Tammy and the Lords of Misrule: King Maker

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By Jason Thompson

The Joke's on You

Get down, it’s Tammy and the Lords of Misrule! No, seriously, get down! Duck! Something in the name of the band suggested some kind of Waitresses-like rock or a flavor of smart-assed pop punk. But both of those styles of r-o-c-k are nowhere to be found here. Instead, we are treated to a kind of everyday pop rock that could have charted about nine or 10 years ago when “alternative” bands everywhere were seemingly scoring a hit on the charts. Given that, King Maker sounds hopelessly dated.

Not that Tammy and the Lords have a specific sound. And that’s part of the overall problem. They come across like any number of local groups downtown that have a decent amount of talent, but nothing exceptionally solid to sell themselves. The 12 songs here are of a standard “rock” sound. Nothing too offensive, nothing too “rocking”, but it has a definite beat and some electric guitars. Oh, and of course lead member Tammy who really doesn’t sound like she should be singing in a rock band.

And why is that? Probably because she tries too hard to sound rocking. Oh she can sing all right, but she just doesn’t seem very believable. Then again, the songs that the band offers us aren’t necessarily so memorable, either. It’s a shame, because the first song here, “Kind of Girl” genuinely rocks out at the beginning with its big ol’ two chord progression (a standard one that is always rocking no matter who plays it). But then, Tammy starts singing, and you get the impression that this is the kind of band that the kids on Saved By the Bell would have formed. Pretty plastic. “I really cannot cope with this poppy kind of whizz bang / I think I’m losing hope with those singing dancing fools / The voice inside my head says to take another bow / Wow, I guess I’ll be myself even if I’m so uncool” goes the last verse. A bit strange, considering that this rock is more pop and less roll. The forest for the trees and all that stuff, sure.

In “Radiate” we’re treated to some more worn out Alice in Wonderland imagery (damn you, Grace Slick): “Radiate the rabbit laughs the hatter’s going mad / You lose again, so let’s pretend that it is not so bad / Radiate a life that’s lost, you haven’t got a clue / The next time that you radiate will be the end of you”. Then Tammy does this annoying shaky voice singing of certain words to give the impression that she’s vocalizing. Hell, she might be. Seeing how she doesn’t seem like a rocking lead vocalist, her stage might be better suited in a vocal group.

“What Baby Wants” is undoubtedly the nadir of King Maker. Starting off with a kind of engine revving fretboard goosing from bassist Roy Lansdown, Tammy soon takes the song into lyrically embarrassing territory with such groan-inducing lines as “She takes a bath in bubbles and champagne / The butler sees her and he almost goes insane / Grabs her gold card and charges up her thrills / And lines her bird cage with hundred dollar bills”. She does the shaky voice thing again at the end of every line, and this time it’s sincerely annoying. “The parrot sees it all, but promised not to tell / Tonight’s a double date with Valentino and Channel / No one whispers, “the heiress is a lush.” / Dreams like hers would make J. Paul Getty Blush”. Apparently, no one told the band that their lyrics are corny as hell, either.

The band has played at such venues as The Roxy, The Troubador, and The Whisky A Go Go, but their music is far less impressive than their tour itinerary. Such rote compositions as “Camellia Chameleon” and “This Time” just further the feeling that these guys would have done better somewhere in the past. Perhaps in the ‘80s, perhaps as McDonald’s jingle writers. Who knows? The only thing that’s obvious is that the Lords of Misrule aren’t so unruly (or rocking) after all.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/tammyandthelordsofmisrule-king/