Tuesday, 28 April 2015


(this review may spin off into an absurd rant about the link between pop music and extremism. I can amend this for a little ‘cash for comment;’ Hint Hint ;) )

Overall thoughts on debut album

I’ll give the LittleLam’s debut album ‘Plastic Paper Lemonade’ a Richard Wilkins, which is 3 and a half stars for people not in the know about Australia’s TV network 9’s host of Keynotes. This puts the album on par for me with movies such as The Wolverine, Her and Caddyshack. I really dug all those movies and this is Little Lam’s first album so it’s going to be uphill from here! If my Stallone Rumpology skills are correct, their next album will be at least 4 stars, which is getting into Raiders of the Lost Ark and Anchor Man territory.

Cohesion is such a tough thing to nail with a band with so many great influences. Watching Lam live, the songs fit a bit better together in my opinion so I can only attribute any reservations I have to the production. It’s still far, far better than most first albums, but if I could pick on one thing, I would target the vocal post-production on some of the tracks. The balance between getting bored of sameness and adding more trinkets than when children decorate Christmas trees is so tough to get right. My opinion is that Leanne’s voice is so wonderful that it only needs a tiny amount of extra seasoning every now and then. But this is of course my taste and I can think of massive bands that do similar varied treatments to vocals. There is only 1 teeny tiny teensy weenie yellow polka-dot vocal blemish on the whole album that I’ve found which is testament to a band that refuses to use Auto-tune.
When I die and turn into a Ghost then meet Whoopie Goldberg to try and work out what unfinished business I have left on Earth, my primary motivation will be to go to Heaven in order to listen to angels with voices like Leanne’s. I’m not sure what else there’ll be to do in Heaven anyway. No depiction I’ve ever heard of has anything enticing other than the music.

The diverse influences come together into a 10 course modern Australian fusion banquet straddling pop, country, alternative, rock and no annoying glitch dup chiptune circuit bending step. Some may not unequivocally adore every track, but I’m quite confident that you’ll fall for at least one after a listen or two. And the whole meal should grow on you after that. I like or love all the tracks now, but the last track, ‘All you can get’, is perfection for me. It knocks up the album into a blissful climax, like the end of a ‘date night’.

Bring on the next one I say, which could be called Bakelite / Parchment / Hair-Tonic or Carbon nano-fibre / Tablet PC / Slurm or Polyvinyl Chroride / Cellulose / Mostly Dihydrogen monoxide.

And go see them live too if you are lucky enough to have been captured by the glorious Brisbekistan State!

LittleLam live at Kerbside Brisbane

LittleLam the band

Little Lam was a slow build for me. I find when I know people doing the art, there is an authenticity hurdle to jump over before I’ll embrace them as legit. Not sure why this is. Perhaps I want to protect my impeccable reputation as being THE taste maker and breaker. I have been described as the Bernard King of my generation.
But after seeing Lam twice I think it began to wash over me like the Japanese Buddhist monks that stand under near-freezing waterfalls in the middle of winter. This was a band that deserved much more attention than from just their circle of friends and family. If I didn’t really believe this, then I doubt I would be bothered to write this review. Just 1 thing: Kirk should talk between tracks during gigs. He is a Joan Rivers-level master of inappropriate shock humour which would knock back and forth with the Dad jokes like a perfectly-balanced perpetual-motion Newton’s cradle.

Joan stole this line from Kirk...
Lam are a traditional 4-piece band with Leanne able to add acoustic guitar or keys. There is a reason why this combination is so popular; everything usually fits in a mix without having to perform crazy production tricks or add quad amps and octavers to the guitar/s.

1.     The drums are solid and always add that extra little flourish to keep it interesting. It’s just a basic kit which is all you need if you have the skill to keep things hot & spicy.

2.     The bass is the least out there element to the mix. Sorry Dave, it’s not your fault! This is what the bass does in most music. It keeps the listener grounded to the root note of each chord and all that music theory stuff. Somehow I don’t think that a Flea funk bass solo would fit in the middle of ‘Stars’. Actually, I’m listening to it now and maybe it could…

3.     The guitar shows to me how practise does actually make a difference. I ‘inspired’ Kirk to play guitar. That’s my story anyway! He practised and I didn’t. He can now nail all the styles required including some sick Matthew Bellamy -ish solos. And he is extremely solid live too and provides lots of call and response with the vocals that is the hallmark of great lead guitar work

4.     I can’t say enough about the vocals; so I’ll keep it short. Problems with vocals and the song-writing are the 2 compulsory ingredients that get most contestants kicked off Master Chief: the singing & cooking reality show set in the Halo Universe. Leanne can do both with far more range than your average ‘The Voice’ contestant street busker and I’m sure that there’s even better things to come; like maybe some Sia/Pink/Lady Gaga inspired singing with her back to the audience in a meat dress hanging upside down

Breaking out from every other talented musician should never be the primary aim for any artist in my opinion. Success is not always a sign of talent and becoming known in Australia is about as likely as being struck by lightning while riding a shark voiced by Barry Humphries. It should always be about the art and the passion. Staying dedicated is no guarantee of anything either except being true to yourself. One has to admire those that don’t just flit about like the rest of us and actually manage to devote themselves to their creative endeavour and finish something. We all know ‘artists’ that have never finished a single thing but believe they are special and should be adored. I know this feeling all too well so am elated for Little Lam for completely an album that they are proud to perform and promote. That reminds me of my 20% finished EP that I haven’t worked on for 6 months and the Lam remix that I promised and haven’t even started. But enough about my failures…

Don’t be hatin’ on pop music, you pretentious w*nker

As I said before, It took me a while to carve up the Lam. I was led astray by certain individuals who believe that being harshly critical of everything, especially anything near the pop end of the spectrum, somehow makes them more interesting to cool people. I used to be like that too, but realised that it is terribly unfair to lump all pop together as puerile music for children and imbeciles. Some of it is of course, but there is some great pop music that I can at least appreciate for the production values and yes, catchiness. Unless you listen to music that is random noise, you are attracted to patterns too. Your most anti-pop band that you believe in your pretentious smugness to be the greatest artists are pretty much doing pop music with a 10 degree twist.

And there is no line anymore between pop and alternative anyway. The Australian public radio station Triple J put the last wooden spike in the last vampire when they eliminated Taylor Swift from the 2014 Hottest 100. Alternative music actually meant something in the 90s, but like anything that becomes popular, of course it eventually just becomes another flavour of pop music. And so what? Pop music is so much better now than it used to be I think. The pop artist has so many colours to choose from now. I look forward to seeing how many other genres that can be incorporated into the next Little Lam album. Nintendocore? Chap Hop? Clown Step? ;)

Enjoy music on its own merits. Don’t judge by the cultural effect that it has. It’s perfectly OK to like a Beyonce song. You don’t have to like all her fans or her politics or her husband or her sisters or her badonk-a-donk. “Remember those walls I built? / Well, baby they're tumbling down / And they didn't even put up a fight / They didn't even make a sound”.
Beyonce / Goro

But don’t go too far. ‘Blurred Lines’ has no artistic merit whatsoever and has brought sexual politics back to before we hunted all the Manfred ‘Manny’ Woolly Mammoths to extinction. If you like Brian Thicke or whatever the person with dirty misogyny’s name is, take an Ice Age cold hard look at yourself. What are you doing with your life? Turn around, walk the other way, and don’t look back; never look back. You might believe you can fly, but you've just face planted a tree.

Disclaimer: I've known the guitarist, Kirk Harmer, my whole life. He is one of my parents’ God children. Kirk has a brother, Adam, and ever since I can remember I've only got along well with one of them at a time. It was Adam, then Kirk, then Adam, now Kirk. After an unintentional vicious attack on my recent Facebook activity, Kirk is definitely front and centre as my favourite brother, so I prefer Noel to Liam Gallagher? He has now turned into a way better person than me too.

And I adore Leanne. She has truly brought balance to the Force of Kirk. He is no longer trying to create his own horde of micro-organism minions and feeding them with festering food. And he smells better now too. ;)

So how am I going to be able to give a review that doesn't just gush fan-boy? I have tried my best to separate the man from the machine and the music from the personalities. I will fail. I don’t even listen to lyrics so will only really focus on the music. My brother swings the other way, so if I can convince him to write a review, it would be a perfect complement to this article; like extremism and violence: you can’t have one without the other.

Outrageous self-promoting plug: If you abhor violence but are obsessed with the extremist dysfunctional brain with absurdist humour and dumb pop culture references, then find me on Facebook or my blog or subscribe to my weekly email. I can also review one of your products or services. I run a donation model for my services so pay me nothing if you like. All I promise is I’ll be honest and I’ll scrap the review if you don’t like it. Or you could improve your product or service until I do like it, then I’ll gladly amend my review.

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