Dispel – Lore

photo by Novus Obscurum

In a world cast in increasing chaos and ravening shadows, the heart and determination of a warrior defines those that try to bring defiance and hope to the blackness. Maybe every century past and to come is wrapped in such respective darkness, but the spirit of ‘heroes and viragos’ certainly thrived in medieval times and now within the debut album from US dark electronic collective Dispel.

The fascinating Lore is a concept album embracing the “historic lore, mythology and mysticism” surrounding a hero’s journey in those Middle Ages but equally a tale as agile in inspiring thoughts and experiences echoing the now within an electronic soundscape of darkwave, Neo-Classical, and gothic rock just as primed to ignite ears and imagination. In sound and word, Lore is a captivation; a musical and lyrical tapestry which effortlessly grabbed attention from its very first breath to weave even greater intrigue and compulsion by the listen whether as a broad view and personally intimate incitement.

Dispel is the creation of drummer/keyboardist Scott Dispel, a founding member of old school hardcore band Face Value and currently the drummer for TEXTBEAK whose Mike Textbeak produced Lore. Alongside Scott, the band is completed by the richly magnetic tones of mezzo-soprano vocalist Ravensea and the potent presence of fellow vocalist Sean Gallows. The album also sees guitarist Sean Morrissey and bassist Jae Jones add their dark craft to the adventure , one which swiftly caught the imagination through album opener, Spiritual Warrior (The Hero).

The first track strides forth from an ecclesiastical dawn, its step confident and bold and matched in voice and swing. A tenebrous hue coats every electronic note and Cimmerian shaded syllable escaping Gallow’s throat, the track like a magnetic Clan of Xymox meets John Foxx era Ultravox enticement and quickly and thickly gripping.

(cover art by Scott ‘Wizardfool’ Stearns)

The Call (to Adventure) continues the album’s fine start; the just as swiftly enthralling voice of Ravensea radiating from within the song’s gloomier but no less tempting breath and embrace. The less defined fuzz of guitar adds a sinister almost toxic aspect to the track’s air yet is soon engulfed by the electro pop infectiousness of a chorus which had us keenly bouncing whilst prompting thoughts of March Violets  in their more synth ‘pop’ styled moments.

The light and romanticism of Ravensea’s voice and the crepuscular instincts of the sounds around her again provide an ear enthralling landscape within next up Modal Consequence (The Threshold).  Its melodic mist carries a great Visage-esque shade whilst its rhythmic gait, whether a sombre amble or elevated dance, is thick incitement for song and body before Abyssal Hammer (Chaos) with an instantly more imposing rhythmic swing driven by air splattering eats and the tantalising hum of the bass needs mere seconds to have us hooked. Emerging our favourite song, the track is a warning come declaration of darkness as virulently infectious as it is eagerly menacing and quite superb with the blend of Gallows and Ravensea’s voices pure harmonic charisma.

The first of a pair of “Sacred Choral pieces” is next in the evocative shape of Gift of the Goddess (Andante in Bb), later in the album  Atonement (Adagio in Bb)a similarly provocatively woven piece inspired by ‘Infelix ego,’ a Latin meditation composed by Girolamo Savonarola before he was burned at the stake. Each proved a seed for the imagination before the following likes of Hero’s Revelation (The Helper) with its overcast melodic and atmospheric beauty, again centred by the radiance that is Ravensea’s voice, and The Depth of Transformation (The Return) with its Tartarean arising from similarly infernal depths respectively had ears and imagination alive.

Slipping back across the album and between those two pairs of tracks sits Temptation (The Last Test), an enchanting and bewitching slice of electro intimation and vocal glamour as dark as it is lustrous and another song within Lore which got under the skin in an array of ways.

Though it captivated from the first moment it graced ears, enthralment only grew as the tale and melodic electronic adventure within Lore was further were explored and revealed play by play; an emprise sure to connect with your own personal journeys.

Lore is available for download and on CD with vinyl to follow via https://www.dispelmusic.com and https://dispelmusic.bandcamp.com/album/lore-lp

https://www.facebook.com/DispelMusicdotcom   https://twitter.com/Dispel_Music

Pete RingMaster 25/02/2020

Copyright RingMasterReview: MyFreeCopyright

The Beauty of Noise: The Gaa Gaas Interview

As a fresh decade takes its first breath there was only one place to start a new series of interviews with some of the most exciting independent bands and artists and that was with one of our major faves here at The RR. So with big thanks to band founder Gavin Tate welcome to The Gaa Gaas…

Hi Gavin and thanks for sharing your time with us once more.

It has been a long while in the planning but you have just unveiled the band’s debut album. What have been the prime emotions in its build up and now final and highly anticipated release?

GT: Bonjour, mettez-vous à l’aise. The honest truth is that as well as the unfortunate circumstances of label battles, finance was a huge factor for the reason it took so long to release a full album. I was abused as a child at a detention centre in my home island of Jersey where I was illegally locked up in solitary confinement for sometimes months at a time and was beaten. I received a big compensation from the Government that I’ve put into the physical side of the album release out on our own label Movement-2 Records. It’s a fantastic feeling to know the album is finally out there, the response has been amazing! 

 For those new to The Gaa Gaas could you reveal how the band began and its history since?

GT: I attended a tour in 2002 that consisted of 3 pinnacle groups of the time which were Ikara Colt, The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster, and The Parkinsons. That show in Brighton inspired me to form The Gaa Gaas made up of members that I had met at a club night called Bomp! (a weekly event that was held in our birth town of St Helier). The band relocated to Brighton in the mid 2000’s and we’re now mainly based in London. Prior to the album we had released two 5 track EP’s, a few singles, a couple of split singles and have been featured on many compilations since! We have also been given the opportunity to play some big name festivals alongside bands such as Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Primal Scream, The Stranglers, Happy Mondays, and Richard Ashcroft.

What were the inspirations which most sparked your own musical adventure and also the band’s sound?

GT: I think a lot of it was to do with attending gigs and festivals. I always wanted to be on stage and behind the scenes because that side of it felt more appealing to me when I was just a young lad. The sound of the group has been developed and matured through observation and experimentation. We love lots of different styles and even though this band has had many members over the years, we’ve still managed to maintain the same sound throughout. It’s post-punk more than punk, but can still be classed as rock. We’ve stayed true to our name by making it a bit nutty as well.

 Turning back to the album; a powerful collection of songs to tempt newcomers it also in a way works as a round-up and compilation of the creative adventures existing fans have devoured over the years. How did you approach it to make it strikingly fresh, which it is, to all?

GT: There was the option to record the album with completely new songs and leave what we had already done behind, but our fan base would have been completely thrown off as songs like ‘V.O.L.T.A.I.R.E.’ and ‘Close Your Eyes’ are strong enough album tracks. It was decided to have our previous singles included on the release along with the best tracks of both EP’s and a studio outtake that we well and truly underestimated titled ‘The Type of Mood’, which has had the most radio interest, something we never expected at all. ‘Indian Giver’ album version was kept behind as we knew we wanted it for the release and it works being the only instrumental on the menu. No one counted on it and that’s what we wanted. We’ve now created more anticipation as the next album will follow up in 2020 with songs no one has yet heard and I tell you hand on heart, the new stuff wipes the floor with anything we’ve done before.

 It does feel like the closing of a chapter before The Gaa Gaas unveil a new adventure ahead, is that how you see it in some ways?

GT: We’re not the most organised band in the world, but we make up for that with enigma. No one ever knows who’s actually in the band as every time we play live there’re always new members. We are like today’s equivalent of The Fall. Not by choice either. Maybe I’m a difficult person to work with, maybe they are. Also we’ve had some almost fatal hardships within the group that has led to cancellations of planned shows and tours. Every band goes through bad experiences, but you just have to soldier on. The new decade will see us actually jumping in vans and doing the circuit again, something our fans have been really gunning for, and plus with the new material it will be like a complete reincarnation

 Obviously some of the songs within the album were written way back, are you someone who has had the self-will to leave them alone or over the years have found yourself nagging away at them in some ways?

GT: I just think those songs really deserved to make an album. I’d love to see our first record stacked alongside stuff like Damned Damned Damned and Never Mind The Bollocks in the bargain shelf at Wax Factor Record Shop in Brighton one day. That to me would feel like more of an achievement than seeing it in the racks at Rough Trade. Everything’s too polished these days. We are as true to punk rock as the innovators and that attitude in music needs to come back hard ‘cause the industry is mostly made up of rich geeks and there’s no flare like there used to be. I believe those songs carry some of that old skool sensibility!

 As you mentioned the band has been based between Jersey, Brighton and London over those same years, putting aside now with the album’s release, which has been the most potent moment for you in The Gaa Gaas emergence?

GT: I think the release of ‘V.O.L.T.A.I.R.E.‘ was monumental to the band. As soon as that came out we were getting booked to play everywhere…The coolest club nights throughout the UK and Europe, being played on Radio 1 on MTV 2. At that point I thought we were going to explode as Island Records were interested and we were playing shows every week. But it’s like anything. People inside and outside of the group had misconceptions and doubts about where it was all going, but I’m still on that boat of the best is yet to come.

Have you found that it has become easier for a DIY fuelled independent band to find opportunities to play and find a release for their art or harder?

GT: Groups such as The Cramps did everything themselves. Pressed their own records, designed their own fanzines, organised their own shows and tours. In the end the best thing about that is you’re not owing an advance to any labels. DIY and the independent side of the business is where most of the bands and labels we all know and love first began, but inevitably everything gets snapped up by the majors because people need money for bigger projects, for security, and a lot of the time for their own Cocaine fuelled ego’s. Not needing to be under anyone’s wing or supervision is no chore to us. We would quite happily carry on independently until our livers pack in, our lungs collapse, and our nostrils fall off. Even then we would probably still keep going!

 And how hard has it been to keep the passion and determination going in making music across the long life of the band?

GT: The great thing is people never know what to expect from us. Maybe that forms some sort of excitement in itself. Music is always being written and recorded. There’s so much that has never seen the light of day and now that we have a functional record label of our own we can look at more frequent releases. We are going into the new decade with a much more experienced head on our shoulders. As well as for our own passion and our own urges, we would really love to put Jersey on the musical map of producing great bands in the same way The Parkinsons did for Portugal.

 I know there are new songs poised to bring bold new Gaa Gaas adventure to UK music; can you give us some idea of what they will reveal?

GT: If you enjoyed the political vision of ‘Close Your Eyes‘, let’s just say the 2nd album will hold more of that fire. We are going more electronic the next time around massively influenced by Ultravox, but also taking inspiration from greats such as U.K. Subs and The Damned, also stuff like Tool which I’ve only really just adapted to thanks to our new guitarist Simon. The next wave of songs will be a massive step up from what anyone has previously heard. That’s all I can give you!

So what is on the horizon for The Gaa Gaas live and recording wise?

GT: Our first show of 2020 will be a headline slot at 93 Feet East in London’s Brick Lane as a release party for the first album with support from some of our current faves. Robert King of legendary Scottish post-punk band Scars will also be DJing. From then on we’ll be playing constantly the same way we were this time 10 years ago. The live shows are where it’s at with this band. As soon as we came off at Weekender Festival last year, we just wanted to do it again and again. We were tempted to over step Stereo MC’s slot, that’s how much we enjoyed it. As for recording the next venture will be album number 2.

The Gaa Gaas have been a band which has perpetually excited us at The RR, is there a particular moment which has given you the biggest satisfaction and pleasure in its time to date?

GT: I think it would have to be performing at Drop Dead Festival cause it was the furthest we’ve ever travelled to play. Right on the outskirts of Russia and we got billed alongside bands such as Zounds, Specimen, Sex Gang Children, Noisy Pig, and Stereo Total. It was an honour to be invited to play at that event. We still can’t believe we made it there in one piece.

 Again big thanks for chatting with us, anything else you would like to add?

Please donate anything you can to Crisis UK and get behind the Musicians Against Homelessness campaign organised by Emma Rule. Let’s try and get Britain back to a much better state by forming unity and becoming a more humane place to live.

Check out The Gaa Gaas further @ http://www.thegaagaas.co.uk/   https://www.facebook.com/TheGaaGaas   https://twitter.com/The_Gaa_Gaas and read our recent review of their excellent self-titled debut album @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2019/12/06/the-gaa-gaas-self-titled/

Pete RingMaster 04/01/2020

Copyright RingMasterReview: MyFreeCopyright

Rational Youth – Cold War Night Life

photo by Marc de Mouy (1982)

This December sees the release of a deluxe expanded edition of Cold War Night Life, the debut album of Canadian synth pop outfit Rational Youth. It is the second time the acclaimed album has had a fresh outing since its original unveiling and with rare memorabilia and photos, new extensive liner notes, and a host of extended remixes and singles related to the original full-length it provides nothing less than rich and thick pleasure.

Formed in 1981 by Tracy Howe and Bill Vorn, the Montreal hailing band was as notable as releasing one of the first all-synth pop albums released in Canada the following year with Cold War Night Life as they simply were for highly flavoursome songs. The following years only saw their music and releases find more success and further afield alongside arrivals and departures in personnel. Even so Rational Youth came to an end in 1986 but twice the band has returned, the first in 1999 seeing third album To the Goddess Electricity released with the 2009 re-uniting of Howe and Vorn leading to the extremely well-received Future Past Tense EP seven years later when Gaenor Howe stood alongside Tracy. It is fair to say though that throughout, Cold War Night Life has continued to be an inspirational moment for new fans and artists so it will be no surprise if its fresh return finds new appetites and plaudits feasting.

Kraftwerk was a major inspiration upon both Howe and Vorn and openly embraced within their early sound though still no more than a rich spicing to their own imagination as revealed across Cold War Night Life. The band’s second gig was supporting Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and it is easy to suggest they too provided a strong influence listening to the album, especially in moments like City Of Night, a track which dances with ears and imagination half way in to the release. Melodic hooks flirt like cousins to those found within the UK duo’s Enola Gay, luring and seducing with inevitable success such their infectious potency highlighting why the track was one of the bands most memorable and successful.

Before it within Cold War Night Life, opener Close To Nature sets the tone and electronic pop landscape, its dark air and alluring shadows draping the instinctive catchiness of the track’s enterprise and heart. The song has a certain Fad Gadget-esque breath to its breath and character which only adds to its swift beguiling of ears before Beware The Fly strolls in with a more Thomas Dolby meets Landscape like personality and infectiousness to match its success.

With both alone proving that good songs can be fresh and current to newcomers no matter when they were written Saturdays in Silesia soon joins the pair in casting synth pop contagion as melodies and nagging rhythmic enticement reign over ears and imagination. The track is pure virulence before drifting off to allow Just A Sound In The Night to share its richly emotive air and drama within a less urgent but just as magnetic pop embrace which lies somewhere between the John Foxx and Midge Ure fronted eras of Ultravox.

The likes of Le Meilleur Des Mondes with its darkly lit almost menacing instrumental and otherworldly laced intimation and the Visage evoking Ring The Bells further reveal the broadening landscape of Rational Youth’s emerging sound, its own fertile enterprise and suggestiveness an easy involving of the imagination while Dancing On The Berlin Wall, a song which only eclipsed its original success around Europe with its re-release as a single when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, breaths cold war drama and sinister intrigue within its infectious theatre.

For all its pop agility and prowess, the album is just as notable and potent in its instrumentals, Power Zone another almost sinisterly too easy to immerse within and have the imagination conjuring with its disquieting air and haunting electronics. We have many favourite moments within the release but this remains one of our big pleasures and soon rivalled by the equally ominous and haunting Coboloid Race. It too is soaked in a dark magnetism while suggesting a DAF like influence and only captivates from start to finish.

With the album offering Cité Phosphore, the French version of City Of Night, a Danse mix of City Of Night, and an extended versions of Saturdays in Silesia and City Of Night, as well as the crystalline radiance of the band’s debut single, I Want To See The Light, the ever thrilling Cold War Night Life only confirms itself as one of synth pop’s finest moments as it delights fans and newcomers to Rational Youth alike.

Cold War Night Life is released December 6th on CD and digitally via https://rationalyouth.bandcamp.com/album/cold-war-night-life-expanded-and-remastered with a vinyl version available to order via Music Vaultz.

https://rational-youth.com/   https://www.facebook.com/RationalYouth   https://twitter.com/tm_howe

Pete RingMaster 05/12/2019

Copyright RingMasterReview: MyFreeCopyright

Ceremony – In The Spirit World Now

 

As Californian outfit Ceremony continue to search out and explore the next evolution in their creative voice, they have sparked one treat of an itch to get under the skin in recent times. In The Spirit World Now is one of those encounters which immediately infests attention and proceeds to haunt it thereon in, ensuring returns to its contagious body are not only inevitable but inescapable.

It seems some people still compare the Rohnert Park quintet’s early voracious hardcore sounds to each new offering as if they have gone off course. Every artist though needs to follow their instincts and hunger to grow, something Ceremony have relished and flourished with for our thoughts. It has not been quite as a dramatic shift as that Ministry undertook and undoubtedly blossomed from but step by step it has been certainly marked and as In The Spirit World Now proves, compelling.

Moving on from but also drawing in some ways from the Joy Division-esque captivation of last album, The L​-​Shaped Man, Ceremony embraces the breath and virulence of eighties post punk and new wave within its successor. Whether by chance, coincidence, or deliberation there is a potent Devo influence to the sound making up its collection of infection loaded tracks, stronger in some than others, yet it only goes to accentuate the band’s own imagination and individuality.

The Relapse Records released, Will Yip (Title Fight, Circa Survive, Turnover) produced album opens up with Turn Away The Bad Thing. An immediate synth draw is quickly joined by the resonating drawl of Justin Davis’ bass. In little time the vocals of Ross Farrar are striding across the wires cast by guitars, the confidence indeed swagger in his tones a magnet into the melodic web of sound growing with potent catchiness. Crystalline shimmers interrupt the boisterous motion to calm the senses but it only adds to the lure of the song especially with the female voiced caresses which glide forward to seduce. All the while emotional tension builds until the track again bursts into creative animation.

It is a strong and pleasing start but for us only a teaser to greater moments starting with the album’s stirring title track. With something of a Modern English meets John Foxx era Ultravox breeze across its spiky but fluid motion, the track has a wealth of hooks and melodic wiring at its disposable courtesy of the imagination of guitarists Andy Nelson and Anthony Anzaldo with synths just as skilfully manipulative before Further I Was reaps the temptation of both for its own body of virulence. One of those moments when that Devo reference is most keen, the song strolls along springing new wave contagion and post punk dynamics, the angular delivery of Farrar matched by the jerkiness of riffs and rhythms with the swinging beats of Jake Casarotti alone a rousing incitement.

Presaging The End prowls ears next though its presence is all invitation, its melodic romance draped in dark shadows and melancholy, the latter carrying a slight Skids like essence while Say Goodbye To Them brings unbridled pop insistence through its gait and dynamics. Even so there is a restraint which only adds to its easy infestation of appetite and imagination; an invasion with the richest rewards as another irresistible moment within the release is uncaged, one swiftly echoed by the punk feral We Can Be Free. Scuzz lined, hook throwing guitars collude with the melodic tease of keys, rhythm egging on their mischief and the movement it is hard not to offer from the outside.

Through the quirk pop stomp of Years Of Love and Never Gonna Die Now with its Devo/Wall Of Voodoo like creative drama and sonic gesticulation, In The Spirit World Now just stepped up another level, the second our firmly favourite track. Song by song, the album took a firmer grip of our greed, simply becoming more captivating as echoed by I Want More. Again in many ways punk instincts drive its holler, vocals, riffs and the great bass nagging especially coated in that irritability but all tempered and bound in the led synths dance.

From Another Age provides a riveting quick footed incitement next, rhythms jabbing as synths and guitars duel with mutual temptation. In the midst Farrar adds his own pugnacious but welcoming agility, it all galvanic persuasion.

The album concludes with the intrigue coated post punk theatre of Calming Water where rhythms almost stalk ears as they provoke feet, wiry hooks and acute melodies further intoxication as the song sends the release away on a high. Not that its absence proves long as In The Spirit World Now is a record which so far is proving impossible to stay away from.

With a few moments of poetic intimacy between some songs, the album has thoughts as animated as body, spirit and pleasure.  For us Ceremony just keeps getting better and more fascinating.

In The Spirit World Now is out now via Relapse Records; available @ https://ceremonyrohnertpark.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/ceremony/   https://twitter.com/ceremony   https://www.ceremonyhc.com/

Pete RingMaster 11/09/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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

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Glamour Assassins – Ain’t So Young

GA_RingMaster Review

The lure starts with a great name and becomes a vibrant persuasion with a debut album that gets feet moving and hips swaying. Glamour Assassins is that first bait, a title reflected perfectly in the melodic beauty and imposing potency cruising their music, and Ain’t So Young the captivating introduction to the Connecticut hailing band. The release offers a host of songs seeded in eighties new wave and synth pop but equally embracing dance punk and an indie rock flavouring. It is an encounter which has at times thick familiarity to it but also a striking freshness which combines for a persistently enjoyable proposition.

Hailing from New Haven, Glamour Assassins consists of Jared Savas, Nick Post, Jose Novo, Carrie Martinelli, and Gil Morrison, a group of musicians with a combined experience of playing with artists such as Dragonette, Matt & Kim, Plushgun, Freezepop, the Postelles, and Greg Hawkes of The Cars under their belts. As Glamour Assassins, they have earned a weighty reputation for an intense live presence which their album is now looking to back up with its theatre of striking songwriting from Savas and a sound which just wants to make you move as it feeds the imagination.

Produced by Joey Mascola and mastered by Grammy-nominated Emily Lazar, Ain’t So Young gets off to a rousing start and never really looks back. The Day Rock & Roll Died is the initial temptation, a song slipping through ears on a single guitar cast melody as keys and atmospheric tempting brews. It is soon into a catchy stroll, wiry hooks and a deep bass line colluding with punchy beats as the track quickly awakens attention and the first breath of involvement by the listener, especially when the vocals bring their strong persuasion to the mix with additional harmonies just as engagingly in tow. The track does not make a seemingly dramatic impact but swiftly the body is lending its moves and feet jabbing the floor as more enterprise blossoms in the increasingly infectious encounter.

cover_RingMaster Review    The rousing swing of the track is replaced by the emotive serenade of Hate Song Part I (Exile), a female delivered vocal caress on the senses awash with evocative keys and a laid back, shadow built bass prowl. It is a slither of a song at a breath over a minute but a transfixing set up for the electronic adventure of Phantom of the Disco. The band’s latest single is a bubble of dance bred electronica and varied impassioned vocals. There is a whisper of OMD to it, as too of Thomas Dolby and Blancmange, but they are mere essences in the thick ambience and emotional shadows fuelling the impressive drama.

Already there is no escaping the diversity to the album and Glamour Assassins’ sound, a quality continuing with the soulful roar of Sex Life. Synths once more envelop ears in a suggestive hue whilst the minimalistic beats and groaning bass lures bring the funk. Vocals and guitars add extra catchy and resourceful enticement in a track which you can easily offer hints of Duran Duran and Tears For Fears too. That recognisable air is in many guises a constant to the band’s sound it is fair to say, and just as honest to admit it only adds to the success and virulence of songs as proven by first the album’s title track and straight after London Fog. The first of the two thrusts indie tenacity and raw sinews into the mix, bouncing along with attitude and feisty energy as crystaline keys court jangly guitars across jabbing rhythms. In contrast its successor sculpts an aural theatre with an epic atmosphere which evolves into a more intimate and sinister proposal over time. Musically it is like eighties era Ultravox meets The Slow Readers Club with another bewitching range of vocals building unique adventure to the narrative. The track is as immersive as its title suggests if not as muggy with keys providing a shining provocative light throughout.

Indie pop ‘n’ roll has voice and limbs heavily involved next through Scumbag, bands like Late Cambrian coming to mind, whilst the contagion soaked Never Get Caught draws from Visage like territory for its pulsating seducing, though to this the band fuels the vocals with a rapacious edge and angst as the guitars spin a riveting web of sonic and melodic imagination which is seemingly Cure inspired. Once more Glamour Assassins turn familiarity into something of their very own though, just with an old friend like nature.

The album closes with Hate Song Part II (Death or Love), a track which kind of sums up the album and the band’s invention in one go. Part rock, part synth pop, and bursting with an array of crafty hooks, alluring grooves, and an infectiousness which never leaves ears and appetite alone, it is an impressive end to a thoroughly enthralling and enjoyable release.

Eighties new wave and synth pop seems to be having a strong influence on numerous emerging bands right now, of which Glamour Assassins is one of the most exciting and potential flooded propositions. Their album…well if you want to dance to some old school but freshly inventive contagion then Ain’t So Young hits the spot.

Ain’t So Young is available now

Pete RingMaster 10/09/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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

The Cathode Ray – Infinite Variety

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The energy around the arrival of and anticipation for Infinite Variety, the second album from Scottish band The Cathode Ray, ensured that intrigue and enthusiasm of a great many was high going into the release. It is fair to say that the proposition not only lives up to hopes and expectations placed upon it but leaves them lightweight against its kaleidoscope of fun, sound, and adventure. What was not predicted here was the nostalgic impact it had on ears and thoughts, as well as memory, for our first time with the band. Musically it weaves in essences from the seventies and eighties into an invigorating modern tenacity but it was finding out the background to the members which inspired us to first trawl through cases of vinyl on a nostalgia trip to relive old favourites ashamedly neglected over time.

Formed in 2006, The Cathode Ray was initially a song-writing collaboration between Jeremy Thoms and ex-Josef K frontman and solo artist Paul Haig, a band and solo project straight away dug out for a reprise in the ears. A couple of well-received singles followed before Haig left the project in 2009. Taking it over Thom enlisted guitarist Steve Fraser once of Edinburgh post punk band the Scars, another enslaving proposition for our passions way back, and alongside him drummer David Mack and bassist Neil Baldwin to complete a new line-up, the latter bringing another search through boxes to relive the glories of the disgracefully under-rated Bluebells and post-punk group TV21. Once that was out of the system it was full-steam ahead with Infinite Variety, an album swiftly living up and more to anything its creators may have helped craft before.

The album’s landscape uses various decades of sound as its palette, twisting and shaping them into unique and colourful proposals with a lyrical exploration to match. Said to loosely be a concept album, Infinite Variety visually and aurally references the natural world whilst looking at emotions involved with the human condition. The songs are kind of bundled into three areas; ‘fear, paranoia, lust and betrayal’ spicing the first few songs before looks at ‘transformation, honesty and realisation’ and subsequently love in various light and dark forms flavour the tracks. Like in a kaleidoscope though, it all seems to disarrange and evolve with every twist of a track to provide an on-going and increasingly fascinating adventure.

10425081_1014104828616219_3923383927065033299_n   That diversity to songs is one of many potent aspects to the album and it all starts with the outstanding Backed Up. A simple rub of guitar and accompanying cowbell prods make first contact, soon joined by crisp beats and an expanding coaxing of melodic enticing. The expressive tones of Thoms join the widening incitement next, his entrance awakening bolder enterprise in the guitars, whilst riffs and hooks come with a great post-punk spicing. The reserved but lively melodic invention provides a sultry colouring which the dark bass tones wonderfully temper whilst vocally Thom drives it all with a voice which is like a mix of Pete Shelley and Ste McCabe to offer another rich texture within the potent album starter.

It is a strong beginning straight away eclipsed by the outstanding Resist, one of the most addictive slices of warped pop you will come across this year. Its hooks instantly get under the skin and into the psyche, swiftly followed by the vocals and the thick bass bait. The song’s infectiousness is simply virulent bringing a whiff of The Revillos to its power pop stomp, a passing scent not as strong as the Buzzcocks like catchiness which oozes from the following Nowhere At All. Again it is merely a spicing though, this time to a captivating stroll of imaginative percussion, imposing rhythms, and addictive enterprise, all soaked in inescapable contagion.

Don’t Waste Your Words strides in next to bring an addictive lure of hip swinging rock ‘n’ roll. Feet and ears are an early submission, whilst the capture of the imagination is barely a drum stick swing away in the riveting temptation of the song. It is not alone in offering hooks and a presence which are indelible in thoughts and emotions even after the album’s departure, but it is probably the most intoxicating though matched straight away by the excellent Buck The Trend, a song with a healthy breath of Tom Verlaine and Television to it. Keys and guitar spin a gorgeous eighties web for the rhythmic and vocal prowess of the song to pull this way and that, a combination sculpting another major highlight in the album. There are times across Infinite Variety, like here, where thoughts wonder if the band may have missed the boat with their sound in the fact that The Cathode Ray would have surely been a big inspirational player in the eighties. Every time that suggestion raises its head though band and album almost in anticipation provides evidence to differ, like No Holds Barred which comes next, proving that they are definitely a perfect fit for the now. The song is a slower but similarly infectious offering with a held in check energy which still has body and emotions swaying feistily with its low key and thoroughly addictive swagger. Once more riffs and melodies combine to create a fresh twist and distinct romp of sound and invention in the album.

The brilliant Eureka Moment! is simply a montage of eighties goodness crafted into a transfixing and exotic jungle of imagination fuelled rhythms, Scars like sonic sweeps, and Bluebells bred melodies. It feels like a song dipping into its creators past exploits and those of others whilst equally drawing on new ingenuity. The John Foxx led version of Ultravox comes to mind as does The Creatures as the track seduces and incites but again they are just particular hues in an new enthralling and thrilling aural conjuring by the band.

This Force Of Nature brings its flowing melodic breeze next, female vocals seducing alongside the tones of Thoms, whilst Torn Apart explores an immersive and haunting cavern of sonic reflection which in many ways has seeds to the likes of House of Love and My Bloody Valentine. The absorbing and mesmeric encounter, as so many songs, keeps the album turning over in imagination and invention, as well as variety, before making way for the post punk croon of The Eyes Are The Window To The Soul. With a bassline which recalls early Cure and an Orange Juice like jangle to its chords, the song is bewitching and engagingly dramatic like a modern day Associates.

The album is closed by the elegant reflection of Saving Grace, a semi-acoustic ballad which simply whisks ears and thoughts off into hope soaked clouds under a smouldering exotic sun of melodic temptation. The song is spellbinding but also only telling half the story at this point. Around mid-way the calm is suddenly infused with ominous rhythms and sinister keys, nothing over imposing but certainly a brewing provocation which is soon ripe with surf rock tendrils of guitar and a tempestuous air. As if warning that good times still offer a stormy adventure, the track is irresistible manna for ears and imagination with seven minutes of sonic alchemy.

Infinite Variety is quite breath-taking, leaving thoughts basking and appetite hungry for much more. There have been many releases and bands recently creating real triumphs of nostalgia and new invention, but The Cathode Ray tops the lot.

Infinite Variety is available through Stereogram Recordings now on CD and download via http://www.stereogramrecordings.co.uk/audio/infinite-variety-the-cathode-ray-cddl/

https://www.facebook.com/thecathoderay

RingMaster 21/04/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright