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(Halloween!) Video of the Moment #2463: Royal Blood

 
By on Tuesday, 31st October 2017 at 6:00 pm
 

I’m really not a fan of gratuitous violence in music videos and avoid posting anything I find objectionable here on TGTF. (Hey, we’ve got some young, music-loving readers!) However, seeing Mike Kerr (vocals / bass guitar) and Ben Thatcher (drums) of Royal Blood hunt down an animal-loving marauder in the promo for ‘How Did We Get So Dark?’ tiptoes the borderline of dark hilarity in promos, and I’ll bite this Halloween. The violence in the second half of the video is so cartoony, it’s not believable anyway.

It’s the title track off their second album that was released back in June on Warner Brothers; read my review of the LP through this link. Here’s to hoping that none of their carrot-munching costars were harmed in the making of this video, which you can watch below. For more on Royal Blood here on TGTF, go here.

 

Album Review: Royal Blood – How Did We Get So Dark?

 
By on Monday, 19th June 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Royal Blood How Did We Get So Dark album coverIn the days leading up to me writing this review, I think my subconscious wanted to be sure it got a say in the final piece. The kick arse riff of ‘Loose Change’ woke me up a few mornings in a row, reverberating through my head as a reminder of how good the 2014 debut album from Royal Blood really was. And how far they could fall from grace with a lacklustre follow-up. The title ‘How Did We Get So Dark?’ suggests we’re about to descend into the murky, sometimes maniacal recesses of bassist Mike Kerr’s anguished heart once again. The good news is, the devil may care duo from Brighton do well in expressing this anguish. The bad news: the oddest part of listening to this album is you are left wondering many times if they could have gone darker, literally.

Axeman vocalist Kerr moans in the opening title track, “How did something so sweet tear us apart?” The question is, are ready to ride “On a sinking ship with a heavy heart” for a second time around? My guess is if you’re reading this, you are probably a hard rock fan who owns ‘Royal Blood’ and have been chomping at the bit for this. As all good major label signees do, they promoted the upcoming album heavily with early tasters. Excellent first single ‘Lights Out’ (review here) suggested we’d have another tour de force on our hands in 2 months’ time. The punishing guitar melody and drumbeats of ‘Hook, Line & Sinker’ sounds oh so good too, but with the headscratching lyric “my love calls like a whistle”. Uh, I’m going to leave that one there…

Before the new Royal Blood album hit digital retailers and the high street last Friday, my reaction to most recent taster ‘I Only Lie When I Love You’ gave me the gut feeling I wouldn’t be loving this album like their last. While you expect Kerr’s vocals to be bracing – I mean, that’s what’s singing on hard rock records is, right? – on this track, they’re borderline annoying. The title is sung as essentially one note repeated, with an inflected whine on the end of the line. Because you know what the song is about, mind games in a physical relationship (“you only cry when I love you / I only lie when I make a sound”), maybe the annoying repetition is intentional? I can’t imagine playing this song repeatedly, though, for that reason. (If you recall, ‘Out of the Black’ is similar vocally too, so it’s like this is ‘Out of the Black’-Lite.) Unfortunately, ‘She’s Creeping’ that follows does not bring things back up to debut album calibre. What will annoy this time is Kerr’s guitar line acting as the only prominent accompaniment to his lyrics that seem painfully directed to mobile-clutching millennials: “Did my message send? / God knows I’ll send it again”. And let’s not forget the lack of muscle and firepower over all on the track. Let’s forget this track altogether.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BermIHe03zU[/youtube]

Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher manage to pull things back on ‘Where Are You Now?’, with noteworthy riffing and Kerr’s lovelorn words: “I’ve tasted every potion / it don’t taste like you / you’re a teardrop in an ocean / still drinking through”. ‘Hole in My Heart’ starts unpromisingly and the verses aren’t exactly rousing, but the choruses don’t let you down, with both Kerr and Thatcher delivering swift punches with their instruments. You just wish they could have kept up with the same level of intensity throughout this entire album. Without it, you’ve got some really great, down and dirty tracks dotting an otherwise mostly unremarkable landscape.

By no means is this second outing a whimper, but questionable decisions here and there will make you wonder whose wisdom in the Royal Blood camp it was during recording and production that led them to dial it back a bit.

6/10

Royal Blood’s second album ‘How Did We Get So Dark?’ is out now on Warner Brothers. They’ll be embarking on an arena tour of the UK and Ireland in November. To see more of TGTF’s coverage on the Brighton hard rock duo, right this way.

 

Royal Blood / November 2017 UK/Irish Tour

 
By on Friday, 19th May 2017 at 9:00 am
 

Brighton hard rock duo Royal Blood have announced a new UK and Ireland tour for the second half of November. This tour will follow a handful of dates on the Continent in late October into early November. Tickets to this arena tour will go on general sale at 9 AM next Friday, the 26th of May. The duo, comprised of Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher, are gearing up, to release their second album ‘How Did We Get So Dark?’ on the 16th of June on Warner Brothers. Enjoy my single review of first album taster of ‘Lights Out’ through this link. To read through the rest of TGTF’s coverage on Royal Blood, go here.

Monday 13th November 2017 – Cardiff Motorpoint Arena
Tuesday 14th November 2017 – Reading Rivermead
Thursday 16th November 2017 – Manchester Arena
Friday 17th November 2017 – Leeds First Direct Arena
Saturday 18th November 2017 – Birmingham Barclaycard Arena
Monday 20th November 2017 – London Alexandra Palace
Friday 24th November 2017 – Glasgow SSE Hydro
Saturday 25th November 2017 – Nottingham Motorpoint Arena
Sunday 26th November 2017 – Dublin 3Arena
Tuesday 28th November 2017 – Bournemouth BIC
Wednesday 29th November 2017 – Brighton Centre

 

Single Review: Royal Blood – Lights Out

 
By on Thursday, 20th April 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

It’s hard to believe it’s been 3 long years since Royal Blood debuted in America, at the BBC Introducing showcase at the British Music Embassy at their eponymous debut album on Warner Brothers, a blistering statement of their hard-rocking style. After what seemed to have been a ridiculously lengthy time waiting for new material from them, the duo comprising Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher resurfaced last week with a new single.

‘Lights Out’ is the first teaser from upcoming sophomore effort ‘How Did We Get So Dark?’, whose name continues the pair’s preoccupation with things dark, mysterious and goth-y. A big part of Royal Blood’s appeal is the sheer firepower, produced by combining Kerr’s technique of playing bass like a guitar with Thatcher’s machine gun-like precision on drums. Unsurprisingly, and ahead of what I’m assuming will be a very busy summer festival season for them, the promo video for ‘Lights Out’ shows the two of them going for it 110% on their instruments. At the 2 minute, 30 second mark, Thatcher beats up his skins, setting up his bandmate’s most excellent growly guitar solo and some triumphant yeahs.

The menacing low tone buzzes of Kerr’s bass on the new single are accompanied with his yelps, though this time around, it appears the direction of his vitriol has changed slightly. He compares his woman to “…a cage / won’t you let me in?”, which is then followed in a later verse and in Layne Staley style imagines himself “stuck in the ground” and insisting “you’re a void, a crack in the mirror”. Kerr seems to be in much turmoil trying to figure out if this woman is good or bad for him, and what looks like an orgy in a pool full of milk in the single’s promo reflects this aggressive, yet seriously confused mental state. Does Kerr have red eyes because he was crying or because he was emotionally so tortured, he couldn’t sleep? Maybe it was neither, but instead all that rocking he and Thatcher have gotten up to…

8/10

‘How Did We Get So Dark?’, Royal Blood’s second album, will be out on the 16th of June on Warner Brothers. To catch up on all of TGTF’s past coverage on Royal Blood, head here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSznpyG9CHY[/youtube]

 

Live Gig Video: Royal Blood play ‘Little Monster’ on the Main Stage at Reading 2015 (Saturday)

 
By on Wednesday, 2nd September 2015 at 4:00 pm
 

As an American music editor who loves UK music, it’s sometimes unreal to me that I get the opportunity to see British bands who have already generated huge buzz back in blighty in tiny little places. Last summer I saw Royal Blood play a a packed out 200-capacity DC9. And now they’re throwing the entire viewing population of a massive festival like Reading 2015 into a frenzy? Incredible. Watch the hard rocking duo perform their single ‘Little Monster’ last Saturday at Richfield Avenue below.

Want to read more about Royal Blood on TGTF? Right this way.

If you live in the UK, until the 29th of September you have access to over 40 full sets of action from Reading/Leeds 2015 through the BBC’s Web site for the festival weekend. For full details, go here. If you like outside the UK, you’ll be able to enjoy selected highlights from the weekend on BBC’s YouTube channel, including coverage from the BBC Introducing stage.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fkpl5p4BVEA[/youtube]

 

Top Gigs of 2014: Editor’s Picks

 
By on Tuesday, 23rd December 2014 at 11:00 am
 

2014, 2014, tsk tsk tsk. When it came to live shows, you put in some tense situations where I couldn’t understand the lead singer in his normal speaking voice (Glasvegas at DC’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel in February), feared for my life because the heat was proving a bit too much (Slow Club at Sheffield Great Gatsby in May), got grossed out by other punters’ grinding (Glass Animals at DC’s U Street Music Hall in July), and needed to take a train to another town and back, all in one evening (Fatherson at Edinburgh Potterow in October). But it was in good fun, as you were always entertaining. Here are my top 5 live experiences this year:

5. The Dig at Black Cat Backstage (4th December 2014) – watching a band you’ve come to know and love evolve over time, and who just keep getting better and better, is probably one of the greatest blessings given to a music editor. The Dig, who I saw support Editors 4 years ago, are one of those bands. December gigs are hard to pull off in Washington – people are lazy to come out once the weather turns cold – but they came out in droves for this show Thursday night the first week in December for the New Yorkers. They’re ready for their close-up, folks.

Reminisce through TGTF’s back catalogue on the Dig through this link.

4. Glass Animals at Glasgow CCA (17th October 2014) – after you’ve seen a band many times, the gigs all start to blur together, especially you’re seeing them when they’ve only got their one debut album to promote. Glass Animals shows are always interesting, if only to view the wildlife on display in the audience, but the Oxford band were in fine form even on the last UK date on their tour in October. I was expecting them to be completely beat, after returning the week before from a whirlwind North American campaign and subsisting on far too little sleep. Perhaps it was the party atmosphere in Glasgow on a Friday night, the CCA stuffed to the gills with punters, that turned this gig up to 11? Vibes, man. Vibes.

Glass Animals have been a favourite at TGTF since last year, and you can read all of our coverage on them here.

3. Fenech-Soler at Brooklyn Glasslands (5th April 2014) – good things come to those who wait. Or so the saying goes. Even though I had to trek up to New York for this one, Fenech-Soler was definitely worth it for me to finally hear songs from both their debut album in 2010 and 2013’s ‘Rituals’. I haven’t danced that hard in ages. (Meeting Ben and Ross Duffy and getting to chat with them for this interview was definitely a personal highlight of 2014 as well.) I waited 4 long years to see electro-pop band Fenech-Soler to do a proper show in the States, and since I saw them at this show (at a venue that sadly will no longer exist in 2015, sob), they’ve done a couple tours in our country, and I couldn’t be happier for them.

Our pretty comprehensive archive on Fenech-Soler here at TGTF is this way.

2. Maximo Park at Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel (20th May 2014) – like Fenech-Soler, Maximo Park was a band I had missed seeing, and for even longer (beyond 6 years). It had nothing to do with them never coming to DC; I was either not here when they’d come or the show I’d had tickets to see them at had been cancelled. If you’ve never seen Paul Smith and co. perform, wow, you need to do yourself a favour and rectify that ASAP. I came to appreciate their latest album ‘Too Much Information’ much more after seeing it performed. Also, you always know the band you’ve come to see play is pulling out all the stops when the set list spills out over 2 pages. I’m looking forward to the next time they return to Washington. And to those asking, yes, Paul Smith really does give those reinforced trousers a workout.

Check out our writings on TGTF on the Geordie band here.

1. Royal Blood at DC9 (20th July 2014) – this gig can be best summed up with one word: PHWOAR. Perhaps my only prior experience with Mike Thatcher and Ben Kerr – Thursday at SXSW 2014, playing Lammo’s BBC Introducing night – didn’t sit well in my head because there is always too much background noise from other acts in Austin to really concentrate and appreciate on just one. At their first, and I might add rammed, headline show in DC, eyes and ears all glued on them with good reason. As those who waited for them to play at the John Peel stage at Glasto this year know, this duo from Brighton pack a massive punch in their successful effort to bring hard rock back. Best new British guitar band? Forget it. Best new British guitar duo’s where it’s at.

All of TGTF’s coverage on Royal Blood is right this way.

After the cut: the full list of all the gigs, in reverse chronological order, that I’ve been to in 2014. The runner-up gigs are also marked.
Continue reading Top Gigs of 2014: Editor’s Picks

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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