Song of the Day: Royal Headache – Surprise

photo by Leah Horikx

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s selection, featured during our Summer Fundraising Drive, is “Surprise” by Royal Headache from the 2012 self-titled album on What’s Your Rupture?

Royal Headache – Surprise (MP3)

Australian group Royal Headache formed in 2008, although the four members — Law (guitar), Joe (bass), Shorty (drums) and Shogun (vocals) — seemed to have crossed paths over the time prior while going to punk shows in Sydney and through their previous bands. A shared love of 50’s and 60’s sounds brought them together, and the result has been a compact American R&B influenced punchy punk pop record, produced by Eddy Current Suppression Ring’s Mikey, that immediately grabbed the attention of our Music Director, Don Yates, who praised its “catchy, lo-fi garage-rock with a trebly, ‘60s-steeped sound blending elements of power pop, girl groups, early Beatles, surf and other classic styles with jangly/fuzzy guitars and energetic rhythms, highlighted by rock-solid songwriting, and most of all, the powerhouse soulful singing of the band’s vocalist Shogun, whose grainy vocals recall greats like Sam Cooke, Faces-era Rod Stewart and early Stevie Winwood.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Today’s song, clocking in at no more than 1:30, has a lot of emotion in each indiscernible line. “Surprise” has that aching rawness of Sam Cooke soul mixed with raw lo-fi punk with drummer Chris “Shorty” Short and bassist Joe doing a good job of moving things along. Vocalist Shogun has a way of emotionally luring you into an otherwise fast-paced ear blast of guitarist-who-goes-by-Law’s riffs and tight, economical bursts of song and raucous energy. Say it, feel it, get straight to the point, now lets jam. Makes you want another doesn’t it?

It should be no surprise that quartet has toured a bit Down Under, but right now they’re in the U.S. for a brief tour before heading back to open for The Black Keys on several dates in Australia. Tonight they’re in Chicago, and will hit Madison and Minneapolis before heading to New York and Boston. Visa issues caused them to miss a few West Coast dates, so don’t be surprised if they make up those dates later in the year. Stay tuned to their Facebook and Myspace pages for updates. For now, if you didn’t get enough of “Surprise” the first time around, watch the video for it:

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