Royal Headache

Royal Headache

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The guys in Royal Headache hit on a pretty good formula when they got together. What would Otis Redding have sounded like if he were in a punk band? Or conversely, what would the Damned have sounded like with a soul singer fronting them? Their debut self-titled album answers the question with a resounding "awesome!" as it slams through 12 super-exciting songs in 26 minutes. From the testifying vocals of Shogun to the razor-sharp guitar work of Law and the tight-as-nails rhythm section of drummer Shotty and bassist Joe (guess they ran out of nicknames), everything about Royal Headache is spot-on soul-punk without a single wasted note. The band runs through the songs with unbridled, almost desperate, energy but make sure to save sonic space for the melodies, never drowning Shogun out as he tunefully spills his guts everywhere. It's kind of pointless to run down the highlights of Royal Headache since every track sounds and feels like a hit single and has a succinct hookiness -- even the instrumental "Two Kinds of Love," which provides a brief pause for breath in the middle of the album. If you're tired of retro soul singers who slavishly attempt to re-create the classic soul sound of the '60s but end up sounding about as passionate as a glass of milk, you should take a chance on Royal Headache. Their version of soul revival captures the sweat and fire of classic soul music better than almost anyone else in 2012, even without suits and Mark Ronson. Otis Redding would be proud.

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