Texan singer/songwriter Ryan Hamilton has been on our rock ‘n’ roll radar for a good few years now. We at RPM have been following his power pop goodness since the days of People On Vacation and ‘Hell Of A Day’. So, we were pleasantly surprised and overly pleased when the artists formally known as Ryan Hamilton & the Traitors only went and bagged a record deal with the uber cool garage rock label Wicked Cool Records, owned by the legendary Little Steven.
Joining a label that has released albums by RPM faves such as Prima Donna, Kurt Baker and Wyldlife probably excites us as much as it does them, and being mentored by a NY legend who champions so many cool underground artists can only be good news for Ryan Hamilton & the Harlequin Ghosts.
So, a name change, an image upgrade and a debut album usher in exciting times for Ryan and his UK based band of bruthas (and 1 sista). Following the most excellent ‘Bottoms Up/Straight Up’ pink vinyl 7 incher, the band now release their highly anticipated debut long player.
‘This Is The Sound’ follows on where the ‘Traitors Club: Year 1’ EP left us in 2018. And what is clearly evident is that the fine art of a catchy chorus is never lost on Ryan Hamilton. Yep, this album, like his past work, is littered with power pop goodness, quirky vocals, positive energy and an overall message of hope, something that is hard to come by in 2019.
The band starts strong with opening single ‘Mamacita’. With a Little Steven penned chorus, this is a classic sounding earworm that will have you singing the chorus on first listen and long into the night. Gloriously addictive and happy go lucky; you would be forgiven for thinking the band has shot their proverbial load prematurely with their strongest effort. But fear not power pop pickers, as ‘Mamacita’ is just a taster and not even close to being the best song on this album.
Like I said, this album has a very positive energy and you can bet your bottom dollar that in these trying times, Ryan will be there for you to raise your hopes. Whether he’s urging you, in pure David Lee Roth style, to “raise a glass and then kiss my ass”, or professing to “bustin’ through ceilings and love you like a superhero” on the brilliant and bouncy ‘Let You Go’, Ryan Hamilton & the Harlequin Ghosts will be with you every step of the way.
‘Bottoms Up (Here’s To Goodbye)’ is a high energy toast to going down with the ship. Full of 90’s Brit Rock vibes and Silver Sun soaked melodies. The band is firing on all cylinders in an effort to remind you all of the good times and promise more of the same ahead. A killer hook and summery vibes, this is a song to wear shades and down cocktails to.
The anthemic title track delivers the kind of euphoric, turn of the Century pop punk goodness the likes of American Hi-Fi gave us. Mickey’s urgent beats help bring the message to the fore, as it builds to a sublime chorus. The feel good themes of the album summed up in 3 minutes and 15 seconds.
You can take the boy out of Texas, but you can’t take Texas out of the boy! Fort Worth resident Ryan Hamilton’s roots are still all over this album. The goodtime rock ‘n’ roll of ‘Get Down’ is a bar room boogie that will have you shakin’ and a groovin’ and downing them beers. While ‘All Fall Down’ has shades of Tom Petty storytelling, while ‘Girl vs Monster’, with its mournful slide guitar and tinkling of the ivories, is full of country twang.
There’s a very fine line between cheesy and genius when it comes to radio-friendly sentimental balladry, but these guys have it nailed, hands down. The beautiful chorus in ‘So Gone’ really hits in the feels. A mixtape worthy song that will urge you to tightly squeeze the hand of the one you love and never let go. And ‘Feels Like Falling In Love’ has hit single stamped all over it, with Donnie Vie like vibes and hazy, lazy backing vocals, for me, its one of the strongest songs on offer.
The album closes on a reflective note with the piano led ‘Won’t Stop Now’. A heartfelt, haunting dittie, full of church hall echo, soaring vocal harmonies and strings that take it up to an ethereal plane.
If you are the sort of person that relies on music to get you through the day, let me introduce you to Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts. They have crafted an album of masterful songs that are guaranteed to lift your spirits, make you smile and reach for the play button the second the disc stops spinning.
‘This Is The Sound’ is a very strong album and expect to see it riding high on End of the Year lists six months down the line and with the backing of Wicked Cool Records who knows what the future holds.
Buy This Is The Sound Here
Author: Ben Hughes