Forever After: Pictures EP

This year has seen many impressive and promising pop punk bands emerge but the majority offer the same conclusion, still to find a distinct personal voice to their sound. These bands share a similarity to each other and those before them to make the moment enjoyable but the future the canvas where hopes of standing out from the crowd, or not will play out. UK band Forever After is one of those rare exceptions, not only does the band ooze great promise ahead with the impressive EP Pictures but already has stepped into a unique place of their very own.

The bio for the Essex quartet states ‘for fans of Lower Than Atlantis, Deaf Havana, and The Maccabees. You cannot argue against that but easily can add the likes of Buzzcocks, Undertones, and Hagfish, such the feisty new wave and original punk essences which tantalise and molest the passions wonderfully throughout. Though not quite perfect Pictures is outstanding, an immediately exciting treat to fire up the heart which just gets better and better with every play.

Formed at the beginning of the year, Forever After soon had audiences baying for more with their live shows which included playing alongside bands including Mallory Knox and Ten Second Epic. Released earlier as a free download, Pictures too only excited a crowd looking for something different and with its official appearance November 5th, as the band prepare to record its follow up, a wider recognition seems inevitable once the four tracks thrust their wanton hook smart dance on more and more eager ears.

Touring The Map opens the release up with fiery riffs and thumping beats, as most pop punk songs do. It pulls attention its way without startlingly offering anything new, leaving expectations exactly where they are when being confronted by another pop punk effort. Into its stride the track whips out teasing hooks, beckoning melodic weaves, and the excellent distinct voice of guitarist Dom Littler. Suddenly you realise you are in the midst of a sonic storm of originality and outrageous infectiousness, the beats of drummer Craig Mcqueen persistently probing the ear whilst bassist Harry Stokley prowls the song with throbbing intent whilst adding his own fine vocals to back up Littler. This alone would certainly ensure a fresh sound and experience but with the excellent guitar invention of Sam Byford, his melodic weaves bordering on lustful irreverence, the song is an irresistible piece of aural mischief, the thing sonic wet dreams are made of.  The song is brilliant, one which leaves one breathless whilst in full union with its passion physically and vocally, and the beginning of one of the bigger musical indie thrills this year.

The following (Old) School, is as it says on the tin, well in part as original punk flavours vein this great slab of rock n roll. Slightly grittier than its predecessor but equally as contagious, the song is a kind of mix between Bad Religion, Radio Stars, and Maximo Park but again belongs to no one but Forever After. A more abrasive affair the hooks easily captures the imagination whilst the vocal harmonies and melodic flames from the guitars just ignite further thrills and appetite for much more form the band. Like the first, the song is a shifting beast of pleasure, the rhythms erupting into excited bursts and bass offering a swagger which sets it apart from but perfectly in league with the charge of the guitars.

The third track called Interlude is just that. It is an ok instrumental but out of place on the release and just feels like a filler which is needless on a brief EP. Saying that though it leads perfectly into final track Say It True so maybe just reinventing it and making it a proper intro to another great song would be a rewarding thing to look at. The closing track is a riot of manic guitars, anthemic energy and shouts, and challenging rhythms all wrapped in irresistible invention and magical enterprise. The track just kicks up a storm of pleasure from which escape is impossible and full engagement willing.

Pictures is outstanding, simply as, and Forever After a band destined to make the future one thrilling and explosive punk rock adventure.

www.facebook.com/foreverafteruk

http://foreverafter.bandcamp.com/album/pictures

RingMaster 04/11/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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The Winter Olympics – Profit & Loss

With a name like The Winter Olympics you cannot escape thinking they might be another tepid and pale band to place alongside the likes of Coldplay and Snow Patrol, another band with dulled embers in their belly from an extinguished fire. A big mistake as their new album Profit & Loss shows. The quintet from London is one of the most exciting bands to emerge into view, the band having earned its destined success through years of determination and hard work, and their album a stunning and thrilling maelstrom of imagination, ingenuity, and heart energising pleasure.

The Winter Olympics create a storming riot of melodic punk n roll, though that is simplifying it. With strains of electro dance, post punk, and melodic rock as virulent as the eighties breath and insatiable energy which drives the band, their sound is unpredictable and inspiring rock n roll at its very best. Consisting of Martin Bowman (guitars), Andrew Wagstaff (vocals), Simon Oldham (drums), Neil Mackay (bass), and Agatha Mlynarczyk (keys), the band have released through Freakscene Records, an album in Profit and Loss which demands and receives nothing less than enthused attention.

Within seconds opener Regional Showcase rubs the ear firmly with coarse riffs and an instantly addictive post punk groove. That Joy Division tease is irresistible as it leads one into a fist pumping chorus with the melodic disdain of Pulp and punk arrogance of Max Raptor. It is a staggering ride which you can only leap on board with, coat tails flying in the urgency. The belligerent bass of Mackay glares throughout the song whilst the guitars dip into a Sisters Of mercy like stance before exploding again into an anthemic and rampant tempest of sounds, energy, and sheer pleasure.

I Prefer The Early Stuff opens with a churning clutch of riffs which have an early Undertones gripe to their approach before again expanding into an abrasive and completely compelling assault. The song soon employs classy melodic teases for a pop punk glow alongside the still intimidating under current, the mix another impressive and delicious slice of invention. An early single from the band, the song tells you all you need to know about them, their vision and ability, with the album as a whole further showing the quality of variation within their songwriting.

Latest single Fags and Girls once more takes a different tact, its sizzling electro weave underpinning the harsher tones and excellent harmonies from Wagstaff, an impressive vocalist throughout, and Mlynarczyk. It is a song to only light the touch paper to greater ardour towards the release which successor This is The Fourth Time (I Have Been In Your House) only stokes further. With a stern probing bassline the song entangles post punk whispers with burning guitars thrusts and punk attitude, the defensive angst and lustful loss of control lyrically and musically, wringing of the same mischief pool as Innercity Pirates. As the song ends with the addition of large melodically and sonically bold keys added to the already magnificent mix there is nothing to deny it taking best of honours on the album.

The electro based stompers They Launched A Probe and Attention All Departments both leave a breathless heart in their wake, the first a gentler but feisty romp whilst the second has elements of The Thompson Twins tied to the manic energy Baddies rushing through its presence, though with all these comparisons it must be noted the spices only flavour something quite original.

Further songs such as the electro pop I Miss The Nineties and A Prize Every Day keep things on a more subdued but equally satisfying stature whilst the closing pair of Feeling European and especially the thumping last track Heavy Metal Ending, ensure the album ends on lingering brawls of invention and energy.

Profit & Loss is a sensational release and thrusts The Winter Olympics to the fore of imaginative and innovative UK indie rock. We lost Baddies this year but this band easily feels the gap and more.

http://www.facebook.com/winterolympicsband

RingMaster 01/10/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Dead Retinas: Dead Retinas vs. The World EP

Sometimes a band comes along to ignite all the personal fires inside and leave one counting the days to the next musical adrenaline rush to come from their creativity. UK punks Dead Retinas is such a band and their Dead Retinas vs. The World EP, an invigorating burst of essential punk rock to fire up the engines of passion. The quartet create punk rock which is honest, aggressive, and vibrant: their sound steeped in the essentials of punk and fuelled by the energies of modern rock. The resulting experience unbridled pleasure.

The band consists of vocalist Sam Hendo, guitarist/vocalist Jack Thompson, bassist/vocalist CJ Smith who all knew each other since high school, and Lee O’Connor on drums. Originally called Hounds, until they found out about another band with the same name, the band took the Dead Retinas name from something actor Nick Frost said on the commentary track to the film Paul. To date the band has impressed with ease through the sharing of stages with the likes of Four Short Of A Miracle, Saving Syenna, The City Divided, ZsilentZ, and Falter to name a few.

Dead Retinas vs. The World is their debut release and a mighty powerful four track beast of an introduction it is too. It is punk rock at its best, confrontational, relentless, and heart driven. Their music recalls the best elements of bands such as Cancer Bats, NOFX, and Pinhead Gunpowder alongside the fire of Rage Against The Machine and Red Tape. It is all twisted into their own incendiary powder keg of bruising and explosive individuality as the band emerges as one of the best new entrants within punk for a long time.

The release ruptures the atmosphere from the start with Pure Gold, a track with heart splintering riffs and combative rhythms. The vocals hit every scorched and aggressive range perfectly to offer as much texture and rich diversity as the sounds around them. From the choppy greedy riffs, the uncompromising beats, to the growling guttural bass sound, the song corrupts and enthrals the senses for the deepest satisfaction. The band is also unafraid to bring extra treats in to the mix such as the burning guitar solo which simply flames away gloriously on top of already inspired raging inferno of addiction.

The following A 20 Note Ain’t For Coke finds a higher plateau to leap and explode upon with its infectious hypnotic hooked riffs and magnetic breath. It offers an old school flavour to bring thoughts of seventies UK bands The Lurkers, The Outcasts, and early Undertones to the fore whilst chewing away with a slight hardcore hunger. Brief and uncomplicated, the song is an immense blast of sheer instinctive satisfaction to leave one breathless and eager for much more.

    I’ve Got A Nerve brings a slight ska fusion to its muscular frame though it is mere spicery soon overwhelmed by the raw energy of the track. Arguably the less effective of the four, it is still a song to leave a benchmark for most other bands to aim for and ensure the appetite is still ravenous for more of the same.

The release closes with the excellent Hang The Bastards. It starts with just a delicious gnarly bass and thumping drums union, their predatory companionship alone boiling up an addiction like pleasure. Into its stride the song develops a scorched bluesy swagger which cores the punk aggression and vocal forcefulness, its groove hypnotic magnificence.  There is even a little tinge of stoner rock to the presence of the song, though its metallic intensity is, especially at its climax, RATM spawn.

Dead Retinas vs. The World EP is outstanding, one of the best debuts in a long time. If punk rock triggers the deepest rampages of joy within then Dead Retinas might just have you squealing with orgasmic delight.

https://www.facebook.com/DeadRetinas

RingMaster 12/09/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Athel: Open Your Eyes To Society

Really striking pop punk bands seem to be on the wane these days, there are some great bands but with uniformity to their sound which is great at the time of listening but soon lost from the memory until the next visit. Chicago band Athel with their debut album Open Your Eyes To Society seems like a band that might buck that trend. The songs on the release are vibrant and contagious and offer a fresh breath which lingers far longer than the sounds from the majority of their contempories. It openly brings familiar spices and flavours well known to the genre but places them within an invention and contagion that most others struggle to define their creations with.

Consisting of trio vocalist and guitarist Justin King, bassist Comron Fouladi, and drummer Christian Navarro, Athel bring strong traits of classic rock and metal to their punk hearted music too which adds to the distinct variety and strength the album grips the ear firmly with. Comparisons of Foo Fighters, Rise Against, and of course Green Day have been placed upon their songs and these are not hard to miss though the band probably sits nearer to the rock fuelled likes of Sum 41 with melodic insertions of a Good Charlotte or All American Rejects veining the constantly engaging sounds.

Signed to Mortal Music after the band came to the attention of co-owner and SOiL bassist Tim King, the band seems destined to rile up more than passing attention with their first full length release. The follow up to their previous couple of EPs, Open Your Eyes To Society swaggers and saunters through the ear with a sure confidence and stylish ability to excite the ear. From the opening Radio the release has no intentions other than to offer a good and flavoursome party. Mildly aggressive, vaguely intrusive, and wholly infectious the album leaves one fulfilled and with a satisfied grin. The opener sums the album up immediately, the song an easy going and pleasing invitation for the limbs and any anthemic tendencies within. It cruises through the ear with robust and eager riffs, fine harmonious vocals, and inserted rock guitar spikes to further excite, all brought with a full energy and imaginative hand.

The following vibrant These Are The Times continues the release in similar fashion, easily appealing and undemanding but it is with the next trio of songs that the album shows its true depths and strengths. All That I Am starts it off and is a gem. With a hypnotic melodic hook the Buzzcocks or Undertones would be proud of, and a Jimmy Eat World like chorus infection it is irresistible and alone offers the promise mentioned at the start.

Kara’s Carousel and Paranormal Abstract Of Everyday Life complete the triple slice of consecutive magic. The first of the two a rock textured blend of stirring metallic riffs and strikingly melodic vocals. The song suggests it might venture into pop punk or hard rock throughout but remains firmly steered between the two and is deeply impressive for it despite the fade out suggesting a lack of an ending. The other song is a muscular contagion with great acidic classic rock guitars adding a slight progressive feel. More hard rock than punk music wise, the song exhilarates and leaves one with increased adrenaline and raised eagerness to hit replay before moving on. Along with These Are The Times the pair are the biggest highlights on the album and the undeniable evidence of a band on a sharp rise.

Though the album continues with peaks and slight lulls which are still more inventive and impressive than most other similar veined releases, the album never gives less than pleasure and reward. The likes of the energetic Their Shoes alongside the melodic excellence of Me, Myself, & I and the crystalline grace of Oceans leave smooth and invigorating caresses upon the senses whilst brewing up emotions with their insistent anthemic energy.

Ending on bonus track Keep Me Awake, a song so addictive it should come with medical assistance, Open Your Eyes To Society is an excellent release that achieves what it set out to do, to leave one thrilled, energised, and eager for more. Athel still feel like they have a way to go to make that step into totally unique territory within the genre but they are well on the way and bringing great pleasure as they go.

RingMaster 18/05/2012

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The Super Happy Fun Club – Go Fun Yourself

If upon listening to Go Fun Yourself the new album from Chicago pop rockers The Super Happy Fun Club you are not smiling broadly at some point you are either deaf or dead. Whatever your musical flavourings and poison the infectious feel good sounds of the sextet is irresistible, defying you not to tap your toes, widen those lips and even raise your own vocals tones.  There is no escaping the fact that this release is FUN and in response to the title one finds it impossible not to be an involved part of its joyful play in some degree.

The members of The Super Happy Fun Club before being a band are friends spanning fifteen years and it goes a long way to show why there is such ease and fluency across the album. Of course musical proficiency and songwriting skills are important in eth making of notable music, but to have that confident and deeply comfortable understanding between band members is a big factor in making great music, and on the evidence of the eight songs within Go Fun Yourself this band are flowing with it all. The band has plenty of experience in its ranks too with members learning their craft in an array of bands including Lucky Boys Confusion, Treaty of Paris, The Waiting Game, Logan Square, and One Life. It all combines to make The Super Happy Fun Club with their power pop/pop punk blend one hard to ignore band.

The album’s most accessible and track, though every song is so easy to become one with, ‘My Life’s A Mess (Yeah Yeah Yeah)’ starts the party atmosphere flowing. Big gang choruses, thumping riffs, glorious discordant intrusions, and copious lashes of hooks with a Fall Out Boy edge, the song is simply aural manna. Sometimes opening an album with the strongest and best song can back fire as from there on in it feels like there is a marked drop in levels. Not on Go Fun Yourself, each and every varied subsequent track delivers the goods in their different ways. A strong aspect of the album is that there is a distinct variety amongst the tracks under a pop rock umbrella. Some tracks veer into rock others towards punk but every time they grab the ear with an engaging enthusiasm that is impossible to not welcome.

The line-up of vocalist Stubhy Pandav, guitarists Brad Chagdes and Phil Kosch, bassist Jeremy Galanes, Pat Gilroy on keys, and drummer Chris Mason pull out all the stops on the release to entertain and give the listener no choice but to let their sounds in. The never feel the need to resort to cheap tricks and obvious lures to make their music stand out, instead trusting their own inspired melodies and hooks to grab attention which they invariably do and numerous times within each track. ‘Victim’ with its proud strolling bassline and great group harmonies on simple effective rock guitars keeps the essential listening going. From the following ‘London’ with a Sick Puppies flavouring, through the more emotive ‘Generation’ with a taste of Living End about it, to the vibrant and beckoning harmonious ‘Partners In Crime’ sounding how we all wish Bowling For Soup did, all tease and pleasure the ear with care and attention.

The remaining tracks complete an extremely satisfying and impressive release with a mention of ‘Billy The Entertainer’ a must. It is an immense piece of bliss combining a Living End/Undertones hypnotic lure across a length of track The Dickies would be proud of. Short and punchy it is pop punk at its best.

The Super Happy Fun Club with Go Fun Yourself has lit up music and the year with its sounds. With touches of Plain White T’s and Billy Talent to be added to the spices of previously mention bands the release has something for everyone within its own very original and unique sounds. When it receives its release on 7th November via THROOP Records make it your first adventure of the day.

http://www.thesuperhappyfunclub.com

RingMaster 18/09/2011

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