Tag Archives: Crystal Vases

The Last Royal – Catching Up with Eric James

Last Royals Eric James Interview

The Last Royals Eric James Interview Miles AwayThe Last Royals burst onto the Alt-Rock scene five years ago with their sweetly addictive hit “Crystal Vases.”  Since then, they delivered an extremely likeable album packed with addictive, fun pop rock, but if you’re like most alt-rock fans, you probably never even knew.  Now, the creator of The Last Royals, Eric James has delivered something very different on the intoxicating new album Never Be Alone.  It’s another excellent album, but the sound has changed a bit since you last hear his voice.

Continue reading The Last Royal – Catching Up with Eric James

Twistification Album Review – The Last Royals Are Back


 

The Last Royals – Twistification  9 out of 10

For those familiar with this talented NYC Indie-Rock duo, it has been a long wait for this album to be released. (Check out our interview with front man Eric James from late 2010 where he discussed the forthcoming release.)

After my first few listens of Twistification, it seems well worth the wait.  Eric James and Mason Ingram have been working on this release for almost two years, following up the success of their self-titled debut EP and its cornerstone offering, the catchy hit “Crystal Vases.” The new album builds on the previous success and is a fantastic way to start off the 2013 rock music year.

On Twistification, we get another glimpse of the band’s original hit, as well as a few re-imagined versions of songs off of the debut EP.  We also get eight new tracks just screaming for airplay.  James and Ingram simply just churn out fun, catchy rock tunes, and there have to be at least a half-dozen potential hits on the album.  It’s an absolute blast to listen to, and one that will be an early favorite for Alt-Rock fans everywhere. It’s not all rollicking upbeat rock nuggets; as the band also shows the depth and breadth of their abilities with a few deeper, slower tracks. The Ooh La La Records release also features some interesting production effects, which generally work well to weave the album together.

The album kicks off and closes with complementary songs, “Winter Waltz” and “Barefoot Winter Waltz,” a pair of tender, sensitive, introspective tracks that expertly ebb and flow as the protagonist wrestles with the complexities of a broken relationship. It’s a great way to bracket the album and pull everything together. James vocals are absolutely fantastic on the latter.

James has a distinctive voice and a clear talent for lyric writing.  On Twistification, he takes his unique peeks at life in the big city and shares the experiences in a way that is relate-able and memorable.  The songs between the “waltzes” are generally hard-driving rollicking fun rock ‘n roll.  Many of the tunes have a cool summertime, cruising vibe to them.  “Only the Brave” was the first single released and it’s a great representation of what we’ll find throughout the album.  It’s a roaring anthem that will resonate with fans of all ages.

On “Friday Night” we get a great glimpse of James’ penchant for featuring old 80’s era analog keyboards.  It’s a cool touch that gives the songs an old school feel while at the same time driving through new boundaries.  It’s another track that’s impossible not to enjoy.  “Good Day Radio” is cut from the same cloth, just a bit more over the top.  I find myself feeling guilty about enjoying it so much, but, like the rest of the album, it’s just addictive enjoyable music.

My two favorite songs cover two ends of the spectrum.  “All Over Again,” is a poignant love song and an absolute sure fire hit for the band.  It’s got a fantastic hook, “Let’s fall in love all over again; If it’s love that you want just tell me the where and the when.” It’s beautiful, memorable, and incredibly likeable. The other personal favorite is the dark melancholy “I Hate California;” a stark stripped down ode to an unhappy place that many listeners will be able to relate to. Both of them have the makings of classics we’ll be hearing on soundtracks for years to come.

“Crystal Vases” was the 2010 surprise hit on Sirius XM’s Alt-Nation and sounds much the same on this release.  “Come Take My Hand” from the EP receives a makeover and has a richer sound with more tender vocals that work great.  “Always To Belong” is the other track carried forth from the EP.  Although it is creatively re-imaged, I enjoyed the original more.  But, despite my preference for the original, I’m impressed by the band’s continuous attempts to push their own boundaries and break new creative ground.

It’s still incredibly early in the year, but this dynamic masterpiece is destined to be one of the releases that becomes the soundtrack for the year.  It’s hip, cool, addictive rock that you’ll find impossible to put down. Grab your copy now at this link: Twistification – The Last Royals


Rock On!
Cretin


Eric James of The Last Royals Visits RARA’s Farm

Featuring infectious melodies and riveting vocals, The Last Royal’s are riding high on the recent success of their addictive alt-rock hit “Crystal Vases” from their self-titled EP.  They’re currently in the studio putting the finishing touches on their eagerly anticipated debut album, tentatively titled Twistification.  Along with Mason Ingram, Eric James make up this dynamic new band. James, the lead singer and the creative power behind the songs on the EP, took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to chat with us.

Follow @rarasfarm

Cretin: I first heard you guys on Sirius XM’s AltNation, when they played “Crystal Vases.” How did you guys get that break? Were you targeting AltNation?

Eric James: We had signed with, Ooh La La Records, and their radio promoter was targeting college and FM specialty radio.  Regan, who’s a great DJ as well as the program director at AltNation heard the song and actually tracked me down personally through Facebook. He loved the music and just simply wanted to work it because he liked it. They just started playing it; it caught on and they got good feedback from listeners and that’s where we’re at.

Cretin: The characters in your songs seem real, and you can feel a real connection to them. Is there anything autobiographical in the lyrics?

Eric James: It’s all real; from living around Manhattan for the last four years. Crystal Vases specifically I had in mind an Upper East Side type of woman. Nothing in any of the songs was directly from a friend or acquaintance, but it’s all real characters.  I’m sure you kind find a match somewhere in this city of 4 million if you looked hard enough.  I love to weave story telling with my own sentiments in that Dylan style where he’s singing about the Jack of Hearts and all these characters and you’re wondering if he actually encountered these people.

Cretin: You mention Dylan and in other interviews you reference other acts from the 50’s to the present. It sounds like your musical background is pretty diverse, any piece of that background that has most influenced you?

Eric James: Everybody kind of grows up listening to what their parents listened to. My dad was a Beatles guy through and through. The musical pop elements were implanted in my brain as a young kid through the Beatles.  Lyrically speaking I feel it was Dylan who always explored the most territory.  He had that way of challenging people with hard concepts through whimsical lyrics (pauses) and also through whimsical melodies. Ultimately I feel that’s what my favorite bands do. It’s sort of the beauty of rock music. You can sing a very depressing line or very hard concept and put it with a beautiful major melody and somehow that juxtaposition is a beautiful thing.

Cretin: The way your band does that reminds me a bit of the Smiths from back in the 80’s.

Eric James: They were great at that.

Cretin: More recently, Foster The People’s “Pumped up Kicks” is kind of like that: a whimsical song with dark lyrics.

Eric James: I listened to that song for months before I realized what he was saying, and then I read the lyrics and couldn’t believe what I was reading.

Cretin: On the EP, all of the songs are very different.  Do you have a personal favorite, or any one style that you really enjoyed more than the other?

Eric James: I love the remix of Backseat, the Crayon mix. It’s real off the cuff.  It reminds me of the fact that one of the great qualities of being a musician is that you get to recreate these songs night after night. I have a bad habit of altering songs as we go along and the band learns them. Some of the label people don’t like that I keep doing that, but I can’t seem to stop.  The fact that made the EP was a big win for me.

Cretin: Are we going to hear any of these songs on the forthcoming album?

Eric James: We’ve re-cut “Come Take My Hand” and nobody has heard it yet as it’s still being mixed and we remixed “Backseat” in a whole new way. “Crystal Vases” will remain the same, as it seems to be working. And we’ll also have seven or eight new tracks. Almost everything is done, still working vocals and synths, but we’re getting there.

Cretin: Will we see this album before the end of the year?

Eric James: We’ll be done and in our hands in a few months, and then it’s up to the record company. It depends; the sooner the better for me.

Cretin: What’s the attraction to playing those older analog keyboards?

Eric James: It’s that those instruments are so volatile. We literally don’t know what it’s going to sound like day to day, because the circuits are constantly changing with the weather. It creates an excitement, a sense of newness. It’s a living art, and if we don’t capture the sound this hour it could change, or be a sound that does not inspire us.

Cretin: Being from Philly, have you ever heard the Hooters?

Eric James: I know Eric Bazillian a little bit. We were going to collaborate on something, but it never worked out.  I wrote a song with their keyboard player and I know the band, but I don’t know the music real well.

Cretin: They were famous for using a melodica.

Eric James: Yeah, that’s great stuff. We use an old thrift store air organ that’s out of tune. It’s actually what we used on the Backseat Lovers remix. It’s a 1970’s toy air organ that cost me about $20.

Cretin: OK, let’s wrap this up with some quick questions.  Do you smoke two packs a day?

Eric James:  (laughs) Absolutely not, I do not smoke.

Cretin: Favorite place in NYC to see live music?

Eric James: Rockwood Music Hall. It’s always free and for that reason you see a lot of musicians every night.

Cretin: You have a teepee as your EP Cover Art, as you were shooting for the TP-EP theme, did you ever consider a roll of toilet paper instead?

Eric James: (laughs) No, our hope would be that some crazy fan a few years from now would make a version like that.

Cretin: You guys have some great covers on your website: EMF, OMD and Prince. Is there one cover form a different artist that you really enjoy?

Eric James: I have some friends in a band called Lovedrug– they were doing a kick start campaign to raise some money to record a full-length. Someone who donated money asked them to cover a song from Willy Wonka a song called “Pure Imagination.” It was amazing, and I love the idea of throwing the wackiest song possible at a band and seeing what they can do with it. I was inspired. (It is cool and different. Check it out: Pure Imagination)

Cretin: When your album comes out you hit it big and you’re doing the festival circuit next year, who are you ready to share the stage with?

Eric James: We’ve talked about Arcade Fire sort of being the top of the game right now. Why not shoot for the top?

Cretin: Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Eric James: I just want people to know that I’m thrilled that the music is getting out there and we feel very blessed to be staying alive and doing this music. We hope to become great songwriters someday and keep it coming.

To hear or purchase Last Royals music visit one of the following websites:

Check out my recent interview with Lovedrug’s Michael Shepard


 

The Last Royals EP Review

I recently had a chance to check out The Last Royals self-titled debut EP on Ooh La La Records, and find myself anxious to hear some more. The 5 song EP includes four original tunes penned by Eric James, one half of this New York City based duo. James had previously released these songs as part of his Early Hours solo project. The other member is drummer Mason Ingram, and since he has paired up with James, they’ve taken a new cut at these tunes.

The EP kicks off with “Backseat Lovers” probably the most raw song on the EP. It’s a song that is incredibly easy to listen to, and each time I hear it, I find something else to enjoy. The piano and keyboards lend a unique sound that is pervasive throughout, and it’s just a fun song to listen to despite the edgy lyrics.

I had previously heard the next track, “Crystal Vases” on Sirius XM’s Alt Nation; a quirky upbeat song oozing urban angst. The song was a hit on AltNation, and has been a constant in their Alt18 count-down for weeks, and for good reason. It’s a catchy song that gets better every time I listen to it. It reminds me of old Smiths’ records where you were driven to skip along happily despite the gloomy lyrics. It’s a great story, backed with fantastic lyrics, wrapped in a song you won’t be able to get enough of.

“Always To Belong” is the closest thing to a ballad on this EP and is another one that grows on me with every listen. The guitar and piano is subdued, highlighting James’ superb vocals. I’m not positive that I understand the message in the lyrics, but I wouldn’t be surprised hearing it on a soundtrack as we watch two friends on the screen coming to the realization that they’ll never fit in.

“Come Take My Hand” is another cut that is just easy to listen to. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this one included on the forthcoming album, tweaked a bit and released as a single. The chorus is addictive, and again the vocals are excellent.

The EP closes with the “Crayon Remix” of “Backstreet Lovers.” It’s a more stripped down version of the song, and although less likely to be a hit, I like the feel of this version more than the original.

That’s it. Four plus songs; just 20 minutes of a sample, but clearly a nice debut that’s left me anxious to hear more. They evoke memories of Cake, Luna, MGMT, Foster the People and a slew of other Alternative rock bands, but it wouldn’t be fair to pigeonhole them as sounding like any of them. Their style stands on it’s own; it’s The Last Royals’ sound, and I’m thinking it’s going to be around for awhile.

Track Listing:
1. Backseat Lovers
2. Crystal Vases
3. Always, To Belong
4. Come Take My Hand (Demo)
5. Backseat Lovers (Crayon Remix)

Read our interview with The Last Royals’ Eric James

If you’re interested in hearing more of their music, including three interesting covers, check out their website at:

The Last Royals

Ooh La La Records