Rock music has always been about the love of life and the celebration of the short time we have together (despite the idiosyncratic nature of the Rolling Stones 50 year career, or Bob Dylan’s almost absurd ability to still put out relevant and intriguing music 50 years after Highway 61 Revisited).
But life is short, and rock music is really meant to symbolize that. And this is not the phone corporate RAWK that permeates mainstream culture. This is the underground bars and hip dungeons that feature innovative acts with some sense of purpose. They have their souls intact. That’s not to say that modern big rock bands have no soul, but let’s be honest here- they sold “something” to reach 1 million digital sales on a debut single.
The Hamiltons represents an idealistic sense of rock purpose with levity and determination. The rock fivesome manages to be both self-aware enough to know where they lay in the bigger rock canon, but also absurdly determined and idealistic enough to say they can be the next Rolling Stones without a touch of irony.
So where does that leave these polarizing group of gentlemen? They released a debut album, In Cranford We Trust, very recently. It consists of material previously written (albeit in a more stripped down form) from the mini-legend Cranfords Hamilton Nix. Nix was best friends with current Hamiltons frontman, Robert Hamilton. And just like any good best friend, he picked up this material a decade and a half later and placed it to tape in an effort to honor the immortal love and spirit of his late friend.
Beginning as a small side project and an ode to his friend and music in general (Robert was going to throw in the towel after this) he ended up recruiting a decent band and toured on the strength of this enchanting material. I can’t blame him. “Bar Room Angel” is perfect rock balladry, and “One Last Thing” has that perfect classic swagger to it that is intoxicating and fun. Hamilton also has possibly the perfect voice for this material. It is definitely not perfect (it is downright abrasive and quirky) but he has this annunciation that recalls 70’s country/rock icons.
The group is currently penning a follow-up record, Angels in Love, which will further cement their individuality.
If anything The Hamiltons are authentic as hell, right down to their jangly yet dirty rock hooks cascading over somber reflections of reality, heartbreak, and that sad and unsettling feeling of lost dreams Springsteen style. Their credibility is so intact that they could very well play small clubs the rest of their lives yet feel and know they are a big name rock band, and be perfectly happy doing that. Call it ignorance. Call it naivety. But I would personally like to call it an unrestrained love for the simple and the real.
Ryan Merkel is a cool writer guy and contributor all over the internet, from blogs on music to magazines about music to sites about playing music. He is currently founder of SunState Investing and is head editor of the music entertainment magazine, CultureTease. He has written two novels, and is currently working on a third full-length novel, surprisingly, not about music. His novel “Splatter the Noise” earned accolades for independent publishing. Be sure to check out: www.sunstateinvesting.com
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