15 November, 2011

Recent Love (Picture of a Guitar with Jesus Air Brushed on It Edition)

The Royalty, (I'm assuming) S/T
So last night, I was going to make a joke in a Facebook thread and to pull off the joke, I needed a picture of a guitar with Jesus air brushed on it. Sometimes, you need that. So, in my search for a picture of a guitar with Jesus air brushed on it, I did not find a picture of a guitar with Jesus air brushed on it, instead I found a flier for a band called Bye Bye Royalty. Wondering what the hell this had to do with a picture of a guitar with Jesus air brushed on it, I inspected the flier and found that it was a fund raiser / tour kick off show for the band The Royalty and the flier was simply saying bye bye to them.
Still, this does not explain what connection this band has to a picture of a guitar with Jesus air brushed on it. So I Googled them and came to their webpage and decided to listen to the record. It started with a horn section swell which scared the shit out of me; I thought I was about to listen to ska. Actually, after the bombastic intro, I was pleased to find one of those indie-retro Motown / Wall of Sound things going on. (The pants-shitting intro is found on the song "Alexander".) Things go swimmingly into the second song, "All Alone", which I nearly expected to hear Brian Wilson start singing over. Thankfully, he doesn't.
The lead singer, Nicole Smith has a hell of a set of pipes and her vocals get mixed right up front (where they should be), I listen to her sing and I hear a woman who sings, not a woman who has convinced herself that she can. I mean, just listen to the range and control she presents on "All Alone" and the third song, "Honestly". Really. (Speaking of the third song, something about it reminds me of Girl in a Coma but they're from San Antonio, close to five hundred sixty miles away, so I'm not allowed to mention them in the El Paso Edition.)
Back to the point, this is that big, jangly, epic-crescendo, reverb drenched music that'll make you think of The Crystals' "And Then He Kissed Me". You're going to listen to this band and you're going to like them. Nothing about their style sounds forced and, further, it sounds authentic; not in that they researched or anything but in that they are legitimate fans of this kind of music, grew up on it, just kind of always listened to it and so those were the moves they heard, in time those became the moves they learned and, after more time, those were the moves they pulled. Like, hey, I grew up on metal and grew into punk; those were the moves I heard, learned, and now pull. It's like that. So, The Royalty? To have put together a package as true to history ("Every Little Bit" has she-bop-she-bops for crying out loud), the musicians in this band have to be fans of their predecessors.
But, yeah, I get that some of you, mon petit illiterati, are haters and you're reading this review and thinking, "Oh, it's a retro schtick. Pfft, like that hasn't been done." Here's the thing, though: I'm listening to this as I write it and I'm not hearing a schtick. I heard a schtick when I heard the Strokes, I think we all did, and even though I've lightened up on the Strokes over the years, what I heard them doing was a schtick. It wasn't disingenuous but it did feel gimmicky.
Now, The Royalty? Yeah, call them retro, call them throwback (which sounds actually like an insult), but here's the thing: It's not schtick with them. It feels right, real, and proper. If they were trying to make different music, it would probably feel off. I don't mean to doubt the flexibility of the musicians in this band, I'm just saying that this music that they're making now is probably, from where I'm sitting, the music they're supposed to be making.
That's what you'll hear when you hear them.

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