Kleenex Girl Wonder – Vana Mundi

Creating melodic centrepieces with a lyrical heart as rich as their aural temptation is seemingly as second nature to US singer songwriter Graham Smith as breathing; proof easily gathered over closing on three decades of releases either under his name or as Kleenex Girl Wonder. As the latter he has spun yet another feverishly flavoursome collection of melody bred pop ‘n’ roll songs in the shape of new album Vana Mundi, one of those albums which schemes to get under the skin and into the imagination as it echoes contemporary life in its own distinct way.

Latin for ‘Empty World’, Vana Mundi reaches into the heart of life, into its selfish and selfless sides with often the latter emerging from the exploration of the former. It is as intimate as it can be seen worldly, suggesting experiences have bred its heart and thoughts as much as observation. It opens up with Practical Effects and immediately holds attention with guitars creating a lively clamour followed by a gentle stroll with a swing which just infests hips. Smith’s vocals soon follow to similarly beguile in their own distinct tongue and breath. Thoughts sprung to Britain’s Astral Cloud Ashes the closest comparison we can suggest to the uniqueness of Kleenex Girl Wonder, wondering if this also one man project was inspired by Smith a touch in its own individuality.

The excellent opener is quickly followed and matched by the bouncy saunter of Greek Fire, the resonating thud of rhythms alone a potent lure behind the boisterous and flirtatious exploits of voice and guitar. With each passing second each aspect accelerates its lustful gait and appeal, only relaxing to repeat the irresistible cycle with even greater enterprise and energy. Superb in every essence, the song sets a marker to be regularly worried across the release if maybe not quite by next up Trattegio. In saying that, the song only has attention and appetite keen with its calmer and eagerly infectious endeavours featuring guitarist Thayer McClanahan and drummer Matt LeMay alongside Smith.

Not for the last time on the album, Kleenex Girl Wonder brings a slight Kinks like hue to ears; Sounds Good a mellow engagement with volatility in its depths which rumbles rather than erupts across its reflection while Sexy Legitimate Threat casts an acoustic hug which soothes as lyrics strike. Like a magnet the song just draws ears and the imagination, every listen more intense as its simple but richly layered body pounces with greater enjoyment the result before The Mesomorph prowls the senses with its controlled yet open rapacious intent and tone. The dark edge of bass and rhythms seductively collude with the melodic and harmonic intimation of Smith, every handful of seconds within the song adding fresh drama to its increasing ingenuity.

Impossible Shadow is similarly inventive and distinct with its folkish aural festivities and subsequent shadow lit calms. Alongside its predecessor this pair provides the most imaginative exploits within Vana Mundi, its most powerful and impressive moments among nothing but rich moments of invention; the latter especially with its XTC-esque adventure.

The rawer buzz of Ask Mountain is not slow in tempting with arousing enterprise either; its melodic clamour resourceful and deviously catchy as electronic beats dance. It is infectiousness just as prevalent within the buoyant romp of Sunday Night Fever, a controlled but busy song with waves of energy in its voice and intent.

The album closes up with Picture the Kid, another vociferously rousing encounter with a great Frank Black like hue to its creative theatre and expressive breath. It is an irresistible end to an unavoidably fascinating and enjoyable release. It was a pleasure from the first listen earning only lustier responses thereon in; the album of summer’s dark side.

Vana Mundi is available now via Reesonable Records @ http://kgw.me/album/vana-mundi

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Pete RingMaster 26/06/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Shriekback – Why Anything? Why This?

In music it is so easy to be adulterous to one’s first love; to gather a harem of lustful attractions just as fevered though the one is always the prime affection. For us XTC was and is that irreplaceable ardour but the years obviously have seen hordes of infidelities seducing across a multitude of sounds and styles. One of the earliest sprung from that virgin ardour and one of its former members Barry Andrews. It was Shriekback which following one of its founder’s ear grabbing solo sounds teased with its debut EP, baited with the singles My Spine (Is The Bassline) and Lined Up, and enslaved through their first two albums in Care and Jam Science. Admittedly over the following three and a half decades we have dipped into their creative escapades more than been relentlessly attentive but never shy to explore. That initial hunger for their sound has just been truly re-ignited now though with the release of new album Why Anything? Why This?; one of their finest encounters ever.

Shriekback was formed in 1980 by vocalist/ keyboardist Andrews and ex- Gang Of Four bassist Dave Allen, the pair quickly enlisting guitarist Carl Marsh from Out On Blue Six into the fold. The ear grabbing Tench EP and those aforementioned singles introduced the band’s unique sound which blossomed further upon the 1982 released Care. The next year saw drummer Martyn Barker (King Swamp, Billy Bragg) brought into the band’s line-up with Jam Silence coming in 1984 followed by a move to Arista Records and the release of their acclaimed third album Oil & Gold. The band’s next couple of albums over the subsequent two years or so centred around Andrews with Allen and Barker linking back up with him for the 1992 full-length Sacred City, a release which appeared to be the band’s last breath. They returned though in 2000 with Naked Apes and Pond Life, following it three years later with Having a Moment, the album seeing the band’s original line-up in place again with Barker, and Lu Edmonds alongside. Four more albums over a decade, seeing numerous musicians involved, leads us up to Why Anything? Why This? the band’s 14th studio album coming three years after its predecessor and what can only be suggested as one of the band’s most compelling adventures.

Around the core prowess and imagination of Andrews, Barker, and Marsh, the album also features bassist Scott Firth of P.i.L and regular Shriekback backing vocalists Wendy and Sarah Partridge. Instantly it had its fingers in ears and appetite, teasing and tempting as opener Shovelheads inserts a heavy infectious lure led by deceptively flirtatious rhythms. The vocals stand just as magnetic upon the strands of sound and words, electronic currents lapping the sizzling threads of guitar as the rhythms continue to throb. It is a great start, an imposing hint of things to come which rather than hungrily infesting ears and imagination inescapably nags them.

The band’s latest single And The Rain follows, a virulent slice of dark rock with atmospheric seduction and manipulative rhythmic shadows. It is a tenebrific contagion matched in voice and word; an intrigue loaded proposal getting under the skin like Tone on Tails meeting The Filthy Tongues. The track is superb, drama and deviously catchy enterprise colluding in dark temptation before the equally tantalising Catmandu preens its own darkly nurtured theatre with melodic elegance and revelry amidst electronic and rhythmic devilment.

Such, Such Are The Joys is a serene yet tenacious  funk ‘n’ roll croon, its slow swing hypnotic to hips and darksome air pure intimation to the imagination only aided by lyrics, tone, and the siren call of the backing vocals. Pure seduction with the beauty of danger in its lining, the song just bewitched while Wriggle And Drone swiftly showed itself a puppeteer with its rhythmic suggestion and percussive scenery alone. The song took us back to those early tracks of the band which had us hook, line and sinker; infusing that instinctive bait with fresh ingenuity.

Next up The Painter Paints is just poetry from start to finish in sound and lyrical invention, conjuring just as its protagonists might with every fibre,  its captivation more than matched by the brooding post punk kissed sway and raw dark folk balladry of Useless Treasure. Even so, their major allure is only eclipsed by the album’s final trio; each creative alchemy.

The Church Of The Louder Light is first, rising from distant mists with vocal enticement and in turn rhythmic and sonic flirtation. Its hearty roar grows from a simmer to full voice in no time, its spirit and passion uncaged to inspire the same in the listener. It is a glorious trespass which after a momentary breath just returns bigger and bolder and more influential as Sons Of The Dirt also shows itself to be, it too building its energy and infection with increasing boisterousness as its predacious rock ‘n’ roll sizzles and blazes.

The album concludes with Thirty Seven, our favourite moment within Why Anything? Why This? with its gothic glaze over dark folk intimation and post/garage punk drama. The track is simply total fascination, aural witchery as seductively claustrophobic as it is mercurially radiant.

Since day one Shriekback has been pretty much a magnet for our ears, as for so many others, and to high praise from fans and media alike; perpetually a source of captivation but it is hard to say they have been any more compelling and essential than right now with Why Anything? Why This?.

Why Anything? Why This? is out now across most digital stores and @ https://www.shriekback.com/store

https://www.shriekback.com/   https://www.facebook.com/shriekback    https://twitter.com/shriekbackmusic

Pete RingMaster 28/05/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Astral Cloud Ashes – Dear Absentee Creator

Eighteen months or so in the making, Dear Absentee Creator is the keenly awaited successor to the critically well-received debut album marking Astral Cloud Ashes out as one inescapably magnetic encounter.  Released in 2016, Too Close to the Noise Floor was a collection of songs which intrigued as they pleasured, fascinated as they almost forcibly introduced an ear grabbing new artist to the British music scene. Now Dear Absentee Creator takes all the prowess and potential of its predecessor to the next level with eleven tracks which seduce the imagination and stir ears with their infectious adventures.

Astral Cloud Ashes is the solo project of Jersey hailing multi-instrumentalist Antony Walker who had already caught our ears and appetite as one half of also Channel Islands bred outfit Select All Delete Save As . Formed in 2016, the band swiftly sparked keen interest with the title track of that subsequent first album. The full bodied Too Close to the Noise Floor really stirred attention and praise with its release later that first year and a sound which lies somewhere between the embraces of indie rock, alt-pop, and math rock being self-tagged as Future-core. To be fair, enjoyably it is a proposition very difficult to pin down, familiar in some ways, boldly individual in a great many others, and as proven by the new encounter, always at ease captivating the senses.

Whereas Too Close to the Noise Floor saw backing vocalist Jason Neil a thick presence alongside, Dear Absentee Creator is all Walker with just a few guests in pianist/vocalist James Elliott Field (Tubelord, Tall Ships) on the album’s closing song and drummer Max Saidi on three others as well as Melle Brower (vocalist for Dutch metallers Illusionless) providing cymbals on Clockhand Reversal. Mastered as that earlier album by Tim Turan, Dear Absentee Creator references Satoshi Nakamoto in its title, the creator of the world’s first ever cryptocurrency in Bitcoin, whose true identity has never been known to anyone and has not been heard of since the final weeks of 2010.

It opens up with the melodic enticement of News Anchor Breaks Rank, a short mellow invitation with drama in its heart and touch as Walker’s ever resourceful vocal mix rises within a guitar nurtured weave. It is the opening breath to next up Moonphase Bloom, and outstanding track which helped spark anticipation for the album with its release as a single last year. A virulently infectious and lively slice of pop rock as tempting when it is a melodic smoulder or a rousing rocker, the track just draws ears into the sound and imagination of Walker like a magnet; its success as a single pure evidence.

Old Moods follows, it too a bouncy proposal with emotion lining every melody and word, adventure each twist and turn. Almost fiery in its eruptions and firmly mesmeric in its melancholic calms, the song is a skilfully woven clamour drawing on a host of pop and indie flavours with subtlety and open hunger before A Reformatted Heart goes off on its own catchy stroll wrapped in melodic intimation.

Already four tracks in and Dear Absentee Creator showed a feistier character and contagion of sound compared to its predecessor with the same calm elegance and lively imagination which helped the first album stand out. It has a roar to it which just incites attention even as in next up Ryukyu Kingdom Declares Independence, a song which ebbs and flows in intensity almost reflecting from a standstill at times as Walker croons throughout with a gentle touch.

Similarly Ironed Shirts bounces along with a mercurial gait, every move inviting a willing body to match its changeable energy, the imagination bound in its expectations escaping invention, while Dallas Knows the Reason just enthrals from its emotive harmonic gaze to its voracious rock explosions. The grumble of the bass is irresistible, the flames of guitar compelling as the track seduces, lulls into false safety, and preys on ears and thoughts with its tenacious sound around a tale of a gun-wielding girl from Texas.

The piano led, metronomic tease of the following Clock Hand Reversal is just as richly enticing, that clever bait opening up a tenacious shimmer of melody and harmony with a volatile underbelly which springs up again and again to add to the track’s captivation.

The fuzzy pop ‘n’ roll of Satoshi Nakamoto vs Unyielding Desire for BAU is a quick match in wrapping up ears and appetite in its creative tapestry, the melodic senses entangling of Gush just as charismatic and increasingly gripping before Kimobetsu Love brings the album to a fine conclusion. A song which blossomed over plays rather than making the immediate impact of some of its companions, it epitomises the imaginative and arresting not forgetting perpetually enticing sound of Astral Cloud Ashes.

It is increasingly impossible to compare the band’s sound to others such its growing uniqueness but imagine a pinch of House Of Love intimacy, a slither of Weezer infectiousness, and an infusion of XTC melodic imagination all blended together in a Tubelord fired mortar and you get an idea of the creative breath and pop rock fun of Astral Cloud Ashes.

Dear Absentee Creator is out now across major online stores and

https://astralcloudashes.bandcamp.com/album/dear-absentee-creator

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Pete RingMaster 26/05/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Noseholes – Danger Dance

If you are looking to have your imagination twisted into torturous shapes matching those drawn from the body, then checking out the twisted disco of German outfit Noseholes is a must. The ticket to its no wave/post punk/noise rock devilry comes with debut album Danger Dance, an encounter living up to its title in deed and temptation.

The Hamburg hailing quartet of Henk Haiti, Steve Somalia, ZooSea Cide, and TH have already been teasing and tempting through a host of well-received tracks which now collude with equally as compelling adventures within the band’s first full-length. Danger Dance opens up with its title track, a flirtatious bassline leading the coaxing as beats stroll alongside. Soon an equally seductive melody escapes the guitar, the combination reminding of the Au Pairs even as vocals spring their web of temptation and intrigue. The suggestive spice of keys and the alternating female and male vocals all add to the captivating drama relentlessly driven by addiction stirring rhythms

A just as potent rhythmic lure fuels the following post punk shuffle of Lush Box. Spirals of guitar and flames of sax latch onto the swagger of beats and bass; the song’s jazz bred discord and post punk dance bouncing around like a Delta 5 meets Blood Red Shoes tango before Styling shares its own riveting devilment with a similar but quickly individual template of flavours. To be honest the rhythmic heart of the first trio had us trapped hook, line and sinker, all the other psyche infesting imagination icing on their inimitable cake with only the briefness of each song a frustration, a common niggle across the album.

Yelzins Affair makes a more tempered start but one with intrigue and noir lit shadows in its breath and sound from the off. Creating a tapestry of creative languages and suggestion over rapacious rhythmic pulses and lean but potent melodic tendrils the song is a mysterious fascination allowing a breath for the body and adventure for thoughts.

Tenacious endeavour and energy breaks again in Ex Driver, a track which in its sonic webbing has a definite early XTC deviousness, while Bed Smoker bounds in on a boisterous rhythmic skip and melodic manipulation which has the body and imagination eagerly bouncing like a four year old. Both are manna to any post punk/noise pop bred appetite while the closing Aspirin Nation is pure joy to jazz infested noise rock mania. Its acidic instrumental dissonance and rhythmic pounce is captivation enough but add the Essential Logic-esque squirts of sax and again attention was lustful.

Danger Dance teased, taunted, and pleasured pretty much our every personal want from music; it may very well do the same for yours. Only one way to find out…

Danger Dance is out now through ChuChuRecords / Harbinger Sound; available @ https://noseholes.bandcamp.com/releases

https://www.facebook.com/pg/NoseholesBand/

Pete RingMaster 27/02/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Astral Cloud Ashes – Dallas Knows the Reason

With the recent announcement of the release of second album Dear Absentee Creator early 2018, British alternative rock outfit Astral Cloud Ashes have provided a highly flavoursome teaser with new single Dallas Knows the Reason. The liveliest slice of rapacious rock ‘n’ roll from the band yet without losing the melodic enterprise and bold touches which has marked the band out as a very appetising prospect to date, the song grabs attention with ease, luring the body into similarly eager involvement.

Astral Cloud Ashes is the solo project of Jersey, Channel Islands hailing vocalist/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Antony Walker, though he is someone unafraid to embrace other’s talents if needed, his forthcoming album proof in featuring James Elliott Field (Tubelord, Tall Ships) and Max Saidion on certain songs. Through singles and impressive debut album Too Close to the Noise Floor, the band stirred close attention and acclaim across 2016; a success, if Dallas Knows the Reason, backed by its just as magnetic predecessor Moonphase Bloom also taken from Dear Absentee Creator, is a sign of things to be soon discovered which could very well escalate.

Infused with lyrical content dealing with a gun-wielding girl from Texas, Dallas Knows the Reason instantly lures ears with vocal harmonies and lyrical suggestion, rhythms lurking with a firm hand as melodies meander just waiting to explode into life. That they do as the song quickly hits its tenacious stroll, rhythms now bounding through ears as the bass grumbles alongside the fiery exploits of the guitar. It is a highly infectious affair, its slight lulls intensifying the song’s swing once it erupts again.

Walker’s vocals are as distinct and warmly infectious as ever, leaping across the robust endeavours of the song with matching magnetism as feet and hips respond to the natural flirtation of the track’s rock ‘n’ roll. Increasingly more compelling with every listen, Dallas Knows the Reason sees Astral Cloud Ashes launching upon a new plateau of sound and imagination. Bands such as The Pixies, The Cure, Tubelord, and XTC are often referenced with Astral Cloud Ashes but song by song as shown here its sound is becoming more unique which makes the anticipation for Dear Absentee Creator all the keener.

Dallas Knows the Reason is available now @ https://astralcloudashes.bandcamp.com/track/dallas-knows-the-reason

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Pete RingMaster 19/12/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Sweet Gum Tree – Sustain The Illusion

With the single, The Gift, still ringing entrancingly in ears we thought we should catch up with the album it comes from and lures attention to. Sustain The Illusion is the second album from Sweet Gum Tree, the solo project of French singer songwriter/musician Arno Sojo and a release which simply captivates from start to finish with melodic beauty and emotively provocative exploration.

After the collaborative creation of its acclaimed predecessor three years ago, The Snakes You Charm & The Wolves You Tame, a release featuring among a few Isobel Campbell of Belle & Sebastian, Earl Harvin from the Tindersticks, and The Church’s Marty Willson-Piper, Sojo has created and recorded Sustain The Illusion pretty much on his own with producer David Odlum and musicians Romy and Lise Douylliez adding the only additional contributions. The result is a release which manages to feel even more intimate than its heart bred predecessor while embracing a richer texture and array of sound and enterprise.

Sustain The Illusion opens with the atmospheric Breaking The Bond, electronic beats leading in the inviting melodic coaxing of a lone guitar as colder winds whistle around them. Sojo’s tones soon join the blossoming reflection, the emotion of his voice and words stirring greater intensity in the suggestive sounds. It is energy though which sublimely ebbs and flows as the instinctive beauty of his music seduces the senses, at times with melancholic elegance.

The following Twinkle has a livelier gait, its electronic shimmer and melodic rock guitar stroll as transfixing as the rhythmic dance and vocal adventure within them. As the track gently explodes around ears and imagination certain essences remind of bands such as Slug Comparison and Sigur Rós before Someday hugs thoughts with its confidential emotions and sonic tension. As the song before, it is seriously mesmeric, deeply immersing the listener in its raw heart and emotional drama further expressed through the impressing tones of Sojo.

The infectious swing of Rollercoaster firmly entices next, its boisterous energies and enterprise pure magnetism infesting body and spirit. It is pop infused rock at its best and quite bewitching as too is successor Fairweather Faith, a folk spiced croon with the most delicious melody and a compelling XTC like air. It is an exquisitely layered seduction graced by worldly spices which absorbs attention and ardour like a sponge.

An earthy bass opens up Stars Align, its flirtatious nature matched in vocal and melody as the song evolves into a Nine Inch Nails meets The The like treat. Its eventful minimalistic air and Sojo’s vocal prowess alone stokes pure pleasure which angelic harmonies and an array of sounds and imaginative twists simply accentuates in the album’s best track.

The equally outstanding Guilt Trip similarly has something of Matt Johnson’s band to it, a touch of The Pineapple Thief too as its mix of eighties synth pop and post punk nurtured rock captivates with increasing dexterity. It is another beacon of songwriting and craft within the album taken to a greater plateau by Sojo’s passion and energy.

As the calmer but darker emotional waters of Clean Slate and Burn Your Icons, a track merging Cure-esque rhythms and shadows with jazzier progressive rock adventure, surround ears on the way to seducing the psyche Sustain The Illusion only strengthens its hold, squeezing tighter with recent single The Gift. The track caresses the senses with its golden melodic romance, its heart similarly graceful and reassuring to subdue the shadows which skirt but never threaten its hope fuelled beauty. It is fair to say that the song has been a powerful draw for a great many into Sustain The Illusion and for newcomers into the creative realm of Sweet Gum Tree, and even after a flood of plays seduces as powerfully as ever.

The album closes with the reassuring lullaby of Keeper, a safety clad hug which encapsulates everything masterfully charismatic and fascinating about not only the album but Sojo’s songwriting and talent. So we suggest you do yourself a big favour and check out Sustain The Illusion and Sweet Gum Tree now!

Sustain The Illusion is out now @ https://sweetgumtree.bandcamp.com/

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Pete RingMaster 03/10/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Sweet Gum Tree – The Gift

To reinforce the already successful release and temptation of latest album Sustain The Illusion, French project Sweet Gum Tree have another magnetic slice of melodic seduction poised in the shape of new single The Gift. We first became captivated by Sweet Gum Tree through debut album The Snakes You Charm & The Wolves You Tame three years ago and the latest offering and other tracks heard since then shows that the qualities and potential of that impressive introduction have grown and blossomed.

Sweet Gum Tree is the creation and solo project of songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Arno Sojo, a musician who has been part of various rock and electro bands over the past fifteen years including another of his creations in Sojo Glider. The first album saw Sojo draw on the talent of guests such as Isobel Campbell, Tindersticks drummer Earl Harvin, and Marty Willson-Piper from The Church. With Sustain The Illusion, he has recorded everything on his own with only Irish producer David Odlum who also worked on The Snakes You Charm & The Wolves You Tame helping out.

Within its melodic beauty that first album was a heart of melancholic elegance, an enticing blend which is just as ripe within The Gift. Its gentle caress of melody instantly has attention alert, guitars weaving a disarming proposal backed by the emotive tones of Sojo. A catchy air is just as swiftly invasive, luring ears within the low key but vibrant stroll of the song where every passing second seems to welcome a fresh ingredient of enterprise; strings and keys two elements rising up to add colour and depth to the heart sharing proposal.

The Gift is a serenade for the imagination, a shadowed but open kiss for the ear much as many of the tracks within that first album alone but with a new richness in enterprise and songwriting which can only see Sweet Gum Tree become the centre of bigger spotlights. It is not a lone offering within Sustain The Illusion though as songs like Guilt Trip and Twinkle show. The first of the two is a compelling mix of eighties synth pop and post punk nurtured rock playing like a fusion of The The and The Pineapple Thief while the second, again merging electronic minimalism with melodic rock tenacity, simply rouses the senses like a fusion of Slug Comparison, XTC, and Sigur Rós; both outstanding tracks though emerging unique to Sweet Gum Tree.

All songs are must check out proposals with The Gift, for ears, more than living up to its title.

The Gift is available to download from September 15th with Sustain The Illusion out now across most online stores.

http://sweetgumtree.tv   http://facebook.com/sweetgumtree   http://twitter.com/SweetGumTree

Pete RingMaster 12/09/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright