“This Is The Sound” – Ryan Hamilton and the Harlequin Ghosts

Ryan Hamilton and the Harlequin Ghosts

Preview and purchase “This Is The Sound” Vinyl Album, CD, or Digital Album on BandCamp

Many historians consider the “first” Rock & Roll single to be “Rocket 88,” recorded by Ike Turner’s band (but credited to vocalist Jackie Brenston) in 1951. In the 68 years since its release, we’ve seen almost yearly proclamations that “Rock & Roll is dead.” The truth of the matter is that in 2019, Rock & Roll is alive and well, and if you want proof of that, look no further than “This Is The Sound,” the latest release from Ryan Hamilton and the Harlequin Ghosts.

The title track and “Mamacita” have been in “heavy rotation” on Little Steven’s Underground Garage (SIRIUSXM Channel 21). The album is released by Wicked Cool Records, Steven Van Zandt’s label, and he contributes lead guitar to two tracks, “Mamacita” and “Get Down.” Both “Mamacita” and “This Is The Sound” have received “Coolest Song In The World” honors from the Underground Garage.

What makes Ryan Hamilton’s music stand out in a world where “traditional” rock radio outside of the SIRIUSXM realm tends to offer faceless, empty, cookie-cutter pablum for mass consumption? It’s simple…Ryan and The Harlequin Ghosts have become a dependable source of songs that are honest, that feel real, that have thoughtful and clever lyrics, and rock just as hard as you need them to.

Take the opening track, “Mamacita,” as an example.

“I was drunk, I was stoned, I was all alone, till that whiskey drinkin’ pot smokin’ sexy little Mamacita made this house a home…”

It’s a far cry from September 17, 1967, when Ed Sullivan banned The Doors from future performances after they broke an agreement to “self-censor” the line “Girl we couldn’t get much higher” from “Light My Fire.” But that’s what makes this music resonate. Rather than crafting crass, commercial, formulaic pop hits aimed at the charts, Hamilton gives it to you raw and unfiltered, and lets the chips fall where they may.

“Mamacita” is not that far removed from any boy-girl love song you’ve heard hundreds of times, because it’s primarily a celebration of finding “the one.” The difference is that the protagonist has met his match in this “pill poppin’, oversleepin’, soul stealin’, freedom robbin’, back breakin’, ball bustin’, complicated shoe shoppin’ sexy little Mamacita.” The self-professed odd man out finds redemption in a force of nature. He’s met his match, he’s caught in the undertow, and I ask you…isn’t that love story infinitely more interesting than anything you’ve heard on the radio in decades?

But what really makes Ryan Hamilton’s music rise above the pack is the fact that he can effortlessly shift gears between the good times, wild-assed, smart-assed tone of “Mamacita” into a song that brings back the prime of “everyman” heartland rock, that John Cougar Mellencamp “Scarecrow” sound of people who are broken yet hopeful, making it from day to day with little beyond the simple belief that there’s something better out there:

“This is the sound of the chances that you missed 
This is the sound of hope and happiness 
This is the sound of letting it all go 
This is the sound of losing all control 
This is the sound of remembering 
This is the sound of remembering 
And to me this is everything…” 

The greatest Rock & Roll music has always colored outside the lines. People can actually multi-task in this world…they can dance while they’re thinking, they can think while they’re dancing. Hamilton’s songs have meat on the bones…they’re the observations of a guy who has paid attention to the world around him, but it never takes the form of dry analysis. There’s humor, there’s a bittersweet sarcasm with a smile, there’s heartache and disappointment and deliverance…everything that’s made Rock & Roll great for 68 years, and counting.

“This Is The Sound” is one of a handful of albums released this year that can be considered essential. It deserves the accolades, and shows an artist who is definitely one to keep an eye on.


  1. Mamacita 02:53
  2. Bottoms Up (Here’s to Goodbye) 03:10
  3. Feels Like Falling In Love 03:18
  4. Get Down 03:24
  5. Far Cry 03:37
  6. All Fall Down 03:28
  7. This Is The Sound 03:17
  8. Let You Go 03:29
  9. So Gone 03:36
  10. Girl VS Monster 02:59
  11. Same Page 03:15
  12. Won’t Stop Now 03:23

Released May 31, 2019 

Produced, mixed and mastered by Dave Draper. 
Recorded at Tower Studios, Pershore, UK. 
Additional recording at Tiny House Studios, Sanctuary, TX 

Ryan Hamilton – Vocals, Guitars. 
Mickey Richards – Drums. 
Rob Lane – Bass. 
Steven Van Zandt – Lead Guitar (“Mamacita” and “Get Down”). 
Matthew Colley – Piano, Hammond. 
Emily Ewing – Backing Vocals. 
Maurice Hipkiss – Pedal Steel. 
Dave Draper – Guitars, Programming, Keys. 
Anton Cederlund – Backing Vocals (“Bottoms Up”) 
Katie Richards – Backing Vocals (“Same Page”) 
Album Cover Art by Richard Clark