Slow Riot – Trophy Wife

Photo by Steve Gullick Photography

Photo by Steve Gullick Photography

Earning thick acclaim and attention with their Cathedral EP, Irish trio Slow Riot are now poised to release their new single and a fresh inventive colour to their already magnetic sound. Their previous release and singles worn an open post punk inspiration drawing likenesses to bands such as Gang of Four, Television, and Wire, as well as a shoegaze scented melodic charm. Though Trophy Wife is still embracing such seeds, it swiftly shows a new adventure of swinging rhythms and imagination tantalising hooks with a vivacity to match that of the driving energy fuelling its body. The result is a compelling affair which still springs from an eighties spawned heart but with the tenacious urgency of the now.

art_RingMasterReviewFormed in 2013, Slow Riot consists of vocalist/bassist Niall Clancy, drummer Paul Cosgrave, and guitarist Aaron Duff. 2015 saw the band release their first pair of singles in City Of Culture and Demons, two intrigue sparking songs which made a bigger impact as part of the attention grabbing Cathedral EP last October. The time between its release and the new single has seen a new twist and exploration in the band’s sound which Trophy Wife is already showing as being a great fresh step.

As the last EP, the single was recorded with Kevin Vanbergen (The Pixies, The Maccabees, Dinosaur Pile-Up, The La’s, Biffy Clyro) at Brighton’s Park Studios and quickly gets to work persuading and exciting ears with its initial surge of beefy rhythms and sonic incitement. Guitars spring a melodic web from there as the bass invitingly prowls, the first cradling the warm tones of Clancy and his harmonic delivery. Almost straight away, that previous post punk spicing emerges as a more new wave hued character, nudging thoughts of bands like B-Movie and Modern English whilst the pounding drive of the song and its intensive undercurrent of virulence offers a Doves meets Editors like tempting.

The track is a vivacious captivation accompanied by B-side Awake For Days; a more laid back proposition revealing another shade in the new palette of enterprise used by Slow Riot in songwriting and sound. Though hopes are that the band do not entirely free themselves of the darker post punk hues found in their debut EP, there is no denying that Trophy Wife offers something just as exciting and easy to find a healthy appetite for.

Trophy Wife is out on April 15th via Straight Lines Are Fine @ http://www.thegenepool.co.uk/artists/SLOW+RIOT.htm

Upcoming live dates:

18/04 – Opium Rooms, Dublin w/ Mission Of Burma

23/04 – Kasbah Social Club, Limerick

25/04 – The Waiting Room, London (free show)

https://www.facebook.com/slowriot.theband   https://www.instagram.com/slowriot.theband/   https://twitter.com/Slow_Riot_Band

Pete RingMaster 14/04/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Lower Automation – Maps

lowerautomation_2016_RingMasterReview

You have seen those scenes in movies where people are strapped in front of a screen and bombarded with rapid brainwashing images; finally succumbing to the kaleidoscope of ravenous suggestiveness. Listening to Maps, the debut EP from US experimental punks Lower Automation, is like a sonic version of that; a proposition gripping the psyche with its quick fire and voracious onslaught of mathcore and noise rock trespasses. The difference is that Maps is a welcome infestation of ears and imagination which with every listen becomes more and more tenaciously seductive.

Hailing from Chicago, the seeds of Lower Automation begin with experimental/post-rock band Counterfeit I and Derek Allen who came from the band to form the new “kinetic frenzy” posing as Lower Automation  that is about to invade the rock scene. His former project found potent success which, from Maps alone, it is easy to suggest the threesome of Brian Sutton, Matt Walen, and Derek has the potential to eclipse.

lower_automation_maps_cover_RingMasterReviewRecorded with Sanford Parker (Pelican, Wovenhand), Maps instantly entangles the senses and a quickly eager appetite in the discord fuelled enterprise and sonic dissonance of opener Ring. It is a striking web of imagination which flirts and picks at ears with unpredictable and incessantly hungry dynamics; a creative dilemma for the senses  which plays like the mutated offspring of a liaison between At The Drive In, Devo, Wire, and The Dillinger Escape Plan. Fair to say though that the song quickly breeds its own unique character and devilment as frenetic bursts align with, and become tempered by, ‘mellower’ flirtatious passages as song and band reveals new sides to their rebellious adventure. It is when the creative ‘psychosis’ breaks loose though that lustful passions are especially sparked and further the track’s attempts to steal the whole show.

The excellent start though is more than matched by the band’s new single Decorated; the song swiftly showing itself another invasive tapestry of rhythmic agitation and raw sonic virulence. There is a much catchier almost pop element to the song too, the likes of Baddies and We Are The Physics coming to mind at times, though again as it warps into distorted spatial atmospherics Lower Automation show the fullness of their imagination and an invention which is all their own.

Break Room Curators offers a more noise rock sculpted venture; its body and features slightly more fluid in their infectious flow than certainly the first song but still casts a dark and sinister, not forgetting infectiously flowing, tirade of off-kilter and intrusive discordance in voice and melodic toxicity amidst scything rhythms. The track does lack a certain spark that its predecessors irresistibly carries but it still leaves enjoyment high and ears eager to devour more, which the following caustic maelstrom of The Cartographer feeds impressively. The track is a maze of sonic paradoxes and melodic toxins with an emotive angst to match as it rummages through the psyche, blisters on the senses, and fascinates the imagination.

Closing with the initially hellacious exploits of Scissor Lapses, the EP offers a final glimpse into the creative craft and aberrant imagination of Lower Automation. The song proceeds to explore a cacophonous and demandingly addictive landscape of sweeping hooks and inviting grooves within an ever evolving exploration of rabid sound and unpredictability; finally leaving on a senses invading sonic clamour.

It is a fine end to a thrilling debut from Lower Automation; a release which has certain familiar and welcome traits but is a whole new psychotic frenzy of invention ready to infect an as yet unsuspecting rock world.

Maps is released April 1st @ https://lowerautomation.bandcamp.com

Upcoming US Tour Dates:

3/5 – Skeletunes Lounge | Fort Wayne, IN

3/12 – The Oasis | Grayslake, IL

4/8 – The Refuge | Pana, IL

4/10 – Bremen Cafe | Milwaukee, WI

4/13 – The Rockery | Wyandotte, MI

4/14 – Buzzbin | Canton, OH

4/15 – Spacebar | Columbus, OH

4/16 – Crofoot | Pontiac, MI

https://www.facebook.com/lowerautomation
Pete RingMaster 28/03/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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The Gaa Gaas – Close Your Eyes

art gaa gaas_RingMasterReview

It has been a long time in the waiting and an increasingly anticipated moment; that being the time when something new from The Gaa Gaas would step forward to infest ears. That occasion is now with the release of new single Close Your Eyes, an irresistible taster of the new evolution and adventure in the UK band’s exploration of sound. Showing a rich vein in flavour and sonic variety without losing the hypnotic insistence of their earlier successes, the track is simply going to have old fans drooling and a host of new followers entangled.

Formed after a garage punk night event at a venue in St Helier on Jersey in the Channel Islands, by vocalist/guitarist Gavin Tate, The Gaa Gaas spent their first two years honing their sound and becoming a potent live proposition on the island, before relocating in 2005 to Brighton, then later London from where they switch between the two. Their hunger to play live took the then trio, across the UK and Europe with shows and tours, a success in turn building an eager fan base stretching outside Britain as far as France, Italy, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, and Sweden. The following years saw the release of two EPs to strong success and the embracing by internet radio shows and stations alone, of songs like the 2010 James Aparicio (Nick Cave, Mogwai) produced and Robert Harder (Brian Eno, The Slits) mixed and mastered debut single Voltaire and the equally devoured Hypnoti(z)ed.

As suggested, recent times have been a quieter affair with the band though work on their first album has been an on-going adventure. Now with an inescapable new maturity to their sound and bold expansion to its tapestry, the foursome of Tate, keyboardist Peter Hass, bassist Jamey Exton, and drummer Stewart Brown, have a new piece of virulent temptation ready to entice and thrill. Like a gift placed in the hand by a loved one making that certain request to prolong the surprise, Close Your Eyes had an air of excitement to it even before a note is heard, something all their fans will no doubt equally feel.

The Ali Gavan (former member of The Electric Soft Parade) produced song strokes the ears with a single raw caress of guitar first, its resonance remaining as a sonic mist brews up around it. It is a swift and firm coaxing which soon parts from the inside, opening the way for the eager stroll of the song to bound through. With a punkish rockabilly like swagger to its rhythms and hooks, the track instantly has ears gripped; only strengthening its hold as Exton’s bass flirts with, Brown’s beats jabs, and the sonic web the band is renowned for envelops the senses. With Tate’s vocals potently leading the lure, a new melodic infectiousness reveals its growth within the band’s sound. It is a tempering to the caustic nagging potency the band has always shared but another compelling hue only adding depth and might to the great post punk/noise pop catchiness which coats the swing of the proposal.

Like a mix of The Horrors, Wire, The Adverts, and The Three Johns, yet openly individual to The Gaa Gaas, Close Your Eyes worms under the skin and into the psyche in no time. As suggested, it has the prime recognisable sound of The Gaa Gaas at its heart but feels like the key to a whole new adventure which the band has obviously been working on across that recent calmer period in their emergence.

Backing the single is the siren-esque Indian Giver. Originally composed as an instrumental, the track has become an even richer provocative embrace of the senses since Tate’s dissonance scented harmonic vocals have merged with the song’s sonic imagination and early Cure/Artery like atmospherics. The result another dramatic incitement of the psyche through seductive tempting and provocative majesty.

With both tracks taking the listener into unique and individual landscapes of suggestiveness , all that is left to say is roll on their new album set for later this year and roll on the big bold spotlights surely set to crowd in on The Gaa Gaas if the single is the sign of glories to come.

Close Your Eyes is released February 29th via Movement-2-Records @ https://thegaagaas.bandcamp.com/album/close-your-eyes

For more info check out https://www.facebook.com/TheGaaGaas and to hear more of the band’s new songs head over to https://www.facebook.com/events/1034320063257409/1047980888557993/ at 23:00 GMT also on the 29th February.

https://twitter.com/The_Gaa_Gaas

Pete RingMaster 29/02/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Punching Swans – Nesting

artwork_RingMaster Review

How to describe UK trio Punching Swans?

You could say they are a carnivorous groove machine, a sonically schizophrenic rumble, or a rabidly twisted siren; all applying to the creative psyche and adventure that breeds the band’s irresistible sound and now their new fiercely virulent album Nesting. Maybe the best way to describe Punching Swans is a twisted union between The Fall, McLusky, The Fire Engines, and Maths and the Moon. It is a band which despite a clutch of similarly distinct releases has remained in the shadows of the UK music scene like the black sheep of a family which gets locked away in the attic away from prying ears. Now though, the door is unlocked and the band is about to infest British rock ‘n’ roll with their tempestuously deranged math punk, courtesy of the inimitably thrilling Nesting.

Punching Swans is the ravenous creation of producer (Sunlight Studios) Greg Webster, formerly of Medway greats Houdini, the equally impressive Frau Pouch’s Joe Wise, and Pablo Paganotto from The Explorers Collective. Formed in 2011 or 2012, depending where you read, by Greg and Joe from a one-off band called Laura Palmer and the One-Eyed Jacks they got together for a Twin Peaks night, Punching Swans quickly sparked ears with a self-titled debut album in 2012, and even more so with its successor Mollusc two years later via Skingasm Records. Each has inspired potent attention and praise across fans, media, and radio shows but it is easy to feel it has all only been the taster to reactions about to be triggered by Nesting.

Telling the “story of one man’s journey from self-imposed isolation to the skies”, Nesting takes little time in gripping attention and appetite as its opener, Cuckoo Cuckold K-killed, dangles sonic bait in front of ears before the robustly contagious beats of Paganotto get to rebellious work. His swings tempt and seduce with a tenacious grin, coaxing bodily involvement as vocals walk the rhythmic web into the imagination as tangy guitar and devilish bass lures begin to stir and add to the increasingly enthralling and incendiary stroll. Unsurprisingly there is a touch of Houdini and Frau Pouch to the delicious incitement but equally thoughts of Swell Maps and inescapably The Fall also flavour the first treat.

Seriously dynamic and gripping, the album’s superb start continues with Man Nest, an even more psychotic and caustically enterprising proposition that needs mere seconds to seduce and inflame the senses too. Wise’s bass shows it has probably the grouchiest textures in British rock ‘n’ roll at its disposal whilst Webster’s guitar trespasses show no qualms about infesting the senses and psyche, acidic grooves and fiery tempting a perpetual forte.

Pigeon Street toys with more restrained energies and urgencies for its enthralling exploits next, though it is all relative to what came before as the song, with the scything beats of Paganotto an inescapable trigger to get physically involved, blossoming into an insatiable almost predatory shuffle of searing grooves, thumping rhythms, and zealous revelry. Even its calm climax has an element of off-kilter ingenuity before the infectious rock ‘n’ roll of Ovulations rumbles along with the fervent vocals of Wise and Webster holding the reins. Again hooks and grooves steal the passions as rhythms jab deeply, the song entwining post and garage punk texturing into its fearsomely alluring landscape.

That great bass tone is at its crabbiest again in the following Beak Throat and its peevish stalking of the senses within a net of guitar spun wiry hooks and sonic delights around vocal dexterity. It is hard to imagine anybody able to resist the choleric grooves of the song or possible to see the track alone avoid sending rapturous waves across post punk/noise rock pastures with its gloriously savaging and exhilarating tempest.

The brief but again irresistible invasive seduction of Ostrituals comes next to forcibly arouse the passions. If Public Image Ltd had been The Wonderstuff or Wire been McLusky, you wonder if they would have sounded like this mouth-watering predacious stomp whilst its clamorous successor Headless Chickens suggests The Dancing Did or Stomp doing salacious things with Pere Ubu or Marc Riley & The Creepers. The outcome of both and all songs though, despite suggested spices, is always something unique to Punching Swans as proven by Pecked to Death which cantankerously sits between them. Snarky in tone and unhinged in character, the track meanders and twists into unpredictable and manic detours but returning all the time to its rapacious and concussively catchy directness.

The bulging rhythms of Egg Rock is an immediate and successful infestation of the passions, its sonic tendrils and testy Mark E. Smith laced vocal strains only adding to another senses searing, lust inducing incitement before Flight brings the invasive alchemy of the album to an end. The clamant finale to Nesting is a raw soar into noise pop infectiousness and magnetic sonic caterwauling which just lights the touch paper to rapture before retiring to leave ringing in the ears and euphoria in the heart.

Nesting is the first essential album of the year and Punching Swans one of the bands set to step out of the shadows in 2016 and become seriously shouted about.

Nesting is released via Skingasm Records on 22nd January digitally and on CD with a hand numbered limited edition of 30 with a 16-page book featuring drawings and notes from the story behind the album @ http://punchingswans.bandcamp.com/

 

— Punching Swans Tour 2016 —

JAN 28 CANTERBURY w/Mass lines, Death Pedals, Negative Space

JAN 29 CHATHAM Poco Loco – MEDWAY ALBUM LAUNCH w/Girlpower & Bear vs Manero

FEB 11 CAMDEN Unicorn w/Mayors of Miyazaki + Screen wives

FEB 16 BRIGHTON TBC

FEB 21 OXFORD The Library Pub

FEB 24 BRISTOL Stag & Hounds

FEB 27 LIVERPOOL Maguire’s w/ Robocobra Quartet, Jazzhands and Cal Banda

 

http://punchingswans.tumblr.com   https://www.facebook.com/PunchingSwans   https://twitter.com/punchingswans

Pete RingMaster 20/01/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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The Tuesday Club – Boo Hoo EP

 

_RingMaster ReviewTTC

With the release of the Boo Hoo EP, The Tuesday Club has completed the release of their new album in fine style. The last in the quadrilogy combining to create the band’s 4 x EP Box Set second album, the ‘Heart’ section of the release presents three tracks as ever soaked in the UK band’s unique creative devilry. It is arguably the most diverse of the four EPs and in many ways the most low key yet it easily incites another greedy reaction in an ever keen appetite for the mischievous punk ‘n’ roll devilment of the Walmington-on-Sea hailing ‘concert party’.

With the trio of My Consciousness, Forbidden Kiss, and the freshly released Lady Gargar EPs having already stirred up attention and imagination for the fully body of the album, their releases backed by the band’s ever ravenous live presence around the country, the final piece of the captivating jigsaw gets the job done with its title track alone. Boo Hoo walks in with the recognisable Tuesday Club swagger and bullish mischief that has always fuelled their songs and releases since emerging back in 2011 wrapped in the echoes of the infamous home guard of their town and the in your face zeal of seventies punk. Over time the band’s sound has only evolved, taking on vaudevillian hues to go with its imagination as evidenced potently within that first song on the EP. Guitars and beats make the first temptation, bass a quick second, all leading to the distinct vocal tones of Andreas Vanderbraindrain whose entrance only inspires more revelry in hooks, riffs, and the warm mist of keys. As ever there is a whiff of bands like early Adam and The Ants and Albertos Y Los Paranoias to the romp, though to be honest body and soul are physically and quickly locked in to the swing and antics of the track to spend too much time contemplating comparisons.

BooHooEP4_RingMaster Review    The track is typical Tuesday Club, a glorious enticement to get bold with before Beat Oven takes over. Handclaps line the way for a subsequent sultry guitar which in turn wraps the vocals of Vanderbraindrain and presumably The Minx who sadly left the band recently but we are assuming was in the thick of the recording of the new EP first. With a catchy but subdued sway, the song strolls along sharing its infectious chorus and gait, a tempting again hard to resist getting involved in. There is also an initially undefined familiarity to the lure of the song, especially in its chorus, which is revealed somewhat when the band breaks into a sample of Tainted Love to wink at and tease the listener. It is an alluring encounter if without the spark of its predecessor.

The release is completed by the wonderfully dour but magnetic prowl of Greyer Shades, its melancholic air and melodic post punk like imagination at first captivating and over time simply compelling. It has a stark design reminiscent of Wire, a melodic sparkle and psych rock resonance similar to XTC, and a rhythmic and vocal seduction carrying the healthy scent of The Fall or Young Marble Giants to it and though it takes its time to fully convince, by the end of the first listen and definitely the second or third, Greyer Shades gets right under the skin to ultimately stealing the passions.

The album is done and all out there igniting and corrupting ears and hearts with relish; Boo Hoo completing and summing things up nicely. If The Tuesday Club is already your cup of earl grey then the new EP is another must have along with its counterparts but if new to the band’s notorious off-kilter punk ‘n’ roll temptation it is time to enlist with the Boo Hoo EP the call up card.

Boo Hoo, as all the other EP’s, is available now @ http://thetuesdayclub.tmstor.es/cart/product.php?id=27053

https://www.facebook.com/thisisthetuesdayclub    http://thisisthetuesdayclub.co.uk/

Pete RingMaster 16/12/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Gazing into the fresh glow of The Cathode Ray with Jeremy Thoms

The Cathode Ray_RingMaster Review

Photo and copyright Peter Tainsh

2015 has provided many treats this year and definitely amongst them was the latest and second album Infinite Variety from Scottish indie band The Cathode Ray. It was an encounter embracing the nostalgia of the eighties through fresh and inventive escapades bred of the now. One of the band’s founders is Jeremy Thoms, he also the man behind the great indie label Stereogram Recordings, and someone who to describe as busy is a big understatement. Nevertheless, Jeremy kindly gave us a chunk of his time to talk about the album, The Cathode Ray itself from top to bottom and more, including an insight to his own musical loves…

Hi Jeremy and many thanks for giving us your time to talk with us.

Ever late to the party, we discovered The Cathode Ray through your new album Infinite Variety which came out a couple of months or so ago to, it is fair to say, swift acclaim. In a music world where it seems increasingly harder to actually get people to part with money or indeed offer full attention to things, did you have any particular expectations or hopes for its unveiling or is it more anything is a bonus for bands right now?

We didn’t have any expectations other than hoping that those who had liked the first album would stay with us for the second. We knew we’d made a good follow up album but, as you say, in an environment when it’s very hard to engage with people, nothing is guaranteed.

Photo by Hugh Womersley

Photo by Hugh Womersley

Originally the band was just you and Paul Haig, famed for Josef-K and his own solo career. The press release for the album suggests this was not originally intended to be a serious band project but a writing collaboration. Was that the case and what brought Paul’s involvement to an end?

Paul definitely just saw it as a writing collaboration – “a bit of fun” was one his quotes – with group recordings just being made to illustrate them. However, the reaction to them was so positive, one thing lead to another and I pushed for it to become a band and take it more seriously, which Paul wasn’t happy with so eventually he left. What confused matters in the press and public eye was that Neil, David and I were his backing band when he did a solo tour in 2008. However the emphasis then was completely on his solo work, and he had no intention of being a member of a band again after Josef K, which in the end we had to respect.

The double ‘A’ sided single What’s It All About? /Mind was released in 2006; I believe this was meant as a one off release?

Not initially but it ended up like that. Certainly with Paul participating. When we made the agreement with Pronoia Records in 2006, the album had been recorded with Paul’s full participation, but by the time we got around to discussing getting it released he had changed his mind. So he asked us to remove his lead vocals, which we did, although some of his guitar and backing vocals do remain on the first album.

At what point did that spark the appetite to push things further; as a full band and with more releases?

The point that changed everything was bumping into Steve Fraser at a TV21 album launch in 2009. I told him what had happened and he was keen to get involved. The minute we started talking music I knew he was the man. We didn’t even bother with an audition. I knew the songs were strong enough to survive without Paul’s involvement. That opened so many doors, being able to play live (which Paul would never have done as The Cathode Ray) and generally move things on after quite a difficult start.

Were some of you all already old friends and maybe previously worked together before uniting for The Cathode Ray we know today?

Neil Baldwin and I have known each other for 34 years (!) and have played in bands together intermittently since 1986. David Mack and I had been working together since 2000 so, yes, there was a certain chemistry. Steve was the “new boy” although we’d all known him on the Edinburgh scene previously.

I have to admit for once, and not intentionally, I read about the band and its background before hearing a note for a review, and to be honest once seeing a list of previous projects for members of The Cathode Ray2_RingMaster Reviewthe band which had been indelible pleasures in my personal soundtrack, subsequently luring a revisit to old favourites records after finishing the review too, there was an increased anticipation and eagerness to explore the band and album. Do you think having your musical histories has helped draw awareness to the band or not?

Well obviously there’s going to be a certain amount of that, but I do believe, hopefully without sounding conceited, that The Cathode Ray is more than the sum of its parts. But initially I guess it did help getting people interested through our various previous involvements.

There were whiffs of all some of your previous bands at times across the songs and often nostalgia blessed air of Infinite Variety, The Bluebells and Scars maybe most notably in our ears. You are a band unafraid to draw on previous adventures and spices to hone new and fresh exploits, as potently shown on the album?

The songs that I write aren’t consciously drawing on any of our past exploits, but I guess where you’ve come from does influence where you’re going. In any case, it’s probably coincidental, as Steve only toured with The Scars as a depping bassist so wasn’t involved in their creative process, while Neil only contributed to arrangements with The Bluebells. But inevitably, as we all come from that post-punk background, some of the sounds and styles of these bands are going to rub off.

How would you say The Cathode Ray has evolved over time and specifically between Infinite Variety and its predecessor, your self-titled debut album?

I would say the vague initial brief of merging post-punk Manchester with New York has simply broadened to the point where I regard ourselves now as a band that isn’t easy to pin down musically. Our original press release mentioned 60’s Garage, Soundtracks and Northern soul, to which one critic added Psychedelia, Glam-Rock, Euro-Disco, Krautrock and 90’s Alternative Pop when reviewing Infinite Variety. So it is definitely evolving. I’m currently demoing material for the next album and there’s even more interesting musical areas I’d like to explore. It’s good to surprise people.

TCR cover_RingMaster ReviewGive us some insight into the thoughts and intentions going into the writing and recording of Infinite Variety? Do you build a release on particular aims or ideas or predominantly let things organically evolve?

Things do tend to evolve organically. If you put too much pre-conceived thought into it, the music loses its spontaneity. Although I suppose one particular aim is not to repeat ourselves. Each album needs to be a significant progression from the previous one, so a certain degree of thought does go into that. Also, apart from melodies and lyrics, I’m always interested in rhythms and try to be as adventurous and varied as possible in that area too.

We described the album as a “kaleidoscope of fun, sound, and adventure”, a fair hint we think at the array of flavours and inventive spices fuelling and shaping the songs within Infinite Variety. In the hands of many bands it might be an incoherent mix, but you manage to seamlessly blend all spices and individual characters of songs perfectly. Where do you and the band start when composing songs?

Well I compose the songs and demo them first with the key riffs, chord progressions, lyrics etc. all in place. At that stage they often do sound fairly disparate. I then present them to the band in the rehearsal room and that’s when it starts to sound like The Cathode Ray. Steve, Neil and Dave all contribute parts and arrangements until we arrive at the finished article. Some songs like The Eyes Are The Window took a long time to come together and changed quite considerably from my original demo. Others end up fairly similar to the original template, but all manage to sound cohesive owing to the fact it’s the four of us playing them, I guess.

The album’s tracks manage to be rich and at times expansive in texture and flavour yet also ‘slim’, i.e. no excess baggage or indulgence. They manage to be an open evolution from your first album but also reveal a bolder leap in aural colour and character; how do you hear their relevance to older propositions as one of their creators?

Well obviously it’s difficult to be completely objective about something you’ve created yourself, but I see their place in relation to the first album as a natural progression. The leap in colour and texture which you describe is simply a way of moving the band forward, without cluttering things up unnecessarily. You use the word ‘slim’ and I suppose that comes in at the production stage – cutting off any excess fat!

How long in the making from first note to paper or thought through to last note laid down was the album?

The boundaries are always blurred as we always tend to have songs left over which were either written too late to make the cut or simply didn’t fit at the time. For example, This Force Of Nature had its origins as a completely different song dating way back to 2006. It had never sounded right so was left on the shelf. I went back to it in 2014 writing new lyrics and melodies and it quickly came together then. Eureka Moment and Buck the Trend were written in 2009 when Steve first joined. But the bulk of I.V. was written and recorded between 2012 and 2014 – around two and half years.

Our review stated spices of bands from around the eighties as rewarding aspects but over time sixties/seventies tones have emerged. I sense your own inspirations and musical loves go far back?

Oh yes – my musical tastes stretch way back! How long have you got? Songwriters have always been key to me. From Lennon & McCartney, Brian Wilson, Smokey Robinson, Jimmy Webb and Bacharach & David, through Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Scott Walker, Al Green, Bowie, Joni Mitchell, Robert Wyatt and Neil Young to Costello, Paddy MacAloon and Rufus Wainwright, the song is always key. Then there’s the bands I love – The Stones, The Velvets, The Doors, Faces, Roxy, Yes, Kraftwerk, Television, Talking Heads, Buzzcocks, Chic, Wire, Magazine, Pretenders, Joy Division, Dexys, Scritti Politti; Cocteaus, Talk Talk, Teenage Fanclub, High Llamas, Flaming Lips… the list goes on.

There is no mistaking that Scottish bands and rock ‘n’ roll of all styles and design bred there, has something unique to it, and we could go on a long list of examples. Can you define what it is in ‘the

Photo by Jez Curnow

Photo by Jez Curnow

water’ which helps breed such distinctive and so often inspirational bands from that part of the UK, as ones yourselves?

I think there’s an open-mindedness up here. Maybe Scottish bands tend to draw from a wider pool of influences than other parts of the UK. Or maybe it’s to do with being distanced from what’s happening down south – even in the age of the internet. It’s certainly true that scenes of their own do seem to crop up here around labels like Postcard, Fast, 53rd & 3rd, Creeping Bent and, possibly, our label Stereogram too, which has attracted similar kindred literate spirits. Either that or we all seem to be obsessed with the Velvet Underground!

What comes next for The Cathode Ray?

Firstly, we’ve got two more live shows coming up this year as part of The Stereogram Revue in Edinburgh and Glasgow, plus a new track called It Takes One To Know One on a compilation album. Then there’s a new video shot earlier this year at the Kings Theatre in Edinburgh by Jez Curnow to go with Saving Grace, our other featured track on the comp. After that we’ll be knuckling down to working on the follow up to Infinite Variety. I’ve got five or six new songs written and demoed, plus a couple of leftovers, so we’ll be getting on with them. Expect some new directions.

Your releases come out on Stereogram Recordings, your own label which seems to have out grown and blossomed far more than its original intent I believe. Can you tell us a little about it and what is ahead for the label too?

It has indeed outgrown its original intent which was simply to facilitate a release for the first Cathode Ray album, plus any other projects (The Fabulous Artisans) or archive material I had kicking about. But over the last couple of years it has been growing steadily with first Roy Moller signing up, followed by James King & The Lonewolves, Milton Star, St. Christopher Medal, Lola in Slacks and, Band Of Holy Joy. The critical and public response has been great which is hugely encouraging. As previously mentioned, we’re rounding off the year with two Revue shows which will feature the entire roster in some form or other (minus Milton Star who don’t have a live set up at present). These gigs will be accompanied by The Sound of Stereogram, a budget compilation in the spirit of New Wave in ‘77 or Pillows and Prayers in ’82, featuring both new and old tracks from all eight acts on the label. Next year promises some new signings plus new material from the existing acts.

My big thanks to you again for chatting with us; have you anything you would like to add?

Nothing to add except thanks very much for your support over the last year.

Lastly and looking at band’s influences on your Facebook profile, a list of bands littering my own record collection I have to say, can you indulge me and give us a few of the bands/records which inspired you to get into music and then as a musician push yourself further?

Well I’ve already mentioned a whole bunch of artists who’ve inspired me, so here’s some records that have been key: “With The Beatles”; “Motown Chartbusters Vol.3”; “Pet Sounds”; “Piper at The Gates of Dawn”; “Forever Changes”; “Loaded”; “Scott 4”; “What’s Going On”; “Exile On Main Street”; “Never A Dull Moment”; “Close To The Edge”; “Aladdin Sane”; ”Houses Of The Holy”; “Quadrophenia”; “Rock Bottom”; “Country Life”; “Zuma”; “Songs In The Key Of Life”; “Trans Europe Express”; “Marquee Moon”; “My Aim Is True”; “Never Mind The Bollocks”; “Risque”; “All Mod Cons”; “Love Bites”; “Fear Of Music”; “Closer”; “The Correct Use Of Soap”; “You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever”; “Rattlesnakes”; “Steve McQueen”; “Don’t Stand Me Down”. Again the list goes on…

Read our review of Infinite Variety @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2015/04/21/the-cathode-ray-infinite-variety/

https://www.facebook.com/thecathoderay   http://www.stereogramrecordings.co.uk

Pete Ringmaster

The RingMaster Review 23/11/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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

KEN mode – Success

photo Brenna Faris

photo Brenna Faris

Predictability has never had a presence in the sounds and imagination of Canadian noise wreckers KEN mode, though that in itself is something to be expected. Their caustic and furious brews of post-rock, hardcore, metal, and noise, to mention just some of their flavours employed, have ignited ears and imaginations with a tempestuous almost petulant creativity ensuring the band’s propositions are some of the most persistently and highly anticipated treats. The Winnipeg trio’s new album Success is no exception but this time it has taken a detour which definitely takes assumptions by surprise.

The band has gone back to explore the sounds and invention which were fermenting and fuelling the late 80s/early 90s when KEN mode began to sow its own sonic explorations. The album’s press release lists the album as paying homage to “both their Canadian Prairie roots, and a time when they first started to care about making music; the burgeoning grunge; and Touch Go/Dischord scenes of, with bands like Nirvana, Big Black, Cop Shoot Cop, The Cows, Circus Lupus, and Drive Like Jehu warping their teenage minds.” Listening to Success though you can go back further and find the seeds in predominantly post and noise punk with the album persistently sounding like a primal version of Gang of 4 on steroids. It is the band as raw and aggressive as ever, probably even more so at times, and still lyrically stirring up thoughts and emotional involvement, but it shows a new character and new compelling designs from the band which might not quite work for all but here is being greedily devoured.

KMSuccessCover_Reputation Radio/RingMaster Review     Recorded with Steve Albini (Nirvana, the Jesus Lizard, PJ Harvey) and recorded as a fully live and analog session, KEN mode’s sixth album opens with Blessed, a track which from its initial sonic whistle turns into a heavy bestial prowl. Simultaneously a swagger emerges in the grizzly tones of Scott Hamilton’s bass as magnetic jabbing lines the beats of drummer Shane Matthewson. Intimidating restraint replaces their predacious aggression at this point, the vocals of guitarist Jesse Matthewson crawling syllable by syllable with open ire over the addiction igniting web now in place. The song’s volatile instincts soon return to take rein though, almost insidious discord and hostility invading whilst binding excited senses in inventive and mischievous rancor.

The outstanding start kicks up another notch with These Tight Jeans, a song which roars and excites like an illicit union of Nirvana, Black Flag, and Pretty Girls Make Graves. Of course that is a mere hint to something unique to KEN mode, the track a rumbling, grumbling contagion of wiry hooks, spicy grooves, and rhythmic badgering. As ever the song is driven by fury loaded vocals but this time assisted by the excellent punk lures of guest Jill Clapham who just adds richer colour to the slimline unbridled furnace on the senses.

The Owl… follows the brilliance of its predecessor with its own gripping dark beauty. A sinister noir lit intrigue escapes the growling bass groove, its drama escorted by the similarly potent landing of drum sticks as vocals dangle their raw tone and narrative over the imagination. An air of Bauhaus wraps the absorbing lure and agitated swing of the song as guitars and bass spring an inescapable menace of a flirtation which only gets darker and more imposing as the emotive intimacy of cello from Natanielle Felicitas returns after first gracing the opener. The solemn gentle passage hugging her enterprise is soon a brawl of noise and intensity again before regaining control in a mesmeric finale which leaves ears and emotions in lustful bliss

The grungy turmoil of I Just Liked Fire explodes next, it too a rebellious blaze for ears and appetite to get lustful over as twisted discord and carnal noise collude to abrase and infest the senses whilst its successor Management Control, with greater restraint crowds ears with a thick resonating bassline and a tangy vining of guitar endeavour. The beats of Shane once again provide disorientating yet anthemic bait aligned to the predatory and contagious groans of bass but sonically the song is more involved and less instant with its catchy hooks and grooves. This is not to say the track is any less virulent than the previous songs, just a more intensive exploration with layers of waiting rewards.

There is a feel of Psychic TV to the following A Passive Disaster as its carnivorous basslines and caustic bellow gets right under the skin and into the psyche whilst Failing At Fun Since 1981 straight after, is punk belligerence at its blisteringly sonic and primitively rhythmic best. Both songs are a jungle of menace and bracing invention, individual noise riots to thrill and linger though they get outshone a touch by A Catalog Of Small Disappointments and in turn closing song Dead Actors. The first of the final pair is an uncompromising persuasion, its stalking rhythms and vocal angst entwined in the rabid theatre of guitar and lyrics. The track enslaves body and emptions with ease, threatening and seducing with every snarl and raw fingering of the senses before its successor takes over with a psychotic and darkly elegant Gang of 4 meets Wire like meander of sound and distress lined emotional reflection. The song is spellbinding, a long term journey taking itself and the listener on a traumatic and turbulently fascinating adventure.

It is hard to say yet if Success is KEN mode’s finest hour such its big enough departure to previous encounters reveals something openly and strikingly different but the seriously thrilling encounter is definitely a contender.

Success is available via Season Of Mist now @ http://shop.season-of-mist.com/predefined-search?id_list=102, http://kenmode.bigcartel.com/, or https://kenmode.bandcamp.com/album/success

http://www.ken-mode.com/

Upcoming KEN mode dates with Fight Amp

June 16, 2015 – Toronto, ON @ The Shop (Parts & Labour) w/The Great Sabatini

June 17, 2015 – Montreal, QC @ Turbo Haus w/The Great Sabatini

June 18, 2015 – Brooklyn, NY @ St. Vitus w/Pyrrhon, Couch Slut

June 19, 2015 – Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie

June 20, 2015 – Columbus, OH @ Ace of Cups w/Lo-Pan

June 21, 2015 – Chicago, IL @ The Burlington w/GOBO’S CVIT

June 26, 2015 – Winnipeg, MB @ The Goodwill w/Pop Crimes, Teethmarks *no Fight Amp

RingMaster 16/06/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @ http://www.reputationradio.net