Head On – Robert Christgau/Greil Marcus

Head On

A band we found ourselves hooked on back in 2018 through their debut album Ubik, Greek outfit Head On has so far evaded the major spotlights which we suggested were on their near horizon courtesy of their striking full-length but are back to tease them once again with their new two-track single.

The Athens hailing band again breed their tracks from a post punk heart enveloping both with just as potent post rock atmospherics but swiftly both Robert Christgau and Greil Marcus reveal the band’s sound has embraced a far richer and thicker expanse of flavouring compared to that within their impressive album. Equally there is a bolder maturity to the web of styles and imagination making up its senses entangling prowess, one increasing that suggestion that Head On deserve greater attention.

Both tracks making up the single are inspired by American music journalists and each a tribute with a touch of individualism and rebellion which could be said to equally spice the writers work. A-side is Robert Christgau, a song immediately winding attention enticing guitar wiring around ears. Rhythms gather with increasing intensity too though they never quite find a concussive touch as the track slips into its infectious post punk nurtured stroll. Tofer’s vocals join the canter, his resolute tones firm but with the same underlying off-kilter dynamic as carried by Breathiac’s guitar and Levojohn’s bass. With the equally purposeful beats of Kostas driving and adding commanding manipulation to song and listener alike within the melodic web cast by Breathiac, the track is pure captivation; essences of bands such as early Cure, Unsane, and KEN Mode coming to mind in varying degrees.

Greil Marcus provides the B-side and similarly had us on board from its initial nagging breath as guitar and bass nudges teased and lured before uniting in a more voracious canter with those same virulent hooks at work. There is something akin to a fusion of fellow Greeks SPInnERS and Russian punks Biting Elbows to the song but swiftly Head On stamp down their uniqueness as the cold taunting of the track and its virulent character thick in enterprise got under the skin. Senses scorching eruptions in sound and especially Tofer’s vocals only add to the tension and captivation of the track, its ferocity and disturbed breath adding to the thrilling drama.

Both tracks had us hungry for more and eagerly anticipating the next unpredictable Head On roar which hopefully will have a much larger landscape of ears waiting its unveiling if the band’s new single gets its deserved reward.

Robert Christgau/Greil Marcus is available now @ https://headongreece.bandcamp.com/releases

https://www.facebook.com/Head0n/

Pete RingMaster 05/02/2020

Copyright RingMasterReview: MyFreeCopyright

She Made Me Do It – Scorched

She Made Me Do It is a band which weaves compelling adventures not only in sound and the web of flavours making up its character but also from the rich shadows within the depths of both and the duo’s imagination. Across a host of releases and tracks it has provided a kaleidoscopic landscape of intimation and contagion which has maybe been no more compelling than within new EP, Scorched. Its five tracks share intense enterprise and rich drama, the release a bold venture into the outfit’s creative psyche and one eagerly tapping into the cinematic conjuring of the listener.

The successor to their acclaimed Drenched EP, Scorched finds the twosome of Shaheena Dax (Rachel Stamp) and Will Crewdson (Rachel Stamp, Adam Ant, Scant Regard, The Selecter, Bow Wow Wow, Flesh For Lulu) infesting their alternative electronic rock with the richest tapestry of genre varied threads to escape the London based pair yet. Theirs has been a proposition always embracing the ripest essences of punk, new wave, post punk but the new encounter borders on the ravenous in its seizing of fresh diversity.

Scorched opens with the band’s new single, Love’s Demise bounding in on a tide of voracious rock riffs and swinging rhythms before the swiftly joining tones of Dax show just as much hunger in their melodic enticement. Crewdson’s guitar continues to snarl as its infectious nature aligns with that of Dax, hard and punk rock spices taunting as electronic fingers tease in the riotous but controlled stomp.

The rousing start is only accentuated by Fun and Games, a track which lit up the airwaves with its uncaging as one of last year’s best singles. A calm but keenly coaxing electronic pulse dances in ears first; it’s subdued but apparent skittishness soon surrounded by a contagion of air splattering beats and attention burrowing hooks, it all courted by the delicious dark bassoon-esque grumble of the bass. The infection loaded stroll is soon equipped with greater temptation as Dax brings her perpetual craft and captivation, alt pop and punk insisting on uniting with the track’s rock instincts to dig deeply and relentlessly under the skin.

Throughout both, shadows lurk if in a subdued state but now flood the sounds within the EP’s stunning third track and our senses. It is a cover of The Cure’s Three Imaginary Boys, a slice of already undeniable greatness given a whole new breath of drama and potency. Crewdson and Dax draw out the anxiety and tension of the original, increasing both as they escalate the post punk heart of the original. It is pure drama, emotions caught in a dense spiral of apprehension and inescapable contagion as the band equip the song with a cinematically claustrophobic air soaked in an emotional cold war amidst a crepuscular soundscape.

The equally exceptional Poison Aura follows, it too a dark senses consuming address of ears and thoughts even with the golden glow of Dax’s voice an absorbing light across the track’s caliginous tone and post punk nurtured landscape. The encounter ignited the imagination as much as ears as again a theatre of intimation provided a palette of suggestion so easy for the imagination to paint with.

For all the thick ravenous shadows the band breeds, each track is a surge of greedy catchiness too, the band’s pop instincts fuelling the heaviest dark and equally the most boisterous light, final track Fatal Confidante epitomising all in its esurient virulence and pop punk featured tenacity. As much as the EP’s tracks infest ears and imagination with the creator’s craft and fascination, all invade feet and body with a matching zeal, the last song on offer unscrupulous in getting the listener bouncing.

With a cover any band on a similar endeavour will have to truly go some to match and a striking quartet of inimitable and unique She Made Me Do It goodness, the sensational Scorched confirms the duo as one of the UK’s most exciting and imaginative encounters; one we have already been enslaved by and do not apologise for urging all to check out with even greater lust.

The Scorched EP is out now, available @ https://shemademedoit.bandcamp.com/album/scorched-e-p

https://www.shemmdi.com/   https://www.facebook.com/shemademedoitpage   https://twitter.com/SheMMDI

Pete RingMaster 05/02/2020

Copyright RingMasterReview: MyFreeCopyright

Bleeding Raven Interview

BLEEDING RAVEN is the aggrotech/dark tek project from Dean Mason of Gnostic Gorilla. Recently he released its debut album via Cleopatra Records. We had the pleasure to chat with Dean about the album, his latest project, a career and life changing set back and much more…  

Hello and thanks for taking time out to talk with us.

The pleasure is all mine man.

Can you first introduce the ‘project’ and give us some background to how it all started?

In a land…far far away…hahahahaha…Ok, but seriously… I first got the ‘itch’ to record music when I was a teen-ager in high school. Some buddies and I went into a little studio and recorded two songs for a single release. (Dark Hallway/Golgotha) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p05YqqTOS_M  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=047Pk2GhPnY

Thanks to my lovely parents I released a vinyl 45 rpm as just “Dean Mason” with “Lonely Ghost Productions” as the name of the makeshift indie label. I got ‘itchy’ again in 2001 and began looking at music again, but did very little. In 2012, I got right into recording electronic music of a dark bent and scent and thus was born “Gnostic Gorilla” eventually. (I released stuff as The Lonely Ghost Project initially but changed the name to “Gnostic Gorilla”) In 2018, Cleopatra Records released “St. Basil’s Asylum”. (Gnostic Gorilla) In May of this past year, after releasing quite a few albums on different labels (KL Dark Records, Nowhere Now Records, Throne of Bael Records and LGP-ONE) I wanted to pursue something more ‘aggrotech’ in style. That’s when I initiated the “Bleeding Raven” project. Cleopatra released “Darkness Consumed” in October of this year.

How have those earlier impacted on what you are doing now, in maybe inspiring a change of style or direction?

As I mentioned earlier, I started off as just “Dean Mason” as a lad. In 2012, the Lonely Ghost Project was launched (so to speak) and then “Gnostic Gorilla” and from that evolved what we are talking about today…that is…the Bleeding Raven Project. My early music in these other projects was a mix of ‘Goth/Dark Wave/Dark Tek/Industrial’. I really wanted to do something more bizarre and almost literally more noisy and that’s when I initiated “Bleeding Raven”. It’s more aggrotech, but I also call it… “dungeon trash”…hahahahahahahahahaha I even have a shirt with that on it.   https://www.dizzyjam.com/products/157830/ 

The image or character of the ‘raven’ is common in First Nations lore and even spirituality. The raven can either be a trickster or mischievous little critter or it can be sort of a symbol of the soul preparing for death of being taken back to the Great Creator. Different nations/tribes have different ideas and stories about the raven. The ‘bleeding’ part more or less speaks of suffering, of hurt etc. So, like my lyrics however, even with the image, I allow people to have their own interpretations. That said, I think always…DAILY…of my many sisters and brothers in the First Nations communities who suffer immensely because of a racist attitude towards them. There are many…MANY young Native women/girls who have gone missing and the effort to find them hasn’t always been fervent. As well, the suicide rate among First Nation teens is extremely high.

Was there any specific idea behind the forming of Bleeding Raven and also in what you wanted it and your sound to offer?

Well, in the Spring of 2019, I had to be on the road a bit and for some long drives, I acquired on my iTunes a few albums of a more industrial bent. That includes a couple of compilations of various bands. I discovered acts like Die Sektor and Psyclon Nine and I felt very inspired to go in this direction. I sort of started to go in that direction as “Gnostic Gorilla” but I wanted a new project that was mostly aggrotech in style. I came up with the ‘dungeon trash’ (LOL) I released in October and I am very proud of it!

Do the same things still drive you when it was fresh-faced or have they evolved over time?

Definitely evolved over time. So, when I first started off, I was more into a Gothic sound or industrial. And I still love a lot of that stuff. Always will. St. Basil’s Asylum is a classic and I’m just so sad that it’s still not discovered by many yet. But anyway, yeah…things do evolve. That said, I don’t like the idea of being in a ‘genre house arrest’ and being narrow minded in your approach to music. But either way, it’s all over for me in music anyway so…I’ve done what I could.

Since your early days, how would you say your sound has evolved?

Well, from the really early days, that is from the days of the Dark Hallway release, things really evolved dramatically. First of all, that 45 was like a mish mash of metal/punk pre-grunge I guess. I was heavily influenced by Gary Numan and yet, try as I did my vocal style was markedly different than his. It’s later that I appreciated that. But, see…I love ALL sorts of music. I mean, sometimes I’m just knee deep  into The Doors and more psychedelic shit and other days I’m into Dio and Sabbath and Type O Negative and Ministry and Rammstein. Other days it’s The Cure or Smashing Pumpkins or of course, classic Numan and Japan or Bauhaus. So, a lot of what I do depends on where I’m at and I guess when it comes to music, I’m moody as hell. hahahahahaha

Do you find the changes have been more of an organic movement of sound or you deliberately wanting to try new things?

I’d say the latter, yeah.

Presumably , and you have touched on them already, there is a wide range of inspirations; are there any in particular which have impacted not only on your music but your personal approach and ideas to creating and playing music?

So, I make a distinction between that which has inspired and that which has influenced more directly my own style. The artists/bands that have been inspirations are many. Gary Numan, KISS, Type O Negative, Black Sabbath, Rammstein, Japan (David Sylvian) Ozzy, Manson, Korn, Smashing Pumpkins, The Cure, Bauhaus, Zardonic, Fear Incorporated, Frost Like Ashes, CRIX IIX and the list is endless. As for those who have been influences, while they include some of the names listed already, I’d say Ministry, Skinny Puppy, Psyclon Nine, Die Sektor. As I always do in any interview, the band that will forever be my absolute favourite is The Doors. The Doors and Gary Numan are both at the top of my own personal ‘chart’.

I also want to give a shout out to Tim Muddiman and NOT because of his connection to Gary Numan. Tim has ventured into more graphic arts in recent years and he is doing some amazing work. THAT very much inspires me…or better yet…I honour the man as an artist in every sense of the word…as a true artist.

Is there a process to your songwriting which generally guides the birth of songs?

Yeah, mostly I start off with a vague idea of want kind of song I want to do, Then I begin with beats and drum patterns and bass lines or even synth lines. (it depends) I get a general idea of the direction I want to go in before going far into the track. So, I begin to choose the different sounds and samples/loops that I want as well to give it a mood. More often than not, I manipulate these and distort or whatever to make them unique. Then as the song evolves, there’s the question of whether or not I want a traditional chorus (often not because that’s too pop) and I allow the track to sort of dictate to me where it’s going. Sort of like a First Nations wood carver who allows the ‘wood’ to speak to them as they say. Then when I have a rough demo, I begin writing lyrics and then record vocals. That’s the tough part for many reasons. Lots of hit and miss with that process. I’ve written an entire set of lyrics for a song only to discover that something else would work better and I have to (at times) chop out some of the lyrics. Hard to explain.  Also, sometimes I record the vocals and it sounds like shit. I mean, there is a need for a different ‘style’ all together. After all the vocals are recorded, I go back and add more …sometimes a sample here or an FX noise there or whatever. I’m quite ADD so if there are any sort of ‘blank stare’ moments in a song…that’s unacceptable. It has to be busy. I’m told my music is VERY busy. Then there is the final mix which is a real pain in the ass. Sometimes even at that stage you decide… “nah…this is total shit”! It’s a bit of a drag when that happens though man because you’ve come all the way to a full song and you realize it isn’t happening.

Where do you, more often than not, draw the inspirations to the lyrical side of your songs?

First off, good for you for asking that because lyrics are important for me… I realize it’s not what the listener first becomes aware of…but for me, the lyrics are important. Anyway, so…I don’t write any lyrics with any sort of ‘agenda’. In other words, I don’t preach or dictate anything. I like a very poetic approach to the lyrics with lots of imagery. Now, that said, there are certain subjects that inspire me. I often write about religious themes or philosophical themes and often touch upon injustice and hypocrisy and hate and injustice for example. But I do so in veiled/poetic language. I want the listener to decide for themselves what it could mean.

Give us some background to your latest release.

 “Darkness Consumed” touches upon a few subjects…again in veiled language. One of the tracks is called “Pontiff’s Nightmare” which is actually about St. Francis. He more or less spooked the Pope at the time with his authentically radical life style and that Pope had a dream about Francis. Francis challenged the corruption of the time by the way he lived. “Salem Vigil” is sort of… but not completely about the Salem witch trials. The song actually addresses the unfortunate phenomenon of ‘religious people’ oppressing and persecuting people who don’t fit their narrow definition of what it means to be ‘good’ or ‘decent’ and ‘righteous’.  In the end, these arrogant and often ignorant people of so called ‘faith’ are the ones who are truly evil because of the harm they inflict on many borne out of their hatred and unenlightened worldview.  

Give us some insight to the themes and premise behind it and its songs.

So, “Darkness Consumed”…that very title isn’t a nod to evil or the promotion of ‘darkness’. It’s actually about the fact that somehow, ‘TRUTH’ (light) will ‘consume the darkness’ and overcome it. That’s sort of the idea in brief. As I said, I want people to decide for themselves however what something can mean for them.

Do you go into the studio with songs pretty much in their final state or prefer to develop them as you record?

Going back to the very first single “Dark Hallway”…I had everything figured out (with lyrics) when I presented the tracks to the band. I wrote the lyrics in English class (Dark Hallway) while under the influence of benzodiazepines. Hahahahahahaha We were reading “Death of a Salesman” in that class and it was, to say the least, a rather dark story. hahahahahaha

Tell us about the live side to Bleeding Raven.

I have lost the hearing in the left ear completely and totally. It happened in October…Very traumatic actually. I have to protect the little hearing I have left in the right ear which is at half capacity. I want to be able to hear the voices of the ones I love and the more natural sounds in life. For all intents and purposes…I’m deaf. Music is no longer an option. Especially live music, even if I wanted to do something live with a band. Music has been such an important part of my life obviously…but that’s over. That’s the future.

It is not easy for any new artist/band to make an impact regionally let alone nationally and further afield. How have you found it your neck of the woods? Are there the opportunities to make a mark if the drive is there for new bands?

You’re correct. It’s very difficult to ‘break through’ in this day and age. There’s just too much out there. I mean, everyone and their cat is putting stuff out. There are so many genres today and so many…MANY indie folks (like me) who have stuff out there and are competing with the ‘big boys and gals’. You have to be creative to get known because sadly, younger people are not interested in new music aside from what they become aware of through video games or TV/Movies. I mean, I’m seriously over generalizing perhaps but it is true that, young people today don’t appreciate music the way people did in the past. They don’t grasp the concept of music as ‘art’ anymore. That’s not their fault. But because of the technology that we have today and with social media platforms…there is too much out there and for younger people, music is just “there for the taking” the way fruit on trees is there to pluck. So, you have to be creative in how you get people to notice you today. It’s not easy.

How has the internet and social media impacted on the band to date? Do you see it as something destined to become a negative from a positive as the band grows and hopefully gets increasing success or is it more that bands struggling with it are lacking the knowledge and desire to keep it working to their advantage?

So, this is sort of a continuation of the previous question. Here’s the thing, the internet and social media and digital music etc. is here and it’s here to stay. We are still trying to adapt to this I suppose. Now, you could lament and dream of the “good old days” but that’s all it will ever be…a ‘dream’. Musicians/artists have to adapt. In many ways, it has been a blessing. Many artists would have never been able to put their stuff out there so to speak were it not for the kind of technology we have today. See, I picked up music again in 2012 but only as a hobby. I then, almost jokingly put some of my stuff out there as an indie/unsigned act and I eventually got a label deal with Cleopatra Records, which for me is phenomenal. I will have three releases with Cleopatra Records by end of 2020. (the last one is another Gnostic Gorilla album) I also have releases with three other labels. So, none of that would have happened were it not for the technology we have at our disposal. I guess it’s sort of what you make of it, like anything else.

Once again a big thanks for sharing time with us; anything you would like to add or reveal for the readers?

Thanks again to you for the great (and extensive) interview. Reveal?

Ok…I’m  B A T M A N.  Hahahahahahaha  No but, seriously, I thank the many people who have been supportive of me in one way or another…be it family or friends and certainly Benny at Cleopatra Records. As I said earlier, because of the extreme hearing loss (actually deaf completely in one ear and the other is severely compromised) …I have to pack it in with regards to music. I will promote what I have and will have out soon (already recorded obviously) and perhaps a book of lyrics and that’s it. Cheers.

Dean

https://bleedingraven.bandcamp.com/   https://www.facebook.com/bleedingravenofficial/   http://www.bleedingraven.com

Pete RingMaster 17/01/2020

Copyright RingMasterReview: MyFreeCopyright

Audra – Dear Tired Friends

photo by Jaymz

A decade is a long time to be without something but well worth the wait when it comes to the new album from post punks Audra. It is ten years since the Arizona hailing band released third album Everything Changes and it is fair to say a great many have been eagerly and patiently awaiting its successor and just as simple to assume they are going to greedily bask in the dark beauty of Dear Tired Friends.

Formed in 1991 and primarily brothers Bart and Bret Helm, Audra enfold the inspirations of post punk and its numerous shapers alongside the eclectic imagination found in the likes of the Velvet Underground, Jane’s Addiction, Joy Division, David Bowie, James, and Tom Waits within their sound. As Dear Tired Friends proves it emerges a riveting often haunting embrace of intimate shadows and bewitching melancholy framed in post punk starkness and gothic rock romanticism.

An album which “deals heavily with loss and letting go” and described as “a testimony of the effect the last decade had on each band member”, Dear Tired Friends opens up with the song Tired Friends and took barely a handful of seconds to seize attention with the sizzle of Bart’s guitar across the bold but controlled rhythms of the band’s drummer, Jason DeWolfe Barton. From there pure addiction grew as the track unveiled its post punk prowess around Bret’s potent tones, the imagination only further ensnared as a calmer passage of reflection bares the heart of the track. It is a compelling and irresistible start to the album and quickly followed and matched by the outstanding Wish No Harm.

This is a song which began back in the early nineties and reappeared on a cassette they found when the band was assembling demos for what originally was to be a 4-track EP. Completed last year, Bret adding lyrics and melody to the original demo, Wish No Harm became the lead single for Dear Tired Friends and there could be no finer invitation to the album. The opening bassline was immediate manna to the ears, its lure unapologetic flirtation echoing the core essence of eighties post punk and only enhanced by the swiftly following enticement of vocals and guitar. There is something of Bauhaus meets The Cure to the song with a just as flavoursome tease of bands such as Leitmotiv and Gene Loves Jezebel but nevertheless stands unique to Audra and their dark imagination.

Another Fallen Petal is next up, the song a slowly unfurling piece of emotive solemnity and melodic intimacy within the mournful yet radiant embrace of keys. With the pure captivation bred leaving a lingering presence in thoughts, the song simply beguiled as too its successor, Drinking Yourself To Sleep. Fuelled by an instinctive catchiness bred in all tracks however their darkness and character, the equally enthralling song bears a glam rock lining to its harmonic stroll with psych rock currents in its breath.

Sunglass provides another romance of ears, keys and vocals almost crawling over the senses with the subsequent blaze of guitar sparking a Bowie-esque hue to the soulful and atmospheric piece of dark rapture while Planet Of Me steps forward with a knowing swagger to its rousing virulence. Featuring Mike VanPortfleet of Lycia as guest on lead guitar, the track is a weave of contrasts and stirring imagination; it as striking in its calm as it is in its lively eddies of contagious enterprise.

Across the fertile almost invasive liveliness of Sliding Under Cars and its Numan-esque poppiness, through The Sound/The The styled bold rapture that is Fireflies, and over the doleful but enslaving fascination of 1987 we can only say that Dear Tired Friends engrained itself deeper under the skin and into the passions before Falling brought it all to a close with its dark wave nurtured seduction. Volatility lies in the heart of the song, never fully erupting but teasing fiery emissions to the surface as it adds to the inherent beauty and splendour which lines its shadowy magnificence.

We all may have lingered ten years for a new adventure with Audra but we can tell you that every long second was worth the wait and more.

Dear Tired Friends is out now digitally and on CD and vinyl; available @ https://audra.bandcamp.com/album/dear-tired-friends

https://www.audramusic.com/   https://www.facebook.com/audramusic   https://twitter.com/audramusiccom

Pete RingMaster 28/11/2019

Copyright RingMasterReview: MyFreeCopyright

Crooked Ghost – Colors Bleed

photo by Rome Widenhouse

If you look at the press release for new EP, Colors Bleed, it suggests the sounds within would make something appealing for the fans of bands such as The Smiths, Suede, The Cure, Muse, Siouxsie And The Banshees, Gun Club, and early R.E.M. With each a valid clue to the Crooked Ghost sound it is a list suggesting its thickly flavoured body but maybe not quite its distinctly fascinating and often consuming character.

Asheville, North Carolina hailing, Crooked Ghost has already made a potent impact in 2019 with their album Skeleton House, released this past February. Recorded with producer Edward Madill, Colors Bleed now sees the quintet cast tracks which are “bigger and brighter than those before” but within the shoegaze, post punk, and dream pop seeded tapestries there is no escaping the invasively intimate shadows and esurient often raw melancholy fuelling their hearts and imagination.

Latest single, Black Rainbow, opens up the release, its gentle melodic beginning an evocative coaxing. Soon it is building up into a creative crescendo, the lively rhythms of drummer Jon Wyatt uniting with the jangling prowess ringing from the guitars of Charles Reed and Ray Lark, with the latter’s similarly magnetic vocals swiftly adding to the catchy temptation. Already there is emotional weight and tempestuous to the track and its mental illness themed intimacy, the keys of Alex Cannon radiant smog within the textures as the bass of Chris Saldin brings firmer shape to its inherent shadows.

By the breath the song only intensifies its fears and emotional turbulence yet there is a melodic sun at its heart which just beguiled before Sinew In Red shared it’s even more fervid breath and conflict. Again there is an enveloping heat to sound and emotion at the core of the song, its dark embrace a fusion of enquiring warmth and invasive melancholy within the haunting bewitchment consuming ears and attention, it all enveloping like a kind of rapturous romance. As its predecessor, the track simply bewitched though again as with the first leaving a lingering touch built on doubt and hope in its wake.

The final pair of Golden Blue and Bright White Noise provided just as evocative explorations to keenly immerse in. The first rises from its crepuscular calm with melodic captivation wrapped in more strident sonic threads yet again there is instinctive warmth which seduces across both keys and guitars. Lark’s inimitable tones only add to the bracing emotion soaked soundscape, his voice and words crafted in open and candid reflection.

The closing song is in many ways the most intense and haunting track of all, its sorrow verging on claustrophobic and melancholy devouring  yet once more Crooked Ghost bring a glow and melodic captivation which lights its shadows alongside the listener’s thoughts and feelings.

Colors Bleed quickly proved a gripping release but became increasingly spellbinding as each fresh listen opened up more depth and temptation in its body and imagination.

Colors Bleed is out now: available@ https://crookedghost.bandcamp.com/album/colors-bleed

https://www.facebook.com/CrookedGhost   https://twitter.com/thecrookedghost

Pete RingMaster 05/11/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Dry Cleaning – Sweet Princess

Picture credit: Hanna-Katrina Jedrosz

There are times when you realise that unknowingly you have been waiting for a certain encounter and such is our feeling with the debut release from UK outfit Dry Cleaning. The Sweet Princess is a fascinating chunk of post punk/new wave drama which is openly inspired by the dark glories of the eighties but revels in an imagination and creative irreverence which wholly belongs to the London based quartet.

With a karaoke party in 2017 inspiring an instrumental collaboration, Dry Cleaning found its whole and voice with the addition of Florence Shaw six months later, she with no prior musical experiences joining Lewis Maynard, Tom Dowse, and Nick Buxton. Together they recorded the six-track Sweet Princess EP before playing their first show only last year which has been followed by headline shows and a tour with NYC’s Bodega. That live presence has already urged keen interest which their debut as a full introduction can only embrace and further ignite.

To try and place the sound of Dry Cleaning, it sits somewhere between Pylon and the Au Pairs with an originality which embraces some familiar hues but twists them to its own inventive devices. Shaw’s spoken word styled delivery sparks thoughts of Lesley Woods of the latter of the previously mentioned bands and at times The Anaemic Boyfriends, her words almost snatches of life and opinion woven together to create and echo kitchen sink situations as well as broader issues. EP opener, Goodnight quickly reveals it is a potent and striking incitement just as magnetically matched by the sounds which stride alongside. The first song concussively strikes like a sonic cobra before breaking into a virulent stride the Gang Of Four would be proud of. Vocals and rhythms collude in their temptation, the insistence of the latter led by the throbbing bass irresistible as guitars add their choppy lures and beats swing with matching rapacity. A melodic hook right out of the Buzzcocks songbook is extra manna to devour as it entwines the intimacy of word and reflection.

The following New Job quickly proved itself to be just as tantalising, also needing mere seconds and breaths to tempt and enslave as beats draw in another eagerly enticing hook aligned to the melodic tones of Shaw. Its punk breeding is soon released in flames of jangling guitar, a Raincoats meets early Cure spicing lining the track’s irreverence romance of discord.

An ode to the Duchess of Sussex and look at the intent and deeds of the media towards such celebrities, Magic of Meghan entangled ears in a guitar bred web from the off, appetite only further bound as the song  sets off on a sonic saunter driven by the band’s ever tenacious rhythmic nagging with its Artery-esque agility. As its predecessors, it burrowed deep within the skin and enslaved in no time, a prowess just as hungry within the dark crawling proposition of Traditional Fish. Even in its almost predatory prowl there is an energy which is pure incitement as too is the melodic and sonic wiring that threads its Feelies like body.

For all the references Dry Cleaning is a band which only uncages a sense of uniqueness in its sound as evidenced once more within Phone Scam. There is a Fire Engines hue to the guitar as the song shapes its refreshing presence around Shaw’s ever potent collage of words and phrases; that alone proving enough to incite greed though it is the delicious bass and drums propelled lure at its core which turned greed into lust.

Concluded by the keenly swinging sonic shimmer of Conversation, the song a final piece of dark and pulsating imagination, Sweet Princess is a release we for one cannot get enough of. Over far too soon, the EP sparked excitement as thickly as pleasure; at times that is a rare find in music but easy to imagine the first of many alongside Dry Cleaning.

Sweet Princess is out now via It’s OK; available @ https://drycleaning.bandcamp.com/releases

A

Canshaker Pi – Naughty Naughty Violence

The word is that Dutch outfit Canshaker Pi is one emerging proposition sparking excitement and keen attention at every turn.  Now having been introduced to them through their first album it is easy to hear why. Naughty Naughty Violence is a devilishly magnetic and creatively mischievous indie rock romp; one spawned from a fusion of ear grabbing flavours equipped with an arsenal of hooks to make a Cenobite jealous.

The Amsterdam band’s sound is bred through varied strains of rock, punk, indie, and noise woven into a web of rhythmic and sonic manipulation. Since forming, the quartet has earned increasing attention and praise through their music and a live presence which has seen them share stages with the likes of The Cribs, Car Seat Headrest, Parquet Courts, Pip Blom, and Scott Kannberg’s Spiral Stairs and this year alone gather plaudits from playing Eurosonic, SXSW, and The Great Escape. That Pavement link is maybe no surprise as the band’s sound has a certain spicing of them and no doubt helped the band grab support slot on Kannberg’s side project’s tour in 2017 and continues with Canshaker Pi’s debut album being produced by Stephen Malkmus.

Naughty Naughty Violence swiftly shows that there is a definite individuality to Canshaker Pi’s sound, one not necessarily unique but springing a fresh and distinct character of imagination and flavouring which quickly got under our skin. Album opener is Pressure From Above, a song instantly teasing with an electronic wag of its creative finger and soon bursting into a fuzz fired boisterous stroll. As calm vocals join in, the track relaxes but is soon romping again bringing greater clamour and tenacity to its contagious rock ‘n’ roll. Already it is easy to sense that Pavement inspiration and too of bands like The Mai Shi, a kaleidoscope of hooks and melodic unpredictability additionally lighting the great beginning to the release.

It is a start soon eclipsed though, the initial off-kilter sonic lure of next up Tonsil enough alone to ignite our discord loving instincts. It is a kind of false start but the trigger to the glorious swagger wearing exploits of the track, that continuing discord a delicious clamour of temptation and trespass often enticing like a raw pop fuelled mix of Shellac and The Melvins. The final sonic sigh of the track drifts into the opening vocal and sonic discordance of Sooner Later. Around a compelling bass throb, the brief but dramatic track ignites and disrupts the senses, noise and voice a volatile incitement driven by the irresistible manipulation of the drums.

Three tracks in and fair to say we were hooked and only dangling with further enjoyment as Smurf uncaged its infectious canter like a grunge inspired Fountains of Wayne next with the following If Kelly Doesn’t, Then Who Will calming things down with its melodic and rhythmic pop ‘n’ roll. Neither track quite sparked the more lustful responses caused by their predecessors but ears could not evade being caught up in their individual and increasingly persuasive captivations; the latter especially as it just blossomed play by play to have us bouncing around as forcibly as its own endeavour.

But Why provided one minute of rousing noise rock next, rhythms humping ears as guitars meddle with the senses and vocals tease. With not even a breath allowed between them, No Sack, No Way saunters in to match its success, an immediate ear enslaving hook steering its lure. It is matched in magnetism by bass and vocals, each a controlled but virulent tempting entangling for even greater seduction of the imagination. Pop rock has rarely been heard more addictively in our speakers though its successor Put A Record Out with its ballsier rock ‘n’ roll was more than a match as it unleashed its resourcefully fiery clamour around further rhythmic machination.

In contrast to its raucous blaze, Legless provided a calm almost solemn amble through sound and imagination. The outstanding track carries something of early Cure meets Dinosaur Jr to its tantalising slow post punk sway while The Indie Academy straight after is up on its heels swinging along with pop rock devilment to almost as imposingly please.

The final pair of Half Book and Beautiful World brings the album to a potent conclusion, the first of the two again inventively merging flavours and eras with its post punk/pop punk infested rock before the second leaves ears immersed in a shadow wrapped melancholic croon with its own infectious gait and enterprise boiling up to a rousing corrosive climax.

Naughty Naughty Violence is an album which was really hard to move on from which tells you all about its exploits and temptations. As we said at the start, Canshaker Pi is being very highly talked of right now, their new album gives all the reasons why.

Naughty Naughty Violence is out now through Excelsior Recordings.

http://www.canshakerpi.nl/   https://www.facebook.com/CanshakerPi/   https://twitter.com/CanshakerPi

Pete RingMaster 05/06/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Kudzu – Defeated

With a sound as eclectic and unpredictable as it is ravenously catchy, US synth pop duo Kudzu have just released their new album, Defeated. It is an infestation of infectious hooks, flirtatious synths, and rousing escapades but to tag it merely as synth pop is an injustice to its diversity, the album a stirring web of post punk, electro punk, industrial and more across its seriously magnetic body.

Springfield based Kudzu consists of Seth Goodwin (vocals, synth, and drum programming) and Mark Gillenwaters (vocals and guitar). Inspirations to the project include the likes of Tears For Fears, The Cure, Spectrum, Guided by Voices, Sympathy Nervous, and This Heat but as suggested, their sound has a much broader tapestry which is as bred in the seventies/eighties synth landscape as the creative now. It makes for a proposition which is as familiar as it is boldly fresh and one massive treat of a listen.

It opens with the punk assault of Some Cops, a track bursting from its electronic shimmer with zeal and urgency soaked in creative dissonance. At the same time it is a virulently catchy incitement, its fuzzy fumes leaving the senses as woozy as the bone shuddering beats. Like Calling All Astronauts meets Artery at its core, the song equally embraces psych rock winds in its contagious turbulence to provide Defeated with one ear grabbing start.

Straight away the variety of the album is at play as the following and quite superb No Backbone breaks the dividing peace with electro pulses straight out of the early Mute Records catalogue. Instantly thoughts of bands like The Normal arise but are soon pushed to the background as guitar spun melodies and harmonic vocals tease and caress respectively.  The hook Gillenwaters casts with his strings is simply delicious, a psyche enslaving lure soon backed by the darker pulsation of keys and the snapping resonance of rhythms; kind of like a fusion of B-Movie, The Cure, and Modern English yet unique from start to finish.

The album’s title track brings a scuzzier breath to ears; its post punk irritability echoed in the John Lydon textured vocals but again there is a repetitious coaxing teasing and tempting at the centre of the fuzz ball which necessitates only submission to its infectious demands. As its predecessor, it brings another hue to Defeated as does next up Burn Yourself, though its electro punk surge is akin to the opener. With the increasingly magnetic vocals almost gliding over the tides of noise springing from synths and guitar, it was so easy to be swept up in the raw yet skilfully nurtured arms of the track as thoughts colluded with its lyrical insight. Defeated is described as “a reaction to mounting disappointments and frustrations with increasingly frustrating and disappointing realities” and with intimacy and a worldly observation its often dissonant words hit the spot whilst almost arguing with the rousing catchiness of their vehicles.

The mesmeric Balking the Grave is next, the song a riveting post/gothic punk shadow bound serenade which almost seeps under the skin with its slow drawl and bordering concussive clang while Sleep in Disguise is a boisterous slice of synth pop/new wave with the scent of bands like Mr.Kitty, OMD, and early Human League to its bright if slightly caustic breeze.  Both tracks border the irresistible yet still get slightly outshine by One Purpose with its flirtatious Blancmange like melodies and climate.

One definite peak in the lofty heights of Defeated is followed by the ear grabbing proposal of When You Were Mine. The song is almost like a weave of the best traits of its predecessors, a tenacious pop song with attitude and seduction in its raw charms which manages to grumble and serenade in the same breath before leaving to allow B.I.Y.E. to bring things to a transfixing close. With its cold scenery and instinctive bounce, the song merges the alluring traits of a Joy Division and Modern Eon in its industrially edged and melodically draped canter. It is a fine end to an album which we are finding hard to shake off as new propositions to look at build up. That is never a bad aspect to have and as Defeated is so enjoyable we are certainly not complaining.

Defeated is out now via Push & Pull Records; available @ https://kudzukudzukudzu.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/kudzuspringfield/    https://twitter.com/kudzuzudukudzu

Pete RingMaster 09/03/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Secret Sight – Shared Loneliness

Back in 2014, we like so many others were impressed and hooked on the debut album from Secret Sight. It was a release which surprised having come out of the blue awareness wise and introduced us to the captivating dark post punk/gothic rock sound of the Italian band. Now the Ancona hailing outfit has repeated the feat with their second full-length, Shared Loneliness; a collection of songs as striking and captivating as their predecessors but with a maturity and enterprise which sets it apart.

Secret Sight emerged the same year as their Red Cat Records released debut album Day.Night.Life, though there is a 2013 self-titled EP under the name Coldwave before then. Recorded with Paolo Rossi (Soviet Soviet, Be Forest, Brothers In Law), Day.Night.Life swiftly sparked support and praise carrying attention, the band supporting its release with an extensive tour around Italy, Switzerland and Austria where the plaudits continued coming. A quartet at the time, the band has since slimmed to a trio with former vocalist Matteo Schipsi leaving, vocals being shared across guitarist/synth player Cristiano Poli and bassist/synth player Lucio Cristino. With its line-up completed by the dramatic rhythms of Enrico Bartolini, Secret Sight linked up with producer Alessandro Ovi Sportelli for Shared Loneliness, resulting in an album which has mellowed out in regard to the raw edged post punk tone of its predecessor but blossomed in its haunting melancholic drama and melodic suggestiveness.

As with their first album, the band’s sound harkens back to eighties post punk/new wave and their gothic companions but with a bolder identity and imagination belonging to Secret Shine. It opens with Lowest Point, the initial coaxing mist of synths soon joined by the atmospheric lures of guitar and bass, keys simultaneously thickening as melodies simmer and echo in the ears. The instrumental’s shadows carry over into the following Stage Lights where the mesmeric groan of the bass and aligning dark textures seduce the imagination ready for the song’s spirited stroll which erupts soon after. Like a fusion of Leitmotiv and The Sound the track dances on the senses, its rhythmic shuffle sculpting their own catchy charm to the temptation. Superb in voice and enterprise, the song swiftly grips attention, vocals as enticing as the sounds around them and with a great nagging essence to its tenacious rhythms, infectious melodies, and tantalising hooks, the tone and heart for the album is set.

The following Blindmind matches its success with its own compelling design and creative intimacy. As in the last song Cristino’s bass makes an addictive proposal, moody and melancholic in its bold exploits with the same traits fuelling the adventure and intimation of Poli’s guitar which beguiles the imagination in its own right. To be honest all three musicians seize attention with their individual prowess but uniting perfectly to create an even greater temptation, that aforementioned maturity lining every twist and turn.

There is also a breath and tone to the song which reminds of The Cure around their second album, a thick shadow draped air which is as open in songs like next up Fallen and its successor Flowers if to lesser degrees. The first of the two similarly bounds through ears, emotively conjured melodies webbing its rhythmic canter as a China Crisis like catchiness brews while the second with a calmer energy has something of a Modern English to it. Though neither song quite matches up to those before them each leaves pleasure high and attention glued before Swan’s Smile envelops the senses and drives the spirit with its sprightly canter. With a scent of The Danse Society cast, the track simply made an already keen appetite hungrier for more, a want quickly satisfied by the rampant dynamics of Over led by the skilful endeavour of Bartolini. A fusion of post punk with gothic and synth pop, it is a rousingly infectious affair with theatre in its veins and emotional drama in its voice.

The pair of Surprising Lord and Sometimes completes the album in compelling style, the first a pulsating and again relentlessly catchy incitement on body and pleasure as dark and imposing as it is hopeful and anthemic. The evocative balladry of the final track ensures the pleasure listening to Shared Loneliness is relentless even if the song does not quite meet the lofty heights of many of its companions such their might. Epitomising the release in its emotional depth and musical enterprise, it is a fine end to another mouth-watering outing with Secret Sight.

We suggest focusing on the CD edition of the album as it carries a quite excellent cover of The Sound song The Fire as a bonus track, Secret Sight not detouring too far from the original but giving it all the energy and passion it and that great band deserves; just a shame it is not on all versions.

Shared Loneliness is available now through Manic Depression Records for its vinyl edition, Unknown Pleasures Records for the CD, and digitally @ https://secretsight.bandcamp.com

https://www.facebook.com/secretsight

Pete RingMaster 16/01/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright