for 34 years (!) and have played in bands together intermittently since 1986. David Mack and I had been working together since 2000 so, yes, there was a certain chemistry. Steve was the “new boy” although we’d all known him on the Edinburgh scene previously.

I have to admit for once, and not intentionally, I read about the band and its background before hearing a note for a review, and to be honest once seeing a list of previous projects for members of The Cathode Ray2_RingMaster Reviewthe band which had been indelible pleasures in my personal soundtrack, subsequently luring a revisit to old favourites records after finishing the review too, there was an increased anticipation and eagerness to explore the band and album. Do you think having your musical histories has helped draw awareness to the band or not?

Well obviously there’s going to be a certain amount of that, but I do believe, hopefully without sounding conceited, that The Cathode Ray is more than the sum of its parts. But initially I guess it did help getting people interested through our various previous involvements.

There were whiffs of all some of your previous bands at times across the songs and often nostalgia blessed air of Infinite Variety, The Bluebells and Scars maybe most notably in our ears. You are a band unafraid to draw on previous adventures and spices to hone new and fresh exploits, as potently shown on the album?

The songs that I write aren’t consciously drawing on any of our past exploits, but I guess where you’ve come from does influence where you’re going. In any case, it’s probably coincidental, as Steve only toured with The Scars as a depping bassist so wasn’t involved in their creative process, while Neil only contributed to arrangements with The Bluebells. But inevitably, as we all come from that post-punk background, some of the sounds and styles of these bands are going to rub off.

How would you say The Cathode Ray has evolved over time and specifically between Infinite Variety and its predecessor, your self-titled debut album?

I would say the vague initial brief of merging post-punk Manchester with New York has simply broadened to the point where I regard ourselves now as a band that isn’t easy to pin down musically. Our original press release mentioned 60’s Garage, Soundtracks and Northern soul, to which one critic added Psychedelia, Glam-Rock, Euro-Disco, Krautrock and 90’s Alternative Pop when reviewing Infinite Variety. So it is definitely evolving. I’m currently demoing material for the next album and there’s even more interesting musical areas I’d like to explore. It’s good to surprise people.

TCR cover_RingMaster ReviewGive us some insight into the thoughts and intentions going into the writing and recording of Infinite Variety? Do you build a release on particular aims or ideas or predominantly let things organically evolve?

Things do tend to evolve organically. If you put too much pre-conceived thought into it, the music loses its spontaneity. Although I suppose one particular aim is not to repeat ourselves. Each album needs to be a significant progression from the previous one, so a certain degree of thought does go into that. Also, apart from melodies and lyrics, I’m always interested in rhythms and try to be as adventurous and varied as possible in that area too.

We described the album as a “kaleidoscope of fun, sound, and adventure”, a fair hint we think at the array of flavours and inventive spices fuelling and shaping the songs within Infinite Variety. In the hands of many bands it might be an incoherent mix, but you manage to seamlessly blend all spices and individual characters of songs perfectly. Where do you and the band start when composing songs?

Well I compose the songs and demo them first with the key riffs, chord progressions, lyrics etc. all in place. At that stage they often do sound fairly disparate. I then present them to the band in the rehearsal room and that’s when it starts to sound like The Cathode Ray. Steve, Neil and Dave all contribute parts and arrangements until we arrive at the finished article. Some songs like The Eyes Are The Window took a long time to come together and changed quite considerably from my original demo. Others end up fairly similar to the original template, but all manage to sound cohesive owing to the fact it’s the four of us playing them, I guess.

The album’s tracks manage to be rich and at times expansive in texture and flavour yet also ‘slim’, i.e. no excess baggage or indulgence. They manage to be an open evolution from your first album but also reveal a bolder leap in aural colour and character; how do you hear their relevance to older propositions as one of their creators?

Well obviously it’s difficult to be completely objective about something you’ve created yourself, but I see their place in relation to the first album as a natural progression. The leap in colour and texture which you describe is simply a way of moving the band forward, without cluttering things up unnecessarily. You use the word ‘slim’ and I suppose that comes in at the production stage – cutting off any excess fat!

How long in the making from first note to paper or thought through to last note laid down was the album?

The boundaries are always blurred as we always tend to have songs left over which were either written too late to make the cut or simply didn’t fit at the time. For example, This Force Of Nature had its origins as a completely different song dating way back to 2006. It had never sounded right so was left on the shelf. I went back to it in 2014 writing new lyrics and melodies and it quickly came together then. Eureka Moment and Buck the Trend were written in 2009 when Steve first joined. But the bulk of I.V. was written and recorded between 2012 and 2014 – around two and half years.

Our review stated spices of bands from around the eighties as rewarding aspects but over time sixties/seventies tones have emerged. I sense your own inspirations and musical loves go far back?

Oh yes – my musical tastes stretch way back! How long have you got? Songwriters have always been key to me. From Lennon & McCartney, Brian Wilson, Smokey Robinson, Jimmy Webb and Bacharach & David, through Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Scott Walker, Al Green, Bowie, Joni Mitchell, Robert Wyatt and Neil Young to Costello, Paddy MacAloon and Rufus Wainwright, the song is always key. Then there’s the bands I love – The Stones, The Velvets, The Doors, Faces, Roxy, Yes, Kraftwerk, Television, Talking Heads, Buzzcocks, Chic, Wire, Magazine, Pretenders, Joy Division, Dexys, Scritti Politti; Cocteaus, Talk Talk, Teenage Fanclub, High Llamas, Flaming Lips… the list goes on.

There is no mistaking that Scottish bands and rock ‘n’ roll of all styles and design bred there, has something unique to it, and we could go on a long list of examples. Can you define what it is in ‘the

Photo by Jez Curnow

Photo by Jez Curnow

water’ which helps breed such distinctive and so often inspirational bands from that part of the UK, as ones yourselves?

I think there’s an open-mindedness up here. Maybe Scottish bands tend to draw from a wider pool of influences than other parts of the UK. Or maybe it’s to do with being distanced from what’s happening down south – even in the age of the internet. It’s certainly true that scenes of their own do seem to crop up here around labels like Postcard, Fast, 53rd & 3rd, Creeping Bent and, possibly, our label Stereogram too, which has attracted similar kindred literate spirits. Either that or we all seem to be obsessed with the Velvet Underground!

What comes next for The Cathode Ray?

Firstly, we’ve got two more live shows coming up this year as part of The Stereogram Revue in Edinburgh and Glasgow, plus a new track called It Takes One To Know One on a compilation album. Then there’s a new video shot earlier this year at the Kings Theatre in Edinburgh by Jez Curnow to go with Saving Grace, our other featured track on the comp. After that we’ll be knuckling down to working on the follow up to Infinite Variety. I’ve got five or six new songs written and demoed, plus a couple of leftovers, so we’ll be getting on with them. Expect some new directions.

Your releases come out on Stereogram Recordings, your own label which seems to have out grown and blossomed far more than its original intent I believe. Can you tell us a little about it and what is ahead for the label too?

It has indeed outgrown its original intent which was simply to facilitate a release for the first Cathode Ray album, plus any other projects (The Fabulous Artisans) or archive material I had kicking about. But over the last couple of years it has been growing steadily with first Roy Moller signing up, followed by James King & The Lonewolves, Milton Star, St. Christopher Medal, Lola in Slacks and, Band Of Holy Joy. The critical and public response has been great which is hugely encouraging. As previously mentioned, we’re rounding off the year with two Revue shows which will feature the entire roster in some form or other (minus Milton Star who don’t have a live set up at present). These gigs will be accompanied by The Sound of Stereogram, a budget compilation in the spirit of New Wave in ‘77 or Pillows and Prayers in ’82, featuring both new and old tracks from all eight acts on the label. Next year promises some new signings plus new material from the existing acts.

My big thanks to you again for chatting with us; have you anything you would like to add?

Nothing to add except thanks very much for your support over the last year.

Lastly and looking at band’s influences on your Facebook profile, a list of bands littering my own record collection I have to say, can you indulge me and give us a few of the bands/records which inspired you to get into music and then as a musician push yourself further?

Well I’ve already mentioned a whole bunch of artists who’ve inspired me, so here’s some records that have been key: “With The Beatles”; “Motown Chartbusters Vol.3”; “Pet Sounds”; “Piper at The Gates of Dawn”; “Forever Changes”; “Loaded”; “Scott 4”; “What’s Going On”; “Exile On Main Street”; “Never A Dull Moment”; “Close To The Edge”; “Aladdin Sane”; ”Houses Of The Holy”; “Quadrophenia”; “Rock Bottom”; “Country Life”; “Zuma”; “Songs In The Key Of Life”; “Trans Europe Express”; “Marquee Moon”; “My Aim Is True”; “Never Mind The Bollocks”; “Risque”; “All Mod Cons”; “Love Bites”; “Fear Of Music”; “Closer”; “The Correct Use Of Soap”; “You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever”; “Rattlesnakes”; “Steve McQueen”; “Don’t Stand Me Down”. Again the list goes on…

Read our review of Infinite Variety @

Pete Ringmaster

The RingMaster Review 23/11/2015

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Boy From The Crowd – Where The Bees Come To Die

BFTC_RingMaster Review

Having enticed and fascinated with debut single Revelator, Boy From The Crowd does it again with first EP Where The Bees Come To Die. As the single, it is a release bred from a varied mix of blues, punk, and diversely seeded rock ‘n’ roll honed into songs which arouse attention in sound and lyric with accomplished ease. There is no intent to polish things smooth either; each track offering its raw and honest heart to add to the individual drama and potent enterprise on offer. The result is an increasingly tempting proposition which has moments that simply transfix and always has a persuasive hand on thick satisfaction.

From London, Boy From The Crowd consists of vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Vinny Piana and drummer Vegas Ivy, kindred creative spirits which upon linking up were “determined to be guided by their primal instincts and play music with guts, spirit and uncompromising integrity”, subsequently embarking on “a fearless mission to discover tough new ways to rock the blues.” In strong evidence of their purpose and its success was the highly riveting and pleasing Revelator earlier this year, a song still as striking and magnetic now opening up the pair’s first EP.

The song opens on a twang of blues soaked guitar, it’s tempting a spicy lure into the incoming stroll of firmly hitting beats, throaty bass coaxing, and a vocal offering as fascinating and raw as the sounds around it. In no time the song has attention locked in and an appetite inspired for the captivating invention shaping the blues rocker, its presence managing to reap a little of artists like Iggy Pop, Jon Spencer Blues, and Nick Cave to hone its own unique voice.

The blues hues of the opener are even more spicily intensive in the absorbing All I need, a track which atmospherically smoulders in dirty rock ‘n’ roll as tangy flirtation lines its grooves and hooks. As in its predecessor, twists and turns are a rapid captivation, blazes of melodic toxicity moving into filthy expulsions and contagious swaggers. At times the track plays like an antagonistic and off-kilter mix of Television and Tom Petty but once more weaves all essences into its own unique and partially psychotic adventure of creative tenacity and sound.

The Road takes over next, beckoning with an initial country rock kissed sway which soon blossoms into a punk infested roar, the song continuing to align both flavours as it spins a web of blues imagination through guitar and keys. The track is easily the biggest treat upon Where The Bees Come To Die, its blues punk temptation irresistible and another insight into the variety brewing within the songwriting and sound of Piana and Ivy, a diversity reinforced by the surf/psych rock blues of the EP’s title track. The instrumental is a blaze of alternating and entwining shimmering melodies and volcanic energy creating a canvas for ears and imagination to immerse in under the rich suggestiveness of keys, their caresses adding greater colour to the whole adventure.

Where The Bees Come To Die builds on the great introduction to Boy From The Crowd made by Revelator, casting its own highly persuasive hint to the emerging talent and sound of the band. It is early days but already expectations are leaning towards exciting times ahead with Piana and Ivy.

The Where The Bees Come To Die EP is out now digitally and on CD and Ltd Edition vinyl @

Pete Ringmaster 02/11/2015

The Cathode Ray – Infinite Variety

Picture 19

The energy around the arrival of and anticipation for Infinite Variety, the second album from Scottish band The Cathode Ray, ensured that intrigue and enthusiasm of a great many was high going into the release. It is fair to say that the proposition not only lives up to hopes and expectations placed upon it but leaves them lightweight against its kaleidoscope of fun, sound, and adventure. What was not predicted here was the nostalgic impact it had on ears and thoughts, as well as memory, for our first time with the band. Musically it weaves in essences from the seventies and eighties into an invigorating modern tenacity but it was finding out the background to the members which inspired us to first trawl through cases of vinyl on a nostalgia trip to relive old favourites ashamedly neglected over time.

Formed in 2006, The Cathode Ray was initially a song-writing collaboration between Jeremy Thoms and ex-Josef K frontman and solo artist Paul Haig, a band and solo project straight away dug out for a reprise in the ears. A couple of well-received singles followed before Haig left the project in 2009. Taking it over Thom enlisted guitarist Steve Fraser once of Edinburgh post punk band the Scars, another enslaving proposition for our passions way back, and alongside him drummer David Mack and bassist Neil Baldwin to complete a new line-up, the latter bringing another search through boxes to relive the glories of the disgracefully under-rated Bluebells and post-punk group TV21. Once that was out of the system it was full-steam ahead with Infinite Variety, an album swiftly living up and more to anything its creators may have helped craft before.

The album’s landscape uses various decades of sound as its palette, twisting and shaping them into unique and colourful proposals with a lyrical exploration to match. Said to loosely be a concept album, Infinite Variety visually and aurally references the natural world whilst looking at emotions involved with the human condition. The songs are kind of bundled into three areas; ‘fear, paranoia, lust and betrayal’ spicing the first few songs before looks at ‘transformation, honesty and realisation’ and subsequently love in various light and dark forms flavour the tracks. Like in a kaleidoscope though, it all seems to disarrange and evolve with every twist of a track to provide an on-going and increasingly fascinating adventure.

10425081_1014104828616219_3923383927065033299_n   That diversity to songs is one of many potent aspects to the album and it all starts with the outstanding Backed Up. A simple rub of guitar and accompanying cowbell prods make first contact, soon joined by crisp beats and an expanding coaxing of melodic enticing. The expressive tones of Thoms join the widening incitement next, his entrance awakening bolder enterprise in the guitars, whilst riffs and hooks come with a great post-punk spicing. The reserved but lively melodic invention provides a sultry colouring which the dark bass tones wonderfully temper whilst vocally Thom drives it all with a voice which is like a mix of Pete Shelley and Ste McCabe to offer another rich texture within the potent album starter.

It is a strong beginning straight away eclipsed by the outstanding Resist, one of the most addictive slices of warped pop you will come across this year. Its hooks instantly get under the skin and into the psyche, swiftly followed by the vocals and the thick bass bait. The song’s infectiousness is simply virulent bringing a whiff of The Revillos to its power pop stomp, a passing scent not as strong as the Buzzcocks like catchiness which oozes from the following Nowhere At All. Again it is merely a spicing though, this time to a captivating stroll of imaginative percussion, imposing rhythms, and addictive enterprise, all soaked in inescapable contagion.

Don’t Waste Your Words strides in next to bring an addictive lure of hip swinging rock ‘n’ roll. Feet and ears are an early submission, whilst the capture of the imagination is barely a drum stick swing away in the riveting temptation of the song. It is not alone in offering hooks and a presence which are indelible in thoughts and emotions even after the album’s departure, but it is probably the most intoxicating though matched straight away by the excellent Buck The Trend, a song with a healthy breath of Tom Verlaine and Television to it. Keys and guitar spin a gorgeous eighties web for the rhythmic and vocal prowess of the song to pull this way and that, a combination sculpting another major highlight in the album. There are times across Infinite Variety, like here, where thoughts wonder if the band may have missed the boat with their sound in the fact that The Cathode Ray would have surely been a big inspirational player in the eighties. Every time that suggestion raises its head though band and album almost in anticipation provides evidence to differ, like No Holds Barred which comes next, proving that they are definitely a perfect fit for the now. The song is a slower but similarly infectious offering with a held in check energy which still has body and emotions swaying feistily with its low key and thoroughly addictive swagger. Once more riffs and melodies combine to create a fresh twist and distinct romp of sound and invention in the album.

The brilliant Eureka Moment! is simply a montage of eighties goodness crafted into a transfixing and exotic jungle of imagination fuelled rhythms, Scars like sonic sweeps, and Bluebells bred melodies. It feels like a song dipping into its creators past exploits and those of others whilst equally drawing on new ingenuity. The John Foxx led version of Ultravox comes to mind as does The Creatures as the track seduces and incites but again they are just particular hues in an new enthralling and thrilling aural conjuring by the band.

This Force Of Nature brings its flowing melodic breeze next, female vocals seducing alongside the tones of Thoms, whilst Torn Apart explores an immersive and haunting cavern of sonic reflection which in many ways has seeds to the likes of House of Love and My Bloody Valentine. The absorbing and mesmeric encounter, as so many songs, keeps the album turning over in imagination and invention, as well as variety, before making way for the post punk croon of The Eyes Are The Window To The Soul. With a bassline which recalls early Cure and an Orange Juice like jangle to its chords, the song is bewitching and engagingly dramatic like a modern day Associates.

The album is closed by the elegant reflection of Saving Grace, a semi-acoustic ballad which simply whisks ears and thoughts off into hope soaked clouds under a smouldering exotic sun of melodic temptation. The song is spellbinding but also only telling half the story at this point. Around mid-way the calm is suddenly infused with ominous rhythms and sinister keys, nothing over imposing but certainly a brewing provocation which is soon ripe with surf rock tendrils of guitar and a tempestuous air. As if warning that good times still offer a stormy adventure, the track is irresistible manna for ears and imagination with seven minutes of sonic alchemy.

Infinite Variety is quite breath-taking, leaving thoughts basking and appetite hungry for much more. There have been many releases and bands recently creating real triumphs of nostalgia and new invention, but The Cathode Ray tops the lot.

Infinite Variety is available through Stereogram Recordings now on CD and download via

RingMaster 21/04/2015

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Rathborne – Soft


If you have not come across Luke Rathborne, or indeed Rathbone the band surrounding his songwriting skills, do not worry as the healthy buzz around both back in the US is sure to brew up a similar excitement over this side of the pond thanks to the release of new album Soft. An energetic package of tenaciously varied rock ‘n’ roll, the release shows itself to be as at home and accomplished exploring punk, garage rock and indie pop as it is reaping the essences of alternative and seventies American rock. It is a compelling and more often than not an irresistible stomp which will warm up any playlist given the chance.

Hailing from Brunswick in Maine and New York based, man and band make light work of enticing and exciting ears upon the Albert Hammond Jnr of The Strokes, co-produced Soft. Its title track is the first persuasion and swiftly surrounds ears with a dirty but melodically washed sonic temptation. It is raw and wonderfully distorted pop over a scuzzy slow prowl; the union almost Beck meets The Strokes like in its volatile and fiery enterprise. Immediately imagination and appetite are aroused, and given another incendiary spark with the following What More. Cleaner in its energetic pop revelry but still harbouring a great raw edge, the track is a mix of The Cars and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and swift example of the diversity rife within the album.

I’m So Tired steps up next, its Americana like colouring blending with the seventies pop spiced infectiousness coursing through its lively balladry. Though the song does not quite match up to those before or right after, it leaves ears and attention engrossed ready for the outstanding Eno which steps up with its Tom Verlaine and Television like vocal and musical endeavour. A lively romp with addictive qualities, the track reinforces the already thick variety to songs, yet despite their seriously individual characters, each sits perfectly alongside the next as proven once again by the punk lined Low! which soon has feet and emotions bouncing around as if on a power pop trampoline. As many of the tracks, it is a short and insatiable provocateur which almost revels in mischievous intent as it lures, incites, and then runs before the listener can reach the pinnacle of its physical and emotional involvement.

A country breath embraces Little Moment which comes next, the song a radiant encounter hugging a great additional female vocal. It does not spark the same reactions as its companions but that is down to a personal dislike of country flavours and not any real issue with the agreeably crafted song. Particular tastes are soon back on board with the punchy Wanna Be You with its strong throaty bassline and melodic winery, and even more so after the Dylan-esque bluesy tang of Deal, with the rampant catchiness of Why. The track flirts with a bounding rhythmic gait and grungy sonic teasing from the guitars whilst vocally too there is a Nirvana like graze to the delivery. It is another inescapable treat within Soft leaving the garage/hard rock stroll of So Long NYC to close things out in highly satisfying style.

It is fair to say that Soft is one of those albums which are very hard to get out of the head. It might not elevate to being a heart embraced favourite but it definitely gets under the skin and stays with thoughts and emotions, returning whenever it pleases with certain hooks and melodies.

Soft is available now via True Believer and @

RingMaster 16/02/2015

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Reporters – Trouble Last Morning EP


A raw capturing of the imagination with honest lo-fi sounds Trouble Last Morning is the debut EP from a band which provokes the thought that this could be an early introduction of a presence with the potential to evolve into something rather important. The EP comes from UK band Reporters, a duo from Milton Keynes consisting of teenagers Dan Stock (lead vocalist / guitarist) and Josh Ringsell (drums/backing vocals) which is kicking up a bit of a stir with their honest unafraid sound. Having already built a potent following in their home town through their live performances which has seen them play with the likes of Catfish & The Bottlemen, The Weeks, and Dead Sons, Reporters turn their attention to the rest of the country with the release of this quite compelling EP.

Released on the band’s own Phret Records, Trouble Last Morning is soon making the strongest persuasion with Meet Me In The Morning, a track which has a caustic touch to its melodic persuasion and instantly contagious lure to its presence and fluid temptation. The song takes little time in sparking thoughts of The Libertines and Arctic Monkeys but also offers a breath which leaks classic and garage rock invention, a feel of Television meets Tom Petty bringing a further magnetic tease. It makes for a sound which is not strikingly original but wholly inventive and tantalising, the riffs and melodic acidity an exciting wrap around the sinew stretched rhythms.

It is a gripping start soon backed by the equally enticing Last Of The Lonely, its chorus an addiction forging bait which enslaves feet and Art work finalthe appetite for an infection bleeding anthem. As with its predecessor there is no room for excess fat in the songwriting or the delivery, every note and chord a stripped down persuasive wash of unfiltered rock ‘n’ roll with the vocals of Stock feverishly backed by Ringsell, a matching riveting rub of ears and imagination.

The closing Trouble In Paradise is an emotive ballad with a smell of Babyshambles to its discord kissed melodic scent. A track which brews up deeper pungent attraction the more you share its evocative strains, the song shows the richness of promise and enterprise the band has already and can only develop to stronger toxicity ahead.

The Trouble Last Morning EP is a fine doorway into as suggested a band with very bright and potentially important horizons ahead for them and British rock music. Whether it comes to pass we will see but certainly Reporters shows signs of having the creative weaponry to take on that challenge.


RingMaster 25/10/2013

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Mike Tyler – Money Grows on Your Knees

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    Money Grows On Your Knees the new single from poet and musician Mike Tyler is a deceptive little tease, a song which left indecision during certainly its first and even second excursion through the ear  but all the while was working away and laying a hook which emerged again and again well away from its source. It is an addictive little creature which though still coated in a less than stable opinion is like a tic which is almost impossible to remove from thoughts and imagination.

Taken from his well-received album Erection of last year, the first thing to note and praise about the release is its packaging. Coming in a 7” green vinyl/CD bundle with a sleeve design complete with jigsaw front and lyric sheet back, the single takes one right back to the late seventies/early eighties when sleeve design and imagination was as rife and vibrant as the sounds they enclosed. It is an instant clutch of strong points on the board for The Art Can Not Be Damaged released single. It is also very apt for the artist from New York. Mentored in a bar by the poet Delmore Schwartz, Patti Smith, and Tom Verlaine of Television, Tyler has sculpted interest, respect, and inspiration with his words within others. World famous graffiti-smith Banksy stencilled his words “only the ridiculous survive” outside Paddington Station in London whilst Beck also was inspired by his charismatic pull when honing his song writing craft. Tyler became known as The Most Dangerous Poet in America after breaking his arm during a reading, and his poem The Most Beautiful Word in the American Language has found its place on the blogs, MySpace pages, and Facebook walls of a great many, not to mention fridge doors. He is a puzzle in many ways, an intricate confusion which the packaging of the single perfectly hints to and to further give relevance of the artwork the artist talks about his single by saying “My new single is such a lopsided seductive beast. Deep deep bass with a pop frosting and a growling lead yawp. It can be kind of sweet in places and then a dungeon-door-slamming-echoed-thud takes over; a contradiction in tones. It’s the boiled pot of the gumbo stew of black and white that is America; greed and innocence, joy and exhausted hustle. Might explain why we decided the packaging of the single would include an actual puzzle.

Money Grows on Your Knees instantly punches the air with heavy pressing beats soon joined by great expressive keys and the straight face vocals of Tyler. He is not a natural vocalist, his spoken word delivery a dulled edge to the vibrancy of the music but it soon persuades the longer the track plays with the ear. The persistence of the rhythmic seduction and equally tempting bass is near irresistible whilst the keys craft a warm engagement which holds the hand as the songs opens up its summer framed by additional vocals from a sirenesque female voice and singing from Tyler both standing behind his core gait of delivery. As one would expect the lyrics make you think without needing to spend over time evaluating their coaxing narrative whilst the brassy bellows of the synths are like small fanfares in the sultriness of the song’s skies. An encounter easily described as Jonathan Richman meets Jona Lewie whilst John Otway and Mike Doughty add their support, it has proved its dangerous contagiousness as whilst writing the review up to this point and listening to its throughout,  Money Grows on Your Knees has provided  a conclusive argument and won its case…or maybe just worn down the defences, whichever it is a devious little treat.

Accompanying the song on the single is Corny Song, a new track from Tyler. Energetic and mischievous the song was inspired by a show in the UK where he was promoting the Erection album. It like the first is not an instant draw and has yet to convince but again it lingers and teases long past its expiry time.

For quirky, unpolished, and honest indie/pop devilment the single is well worth a fun filled amble with, but be warned it will not be leaving you alone from that point on.


RingMaster 23/04/2013

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Velcro Hooks: Gymnophoria

Photo by Nat Bevins

Photo by Nat Bevins

With a history almost as intriguing as the tempest of innovative and startling sounds they create, UK indie noise manipulators Velcro Hooks have released one of the best and thrilling albums this year in their debut Gymnophoria. It is a seven track sensation, a release embroiled in sonic teasing yet seductive with its unpredictable and mesmeric ingenuity, and one which offers something distinctly different with each mischievous slice of imaginative enterprise.

The Bristol based band finds its first seeds with the chance meeting between Vancouver musician Jenner Blank and Bristol offspring Thomas Mason in the city of Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. A fortnight of ‘escapades’ ended with each gent returning to their respective countries and a year doing their own thing, which according to the promo sheet for the release consisted of beans and plants. Then Blank turned up in Bristol and the pair began experimenting with aural creativity soon aided by the addition of local talents in Dominic Mitchison and George Garratt. Since then it seems to have been a constant rise for the band, a year of playing free shows where ever they could led them to the attention of Howling Owl Records. That took the band to supporting local bands such as Towns, Weird Dreams, and La Sera, and the release of their first single The Surfing Song and an accompanying video, both finding a strong and eager reception. Now with the release of the magnificent Gymnophoria, it is hard with its outstanding content not to expect the band to wake up the UK as a whole to their immense inventive presence.

Musically the band offers a riotous mix of post punk, noise pop, garage punk, and fuzz rock not to mention plenty more hungry spices. There is admittedly a strong Pixies feel to their sounds but wrapped in flavours which provoke thoughts of many more bands whilst still standing strong as something unique to Velcro Hooks. The release opens with A Love Song For T.S. Eliot and instantly the scythes of guitars has the senses simmering with content. As the vocals enter and the song spreads around the expressive tones that Pixies comparison is rife, especially when discord soaked melodic scarring ensues. There is much more to the song though, the guitars at times bringing a breath which recalls the sharp melodic play of Television and the energetic surges spills essences of Buzzcocks in to the mix.

It is a striking start easily matched and elevated by the following Wasabi Colonel, a song which crawls over the ear with a wicked glint in its eye and the hunger to light up the passions in its heart. From the slight Frank Black like vocals and fiery hooks the song weaves a blend of feisty punk rock and smouldering melodic caressing to bring thoughts of Max Raptor and The Fratellis into the equation though again it must be emphasized the results is something wholly unique to the band.

The album has a variation which can only be admired, a diversity which links every track to another all the same whilst standing clearly and inventively apart. The excellent Wildman with its pulsating bass line and clashing guitars bursts through the ear with the outstanding potent simplicity of The Fall and swagger of the Arctic Monkeys whilst The Prerogative Of Daniel Potter is simply a dark vaudeville delight, both showing the impressive expanse of ideas and sound to the band. The first of the pair is a wonderfully blistering rub of punk with the psyche vocals as unbridled as the maniacally carved sounds, its charge irresistible and imagination a twisted and compulsive contagion, whilst the second collects all the shadows possible to entertain them with unbalanced keys and slight sonic squalls behind the spoken narrative and bedlam dragged screams. Imagine The Shanklin Freak Show meets the Cardiacs and you have a clue to its majesty.

The best track on the album comes in Girlfren, a song which spills its psychotic breath on to relationships for a storm of noise rock which just lights the strongest adoration its way. It is brief, too short to be honest as you feel so disappointed at its conclusion, but in its exhilarating crusade it lays a maelstrom of The Gaa Gaas, Devo, and Innercity Pirates to spark an orgasmic ardour.

Gymnophoria is completed by the just as impressive Yesterday’s Man, a song which is arguably the most straight forward on the release with its postpunk/Joy Divison pop croon, and the mighty Grandpa, No. The closer returns to the more open Pixies soaked sounds which were at large in at the beginning of the album and leaves one wanting so much more as its final sonic wave disappears into the smouldering sunset of the album. It is a staggering release which just leaves thoughts and senses drooling. Velcro Hooks are destined for great things and the album their first great triumph.

RingMaster 16/11/2012

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