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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Old House Playground – 21st Century Glory

OHP_RingMaster Review

Having already seduced 2015 with their dark blues honed rock ‘n’ roll courtesy of The Great Escape EP, UK homed Old House Playground do it again with their new single 21st Century Glory. Continuing the compelling and fiercely alluring sound of their last release, the Manchester based trio take ears and imagination into another shadow built and gothic aired adventure, a creative escapade as seeded in “the songwriting culture of traditional Greek folk music” as it is the noir spawned recesses of modern blues rock. The result is a pair of songs which bewitch and inspire, and a single sure to add pressure on the richest spotlights to wake up to the impressive band.

Athens bred, Old House Playground relocated to Manchester in 2009, to “experiment with new musical paths and forms of expression.” Consisting then of vocalist/guitarist Tryfon Lazos, drummer Andreas Venetantes, and bassist Conor Loughran, the band drew on inspirations from the likes of Tom Waits, Django Reinhardt, Nick Cave as well as Greek artists Psarantonis and Marcos Vamvakaris as their sound’s character and voice evolved. After the departure of Loughran, the remaining pair recorded debut album God Damn That Gold with producer/musician Chris Evans, its release coming in 2013 through Evening Economies/Fat Bob Records. Well received and praised, the full-length led to a collaboration with Durutti Column, that leading to Lazos singing onstage alongside Vini Reilly. The addition of bassist Jago Furnas was made in 2014, with the threesome going on to record, and earlier this year release, The Great Escape.

21st Century Glory Artwork_RingMaster Review   Now it is the turn of 21st Century Glory to whip up ears and appetites, a success quickly in motion as the track opens with flames of brass upon strolling rhythms and fiery guitar coaxing. The distinctive tones of Lazos are soon adding to the temptation as the song itself entwines strands of blues and jazz into its emerging sultry swing within an imagination driven intent. As with their previous release, strong hints of artists like Tom Waits, Nick Cave, and The Doors collude with the scent of others like Eighties B-Line Train Disaster and Bernaccia, yet what emerges is a mischievous proposal that stands alone as an Old House Playground incitement. The virulent nature of the song continues to enslave, even as the guitar at times creates a fuzzy sizzle of persuasion; that underlying catchiness perpetual and inescapable bait throughout.

The song is bewitching; a lively shuffle of gothic intrigue and tenacious sultriness, matched in kind by the accompanying Love And Other Demons. A slower rockabilly coloured saunter, the song courts ears and imagination with the guile of The Stray Cats and the tangy noir scent of Chris Isaak, whispers of Gene Vincent and Harry Connick, Jr. also lighting its presence as it swaggers along with poise and charm. As restrained as it is in comparison to its companion, there is zeal to its persuasion and presence which seems to know it is something special as it infests the psyche.

Like a great many, Old House Playground is proving to be a band we cannot get enough of, so if you have yet to be infected by their majestic dark alchemy, we suggest 21st Century Glory is the perfect way to be first bitten by them.

21st Century Glory is out now via Horus Music.

Pete RingMaster 17/11/2015

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The Mojo Slide -Twist Your Bones


mojo slide_RingMaster Review

Uniting blues and rock ‘n’ roll, and many other colours with their own feverish climate of imagination and dirt encrusted textures, UK rockers The Mojo Slide release their first album this month, an encounter as fiery and sonically smoky as an alcohol fuelled barbecue. Twist Your Bones offers eleven faces of blues scented dark rock ‘n’ roll, each song a fresh twist on another whilst breeding their own distinctive dose of contagious devilry.

It is an infection loaded flavouring which has captured loyal and eager support for the Cambridge, St Neots, and Cambridgeshire hailing quintet since they formed in 2011. Locally and further afield, The Mojo Slide has built a rich reputation for their live stomp, an earned stature backed by a clutch of singles leading to the release of their gripping full-length debut, it a proposition easy to imagine pushing the band to national attention with the potential for much more.

Twist Your Bones opens with the glorious Addicted, a song which from its first breath of scuzzy guitar seizes ears and attention. In a few moments more rhythms are strolling with carnival-esque revelry as the voice of Mark Wilks stands astride sharing the track’s narrative like a side show barker. With quaint keys courting the thick enticing of Mike Fenna’s guitar backed in potency by the prowess of rhythm guitarist Matt Legg, the song swings along with vaudevillian virulence, simultaneously riding a rhythmic contagion cast by bassist Danny Savage and drummer Michael Graham. There is a touch of Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers to the impressive opener which continues into the just as thrilling Jesus Don’t Love Me. The second song similarly opens on thick guitar bait, scything riffs aligning with a throaty bassline too as an instant catchiness comes the way of the vocals. Again as its predecessor, the outstanding track has its and the listener’s hips swinging with zeal whilst it roams the imagination with a jazz/funk bred tenacity entwined in warped rock ‘n’ roll.

The Mojo Slide - Twist Your Bones - Front Cover art_RingMaster Review     From an old single to the band’s new one in the warm embrace of Smiling. Just released to make a potent teaser for the album, the country bloomed croon gently glides along on a southern twang and again highly enjoyable vocals, that union alone brewing a catchy tempting under the track’s sultry air and blues seamed The Black Keys type serenade. Though not as dramatic as the first two, the song reveals the depth and adventure to the band’s songwriting and sound whilst indeed laying down a strong invitation for Twist Your Bones.

The following High is a blaze of harmonic and sonic causticity and again an inescapably addictive persuasion, with Wilks the ringleader of a gloriously compelling chorus and the energetic bubbling of blues acidity around it. As many songs, there is a sense of recognition to the inspirations and flavours within the song, yet brewed and boiled up into a distinctive swagger. Norwegian rockers Electric Woodland do come to mind during already another big highlight of the album but as suggested, only a welcoming spice in The Mojo Slide stomp.

     Make You Bleed is similarly styled sound wise but leaning more towards a Rolling Stones meets White Stripes flame of sonic seduction whilst previous single Bad In Every Bone, is a slice of delta blues inspired tempting spun by the conflagrant craft and enterprise of the guitars. Stalked by the throaty shadows of bass and intimidating beats, the track seduces as it prowls, adding a funk infused essence to its blues which definitely has a tang of Red Hot Chili Peppers to it. Both tracks impress and get the body keenly moving, with the latter a real incendiary incitement before Rattlesnake Humbug Blues gets feet and hips bursting with further energy with its classic Jerry Lee Lewis toned rock ‘n’ roll.

A transfixing dance of vintage/modern keys brings a captivating texture and enticement to The Ballad Of Satan The Devil next, at times the song laying a Doors like touch on ears whilst in other moments eighties electro pop nudges as an Arctic Monkeys like spicing lurks in the heated roar of the song. It is another shade of sound and creativity in the album, as mentioned its diversity an enjoyable trait continuing in the Dylan-esque canter of Little Bird and in turn the soul blues meets rockabilly, bluegrass seeded Drunk Dog Blues. If an appetite for the album was wavering, something highly unlikely as we found, the track chains it back up again in rich style, quickly backed by the closing psych rock burn of The Sky Is Falling In, a sizzling ramble of rock ‘n’ roll also searing ears and exciting the senses.

For those with a bent for blues and firebrand rock ‘n’ roll, Twist Your Bones is a must, but equally it has a twisted and slightly psychotic tinge to its voice and invention which will appeal to those with a taste for bold alternative adventures. Our recommendation is to go find out if it is for you anyway as fun is a sure fire reward.

Twist Your Bones is released November 14th @–2

Pete RingMaster 11/11/2015

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Steaming Satellites – Self Titled

Steaming Satellites_RingMaster Review

Steaming Satellites is an Austrian band that for the past ten years has been a major lure and adventure in their country’s music scene, underground and within stronger spotlights. The fact that it has taken their new and third album to find, like for so many others, our attention shows how little of the vast music world anyone has a hold on at any given time. We can only be thankful that the Salzburg band’s new self-titled release has found its way through to thrill ears and ignite the imagination though because it is simply bewitching.

Consisting of Max Borchardt (vocals/guitar), Emanuel Krimplstätter (keys/bass), Matthäus Weber (drums, programming, keys), and the recently joined Manfred Mader (bass), Steaming Satellites casts a sound bred from indie rock but welcoming to an array of flavours from blues, funk, soul, and electronic enterprise. Their previous pair of albums were strongly acclaimed propositions whilst live, with shows alongside bands such as Thin Lizzy, The Ravonettes, and Portugal. The Man amongst a great many, the band has earned a potent reputation for sound and performance. Now it is the turn of album three to stir things up and as for the umpteenth time the release lights our ears and revitalises emotions, the thought of Steaming Satellites becoming a ‘household’ name across numerous territories seems a thick possibility.

It opens with Together and a caress of acoustic guitar; a gentle coaxing aided by the immediately enticing and expressive tones of Borchardt. Soon stringed tempting wraps around ears and in turn a dark moody bassline strolls through the emerging colourful and creative landscape of the song. As keys jab and harmonies unite, the song blossoms into an infectious romance for the imagination and a swiftly open appetite for the release. As catchiness and shadow kissed drama similarly grows within the fascinating proposal, feet and hips become eager whilst thoughts only greedily consume the impressive entrance of the album.

cover_RingMaster Review   Its indie rock swing is emulated in the following Rocket, though electro tempting is the first bait to engage ears to lead them into the military funk of the rhythms and the fiery dance of the guitar. Its air becomes a sultry breath at certain points, always returning to its lively endeavour though as varied spices burst from the festive heart of the track, again with feet and voice in eager involvement. Like The Flaming Lips trying on the psych rock of The Doors and the creative intimacy of Billy Momo, the song excites before departing, leaving lingering trails behind it though the fuzzy revelry of Unreal soon has attention all to itself thanks to jangly hooks and a deliciously roaming, slightly grouchy bassline which toys with the melodic radiance of the keys and harmonies. At its heart, the track is a funk bred romp but as already shown, Steaming Satellites never leave anything to settle into predictability, always keeping invention and surprises potently shimmering.

Both Honey and Restless Robot keep pleasure high and enterprise blooming, the first with its tangy Arctic Monkeys/Kings of Leon shuffle within a flirtatious smile and the second through a rhythmically dark and sonically sultry Portugal. The Man meets Futureheads tango. There are many other slithers of spice bringing a whisper of varied bands to the song, and album, but in the hands of Steaming Satellites all get turned inside out and honed into something unique and as here forcibly captivating.

Door is a heavier emotive croon which, without matching the successes before it, enthrals with its evocative textures and instinctive bounce aligning perfectly with the song’s moodier atmosphere and vocal heart whilst Circles slips into a bluesy Black Keys-esque character with stomping riffs, crisp rhythms, and spicy grooving. It too pleases without tapping up the lustier reactions found by earlier songs and definitely ignited by the outstanding Unfold straight after. The track is pure magnetism, a resourceful serenade of intimate vocals and emotive smouldering which just gets bigger and more persuasively spellbinding with every passing chord and melodic spice. It is as much an anthem as any raucous sing-a-long rocker, a compelling contagion of sixties keys, seventies melodic drama, and indie imagination.

Through the raunchier funk ‘n’ roll of Back And Forth, the feisty post punk meets indie/electro rock of Phone, and the dark White Stripes rock ‘n’ roll of Fill The Cup, album and listener continue to be fully involved in each other whilst Secret Desire employs a more restrained stride and melodic haze to its crystalline sparkle of keys and guitar to further engage the imagination. Tempered by the earthier tones of the bass and the grounded delivery of Borchardt, the track is the perfect blend of dark and light; maybe a slower burn on the passions than other treats within the album but another leaving long term hooks in its wake.

The album is completed by Move On, a gorgeous slice of lively balladry cored by ever impressing vocals and coloured by a virulent and imaginative tapestry of melodic and sonic colour. The track is a tremendous end to an outstanding release, an encounter which gets more commanding with every listen. It is hard to imagine Steaming Satellites being a relative secret from now on, but then as we said music is so big that the ease with which one can miss things is inescapable. Our suggestion is that band and album, is not another you allow to pass you by though.

The Steaming Satellites album is out from October 30th

Pete Ringmaster 29/10/2015

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Archie and the Bunkers – Self Titled

Promo'15B_RingMaster Review

Dubbed as ‘Hi-Fi Organ Punk’, the Archie and the Bunkers sound, to simplify things, is a compelling mix of garage punk and masterfully stripped back rock ‘n’ roll infused with a contagious revelry which has ears and imagination spinning. Created on drums, organ, and vocals alone, it is an enticing which has feet and emotions fully involved in scant minutes whilst in regard to its creators, to use the phrase Paul from Dirty Water Records, who are releasing the US duo’s self-titled debut album, used when introducing them to us, “There is no one like them.

Formed in 2013 with a name inspired by a character in the classic US television sitcom All in the Family and its spin-off Archie Bunker’s Place, Archie And The Bunkers is the creative union of brothers Emmett (drums/vocals) and Cullen (organ/vocals). Weaving in inspirations from the likes of Dead Boys, The Animals, The Stooges, The Screamers, The Damned, Jimmy Smith, and Richard ‘Groove’ Holmes into their strikingly unique romps of attitude loaded sound, the teenagers began recording in their basement with the subsequent self-produced EPs Comrade X. and Trade Winds being released in 2013 and ‘14 respectively. Sculpted from the inventive and often skilfully agitated rhythms of Emmett and Cullen’s whirling vintage organ sound, the bands songs are a diverse fusion of blues, acid jazz, and psych rock melded into a core old school punk and garage rock devilment. As the band’s debut album shows, it is a tapestry that is wonderfully raw and intrusive whilst being simultaneously a lingering and bewitching tempting. Its flavours are often recognisable, and influences open but with the instinctive unfussy yet intricate invention of the brothers, it is a proposition like no other.

Standard 3mm Spine Album_RingMaster Review   Recorded with legendary producer/engineer Jim Diamond at Ghetto Recorders in Detroit, the Archie and the Bunkers album opens with the dark seducing of Sally Lou. Opening with percussive coaxing and almost as quickly the heavy haunting of organ, the song subsequently slips into gear and a gentle but purposeful stroll. As Cullen’s fingers dance over the keys of his nostalgia oozing instrument with at times, as in many songs, a potent hue of The Stranglers’ Dave Greenfield to its melodic weave, vocals twist and turn in emotion and intensity as slower croons evolve into brawling squalls and vice versa. It is a thick persuasion to start things off but one soon outshone by the energetic stomp of Lady in RKO. The dark psych ‘n’ roll of the starter is replaced by a coarser post punk swagger with more than a tone of The Fall to it, especially in the rhythmic shuffle and vocal incitement offered. The keys again hone a Doors bred melodic adventure into something distinct to the imagination of Archie and the Bunkers, but fair to say if you have ever imagined what music an illegitimate offspring of Jim Morrison and Mark E. Smith might conjure, this song is your answer.

   I’m Not Really Sure What I’m Gonna Do takes over with a ska infused entrance, the organ twisting into the opposite direction every time ears expect the track to bounce along on that kind of saunter. The chosen path is just as vibrantly magnetic and infectious though, its punk/psych catchiness an irresistible recruitment of body and appetite with a healthy dose of creative and vocal ire to its character. It is a blend not so thick in the following Knifuli Knifula, though its flirtatious weave of melodic spicery has darker hues hinting and suggesting too as feet get wrapped up in its addictive dance. Moving into slower more sonically sultry scenery only adds to the inventive theatre working away on the imagination whilst vocally the duo keep the garage and punk heart of their music potently lit for an already very keen appetite for the album by this point.

Roaming organ enticing over voraciously rolling beats brings You’re the Victim into ears next, its infectious bait unrelenting as the song expands its breath of vocal confrontation and enthralling melodic colour. The track is sheer captivation, the craft of both brothers as eclectic as it is impressively resourceful allowing the song itself to nudge individual thoughts of The Animals, Into The Whale and once or twice The Ramones across its fiery seducing.

Each passing song seems to increase the strength and impressiveness of the album, Different Track vigorously prowling ears with its belligerent voice and creative psychosis, emerging like a mix of The Dropper’s Neck and Asylums sent back to the sixties/seventies and dragged back to now kicking and screaming. It, as those before it, just whips up swift intrigue and hunger for more, which is just what the outstanding Miss Taylor with its rhythmic tenacity courted by the flowing temptation of the organ provides in riveting style. There is just time to catch a breath as the exceptional warped waltz relinquishes its grip, a moment for a quick gasp before Austria brings its cosmopolitan intrigue and great repetitive enticement to tease and excite ears and imagination. Once more, a scent of The Stranglers lines and spices up the excellent encroachment of sound and suggestion to leave satisfaction full and that urge for more rampant.

I Wish I Could ensures the thrills keep coming; its jerky energy and mischievous nature inciting an infection loaded slice of power pop built on the mischief of The Dickies and the plain stirring roar of Dead Boys whilst Trade Winds stomps around with even more seventies punk fuel to its raucous brawl of dirty addictiveness. The two songs steal the show upon the album, certainly emerging as the biggest favourites amongst nothing but, though they are quickly rivalled by the post punk/new wave/psych rock amalgam that is The Last Stooge. Again a thick grin is drawn by its brief but bracing ingenuity of sound and craft, a smile which started on track one and only ever ebbs and flows in its broadness across the rest of the album.

Completed by the tantalising instrumental serenade of Joanie, it is almost impossible to escape the lure of Archie and the Bunkers, band and album, without at least one more thick listen of at least a song or two, or more, not that there are any complaints of course. Your favourite album of the year it just might be, something unique to others it certainly is.

Archie and the Bunkers is out now via Dirty Water Records @!/Archie-and-the-Bunkers/c/13761039/offset=0&sort=normal

Pete RingMaster 27/10/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Deepshade – Everything Popular Is Wrong

Deepshade Promo Colour Picture_RingMaster Review

Highly anticipated by many and set to excite a whole new crowd of hungry appetites for the band’s sound, UK band Deepshade release debut album Everything Popular Is Wrong. It is a masterful and magnetic fusion of alternative and psych rock with grungy tendencies and thick streams of imagination across ten exciting slices of sonic fascination. Imagine The Doors meets Queens Of The Stone Age with the occasional rich tonic of anarchic energy from Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster or Engerica, and you get a whiff of the magnificence lying in wait within Everything Popular Is Wrong.

Wigan bred Deepshade was formed in 2013 by vocalist/guitarist David Rybka, bassist Tom Doherty, and drummer Paul Barlow. Little time passed before the trio enticed a potent and loyal local following and began being featured on the likes of BBC Introducing and numerous shows and alternative radio stations within Britain, Europe, and the USA; The Guardian newspaper announcing Deepshade around the same time one of the ‘Hot Top Ten Unsigned British Bands To Check Out’. Their presence and reputation continues to grow and now with the band recently signing with Ambicon Music Group, the national release of Everything Popular Is Wrong allows the country and beyond to hear why.

Deepshade Cover Artwork_RingMaster ReviewRecorded with producer John Kettle (Merry Hell, Moko, Tansads) and mastered by Fran Ashcroft (Spin Jupiter Spin, Gorillaz), Everything Popular is Wrong opens with the tantalising shuffle of Time and an immediate lure of spicy grooves and just as vibrant riffs and rhythms. Seventies spice colludes with nineties fuzziness straight away, whilst an underlying snarl carries an alternative/punk snarl to echo the description given a few lines earlier. The string invention of Rybka matches his vocal prowess whilst the dark lines of Doherty and firm swings of Barlow cast hefty shadows and a driving energy to devour swiftly.

It is a great start but soon put in the shade a touch by its successor and increasingly so by the following pair of songs. The Line is next up and quickly leaps into a bluesy revelry with again irresistible tangy grooves and thumping beats courted by a growling bassline. Feet and hips are soon taken for a feisty ride by the track, its bracing energy as lively and infectious as the fiery nuances toning every subsequent melody and sonic temptation.

Out Of Hand steps up next to raise the bar again, its slower warm stroll hypnotically coaxing sonically entwined ears, subsequently leading them into a web of virulent hooks and melodic incitement. Again there is a raw air and scuzzy hue to it all which only adds to the addictive drama and the gripping tension which seems to breed within the track as it explores its invention and the imagination. As outstanding as it is, Tattoo shows it a clean pair of heels. Released as a free download earlier this year and understandably being part of the reason why so many were hungry for Everything Popular Is Wrong, the song prowls with a flirty if predatory gait and an open creative devilry similar to The Dropper’s Neck, slipping into fierce and fiery expulsions of noisy enticement from time to time too. Quite simply the track is like a lap dance for ears, swinging slim rhythmic hips wrapped in sonic curves with temperatures rising accordingly.

A southern breeze joins the melodic caress of the following Haven’t Said A Word, it a Kyuss like tempting which feeds the dirtily textured crescendos of intensity and emotions which erupt throughout the mesmeric and increasingly evolving croon whilst Bring The Axe Down straight after, twists a rockabilly like riff into a virulent seduction equipped with off-kilter imaginations of sound and theatre. The song is sensational, something akin to Josh Homme and Guy McKnight redesigning Powersolo and ridiculously more addictive with every listen; stealing the show each and every time.

Lowlights arguably carries the thickest grunge hues within the album in its creative body, its Alice in Chains/ QOTSA serenade a rousing proposal often as bruising as it is melancholically reflective whereas The Mud, The Blood, and The Tears (written as The Blood, The Mud, and The Tears on the album cover so take your pick) casts an enthralling bewitchment drawing on essences of Jim Morrison and co, The Walker Brothers, and Pearl Jam, and turning them into something unique and spellbinding to Deepshade.

The final two songs upon Everything Popular Is Wrong ensure the album continues to excite from a great height; Chairman first to spring a gentle yet agitated swing within sultry melodies across atmospheric skies as vocal harmonies captivate and the bass of Tom Doherty devilishly entices against the masterful skittish adventure of Barlow’s swings. Sad Sun has the pleasure of closing up the release and does so in riveting style. It brings all the nastier, scuzzy qualities of the band’s sound out in appealing style but equally the richness of its charmed melodies and smouldering ambiences, all qualities of every song on the release. Here though they all seem to be given full rein to vent or seduce but within a tapestry of craft and invention which ensures it unites perfectly to perpetually beguile and thrill.

Without doubt Everything Popular Is Wrong is one of our favourite incitements of 2015 and hard to imagine it will not be yours too. There is of course only one way to know, so we suggest you go get some Deepshade down you.

Everything Popular Is Wrong is available digitally and on CD from September 25th via Ambicon Records through most online stores.

Pete RingMaster 24/09/2015

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The Sons of Bido Lito – Avalanche

TSOBL_RingMaster Review

Some songs just frisk ears with their creative tenacity; finger the imagination and fondle the psyche with a tempting which almost seems like it has been engineered just to fit personal tastes. One such irresistible enticement for us is Avalanche, the new thrill laden single from UK garage/psych rockers The Sons of Bido Lito. The two track encounter is pure addiction on 7” vinyl courtesy of Dirty Water Records; a pair of songs which from different directions unite to create aural manna for swerving bodies and lusty thoughts.

Taking its name from the Los Angeles hangout of the Sunderland band’s musical heroes such as The Doors, Love, and Captain Beefheart, the seeds of The Sons Of Bido Lito began in the summer of 2011. Inspired by the sixties garage rock sound and equally its psychedelic seduction, the quintet began weaving those essences into their own shadow rich imagination and dark toned invention. The years since emerging have seen the band support the likes of Jacco Gardner and James Skelly & the Intenders, share stages with bands such as Primal Scream, and the release of their well-received debut EP Bido Music in the April of 2013. The following Gamma Ray! single again awoke new and greater amounts of eager appetites as well as finding itself being used by Fifa for their YouTube goal of the month video, ensuring the song there alone was heard over one million times, whilst the track Coco Bongo was taken up by Heineken for their Champions league coverage with Ruud Gullit bringing another 2,000,000 YouTube hits in touch with the band. Now it is the turn of the brilliant Avalanche to stir up more attention, a success quickly assumed as a given once the title song sets to work on ears and imagination.

Cover_RingMaster Review     For us it took barely a handful of seconds to be enthralled to Avalanche, the song winding a juicy flirtatious guitar groove around ears, it almost instantly joined by the bulging muscle of commanding and enticing beats. Another breath sees further guitar shimmering seducing the senses and a rumbling dark bassline whipping up the emotions. Fair to say already every aspect of the song comes with an addictive virulence which only grows and intensifies over time. The garage rock stomping spawned by riffs and rhythms alone just dangles impossible not to take a bite at bait in the lure of the song, that incessant tempting leading to a host of keen and imposingly gripping hooks, juicy grooves, and the great effect wrapped vocals of guitarist Phill Houghton.

Surf rock hues soak the melodic enterprise whilst bass and beats taunt with a tone and infectiousness lying somewhere between The Cramps and Bo Diddley. Overall the song, drawing as much on the flavourings of artists like The Sonics and Dave Edmunds as it does those like Reverend Horton Heat and Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers, finds a unique spot in a bordering on psychotic landscape which is quite simply sixties spawned rock ‘n’ roll alchemy perfect for any era.

The accompanying 12 Commandments emerges with a character more coloured by the psychedelic influences of the band. From within a wash of waves on an imagination assuming midnight lit shore, another heavily alluring bassline from Lem grips attention. A matching rhythmic coaxing from drummer Dodsy quickly joins the affair and a sultry embrace of guitar from Paddy Pickering too, once more a surf rock seducing working away through his and the string exploits of Phill Houghton whose vocals sway in ears like a magnetic flame, the keys and percussive enticing of Chris Houghton completing the palette of sonic colour in the psych rock temptation. The collusion of all hues maybe inevitably suggests The Doors but equally the likes of The Byrds and fellow UK band Kobadelta come to mind across the encounter too.

Though the lead track steals the show, 12 Commandments is sheer bewitchment and together both tracks make Avalanche one majestic virus of sound and reveal The Sons of Bido Lito as one musical infestation everyone needs in their life.

Avalanche is available on 7″ vinyl and digitally via Dirty Water Records from October 14th.

Pete RingMaster 07/09/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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