Blacklist Royals – [7” EP]

Friday, 17 September 2010

Common sense dictates that the only way to move forward confidently through life is to know and take notes from the past. Think about it – those who live only in the present subscribing to Henry Ford's proposition that history is “bunk” run the very real danger of repeating the past mistakes of others. In the arts community, some folks are lucky enough to avoid the pitfalls that come along with making new work (music is just one example) in spite of themselves and their ignorance, but they are the exception – not the rule – so the best solution is to simply have a clue instead. Such wisdom comes to mind in listening to Blacklist Royals' first EP because, in just four tracks, the band is able to express where they're coming from and what they're all about, and the band even drops a few clues to where they might be headed in the future too.

From the very beginning of “Sick Of Sin,” Blacklist Royals start plotting some of the dots for listeners to connect in order to get an image of the band. With a guitar-driven similar to the punkier side of Rancid circa …And Out Come The Wolves and a songwriting style similar to what listeners might image Bruce Springsteen sounding like if he'd been born twenty-five years later, singer/guitarist Nat Rufus sets a tone that's as rambunctious as it is reflective. That feel continues into the EP's title track which proves that the band can pull a similar trick off twice, but also firms up the plot because the improvements made even between the first song and second are pretty noticeable; there is growth to be found, and that is a source of interest in and of itself.

If the Six Strings EP were just comprised of the songs on Side A, the release would present Blacklist Royals as an able – if not particularly remarkable – new punk band. “Sick Of Sin” and “Six Strings” represent a good effort on their own, but it's only half the story here.

As soon as Blacklist Royals launch into “Zero! Zero! Zero!,” listeners won't be able to miss the change in the sound of the band. As a comparative study, the song moves faster than anything on the A-Side (it clocks in at about two minutes and six seconds, which undercuts both “Six Strings” and “Sick Of Sin” significantly) and plays out with an air that verges on melodic hardcore but with a noticeable difference: the keys which open the track present a warmth that romances listeners with a whole lot of soul power and casts the image of the band in a whole new light. Here, Blacklist Royals assert their presence as a band that isn't completely punk, isn't exactly hardcore, isn't one hundred percent pure rock n' roll and only has enough elements of soul included to really ensure that nobody could miss them and inadvertently mislabel the band as something simple; Six Strings is absolutely a self-contained entity all unto itself. While the sense of listeners are still reeling from that revelation, Blacklist Royals delivers one last message and shows listeners some history bpth made and in the making with a cover of Ike Turner's “Rocket 88,” also known as 'the first rock n' roll song.' It isn't a straight cover of course – liberties get taken with tempo, instrumentation (the song is basically re-cast as a punk tune here) and lyrics but the point is clear; this is where the band is starting – it's their first release – so making a statement of great beginnings seems appropriate.

With that beginning on the books, the field is left wide open for creative directions in which Blacklist Royals can go on future releases; it's a good introduction, but isn't so complete that it doesn't leave any room for imagination. Here's hoping that Blacklist Royals get a chance to really show what they can do from here on out.



Physical copies of the Six Strings EP are rare and largely unavailable, but contact the band to buy a download code for the songs here .

Comments are closed.