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. Brass finds the trio of singer/multi-instrumentalist Ryan Schaefer, drummer Chris Rusk, and guitarist Sam Stratton still pummeling their way through a series of sweaty, often lo-fi, but always ambitious songs that impressively reveal their growing maturity as songwriters. Whereas the Royal Bangs went for a sprawling, psych-inflected rock explosion last time, here they've evolved, delving into a classic '70s soul and singer/songwriter vibe. To these ends, tracks like "Orange Moon" and "Octagon" bring to mind an uncanny mix of ELO and Thin Lizzy, with Carney and the band adding vibraphones and tasty vocal harmonies to flesh out the Royal Bangs' swaggering rock core. Elsewhere, tracks like the midtempo, organ-driven "Laurel" and "Wallpaper" sound something along the lines of the Doobie Brothers or early Hall & Oates if recorded at Motown's Hitsville U.S.A studio. Ultimately, with Brass, the Royal Bangs have tested their musical mettle and created a possible future classic to be appreciated for years to come.
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AllMusic Review by Matt Collar