photo by Narrative Post @narrativepost

The Ramalamas

“Funtastique” single launch

Sydney cosmic rock ‘n’ rollers The Ramalamas have a new single from the Le Cape Noir album out on 26th May – the irresistible French pop-flavoured single “Funtastique”. They will launching it (and showing the fab filmclip) at The Great Club, Marrickville on Friday June 2nd with special guests The Golden Gaytimes and The Magnificent Companeros.

facebook event


Le Cape Noir

Fifth album from Sydney band The Ramalamas and their first on vinyl. The band deliver the Motion Picture Soundtrack to imaginary long lost 1968 cult psycho-thrilller/horror/drama classic, Le Cape Noir (The Black Cape). Re-imagining this missing celluloid gem exhumed from the vault, the album is interspersed with crackling dialogue (by Australian actors Sacha Horler and Nick Galea) and instrumental segues straight out of the drive-in speaker.

All copies include Bandcamp download code!


The Ramalamas, from Sydney, are Scott Armstrong: drums, Matthias Engesser: bass, Paul Leadbetter: keys, Peter Kirwan: guitars, pedal steel and Chris Nielsen: vocals, guitars. Their unique blend of rock, blues, garage, swamp and country has produced four albums: Drownded (2008), Brass Razoo (2013), East Coast Low (2016) and Liquorice (2018).

The Ramalamas formed in Sydney as an acoustic two-piece around Chris Nielsen and Paul Everett in 2004, picking up Peter Kirwan on drums along the way and putting together a unique blend of distinctly individual tunes, drawing comparisons to everyone from The Faces to Crazy Horse.

By the time their debut album Drownded appeared in 2008, they had solidified the line-up with Paul Leadbetter on keys, Matthias Engesser on bass, while Scott Armstrong sat down on drums and Peter Kirwan shifted to pedal steel. Drownded, unreleased at the time, appeared among the 2SER Outpost program’s top 10 albums of 2007, alongside releases from Ryan Adams and The Felice Brothers.

Their sophomore effort was heavily influenced by Dylan’s Basement Tapes and Link Wray’s three-track shack recordings, embracing a distinctively lo-fi acoustic approach. It was initially recorded in a scout hall in the Blue Mountains, only to be scratched and re-recorded, self-produced and released as Brass Razoo in 2013. The album also saw the departure of Paul Everett and his mandolin from the fold.

Third album East Coast Low came out to rave reviews in 2016 with the band successfully capturing a heavier live sound in the studio, recording in Newcastle. Drawing once again upon their country roots this effort also saw them delving into Exile-era Stones as well as the swamp punk nihilism of The Gun Club to produce something uniquely Ramalama.


On Liquorice, their second album on Half A Cow,  the band have switched their flannel country pop for some dirty swamp rock. Recorded by Tim Kevin at Tempe River Studio, the album features the songs of Christopher Nielsen, who has clearly been influenced by the Cramps this time around instead of Creedence. Health warning: this album contains a lot of fuzz!

Liquorice embraces the sound of trash, surf, garage, b-movies and rockabilly madness – with the band taking a distinct step left from their early country leanings – creating a sonic monster that is part sci-fi, part sex-beat and part human-fly. It’s also a tip of the hat to the Great Australian Swamp Sounds of The Scientists and Beasts of Bourbon – bands that have walked, knuckles dragging, down this primitive path before them.

With Tim Kevin behind the mixing desk at his Marrickville studio, The Ramalamas lit a candle, torched all acoustic instruments, strapped on offset Fenders, kicked fuzz pedals and drenched their live takes with reverb, tremolo and slap-back until the ghost of Link Wray came to the seance. A light metallic dusting of tube driven overdubs, percussion and group backing vocals was applied. Tim’s deft mixing and mastering skills defibrillated the monster that Liquorice is into being.

East Coast Low

The Ramalamas third album East Coast Low was released on Half A Cow in July 2016. The album documents a period of transition for the band in which they’ve weathered some internal storms and come out the other side with a renewed focus and streamlined sound – eclectic sensibilities in tact. The album was produced and engineered by The Ramalamas and Robbie Long.


Buy Music

Funtastique  single

out 26th May 2023

Le Cape Noir

out 16th September 2022

The Ramalamas
Carnivorous Plants For Sale

The Ramalamas

The Ramalamas
East Coast Low

The Ramalamas
Brass Razoo

The Ramalamas


Le Cape Noir (hac262)
released 16/9/2022 on vinyl

Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Engineered and mixed by Matthias Engesser. Produced by The Ramalamas.

Liquorice  (hac202)
released August 2018

HAMMER & SICKLE BLUES – The sound of a cosmonaut breaking up on the edge of the sky set to slashing Link Wray guitar and 1969 wah solo.

SEVEN MILES – A murder ballad played to the strains of salty mangroves and shimmering tremolo.

EXPENSIVE KIND – Down and dirty Fenders coming at you with a sneer like Alex Chilton’s love child with a fuzz/organ catfight.

FLIM FLAM – Street hustles and sweet backing vocals populate this lost San Fran garage classic.

SHOE – The greatest song Lee Halewood never wrote. A song of neighbourly love wrapped in Venus Furs and sickly Ebow.

TALKIN’ TALL – Southern sneer and bucket blues punching above it’s weight.

TIJUANA BIBLE – B-movie vignettes printed in a dirty mexican comic book. Fuzz, twang and lust.

LET IT ON OUT – A clarion call to get yer ya-yas out and lose yourself to the music.

BLACK ARM BAND – Revenge and voodoo reigning down. Thick, sweet and sticky as molasses.

PIRELLI’S – Love is kinda crazy with a spooky little girl like the one with those dark circles under her eyes.

HOLE – Mother nature turns and the swamp swallows us whole in this biblical searing opus.

East Coast Low  (hac175)
released July 2016

Chris Nielsen (guitar, lead vocals), Scott Armstrong (drums), Matthias Engesser (bass), Paul Leadbetter (keys) and Peter Kirwan (pedal steel). The album was produced and engineered by The Ramalamas and Robbie Long. Cover by Christopher Nielsen. Photography by Narrative Post.

Brass Razoo 
released 2013

While recording our sophomore effort by lamplight in 2-hour fits on Thursday nights in a St Peters warehouse, The Ramalamas have tallied up: 3 births, 207 stitches, 1004 passive-aggressive emails, 3 marriages, 32 cancelled rehearsals, 2087 hangovers, 4010 km’s, 9 awkward pub hugs, 17 stoushes and 5 brouhahas. From the American Embassy to the Ferncourt School Fair, we’ve rocked ’em all. Payment outstanding.
Chris Nielsen – Guitar, Vocals, Harp, Organ, Songs
Paul Everett – Guitar, Mandolin, Vocals
Matthias Engesser – Bass, Guitar, Vocals
Scott Armstrong – Drums, Percussion, Bass, Vocals
Paul Leadbetter – Piano, Organ, Vocals
Peter Kirwan – Steel Guitar, Guitar, Banjo, Percussion, Drums, Vocals

Julia Geddes – Viola
Jeff Pope – Dobro

released 2008

Carnivorous Plants For Sale
released August 2019

Digital compilation of tracks from the first four Ramalamas albums

Tuesday Night, Train She’s On, Keep Me Company from Drownded (Nobody’s Owl Records 2008).

Brown Snake, Rollin’ Home from Brass Razoo (Nobody’s Owl Records 2013).

Lucky, Shells On Her Eyes, Book Burnin’, Shank’s Pony from East Coast Low (Half A Cow Records 2016).

Hammer & Sickle Blues, Let It On Out, Flim Flam, Seven Miles, Expensive Kind from Liquorice (Half A Cow Records 2018).


“This music is loud, aggressive, and full of a shitload of attitude. These guys are not afraid to take risks live. You should take a little chance and give them a listen. Your risk will be rewarded tenfold.”

– Harry Kaplan, TWANGRI-LA

This is an intriging and charmingly all-over-the-shop album on which this Sydney five-piece sheds its label and heads for a garage in a swamp. There’s more variety in this Liquorice than a pallet-load of Darrel Lea Allsorts.

The Ramalamas have been around for a decade or so, led by Chris Nielsen (vocals, guitar) and subsisting in their city’s fragmented live circuit while putting out a string of albums, of which this is their fourth. Nielsen name-checks the usual 60s references (Kinks, Stones) with a nod to the US West Coast’s psychedelic folk-pop scene.

As well as owning a serviceable pop voice and playing nifty guitar, Nielsen is an award-wininng illustrator and his work adorns the CD cover and inlay.

So, as you may have guessed, variety is the by-word on this 11-track CD. The sounds on Liquorice are like the Flamin’ Groovies were re-invented by The Charlatans (the US 60s band) and Frumious Bandersnatch with a liberal dose of Alex Chilton’s shambolic, tuneful darkness thrown in.  As far as I know and in spite of their name, they don’t cover the MC5’s “Ramalama Fa Fa Fa” live – but given time, they might do a version with pedal steel.

The creeping “Hammer & Sickle Blues” opens the album confidently with an underlay of organ and some tasty wah-wah nagging away at the edges.  The smouldering  “Hole” closes the record and its stinging guitars sit in contrast with the easy beat pop of “Let It On Out” or the Fleshtones-styled garage rock of “Flim Flam”. Then there’s the brooding and beautiful lament of “Shoe”, which sounds like a follow-up to the Beasts of Bourbon’s “Hope You Find Your Way To Heaven”.

There are shades of country rock in “Seven Miles” and its strong melody makes it a keeper, while “Talking’ Tall” switches the mood to hillbilly garage rock with a bee in its bonnet. “Tijuana Bible” employs equal amounts of fuzz and singalong pop to sell its charms. Nielsen makes the most of his pop voice on the reverb-laden “Pirellis”.

The Ramalamas are on Half a Cow, a determinedly singular label that’s known mostly for its output of slacker bands – unfairly so when it’s had a roster with more variety than Mum’s family fry-up at the end of a long weekend.

Procure Liquorice online or swing by Egg Records in Newtown, Sydney, where the label does the bricks-and-mortar thing.

– The Barman, i94 Bar 

“An album that lives and breathes organically like the warm breeze and sleepy sun of a lazy summer afternoon.” – Chris Familton, RHYTHMS MAGAZINE

“This is music for hot nights and hard liquor – drink up.” – Tim Kroenert, THE MUSIC

“This music is loud, aggressive, and full of a shitload of attitude. These guys are not afraid to take risks live. You should take a little chance and give them a listen. Your risk will be rewarded tenfold.” – Harry Kaplan, TWANGRI-LA

“If you don’t find yourself singing and dancing along to this beautifully played and sung ode to finding a good night out then seek medical attention immediately.” – Paul Villers, AMERICANA UK


On this evidence Australia could be the new Canada (which was in turn the new Scandinavia) in terms of producing top notch Americana talent that isn’t actually American. The Ramalamas are five blokes out of Sydney who certainly know their way around their influences (absolutely no problem with that) and, crucially, know how to put that knowledge to good use. The core of the band, Chris Nielson and Paul Everett (singer/guitarists both), met in a café apparently. Poetic justice would have had this as a bar, spit and sawdust on the floor, toothless hag pulling pints of the foaming stuff since this would be the perfect setting to enjoy this stuff live. In terms of construction they are a little bit funky, a little bit bluesy, a little bit country – a pretty good amalgamation all in all. There is a story that Eric Clapton went over to visit The Band at some point in order to consider joining or recording with them. Imagine if the Faces had made that same journey instead and got down to recording over a beer or two and you have a pretty good encapsulation of what The Ramalamas are about. There is sufficient steel guitar and plaintive vocals to keep the country fans happy but for me the best stuff is the pop-rock riff and refrain like the hook filled “Tuesday Night”. If you don’t find yourself singing and dancing along to this beautifully played and sung ode to finding a good night out then seek medical attention immediately. At eleven tracks long and around the thirty minute mark this is pretty much all you could require from (a) a debut release and (b) the sound of honesty and integrity from a band that ‘know’ .

– Paul Villers/Americana UK (9/10) July 2008