Royal Headache Royal Headache LP (R.I.P Society)
Goddamn… no sooner do I convince myself that it is statistically impossible for another Australian group to completely blindside me with their greatness than Royal Headache show up and knock me senseless. Looks like a pretty boring record, what with the “band in an empty lot” album art and sparse information, but I’ll be damned if this isn’t the best traditional punk album I’ve heard this year. It’s like a perfect blend of The Jam, Buzzcocks, The Circles and Nasty Facts, with maybe a touch of The Housemartins for good measure. If you are familiar with Nasty Facts, you know they’re not a comparison to make lightly, but seriously, Royal Headache are right there – speedy, Mod-ish punk with an endless, precise energy and a vocalist who would make any band sound better with his mouth behind the mic, the type of confident singer that sadly seems to have fallen out of punk rock fashion. It’s kind of thrilling to hear a band be this good. And they even throw in a song like “Surprise”, ripped straight from the first Strokes album, and incorporate it into their own style. I know underground Australian rock is a cool trend for us Americans to be into and all, but Royal Headache surpasses all of that; it’s a record anyone into punk rock needs to hear. I’m not making this up!
Woollen Kits Maths / Out Of Town 7″ (R.I.P Society)
The curiosity I felt toward new releases from R.I.P Society has quickly turned to eager anticipation in the wake of a number of smash hits from this great label. Beats me who Woolen Kits are, surely just another good (if not great) Australian rock group, so let’s check it out… “Maths” opens with a sunshine-y guitar riff and bouncy drums, the sort of thing that would be melodic pop-punk if they played it at twice the speed. The vocalist seems to like this laid-back tempo though, slowing and deepening his vocals to a Calvin Johnson-esque bellow, sung from the gut with a rose in his teeth. “Out Of Town” picks up the pace, kind of a standard garage number if it weren’t for the even more prominent vocals, culled deep from the well of indie rock (or maybe The Trend’s “Band-Aid”). Pretty cool single overall, although in the presence of Woollen Kits’ R.I.P Society peers, a soft backboard layup amongst so many 360 dunks.