Royal Headache – S/T

Rating: ★★★★½

Lo-fi recordings and accompanying jangle pop rock have been the rage for sometime, and that’s all well and good, but sometimes you just want to have a little bit of a twist on tried-and-true fashions. When you head to your local record store, and you should do so immediately, to pick up the self-titled record from Royal Headache you’ll find exactly what you’ve need. This album’s furious and fun, but just different enough to make the group stand out among the masses.

Side A of this excellent LP opens just as you would expect from a band with garage leanings, furiously paced by the gritty guitar sound.  But, then enters frontman Shogun, using his voice to take you back to the nostalgic soulful recordings of the 50s/60s.  Perhaps you’ll hear bits of angular post-rock similar to Cloud Nothings, but the vocals take you somewhere else entirely.  Oddly, the powerful dynamic between Shogun and the rest of the band fits the mood of Royal Headache perfectly.  From start to finish, Side A is a winning adventure of six incredible tracks, with the frenetic “Girls” remaining my personal favorite.  That being said, the exuberance isn’t always a pummeling in-your-face affair as evidenced by the somewhat slowly paced “Kinds of Love.” The fact that there aren’t any lyrics might come as a surprise after the first five tracks, but it’s the perfect cleansing before you flip the record on its backside.

If you fell for Side A then Side B is absolutely going reaffirm that Royal Headache  are your new favorite band.  “Down the Lane” definitely fits into the modern musical spectrum though it has a tendency to sound dated–in an absolutely good way.  At times, Shogun even sounds a bit like Robert Pollard stretching his vocals to the maximum; it’s perhaps one of the most emotionally captivating songs on the entire record.  Plus, you don’t want to miss the closer, “Pity,” another track that seems to have ingrained itself in my mind.  I definitely enjoy the steadiness in the vocals on this number, leaving you with the sentiment that the group has evolved with regards to the conceptual aspect of the record.

Nowadays it seems that a lot of people can record in their bedroom or make an album of lo-fi tracks that quickly burst into a huge success, but you’re not going to find anything at all like Royal Headache.  That alone is one reason that you need to get your hands on this LP, but you couple that with the fact that there’s not a single track on this record that you could skip, and you have a winning group of songs that you might not ever escape.  Each song is infectious, whether you base that on the inherent hooks or Shogun’s performance; you’re not going to want to listen to anything else for some time to come.  Yeah, I said it; it really is that good.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/RoyalHeadache_Girls.mp3]

Download:Royal Headache – Girls [MP3]

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