Royal Bangs: Black Keys-Approved Electronic Blues

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

[wpaudio url=”https://americansongwriter.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/01-Grass-Helmet.mp3″ Text=”Royal Bangs – Grass Helmet” dl=”0″]

Glassnote, the label that helped bring the world an indie-New Wave revival with Phoenix and a folk revival with Mumford & Sons, seems to be betting that 2011 will be the year of electronic blues-rock. Knoxville, Tennessee’s Royal Bangs have a close association with Akron, Ohio’s Black Keys. Regionally, both bands come from areas that are culturally rich but not typically thought of as musical hotbeds. The Keys’ Patrick Carney was an early Bangs champion, releasing their first two records on his own label, Audio Eagle. (City Slang did the honors in Europe.) With Flux Outside, Royal Bangs haven’t really changed their sound. It’s still basically composed of beat-driven structures mixed with bluesy, Afropop guitar lines, but the band seems more confident and less reliant on the ‘90s-vamping overdrive choruses like Let It Beep’s “War Bells.” They’re still one of the crunchiest bands this side of the Black Keys and singer Ryan Schaefer’s vocals are always at the breaking point between anguish and despair. “Fireball,” Flux’s first single, might also be the band’s best work to date. The song moves from an introduction of distorted drums and electronic bleeps into a thoroughly catchy jam of carefully effected guitars and wonky synths that’s more Dirty Projectors than Smashing Pumpkins. Like the slow-building Black Keys who exploded in 2010, Royal Bangs seem ready for the big time.

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