Music

Royal Headache: Royal Headache

Royal Headache's self-titled firmly positions them as the next successor in the Buzzcocks chain, and that's a very good thing.


Royal Headache

Royal Headache

Label: What's Your Rupture?
US Release Date: 2012-05-08
UK Release Date: 2012-05-08
Label website
Artist website
Amazon
iTunes

Royal Headache's debut LP has been making its way around certain circles for a few months now, and it's made a big impression for good reason. Thankfully, that impression and circulation is going to be greatly extended thanks to What's Your Rupture?, a label that's put out records by bands like Fucked Up and Cold Cave. Royal Headache's self-titled LP is a very worthy addition to the label and a sensible one as, perhaps more than any other artists on WYR?, plays into the classic 80's post-punk to great effect.

The Sydney-based four-piece really knows how to expand that aesthetic but modernize it in subtle and appropriate ways. That factor of their music is almost instantly recognizable on Royal Headache. Opening tracks "Never Again" and "Really in Love" start things off with a very healthy dose of head-rush adrenaline and the spiky energy never loosens its grip from that point onwards. If the rapid-fire rhythm section and treble-y guitars don't pull you in, then the vocals almost certainly will. Everything comes together and feels like a perfect lo-fi throwback to a different era. "Really in Love" could be a lost Buzzcocks song and that's a great thing. Not a lot of bands dabbling in this genre can pull off something that authentic.

As Royal Headache continues its charms get even more infectious and the individual strengths become more noticeable. While there's two instrumentals that work well within the context of the album, the vocals are sorely missed and Royal Headache loses some momentum and verve in those moments. While the songs themselves wouldn't necessarily be lacking on a separate release, a song like "Two Kinds of Love" just can't hold things together after a double-dose of brilliance provided by "Psychotic Episode" and "Girls", both of which stand out as two of Royal Headache's frenzied best.

Fortunately, the band knows a thing or two about momentum resurrection and gets things back on track after both instances. That function of Royal Headache might be why it works so well as a whole, never once coming off as a collection of singles. It's nice to hear a band fuse the past and present and still feel genuinely original. Over the course of many of the songs on Royal Headache, there's moments to reminisce about the best punk bands to crop up in any local circle. They all seem to effectively make that fusion as well and incorporate a healthy dose of understanding into the equation, providing the appropriate dressings. In Royal Headache's case, this means making '80s post-punk that's informed by the punk-pop of that era and beyond, which is something that's especially noticeable on a track like the wonderful toe-tapper, "Down the Lane".

There's also a curious psych-pop influence running through these songs which is fairly easy to spot on a song like "Distant and Vague". Fortunately, the band does well with this influence. Importantly, the quality of the songwriting also matches up with some of their biggest influences, which is rather impressive itself. Another hint of originality is the ambient wash that can be heard running over the intro to "Honey Joy" before the songs pace picks up and Royal Headache kicks out yet another jam.

Royal Headache comes to a satisfyingly great ending with "Pity", one of the albums several highlights. "Pity" is perhaps Royal Headache's most definitive track and it feels like a fitting end-cap to a great trip. This is a sugar-spiked head-rush of a record that will undoubtedly rank as one of the best punk releases of 2012 and have people buzzing about this band for quite a while. Royal Headache is an absolute joy to listen to all the way through and hopefully signals the start of great things for the young band. There's certainly promise to be found in Royal Headache, the fact that they've already capitalized in much of it is a big step in the right direction.

7

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less
6

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image