Tullycraft – The Railway Prince Hotel

Despite new album The Railway Prince Hotel being their seventh, US indie popsters Tullycraft has been a name rather than musical presence on our radar here and it has pretty much been the same with global recognition and attention. It is an outfit though which is said to have been “one of the forefathers of the American twee pop movement”, indeed one of the biggest influences on so many bands emerging over recent times within the indie pop underground and beyond. On the evidence of their new offering it just might be the time they themselves step out into the biggest spotlights as The Railway Prince Hotel is simply one irresistible slice of cute pop contagion.

Tullycraft emerged back in 1995 and a swift hindsight listen in the wake of The Railway Prince Hotel shows they have been the source of a host of delicious pop songs and releases which reveal why they have been a potent inspiration to so many. The new album though is a new twist in their songwriting and sound, a collection of hungrily lively pop songs with their own individual bounce and mischief to what has come before. The riveting union of lead vocals from bassist Sean Tollefson and Jenny Mears is one of the most potent lures to the Seattle band’s music but no more so than the instinctive hooks and radiant melodies which tease and inspire attention. Listening to their new release we quickly found ourselves thinking back to the organic and viral pop of seventies/eighties bands like The Freshies, The Farmers Boys and to a slightly lesser degree Weekend and The Chefs; alluring and no doubt coincidental tinges in the openly individual character of the Tullycraft sound.

It is fair to say that The Railway Prince Hotel had us hooked and licking lips with simply its first three tracks; songs which no matter what was to follow ensured our full recommendation was lining up. Midi Midinette starts things off, its summery flames of brass and energetic bounce instantly burrowing deep as too the rising union of harmonic vocal lures. Soulful and whimsical in all the right ways, the song provides a joyous stroll which hips and vocal chords just could not resist, both soon manipulated to matching effort by the following pair of Passing Observations and We Couldn’t Dance To Billy Joel.

From its opening bait of bass, the first of the pair had the body swinging; its temptation instantly escalated by the vocal collaboration of Mears and band around Tollefson‘s lone and as potent lines. The guitars of Chris Munford and Corianton Hale again almost tease as they melodically entice but it is Mear’s melodic cries which made for the greatest seduction in a song and particularly chorus which made for increasingly mischievous aural manna. Its successor with its jovial jangle and frisky rhythms allowed for no relaxation of feet and body swerves, its flirtatious vocals and melodies a pleasing mix of comforting warmth and playful unpredictability.

Goldie And The Gingerbreads is next up sharing another bassline which just hooked the appetite. From there the skittish beats and coy but bold melodic clang of guitar escalated its hold on ears while harmonies suggest the echoing lures of bands such as The Shangri-Las and The Crystals make a natural pleasure for the band itself.

We could not say that either Has Your Boyfriend Lost His Flavor On The Bedpost Overnight? or Beginners At Best quite sparked the same unreserved reactions of their predecessors but both with their particular creative essences and enterprise left us bouncing along with a wholly satisfied smile while It’s Not Explained, It’s Delaware with its reserved country twang brought its own healthy amount of and easy to take pleasure.

The brief electro pop saunter of Lost Our Friends To Heavy Metal was another which took longer to take too even if hips unapologetically defied that sloth like appreciation while Hearts At The Sound straight after ignited another round of eager bouncing with its rowdier pop ‘n’ roll before The Cat’s Miaow In A Spacesuit had us hooked with its bass swing alone, closing the trap with vocal and melody erudition. The latter pair emerged to test the opening threesome for best song honours, a choice never settled on even through numerous listens.

The album closes out with firstly its title track, a spirited influential proposal lying somewhere between old school pop punk/power pop and brass flamed indie rock and lastly the carefree pop rock stroll of Vacaville. Each leaves a greed for more behind with the final treat another vying for the album’s finest moment.

We can only feel we have missed out on years of enjoyment listening to Tullycraft but as we feel sure so many more newcomers will do, we are making up for it with The Railway Prince Hotel, one of the year’s early and real pleasures.

 The Railway Prince Hotel is out now @ https://tullycraft.bandcamp.com/album/the-railway-prince-hotel and available on vinyl via HHBTM Records.

https://tullycraft.com/   https://www.facebook.com/TullycraftBand

 Pete RingMaster 12/02/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

The Twindows – Valkyrie 2.0

For most, musical bliss can come in various shapes and styles; creative adventures which just connect with personal instincts and tastes. It is fair to say that for us it recently came all rolled up in one hungrily tempting proposal going by the names of The Twindows and their debut album Valkyrie 2.0.

Hailing out of Philadelphia, The Twindows breed a rapacious sound which infuses essences of everything from noise and indie rock to metal and grunge to a punk across the decades borne heart. It is a bold and boisterous web of temptation as virulently infectious as it is ferociously imaginative and led by a voice truly we could listen to all day long. Vocalist/guitarist Aster Grimm has one of the most devilishly tempting voices and just as magnetically matched by the creative antics of guitarist Kyle Anderson, bassist Caleb Banas, and drummer Oskar Daoud across Valkyrie 2.0. Together they have nurtured a release which teases, seduces, and arouses across eleven lust inducing slices of musical diablerie.

It begins with Like My Music; raw and salacious pop infested punk rock roaring from aggravation with Damned like hooks and rhythmic rapacity to the fore. Grimm blossoms in the centre, her tones stirring song and attention further as for one minute and three quarters the track provides the album with one irresistible start.

The following Mosquito / Thick Skin swings in on a blend of grunge nurtured rock ‘n’ roll upon a ska seeded bounce. Fiercer textures with metallic toning soon sizzle and sear around the tenacious attack of Grimm, the track’s noise punk instincts just as vocal before it passed thick attention and an already keen appetite over to Forgiven. Instantly it entangles ears in rhythmic espionage; boisterously coaxing beats and a glorious bass grumble getting under the skin as guitars weave a sonic web around Grimm’s similarly magnetic lures. Something akin to Throwing Muses embroiled in the punk ‘n’ roll of Spinnerette and in turn fused with devilment of Die So Fluid, the track is sheer captivation; one as seductive as it is predacious and all feral temptation.

Dig Tree comes next, the track a bewitching slice of punk pop initially, nostalgically recalling bands such as The Chefs and 4 Non Blondes. It floats across the senses but has a sonic causticity which just adds to the song’s bait again headed by Grimm’s engagingly manipulative presence. Whilst adding a new hue to the album broadening adventure, the song has feet and hips involved just as easily as rock ‘n’ roll instincts.

That variety of flavouring across the release is encouraged again by next up Ska Death (Ska Death Lounge Death Ska), an unstoppable incursion of ska/noise punk which had the body eagerly bobbing along before expelling a hellacious sonic gas of aural volatility, a tempest returning with greater dexterity after the song relaxed again into its lively bounce, and with bolder imagination as sax flames sear the riveting bedlam. Imagine Animal Alpha infused by the spirit of The Jellycats and the punk revelry of The Mo-Dettes and you come close to the song’s infectious alchemy.

The Twindows let their punk instincts run riot in Reversals next, the track an insatiable rock ‘n’ roll charge with noise bred vapours crossing a kaleidoscope of twists and turns while Pulp within a similar but even more corrosive landscape leaps around with kinetic intensity and agility. All the while though as rhythms dance, sonic spices and melodic adventure simmers and rise up to temper and challenge the tempestuous nature of the track.

The inescapably catchy punk ‘n’ roll of Instigator unerringly worms into the psyche within seconds straight after, the song like a mix of The Kut and Daisy Chainsaw but as everywhere uniquely Twindows; a trait just as potently shown by the grunge rock of The Industry. Admittedly, the song did not quite hit the spot as those tracks around it within Valkyrie 2.0 but only added to the fun before The Pixies endowed Sleepycore had us licking our lips once more. With its almost somnolent swing and Grimm’s vocal bewitchment, the outstanding track simply transfixed, even more so when it’s deceitful gait unveiled a furious if still controlled intent.

Bringing things to a close Wire Mother surrounds its energetic croon with abrasive psych and indie punk imagination, the song another as unpredictable in sound and imagination as it is irresistible in persuasion. It provides a provocative and rousing conclusion to an album which just lit the fires of personal tastes while offering something completely fresh to ponder, taste, and devour.

We have nothing more to add except go and have a nibble yourselves.

Valkyrie 2.0 is out now and available @ https://thetwindows.bandcamp.com/album/valkyrie-20

https://www.facebook.com/thetwindowsmusic/

Pete RingMaster 21/03/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

 

Universal Thee – All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace

Universal Thee_RingMaster Review

All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace is a flirtation which, whilst seducing ears with its pop charm, has the body bouncing and worming around like a slinky. The second album from Scottish alternative popsters Universal Thee brings a smile to the spirit and infectious revelry to the day and whereas their critically acclaimed debut album had ears and voices seriously enticed its potential has simply been blossomed to new refreshing heights in its successor.

Formed in 2010 as a trio with “a faulty Macbook for a drummer”, Edinburgh hailing Universal Thee first took their live steps two years later with an actual drummer. It was a show which had a low-key attendance to say the least but within two years the band was sparking really sparking eager attention, with first album Back to Earth at the forefront of the new thrust in their emergence. Since then their stature has only ascended, shows supporting the likes of Ded Rabbit and an appearance on the pyramid stage at the Kelburn Garden Party potent successes enhancing further their live reputation. Such the magnetic and contagious prowess of All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace, 2016 is looking like being another successful time, possibly the moment when the band’s individual sound and presence is grabbed by new and broader spotlights.

Led by the united vocal enticement of husband and wife, James and Lisa Russell, the Universal Thee has drawn references to the likes of Ash, Pixies, Weezer, and Queens of the Stone Age; they amongst many inspirations to the band as a whole and individually. There is also, by coincidence one suspects, an eighties new wave/indie pop scent to their music which reminds of bands like The Chefs, Girls At Our Best, and maybe to a lesser extent The Passions and The Chesterfields. As shown straight away with opener Why, they are all just hues to something distinct to Universal Thee.

art_RingMaster ReviewThe first song swiftly jangles in ears with alluring elegance as the beats of drummer Matt Grieve provide a feistier touch. The song soon strolls along with a fuzzy air to the melodies of guitarists Robin Spivey and James Russell whilst the bass of Andrew Perrie brings a delicious almost groaning temper to the radiance around it. The blend of James and Lisa Russell is another key element in its persuasion, their union carrying a great essence of discord which just seals the deal for ears.

Unashamedly catchy, the great start provided by the first song is continued and surpassed a little by the second. Keep Falling adds a grungy texture to its enticement whilst the bass courts a post punk appeal within a quickly captivating Weezer-esque saunter. Its hooks are as keen and inescapable as its melodic romancing and boisterous energy, a creative weave more than matched by the band’s brilliant latest single Speaker. The mellow but lively vocals from both the Russells, leads a swinging almost mischievous tempting that instantly seduces ears and feet. That earlier mentioned eighties new wave pop colouring is a rich essence to songwriting which also openly draws on the influence of Frank Black, creating a proposition easy to suspect that the Pixies man would be proud to claim as his own.

Xang is a mellower but still energetic proposal next, its shadow lined air and character a slightly melancholic and evocative caress framed by more forceful rhythms whilst Lost at Sea glides through ears with a heavier and grittier breath to its punk infused pop. Both songs keep an already happy appetite fulfilled if without, and maybe expectantly, matching their glorious predecessors, a success definitely achieved by the outstanding Hey. With tenaciously anthemic rhythms and a fiery glaze to its pop ‘n’ roll, the song is certain single material with all the addictive hooks and qualities needed. Quaint and ballsy simultaneously, the track has the body leaping to its compelling creative throes before Hamlet 3 hits the same sweet spot with its own unique Teenage Fanclub does pop punk like canter. The song simply epitomises the growth in the band’s craft and sound without any lessening of their invasive pop ingenuity and it is impossible not to be fully involved in voice and hips with the increasingly rousing encounter.

A calmer climate washes over the senses as Sail Away floats into view, though rhythmically it offers great agitated bait around which vocals and melodies provide a familiar yet indefinable lure. A romancing which breeds more volatile moments within its persistent smooch, the enthralling hug makes way for more galvanic pop ‘n’ roll in the irresistible shape of Hounds, it in turn leaving ears to the pop fascination of closing track Light On, two tracks ensuring album and emotions are left on the same high they started with through song one.

Universal Thee have the great knack of creating something you feel you already know but then you only come across exciting surprise after surprise whilst being infested with pop music to get greedy over. All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace is the sign of a band ready to step into the intensive recognition of national awareness and more; a success hard to see evading the quintet for much longer.

All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace is available from February 19th whilst the single Speaker is out now, both via Eventual Heirs Records.

https://www.facebook.com/universalthee  https://twitter.com/universalthee   http://universalthee.com

Pete RingMaster 18/02/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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