Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
Yes! This is what I am talkin’ about! The Ramalamas are out of Sydney, Australia and they got it going on. They describe their music as part Ronnie Lane and part Ronnie Wood. An appropriate description for starters. I would like to go one step further and throw in the entire Rolling Stones and some Old 97s for good measure. The first song, Can’t Put You Down is what would happen if the Exile era Stones and the Old 97s had a love child. This song would be their spawn. This music is loud, aggressive, and full of a shitload of attitude. And I love every second of it. These guys have been making music for about ten years now and practice has definitely paid off. They are loose when they wanna be, but a very tight musical outfit.
The Ramalamas are a five piece band lead by songwriter and front-man Chris Nielsen. The line-up is rounded out with Scott Armstrong (drums), Matthias Engesser (bass), Paul Leadbetter (keys) and Peter Kirwan (pedal steel). East Coast Low is the band’s third full length release. Having listened to their first two releases (Drownded-2008 & Brass Razoo-2013), I can say that they have evolved nicely as a band. While both of the aforementioned releases are good, it is clear that these guys are improving their sound and really expanding as a unit.
Give a listen to Headlights (Track 4) and you will hear the versatility of these guys. This song definitely has the makings of a radio hit. It has good song construction, vocals, harmonies, and playing. It also has that element of looseness that really moves me. Some great pedal steel work is also present in this song. I will never shy away from pedal steel.
I hope that these guys come over to the US someday soon. I can only imagine the energy and spontaneity that would be in a live show. Here is Chris Nielsen’s brilliant assessment of their live performances:
“We like it nice and loose live. No one’s going to have their pay docked for playing a bad note in this group. We’ve always looked to bands like the Faces onstage and the audiences we’re playing to here in Sydney and along the coast really respond positively to that sort of energy. ”
These guys are not afraid to take risks live. You should take a little chance and give them a listen. Your risk will be rewarded tenfold.