Ryan Hamilton “Hell Of A Day.”
Texas singer Ryan Hamilton(Smile Smile, People On Vacation) played the Austin’s SXSW Festival in 2010 and met up with Jaret Reddick (Bowling For Soup) and their friendship led to a lot of songwriting and finally a (self-funded) solo album. And it’s a rare thing that an artist can appeal across generations with a timeless power pop sound, but Ryan does it with flair similar to Wyatt Funderburk or Fountains of Wayne. Its also no surprise that this album was produced by Linus of Hollywood.
First, the sing-along chorus of “Be Kind Rewind” is apologetically sunny and bursts forth with horns in the chorus, every bit an anthem to empowerment because “we can do whatever we like.” But the real single follows, as “Karaoke With No Crowd” is an ultra-catchy gem that will leave you singing along and things continue to roll from there. The troubled boyfriend is the protagonist for most songs, as “Letter Verb” and “Respond To My Email” are defiant responses to rejection, as well as great melodies. Another rocking tune is the riff packed “Medicine” that pulls out all the stops and “Records and Needles” is a love letter to classic rock, mentioning luminaries like The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and The Rolling Stones.
“Freak Flag” is a sequel of sorts to “Karaoke” where you need to celebrate your individuality, and forget the brainwashing of pop culture’s poisonous influence. Its not just that each song here is an ear-worm, but the message is important and really resonates after a few listens. Add to that a great cover of REO Speedwagon’s “Take It On The Run” and you’ve got an album that easily becomes a nominee to our 2015 top ten list.