In Sydney's overcrowded indie scene, it's a relief to know that there are bands that are working towards establishing their own sound that works its way outside the box. Royal Headache happily fall into this category; the four-piece play raucous post-punk with lashings of soulful vocals in bursts of excitement that come in and out of the picture quick and fast. Their debut seven-inch is a blink-and-you'll-miss-it affair, but pay close attention to this string of boppy, punchy numbers, because Royal Headache have got some hits on their hands.
Everything about Royal Headache and their music is stripped down to the bare essentials. This includes instrumentation, production and even the length of the songs. The scratchy, heavily toned guitar has a Johnny Ramone buzzsaw ring to it, chopping through twangy chords at a breakneck speed as the pulsing rhythm section breathlessly tries to keep up. Meanwhile, the vocalist (known only as Shogun) changes things up a little in spite of his environment. Whilst the instrumentation recalls an early Clash or perhaps The Saints, Shogun wails with the kind of invigorated vintage soul that could have made him a Motown star were he born earlier. An edgier version of Sam Cooke or Otis Redding is the kind of sound that comes through, particularly on EP standout "Surprise" which is the kind of energetic, riotous slice of post-punk that lasts all but a couple of minutes but makes you wish it lasted much longer. The band's raw energy is all captured in a live recording direct to tape, pressed to vinyl. You can't really get much more primal in terms of the band's recorded material; it's done out of a necessity, not out of perfectionism.
Royal Headache's seven inch is a solid, albeit somewhat brief, introduction to both a band and a sound that is infectious, engaging and thoroughly exciting. How exciting? Put it this way - if you tried hard enough, you could listen to this release about six times within an hour. And it STILL wouldn't be enough.
Review Score: 9/10