Shark Tape – Marathon

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Filtering the best essences of punk, pop, indie, hard rock and more into their own industrious rock ‘n’ roll revelry, US band Shark Tape is a band which has been creating a buzz of their side of the globe for the past couple of years or so. Now their energetically flavoursome sound is concentrating on stirring up British attention through the UK release of debut album Marathon. A collection of songs as united in contagious enterprise as they are individual in character and imagination, the release is a sure fire incitement to body swerves, broad smiles, and feeling good.

Hailing from Philadelphia, Shark Tape emerged in 2007. They went through various project names before settling on the name we are now embracing. The trio of vocalist/bassist Stephen Lorek, guitarist Niles Weiss, and drummer Dylan Mulcahy released a pair of EPs in 2012, a self-titled debut and Eyes On You which were both well-received with the latter especially earning potent radio play from East Coast radio stations. Late 2013, the band linked up with renowned engineer Jeff Ziegler (Kurt Vile, War On Drugs) to begin working on their first album, Marathon receiving its acclaimed US release last November and now looking at sparking the same enthusiasm in the UK. With a host of inventively crafted songs bound in imaginatively woven sounds, it is easy to assume it is already a done deal in making the strongest persuasion over here too.

Picture 8     The album gets off to a seriously rousing start with Bronco, vibrant riffs and attention causing hooks instantly inescapable bait matched in potency by the varied vocal tones. The guitars jangle and entice right away with flirtatious indie rock endeavour, leading the listener and an already greedy appetite into an addiction forging chorus which swiftly enlists the listener’s vocal help to join their body’s already keen involvement. Like a mix of Weezer and UK band Asylums, the song is unbridled contagion and matched all the way by Marathon’s title track. Unveiling its own unique hooks and melodic temptation, the track has a healthy hard/glam rock urge in its fiery invention amidst another uncontrollable infection for ears and imagination. Totally different in sound it maybe, but song and indeed album not for the last time, shows the same instinctive ability to create hook laden, uncomplicated but precisely woven punk pop as bands like The Undertones and Buzzcocks, and with more encounters like this the potential for a similar status for Shark Tape ahead might be on the cards.

River Runs Deep comes next, opening with an eighties electro rock like welcome, backing it up with harmonious vocals before adding tempering through vivacious shadows from the bass. Swinging beats and more exotic electronic hues bring new colour to the slimline but rich landscape of the song as it grows, and though it cannot quite emulate the previous pair in strength it keeps the flames of satisfaction burning nicely before the more agitated charms of Long Time Coming take over. Lorek’s bass has a delicious dark tone as it brings the song into view, riveting coaxing quickly wrapped in the indie sparkle of guitar and vocals. As its predecessor there is also an essence of eighties colouring, a new wave pop invention infused with a rawer nineties rock pop that works away to create another choice proposal within Marathon.

Slightly mellower but no less compelling, Smell of Sirens provides a vibrant croon of melodic suggestiveness next. There is a sturdy rhythmic frame and emotional nature to it keeping its spatial melodies and airy atmosphere grounded as vocally and lyrically the song unveils its heart. Revealing further depth and strength in the band’s songwriting the track drifts away to be replaced by the captivating Neverlast with its more sombre but relentlessly catchy stroll. It is one of those songs which works away on the listener almost without them realising, making a deeper, more potent impression than first thought to return at will with its hooks and stirring melodies. Both impress but are soon overshadowed by the outstanding roguish presence of Black Panther. Surely bred from a diet of The Ramones and The Clash, the track is mischievous punk pop with robust rhythms and heavy duty bass riffs led by rebellious vocals. Equipped with a searing guitar solo, barb loaded punk hooks, and bracing rock ‘n’ roll tenacity, the track is nonstop anthemic devilment.

   Through the more controlled Runway and straight after Top Rock Seller, band and album continue to ignite ears and thoughts. Though the first of the pair is more restrained than the last song, its resolve is permanently taunted by the predacious bass tones escorting it through ears, its devilish stroll trying to incite greater aggression in energy to match the aggressive imagination of hooks and ideation around it. The second of the two tracks offers a post punk meets shoegaze suggestion initially but soon moves towards a dusty rock presence sporting essences of grunge, melodic rock, and punk. It is a fascinating mix which has you searching for references to its flavours, Psychedelic Furs one hinting thought, but basically coming up with little by the time it is replaced by the excellent Silly Things. Its successor explores a similar tapestry of ideation but is a more sinister and heavily darker proposition; one pierced by shards of harmonic and melodic light amidst surf seeded sonic spicing.

The album is brought to a close by the acoustically sculpted Dying to Know, a song which from its minimal seeds blossoms into a fascinating web of rhythmic traps and sonic enterprise within an orchestra driven evocative breeze. The song is glorious, a final fanfare for the invention and craft of the band in writing and invention.

With highlights which reach classic song standards and lesser successes that most other albums would cry out for, Marathon is one of those treats all rock fans need in their lives. Remember how excited you got when you first heard bands like Weezer, The Smiths, and Wheatus, well you might just find yourself getting those self-same tingles again thanks to Shark Tape and their debut album.

Marathon is available now @ or

RingMaster 15/06/2015

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Late Cambrian – Golden Time

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Our introduction to US indie rock band Late Cambrian came with their Social Season EP and became a lustful attraction through second album Peach, a release offering a thrilling dance of vibrant personality with matching sounds and imagination. It was an encounter of at times stunning brilliance within a constantly refreshing and warm temptation which stirred up the passions within seconds of contact. Now the band returns with its successor Golden Time, a release bred from the same eclectic invention and making a potent first impression, but working with a slower more sultry seduction and smouldering pop vivacity reaches the same captivating heights. The album reveals another leap in songwriting and sound maturity without relinquishing the bands almost mischievous use of hooks and melodic grooves. It takes its time to reveal all its depths but Golden Time emerges as another irresistible proposition from the Brooklyn quartet.

Late Cambrian has continued to make impressive marks from debut album The Last Concert released in 2011, onwards. Their Social Season EP of the following year raised the bar and bred one of their most successful and greedily devoured songs to date, Ryan Gosling. It was with Peach though that John N Wlaysewski (lead vocals, guitars, synth, percussion), Nunzio Moudatsos (bass, backing vocals), and Olive ‘O’ Hui (vocals, synth) sparked a much stronger and global spotlight. Now with the addition of drummer Alex to its line-up, the band offers a new tantalising treat with Golden Time. The band has often been compared to Wheatus, who Late Cambrian are touring the UK and Europe with as this review is posted, but the new album shows a unique and distinctive bloom to its summery sound and presence, which flourishes in that maturity spoken off earlier.

The PledgeMusic funded release opens with an immediately enthralling and virulently infectious Throwing Shade. As soon as guitar stabs, with a tone quite distinctive to the band, crosses ears there is a warm glow in emotions and imagination bred from past experiences with Late Cambrian’s invention. There is the quirky manner and enterprise which fuelled the last album on immediate show but also a melodic elegance and relish which provides new scenery to indulge in. The welcoming and harmonically bracing vocals of Wlaysewski backed by Moudatsos and O, embrace like an old friend but again with a new hue to their enterprise and stature. It is a thrilling entrance which the song reinforces across its length with a transfixing wash of radiant keys and punchy rhythms, but it is the Steely Dan like caress, vocally and musically, which steals the deal.

The following title track is no less compelling and invigorating. Electronic pulses lead to a coaxing guitar twang, which in turn moves into a bold stride of crisp rhythms across rich and magnetic melodies. The song’s title fits the sound Golden Time album Artworkwithin it perfectly, the duet of vocals between Wlaysewski and O as seductive and bright as the feisty pop melodies dancing around them. Again there is a contagion to the song which is inescapable for ears and an energy enslaving feet but it is its melodic swing that ignites another hungry urge in an already keen appetite.

Illamasqua swiftly installs its insatiable persuasion next, rhythms and vocals the prime lure initially, before the song slips into a tenacious stride of jabbing beats and lively yet sultry keys. As with many songs on the album, there is an instant familiar breath and touch to it which by the close you realise is simply from the band having their own distinct sound and presence. Also noticeable is that the song hints it has a fire to expel but instead remains in its enjoyable smouldering. This happens a few times across Golden Times and though at times you wonder how things would go if the band had ignited that extra mystery spark, the album flourishes in its inventively controlled and imaginative calm.

Both Game Show and Now keep the creative and appealing flames in ears and emotions sizzling. The first is a gentle canter of a song with potent and varied vocals against eclectic melodies and unpredictable endeavour, all flirting around a deliciously throaty bassline, whilst the second flows with a slow seducing of mellow yet vivacious vocals within a web of sharp hooks aligned to wispy blues kissed melodies. Though neither quite grips the heights of certainly the opening pair of tracks, both shine with a blaze of charm and bold imagination before making way for the thrilling romp of Objects May Appear. Big riffs and beats dance with ears straight away, their tango irresistible and only enhanced with the joining of similarly jaunty vocals from the band in turn. There is no escape for body, voice, and emotions to the album’s anthemic lure, the track a beguiling and fascinating stomp taking best song honours.

DYBIL with its crystaline melodies alongside riveting vocals and harmonies, provides a powerful romance for ears and senses to immerse in and passions to grow for whilst the following acoustic hug of the emotive Montauk simply whisks the imagination off on a seductive waltz to leave satisfaction brimming. Both reveal more of the evolution in, and growth of, enterprise and songwriting within the band before Shiny Cars brings the album to a healthy close. The outstanding final song has a thick and heavy resonance absent from much of what came before which again only offers another enjoyable shade to the album, whilst it’s gentler but lively vocals and melodic adventure only declares that this is a band coming of age.

There is no go for the jugular stand-out on Golden Time, no jaw dropper like Ryan Gosling or Wolf, but every track has a body and heart which outshines plenty of Late Cambrian’s impressive catalogue and combine for the band’s finest moment yet. For beautifully sculpted and dramatically radiant rock pop it is hard to think of many better offerings this year than Golden Times.

Golden Time will be available in November, for more details and remaining dates on their tour with Wheatus and  MC Frontalot go to

RingMaster 17/10/2014

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Wheatus – The Valentine LP


    Wheatus is one of those bands which continually has the shadow of their greatest/memorable hit looming over their subsequent songs and releases in the gaze of those outside of their potent fanbase, and like many it is an unavoidable shame as they certainly have much more to them than the raging success of one song, as shown upon new album The Valentine LP. Teenage Dirtbag for a great many will always be the sign post for the band but the ten tracks making up the new release stand as a clear creative marker, as so many tracks across their previous releases, to the greater strength and adventurous depths of the potent songwriting of the band.

The first full length release since TooSoonMonsoon of 2005, though there have been the Pop, Songs & Death: Vol. 1 – The Lightning and the Pop, Songs & Death: Vol. 2 – The Jupiter EPs of 2009 and 10 respectively, The Valentine LP  takes thoughts and senses on a warm and evocative ride through melodic and expressive imagination. It takes mere moments for opener The Fall In Love to draw out full attention, the metronomic beats of Kevin Garcia a persistent lure behind the coarse touch of guitar and the provocative bass. The distinctive vocals of Brendan B Brown as expected lay down the narrative and heart of the song with expressive style whilst the backing vocals of Gabrielle Sterbenz and Karlie Bruce offer a wash of sunlit harmonies to warm up further the pleasing temptation of the song as the keys of Mark Palmer dance around and court the ear with additional enticing splendour.

It is a strong start soon surpassed by Fourteen and Holiday, the first immediately catching the ear with the raw scuzz lined call of the guitars of Brown and bass prowl of Matthew Milligan before once again the vocal combination spark up the emotions and pleasure, whilst its successor is a vibrant pop rock flame that ebbs and flows with restraint and unbridled fun linked as tightly together as the melodic shimmer and sinew bursting bass are whilst being egged on by the deeper voiced keys of on this track Ken Flagg. It is a tantalising song which casts essences of the band’s debut upon the awareness of the world into their now firm songwriting maturity.

    Break It Don’t Buy It keeps the brewed heights of the record washing eagerly over the ear, its sultry and exotic suggestiveness a magnificent companion to the lively and contented stroll of the song. Once again the whole vocal aspect is as infectious as the sound but undoubtedly it is the ehru provided by Jack Hsu from The Hsu-nami which steals the honours and elevates the song into another sphere.

The next up title track is a smouldering caress with the ever striking and provocative discordantly attitude guitar and bass sound providing a potently hued canvas for the vocals and the combined keys of Flagg and Michael Bellar to colour its heart. It enchants and absorbs thoughts throughout, even if it lacks the final temptress glaze of the previous songs, whilst the excellent Mary Mary Sea Serpent evokes emotions with a soulful and passionate embrace. Such the strength of song lyrically and in delivery you sense there is a rich and deep personal element to the composition which only increases its captivating persuasion.

     Marigold Girl is another highlight, its again smouldering seduction bringing the prime Wheatus sound into a flourish of melodic and slight post punk discordance across the guitars and keys. There is also an open Beatles breath, to the chorus especially, that works depending on your appetite for such things but to be fair only flavours further an already enchanting and thrilling suasion.

The bedlamic opening to Lady Adelaide wets the appetite for the song ahead, its teasing mesh of noise and unbalanced energy a scintillating hook into a song which continues to allow the ‘chaos’ to share its glory amongst the melodic haze of energy and imagination. It is the least accessible track on the album but the most thrilling and ingenious with distortion and discord the perfect playmates for track and passions.

The Valentine LP is completed by firstly That’s True, a tender ballad sculpted by acoustic guitar and stalked by the brilliant rhythmic insistent alchemy of Garcia. If the track had stayed this way throughout it would have been a pinnacle on the album but with the additional adventurous twists of bass and harmonies alone it rises to another level. It is followed by Love Is Too Expensive, a closing fire of a pop song with again enterprise in its construction and direction. It completes a strong and pleasing album though it also adds a little irony in that as great as the release is it fails to ignite enough fires inside the passions to be a major triumph which suggests maybe the band has been overtaken by others openly inspired by Wheatus, such as the excellent Late Cambrian whose vocalist/guitarist John N Wlaysewski provides a sizzling solo on the concluding song. The Valentine LP is without doubt though a richly satisfying release and one which inspires plenty of wishes to return again and again to its body.


RingMaster 20/08/2013

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Late Cambrian – Peach

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Cradling thoughts and emotions in a hug of melodic enterprise and magnetic warmth, Peach the new album from US indie rock band Late Cambrian is one exciting thrilling dance of vibrant personality and matching sounds. An energetic brew of alternative rock, mesmeric pop, and indie individuality, the second album from the band holds moments of sheer brilliance within a constant wash of imaginative and infectious excellence. Across its landscape of summer driven sultry sounds passions are ignited and ardour bred for an album which leaves a lasting glowing imprint on the senses.

Since the release of their debut album The Last Concert in 2011, the Greenpoint, Brooklyn band has stepped upon a steady and potent rise, the album receiving rich acclaim at home and abroad, especially in Japan, whilst the band has won numerous awards and had songs placed in shows such as The Real World and Married To Jonas. Their video for the song Ryan Gosling pulled in massive numbers being picked up by BlankTV and THECOOLTV, and the trio of John N Wlaysewski (lead vocals, guitars, synth, percussion), Nunzio Moudatsos (bass guitar, backing vocals), and O (Vocals, Synth), made big impressions at festivals such as The KahBang Music Festival, The Dewey Beach Music Conference, CMJ, and The Popfest along the way. It has been a heady time which Peach will surely reinforce and accelerate upon its release on April 30th.

The album opens with the teasing tones of Lovers Point, its initial quickstep of firm rhythms and fibrous guitar strokes soon LC Peach Album cover 1wrapped in great vocal harmonies. Taking a small breath for the vocals of Wlaysewski to begin the narrative within a warm hug of elegant melodies and entrancing synths, the song lifts its feet for a strolling flow of aural smiles and keen bounce to its gait. It is an irresistible welcome into the album, its demands minimal but rewards plentiful in their engagement and energy.

The tease of The Label Needed A Single wraps its mischief around the ear next, a groaning bassline veining another heated swerve of infectiousness and melodic enticement. Already two tracks in and references to Wheatus are unavoidable but as this track shows there is more to their imaginative devilment to avoid being so singularly tagged. Part pop punk and fully anthemic pop, the song takes the ear and passions to a hop of fluid irrepressible moves and sounds with an intent to raise others energies and voice in tandem to its own securely successful, something which you can lay at the feet of next up The Year I Cut The Cable too. With a swing to its jazz pop eighties whispering romp, the track exchanges heated ardour with the heart, the dual vocal tango of Wlaysewski and the delicious tones of O, her voice another standout glory of so many on the album, exploring song and listener with buoyant enterprise and keenness to match the sounds.

The pinnacle of the album follows in The Wolf, for this heart one of if not the best melodic thrill heard this year so far. As a fiery guitar opens up the airwaves and beats pounce upon the ear there is an immediate hook which the throaty bass and captivating gait of the vocals sends deeper into thoughts and emotions. The track is simplicity turned into a virulent conspirator to the passions, the wanton whisper to the twin interchanging vocals and Eastern delight lined lure playing in the background, epidemically anthemic.  Everything about the song is magnificent, pop at its most potent and triumphant and another where the varied and seamlessly twisting devilry has the voice and body of the listener adding their, in my case, blasphemous contributions.

Following such a powerful piece of brilliance would mean a dip for most releases but the likes of Patience Of A Monument with its gentle hazy aired persuasion and Made for Love, a track with a beginning which reminds of Wham!, sorry but it does, and goes on to coat the listener in a rich wash of hot melodies and pop punk sinew, without reaching the same heights have their own distinct plateaus of enjoyable textures and absorbing presences. Featuring guest appearances from violinist Tracy Bonham, Kevin Salem on elbow guitar, and Jack Hsu (The Hsu-Nami) on the erhu, the song is an emotive pleasure with a wonderful instrumental closure.

The track Ryan Gosling has led the band to stronger recognition as much as any song and again is a major force upon the album, the bulging rhythms and wickedly crafted hooks a charismatic grip laying an incendiary canvas for the equally galvanic vocals and harmonies. As with all the songs there is an honesty and lack of complication to the track which allows its rich heart to make the strongest arresting enslavement on what by now is rapture for the album.

The remaining songs continue the scintillating joy and craft already reaped with tracks such as the acoustic led summery skip of Poetry, the sultry Recipe, and the glorious Hypgnotica-Afternoon Special stepping to the fore though there is not one weak or track on the album all just powerfully magnetic. The latter of this trio is an imaginative predominantly instrumental canter through hot and suggestive melodic climes with evolving variation and intrigue to its gait.

Closing with Luddite, another bewitching piece of warm, a closing vibrant sunset featuring guest vocals from Brendan Brown and Gabrielle Sterbenz of Wheatus, Peach is a slice of musical brilliance in quality and effect containing most likely the song of the year, quite simply a must have release…


RingMaster 21/04/2013

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Late Cambrian: Social Season EP

The Social Season EP from US indie pop band Late Cambrian, is one of those releases you cannot help becoming enamoured with, its vibrant and excitable pop heart a smiling and infectious tease. The EP offers up five songs which ooze eighties new wave and melodic pop flavourings within the mischievous personality of a Weezer. It makes for in Late Cambrian, a band which you feel you already know as a friend before even the end of the first song and a companion to bring out the inner smile.

The Brooklyn band were formed by ex- Flying Machines and The Attorneys, John N. Wlaysewski (guitar, vocals, songwriter) who alongside drummer Colin Schiller began recording their debut album The Last Concert in early 2011. During working on the songs the band saw the addition of O (synth, backing vocals), her glowing voice enhancing some of the later songs recorded. By late March the same year, the band made their live debut with bassist Nunzio Moudatsos (A Crimson Affair) also on board. Social Season is the first release with the full line-up and probably the first enterprising introduction for many to the fun sounds of Late Cambrian, but better late than never.

The opening track Ryan Gosling has already garnered good acclaim and responses as the first single from the release across the US and beyond. The song drives a thumping beat through the ear guided by contagious riffs and jangling melodies which only ensure eager attention. Once the shining harmonies and warm vocals play within the sounds the pull is irresistible and openly anthemic, defying all not to join in with the simple chants and chorus. To be honest like all the songs, it does not try to bend boundaries or break out into new inventive realms for indie pop, but certainly makes finding many rivals in the deep contagion stakes difficult.

The following Trash Show has a slight punk swagger to its boisterous presence to bring a mix of Arctic Monkeys, King Prawn, and Presidents of The USA. As the guitars twist and flash across the ear and the vocals coax the senses into further addiction, the song is like an old friend returning home. The sounds and energy of the track is instantly recognisable but equally and immediately fresh and rewarding, indie pop punk at its best.

Already on a high the EP gets even better with Song 11, an enthused stomp which ignites all the primal rhythms and melodic passions within. The Monkees meets Blink 182 with Maximo Park for company, the song is a pulsating and riotous thrill which has an insatiable hunger to exhaust the senses and bring the heart to a climax. As before the song has one accompanying its voice and limbs thrashing to the wonderful discord which spices the guitars and boisterous energy. The combination of Wlaysewski and O when they come together is stunning and in general the harmonies are delicious. The song also features a solo from Brendan Brown of the band Wheatus which only ignites further enjoyment.

Hand Stamp reins in the energies a touch but still is a feast of melodic joy, the bass pulsating besides the air heating slices of guitar and vocal harmonic elegance. The track does not quite have the pulse rate soaring as previous songs but its warmth and sweet taste is a rewarding dessert to what came before.

Social Season ends with the instrumental Saint James, a track which probably means a lot to the band but is a little lost on others. It is a great piece of music skilfully presented but does not fit with what went before so feels ultimately like a filler. It does have a departure of sound which opens some different anticipation to things in the future from the band though to be honest.

Late Cambrian is one of those bands we all need, fun, excitable, and able to put a smile on the face with  richly pleasing and open infectious sounds.

Ringmaster 22/08/2012

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