Jesse Malin’s transition from snotty frontman for NY punks D Generation to acoustic troubadour has been a natural progression over the last 15 years. The long and winding road has seen him release 7 solo albums, collaborating with the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Ryan Adams and Brian Fallon along the way.
Critically praised, yet commercially ignored (hey, aren’t all the best songwriters? Ginger,Tyla and Butch Walker, here’s looking at you!). His live shows, whether solo or with a band, can be an immersive experience full of storytelling, comedy and crowd interaction. Jesse Malin continues to tell tales of dreamers, schemers, hustlers and dealers. These are his songs about the characters from his native New York and stories about those he meets on the road.
Jesse’s latest album ‘Sunset Kids’ is a collaboration with country legend Lucinda Williams, who Malin met by chance in a club. They discussed making an album together after she invited him to Tom Petty’s final concert. During the writing and recording Jesse lost his father, his good friend Todd Youth and even the engineer of the album Davis Bianco.
Opener ‘Meet Me At The End Of The World Again’ is a re-recording of the lead track from 2017’s ‘Meet Me At The End Of The World’ EP. This version benefits from Lucinda’s lush production and masterful guidance. The verse, sung in Jesse’s lower register with the addition of warm bass and a tinkling of the ivories, comes on like prime Lou Reed. It lends itself well as a great build to the infectious chorus full of lush, gang vocals. It’s a laid back, lazy sounding slice of retro rock ‘n’ roll, the kind that only a New York resident could produce. This is Jesse walking on the wildside and that’s about as rock ‘n’ roll as you can get.
Next up, the countrified ‘Room 13’ is a reflective ode to spending time in hotel rooms (Jesse has been known to book himself into hotels to write songs in isolation, with no distractions). This is prime Malin songwriting, featuring Lucinda’s lush vocal harmonies and twangy countrified guitars, the sparse instrumentation creates space and atmosphere that only adds to the laid back, signature melodies Jesse creates.
There’s a nice ebb and flow to the album, from the upbeat to the downbeat. Reflective, acoustic laments like ‘When You’re Young’ and ‘Revelations’ rub (leather) shoulders with funky 70’s groovers such as ‘Do You Really Wanna Know’ and the overly cool ‘Dead On’, 2 tunes that deserve to be jammed out by cool cats in smoky bars, while whores hustle and hustlers whore around them.
The upbeat ‘Chemical Heart’ has the same feel as his version of The Hold Steady’s ‘You Can Make Them Like You’ from the excellent ‘On Your Sleeve’ covers album. Nice stabs of Hammond give this song a quirky burst of energy. It’s one of the coolest on offer, along with ‘Strangers and Thieves’, co-written by Billy Joe Armstrong as part of their Rodeo Queens side project. A euphoric, countrified rock ‘n’ roll blast if ever there was one. Lucinda’s lush backing vocals add depth, great percussion and twangy guitars give a Stonesy ‘All Down The Line’ feel. A much needed dose of urgency.
Jesse’s tales of working class guys, lost love and dreaming of breaking out of the rat race have been popular themes with the guy since D Generation burst onto MTV with ‘No Way Out’, and although the production may have changed, the message is still the same. As he suggests in ‘Shining On’, you gotta keep on, keeping on. “Call me a cab for the last plane to tomorrow” he asks on ‘Promises’ and ‘Grey Skies Look So Blue’ floats along on a summer breeze as Jesse dreams about packing his bags and getting away.
When an artist goes through tumultuous times, when a songwriter experiences heartache or pain, and truly has something to write about, THAT is when they are at their best. Like much of Jesse’s solo work, ‘Sunset Kids’ is a reflective body of work, full of heartfelt tenderness and cool rock ‘n’ roll, but for whatever reason it resonates so much more than his past albums. And with the help of Lucinda Williams, he may well have made the album of his career.
Is life getting you down? Are you sick to death of politics, with the tangerine presidents and bumbling buffoons bullshitting their way to power. Are you exasperated by the fact that Miley Cyrus was the most rock ‘n’ roll thing at Glastonbury, or maybe you’re just disappointed that the dragon show didn’t end the way you wanted it to?
Whatever the reason, whatever the dilemma, you probably just need a dose of power pop to lift your spirits, and LA ‘s finest exponents The Dollyrots are just what the doctor ordered.
Kelly Ogden and Luis Cabezas have been delivering high energy, bubblegum punk pop, choc-a-bloc with buzzsaw guitars and catchy choruses, for nigh on 20 years now. After a stint on Joan Jett’s Blackheart Records roster, the duo has continued to release their material independently, funding through the likes of Kickstarter and the now defunct PledgeMusic platform. ‘Daydream Explosion’ is their 7th long player, recorded and released with the help of Little Steven’s ever cool Wicked Cool Records label.
There’s something instantly satisfying about a Dollyrots record. Whether it’s the way their sound takes you back to a time when things were a lot simpler or the fact that every song sounds like it could soundtrack any turn of the century teen movie, from ‘10 Things I Hate About You’ to the highly entertaining Josie & The Pussycats movie. (Yeah, I’ll admit to liking both of those movies).
From high energy opener ‘Animal’ to the closing ode to their daughter ‘Daisy’s Song’, the husband and wife team (and whoever plays drums this time) deliver sickly sweet pop ditties with guitars slung low, turned up to 11 and always with a smile on their face.
‘Everything’ is a high energy burst of noise that could’ve fitted in nicely on Ginger Wildheart’s ill-fated Hey! Hello! project. It will urge you to shout “awesome” and suck a lollipop ( I’m on the way to the shop to grab a pack of Chupa Chups as you read this!). A great build up and a fantastic chorus makes this song a perfect single, job done. Elsewhere, shouty cheerleader anthem ‘In Your Face’ is part Transvision Vamp and part Tony Basil, and I’ll take that sound any day of the week. And ‘Naked’ with its helium-induced chorus and cleverly placed handclaps is as kitsch as you can get. Aly & AJ’s ‘Potential Breakup Song’, anyone? A guilty pleasure indeed.
Mixing up the sounds of The Runaways and Ramones with Green Day and kids Saturday morning TV, The Dollyrots have the knack of making you forget about your daily woes and escape to a world where you party hard to punk-pop anthems all day, while scoffing pick-a-mix and chugging on cherry coke.
Ever present we have Kelly’s helium-induced vocals, Luis’s fuzzy riffs, a handful of melodic hooks and killer bubblegum choruses to die for. Highlights for me are ‘Flippy In My Red Dress’, a song that takes things down, coming on like The Creepshow and veering into rockabilly territory. And ‘I Know How To Party’, an instant earworm I just can’t shake. A proper party anthem if ever there was one. I dare you to press play and not have an overwhelming desire to strip to your pants and dance like no one is watching. Or maybe that’s just me!
Let’s get one thing straight. ‘Daydream Explosion’ is not going to change your life, but the Dollyrots are not claiming it will. What they do promise is escapism from this crazy world we live in with their euphoric, catchy tunes. Maybe you can lose yourself for 40 minutes and return time and time again when you need a pick me up. And in that respect, Kelly and Luis have succeeded in spades.
Yeah, a Dollyrots album is the best legal high you could spend your hard earned on right now. And as ever, it comes on rather lush marbled vinyl that looks good enough to eat, what’s not to like here?
The Coolies. are Kim Shattuck, Melanie Vammen, & Palmyra Delran! This is their debut six-track EP coming out on Wicked Cool Records Today. All proceeds go to The ALS Association Golden West Chapter to find a cure for ALS! It feels great to donate, and it feels great to shake that COOLIE! you can pre-order it now from Here . Some advice is Don’t snooze, don’t lose! Get it now!
You’ll notice it comes with a cool 3D cover complete with 3D glasses but its limited. Kim Of the Muffs takes the bulk of the songwriting and its fair to say the band sounds like you’d imagine from the Scooby-doo artwork and the teardrop guitars its power-pop with a psychedelic garage edge. opening with a real toe-tapper in ‘Uh oh!’ they’ve really nailed that early Blondie rock n roll with some sweet harmonies. That’s pretty much the drill for what follows ‘Ignoramus’ more of the same whilst ‘Pathetica’ kicks back with some cool Harmonica think Dylan laid back kinda vibe.
‘Blueberry Crumble’ will have you hungry for some whacked out Garage with that Scooby-Doo Theremin courtesy of Stevie Van Zandt. Probably my favourite on offer here. They veer off into some countrified honk for ‘Glad I Met You’ before closing the whole shebang with the perfect pop of ‘Yeah I Don’t Know’. It’s brief it’s sharp it’s perfectly delivered and its god a whole bunch of cool cred points for the tunes. But be quick to pick one up if not buy a download it’s worth it.
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
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.
with Summer just around the corner, the (dis) United Kingdom was warming up nicely surprisingly May was a rather quiet month for the scribes at RPM well before RPM but you get my gist. Ben was getting his head around The Future Shape Of Sound and their ‘Showdown Gospel’. Whilst we’re on the subject of the Gypsy Hotel it might be the right time to mention that Urban Voodoo Machine also released a record this month which happened to be a compilation record entitled ’15 Shots From The Urban Voodoo Machine’ which wrapped their singles and bits and bobs up very nicely into the one package and it seemed like the best idea to then go out and tour the record. I also got to see them once again and same as before and the time before that etc etc they were absolutely awesome and never fail to play the most entertaining live show out there.
whilst we’re on the subject of records released in May 2018 I have to mention a few of my personal favourites that put out great records firstly a man who should need any introductions but I’m going to anyway – James Williamson & The Pink Hearts. featuring (The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs) and Petra Haden (Haden Triplets) with the fantastic ‘Behind The Shade’. also I have to note that Kevin K also put out his something like 95th solo album ‘Too Much too Sun’ I might jest about how many records the guy has released but he’s a phenomenon and deserves respect for the amount of time and effort he puts into his music and I love it when he does release his next CD and even if he says no more, trust me he will.
Also in the pre-summer rush, those cool cats from Burbank California Prima Donna saw fit to release ‘S/T’ and much like Urban Voodoo Machine they can do no wrong in my eyes and have never made a bad record. Kevin Preston leads the band into their Fourth Long Player this time coming out on the excellent Wicked Cool Records now a four piece line up ‘4 Real’ was released as the lead single from the album.
Also casting our minds back to May, Beach Slang released their long-awaited Quiet Slang altar ego that featured a whole long player full of orchestrated tunes entitled ‘Everything Matters But No one Is Listening’. James Alex is one talented guy and going from alternative rocker to string arrangements and softly delivered tunes such as the amazing ‘Dirty Cigarettes’ is no easy step. Fantastic record and not only one of this month’s highlights but one of the years highlights.
On the live front, there were a few tours that went out most notably the doubleheader that was Zeke and The Hip Priests tearing it up across the UK which Fraser noted as one of his years’ highlights.
However, it has to be noted he (Fraser Munro) also managed to see Steps play Waddon Road which is Cheltenham Towns football ground the same month he saw Zeke and the Hip Priests so maybe Zeke affected his head or he bumped it whilst on the good ship Thekla? Maybe he didn’t and he’s really a massive steps fan as he also is rumored to have a picture of Ian Watkins on his wall lets hope its the real H and not some imposter – you decide.
On that bombshell maybe its best we leave May and quickly delve into June. I’ll leave you with two of the finest albums of 2018 in the shape of ’15 shots’ from the magnificent Urban Voodoo Machine and Quiet Slang’s ‘Everything Matters’.
A debut album that took fifty-one years to make? No, it’s not Axl Rose and his follow up to the last Guns n Roses album. Coming out of New Jersey in the mid 60’s and having a hit with the album opener ‘Open Up Your Door’ it’s really taken over half a decade to finally release this album which has to be some long game they were playing and the McWherter brothers would be all over this for their Guinness book.
I guess the question most of us are thinking is is it dated? Well considering in many places its considered cool and hip to be “Retro” but fifty-one years is mental!
Judging by the songs I find it a bit mad to be fair because the opener is quality and then one after another the songs hit you and whilst they use organs and handclaps aplenty and the melodies are often quite “Hip” they also sound quite fresh to be fair.’Action Woman’ is great and full of vibrancy ‘Hurt By Love’ does have a keyboard break that would make Ray Manzarek blush.
to be fair they are rockin’ out on the likes of ‘Dig We Must’ the Chesterfield Kings and Fuzztones have done extremely well plying their trade from the same pool as this. ‘Once Upon A Smile’ sounds fantastic and the playing is exceptional and gives me goosebumps. for the final two tracks, we have original versions of ‘Nasty’ which to be fair does sound dated and the album closer is ‘You Can Make It’ complete with church bells chiming out is pure 60’s gold dust. with great sleeve notes from Lenny Kaye this album is a triumph and its easy to see how Steve Van Zandt is such a superfan its a brilliant story but would be pure Hollywood if it wasn’t for some great music which has prevailed through all these years so all I can do is tell you that if you like a bit of Garage rock n roll then you simply have to check this out it’ll make you smile and warm the cockles of your heart. Just hear the Lions roar its a beautiful thing.
Always a bonus to make it onto one of the planets coolest labels means that you must be doing something right. Right? Right! working with the Muffs and Little Steven and getting the queen of rock Debbie Harry to sing on your record makes your music pretty desirable in my book and on ‘Come Spy With Me’ she works her way through a bazzilion genres from Gospel bubblegum vocals with trashy guitar licks ‘I’m Satisfied’ through power pop and punk rock and surf there has to be something in here for every conceivable taste and the bottom line is the songs are terrific, Exceptionally played and delivered. There are guest appearances from the likes of Debby Harry, Steve Van Zandt, Genya Raven, Members of the Pogues, Plimsoles, The Fuzztones and of course Paul Collins. Now if your looking for a good reason to investigate this slab of power pop then surely I’ve just given you half a dozen, haven’t I?
Look at the artwork and whos on it and then the song titles and it’s not difficult to see where this little ray of sunshine is heading. From the Swirling Keyboards on ‘Walk Away’ to the more punchy ‘I Thought You Were Going To Kill Yourself’ to the Shangri la of ‘Tragedy Ann’ Hell there’s even time for the one and only Handsome Dick Manitoba to make an appearance on ‘Ballad Of Madface And The Baby’.
Spread out over twelve songs I love this record it’s easy listening of the finest order and there are songs for every mood and every occasion – to pick a favorite is nigh on impossible but I do love the Handsome dick tune and possibly the Happy birthday one with Debbie Harry on wait…its like Palmyra has managed to graft a small piece of each artists DNA into the music yet create something that doesn’t scream each either which is really clever and skillful. Wait, ‘Kill Yourself’ is probably my favourite and that doesn’t have any special guests on it so maybe it doesn’t really matter because the bottom line is this album is great and my advice is to go investigate.