Royal Headache, Royal Headache

J. Edward Keyes

By J. Edward Keyes

on 11.29.12 in Reviews
A roaring debut from Down Under

In the end, it all comes down to Shogun’s voice, a ragged rasp that falls somewhere squarely between young Rod Stewart and sad Otis Redding and infuses every one of the songs on Royal Headache’s roaring debut with a big old battered heart. It’s easy to miss the first few times: The songs whoosh by like vintage funny cars whipping around a red-dirt race track, antic and spitting flames. But look a little closer and it’s clear the driver is crying: On “Girls,” he howls, “Didn’t I tell you over and over I want the key to your heart?” and on “Really in Love,” which kicks and struts like a rough demo from the first Jam record, he asks, “Maybe you think you’re smart…but are you really in love?” It’s as if Shogun got lost en route to a Stax cover-band audition and ended up sitting in on a Buzzcocks tribute instead. His searing yelp and full-body delivery make Royal Headache’s songs feel instantly vital. Call it the Sound of the Young Down Under.