“Mornington Crescent Now Open” is the wonderfully named debut EP from the self-proclaimed “band that never meant to be a band” Ramona. These Canadian pop-rockers started off as a way for guitarist/engineer/producer Dave Fritz of Junior Achiever to release some steam on some solo work, and then gradually picked up other members to fill out the line-up.
It’s important to remember the work of Junior Achiever when approaching Ramona, or possibly not, depending on your outlook on things. The strong influence that Mr. Fritz has had on the sound of both of these groups is undeniable, and the similarities are strong. However, this isn’t a reason to disregard Ramona as just being Junior Achiever songs by a different group, or for Junior Achiever fans to think they know everything they need to about this new group. Anyway, even though I hate to say this, the general listening public won’t have heard of the band that came before, so for most of you, this comparison should not worry you too much.
Ramona is bubblegum pop-rock for grown-ups. Tight vocal harmonies with background “oohs” abound, very occasional profanities thrown in reminding you that bubblegum has a tendency to pop back in your face. Fuzzy guitars, solid drums, floaty synth and high-gain bass round out the highly polished sound of Ramona. It’s not often I mention the production values, but it’s certainly worth mentioning here. Independent bands can often lag behind quite significantly in this regard, but Ramona avoid that problem with a sound that is polished to a mirror shine. At times, this is actually a slight downside as it borders on sounding overproduced and manufactured, but generally they just about stop short of it going too far, and even when they do it gels fine with their overall bright and poppy tone.
If you are one of the people who did know Junior Achiever’s music, then the easiest way to describe Ramona is as a more mature take on it. “Mornington Crescent Now Open” is shiny, grown-up pop-rock. It’s what would happen if Keane tried to be Weezer, or if Coldplay stopped being pretentious and found their inner fun-loving punk. Overall, there really is nothing wrong with Ramona’s music, but yet again, nothing truly special, but how often does that roll around anyway? It’s a solid little release, with a lot of promise. I had fun with it, even if I couldn’t stop thinking of the Radio 4 show “I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue” after reading the title.
Hanging On The Words