Figuring out Royal Blood

Original artwork for the cover of "Royal Blood" by Dan Hillier
Original artwork for the cover of “Royal Blood” by Dan Hillier

The song “Little Monster” by Royal Blood has been on my Shazam list for quite a long time. I have no idea how it got there, I must have heard it somewhere and it must have peaked my interest.

late to the party

Today I started listening to their first album titled “Royal Blood”. I know, I’m late to the party, but none the less it kept peaking my interest with every song. I also discovered I had heard a few other tracks of the album here and there but never connected the dots. Which is strange as the songs on the album form a very cohesive collection. Without every song sounding the same that is.

just the two of us

Which is quite a feat considering that this UK band is comprised of just two people:

Mike Kerr who takes care of the vocals, bass, guitar, keyboards, piano and Ben Thatcher who does drums, percussion, and piano as well. The band never sounds like a two piece. Every instrument has its own personality so the album sounds like a collective of players that understand their individual instruments.

studio trickery

Production wise the album is augmented by some studio trickery that never gets in the way of the music, it adds to it. The studio is as much an instrument as the guitar or bass is. And as an ex-studio tech I love that. But even without the inside baseball knowledge, the tricks used really enhance the experience.

Sound wise the album sounds tight and heavy. But it never loses definition. Every instrument and every sound has its own place in the sound stage.

roots

The music has roots in many of the heavier genres but it never comes across as a rip off. The songs may remind you of another band for just a split second but then it goes off on its own journey. The band proves that there is nothing wrong with roots as long as you combine them to do something unique. The songs are very much Royal Blood and nothing else.

highlight

I enjoyed this album a lot and am looking forward to listening to their second album. And I hope they keep them coming and manage to take us on a journey of discovery to new and exciting places. But whatever the future holds for this duo, their debut album can firmly stand as a musical highlight well worth your time.

 

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Live from Radio City Music Hall – Heaven and Hell

Heaven_&_Helll_Live_from_Radio_City_Music_Hall

Heaven & Hell Live from Radio City Music Hall: Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward in top form. Possibly, no probably, no definitely my favourite live heavy metal album.

bleeding ears

They are playing to the highest standard. A standard largely set by themselves in the first place. Geezer seems to rip his bass to shreds and Tony is playing riffs like no one can. RJD, the best voice in metal, is engaging with the audience like only he could. And Bill is laying a foundation that is so solid that an earthquake couldn’t shift it. I’m only using first names here, because the show moves at a pace that leaves no time for last names. However it’s an honour to have this band make my ears bleed. I bow to this album with the utmost respect.

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Mos Def and Talib Kweli are Black Star – Mos Def and Talib Kweli

MosDef&TalibKweliBlackStar

Mos Def and Talib Kweli are Black Star is an album that in my eyes can be classed as hiphop royalty.

music

This album proved that hiphop is Music with a capital M. Not that I needed convincing of that fact. But this album is one of the pinnacles of the genre as far as I know. Both the music and the lyrics are pure art.

positive

The album also proves that hiphop can rise above the dark themes of gangsta rap. Instead this album is filled with a much more positive message, while never losing sight of the toughness of life.

edgy

A great album that in 1998 blew a fresh wind into the world of hiphop. A world by then plagued by dissing, revenge rap and killings.
Mos Def and Talib Kweli showed that it was possible to be edgy without enmity.

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Some kind of monster – Metallica (film)

some kind of monster (film)

I never could get into Metallica much. I tried. I did my due diligence and every so often I tried listening to their albums again. But somehow it never stuck.

documentary

Today I watched the documentary Some kind of Monster about the making of the album St. Anger. And that changed my perception of Metallica.
I watched the struggles these guys went through, and more importantly, were willing to go through while creating that album. The respect I felt for this band grew enormously.

fake

I know now why I found it difficult to listen to them. Always in the back of my mind was the idea they were kind of fake. Kind of rich boys playing heavy metal because it was cool. Oh how wrong I was. Yes they became very wealthy. But seeing them struggle both with their personalities and the creative process, has given me a new appreciation of how seriously they take the band and the music.

prejudice

I’m going to listen again. With different ears and without the prejudice that was all mine. In other words, time for some humble Metallica pie.

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Superunknown – Soundgarden

superunknown

I never really got into Soundgarden. This was mainly due to a live appearance I once saw on some TV programme. The gig was very uninspiring and the band clearly was just cashing a check. This put me off as I am rather sensitive to this kind of thing.

Audioslave

But then a couple of years ago I started listening to Audioslave. And that did grab me. So I knew about Chris Cornell.

The sad passing of Chris Cornell brought Soundgarden back on my radar. And boy was I wrong back then. Any band capable of bringing out an album like Superunknown, is worthy of a spot in my personal hall of fame.

second run

I started listening to this album this morning and I am now on my second run. And songs like Fell on Black Days, Black Hole Sun, and Spoonman, touch me right to my musical spine.

The other songs are consistently grabbing me by the throat and shake any misgivings I may have had about Soundgarden out of my system.
The sound of this album is full of grunt and weight and rawness. And yet there are many production cherries that make the cake complete. Some hark back to the Beatles, but used in a different context, like in the song Head Down. The voice of Chris Cornell is one of the best I’ve heard on any rock or grunge album.

rediscovery

Nicely hidden complexity make it an album that I will return to in the knowledge I will discover a new melodic element, a new rhythmic phrase or a lyrical line I had previously missed. Glad I went on this tour of rediscovery.

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Get yer ya-ya’s out! – Rolling Stones

get-yer-ya-yas-out-600x600

Sometimes a band is so well established that you forget to really listen to them. You know many, if not all of their songs and listening to their music becomes almost like listening to a stale radio station.

Tip

Here’s a tip: track down an album by such a band that makes you realise WHY these bands have become a household name.
“Get yer ya-ya’s out!” by the Rolling Stones is such an album.
This live album from 1970 can stand the test of time so easily that it should make some modern wannabe’s sit in a corner and cry.

tight

The Stones you hear on this album are tight! On this album they play Rock ‘n’ Roll with the kind of conviction, rawness and drive that makes it abundantly clear why they stood, stand and always will stand out.

tour

This autumn the Stones will go on tour again. Amazing, considering how long these guys have been playing. Listen to this album, and you’ll know why they still fill stadiums. If you only get a tenth of your rolls rocked that this album rocks you’re in for great night!

Sidenote

And on a side note: Sympathy for the Devil remains one of my all time favourite rock songs. On this album the Stones play one of the best versions of this song I ever heard!

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