Royal Headache

Royal Headache

  • Article by: Casey Stohrer
  • Posted: 05/08/2012

FINALLY...the clouds over our lamentable state of music have begun to part. There is a new rock 'n roll band that can rightfully claim they are rock 'n roll without the aid of complicated MIDI rigs and whiny vocals. Royal Headache's debut self-titled album injects a healthy dose of insurrection into our sleepy culture of soft-spoken, often-whimsical indie pop tunes. 

The album opens with the raucous “Never Again” and the rocking and rolling doesn't stop until the very end. Lead singer Shogun's Motown-inspired vocals bring to mind the stylings and agility of Jackie Wilson’s voice, combined with the affected growlings of Julian Casablancas. The resulting sound battles a sonic onslaught of fuzzy, thrashing guitars, and the result sounds like a surprisingly happy marriage of The Coasters and The Buzzcocks. Every once in a while, the guys take a breather on songs such as “2 Kinds of Love,” which recall early Strokes if they were a bit more unruly, or got caught up in some sort of struggle. The album's production itself sounds like a sludgy relic from the late-70’s punk scene, and it's doubtful that it would sound better any other way. 

While most of the record is a heaping scoop of raw power, it doesn't seem to get stale halfway through like many punk-rock albums of the past couple decades, where listeners encounter more mediocre imitations than innovative songwriting. The band is not close-minded in their influences, with the sweet, unexpected surf-rock instrumental, “Wilson Street,” making an appearance towards the end of the record. The vocals and lyrics run a gamut of emotions and personalities throughout the album, often with sloganeering lines like “I'm much too old to be a good boy,” found in the anthemic “Honey Joy.” 

In popular music history, the secret to writing good hooks is to make lyrics short, sweet and to the point, while still wording things in a unique or relatable way. This practice proves increasingly difficult these days, but Royal Headache has done well in this department; this is also one of the first garage-rock groups that comes to mind where you can consistently hear the lyrics. Royal Headache has the capabilities of starting the rebranding of rock 'n roll for our generation--loud and brash, but simple and honest as well. 

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