“I Never Wanted Company” But I’d Hang With Ramonda Hammer Any Day Check Out Thoughts And Photos From Their Record Release Show At The Echo!
LOS ANGELES, CA- On June 14th, 2019, the Los Angeles based alternative rock/grunge outfit Ramonda Hammer dropped their latest effort, and debut full-length album, I Never Wanted Company and we were able to attend the show to celebrate with the gang.
Once again, Devin Davis, Andy Hengl, Justin Geter, and Mark Edwards knock it out of the park with a collection of songs that hits hard with sonic aggression but at the same time is grounded with emotional depth. The band knows how to dig deep into their personal lives to find source material and inspiration for their songs, and the topics are heavy. From longing (“You’re Invited” and “Better View”) to self-doubt (“Hoax”), to denial (“Fake Thoughts”), to disappointment (“Who’s The Narcissist”) … It’s all heavy stuff, man, but damn … Devin makes it all sound so good, and that’s because it feels 100% authentic.
With regards to the album’s sonic aggression, this album deserves to be listened to with the volume cranked up to 11 on a legit sound system. Apple earbuds don’t do this album justice. Take for example “Better View” and the way Devin’s vocal harmony is arranged at the end of the chorus. Having those voices fill a room was amazing through stereo speakers and is chills-inducing. Spinning it on vinyl makes it doubly so. The intense, fuzzy guitar licks that rip while Devin’s signature wail pierces through the faint reverb on a song like “Hoax” is the stuff that this band is made of, and the listener is given a steady dose this musical elixir throughout the album’s 10 tracks.
Kicking off the evening’s festivities was a band that I wasn’t familiar with: Cosmo Gold. This band is fronted by singer/songwriter Emily Gold who previously released music under the name Velvet. With Peter Maffei (Sugar Candy Mountain), Stephen Burns (Triprides) and Mike Deluccia (Valley Queen), she renamed this collaborative effort earlier this year and released Cosmo Gold’s debut EP Waiting on the City on June 7th, 2019.
Cosmo Gold’s music was decidedly more light-hearted than Ramonda Hammer’s repertoire. Emily and company seemed to pull from a variety of inspirations for their music. I caught some classic rock vibes, psychedelic folk vibes to even Blondie-esque disco vibes with their song “Drown The Fly”. Being that this was the first time catching this act’s music, their musical diversity kept me on my toes.
I was pleasantly surprised when Emily called up Lauren Ruth Ward and Valley Queen’s Natalie Carol to join her for their performance of “The Wheel”.
After Cosmo Gold, Spare Parts For Broken Hearts took the stage and kicked it up a notch, and knocked out a set that would get the perfect amount of blood flowing through the veins for Ramonda Hammer’s set which was to follow.
I learned about Spare Parts For Broken Hearts around the same time I came across Ramonda Hammer about two years ago, and like Ramonda Hammer, I absolutely love the music that Sarah Green and her band make.
With Jessica Lankford on Drums and Jonny Cifuentes on bass for the past year, the band seems to be hitting its stride having gotten some terrific notice for their last single “Mush” which has racked up over 170K streams on Spotify. I’ve always been partial to Sarah’s songwriting, but with “Mush” she really hit that sweet spot in maintaining a perfect balance between seriously ripping rock and carefully crated pop sensibilities. I think that’s why “Mush” has appealed to so many listeners.
Let’s not get it twisted though… Spare Parts is a rock band, and they absolutely killed The Echo’s stage during their set. Their hard-hitting music came to life on and off the stage, with Jonny even mounting a female fan’s shoulders to get carried through the crowd while he was shredding his bass. Spare Parts has a gig coming up on August 4th at the Bootleg, and the odds are good that I’ll be there to rock out with them once again.
If I preferred listening to I Never Wanted Company booming out of the speakers of my stereo system as opposed to through earbuds, guess how I feel about hearing the band rock out their new music in my face from a couple of feet away? Bliss.
It’s always an great joy to watch Ramonda Hammer play. Devin’s intensity on vocals aside, I just love watching Justin and Andy get wildly lost in their performance. Flanking Devin, the two gents’ bodies are often flailing around their side of the stage like madmen to the music they are playing. As I’m often at the front of the stage during their performance, I find myself stirred with an inkling of fear that a headstock will get swung into my face … but I suppose that non-musical thrill is what heightens the experience for me.
At various points of the performance, the band was joined on stage by members from the acts that played earlier in the evening. Spare Part’s Sarah joined the band to fill out the guitars on “Fake Thoughts” and Emily accompanied Devin on vocals for “Relativity.”
Though the music from the album carries a heavy tone, the performance itself was filled with a real sense of joy. Their sense of accomplishment was palpable and Devin even took a moment during the performance to address the audience to express her gratitude for the audience being in the room to share in the birth of this new chapter in the band’s life. They may not have wanted the Company, but I’m glad I was there to share in the experience.
Ramonda Hammer recently wrapped up a west coast tour in support of the new album and will be back on the road by August 13st, kicking off at The Rebel Lounge in Phoenix, AZ then doing a cross-continental jaunt hitting up music hubs in Austin, Philadelphia, Brooklyn and more to wind up back in LA for a free homecoming show at The Echo on September 3rd.
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