It concerns me greatly, just as it concerns us all, the ever raging argument as to whether or not ‘guitar music’ is ‘dead’ or in fact what ‘guitar music’ even is, I sometimes find this so swamping I need to take a long bath. Certainly it is out there, you can find playlists on Spotify dedicated to the stuff but unfortunately when you unpack their well marketed packaging the contents are just as often disappointing as they are delightful. It is to the former category that I would assign ‘The Ramona Flowers’, a relatively new act I saw at Camden’s famous Roundhouse venue just over a week ago.
Since that time my first impressions on the band have fermented into something I can share with confidence that I am being fair on the group whose music, despite the name, echoes in no way the film from which they take it or indeed the post punk or garage genres whatsoever. What are The Ramona Flowers then? They are professional, certainly. They are well rehearsed and they are, without a shadow of a doubt, very well marketed with a slick website and social media pages. Their slow, lofty sound filled the Roundhouse as if it were crafted in an expensive studio because, let’s be honest, it was. The band for me were not a band but a product and I felt as though I had accidentally walked in to the centre of an advertising campaign. What I mean to say is their music was utterly uninspiring despite being written to sound as epic and emotional as possible. At no point in their show was I moved to any kind of feeling, inspired by an ideological message nor did I feel my hands tapping away at my thighs restlessly wishing to join in with a stirring live performance. Instead I couldn’t help but cringe at a frontman who could just as well been plucked from the X Factor judges rent-a-mansion and given a brief of what ‘alternative music’ is. His vocal chords may have sounded strong to the poor folks subject to this turgid misery but in fairness even mine would have done with that much reverb, delay and other such effects. The rest of the band, it saddens me to say, looked like session musicians there only to back him and, dressed in the latest watered down high street fashions, could have been dragged out the Piccadilly Institute on a Friday night. One positive thing I must say is their drummer was technically very competent but I doubt he programmed the electronic pads he was playing; just as the various keyboard sounds were just a little too perfect – shame about the lack of creativity in the parts they were playing.
It genuinely worries me that at a time when music is so readily available to the listening public who are better informed than ever about new bands and artists that we have to be subject to such drivel. Quite why electronic music legends Lamb chosen to produce and tour with The Ramona Flowers I have no idea but one thing is certain, this kind of lifeless, tepid pseudo-alternative trite will not get as far as my record collection and neither should it yours. ‘Guitar music’ is certainly not dead, there is plenty good about but The Ramona Flowers are the ever present poacher sat in the undergrowth waiting to claim their prize. Warner Bros, Universal, EMI you can all keep this lot, thank you very much.