Posts Tagged ‘ringmaster review’

deardarkhead at Ringmaster Reviews

Rousingly fascinating is probably the best way to describe Strange Weather, the new EP from New Jersey trio deardarkhead, that and gloriously suggestive. Across six tracks as cinematic as they are emotionally intimate upon the imagination, band and release immerses the listener in its and their own sculpted exploits. The release is an anthem to the conjuring of bold imaginative adventures and a tapestry of creative virulence for ears to bask in.

The beginnings of deardarkhead go way back to 1988 since when the band has released five recordings on their own Fertile Crescent Records label with a retrospective of their early work additionally released in 2012 by Captured Tracks. Their distinctive fusion of post punk, indie rock, shoe gaze, and dream pop has been greedily devoured by an increasing many whilst their live presence has seen the band play with the likes of Supergrass, The Psychedelic Furs, Everclear and The Lilys amongst numerous other. Despite numerous compilation appearances, and that 2011 retrospective  Oceanside: 1991-1993 since last album Unlock the Valves of Feeling was released in 1998, you might say that deardarkhead have been a ‘forgotten’ treat by many; if so that is set to inescapably change with the release of Strange Weather.

Always luring inquiring interest with each release, the band has probably ignited the strongest intrigue with the new EP as it is their first without long time singer/bassist Michael Amper who left the band in 2009. His departure only seemed to ignite a hunger to explore their instrumental side as remaining members, guitarist Kevin Harrington and drummer Robert Weiss proceeded to move in that direction and perform instrumental shows after linking up with bassist Kevin McCauley the following year. The suggestion is that the band is looking for the right vocalist to bring in but on the evidence of Strange Weather, and its empowering potency, you wonder if it will be any loss not finding the right man.

From its first track Strange Weather has ears and emotions enthralled, the imagination just as swiftly ignited as Falling Upward emerges from chilling winds within a dank atmosphere. It is pulled from the wasteland by a nagging guitar, its sonic lure soon colluding with the resonating bait of the bass and crispy textured beats. With them comes a tenacious catchy resourcefulness which infectiously lines the post punk hook and bass groove which subsequently entwine and enslave ears. All the tracks to the EP spark ideas and mental imagery, ones sure to differ person to person, but a cold war like landscape is ours adventure for the opener no doubt helped by having recently watched Deutschland 83. There feels a cinematic kinship between the band’s sound and those visuals with every leap into the sonic tapestry of the song pushing the story along.

With a touch of Leitmotiv to it, the track is a riveting start, leaving ears and pleasure lively and ready to embrace the warmer jangle of Sunshine Through The Rain which follows. There is a calmer air altogether to the song, a melodic radiance which wears the scent of eighties indie pop yet contrasts it with a steely proposal from bass and hypnotic beats. Again captivation is a given to its My Bloody Valentine aired persuasion though it is soon outshone by the thrills and dramas of both Juxta Mare and March Hares. The first of the pair unveils a sultry atmosphere around a delicious melodic hook and bassline which would not feel out of play of a sixties/seventies TV spy thriller. Its lean but thick lure is the spring for an evocative weave of sonic enterprise and suggestive melodies, all courted by the dark shadows of bass and the persistently jabbing swings of Weiss.

As outstanding as it is, it too gets eclipsed by its successor, March Hares stealing the whole show. From the pulsating rhythms of Weiss to the snarling tone of McCauley’s bass, the track has ears and an already lustful appetite enslaved. Their irresistible bait is then entangled in bewitching tendrils of sonic imagination from Harrington; the song subsequently swinging along in the web of their united craft and invention to entice body and spirit further. In full stride, the track has a great feel of The Monochrome Set to it, indeed Harrington’s stringed adventure carries a touch of the English band’s guitarist Lester Square to it as a House of Love shimmer and Birdland like rowdiness add to the slavery.

Ice Age immerses the listener into chillier post punk climes next; its nippy atmosphere and almost bleak ambience tempered by the sonic elegance seeping from the guitar within the anthemic tenacity of the drums. Again it is fair to say that the song lures physical and emotional involvement with ease before Thinking Back explores a maze of reflective melodies and evocative grooves within another addictive rhythmic frame. There is an essence of Echo & The Bunnymen and Bauhaus to the track as post punk and gothic lit shadows and depths spread through sound and thoughts.

The track is an imposingly mesmeric end to a spellbinding release. Strange Weather will have you breathless, excited, reflective, and going on a myriad of imagination bred adventures with its suggestive incitement. We are no experts on deardarkhead and their releases to date but the EP has to be up there as possibly their greatest moment yet.

The Strange Weather EP is released March 25th via Saint Marie Records on Ltd Edition vinyl (100 Black / 150 White with Red Blue and Black splatter) and as a download @http://saintmarierecords.limitedrun.com/products/567260-deardarkhead-strange-weatherand http://saintmarierecords.bandcamp.com/album/strange-weather

 

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Witching Waves at Ringmaster Review

Of the albums most anticipated by our particular ears was one from UK duo Witching Waves. They had us on line with their ltd edition cassette Concrete/Chain Of Command in 2014 and inescapably hooked with debut album Fear Of Falling Down later that same year but things have just got contagiously fiercer and even more sonically fascinating courtesy of their second full-length Crystal Café. It is a stunning roar of sonic and emotional dissonance fuelled by cutting hooks and feverish melodies, and that is not to forget the ever darkly mesmeric and often challenging lure of the vocals.

A mix of corrupted psych and surf rock fever with punk and post punk attitude, the Witching Waves’ sound mighty be better suggested by casting it as a union of the punk antagonism of The Raincoats and the garage punk ‘n’ roll devilry of The Creeping Ivies in collusion with the raw and virulent off-kilter pop of The Adult Net , Morningwood, and Delta 5. To be truthful, the London band has a sound which has always been its own individual but now forcibly so on Crystal Café. Intrigue for what the band will reveal next is always company to eager anticipation and indeed expectations, and it was no exception this time around, especially with the duo of founding members, vocalist/guitarist Mark Jaspar and vocalist Emma Wigham, having grown by one with the addition of bassist Ed Shellard since that previous impressive album.

Crystal Café opens up with Twister, a song shedding drama with its first surge of guitar. As it hits a heady stride with scything beats lining the brooding bassline of Shellard, the track has ears and imagination onside with ease, even more so as the siren like tones of Wigham collude with Jaspar’s sonic tendrils, all hot spice and raw flirtation. Not for the last time, a scent of The Cure certainly hits the rhythmic side of a song, adding appealing hues which engagingly merge with the fiery enterprise of guitar and voice.
The outstanding start continues in the concussively seductive Seeing Double, a roar of scuzzy guitar and alluring vocals with a sniff of almost Xmal Deutschland like post punk coldness. It is a grouchy encounter, epitomised by Jaspar’s aggressive vocal outbursts, but simultaneously also a raw melodic enticement which simply grips the imagination.

The following Pitiless uncages an anthemic rumble of rhythms as Wigham’s captivating vocals get entangled in the citric lines of just as compelling guitar spawned imagination. Juicy hooks are as frequent as searing sonic endeavour, being caught up in a bracing infectiousness which has the body jerking and senses wilting, though they do get respite from the alluring repetition sculpted instrumental Red Light Loop that follows. It is the first of a few imagination sparking interludes, a break before the raw trespass of contagion continues, in this case with Make It Up. There is a Wire like quality to the song which only adds to the pop catchy theatre that evolves to seriously excite and involve the listener. The track is as irresistible as a fondle in the shadows; offering a warm moment of pop slavery in the senses whilst they get intruded upon by the dissonance soaked soundscape of the album.

Anemone spreads a portentously melancholic instrumental breeze next, its starkly lit prowl a rising smog of discord as invasive as it is intimidatingly bewitching. The track sets up ears and imagination for The Threat, it a melodically cultured temper to the previous trespass with its boisterous surges of muscular beats and flowing vocal warmth over less kind but as riveting grooves. It too brews into a swarming sonic assault but without losing any of the pungent temptation it began coaxing ears with before the brazen temptress that is the excellent Red Light wraps its raw hunger and salacious beauty all over the listener.

The scathing sonic air and vocal angst of Receiver then takes over, its Jaspar voiced tempest bold exploration of the senses with underlying seduction added by the harmonies of Wigham, whilst after its pleasing encroachment and the evocative caress of instrumental Inoa, the album comes to a mighty close with new single Flowers. Wrapping around a glorious bassline echoing early Cure as crisp beats descend with resonating effect, strings of melodies and atmospheric suggestiveness come together, in turn swiftly joined by a dual smooch of vocals to captivate and entrance to which Wigham further adds her spellbinding lures. As seductive and inviting as it is, the track equally offers a host of descriptive shadows and sonic discordance that fester in thoughts and emotions to fine effect.

The track is an enthralling end to a simply superb release; another from Witching Waves and easily their finest moment yet. Hopefully this time around, the band gets the attention and surge of fresh appetites for their unique sound which previous releases warranted but Crystal Café demands and deserves.

Crystal Café is available on vinyl, cassette, and digital download from released February 26th via Soft Power in the UK and HHBTM Records in the USA.

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Static Daydream at Ringmaster Review

Ever had that dream where you are submerged in a thick and ravenous atmosphere haunted by the darkest predatory and invasive shadows, a little like the climate in the Silent Hill games? Listening to the new album from Static Daydream is like being immersed in that except everything about it from its raw breath and melodic discord is seriously invigorating and welcome. Carrying tracks bred in the bracing winds of noise and psych rock and equally cultured in shoegaze and dream pop beauty, the debut album from the US duo of Paul Baker(founding member of Skywave and Ceremony) and girlfriend/musical partner Jamie Casey is a tempest of sound and emotion to simply bask in.

Click through for the rest of the review!

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Emotional Response at The Ringmaster Review

For a change we are clubbing together a trio of releases to look at in one go, the reason for this being the common denominator of musician/songwriter Stewart Anderson. The 7” releases from Boyracer,Hulaboy, and The Safe Distance are three early propositions of new indie label Emotional Response formed by Anderson and wife Jen Turrell. Having also run 555 Records and Red Square over the past couple of decades, the pair set up their new project with the intent of recording and releasing new music with friends, the outcomes limited in availability, produced on coloured vinyl, and only available right now through their website http://jenandstew.com/.

With their first release coming in 1991, Boyracer has been a constant source of excited punk pop, releasing over 800 songs since that first exploit with records unleashed through labels such as
Sarah, Slumberland, Blackbean, and Placenta. Coming off a four year hiatus, the Anderson founded proposition offers the Pete Shelley EP as their final release, with Turrell and Sarah Records era guitarist Matt Greenjoining Anderson for four irrepressible pop escapades. The EP opens with its title track, a bass and guitar drama with jabbing beats and expressive vocals. The song is lightly stomping from the off, beats punchy in a weave of politely jangling guitars and potently alluring hooks. It is not much more than a breath over a minute in length but provides pure contagious revelry for feet and imagination to greedily devour.

The following 3nd Wave Mod is similarly parading a fleet of inescapable hooks and quaint melodies within this time a rawer frame of rhythms and chords. As infectious as the first and with a great concussive crescendo in its middle, the song provides a tasty alternative pop adventure which the following The Kind Of Man You Really Are emulates with its tangy melodic clang and the brilliantJump surpasses with its twee pop devilry. Led vocally by Turrell this time, the fourth song swiftly reminds of seventies UK bands like The Chefs and Girls At Our Best. Bouncing with a mischievous melodic grin enhanced by the summery caress of keys, and a rhythmic incitement which again has feet instantly engaged, the song is an anthem for the passions. The release comes with two bonus tracks which were not on our promo but it is hard to imagine them being any less thrilling than the four songs already treating ears.

The Hulaboy EP, He’s making violent love to me, mother, is the celebration of a twenty year friendship between Anderson and Eric M. Stoess, a three track vinyl offering which plays ears with melodic charm and citrus sonic flavouring. As shown by first track Exes and Enemies, there is a sharp tone to the melodies which caress the senses but comes wrapped in a mellow and engaging elegance which is almost whimsical in its breath and temptation. Rhythms are firm though, giving the endeavour depth and muscle in all the right places and through the quirkily enterprising croon of the song.

Napalm Heart flares with lo-fi tenacity and melodic flaming from the first second, its undiluted catchiness and crispy resonance like a blend of The Freshies with a more cheerful Josef K, which for a minute and a half has ears inflamed and emotions wrapped up in sonic devilment. The flirtatious track is followed by Kids Under Stars, a raw blaze of sonic rapacity and garage rock causticity soaked in sixties pop colouring. The blistering encounter completes the impressive vinyl version of the single whilst the download comes with an additional seven tracks, with I find your topsiders and beard amusing and a great cover of Echo and the Bunnymen’s The Cutter particular standout moments.

Final release, the Songs EP from The Safe Distance, is the global link up of American Anderson on bass and organ with vocalist/guitarist Crayola Sarandon (Sarandon / A Witness) from the UK and Australian drummer David Nichols (Cannanes / Huon). Casting quirky dark pop clad in gripping shadows and brought with rippling sinews, the band uncage four tracks for the vinyl release of their EP.Hey you sets things off, probing beats aligned to guitar jangles and great monotone delivered vocals the initial delicious bait. The song proceeds to roam with a predatory glint in its sonic eye and bracing flames to its melodic hue, the imposition tempered by the flowery charm of keys and the addictive lure of the vocals. The song is
pure drama and quite infectious, a description also suiting the more restlessly contagious Soap. Tastily scuzzy but retaining a warm glow to its raw sound and invention, the track swiftly has thoughts and appetite gripped, whilst A bigger splash with its sultry smouldering of melodies and keys takes a little longer to draw a healthy dose of satisfaction but has ears and imagination fully involved by the time of its final fuzzy note.

The punkish Sandpit concludes the quartet of tracks, its bluesy roar and caustic energy colluding for a thoroughly thrilling slice of dirty rock ‘n’ roll, keys and guitars especially kicking up a dust storm with their sonic voracity. Completing the vinyl version, it is just part of another four original tracks on the download as well as a trio of covers featuring Hawkwind’s Silver Machine, Adam and the Ants’ Young Parisians, and the excellent take of Bogshed’s Fat lad exam failure.

Perfectly diverse but united in the songwriting prowess of Anderson and others involved, all the singles make an impressive entrance into the independent and underground scene by Emotional Response Records.

The releases from Boyracer, Hulaboy, and The Safe Distance are all available on coloured 7” vinyl and digitally now via Emotional Response Records @ http://jenandstew.com/

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