I have a confession to make. I have rarely heard a band without a bass player I really loved. Yeah Yeah Yeah’s first release was close. Well, I now have my first bass-less true love. That band is Brooklyn’s The Royal They.
After passing on the recent Atom Driver release to Greg from The Mad Doctors, he told me to check out, as he put it, “Brooklyn’s best kept secret”, The Royal They. I popped on their self-titled release, which came out in September, 2016. Within 30 seconds, I was sold. In fact, I had to literally stop everything else I was doing and just listen. Michelle (gtr/vox) made sure she got my attention when she softly sung “insufferable cunt” in the beginning of the first song, Truncheon.
This band is a trio: two guitars and drums. Besides Michelle, Darrell plays guitar and Rick is on drums. As I listened through, I was floored by the musicianship. This dog can hunt! The interplay between the two guitars is beautiful, with great tension and dissonance. The band excels in leveraging dynamics as they use soft refrains leading into blistering fuzz-drenched passages. And then there’s the drummer. This guy can play! Listen to the drums on the track, Laurels, and you will want to put down your sticks. That leaves the vox. Michelle’s voice is stunning… part saint, part whore. It floats above the songs perfectly. Michelle’s voice commands attention over raging guitars and floats beautifully over soft passages.
So, what do they sound like, you ask? They’ve got a lot going on. One could compare them to the Screaming Females, but I don’t think that’s really a fair comparison. The guitars do some things that remind me of Fugazi, but they’re not Fugazi. The vocals may have some Kim Deal (Pixies), but Michelle’s voice is much better. Some of their tunes have the grit and energy of Stuyedeyed or Charly Bliss. Maybe The Royal They is in a class by themselves. You’ll just have to listen and decide for yourself.
I highly recommend every song, but my top choices are:
1. Understate – really great dynamics and rhythms going on. So much fun.
2. Laurels – Drums! Drums! Drums!
3. Kamikaze – This may be the most delicious and “accessible” tune of the bunch. The vocal melody is a blast. A part of the melody over the verse reminds me of the theme from The Banana Splits. That alone makes me smile. The song’s groove and temp is perfect!
Check The Royal They out at your earliest convenience on Bandcamp or Spotify. They are playing August 26th at Liz’s Basement in Brooklyn. They may not be Brooklyn’s “best kept secret” for long.