Royal Blood Is One Of This Year’s Most Surprising Rock Records

Courtesy:  Warner Brothers Records

Courtesy: Warner Brothers Records

British Rock duo Royal Blood made big waves earlier this year when it released its debut EP Out of the Black.  That release was but a mere sampling of what the duo—Michael Kerr (bass/vocals) and Ben Thatcher (drums)—had to offer on its now available self-titled major label debut.  Royal Blood is now available in store and online via Warner Brothers Records.  And anyone that has yet to hear any of the band’s music will be impressed by the record’s sound.  The ten tracks contained on this disc boast sounds influenced from the likes of Clutch, The Black Keys, The White Stripes, Queens of the Stone Age and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club just to name a handful.  That mix of influences has led to an album that is arguably one of the best new rock albums of the year and potentially one of the best new albums of the year overall, too.  The proof is obvious right off the top in the album’s opener and title track from its previously released EP ‘Out of the Black.’  Kerr and Thatcher step things up right after that on the forward-driving ‘Come On Over.’  If those songs aren’t enough for listeners, ‘Little Monster’ is sure to impress with its mix of equally driving music and rather thought provoking lyrics.  All three of these songs are equally impressive examples of what makes Royal Blood one of the surprise records of the year.  That is not to discount any of the album’s any other songs.  The album’s bluesy album closer ‘Better Strangers’ and the infectious ‘Figure It Out’ are just as enjoyable as the previously mentioned pieces.  And the album’s remaining five tracks each play their own part in this album’s enjoyment.  Whether for those tracks or the ones noted here, the end result is an album that is again one of the biggest surprises of the year.

Royal Blood’s new self-titled major label debut album is without a doubt one of the best new rock albums of 2014. It is also potentially one of the year’s best new albums overall. The duo makes its case for that title right from the album’s outset. The album’s opener is a bombastic first impression from Kerr and Thatcher. The massive wall of sound generated by the pair instantly conjures thoughts of Clutch, Queens of the Stone Age, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and others of that ilk. Kerr’s vocals are just as much a powerhouse as the music crafted by himself and Thatcher as he sings in the song’s chorus, “You made a fool out of me/You took the skin off my back running/So don’t breath when I talk/Cause you have been spoken to/I got a gun for a mouth/And a bullet with your name on it/But a trigger full of heartbeat/I’m pulling from an empty pocket.” The video for this song is actually available now online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_3mNCaJgNM. So audiences can check out the song’s pure immensity in the combination of its music and vocals.

As if the seemingly untamed energy generated by ‘Out of the Black’ wasn’t enough for audiences, Kerr and Thatcher keep things moving on the album’s second song ‘Come on Over.’ This song is another full on piece that is sure to impress listeners.  Kerr sings on this song, “Let’s run away/Get out of here/I got no money/And I don’t care/This ain’t my house/This ain’t your home/Not when I’m feeling this alone.” This is an interesting chorus, lyrically speaking. It seems to reflect a certain negative energy felt by perhaps a broken home of sorts. One wonders even more about this as Kerr sings later in the song, “I’m on a train going nowhere/I ran away to make you care/This ain’t my house/This ain’t your home/Not when I’m feeling this alone.” If this is one of those standard songs of self-denial and doubt, the musical side of the song doesn’t reflect that vibe. Hearing lyrics like those noted here, one would expect a musical side from the likes of Breaking Benjamin, Staind or others. But instead , the song’s musical side presents more of a self-determined vibe. It makes for quite the contradiction. And that contradiction makes the song all the more interesting. Audiences can check out an in-studio performance of this song online now at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlSAjp-XaTo. So as with the previously noted songs, audiences can hear this song for themselves and heard that musical contradiction of moods that makes it yet another welcome addition to Royal Blood.

Both ‘Out of the Black’ and ‘Come On Over’ more than make for their own positive impression for Royal Blood.   But Kerr and Thatcher don’t rest easily on their laurels as is evident in ‘Little Monster.’ This song comes a little past the album’s halfway mark.  It is another impressive addition to Royal Blood not just because of the song’s power and energy, but also because it has a certain swagger mixed into the song’s overall feel. That swagger works just as well with the song’s overall sludge rock feel as it does with the song’s lyrics. Audiences will be able to hear that as Kerr sings, “I got love on my fingers/Lust on my tongue/You say you got nothing/So come out and get some/Heartache to heartache/I’m your wolf/I’m your man/I say run little monster/Before you know who I am.” Even more interesting in this song is the New Jack Swing beat of sorts played by Thatcher against the harder edged sound of Kerr’s playing. Somehow, the two parts meld together although one wouldn’t generally think that they would. As with the EP’s opener, this song also has a companion video that can be viewed online now. So audiences can hear the song and hear that massive sound for themselves when they check it out at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ere2Mstl8ww.

‘Little Monster,’ ‘Come On Over,’ and ‘Out of the Black’ are all impressive additions to Royal Blood’s self-titled major label debut record.  Together, they make the band’s new album one of the biggest surprises of the year.  That is not to discount the album’s other songs.  Kerr and Thatcher keep audiences fully engaged right to the album’s end from the infectious ‘Figure It Out’ to the album’s bluesy closer ‘Better Strangers.’ Every track on this record plays its own part in the album’s overall success.  Altogether, each of the album’s ten tracks proves why this album is sure to be one of the year’s most talked about records by the time ticks to midnight on New Year’s Eve.  Royal Blood is available now online and in stores.  It is also available at the band’s live shows as Royal Blood is currently on tour in support of its new album.  It is currently wrapping up the European leg of its tour and will be coming back to the United States beginning September 19th in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Fans can check out when Royal Blood will come to their town online now at http://www.facebook.com/RoyalBloodUK, http://www.royalbloodband.com, http://twitter.com/royalblooduk.  Fans can also keep up with the latest updates from the band via each site.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

The Raconteurs rock the house on ’08 Montreux show

The Raconteurs could very well be the future of rock.  This Nashville, TN based band started as a side project for its members–Jack White (guitar/vocals), Brendan Benson (Guitar/Vocals), Patrick Keeler (Drums), and Jack Lawrence (Bass)–in 2005.  It reached what could be considered the pinnacle of its career very quickly when it was invited to perform at the famed Montreux Jazz Festival in 2008.  The Montreux Jazz Festival was founded in 1967 by Claude Nobs.  Since its founding, it has spread from jazz to nearly every genre of music, featuring many of the music business’ top names.  Among those names are the likes of Carlos Santana, and Phil Collins just to name a couple.  Now the Raconteurs can add their name to the list of legends who have played the iconic festival.  And fans can enjoy the band’s performance, too, beginning Tuesday, June 19th, thanks to Montreux Sounds and Eagle Rock Entertainment.

“The Raconteurs Live at Montreux 2008” is the latest in a series of archived concerts released thanks to a partnership between Montreux Sounds and Eagle Rock Entertainment.  This show is just one more performance that shows audiences why the Montreux Jazz Festival is among the elite live music festivals each year.  From the general presentation of the concert to the packaging to the actual concert itself, “The Raconteurs Live at Montruex 2008” is another top notch recorded performance from the famed festival.

Audiences who pick up the blu-ray presentation of this concert are rewarded with a crystal clear picture.  And getting to see that picture on a widescreen HDTV makes the experience that much better.  Anyone with the room and means to get a surround sound home theater system will appreciate the variety of sounds that the band presents even more.  The songs in question cover both of the albums released by the band in 2008.  Those songs range from the almost Nirvana-esque opener, ‘Consoler of the Lonely’ to the largely bluesy ‘You Don’t Understand Me’ to the country/bluegrass stylings of ‘Old Enough.’  Fans who were in attendance at the time of the recording rocked out to the show.  And now fans will be rocking out at home thanks to the mix of musical stylings.

The band’s setlist was impressive to say the least.  But it wasn’t all that made this show so enjoyable.  As with Bachman & Turner’s upcoming “Live at Roseland Ballroom” release, The Raconteurs keep the energy throughout the almost 90-minute set.  The blu-ray case lists the show at an hour and forty minutes.  That is likely including the show’s end credits.  But from the opening moments to the last notes, the show runs just shy of an hour and a half.  That aside, the band keeps the energy flowing from beginning to end.  It’s obvious that the audience in attendance appreciated and fed off of that energy.  And audiences will do the same in watching the show in the comfort of their own homes.

The show’s setlist and presentation make for one more great show from the Montreux Jazz Festival’s archives.  There’s one more aspect of this show that makes it enjoyable for fans of The Raconteurs.  That factor is subtle.  But it’s great to experience another show that has no foul language at any point.  That seems to be a standard for the Montreux Festival.  And the festival organizers are to be highly commended for that standard.

“The Raconteurs Live at Montreux 2008” is just one more in the long list of releases already released and planned for release in 2012.  While it may be one more release in the list, one thing can be said of this latest release.  And that’s that Eagle Rock and Montreux Sounds have continued to set the bar for live recordings this year.  Congratulations to both companies for that.  And thank you to both for continuin to make it so difficult for this reviewer to choose a list of the year’s best live recordings.  That is, of course, meant in the most complimentary way.

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