A question that is often all caps shouted across screens by keyboard warriors defending their record collection decisions.
Power Pop. A holy grail whose contents are loudly proclaimed obvious (depending who ya ask) and essential. Apparently sacred (yet neverendingly argued) since the storied days of Peter Case losing his Nerves to then lace up his Plimsouls. Somehow important yet almost impossible to achieve… one wrong move, a drink too far, a chord eschewing a jangle and you’re “just rock n roll”.
Or so it seems…
The Speedways. The members languidly lean on the bars of darkened London pubs or float like spectres in corners of Some Weird Sin and Garageland gigs. Striped shirts and leather jackets. Dirty street-tamed Chucks and scuffed Thunders boots carry them from one late night heartache to another.
They are true believers who take their turn on stage with hearts outshining the Cheap Trick badges.
How do you capture it? How do you?
This album is a stellar example of doing just that. It is the emotion, the essence of love (lost and yearned for) that makes special songs, damn the torpedoes and neat classifications.
This is their second full-length album and the growth since ‘Just Another Regular Summer’ is apparent right off the opening track. ‘This Ain’t A Radio Sound’ opens with a playful ‘80’s Cars ‘Heartbeat City’ keyboard that is somehow right at home alongside the dirty street jangle of Mauro Venegas’ guitars. Then Matthew Julian saunters in, his vocals accomplishing a feat in common with that of my favourite singers. It is instantly recognisable. Equal parts world-weary and up to the fight. Like how Phil Lynott would somehow whisper your thoughts back to you. At once like a friend and someone you wish you had the nerve to approach. A very rare and special dichotomy that gains trust from the listener. People will say you’re born with that. I can see here that you can earn it.
‘The Day I Call You Mine’ shakes off the skinny tie and gets tough. And sweet. The rhythm section of Kris Hood and Adrian Alfonso are like a modern day Mike Joyce and Andy Rourke of The Smiths. Taking the gorgeous songcraft and walking it home like schoolyard best friend bodyguards. In fact, every melody and arpeggiated chord on this long-player is kept safe in their scrappy hands.
“Daydreaming’ opens with razor-sharp back alley chords and a streetwise snarl that has me all of a sudden thinking, “Is this ROCK N ROLL???”
Speaking of that… ‘Your Brown Eyes Look So Blue’ comes dangerously close to sounding like a forgotten outtake from the soundtrack to “Grease”. High School dancing itself right to the edge of the parking lot of kitsch to puke, but teetering there and miraculously feeling much better, thank you! It was a close one boys, but then again, some imminent peril makes albums and nights out exciting.
The track order on this album has a great arch to it. The way it builds to a cinematic centrepiece starting from the dreamy fade into focus intro of ‘This Is About A Girl Who Loves The Sun’. It builds wonderfully into widescreen guitar pop. The song takes you off the dusty and noisy summer city streets and into the cinema to catch your breath and “to stop taking it out on yourself” as Matthew reminds you in the lyrics.
The exuberance of ‘Number Seven’ kicks the cinema doors wide open and the sunlight comes streaming through. We’re in The Speedways’ neighbourhood now, and there’s a place they know that’s perfect for an afternoon drink. Matthew puts his arm around you on the walk and lets ya know that you’ll get by… it doesn’t matter who believes you.
Another standout track is the band next door sound of ‘Empty Pages’. Effortlessly cool and just the right riff for just the right lyrics (“On Halloween I couldn’t hide”… who hasn’t felt that way? Vulnerable and surrounded by Pound Shop devils and clowns) The song is the sound of hanging out. Pure and simple.
The whole set does an excellent job of establishing a recognisable sound while crossing gang lines into territories that may feel like defection. The early Petty and almost ‘50s stomp intro of ‘Had Enough This Time’ giving way to a sun shower of cascading guitar shimmer and a riff that steps right off a beach to join in? Really? It works. Really well.
The album closer, the rather magnificently titled ‘In A World Without Love It’s Hard To Stay Young’, is a perfect bookend. A pocket symphony of guitars that shine like the afternoon sun reflected off a Camaro’s dashboard. Its harmonies sonically answer Julian’s proclamation, “I thought I was the only one to feel this way, until…” with the easy embrace of a close pal.
No. You’re not the only one who does, Matthew. You just have a timeless way of expressing it. Your band is right there with you bringing these songs into brilliant focus as well.
Pretty happy that a band like this exists, making albums to this calibre.
It sounds awfully good with a cold one or a double too!
OH! Power Pop?
I ain’t getting’ into that! Whaddya think, I’m crazy?
Buy Beluga Records Here / Speedways Bandcamp Vinyl Here
Andy McCoy has set a date for the release of his brand new solo album and sets the time and place for the launch show – Facebook. The Album titled ’21st Century Rocks’ is coming out on Ainoa Productions and can be pre ordered Here
New Andy McCoy single ‘Seven Seas’ was released on August 15th, 2019 (digital) and full album (CD and digital) September 25th, 2019. Vinyl release later in November. The Tracklist is ’21st Century Rocks’, ‘Undertow’, ‘Seven Seas’, ‘Batteram’, ‘Maria Maria’, ‘Bible And A Gun’, ‘The Hunger’, ‘Give A Minute Steal A Year’, ‘Love It Loud’ and ‘This Is Rock And Roll’.
“Let’s get the superlatives out of the way right off the bat: holy lord is this ever a fab record. Grade: A” – Goldmine
“I keep wondering if I went back through American Bandstand if I could find The Brothers Steve playing on the show in some weird time travel paradox. These songs are packed with hooks, diversity, and instant accessibility.” – RPM
Years ago, in the magical world of Southern California, five young rockers formed a band called The Brothers Steve. They wrote some songs, played some parties, and promptly broke up, leaving their wonderful original songs unheard by all but a handful of lucky party-goers.
Luckily for us, the legend of The Brothers Steve was not over. The band reformed, triumphantly returning to the stage at this year’s International Pop Overthrow Festival in Los Angeles.
They’ve also recorded their classic songs on a fantastic new album (#1), containing 9 hot rockin’ tracks and one acoustic jam, any of which would sound right at home blasting from the radio of a ’66 Cadillac Coup DeVille.
The band has crafted a heady mix of British Invasion, indie rock, bubblegum, and power pop, which singer Jeff Whalen described thusly:“The Brothers Steve to me is like a ‘60s meets ‘90s kind of record. I don’t think the ‘60s thing here was super-intentional. It’s more like when Os and I get together to sing and write, we very often end up in this early-Bee Gees/Association/Nilsson territory.”
The band is Jeff Whalen (vocals, guitar), Os Tyler (vocals), Dylan Champion (vocals, guitar), Jeff Solomon (bass) and Coulter (drums).
Now that these long-dormant songs have been revived, how do The Brother Steve hope to be remembered?
Jeff: With people’s brains.
“The album will be released in mid-late September. Produced by Luke Tierney, #1 is now available for pre-order on CD.”
Dig what these cool cats are saying:
“…the best thing that I’ve heard this year… #1 is the shot in the arm that Guitar Pop needed so badly.” –I Don’t Hear A Single
“The Brothers Steve debut album #1 is a concentrated dose of poprock goodness. This baby is all killer, no filler, beginning to end.” –Poprock Record
“The Brothers Steve have channelled the spirits of The Banana Splits and The Monkees for this airy fun slice of California pie album.” –Full Blast Music
“3 members of Tsar play in The Brothers Steve, but the music of the band is more influenced by Teenage Fanclub, Guided By Voices or The Kinks. The 60s powerpop influences perfectly mix with 90s alternative Brit pop…’ –Veglam
Angeline / We Got The Hits / She / Carolanne / C’mon Pappy / Songwriter / Carry Me / Good Deal Of Love / Beat Generation Poet Turned Assassin / Sunlight
We love Rock and Roll here at RPM and because you’re reading this I guess its fair to assume you love a bit of Rock and Roll as well. Keep reading fellow Rockers because by the sounds of it we’re in good company on the evidence of this long-player. Local Drag clearly loves Rock and Roll as well because they ooze the stuff.
From the opening chords of ‘Can’t Probably Wait’ I have that feeling that I’m listening to greatness and this is a record I’m going to fall head over heels in love with. Its dirty power pop with some added Replacements and American indie rock (Husker Du) thrown in for good measure (I don’t reference those giants lightly either). The chorus of ‘Pot Holes’ is subtle; maybe understated but fuck me man its killer and I love the harmonic riff and solo on the fade-out, it’s simple but so so effective. Then to follow it up with some bubblegum riff-a-rama of ‘500 Hours Free’ which has a touch of The Posies with its loud guitar pop crashing through it is excellent and I can’t Ignore the Boys-inspired chord progression.
‘Double Bird’ has some Westerberg at the core of its DNA and that’s always a good thing. Simple acoustic strumming with great double-tracking vocals simple yet so effective. To follow that with the runaway train of ‘Trash Bones’ with its bluster and melodic crash-bang-wallop this is proving to be a record that’s covered all bases and one I’m gonna be investing a lot of time in over the coming weeks maybe months. Damn, they even have a tune about beer! fuck it I’m in.
‘Water Wings’ kicks up a shit storm of loud power pop and the penultimate track ‘Metal Gear Winter’ is like Classic Teenage Fanclub and their self-titled album closer ‘Local Drag’ is one of the best songs on an already outstanding record. Lets not fanny about here I can throw a dozen superlatives about the songs on this record when I could sum all that waffle up by telling you to just get it! Don’t mess about wondering if you should take a chance get an ear full of anything off this record and you’ll be convinced that you’ve made the right choice. Carry on loving music by buying Local Drags and Shit is definitely looking Up!
To celebrate the fifth anniversary of the release of The Boys critically acclaimed 2014 album, ‘Punk Rock Menopause’, the band has released a new promo video for album track ‘Keep Quiet’.
The video was recorded during the band’s September 2018 Italian tour. Unfortunately guitarist Honest John Plain was unable to make the video shoot due to ill health.
Casino Steel comments, “It was filmed and directed by Lester Greenowskiat the Ligera Club in Milan. Many thanks to Lester and the enthusiastic crowd who made this possible. We had a great time!”
Matt Dangerfield agreesand adds, “This is now the sixth track from ‘Punk Rock Menopause’ to be immortalised in video, which I think demonstrates just how strong the album is.”
The band’s five-year distribution deal with Wolverine Records for ‘Punk Rock Menopause’ expires later this month, which means that from now on it will be available to stream/download from Revolution Records. Spotify
The band will be playing a series of live dates in Scandinavia in June & September:
Ok Ok settle down for a minute and take it all in. After signing a new record deal with Wicked Cool Records Ryan Hamilton & his HArlequin Ghosts have just dipped their toes into the choppy waters of Rock and Roll and after hooking up with Legend Mike Peters and his latest version of the Alarm and hitting concert halls of the United Kingdom does he announce that the new album is imminent and so is another round of headline dates to coincide with the record. these are certainly exciting times from Hamilton and we wanted to share the news and throw some questions at the main man so make yourself comfortable and read some words we put together – Ladies and Gentlemen Ryan Hamilton…
So Signing to wicked Cool must be a really cool move for you personally. How did it come about? did you pester them or was it Stevie hunting you down?
It’s been AMAZING. We found the perfect home with Wicked Cool. They heard a song called “Fuck You Brain” that Ginger Wildheart and I did together. After that, they started digging around and discovered our album “The Devil’s in the Detail”. Stevie Van Zandt then LITERALLY added HALF the album to his radio station. I didn’t even know that was allowed! Haha. After those 5 or 6 songs went into rotation on his station, our relationship with Stevie and the Label grew into something special… and even though I SWORE I wasn’t going to sign another record deal, I am so thankful that we did.
What noticeable difference have you experienced working for a label like WCR? is it less stressful or more stressful are the pressures the same?
Haha. BOTH! It’s been a big adjustment for me. I got VERY used to doing things on my own. So, to hand the baton to someone else and trust them to handle it… especially when you’ve been burned by Labels in the past, was a difficult adjustment. But they’ve been great about it, and I feel like we have a perfect balance now. They handle everything, but we are included in the discussion and decision process along the way. It’s rare to find a label like this. We seriously hit the jackpot.
I take it this album was recorded differently to the last studio record. No large country houses visited in Scotland here? or were there?
Haha. This album was different, yeah. Stevie Van Zandt worked on every demo with me/us. We even co-wrote a song together (Mamacita). How cool is that?! After the pre-production w/ Stevie, and whipping the songs into shape. I flew over to the UK to do the actual tracking/recording at Dave Draper’s Tower Studios. Other than a few guitar and vocal over dubs that were recorded at my home studio in Texas, the album was recorded at Tower Studios in Pershore, UK.
With a stable line up in the amazing Harlequin Ghosts. what qualities do the individuals bring? Heres your chance to big up the boys (and Girl) in the band (when I say Stable I mean…you know what I mean right?)
We are all VERY different. An oddball group of talented weirdos coming together to make something I truly feel is uniquely wonderful. Mickey is a truly incredible drummer. Rob is a truly incredible bass player. (I think they’re the best rhythm section around today… Period). Carol has the voice of an angel and makes me sound WAY better than I should, at every show. Haha. Amazing keyboard player, too! Dave is like a mad scientist on guitar. The dude is genius. So genius in fact… that it makes him pretty weird… But I love that. I’m a weirdo. We’re all weirdos. Outcasts and nerds that thankfully found each other. A British band full of crazy talented people, fronted by a Texan. Gotta love it.
Has it been easier to write for this record?
I don’t really know how to answer that question. Haha. It’s always the same for me. I’ve never been able to just sit down and go, “I’m gonna write a song”. I have to wait for them to come to me. When they arrive, seemingly out of nowhere, I have to grab them before they evaporate. This group of songs is the 12 best, from about 30 ideas/songs that I captured during the last couple of years. It’s without a doubt the best songs I’ve ever written. But I chalk that up to the legendary help/guidance I had on this album.
Tell us about a few of the tracks? I’ve been lucky enough to hear it and I felt it was a louder record than your previous records. Would that be a fair point? (Is Laney to blame bringing his Glam rock roots to the table) Some big riffs happening like the opening of ‘Mamacita’. This record sounds like it was made with a lot of laughs and if it’s possible for a record to smile then this is positively grinning would that be fair?
You nailed it! Haha. Mickey and Rob are old school Metal loving dudes. I can’t stand that music. True! Haha. But we’ve learned to embrace those differences, and this album is the sound of those different tastes, upbringings etc… coming together in a totally organic way.
Songs like “Mamacita” and “Get Down” are prime examples of us not overthinking anything, and just letting the songs happen. It’s WAY more fun when you operate that way… and like you pointed out, you can totally tell we’re having a lot of fun on this album.
The flip side of that coin: Songs like “This is the Sound”, “Feels Like Falling in Love” and “All Fall Down”… I let myself go deeper and darker than I ever have lyrically. Again, no overthinking… no trying too hard… just knocking proverbial walls down, and letting it happen. I think you can feel that realness on this album. Both on the darker, more serious songs… and on the fun ones.
I love some of the songs like ‘Feel Like Falling In Love’, ‘Far Cry’, then a change of gears on ‘All Fall Down’ you guys really hit the groove here, the record has mass appeal for sure touching on some great classic alternative bands like Soul Asylum on the title track (hope you’re good with the comparison? then you get a twist with ‘GirlvsMonsters’ with its pedal steel and brushes on the snare is some really good country rock, then ‘Same Page’ goes toe to toe with the likes of a Mellencamp and that’s a compliment (style wise) I hear a lot of great bands touching these songs but the album flows totally in a Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts way and the personality of the band shines through. That’s why I wonder if its been the easiest album you’ve written?
Oh, wow. Love those references. Thank you! I don’t know if it was the easiest, but it was definitely the most I’ve ever pushed myself to just let the songs happen how they were going to happen. No forcing anything. Just let it happen.
Tell us about a few of the songs. I’ve mentioned a few but we could talk about all of them here. Do you have any particular ones that stand out or you’d like to explain?
I know it’s not a single or even the best song on the album, but “Won’t Stop Now” is the most personal song I’ve ever written or recorded. So much so, that I almost left it off the album. I struggled to make it through a take without crying… and I have no shame in admitting that. But, leaving the song off the album felt like it would be going against everything this album is about. Ya know? Also… I’m not one to pick favorites… but there’s something magical about the song “This is the Sound”. I got a feeling about that one.
Is it easy recording a record with you living in different countries? how did the recording compare to previous albums?
It would be impossible without modern technology. In fact, this band wouldn’t exist without it. We’ve gotten into a routine that makes it work. I record the demos at home and send em over. Then after the songs are whipped into shape, we all go into the studio together. I guess that’s become our routine. Maybe it should be more complicated… but it’s not. Haha
You close the record off with the big ballad ‘Won’t Stop Now’ with cello and violins and something of a duet I know you mentioned it earlier but whats the song about?
The song is the most personal song I’ve ever written. It references the most difficult times in my musical life. Previous bands… related struggles… bullying… mental health issues…. and how difficult it sometimes is to find the strength to carry on.
One of my all time favourite bands is The Alarm I’ve seen them over 200 times in all sorts of line ups and form, you seemed to strike up a bond with Mike and the band on the last tour how did that tour come about?
I have SO MUCH love for Mike, Jules and that whole crew. Would love to play more shows with The Alarm. I’ve been welcomed into that family, and I feel very thankful for it. We shared a radio plugger, Tony. He was working our new single, and The Alarm’s new single at the same time. Long story short: Mike liked our music, and seemed interested in us supporting them. I mentioned it to Stevie, and he just picked up the phone and called Mike! Haha. Seriously. After that phone call, we made it happen… and haven’t looked back. I’ve learned A LOT from Mike . More than he realizes. From showing me different guitar tunings to play with… to sharing gear etc… To other things like amazing stories from back in the day.
What was it about the band you enjoyed?
He and Jules are such inspiring people. For a long list of reasons which I know you are aware of. I love them both very much.
Playing the Gathering as a two-piece you seemed to go down well in front of what can sometimes be described as a tough crowd. Over that weekend they are (in the most part) there to see and hear the Alarm and nobody else yet a lot of people were in early to catch your set.
Mike and Jules have worked hard over the years to get to where they are today and had immense self-belief and motivation to achieve the model cottage industry in the ever-changing music business. Is there anything, in particular, you got from being in their company that you can use going forward? you seemed to get along really really well and I hope it is a touring partnership that can continue in the future. He and Jules are such inspiring people. For a long list of reasons which I know you are aware of. I love them both very much.
You have some tour dates to support the new record in the UK. Are there plans for more touring later in the year possibly? What about North America does Wicked Cool have plans for you seeing as The Boss has a new album coming out it would make sense to maybe tour the world with the Springsteen gang? What are the chances?
We are touring SO MUCH this year. There are lots and lots of plans… most of which I’m not allowed to talk about… yet. Haha. But, for now… we’re currently on tour in America, and we have a UK Tour next month! Bring it on… all of it.
Catch you soon Ryan and I wish you and the band all the success with this new record.
Thanks so much!
There you go, folks, a few words from Ryan about the new record and what’s gone on and going on. Pick up the new record Here
Follow Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts on Facebook HERE
After releasing their new critically acclaimed album “Shock” in March 2019, Tesla will play worldwide throughout 2019.
The band have a series of European dates in June 2019. The band have just added a UK headline date to their existing June 2019 tour. Details below
Fri 14thJune 2019 Download Festival, Donington UK Sun 16thJune 2019 O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, London UK Wed 19thJune 2019 Colos-Saal, Aschaffenburg GERMANY headline Thurs 20thJune 2019 Rock The Ring Festival, Hinwil SWITZERLAND Sat 22ndJune 2019 Azkena Festival, Vitoria SPAIN Sun 23rdJune 2019 Hellfest Festival, Clisson FRANCE
For Shepherds Bush Empire date tickets are on sale Thursday 28thMarch, 2019 at 9 am GMT HERE
Ryan Hamilton and the Harlequin Ghostshave announced a UK tour for June 2019 in support of the new album ‘This Is The Sound’.
‘This Is The Sound’ is released on 31st May 2019 on Wicked Cool, Pre Order the album Here the label run by Little Steven / Steven van Zandt, a long-time supporter and co-writer of current single ‘Mamacita’ –
Every now and then I vanish down one of those wormholes on this here internet and several hours later with my ears ringing, I’m several pounds lighter as paypals til is ringing due to places like Bandcamp where I’ve happened upon some band or other. Well, I’ll be honest The Dahmers name raised an eyebrow and then another once I heard the first three bars of ‘Down In The Basement’ it was obvious to me that this was a band I had to contact and hear the rest of this brand new album.
These cats aren’t from The northern states of America or some sickos from California or Noo Ywk their from the sleepy town of Bromölla, Sweden. Ah, it makes sense now, of course, their from Scandinavia. There is a spooky vibe as album opener ‘Blood On My Hands’ is like a Gatling gun firing off in all directions at a rapid pace with a sound not a million miles from The Hives with a frantic 12 bar riff and great hook. This is a fine opener and as the song breaks down and the drums sound like an out of control Keith Moon I’m already sold. Third album? fuck me where have I been hiding? I feel embarrassed as ‘Murder Ride’ kicks my backside from the opening lick we’re off like Hanoi Rocks going out of control these punks have really got it going on.
With eighteen songs on the album, they have a sackful of energy and hooks aplenty. It’s catchy as hell, on ‘Street of The Dead’ it’s like an unheard T Rex number that’s got a modern edge upgrade and it’s so damn good I’m loving it. Drunken sing-a-long choruses and with a real raw Rock ‘n’ Roll bite. There isn’t anything new here but they’ve obviously found that secret formula and I congratulate them on that. Either that or they sold their souls to a snake oil salesman in exchange for some magic Rock ‘n’ Roll beans that need to be nurtured in the sweat of another five kids from backwater nowheresville who just want a good time and are happy selling some vital organs to get there.
I honestly couldn’t pick a favourite song because there’s so many there are enough tracks here for two albums let alone one and songs like the frantic piano tonking ‘The Ripper’ just sound so fresh. I mentioned earlier that there is Hanoi vibe happening maybe ‘self-destruction Blues’ era and when the band mix up the melodies and backing vocals on ‘Howling’ its a simple formula but damn it’s so good.
They touch on early Hellacopters flair on ‘I Spit On Your Grave’ and who wouldn’t be down with that? The sax on ‘Creepiest Crawl’ is inspired as is the breakdown. Pulling these spooktacular tunes together from recordings over the last two years sounds inspired. The backbeat of the pop-tinged ‘Man Obsessed’ shows that they have variety with its almost 60’s jangly guitar is the sound of a band who haven’t got boundaries and if it sounds good for them then it’s going in and it’s not just crash bang wallop (although they do that really nicely too). ‘November’ could certainly be a Bolan inspired strum. and they even end the album with a late 70’s early 80’s horror flick synth spookout and that makes me smile. The Dahmers are my new favourite band and I can’t get enough. Is there still time to write to Santa to send me all their records? I’ve been a bad bad boy and totally deserve their records and I suggest you click the link and join me.