Album Review: Royal Headache, ‘High’

(Crossposted from Rolling Stone, 9/22/2015)

Aussie blues-punks shrug off breakup rumors with impassioned second album

royal headache
Dust off your Chucks and leather jackets for this one. The years following Sydney rock & roll crew Royal Headache’s 2012 debut have been filled with critical acclaim and breakup rumors, but they’ve pulled it together for a thunderous new album. Frontman Shogun, who’s got a dusky, Motown-style croon, takes his teenage kicks to sentimental heights in “High” and soars to the heavens in “Carolina,” a rugged gospel tune exalting a girl long gone. The band fires off a missive to poseurs in “Garbage,” punctuated by the simple, yet profoundly quotable lines, “You’re not punk — you’re just scum!” Royal Headache’s execution is so straightforwardly 1977 that it almost teeters on generic garage-rock pastiche. The saving grace is this album’s undeniable heart and soul.

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