The Royal Guard is the talk of the town, a trio hailing from New York, playing music in the spirit of The Replacements, Big Star, Superchunk, bands that aren’t going to waste your time with their self-indulgent punk rock ethos. They do have an edge to their sound, that separates them from the typical major label pop group, but never stray far from their core ingredient: the song. A good song is a good song, no matter what genre you’re listening to. Does it have a great melody, does it have a good groove, do the lyrics make you want to listen again? These are elements that make up a hit song, and The Royal Guard is full of them.
Their latest full length release: Showdown, contains 11 tracks, each song under 5 minutes. This band seems to be more interested in keeping up the album’s momentum than getting stuck on one single. Bands like this shouldn’t focus on writing ‘the big hit’ more than building a fan base that wants to keep coming back for more. The Royal Guard already knows this, as they play many shows and continue to spread the word. But the more you listen to their album, the more you’ll gravitate to particular songs that suit your own record collection. All of their melodies are potential hits. They don’t seem to have trouble finding the sweet spot when writing songs. The opening track: “All Out War” brings back memories of the guitar rock days of the 90’s, with an audience participation chorus, something I haven’t heard in quite a while. It also features guitar leads Brian May would have written. This is a great start, defining them to be an organic band and not relying on studio techniques you hear today to make the music more appealing than it actually is. “Happy” continues with the upbeat flow, a perfect blend of pop and alt rock in the manner of popular college radio bands like Superchunk or Archers of Loaf. The thing that makes The Royal Guard current, as opposed to 90’s rock revivalists, is they are not aiming for that sound, as much as they are delivering the goods the way it’s been correctly done since the birth of rock and roll. It’s not grunge by numbers, where each song sounds like a different band. The Royal Guard sounds authentic, that this IS what these three musicians could only sound like together. Where other bands that calculated a sound for fame purposes, and failed, this band will prevail as true up-and-comers in the world of modern rock music. Other highlights of the record: “Satellite” and the title-track “Showdown” are a little bit more experimental, but again, never off-direction from their specific sound. There are always great hooks, unique guitar riffs, and energetic beats. Overall, this an impressive debut album for a local band working their way up the latter of the rock and roll food chain, and I have no doubt The Royal Guard will skip ahead to the forefront with ease. Like I said, a good song is a good song. Not many have the skill to compose one, let alone a collection of 11 in one studio outing.