Release Date: Sep 17, 2013
Record label: Modern Art
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock
For the Royal Bangs' fourth studio album, 2013's Brass, the Tennessee indie rock trio brought in the Black Keys' drummer, Patrick Carney, to produce. It's a move that makes sense given that the Royal Bangs share a similar soulful and bluesy approach to the Black Keys, but perhaps more pertinently, Carney signed them and released two of their albums, 2008's We Breed Champions and the 2009 follow-up Let It Beep. Those albums, as well as 2011's Flux Outside, primarily showcased the group's bombastic, psychedelia-infused rock sound.
Royal BangsBrass[Modern Art Records; 2013]By Lucien Flores; September 25, 2013Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGRoyal Bangs jumped onto my radar with their 2011 album, Flux Outside. That record was a cacophony of fuzz and electronic sounds that weaved across numerous genres of rock, from southern to indie to math rock to blues. It was frantic and confident — and a whole lot of fun.
Royal BangsBrass(Modern Art)Rating: 3 out of 5 stars Looking for some relaxing music to unwind after a hectic day? You’ve come to the wrong place. The Royal Bangs are known for their hyper-caffeinated approach to songs, throwing so many changes, overdubs and riffs into each jittery gem that the near breathless result is best appreciated in limited doses. Or at least that has been the Knoxville, TN based Royal Bangs’ style over the course of the quartet’s previous discs.
Five albums in and it’s still not entirely clear what kitchen-sink indie rockers Royal Bangs want to be. Granted, they’ve come a long way since 2006’s Strokes-indebted breakthrough We Breed Champions—an influence they’ve wisely abandoned on Brass—but their crisp, polished take on indie rock circa 2013, enjoyable and catchy as it is, never quite gels. Frontman Ryan Schaefer possesses an uncanny vocal similarity to Bono, which distracts, but is hardly a deal-breaker, on the opening “Better Run” and “Hope We Don’t Catch”.
On 2011's Flux Outside, Knoxville's Royal Bangs seemed well on their way to becoming the Battles of the beer koozie set. Flux grafted math-rock spasticity onto Southern boogie, post-Strokes swagger, and hints of classic pop and 1970s MOR, whooshing through tricky time signatures and ever-changing textures at a neck-snapping clip. Brass, their latest, finds the band with something of a subtraction problem on their hands.
Royal Bangs have slid from the noisy toe-tappers of earlier records to a brighter pastiche of styles heard on their fourth album – a transformation not unlike the Black Keys', whose Patrick Carney produced Brass. But it's hard not to hear stronger bands all over the LP. The sweeping "Laurel" could be a My Morning Jacket B side, and ELO get a workout on "Octagon." Do the Shins know about "Better Run"? .
Before they were known for their hyperkinetic prog-pop, Royal Bangs were just a bunch of high-schoolers from Knoxville who chose to pass the time by ripping riffs. What transpired next was the stuff of every pubescent rocker’s dream: the Black Keys’ Patrick Carney stumbled upon the band’s Myspace, dug their ramshackle rock, and released their scuzzy debut three years later on his Audio Eagle label.Since then, Royal Bangs’ sound has tended to stray from the simple. Their most recent record, 2011’s Flux Outside, was the aural equivalent of a whiskey-fueled riff-off between Kings Of Leon and Battles: mathy, southern-fried, stream of consciousness jams.