By Dave Pehling
OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Veteran East Bay indie-rock outfit B. Hamilton holds a record release celebration for the band’s new effort Nothing and Nowhere at the Uptown in Oakland Friday night.
The creative outlet for songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ryan Christopher Parks, B. Hamilton got it’s start in 2010 as a lo-fi bedroom studio project that featured Parks playing virtually every instrument. He developed material that, along with contributions from friends recorded at various studios in Oakland and Southern California, would become the songs for the first B. Hamilton release Because the laundry room is the only place god can’t see me and steal my ideas.
With songs ranging from punchy alternative hard rock to electronic-tinged, beat-driven sounds reminiscent of UNKLE to rootsy acoustic jams, B. Hamilton covered an impressive sonic expanse on the debut. By the time Parks got together his next round of tighter, more polished tunes together for Everything I Own Is Broken three years later, drummer Bill Crowley and bassist Andrew Macy had joined the fold as full-time members. Spotlighting Parks’s blazing guitar skills and nuanced storytelling, songs like fiery opener “Me and Margaret Counting Countdowns” and “Outside a Hexagram” and the moody “Gold Teeth” showed the band had taken a quantum leap forward.
Parks would follow up with a collection of demos, remixes and unreleased songs entitled Garbage In, Garbage Out in 2014 to fill the gap before the band’s second proper album, Fight Everything. Drawing on more collaborators (Parks shares songwriting with Macy as well as new drummer/pianist Eric Kuhn and drummer Tyler Corelitz), the record further refines B. Hamilton’s mix of propulsive rockers that at times recall Queens of the Stone Age and swampy stoner-rock outfit All Them Witches and introspective songwriter confessionals.
The band would remain quiet for some time after that release, but emerged more active than ever last year when it announced a new compilation of covers entitled Covers of Others. Originally intended as quick live in-studio recording, the collection evolved into a far more sophisticated project tracked with input from new drummer and accomplished engineer Raj Ojha (former Howlin Rain drummer who currently plays in Once and Future Band, the Shannon Shaw Band and was recently announced as part of the new line-up of the Black Crowes). Offering up compelling versions of songs by Brian Eno, Roky Erickson, Neil Young, Genesis and soul singer Ronnie Whitehead (the simmering take on the R&B obscurity “Begging You” is a highlight), the comp provides an interesting look at the diversity of influences Parks and company draw upon.
Parks also had a hand in writing and recording the Coup song “OYAHYTT” that became the main theme to Oakland rapper-turned-director Boots Riley’s hit debut film Sorry To Bother You in the summer of 2018. After a year of hard work, B. Hamilton has released its most accomplished effort yet with the band’s fourth album, Nothing and Nowhere. Featuring some of the most self-assured songwriting Parks has conjured yet, the all-too-short collection packs an enormous musical and emotional wallop with the tale of lost wasted youth heard on “North San Juan,” the pounding, catchy riffs of “Whatever Is Owed Me” and “45 and Straight” and the immaculate storytelling pop of “Song for T.W.” that takes cues from classic Steely Dan and Boz Scaggs. To celebrate the release of Nothing and Nowhere on Wolf and Knife Records, the band headlines the Uptown in Oakland Friday night, playing songs from the album after support sets from East Bay songwriter Desiree Cannon and fellow Oakland rocker Levi Thomas, who first made his name with Springfield, Missouri-based psych outfit Ghost Dance.
B. Hamilton Record Release Party
Friday, Nov. 22, 9 p.m. $10-$12