We get a lot of records sent to us here at The A.V. Club. Fortunately, we end up liking some of them. In Playlisted, we share our latest recommendations.
Album: Royal Headache by Royal Headache (out now on What’s Your Rupture?)
Press play if you like: The Jam, Australian garage bands, Merseybeat melodies played at 100 mph, the sound of punk and soul colliding
Some background: Even great garage-rock bands tend to have the same liability: singers who are better at sneering, screaming, and spitting than they are at, you know, singing. That’s not the case with Royal Headache, whose frontman Shogun—all the members of this Sydney-based fourpiece go by iconoclastic one-word monikers—is perhaps the best young rock singer to emerge in the last several years. Shogun’s raspy vocals have been likened to Rod Stewart, but he actually sounds more like mid-’90s Robert Pollard or a young Paul Weller at his most passionate. The Weller comparison is apt considering Royal Headache’s Jam-like hybrid of high-energy punk, power-pop melodies, and R&B conviction. Royal Headache blows through 12 songs in about half an hour, but even if the tracks don’t stick around long, they’re all memorable, lingering in the brain and the heart long after they’ve bashed themselves out of breath. A lot of that has to do with Shogun, who conveys a highly engaging mix of boyish enthusiasm and masculine authority when he powers through ecstatic numbers like “Girls” and “Never Again,” as well as relatively subdued tracks like “Honey Joy.” It’s one thing for a new band to put off lots of heat; Royal Headache emanates warmth.
Try this: “Down The Lane” is an example of Royal Headache doing what they do best: a classic melody, played with sloppy grit, and delivered with a hard, heartfelt vocal from Shogun.