HOLUS BOLUS - The Roys (Infidelity Records)
It's pretty close to a year old I think but it disappeared without a trace, so i'm here to give this great album - the full length debut by one of the great unsung Melbourne bands of the decade - one final boost.
I first heard thse guys a few years ago when label boss Bruce Milne raved about them to me and sent me an advance of their first EP. I was especially knocked out by the song "Till Next Time", which struck me as one of the best Big Star-styled songs I'd ever heard - yes it's that's good - but I was kind of confused by the band's diversity. They seemed like an odd mix of the traditional and the idiosyncratic, and the number of the guys writing and singing in the band made it seem like there were a couple of different bands on the record. But it was all good stuff.
I was stunned and delighted to then find out that I knew one of the guys - or kind of knew him 15 or so years ago. Guitarist Simon Juliff, who I guess you could say co-leads the band with his frontman brother Felix, was an old pal of Joel Silbersher and the God guys, and had actually recorded a single with his first band The Evil Dead (with Joel producing) for my old Dog Meat label. That single had never come out - probably due to my own neglect - but I remembered the songs vividly because they were rocking, funny and great. Don't know if the shattering disappointment of not being getting a release on Dog Meat (ho ho) was what kept Simon off the local scene for so long, but visible or not, the guy's talents had certainly grown over the years.
Anyway, a year or two later, after that first EP had got them nowhere, the Roys delivered their first album. And it's great. Again, it's a disparate mix of styles, but in a good way, like in the late '60 s and early '70's when the great bands were happy to jump all over the place in the space of a side of an LP. Simon's songs are still rocking, funny and great - the ludicrous glam throbber "Sexyman" probably takes the funny side of things a bit too far, but "Buon Viaggio" and "Sabrina" are perfect and catchy hard rockers that come on like Roy Loney & the Phantom Movers meet Aerosmith or something; while brother Felix's tunes are again more personally stylised and rootsy and hard to pin down. I'll say they sound like the Band might've if Big Pink was a beach house, but that's not really it. The first of Felix's tunes, 'Built', is especially strong. Bassman David O'Bryan scores one track - "Body Double" - and it's hilarious and perfect faux-glam (very T-Rex), while one of lead guitarist Scott Wilson's two, "Miles", is a good-timey and laid-back slide-driven tune that wouldn't have sounded out of place in the 'Andy Durant Memorial Concert', but is a great thing regardless.
Anyway, I'm not even sure if these guys are still together, and I doubt whether there's a rack of this cd at your local store, but if you love spirited rock'n'roll you should definitely check the Roys out. Look 'em up here and here. - David Laing
THE ROYS - The Roys (Infidelity Records)
The publicity blurb accompanying The Roys' debut release makes much of the band members' sojourn across the United States in 2000. The US of 2000 was a much different beast than currently struts the world stage – Bill Clinton was in power, Geedubbya was merely Sheriff of Texas and you could reasonably expect to travel the wide roads of the land of the free, home of the brave, without being subject to gratuitous search and seizure.
While the publicity material is more tongue-in-cheek spin than a sincere statement of artistic influence, the EP/mini album does have an aural aesthetic that's easily associated with driving a huge hunking behemoth from coast to coast. There's a more than adequate mix of blues based rock (“Who Got What Momma Said”) to Big Star influenced country (“Till Next Time”). The riffs in “Car” and “Haile Bop” are as robust and potent as anything that Tim Rogers cranked out in his early to mid 1990s angry-with-the-world phase.
And in contrast to many other (young) bands also in the infancy of their life as a local band, The Roys ooze a level of unpretentious comfort that makes you feel immediately at ease. The lyrics display a narrative quality that's traditionally associated with both blues and its country relatives – the rollicking Paid being the best example.
The album was produced by Pete Luscombe (Paul Kelly, Black Sorrows, Chris Wilson and - though maybe not always at the top of his CV - Frente!). Apparently Luscombe entered the studio armed with a copy of a Bellrays CD as indicative of the sound he wanted to strive for.
There's only one thing incomplete with this CD; it's not as good as the band's unrecorded material that can be heard in their live shows. And if that's hardly something to be ashamed of. – Patrick Emery
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