Up-And-Coming Pop/R&B Singer Shines In Phil’s Picks 2020 Top New Independent Albums List

Courtesy: Wicked Cool Records

The independent music community is the backbone of the music business in whole.  Today’s struggling, independent act is tomorrow’s mainstream star.  Every major superstar act that travels the world today and has legions around the globe was at one time independent.  To that end, independent albums deserve just as much attention from critics as their more well-known counterparts.  That is why this critic continues presenting a list of the year’s best new independent albums each year, this year being no exception to that rule.

This year’s list features albums from a wide range of musical genres.  There’s some country/bluegrass.  There’s pop, there’s rock and even some neo-folk/Americana.  Topping this year’s list is up-and-coming pop/R&B singer Jessie Wagner and her debut album Shoes Droppin’.  Independent southern rock band Faith & Scars is also featured in this year’s list, which includes albums not just from unsigned bands, but from those signed to independent labels, too.  Pop rock act Kulick is even in this year’s list with his new album Yelling in a Quiet Neighborhood.

As with every past year’s list, this year’s list features the Top 10 albums and give honorable mentions for a total of 15 albums.  Without any further ado, here is Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 New Independent albums. 

PHIL’S PICKS 2020 TOP 10 NEW INDEPENDENT ALBUMS

  1. Jessie Wagner – Shoes Droppin’
  2. Nick Perri & The Underground Thieves – Sun Via
  3. Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts – Nowhere To Go But Everywhere
  4. Discrepancies – The Rise
  5. Kulick – Yelling in a Quiet Neighborhood
  6. The Devonns – The Devonns
  7. Kurt Baker – After Party
  8. The Tibbs – Another Shot Fired
  9. Faith & Scars – Revolver
  10. Jack The Radio – Creatures
  11. Soraia – Dig Your Roots
  12. Wyldlife – Year of the Snake
  13. Julien K – Harmonic Disruptor
  14. Gab De La Vega – Between Space and Time
  15. Record Thieves  — Wasting Time

Next up from Phil’s Picks is the list of this year’s top new Family Music albums.  Stay tuned for that.

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Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts’ Latest LP Will Appeal To Audiences “Everywhere”

Courtesy: Wicked Cool Records

Indie rock act Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts returns Friday with its sophomore album Nowhere To Go But Everywhere.  The 11-song record is an enjoyable follow-up to the group’s 2019 album This is the Sound, which itself won the 2019 Best Indie Album Award at the annual Independent Music Awards.  That is proven throughout the record’s 39-minute run thanks to its musical arrangements and lyrical themes.  The album has already produced two singles, which support the noted statements in their own way.  They are just two of the album’s most notable works.  ‘Can I Get An Amen’ is another way in which the record shows its strength.  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘Pick Yourself Up,’ which closes out the album is another way in which the record proves its appeal.  It will be addressed a little later.  ‘Out Of My League’ is one more example of what makes this record so enjoyable.  It will also be discussed later.  When it is considered along with the other two songs noted here and the album’s other entries, the whole of that collection makes the album overall a positive new offering that will appeal to indie and neo-folk fans alike.

Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts’ new album Nowhere To Go But Everywhere is a presentation whose appeal will appeal is certain to appeal to reach audiences everywhere.  Yes, that terrible pun was intended.  Its appeal stems from its musical and lyrical content together.  That has already been proven through the album’s current singles, ‘Oh No’ and ‘Jesus and John Lennon.’  They are but two of the album’s most notable works, though.  The album shows in many other ways why it is well worth hearing.  Not the least of those ways is the song ‘Can I Get An Amen.’  The song’s musical arrangement is the foundation for its appeal.  The arrangement is a bluesy composition that is grounded in Hamilton’s easygoing vocal delivery style and performance on guitar.  The addition of his fellow musicians’ performances enriches the arrangement even more.  The result is a work that will appeal to fans of The Rolling Stones on one hand.  On another hand, one could also make comparisons to works from so many other younger bands.  The good thing is that despite such a wide range of available comparisons, the arrangement still boasts its own identity that is sure to become a favorite among fans when and if live music is allowed to return.  The relaxed mood featured in the song’s musical arrangement couples well with the song’s lyrical content, which presents an equally laid back message of self-confidence.  That message is delivered through a declaration from the song’s subject about having no regrets about who he is.

That statement opens with the subject singing in the song’s lead verse, “I don’t need to be forgiven/God know, I can’t be saved/I am who I’ve become/Because of those mistakes I’ve made/I might fall a little further/And I might stray a bit too far/Sometimes I need my medicine/When did this get so hard/But round and round we go/Where it stops nobody knows/Can you feel that spirit moving through ya/Can I get an Amen/I’m on the highway to hell/Can I get an Amen/Hallelujah/Can I get an Amen/get me off this carousel/Can I get an Amen/Hallelujah.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “I promise I’ll stop drinking/I make that promise every day/And I still got that buzz/When I get on my knees to pray…I lie I cheat I drink I steal/Maybe God made a mistake when he gave us fools free will/Roudn and round we go/Where it stops nobody knows/Can you feel that spirit movin’ through ya/Can I get an Amen/I’m on the highway to hell/Can I get an Amen/Hallelujah.”  This is someone who knows the path the has forged for himself, but he is comfortable with the choices he has made in life.  It is a message that hopefully will resonate with listeners.  It’s a sort of message that reminds audiences that they should not have regrets about their past, but rather just take that experience and learn from it and move forward.  Between that and the song’s musical arrangement, the song in whole proves itself just as strong as the album’s current singles and the rest of the album’s works.  It is just one more of the ways in which the album exhibits its strength, too.  ‘Pick Yourself Up,’ the album’s closer is another notable addition to the album.

The musical arrangement featured in ‘Pick Yourself Up’ is the polar opposite of that featured in ‘Can I Get An Amen.’  This song’s arrangement is a beautiful, gentle, piano-driven work that will appeal to fans of Reckless Kelly.  That comparison is made because of the combination of the piano line alongside the slide guitar, bass and drums.  One could even make a comparison to works from Drive By Truckers in listening closely to this arrangement.  The general effect of the arrangement is a deeply-felt emotional impact that will stick with listeners well after the song (and album) ends.  The emotion that the song’s arrangement will elicit is a wonderful companion to the song’s equally moving lyrical theme.  The theme in question is that of personal empowerment and again, elf confidence, just in a different way than featured in ‘Can I Get An Amen.’

In the case of ‘Pick Yourself Up’ Hamilton sings, “Is the outcome worth the cost/The straight and narrow/Still got you lost/Is the juice worth the squeeze/you hoped for a throne/And wound up on your knees/This will not be where the story ends/Pick yourself back up and start over again.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “Will the sadness break your will/Selfish intentions and troubles with guilt/Don’t give up/Don’t back down/And one of these days/You’ll be the talk of the town.”  This positive message is welcome just as much now as at any time in the world’s history.  It is a message that, when coupled with the warm, welcoming sound in the song’s arrangement, makes the song in whole that much clearer an example of what makes Nowhere To Go But Everywhere such a welcome new offering from Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts.  It still is not the last of the album’s most notable works, either.  ‘Out of My League’ is another notable addition to the album.

‘Out of My League’ is a fun, modern bluesy country composition that would fit just as well in any honky-tonk of days gone by as any of today’s country music radio station.  That is evidenced in the hybrid twang-pop sound in the guitar line. Its light, almost celebratory style and sound is infectious and is sure to get stuck in listeners’ heads in its own right.  That light, celebratory nature would seem to work well with the song’s lyrical theme, too.

The song’s lyrical theme comes across as, in fact, a man who is in complete awe that he has managed to end up with this woman who clearly is…well…out of his league.  He even goes so far as to sing (almost sarcastically) in the song’s final line, “Much to my surprise/I got a trophy wife!”  if that doesn’t leave listeners laughing, then nothing will.  The song opens with its subject singing, “The girl’s got tricks/She’s always on my mine/yeah, she’s so sick/but you should know that I don’t mind/She’s the prettiest thing I think I ever seen/It’s like she walked right off the cover of a magazine/Which begs the question, “What’s she doing with me.””  He continues in the song’s second verse, “She’s so smooth/And I know better/All my friends are saying she’s just looking to settle/But guess what?/I’m gonna let her.”  He adds in the song’s third and final verse, “I was always hoping that the right one would find me/This funny situation sort of snuck up behind me/Much to my surprise/I got a trophy wife.”  That brings all of this full circle.  What man has not felt like the song’s subject.  This is that early “honeymoon” stage of a relationship.  The guy is head over heels for the woman and would do anything, etc.  It’s a song that will definitely resonate with the noted listeners and become very useful on date nights for dancing.  Heck, if a relationship is still going strong years later during married life, it will resonate just as much.  To that end, it makes the song stand out that much stronger.  It is just one more way in which the album shows its strength.  When this song is considered along with the likes of ‘Pick Yourself Up,’ ‘Can I Get An Amen’ and the rest of the record’s songs, the whole becomes another uplifting, enjoyable work from this independent musical collective.

Ryan Hamilton & the Harlequin Ghosts’ new album Nowhere To Go But Everywhere is a successful new offering from the independent music collective.  That is due equally to its musical and lyrical content.  The record’s musical arrangements will appeal to fans of the neo-folks movement, as well as those of classic and pop country.  Blues fans are also sure to get their own share of entertainment in this record.  In other words, the record’s musical content does more than its share to make the LP so enjoyable and engaging.  Its lyrical content is just as accessible as its musical content.  That has been proven just as much through the examination presented here.  When the songs addressed here are considered with the rest of the album’s works, the whole of the album a work that will appeal to audiences everywhere.

More information on Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts’ new album is available along with its latest news at:

 

Websitehttp://ryanhamiltonmusic.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/RyanHamiltonandTheHarlequinGhosts

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/TheRyanHamilton

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts To Hold Livestream Performance Today

Courtesy: Wicked Cool Records

Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts will hold a live streaming event this afternoon.

The group is scheduled to hold its event at 5:15 p.m. ET through Americana Highways’ official Facebook page.  The performance is in celebration of the upcoming release of the band’s new album Nowhere To Go But Everywhere.  The album is scheduled for release Sept. 18 through Wicked Cool Records.  Wicked Cool Records is owned by Steven Van Zant, who is a member of Springsteen’s E Street Band.

This afternoon’s scheduled performance is just the latest appearance for the group.  Hamilton was recently interviewed by television personality Drew Carey (The Price is RightThe Drew Carey ShowWhose Line Is It Anyway) through americansongwriter.com.  Hamilton took on a variety of topics during the interview, not just his new album.

Nowhere To Go But Everywhere has spawned two singles — ‘Oh No (ft. Kay Hanley)‘ and ‘Jesus and John Lennon‘ — leading up to its release next week.  Pre-orders are open now.

More information on Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts’ livestream performance is available along with its latest news at:

 

Websitehttp://ryanhamiltonmusic.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/RyanHamiltonandTheHarlequinGhosts

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/TheRyanHamilton

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.