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]

More New Tunes from Royal Headache

A little less than a month ago I brought you THIS sweet new jam from Royal Headache, and now we’ve got another awesome number to toss your way.  While their first number had a bit more ferociousness, this new track has a bit more of a relaxed feeling to it; still, it offers up a great bit of soul from vocalist, Shogun, which is just another reason people are so excited for this group. You’ll find yourself loving the self-titled debut when it comes out May 8th, courtesy of What’s Your Rupture.  And, if you love it like I do, then you’ll have the opportunity to catch the band as they hit the States this summer (including Austin dates!).

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/royal-headache-down-the-lane.mp3]

Download: Royal Headache – Down the Lane

Emma Louise Signs to Frenchkiss

You know, Frenchkiss Records quietly goes about releasing some awesome acts: they’ve got Cut Off Your Hands, Suckers and now they have the wonderful Emma Louise.  The Australian singer has signed on with the label to release Full Hearts and Empty Rooms, her new EP, on March 13th.   Her first song from the album, “Jungle,” is centered around this nice little groove, but Emma’s voice is what will definitely win you over.  In a world full of Lana del Rey’s, it’s nice to have someone of that ilk doing something you can believe in.  She’s also just put out a really nice video to go with the jam, and you can check that out HERE.  Don’t forget to look up her tour schedule, as she’ll be zooming in for SXSW.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/emma-louise-Full-Hearts-Empty-Rooms-01-Jungle.mp3]

Download: Emma Louise – Jungle [MP3]

New Pop from Gold Fields

It’s Friday, so I wanted to start off the day with something springy that will give us all a bit of a pick-up.  So I’m here to offer you this kicking new track from Australia’s Gold Fields.  By their account, they’ve worked hard to make everything sound different on their self-titled EP, switching it up from track to track.  This song has a solid groove, accentuated by the extra percussive elements throughout.  Those of you clamoring for more will get to hear a whole album worth of material later in 2012, but also look out for the band at SXSW and a few other scattered shows throughout the states in the next month.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Gold-Fields-01.-Treehouse.mp3]

Download:Gold Fields – Treehouse [MP3]

Meet Bleeding Knees Club

It’s great when you get awesome tips from musicians you love, and so I was pleased to stumble upon Bleeding Knees Club when they were referenced by Dev Hynes…most recently of Blood Orange. They’re just a duo, but they’ve got a pretty powerful bit of sound.  Their record, Nothing to Do, just came out today, and surely they’ll find a huge audience for themselves here in the States. I guess you could throw it into the pile with the rest of the garage rock genre, but for me, there’s a bit more youthfulness (innocence if you will) that makes it a pure fun.  Have fun bouncing around to this number all day!

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/12-Same-Game.mp3]

Download:Bleeding Knees Club – Same Game [MP3]

Super Rad Jam from Royal Headache

I’ve known this number was coming down the pipeline for a bit, and I just couldn’t wait much longer to share it with you!  Royal Headache is an Australian quartet destined to break out with their blend of joyous garage-soul fusion.  Royal Headache is fortunate to have their self-titled album picked up for US release by the always excellent folks over at What’s Your Rupture; they’ll have it ready for you on May 8th.  There’s this infectious energy in album track “Girls,” be it the steady pop streaming guitars or the playful crooning of Shogun on vocals.  We’ll all be fortunate to witness their invasion in June, after they stop by Austin to play several  Chaos in Tejas dates.  Get ready to fall in love with rock n’ soul.

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

Download: Royal Headache – Girls

Sub Pop Records Sign Husky!

Well, we didn’t really know who Husky was either, until we read up on the Well ourselves.  Sub Pop officially signed their first Australian band, and considering we have a bit of adoration for all things Oceania, we had to fill you in.  The foursome released their record, Forever So, last year in Australia, and their new US label will be re-releasing it on July 10th.  On this track, I appreciate that there are touches every day indie rock, but slight details allow the central harmony to rise to the forefront in this track. They’ve also got a pretty interesting video to accompany the song that you can check out HERE.

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

Download:Husky – The Woods [MP3]

Seeker Lover Keeper – s/t

Rating: ★★★½ ·

Consisting of three ladies each established in their own field of the music industry, Seeker Lover Keeper fundamentally sounds like a good idea. Sarah Blasko, Holly Throsby and Sally Seltmann are currently some of the biggest Australian songwriters, previously writing songs for artists like Fiest, and touring with Lykke Li, The Tallest Man on Earth, Broken Social Scene and more. However, it takes more than apt songwriting and knowing a lot of great musicians to be great yourself, which poses the biggest question: do these credentials add up to a good album.

The self-titled album begins on a soft note; gentle strumming of guitar pieced together with ghastly “oohs,” before the sweet vocals jump into the song. First up, “Bring Me Back,” lets the audience find their way to this band and their elegant charms before they pick things up, serving as the getting your toes wet experience for the listener so they can jump in. On the next number “Light All My Lights,” some synthesizer gives the tune a little bit more of a life than the first song, but the real first standout isn’t apparent until the third track “Even Though I’m a Woman.” The piano that sounds at the beginning of the track carries it along, but the vocals, a touch raspy and whispery, yet dangerously sugared are, of course, the main focus and I’m reminded a bit of Regina Spektor in this piano/vocals combo. Some great harmonies can be found here, and the main chorus will have you singing along, or trying to, as it’s not very easy to keep up.

Throughout the whole album, the ladies change places as lead singer, writing songs for each other. Along with this passing of lead, there is also a transition from the overall sound of the band, which keeps the group from falling into a pattern, but also prevents one solid identity to be formed for these ladies and if you are a person who isn’t okay with change, then this may not be an album for you. However, I find most of the variety to be enjoyable and interesting, keeping me guessing as to what these power females will do next to change things up a bit. My favorite transition is the one from the edgy and rhythmic “Everytime” to the soft and wispy “We Will Know What It Is,” that follows immediately. Here, you can see the combined talent of this group.

Seeker Lover Keeper do not disappoint their credentials; you have some brilliant writing on this album, and delicate tracks that will catch your ear. As far as a first album, you get essentially what you would expect—a good start.

Fresh Pop Track from Cameras

America, please meet Cameras, an indie pop group from Australia.  Their first album featured a predominantly female vocalist, but I like how they switched it up on this recent release, especially the lead single–using a male vocal.  The crisp guitar line that opens up the song holds a lot of power when combined with the deep vocal, but then the song takes off, soaring into a more traditional pop realm.  If you dig this track, you can expect to find more tunes just like it on the new album, In Your Room, which you can find now.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/08-Defeatist.mp3]

Download: Cameras – Defeatist [MP3]

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