4 Track, 7inch (2010, R.I.P. Society)
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Related: Royal Headache.
The parents of Royal Headache's guitarist Lawrence William Hall must have the most rocking boat shed in western Sydney. It was there, in a backyard in suburban Putney, that the four-piece first started jamming a little over two years ago. It’s also the place they recorded their debut 7”, out now through Sydney's R.I.P Society Records. In the meantime, a demo tape, a bucketload of internet hype and support slots for everyone from The Buzzcocks to Girl Talk, has made it one of the most anticipated releases of the year.
It doesn't disappoint. While the four tracks will be familiar to anyone who has seen the band play live over the past year, their debut - recorded by the Straight Arrows’ Owen Penglis on his trusty 8-track - possesses the same over-the-top energy and sense of fun as their live shows. It opens with the Pitchfork-endorsed'Eloise', and by the time vocalist Shogun gets to the ragged, “Nah, nah, nah, nahs”, you'd be hard pressed to find a catchier piece of scrappy garage rock.
'Girls' is one of the band's earliest songs, but it's still the best at capturing what makes their loose garage pop so special. Drummer Shorrty’s four-stick count in is the only “non manic” thing about it. From there it's just over-a-minute-and-a-half of wild punk energy that takes in elements of ’60s garage before pulverising them with fast riffs and hooks. The vocals are near indecipherable over the frantic guitar and bass, and there's a brief pause while Shogun gets his breath back, before the pulverising begins again.
The B-side dives in with 'Splash', an ode to the awesomeness of swimming pools. Indeed, Royal Headache would make for the ultimate pool party band with Lawrence's blown-out guitar exploding like a single knee chest bomb onto a pool pony. However, there's no “Marco Polo” here, just brash, urgent and ragged pop that perfectly showcases Shogun’s vocal range – he’s one of those rare breed of garage rock singers that can actually sing.
The only downer here is the omission of live favourite, ‘Honey Joy’, which would’ve rounded out this collection perfectly. It still doesn’t change the fact that this is likely to be one of the best 7” releases of the year.
by Tim Scott