Punk and rock n' roll reviews from Lord Rutledge and friends
Friday, January 8, 2016
Unfinished Business: Royal Headache's High
Concluding my series of posts on releases I should have reviewed in 2015, I take a look at a record that just might have been my 2015 album of the year if I'd only heard it sooner. Royal Headache's sophomore LP High is a rare case of the mainstream press (NME, Spin, Rolling Stone, The New York Times) actually going nuts for an album that isn't total shit. How about that! Arriving four years after the group's acclaimed debut album, High found Royal Headache making the leap from a very good band to a genuinely great one. These Aussies did not veer far from their signature blend of garage-punk and soul, but they stepped up the songwriting and production in a major way. High delivers one stunning song after another, and Shogun is a stone cold star on lead vocals. By turns reminiscent of the Buzzcocks ("Another World"), The Reigning Sound ("Need You"), The Replacements ("Carolina"), and the New Wave of New Wave ("High"), these songs are a wonderful mish-mash of everything I've ever loved about punk, soul, garage, indie rock, and Brit-pop. Seriously: how many bands are capable of both the '77 punk adrenaline of "Electric Shock" and the brilliant blue-eyed soul balladry of "Wouldn't You Know"? No "best band on earth" conversation is complete at this point without mention of Royal Headache. There were a number of albums from 2015 that I expect to be listening to for years to come, and High is definitely one of them.