Saturday, December 31, 2011

Album of the Year...According to Me: U.S. Royalty - Mirrors

Normally at the end of the year, I put together a series of posts “reviewing” records I didn’t get around to mentioning throughout the year. This year, I wanted to change things up a bit. I considered putting together one of those nifty little best of lists. But then, I started thinking... that happens from time to time! There are several records that came out this year that I like be it because they were well crafted, catchy or just because. But, how many of those albums do I really listen to? By really listen to, I mean in regular rotation and can sing-a-long to sort of thing.

I did some highly complicated scientific calculations based on my listening habits and I determined the Quirky NY Chick Album of the Year...According to Me honor goes to, U.S. Royalty for their much listened to Mirrors.

The DC area band released Mirrors, their full-length debut, in January of 2011. When the record landed in my inbox (note to me, order physical copy!), I put it on and it has stayed in regular rotation since then. I’ve listened to it a lot. It’s um, playing right now as I type. Yeah, let’s just say, they would likely even say I’ve listened to their record too much! Is it a perfect record? No, but what is? There are a couple of songs, “Vacation Vacation” and “Old Flames,” that I don’t feel as much as the rest of the album, sorry fellas. That being said, the highlights far outweigh the “I ain’t feeling it” moments. I was initially drawn to “Hollywood Hollows.” I tend to listen to music before I listen to lyrics; it’s just how I work. The stomp blues rock of “Hollywood Hollows” is frankly some of the sexiest sounding rock ‘n’ roll to hit my ears in a while. The first several times I listened to the song, I frankly didn’t care what the lyrics were. The music combined with vocalist John Thornley’s phrasing dripped of musical sexiness and, I happen to like when my rock ‘n’ roll is sexy and a little dirty sounding. However, it’s the catchy “Monte Carlo” that gets stuck in your head for hours at a time. It is quite simply one of those wonderful pop rock songs that is worthy of being #1 on the Billboard charts. The fact that it is reminiscent of some of those classic Buckingham/Nicks era Fleetwood Mac songs (check out Paul Thornley’s guitar work on the track, Buckingham would be proud) just adds to the charm. From there you’re led into “Equestrian” full of driving rhythms that sound incredibly grand. “The Desert Won’t Save You,” another song I listened to several times before even listening to the lyrics, is also rather grand in sound with it’s Zepplinesque vibe. It just sounds intensely heavy reeling you in with seductive guitar work that weaves throughout the song then it pounds you hard before easing you back down through a maze of rhythm to let you go gently. Put on some headphones, grab a glass of wine (or some mother nature if that’s your thing), light some incense and candles and just let it take you away; it’s that kind of song.

Mirrors is an incredibly strong body of work. When I first mentioned this record on my little corner of the internet world, I put it on my list of recommended listens. Almost a year later, I still feel the same way.

U.S. Royalty also get kudos for putting on one helluva live show. They’re full of Stones like bravado giving you a show full of sweat, swagger and good old fashioned, no holds barred, we came to entertain you rock music. My only complaint would be that due to some bizarre cosmic deprivation conspiracy happenings, I only got to see one of their many NYC shows this year!

For those who were curious, the remaining two on my top three ridiculous number of listens list were... Nicole Atkins’ seriously wonderful Mondo Amore and I’ve worn out Jump Into The Gospel’s four song Self-titled EP... more songs, please fellas.