Royal Bangs: Brass

Royal Bangs

Videos by American Songwriter

Royal Bangs
(Modern Art)
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Looking for some relaxing music to unwind after a hectic day? You’ve come to the wrong place. The Royal Bangs are known for their hyper-caffeinated approach to songs, throwing so many changes, overdubs and riffs into each jittery gem that the near breathless result is best appreciated in limited doses.  Or at least that has been the Knoxville, TN based Royal Bangs’ style over the course of the quartet’s previous discs.

For this, their fourth full length since 2008, producer/Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney– who thrust the band into the spotlight by releasing their first two albums on his own label – loosens the hyperactive approach, at least a notch, for the group’s most accessible set to date. That’s not to imply the Bangs have gone pop or folk. But these tunes are less frantic, more melodic and well, hummable than existing fans might expect. Guitar riffs are allowed a chance to unwind without being shoved aside for another song shift, choruses are given time to sink in and even though frontman/multi-instrumentalist Ryan Schaefer still crams too many vague concepts into each wordy track, the effect takes a more measured attitude this time around.

There remains plenty of punky energy in the foursome’s twisty indie rock as evidenced by the hyperventilating beat of all two minutes of “Sun Bridge.” Chris Rusk’s drums are as prominent in the mix as you might expect with another drummer behind the board.  But there is now a sense of downshifting with tracks such as “CA Heart Attack” and the near reggae beat of “Laurel.”

Brass is a step in the right direction and shows a maturing of the Bangs’ whiz-bang attack. It’s a logical extension of their earlier work that’s easier on the ears without watering down the inherent craftiness of the vibe or, even worse, selling out.


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