Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Music Review //
Ryan Hamilton and the Harlequin Ghosts
"Nowhere To Go But Everywhere"
(Wicked Cool Records) //

When this album starts, the first song has this feeling of acoustic pop- like it's not quite The Get Up Kids and it's not quite Tom Petty but it's somewhere in between and I don't mean like when The Get Up Kids did "Walking On A Wire".    This does remind me a little bit of Nathan Leigh & The Crisis Actors except where I feel like they have this more raw grit to their punk sound, Ryan Hamilton and the Harlequin Ghosts feel more polished, thus closer to pop punk than punk.

The second song- "Oh No"- is a collection of album titles within the verses as the chorus sings about rock n roll.  It's funny that I can hear some Tom Petty in these songs because one of the albums name-dropped is "Wildflowers", which many think came after peak Tom Petty but I still feel is one of his best works.  I'm not going to lie and say I know all these album titles because it did take me a minute to think "What's 'Elephant'? Oh yeah, White Stripes!"  I really enjoy the shoutout to "Hard Candy", which makes me also think of that particular album as being a part of this sound.

To some extent, it is funny because when writing a review you could name off all of the artists, genres, albums and such which remind you of the album which you are reviewing and by creating the song "Oh No", Ryan Hamilton and the Harlequin Ghosts have done a lot of that for me.   Though I would like to mention Ben Kweller as it would have been fun to hear one of the album titles as "Sha Sha".

As the album continues with "Jesus & John Lennon" there are references to other rock n roll icons and just overall pop culture from the past, with a nod to "Marilyn and Joe" and I'm thinking of the Beach Boys now but also The Rad Trads as this organ comes through.   This continues into that spiritual/garage sound (like the one The Gadjits took on when they stopped being ska) and I really feel like "Out Of My League" could be on the soundtrack of a film, and yes, I'm aware that there is a movie called "She's Out Of My League" but this movie would be different.  Also, I do hear some Ben Folds in here.

"Let's Go Slow" starts with acoustics which make me feel like The White Stripes are going to sing about being friends and even "Can I Get an Amen" makes me feel like The White Stripes a little bit.    "Don't Fall Apart" is a dreamy ballad about not just mental health but keeping it together in general, which is something I feel we all need right now.   The way "Newcastle Charm" has these lyrics which go from one thing to the opposite thing makes me think of Soul Asylum but there is also a lot of fun synth in here which makes me think of The Rentals.    This is definitely a contagious sing along song.

"Southern Accents" is a slowed down song which reminds us that sometimes being born somewhere doesn't make you a certain way.    I'm actually really reminded of this episode of "Dexter's Laboratory", which seems a bit deep but it was just such a great cartoon, called "Accent You Hate".    This takes us into another slower song, which somehow reminds me of a stripped down All Get Out.     Though we get somewhat slower on the second half of this album, I do enjoy the positive message it leaves us on "Pick Yourself Up", with the idea of starting over again not only being a nod to this music (to listen to it again) but to also perhaps accomplish today what you couldn't yesterday.

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