The Eastern Swell – Hand Rolled Halo

Having been spellbound by their debut album, there was a definite intrigue as to how its successor would rise to sit alongside if not above its captivating predecessor. Fair to say that Hand Rolled Halo took little time to unveil its own compelling beauty and mesmeric dexterity to answer the question; the album with its matching craft and imagination sitting firmly alongside the first as one essential electric folk/melodic rock adventure.

The Eastern Swell is an electric folk outfit from Edinburgh which emerged in 2014 and inspired a flood of acclaim loaded attention with their debut album, One Day, A Flood two years later. Released as now its successor, through their home city’s great independent label Stereogram Recordings, the album was a tapestry of poetic storytelling and melodic suggestiveness. Hand Rolled Halo offers more of the same yet is as unique in character and enterprise as you could wish for. Recorded and mixed by Pete Harvey at Pumpkinfield Studios and mastered by Reuben Taylor, the album just smokes and simmers on the senses as it seduces ears and imagination from start to finish, Hand Rolled Halo sharing a tempering but welcoming intimacy to any hot lascivious celebration and comforting warmth to every thought haunted, loneliness accompanying cold stark night.

Featuring guest craft from previously mentioned cellist/keyboardist Harvey and trumpeter Al Hamilton alongside the quartet of vocalist Lainie Urquhart, guitarist Chris Reeve, bassist Neil Collman, and drummer Andy Glover, Hand Rolled Halo instantly caresses ears with the melodic touch and intimation of Miles From Home. Intrigue wraps every note, the emerging melody almost sinister in its lure and so enthralling especially as the song slowly but assuredly adds new teases to its invitation. Eventually the smouldering flame of trumpet lights the new warmth coating song and the senses, Urquhart’s siren tones swift seduction as too the darker attitude and tone of Collman’s bass. Still drama soaks every note and movement within the excellent track, even in its livelier swing and twists, allowing the imagination to conjure alone as well as with the personal reflection of a track where the word captivation does no justice to its enthralling hold.

The band’s version of traditional folk song Blackwaterside follows, The Eastern Swell giving it their own gentle but openly imaginative and again beguiling interpretation as heated rock hues merge with the song’s classical heart before The Game brings its adventurous exploits to ears. As with all tracks, the web of individual strands transcends beyond that electric folk tagging they come under; this outstanding instrumental embracing slight but certain dark wave and post punk essences to its suggestion heavy canter to provide a feast for the imagination and senses.

Next up Down Again By Blackwaterside echoes the concept of the dark sad tale shared by the second track, this time though re-imagining the romantic outcome the protagonist in Blackwaterside was expecting rather than the deceit. Again the band treats us to a melodic temptation in voice and sound which chases away the dark a feat its successor, Spindrift, matches but with a shadow draped passage into almost gothic lit introspection. The track is pure charm and again dark intrigue, the band’s music alone as manipulative as it is a platform for the listener to create their own theatre; a richness every song offers up.

From one favourite moment to another as Zeitgeist bounds in with its boisterous waltz. For the main, Hand Rolled Halo has the body gently swaying but here it is urged into full animation as gypsy/jazz and swing irreverence infest the instinctively lively folk heart of the song. Throughout the album the dark strings of the cello transfix and the hot flumes of trumpet incite and here simply throw off any restraints to romp with the feverish appetites escaping the rest of the band.

Through firstly the increasingly infectious and flirtatious serenade of The Scene and lastly the instrumental hinting and pastoral refinement of Dreaming Of St. Jude, the quite magnificent Hand Rolled Halo concludes its temptation and seduction. We called its predecessor spellbinding and no other word truly fits The Eastern Swell’s new adventure either though instantly persuasive and only blossoming in every aspect with every listen, new layers of imagination perpetually unveiled, Hand Rolled Halo borders on alchemy.

Hand Rolled Halo is available now via Stereogram Recordings @ https://stereogramrecordings.bandcamp.com/album/hand-rolled-halo

http://www.theeasternswell.com/   https://www.facebook.com/theeasternswell   https://twitter.com/TheEasternSwell

Pete RingMaster 07/12/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Stoor – Self Titled

stoorJosef K meeting Wall Of Voodoo at the behest of Dead Kennedys with the rhythmic virulence and discord of The Fire Engines

No idea what is in the water over at Stereogram Recordings but this past twelve months has seen the label release a clutch of albums that simply ignite ears and connect with the imagination like no others. Amongst them have been encounters with bands such as St. Christopher Medal, The Filthy Tongues, and The Eastern Swell. Now adding to that adventurous collection of treats is the self-titled debut album from Dundee based outfit Stoor, a release which just might be the most impressive and ridiculously addictive of the lot.

The Stereogram Recordings offering is actually a full re-release of the band’s first album which was self-released on vinyl last year but sure to be the first real engagement for a great many with a quartet which rose up back in the first breaths of the nineties. Musically Stoor seem to embrace post punk/new wave sounds found in the couple of decades before their emergence, and though it is bordering on impossible to pin down their sound imagine Josef K meeting Wall Of Voodoo at the behest of Dead Kennedys with the rhythmic virulence and discord of The Fire Engines and the warped imagination of Pere Ubu in close attendance.

Centred around the off kilter invention of bassist/vocalist Stef Murray, drummer Scott McKinlay, and guitarist Ross Matheson with guitarist Davie Youngblood completing the current line-up, Stoor get straight into ears and psyche with album opener Secret World Of Cement. It is an instrumental which gets right into our already existing passion for post punk devilry, sparking the imagination with its cinematic urban soundscape. Hips and feet are swiftly indulging in its virulent Fire Engines hued strains as hooks and melodies tease and tantalise within something wonderfully akin to the most addictive sixties TV theme tunes.

It is a wonderful start quickly matched up by Liberator, a track just as rapid in its persuasion as spicy lures of guitar link up with the tenacious rhythmic bait laid down by McKinlay. The vocal tones of Murray attract like a mix of Jello Biafra and Pere Ubu’s Dave Thomas, expelling their earnest cries from within another seriously catchy stretch of invention before the brilliant Aye, No raises the ante. A fiercely seductive bass line invades first, strolling from the initial clash of sound to be quickly joined by equally salacious guitar hooks following the same route as Murray’s grooving. Like a pied piper the union draws the listener into an explosive crescendo, riffs and rhythms colliding before the temptation begins all over again with even greater strands of delicious discord involved. All the time Murray places a potent vocal grip on an already eager appetite, backed by the band within what is one gloriously repetitive and enthralling swagger of a song.

art_RingMasterReviewInfect Me steps forward next to keep the enslaving of ears tight, its Gang Of Four like rhythmic escapade chaining attention alone, the brooding basslines and stabs of guitar extra chains to trap attention and ardour. Bursts of raw rock ‘n’ roll only adds to the magnetism as too the distinctive and increasingly flavoursome vocals of Murray, here finding a Stan Ridgway flavour to his excellent theatre of voice. Between them Murray and McKinlay rhythmically have the passions chained up like Houdini, though no escape is possible especially as Matheson and Youngblood create a web of melodic intrigue and deranged drama.

Through the heavier almost muggy escape of Devil Rides Out, a song with a touch of Scars meets again Pere Ubu to it, and the pulsating psych rock infested instrumental of March Of The Molluscs, the album adds further diversity and creative theatre to escalate an already established habituation to its additive prowess, backing their success up with the punk rock of Frack where thoughts of bands like Swell Maps and television Personalities are sparked, though, as constantly across the release, Stoor conjure up proposals unique to their own senses entangling invention.

The calmer saunter of Open The Box comes next, its character a more stable affair but prone to Devo-esque twists and turns before making way to allow the psychedelically spiced Hold That Thought to serenade ears. To its warmer and gentler nature though, there is an underlying tempestuousness which channels its energy into a swinging post punk canter a la The Three Johns.

The bands new single Witchfinder General has ears and lust over excited next, its rhythmic romp alone an unshakeable grip with Murray’s bass swing a predacious seduction reinforced by the tangy weave of guitar and the eager dance of the vocals. Dark and mischievous, compelling and shadowy, the track is superb, a certain doorway into the album come its release though fair to say any track is a suitable invitation.

Going out as it came in with a mouth-watering, imagination stoking instrumental going by the name of Sure Beats Me, a piece which plays like B-52s engaged in carnal knowledge with The Shadows, the album leaves only an urgent urge to dive right back into its body of fun.

Stoor may have been around for a fair few years now but this is the moment they should be enveloped by the biggest spotlights, courtesy of an encounter which has to be considered as an album of the year contender.

Stoor the album is released October 28th on Stereogram Recordings digitally and on CD with the single Witchfinder General out on October 21st.

STOOR are supporting Brix Smith & The Extricated on Sunday 30th October 2016 and The Membranes on Friday 27th January 2017, both nights at Beat Generator in Dundee.

https://www.facebook.com/stoormusic/   http://www.stereogramrecordings.co.uk/artists/stoor/

Pete RingMaster 19/10/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

The Eastern Swell – One Day, A Flood

the-eastern-swell_RingMasterReview

If one word had to be used to describe One Day, A Flood, the debut album from Scottish quartet The Eastern Swell, it has to be spellbinding. From the first listen the tapestry of genres which shape its songs catches the imagination but it is with subsequent listens that the real bewitchment blossoms. Inspired by and weaving together essences from the likes of progressive folk, experimental rock, and neo-psychedelia among numerous other flavours, The Eastern Swell combines poetic storytelling and melodic suggestiveness in one impressive captivation.

Edinburgh formed, The Eastern Swell emerged in 2014; the Anglo-Scottish foursome of guitarist/vocalist Chris Reeve, vocalist Lainie Urquhart, bassist/vocalist Neil Collman, and drummer Andy Glover first going by the name of Lainie & The Crows. With a well-received EP, name change, and the signing with excellent Scottish label Stereogram Recordings under their belts, the band set about creating their debut album with producer Pete Harvey (Modern Studies, Meursault, and King Creosote) in his own Pumpkinfield Studios. Themed by tales of “about vulnerability and the frailties of being human”, One Day, A Flood casts individual reflections linked by the underlying premise and a fluid movement from one song to another. Enjoyably working individually, the album’s tracks also impressively create a single experience which is just as potent, maybe even more so, taken in one listen. With self-admitted inspirations to the band, when creating One Day, A Flood, including the likes of Syd Barrett, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, Fairport Convention, King Crimson, Pixies, Thee Oh Sees, Cat Power, and Gillian Welch, it is fair to say that the album is a rich collusion of styles and flavours honed into one kaleidoscope of imagination.

The album opens with the outstanding Rattling Bones, a track drenched in drama and emotive intensity. A sonic mist first encases ears, this quickly followed by a gloriously evocative riff soon joined by an equivalent lure from the bass. A sudden drop into a sombre air of melancholy with a dour but tempting melody, as the warm tones of Urquhart caresses ears and thoughts, then enjoyably wrong foots. Soon though, the track develops a lively stroll to its gait, marked by the bold roll of rhythms as provocative strings from guest Pete Harvey further toy with the imagination. The song is superb, a seamless patchwork of enterprise and creative hues setting the scene and character of the album.

the-eastern-swell-one-day-a-flood_RingMasterReviewWhat’s Done Is Done is next up; sharing the dark throated riffs and bass tone of its predecessor as essences of psychedelia and late sixties/early seventies melodic rock merge and the great blend of harmonies across Urquhart, Reeve, and Collman embrace. It oozes a seductive touch with every exotic sigh, warm surges and electric impulses uniting in a gentle but dynamic rousing of ears and spirit. The excellent proposition is followed and matched in temptation by 1000 Yard Stare where the vocal mix again grabs attention as they immediately cradle ears while psych and folk pop streams of enterprise kiss the imagination. Crescendos of lo fi intensity contrast and work perfectly with this golden glow of voice and melody, the compelling encounter almost tempestuous at times in its Wicker Man like climate and emotion.

The acoustic grace and warm melancholy of Temples is next, Urquhart’s voice uniting with the evocative strains of the cello before brighter guitar melodies and quaintly lit keys dance in ears. Its captivating low key proposal is echoed in the individually bold serenade of Muckish Mountain straight after before Too Little, Too Late reveals its own swing of rhythmic hips and melodic gaiety. Once more the fine and contrasting blend of male and female vocals seduces, a match emulated in the dark throes of the rhythms and radiant smile of guitars and keys. With a subsequent hook to lust after, the song is an intimate yet all-embracing festival of sound and energy providing another major highlight to One Day, A Flood.

The fuzzier air of Quick As A Whip makes a swift engaging between song and ears, harmonies and warm textures only reinforcing its potency before the album’s best moment arrives in the shape of Dancing Zombie Blues. Like a devilish concoction bred from The Dead Weather, Bird Blobs, and Old House Playground, the song rattles and rolls with gothic folk majesty, coming to an abrupt end from which a sonic wash brews and develops into closing enticement Run Down Country Palace. Its nature is of similar breeding though once its raw climate is set, the track’s electric veil parts for the reflective charms of vocals, strings, and a folk honed melodic appraisal. As all tracks though, things are never straight forward, The Eastern Swell creating tapestries that perpetually move and evolve.

Another reward provide is that One Day, A Flood never seems to stop growing in ears and imagination listen by listen, creating an adventure very easy to recommend from a band in The Eastern Swell that we will surely be hearing much more of ahead.

One Day, A Flood is out September 16th via Stereogram Recordings.

 http://www.stereogramrecordings.co.uk/artists/the-eastern-swell  https://www.facebook.com/theeasternswell/   http://www.theeasternswell.com/

Pete RingMaster 15/09/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright