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

Indigo Sixteen – Bring on the Rain

Not having previously come across their previous trio of singles, their new track Bring on the Rain is our long overdue introduction to Indigo Sixteen. It is a compelling jangle of indie/punk devilry from a band looking ready to step into the long line of unique and compelling Scottish propositions of decades past.

Creating a sound which by design or chance embraces the essences of classic bands like Scars and Josef K as well as British outfits like The Libertines and Skellums, Edinburgh hailing Indigo Sixteen emerged in 2013. Leaning on inspirations ranging from Kasabian, The Smiths, and Joy Division to The Jam, Daft Punk, Kraftwerk, and Nirvana, Indigo Sixteen previously released the singles Decide (2014), And What? (2014/15), and Come and Go (2016). Now it is Bring on the Rain ready to stir greater attention the way of the quartet and as it plays in the ears it is hard to imagine it not rousing up a host of new fans.

The vocals of guitarist Stephen Mallin pull the song into view, the equally alluring creative clamour of fellow guitarist Matt McPherson adding its melodic jangle to his and the rhythmic shuffle of drummer Callum Davidson and bassist Andrew Stears. Carrying an energetic and virulent swing to its gait and spirited tenacity to its character and enterprise, the song reveals its punk and indie sides with zeal, merging them into a proposition maybe not yet truly distinct but as gripping and exciting as you could wish for.

Those earlier suggested flavours swiftly come to mind in the song to add to its appeal and a quickly bred anticipation for the next band’s next steps.

Bring on the Rain is out now.

https://www.facebook.com/IndigoSixteen/    https://twitter.com/IndigoSixteen   https://www.instagram.com/indigo_sixteen/

Pete RingMaster 21/11/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Media Stres – E.V.I.L. II

Photo by Lucija Obadić

Photo by Lucija Obadić

Media Stres is an alternative rock band from Croatia which has already made some potent nudges on ears with their previous releases but now offers their biggest incitement on the broadest attention with new EP E.V.I.L. II. The five track release is the continuation of debut album E.V.I.L. (e-Virus Influenced Love), an encounter released in two parts with its second revealing the fulfilment and more of the potential fuelling earlier propositions.

Hailing from Cakovec, Media Stres emerged in 2012 drawing on inspirations from the likes of Biffy Clyro, Placebo, Muse, Royal Blood, and Punčke for their imaginative weave of sound ranging from alternative and progressive rock to post-punk and dirtier hues. Demo EP Fear and Panic was released in 2013 as the band unleashed their live presence and hunger which has since seen them play over sixty shows in Croatia as well as in countries such as Serbia, Hungary, Slovenia, Austria, and France. The first well-received part of the album, E.V.I.L. was unveiled in the December of 2014, an introduction for a great many to the band which quickly marked out Media Stres as a prospect to keep a close ear upon. Now the trio of guitarist/vocalist Karlo Komorski, drummer/backing vocalist Matej Obadić, and bassist Aleksandar Hutinec complete their first full-length with E.V.I.L. II, whilst setting down a new plateau to their adventure and invention, not forgetting compelling sound.

AlbumCover2_RingMaster ReviewWhereas its predecessor was themed by a narrative concerned with the impact of technology on society and how corrupt that society became with said technology, E.V.I.L. II is the exploration of people living in the shadow of two super states and having to decide to which of the two they belong. It opens up with the scene setting Nations and instantly bold rhythms from Obadić provide an anthemic lead into the waiting narrative, the gnarly tone of Hutinec’s bass quickly adds its suggestive tempting to the coaxing too. In no time the equally dramatic tempting of Komorski’s guitar stirs up song and air, providing a sonic breeze around the hypnotic lure of increasingly pungent rhythms. It is thick captivation crowding ears and appetite, one blossoming further as Komorski unveils the song’s tale with his potent vocals as the song bristles and feistily simmers with an essence of Muse and at times something slightly Manic Street Preachers like.

The outstanding start slips into the just as enthralling and quickly addictive Right or Wrong. Making a more reserved but no less gripping entrance with bass and percussive jabs early bait, the track is soon entangled in the sonic and melodic enterprise of guitar and a spicing which plays in many ways like a mix of Fatima Mansions and Interpol. The moment when the protagonists in the album’s story have to choose their homes, the track paints the drama of the situation with a fiery blend of contrasting textures and intimidating shadows which line every shaft of melodic light and infectious flume within the intensive oppression involved. A progressively lit slice of contagious rock, the excellent track is matched in success and drama by the grungier tones of Consolation and its Bowie-esque colouring to another rhythmically and sonically dynamic incitement. Even with its rousing rock ‘n’ roll, the song’s emotion is dark and fuelled by a loss of hope again enjoyably presented by the vocal expression and strength of Komorski whilst bound in the band’s provocative endeavours.

The break out of world war is the canvas for End Times, an apocalypse sound-tracked by the song’s lively canter with melancholic melodies and, as ever, powerfully alluring vocals and highly persuasive rhythms. The song is persistently boisterous in its gait, its swing a perfect temper and spark to the solemn weave of words and emotions cast in something akin to The Smiths and Teardrop Explodes with again that Fatima Mansions like creative spicing involved.

Hope with its brooding climate spawned from the initial magnetic groan of bass completes tale and release. Shadows again encroach alongside the scything strikes of guitar and rhythmic rumblings whilst a solemnity coats the sultry melodic tendrils veining the rebuild of a desolated land and an increasingly receptive imagination to the invention and evocative theatre of Media Stres. The track is superb, matching all that came before and leaving a lingering compulsion for ears and thoughts to keep E.V.I.L. II alone a persistent companion.

The first EP of E.V.I.L. was an impressive and resourceful adventure but its successor simply overshadows it in every aspect. Media Stres may still be a secret yet to be discovered by a great many but expectations and hopes are that the band is set to receive the full attention and support their striking invention and music undoubtedly deserves.

E.V.I.L. II is available now @ https://mediastres.bandcamp.com/album/e-v-i-l-part-2

http://mediastres.com.hr/   https://www.facebook.com/MediaStres/

Pete RingMaster 09/02/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

For more exploration of the independent and promotional services check out http://www.zykotika.com/

Practical Lovers – Agony

 

Practical Lovers_RingMaster Review

Glorious is the only word for Agony, the debut album from UK synth pop duo Practical Lovers. It might be soaked in melancholy, be the outpouring of frustration and torment bred by lost and unrequited love, but the album is simply a majestic tapestry of skilfully cultured shadows and the beauty lying within all emotions.

The band is the union of singer songwriter Jack Wiles and his long-term musical partner Mark Connell. Originally it was intended as a solo project for Wiles with a collection of songs written “in an attempt to vent some of his frustrations with love in the 21st Century.” After introducing the idea and songs to Connell, the pair creatively united and stepped forwards as Practical Lovers, this around late 2010. The band signed with Nottingham based label I’m Not From London Records the following year, releasing a couple of singles over the next three whilst earning a rich reputation for their live performances. Now they unveil their eagerly awaited debut album, a stirring incitement of vintage synths and analogue drum machines bound in nostalgic radiance, heavy and seductive emotions, and compelling enterprise.

artwork_RingMaster Review    Every track within Agony is a love song; the dark side of and fallout from inspired explorations for sure, but all seeded in love. They come with an intimacy which feels like they are echoes of their creator’s heart and experiences and makes it easy to emotionally connect with, whilst each is presented within sounds which are as infectious and hopeful as they are similarly solemn to their lyrical pleas. From the opener band and release has ears and imagination chained, and emotions basking in the pleasure given.

Put It Bluntly tempts ears with a few dark pulses of synths whilst brewing a more feisty lure in the background, that swiftly coming forward and blossoming on the strains of a deliciously grouchy bassline. The inescapable enticement of Wiles’ wonderful dour lined and magnetic tones soon adds another rich texture and hue to the already invasively infectious encounter. That element of nostalgia is often eighties spawned and here on offer is a Paul Haig meets New Order coaxing with a touch of Interpol to it, a mixture only adding to the thrilling virulence of the song.

The following Never Again brings some fiery guitar to ears, the fizzy texture invitingly colluding with poppy synths as Wiles and Connell avail an already greedy appetite of their individual prowess. The fevered stroll does not hang around, offering a bubbly simmer over two minutes of inimitable bait before Inside Job provides another diverse and fiercely captivating string to the bow of Agony. Like The The in league with The Smiths, with Wiles vocally as throughout the album creating a vocal presence somewhere between Morrissey and Ian Curtis, the song is a plaintive serenade, a vibrant croon which whips up ears and emotion within seconds and increasingly involves the listener with every passing second.

A similar hue glows within Full of You next, though the track again reveals a distinct character of its own as synths smoulder and caress with emotive expression. The mix of vocals, presumably from the two artists, adds another riveting texture, though it is Wiles and the Smiths blessed earthy elegance that seals the deal between lustful ears and song, an ardour just as eagerly given to the Joy Division coated Nobody There which follows and straight after that the post punk scented brilliance of The Work Around. Hints of Blancmange and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark emerge from within the outstanding track, and in many ways, having seen OMD live in their first days, there is a definite resemblance between the bands if not exactly in overall sound.

No Reply slips into the dark corners of its emotive heart next, that Joy Division suggestion again an easy offer as the track morosely yet enticingly prowls ears before its big success is eclipsed by the skittish energy and devilry of Restless. Think Fad Gadget meets early The Correspondents with Editors in tow and a clue to its irresistible endeavour is close to the mark whilst for Textbook Romance maybe John Foxx era Ultravox and early Cure is a good hint. To be honest, for all the references sparked, each track is a thrilling proposal unique to Practical Lovers, just enhanced by a great weave of recognisable colours, whilst the second of this pair also unveil its warm party on the senses with a hopefulness arguably not explored as fully elsewhere.

The album closes off with firstly the insatiable contagion of Falling Down and finally the melancholic serenade of Grave of Romance, a song impressing initially and just seducing the passions to greater effect over time. Both also provide another aspect to the multi-faceted sound of Agony, an album which is blossomed from some of the harshest and deepest felt emotions possible but is anything but agony to listen to.

Practical Lovers is one of the finds for our ears of 2015 and Agony one of its most thrilling and invigorating releases.

Agony is released November 27th digitally and on limited edition cassette tape through I’m Not From London Records @ https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/agony/id1051440048

https://www.facebook.com/Practicallovers

Pete RingMaster 27/11/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

For more exploration of the independent and promotional services check out http://www.zykotika.com/

Band Of Holy Joy – The Land Of Holy Joy

BOHJ_A_RingMaster Review

This past year, two singles from Band Of Holy Joy have sparked expectations of something special from their new album The Land Of Holy Joy, simply because of their own enthralling quality. Fair to say the UK band’s new release not only lives up to hopes and assumptions but leaves them looking rather inadequate. The nine track adventure of urban folk and indie rock is a blaze of ear thrilling and imagination igniting tracks ripe with unpredictable invention and the social commentary and honesty we have come to expect from the London band. Admittedly over their three decades of undeniably helping shape the British indie scene, we have not had the pleasure of devouring all of their eighteen previous albums here but of the fair few we have, Band Of Holy Joy have definitely eclipsed all with their finest moment in The Land Of Holy Joy.

The album gets off to a stunning flyer with its title track, the opener an instantly bewitching enticing of off-kilter guitar melodies from James Stephen Finn. Their discord lined twang has ears alert, whilst a swift healthy appetite licks its lips almost as quickly after as an exotic seducing from Peter Smith’s keys, matched by the flirtation cast by the bass of Howard Jacques, dances with the imagination. Like Eastern sent cosmopolitan sunshine over harsh realities hinted at by the plainer, distinctive tone of vocalist Johny Brown, the track is sensational; a provocative soundtrack perfect for the crisis felt right now by thousands upon thousands of people and Europe.

The outstanding beginning continues with the band’s last single Isn’t That Just The Life. The song enthrals like a sixties kitchen sink drama with, still for these ears, a female centred alternative to The Smith’s This Charming Man. With wistful keys, flames of sax from Smith, and great dourly resourceful harmonies, the song is an expressive croon with a swinging canter to its shadowed wrapped but surprisingly warm body, and also irresistible.

Street bred melancholy lines the following All The Girls Are Wearing Desert Boots Of Pale And Subtle Shade. It is a track which from its initial potent and gentle embrace of sombre air and emotion lifts in energy through emotive brass textures and an increasingly rousing incitement thrown by the craft of drummer William Lewington. Maybe a slow burner compared to its predecessors, the track easily has ears and thoughts hooked before making way for the funky carnival-esque theatre of Men Who Display A Different Kind Of Pain. Keys drizzle temptation and festival like drama over the senses in league with a similarly thick and colourful enticing from the guitar, whilst Brown adds rich vocal and lyrical openness in his ever pleasing mix of raw crooning and spoken narrative. More inventive and compelling with every passing minute and certainly each listen, the song is revelry of sound and honest drama coated with eighties warmth.

Another album pinnacle arrives with the brilliant Violent Drunken Strangers. Its entrance sees skipping beats aligning with a moodily captivating bassline and sultry tendrils of guitar which just seep into the psyche as Brown again varies his delivery to fine and impacting effect. The post punk like stroll and tone of the track is delicious, as too the emerging eighties funk kissed guitar and a vocal union which just ignites the passions. There are essences of bands like Bauhaus in atmosphere, Josef K in guitar jangle, and Original Mirrors to its lively revelry, and along with the title track, the song steals the show though great times simply continue as first the reflective melodic caress of Discredited Art Form cups ears and thoughts and straight after, A Good Close Friend offers its own elegant seduction and tenacious sixties fired enterprise up for eager attention. Both songs provide thoroughly enjoyable proposals whilst stirring thoughts, the second eclipsing the first but only by a spicy whiff of keys and one lively step.

A Place Called Home is another track which smoulders in ears and thoughts rather than quickly stirs them but with superb harmonies between Brown and a female vocalist, and a brass breeze which as the song has a shade of The Walker Brothers to it, lingering persuasion is the ultimate and successful result.

Closing with I’m Crass Harry, a bluesy look at a character which never gives up the fight despite enduring a constant tide of adversity, the album ends with a mighty finale. Merging spices found in the likes of reggae, punk, jazz, and other absorbing flavours into its musical tapestry around that tale of defiance, the song is Band Of Holy Joy at their best, what creatively they are and have always been about and another slice of proof as to why we say The Land Of Holy Joy is their greatest moment yet.

The Land Of Holy Joy is out now digitally and on CD via Stereogram Recordings and the Band Of Holy Joy Bandcamp.

Pete RingMaster 22/09/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

For more exploration of the independent and promotional services check out http://www.zykotika.com/

Bare Traps – Inside

Bare Traps - Inside_RingMaster Review

Following up the sizeable impact their debut single made with its release this past July, UK indie popsters Bare Traps have released a worthy successor called Inside; a song easy to expect earning similar reactions to those lured by the Every Time. Bursting with a melodic smile and funk bred rhythmic hips; the song is one feel good involvement for body and emotions.

Hailing from London, the quartet of vocalist Mikey Brown, guitarist Luke O’Gorman, bassist/keyboardist John Grant, and drummer Scott Dillon have drawn on inspirations from the likes of Blood Orange, The Smiths, Foals, and Chic for their sound, a mix which if exactly not in sound, in feel and texture you can certainly relate to as Inside incites instinctive festivity. Debut single Every Time took little time in sparking attention and support, its lively magnetism of melodies seeing the song entice over 5,000 plays on SoundCloud and rising to 7 in the Hype Machine Twitter Charts. Gearing up to unveil their first EP, recorded as the single with John Davis (Bloc Party, Led Zeppelin, The Maccabees, Arctic Monkeys, Beady Eye), Bare Traps now raise the ante with the even more danceable Inside whilst revealing a little more of the diversity seemingly bubbling away in their songwriting and sound.

The song opens on a shuffle of guitar enticing and rhythmic coaxing, that gentle but potent bait continuing as the bass opens up its dark throat and beats begin to bring livelier energy to their enterprise. The voice of Brown has a strong and distinctive expression to its tone, a texture aligning well with the smoother swing of keys and the guitars. With the pungent rhythms it all adds up to an inciting contagion which swiftly has feet and appetite in eager involvement. A whisper of an eighties bands like Heaven 17 and China Crisis hint at older minds across the enchantment of the song but equally it has an indie jangle and resourcefulness which resembles the essence of Foals and a little at times of Interpol.

Inside is also a grower, a song which just seems to gain more character with every listen and placed alongside Every Time, it is already easy to suggest Bare Traps has the potential, craft, and imagination to make a big impact ahead.

Inside is out now via iTunes.

Pete Ringmaster 22/09/2105

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

For more exploration of the independent and promotional services check out http://www.zykotika.com/

Band of Holy Joy – Isn’t That Just the Life

Isn't that just the Life - Download Artwork_RingMaster Review

Ahead of their new album The Land Of Holy Joy, which is released in September, Band of Holy Joy unveils new single Isn’t That Just the Life to seriously whet the appetite for their impending full-length. The song is a fascinating weave of familiar and fresh textures soaked in vocal and lyrical drama, an infectious adventure of sound and energy which needs little time to stir up ears and imagination.

2014 saw the release of the band’s acclaimed Easy Listening album and it’s highly successful single When a Gift is a Curse, both even after three decades of creating persistently enthralling musical and lyrical explorations, saw Band of Holy Joy blossoming new depths of invention and, for want of a better term, creative theatre in their sound. Subsequent single A Place Called Home, also upon The Land Of Holy Joy exposed another fresh and magnetic lining to the band’s resourcefulness, but it has to be said that Isn’t That Just the Life simply outshines them all.

From its first breath, the song bounds in on a lively stroll, bass tempting and guitar lures instantly engaging with hard to escape individual hooks. The ever distinctive tones of Johny Brown soon bring their unpolished but gripping croon and lyrical drama into the mix, rhythms gently shaping the increasingly riveting growth of the song. Once and quickly into its shadowed draped warm and almost swaggering canter, a hue of The Smiths oozes through the song’s veins to only add thrilling colour to a song which in some ways plays like the alternative to This Charming Man from the female perspective.

With keys wonderfully shimmering like light on the sea of sound and festive bursts of brass within the constantly alluring portrait of sound and vocal incitement irresistible, Isn’t That Just the Life simply owns ear, thoughts, and emotions with sublime ease and craft. As suggested earlier, for personal tastes the single eclipses everything from the band over the past year or so, even longer to be honest as great as anything was, ensuring The Land Of Holy Joy will be an eagerly approached proposition along the way.

Isn’t That Just the Life is available from Stereogram Recordings on August 10th.

The Ringmaster Review

12/08/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright