Audra – Dear Tired Friends

photo by Jaymz

A decade is a long time to be without something but well worth the wait when it comes to the new album from post punks Audra. It is ten years since the Arizona hailing band released third album Everything Changes and it is fair to say a great many have been eagerly and patiently awaiting its successor and just as simple to assume they are going to greedily bask in the dark beauty of Dear Tired Friends.

Formed in 1991 and primarily brothers Bart and Bret Helm, Audra enfold the inspirations of post punk and its numerous shapers alongside the eclectic imagination found in the likes of the Velvet Underground, Jane’s Addiction, Joy Division, David Bowie, James, and Tom Waits within their sound. As Dear Tired Friends proves it emerges a riveting often haunting embrace of intimate shadows and bewitching melancholy framed in post punk starkness and gothic rock romanticism.

An album which “deals heavily with loss and letting go” and described as “a testimony of the effect the last decade had on each band member”, Dear Tired Friends opens up with the song Tired Friends and took barely a handful of seconds to seize attention with the sizzle of Bart’s guitar across the bold but controlled rhythms of the band’s drummer, Jason DeWolfe Barton. From there pure addiction grew as the track unveiled its post punk prowess around Bret’s potent tones, the imagination only further ensnared as a calmer passage of reflection bares the heart of the track. It is a compelling and irresistible start to the album and quickly followed and matched by the outstanding Wish No Harm.

This is a song which began back in the early nineties and reappeared on a cassette they found when the band was assembling demos for what originally was to be a 4-track EP. Completed last year, Bret adding lyrics and melody to the original demo, Wish No Harm became the lead single for Dear Tired Friends and there could be no finer invitation to the album. The opening bassline was immediate manna to the ears, its lure unapologetic flirtation echoing the core essence of eighties post punk and only enhanced by the swiftly following enticement of vocals and guitar. There is something of Bauhaus meets The Cure to the song with a just as flavoursome tease of bands such as Leitmotiv and Gene Loves Jezebel but nevertheless stands unique to Audra and their dark imagination.

Another Fallen Petal is next up, the song a slowly unfurling piece of emotive solemnity and melodic intimacy within the mournful yet radiant embrace of keys. With the pure captivation bred leaving a lingering presence in thoughts, the song simply beguiled as too its successor, Drinking Yourself To Sleep. Fuelled by an instinctive catchiness bred in all tracks however their darkness and character, the equally enthralling song bears a glam rock lining to its harmonic stroll with psych rock currents in its breath.

Sunglass provides another romance of ears, keys and vocals almost crawling over the senses with the subsequent blaze of guitar sparking a Bowie-esque hue to the soulful and atmospheric piece of dark rapture while Planet Of Me steps forward with a knowing swagger to its rousing virulence. Featuring Mike VanPortfleet of Lycia as guest on lead guitar, the track is a weave of contrasts and stirring imagination; it as striking in its calm as it is in its lively eddies of contagious enterprise.

Across the fertile almost invasive liveliness of Sliding Under Cars and its Numan-esque poppiness, through The Sound/The The styled bold rapture that is Fireflies, and over the doleful but enslaving fascination of 1987 we can only say that Dear Tired Friends engrained itself deeper under the skin and into the passions before Falling brought it all to a close with its dark wave nurtured seduction. Volatility lies in the heart of the song, never fully erupting but teasing fiery emissions to the surface as it adds to the inherent beauty and splendour which lines its shadowy magnificence.

We all may have lingered ten years for a new adventure with Audra but we can tell you that every long second was worth the wait and more.

Dear Tired Friends is out now digitally and on CD and vinyl; available @ https://audra.bandcamp.com/album/dear-tired-friends

https://www.audramusic.com/   https://www.facebook.com/audramusic   https://twitter.com/audramusiccom

Pete RingMaster 28/11/2019

Copyright RingMasterReview: MyFreeCopyright

Playing House – New Haircut EP

Photo by Veronica Aguilar Photography

Photo by Veronica Aguilar Photography

The New Haircut EP is another debut this year which needed little time to excite ears and incite reactions to go wow. There has been a few already in 2016 and amongst the most thrilling is this introduction to East London alt-pop trio Playing House. The three song festival of pop discord and irresistible hooks simply grabs attention and a swiftly greedy appetite with its creative devilry and maturity. Listening to the EP for the first time was a being stopped in the tracks moment with the grin on face and the passions telling all.

Much like another big site favourite Horse Party, Playing House is a two girl, one guy exploration of pop music. Every raw jangle, off-kilter twist, and discord fuelled sidestep of the genre embraced and re-honed to the threesome’s own startling escapades whilst weaving in the melodic prowess and flirty hooks you would expect and hope for. Inspirations for the three are said to include the likes of David Bowie, Velvet Underground, and Chic but you just can tell that their own tastes provide a much broader canvas for their music to draw from before finding its own unique character.

Hitting the London live scene in the September of 2015 with a sold out headline show at St Giles in The Fields Church, hosted by Kal Lavelle for her We Love Shows series, Playing House have become a greedily devoured live proposition. The New Haircut EP is going to try and transfer that support to a broader landscape with its release; success hard to see being missed as gets ears lustful again listening to the release whilst fingers hit keys.

It opens with the first song written by the band, Feel The Weight. Its initial touch is a fuzzy mist of keys, the second a romping stroll of bouncing rhythms and a spicy hook still embraced by that melodically dissonant wash. The coaxing into the song is ear thrilling and becoming even more irresistible as things relax for the lively and lyrically potent vocals courted by an equally infectious prowess to rhythms and riffs. The edge to its thick beats contrasts perfectly with the funky swing of the song and the imaginative blend of vocals from the two ladies, a combination of sound and energy which has a definite and repeated in other songs feel of 4 Non Blondes to it.

The excellent start only hits another plateau with the EP’s title track and band’s new single. New Haircut is quite superb, again enslaving attention from the first moments as choppy and steely guitars entangle around the vocal roar. Once the song slips into post punk meets alternative pop ingenuity, the deal is done, ears and passions enslaved. From there rhythms roam and roll with a quirky almost deranged tenacity whilst stabbing riffs and those increasingly choppy chords have feet and spirit throwing shapes like a slinky. The track is quite brilliant with that vocal agility and adventure of the band the ringleader to glorious revelry and lyrical incitement of thought.

The release is completed by Grapefruit, another addiction in the making proposal which takes barely seconds to entice and engross as guitars chip away at ears which are simultaneously being slowly seduced by keys. Though carrying a more restrained energy than its predecessors, the song has a lively swagger and charm which will have bodies on their feet and hips swaying in boisterous union.

It is a fine end to one thrilling first look at Playing House. You always assume a band will grow and blossom further from their first endeavour which in this case means the British music scene has one mighty and destined to be exhilarating adventure brewing ahead of them. A must hear release.

The New Haircut EP is released April 8th

Upcoming live dates:

Wednesday 13th April – Birthdays, London (EP release show)

Sunday 17th April – Sound Control, Manchester

Wednesday 20nd April – Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh

Thursday 21st April – The Garage, London

Friday 22nd April – Sofar Sounds, Liverpool

Saturday 23rd April – Moon Club, Cardiff

http://www.playinghouse.co.uk/   https://www.facebook.com/playinghouseuk   https://twitter.com/playinghouseuk

Pete RingMaster 06/04/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Goldsmack – Wild Season

Goldsmack-Wild-Season-EP

To be honest it is proving hard to describe the Goldsmack sound; certainly it is a blaze of sultry pop equipped with a potent glaze of psychedelia. But equally it delves into dark rock ‘n’ roll and blues bred exploits whilst casting a theatre of intimate drama amidst an evolving landscape of aural roars and smouldering emotions. Maybe the closest hint is to say that the Italian trio create something akin to Nick Cave and the Velvet Underground uniting in the seduction of My Baby and MGMT, but then again maybe not. There is also a familiarity to their music which makes accessibility very easy but as revealed by the diverse collection of adventures within their new debut EP Wild Season, it is once caught by that invitation that the real adventure and thrill actually begins.

Goldsmack consists of vocalist Georgia Minelli, guitarist Davide Tebaldi, and bassist/keyboardist Luca Bagatti, three childhood friends brought up “in the single most beautiful and boring place on earth”. It was a small village in the gentle hills of northern Italy where the trio nurtured their musical prowess and imagination, amongst many things to while away the hours. Their sound plays like the home of dreams and isolation bred from a similar source of inspiration in their remote upbringing whilst the band name, again to quote from the press release, “…refers not as much to real gold, but rather to an alchemical sort of gold, a chimera, a potent drug…a prismatic, paradoxical thought that becomes circular and obsessive.

Good Morning Star tantalises first, a monotone sonic lure the thread to a web of electronic beats and guitar cast spirals of melodic enticing. A thick bass tempting swiftly adds to the potent bait, the mix carrying a post punk air reinforced by the also singularly expressive tones of Minelli, an essence of the Au Pairs coming to mind at this early point. At the heart of the persuasion a brewing infectiousness grows, wrapping the increasing celestial pop and vivacious radiance of the encounter. Contrasting it though are prowling shadows courtesy of the bass aligned to a sonic predation, extremes colluding to offer their part in the exploration within the EP of “the impossible triangle between Love, Money and Spiritual Enlightenment”.

The captivating start is swiftly surpassed by A Wild Wild Season, a fascinating dark rock stroll seeing Bagatti bring his full vocal participation to the narrative alongside Minelli. A spicy melody winds itself around another darkly lit bass coaxing, beats resonating in the background as Bagatti’s equally shadowed Cave-esque tones cast the beginning of the evocative narrative. The song continues to saunter, merging lighter scenery into the sinisterly aired landscape, whilst both Bagatti and Minelli duet and entwine their compelling deliveries to enthralling success. The seduction gains even greater momentum as a croon of orchestral like coaxing reveals their provocative textures in another riveting and mouth-watering triumph to the release.

A feisty ambience of blues and psyche rock smothers ears next as Rites Of Spring takes over, that My Baby reference a perfect clue to the sultry and fiery shuffle of the encounter. Minelli is as much ablaze as the guitars, their individual tempestuous energies and impassioned creativity uniting in a fire of persuasion though one kept in check a touch by the great wandering tenacity of the sobering bass. Once more ears are glued and imagination ignited; their appetites hungry for more and straight away fed by the similarly caustic delta blues pop/funk of Kids with Guns. Feet and emotions are quickly recruited to the swagger of the song, ears seduced by the impressive and sizzling enterprise of Tebaldi’s guitar resulting in one more increasingly enjoyable and incendiary escapade.

The closing Of Human Bondage is an enthralling oddity, a turbulent experience of dark drama and emotional torment coloured by insightful references and samples. These alone reinforce the imposing theatre and power of the track but are matched just as potently by the menacing shadow coursing its sound. Within it all a dark beauty is at work too, a calm and hope which only accentuates the track’s absorbing provocative heart.

It is a gripping end to a thrilling introduction to Goldsmack. Wild Season is an infestation of the psyche which continues to work away even after its sound has left the body; a golden slice of psychedelic darkness and shadowed pop whose recommendation comes as a roar.

Wild Season is available now @ https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/wild-season-ep/id988821494

http://goldsmackmusic.com/   https://www.facebook.com/pages/Goldsmack/804817556212518

RingMaster 20/05/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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I ♡ The Monster Hero – Rhythm & Pals

I heart The Monster Hero.mvc

As seemingly deranged as it is openly seductive, Rhythm & Pals the debut album from UK rockers I ♡ The Monster Hero is an encounter near on impossible to tear oneself away from. Creating a distinctive almost swamp like mesh of synth pop, psychedelia, and garage rock with rich noise and garage punk spicing, the album is a mesmeric and disturbingly compelling proposition. It could be the soundtrack to absorbing dreams or the seeding to voracious nightmares, either blossoming within it’s simply thrilling imagination flirting rapacity. Consisting of eleven highly persuasive and at times welcomingly invasive fascinations, Rhythm & Pals is a rare and uniquely exhilarating treat.

Formed in 2011 and hailing from Dublin, I ♡ The Monster Hero include the likes of Aphex Twin, Love, Neil Young, New Order, Suicide, The Cars, The Supremes, Velvet Underground, Electric Light Orchestra, and Prince Edward Island in their long list of diverse inspirations, seeds which are explored, warped, and reconstructed into something impossibly magnetic within the band’s own brew of imagination. The band consists of Andy Walsh, Simon Dowling, Philip Clarke, David Crean, and Paddy Walsh, a quintet certainly taking the album as evidence who whips up psyche engulfing toxins which are just as virulently and commandingly effective on feet, senses, and passions. Following a couple of weeks back the very tempting release of the single Tony Bailey, which opens up the album, Rhythm & Pals takes the listener and their swiftly submissive mind on a riveting life improving flight through aural alchemy.

Tony Bailey idles in on an electronic whisper soon expanded with Casio temptation and crisp eager rhythms into a toe tapping shuffle. Joined by soft and expressive vocals as the keys cloud the skies with great repetitive nagging amidst bright melodic colours, the song expels a warm kaleidoscope of invention and sonic hues for imagination and emotions to devour greedily. Cored by increasingly enticing rhythms and a developing throaty bassline, the encounter simply bewitches as it inspires body and appetite to join its magnetic calling. It is a track which romances as it wraps resourcefully around the senses, something emulated if in different shades by the next up Send Goodvibes Only. With a croon of House of Love around its smiling yet darker lips, the song is a poetic venture soaking the ears in elegant shadows and vibrant almost crystalline melodies, it all coming in a surface of scuzz kissed and fuzz fuelled enticement.

It is a strong start to the release but only an appetiser to greater things reinforced by the rhythmically fuelled Little Gems, a song with a potent swagger and a dirty atmosphere which without lighting fires keeps attention and a steadily growing appetite well contented. The ascent to higher plateaus starts with Bozo Vs Slug, another track gripping ears with an initial lure of rhythms, these driven by raw sinews and tenacity. Thumping out the frame for an emerging graze of garage punk and psyche infused rapaciousness to trigger an awakening feisty stomp, the drums incite song and listener constantly across an increasingly psychotic and powerfully contagious landscape. It is a glorious encounter which turns already sparked pleasure lustful, as does in its own unique way Whisper. Thirty seconds of sultry blues bred seducing with discord spawned toxicity under fuzz lined melodic vocals it is a mere slip of a temptress but wholly alluring.

Both Do Dah and the blues spawned Clipper 61 keep the album striding across its highest point. The first emergences from a spatial intrigue filled breath with vocal harmonies and a gospel spiced climate before folk canvased scenery flirts and dances with ears whilst percussive additives quickstep their way through the tantalising electronic haze. With every twist of sound and second of invention the song adds textures and spices without losing its bright simplicity, ensuring another highlight within the album is devoured. It’s successor rumbles and canters invitingly across senses with appealing shadows and irresistible dark emotive charms within a raw guitar sculpted suasion of captivating coarse and reserved rock ‘n’ roll. Occasionally ripe with the sparkling lure of Buzzcocks like addictive hook belted melody, it shows as most of their songs, that I ♡ The Monster Hero is masterful at merging uncompromising and undefined swamp of sounds with sonically barbed but seductively enchanting hooks, allowing both to prosper individually and as an united smothering, but nowhere more impressively than here.

The ear romancing Madeline soaks thoughts and emotions next, the track a mesmeric cloak of enveloping sound and ingenious intrigue before the similarly potent and melodically pungent Hatchet steals its fair portion of the passions, with again infection soaked rhythms and coaxing effect washed vocals. Both songs whirl and swarm over the senses in individual but uniformly successful ways, enchanting and bewitching with siren like accuracy, with the growing rhythmic and melodic emprise of the second as near to aural addiction as anyone is likely to come across.

Car #9 steps in just before the end of the album to steal best track honours, its carnivorous bass growl and irrepressible gripping hooks within delicious expansive melodies and vocals, pure primal and irresistible enslavement. A merger of decades and varied flavours, the song is pop ‘n’ roll at its most formidable and majestic leaving the closing Electric Chainsaw (I Can’t Get You out Of My Head) a task and a half to compete against. Its attempt is impressive and thrilling, the song another pop caress to embrace and bask within as vocal harmonies and shimmering melodies conjure the strongest psychedelic enhanced beckoning. It is an outstanding end to a scintillating encounter, an album which thrusts I ♡ The Monster Hero into an immediately intensive spotlight. Rhythm & Pals is just the start of major things you suspect for the band and something to definitely lick lips over.

Rhythm & Pals is available via Crocfingers Records now!

https://www.facebook.com/iheartthemonsterhero

http://themonsterherolovesyou.tumblr.com

9/10

RingMaster 30/04/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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The Watchmakers – Illumination

The Watchmakers pic

A captivatingly immersive sonic embrace, the single Illumination from UK based The Watchmakers reveals why the glowing praising over the band over recent times. A mesmeric haze of seductively swirling psychedelic evocation tempered by a cooler post punk rhythmic stability, the song is a fascination magnetism inviting full use of imagination and emotions upon its unique canvas.

Hailing from Manchester, the foursome of vocalist/guitarist Rich Maitland, guitarist Adam Lewis, bassist Andy Lewis, and drummer Ian Maitland were soon drawing attention and acclaim with their demos Before Questions Became and Waves, and a neo-psychedelia sound wrapped in the inspirations of bands such as Velvet Underground, 13th Floor Elevators, The Beatles from the sixties and the more modern explorations of others such as The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Primal Scream and The Verve. As evidenced by the single there is a dual pronged persuasion at work within the band’s music, creativity seemingly unafraid to push theirs and the listener’s boundaries.

The band has played with the likes of The Pretty Things, Jacco Gardner, Dark Bells and Exit Calm over time as well as selling out two The Watchmakers sleeveheadline appearances at Psychedelic Happenings in Manchester, whilst earlier this year they were invited to a Showcase for BBC 6. This June now sees the release of a pair of songs Carpe Diem and Illumination, their first releases for Loaded Soul Records.

Illumination opens upon a wistful humid breeze, soulful warmth colluding with a melancholic breath courted by an Indian mystique. It is an intriguing coaxing which explodes with riveting potency as guitars unveil a web of intoxicating sonic endeavour and sweltering melodic hooks within an expanding synth bred ambience. It is immediately climatic and provocative, especially with the expressive vocals which add to the emerging narrative. Into its full temptation, the song is a bracing adventure painting with emotional melodies and descriptive sonic hues but it is the spine of rigid bass luring and hypnotic rhythmic bait which brings the depth and weight of the track alive, its dulled post punk persistence the catalyst to the tempestuous alchemy above it.

Intense in sound and atmosphere, the song is equally oppressive and feverishly seductive, a striking declaration of a new exciting presence in the potent shape of The Watchmakers. From the song alone it is easy to feel great things lie in wait for us and the band ahead, breeding a healthy anticipation as we go off hungrily to find Carpe Diem which was not included in our promo.

Illumination is available via Loaded Soul Records now and available as limited edition vinyl and digitally.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Watchmakers/191134494286879

8.5/10

RingMaster 12/06/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Mod Fiction – Hoax EP

    Mod Fiction Pic 1

The Hoax EP from US rockers Mod Fiction is one of those releases which from an intriguing and strangely magnetic seed in its first initial encounter grows into an irresistibly compelling and thoroughly exciting provocation. Consisting of four fuzz drenched persistently nagging tracks which simply infect and infest the psyche over time whilst breeding an eager hunger for much more from the Albany trio, the release provides an acidic and caustic landscape of minimalist noise invention, scuzz kissed guitar imagination, and hooks which are unrelenting in their temptation. Part noise rock, part garage punk, and part alternative rock, a mix which borders schizophrenic toxicity, the band’s sound merges different decades in an inventive brew that takes its time but all the time works a captivating spell upon thoughts and emotions.

     Formed in 2011, Mod Fiction released their debut album Come Back Down in the summer of 2012.Citing influences from the likes of Mudhoney, Velvet Underground, 13th Floor Elevators, Neil Young, Nirvana, The Beatles, The Kinks… and the list goes on, the threesome of vocalist/guitarist Kevin Gadani, bassist/vocalist Peter Monaco, and drummer Greg Gadani have honed a presence which certainly points and hints at their inspirations but equally sculpts an identity of its own. It does not leap out as fully unique quite yet but as Hoax reveals it is well on the way.

    A sonic spear of feedback and forcefulness surges on the ear to open up first track Quit Stalling before being rapidly joined by Mod Fiction Artworka heavy gaited deep throated bassline which would find a home in any L7 song. Soon acidic grooves and barbed riffs alongside crisp rhythms enter the provocation and intensify the temptation. Into its stride the track is a contagious mesh which plays for UK fans like a mix of The St Pierre Snake Invasion and Houdini, a raw melodic coaxing aligned to a punk causticity which ingrains its bait deeply in the appetite. The core groove of the song is a virulent lure from which everything else erupts and swings from whilst the twin vocal suasion only accentuates the raw and magnetic presence of a destined to be favourite of a great many, especially with another little Nirvana like spice breaking out at times to spice things up.

     It is an impressive start taken on by the following Losing Interest, a song which is rendering flaming chords and melodic tempting on the ears from its first breath. A sixties garage pop air coats the song though equally a seventies garage rock essence is working its charm just as vibrantly within the twenty first century fuzz driven keenly cast enterprise. Like its predecessor the song is impossibly infectious through its summery chorus and ever present hooks around bluesy grooves, especially at its climax, but it does just fall short of making the same impact sitting in the middle of the first song and the EP’s best offering which comes next. Silence in Stereo is a prowling treat of a song, a delicious menace which nags and probes the senses through its bass built spine and jagged cuts of jangly guitars. It immediately takes thoughts back to seventies/eighties punk and bands such as Swell Maps whilst its garage blues outbursts pulls up later decades and insatiable flavours.  The song swells and saunters along with a hypnotic allurement, which like the sonic flavouring, ebbs and flows through different gaits and structures. It is a masterful piece of noise alchemy, simple and concise within its muggy air but beautifully sculpted to belie its expertise.

    The closing track Is This Morning? for personal tastes just does not come close to matching the first three though its unique intent is as welcomed proposition. A heated ambience washes the ear whilst singular key notes plonk a lone discord narrative before all come together in a haunted union. With spoken samples colouring its air the piece is an evocative and intriguing, as well as intimidating, drama but so different to what came before that it does not sit easy on the EP itself. This is a band to keep you on your mental toes though you suspect so the track certainly succeeds in that aspect.

     Mod Fiction is a band destined and sure to challenge and thrill us ahead on the evidence of Holly Wax Records released Hoax EP. The potential revealed on the release is mouthwatering and already fully enticing meaning this is one more band to add to that ‘To Watch’ list.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mod-Fiction/349666908443016

8/10

RingMaster 13/01/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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