Tag Archives: the last royals

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

Sweet Summer Rock Sampler


RARA’s FARM’s 2013 Songs of Summer

Here you go, the first rock ‘n roll summer sampler, RARA’s FARM style.  Twelve new rock songs that should either get you in the mood for summer, or if you’re already there, be part of your 2013 summer soundtrack.  You can click on the title to download the tune for iTunes, or make the leap of faith and download all dozen at the end of the article.  You’ll see a heavy tilt to bands from the West Coast and from The Great White North.

Take a look/listen and let us know your thoughts.  Special thanks to occasional contributor Chris Carey who recommended a few of these selections.

Bonus track: It’s Time (iTunes Session) – Imagine Dragons – You’ve all heard this one before, but not like this. A very cool acoustic version.

Wagon Wheel – Darius Rucker – A definite country feel to this Old Crow Medicine Show remake. Think this one will be the song that defines the Summer of 2013.

Summer Paradise (feat. MKTO) – Simple Plan – A softer side to these Alt-Rock veterans, but another cool song.  This is one that has a nice reggae/ska feel to it. Our first of a bunch of Canadian acts on the list.

Waves – Blondfire – When we reviewed this EP, we noted that this track was the perfect song of summer. Listen yourself and see what you think of this LA-based brother/sister duo. EP Review here

San Francisco – The Mowgli’s – They actually took their name from The Jungle Book character, If that isn’t enough, it’s a fun, poppy rock song with a lot of interesting musical “stuff” going on thanks to the eight piece band from So Cal.

High School Lover – Cayucas – This one has a slick late 60’s surf rock feel which fits this band from Santa Monica. The entire Bigfoot album has a similar vibe. Check out our album review, too.

Awkward (EP Version) – San Cisco – Another fun tune, this one from from last year, and a guilty pop-rock pleasure. Love the boy/girl vocal trade-offs from these Aussies.

Art & A Wife – Rah Rah – another Boy/Girl vocal combo from North of the border.  It’s a cool rocker from this Saskatchewan sextet, with a nice mixture of rollicking good times and tender vocals. Oh, and let’s not ignore that their name is oh so close to ours.

Harlem – New Politics – Simply stated, it’s good old fun pop rock. Great singalong verse and a cool memorable guitar riff from this Denmark import.

Only the Brave – The Last Royals – A fun summer love song from Eric James and Mason Ingram off of a fantastic debut album. Check out our Twistification review.

Michigan Left – Arkells – Love this band’s guitar and retro alt-rock sound. This one is actually more than a year -old, but new to my ears.  Love the chorus which conjures up nice INXS memories. Yup, Canadians, too.

Born To Ruin – Wildlife – Love the big drums that kick off this tune, and the song is just a damn good time from that point on. Another impressive young Canadian band.

Drive Me Home – The Reason – Let’s close with this big rocker which begs comparisons of a more hip Kings of Leon. Good stuff.

As a bonus, here are two more nice choices, and songs which are also appealing fundraisers for good causes.

Thanks, let us know your thoughts below, and remember to Like Us and Follow Us while you;re here.

And now, the entire RARA’s FARM dozen:


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


Around the Rock and Roll Farm – Philly Style

We’re sitting around the farm cranking The Drowning Men and trying to organize all of the random tidbits here at the end of the summer, and we noticed a Philly slant to a few of the topics. So, grab your exhaust-seasoned soft pretzels and mediocre over-priced South Philly cheese steaks and check out this stuff.

We love The Last Royals. Yeah, we know they’re now from New York, but their lead singer Eric James grew up in Philly, and they’ll be in the City of Brotherly Love at the cozy North Star Bar this Friday, September 14th.  These guys are going to be huge; take advantage of this opportunity to catch them playing a smaller venue while you still can. Pick up a free download of their new single “Only the Brave” via our Free Music Friday feature on 8/10/12.

In The Pocket is Philadelphia Rock and Roll.  David Uosikkinen, of The Hooters, leads this all-star cast of Philly Rock Legends as they cover iconic songs from the city’s storied musical past. They’ll be premiering their sixth single “Disco Inferno” on October 2nd at World Cafe Live. Uosikkinen is an interesting guy and is a walking encyclopedia on Philadelphia music and he’s assembled a kick ass band.  Check out our recent interview with Uosikkinen here. and visit his website for more info on the cool new single and upcoming show.

Finally on the Philly front, we reviewed some fun new techno / electronic rock from City Rain, a local duo with an interesting entree into that realm. Check it out here.

Heading North up the New Jersey Turnpike, we were recently introduced to On the Fifty a punk pop band from The Big Apple. They’ve released their first single off of their upcoming EP, Fast Hands, Bad Timing. The song, “The Future” is excellent, and the video even better.  Check it out at AltPress, it’s just a bit twisted, but oh so fun…

There you have it, a quick and dirty run down of some cool stuff on the Philly and New York music scenes.  And, even if you’re not close, do yourself a favor and check out the music from these four bands.

Rock On!
Cretin

 

2012 – Not Just the End of the World

I took a quick tour around the internet to capture some of the items we have to look forward to before the impending end of the world.

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Here’s a primer for the next few months:

  • In the first five weeks of the year, both Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr release new albums.
  • As they announced from Times Square on New Years Eve, Van Halen will release their first album with David Lee Roth since 1984 (that’s 28 years for those of you counting at home). They’ll release their first single and start selling tour tickets on January 10th.  The odds of them finishing the tour? 12:1.
  • Albuquerque’s The Shins  will release their Fourth album, Port of Morrow this March

Heavily anticipated 2012 releases with unknown dates:

  • Punk legends Green Day, The Offspring and Rancid all have new stuff on the way.
  • Six of today’s top bands will return to the charts in 2012: Muse, The Killers, Queens of the Stone Age, The Strokes, MGMT and Linkin Park
  • Classic Rock fans will see new albums from legends Bruce Springsteen, Rush, Aerosmith, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Guns and Roses (Slash has an album on the way, too).
  • Hard Rockers Metallica, Alice in Chains and Marilyn Manson deliver new goods.
Two RARAs Farm favorites have new albums o the way:
  • Lovedrug
  • The Last Royals
A few other artists who may be of interest to RARAsFarm readers:
  • Adam Ant
  • Alice In Chains
  • Bad Religion
  • Garbage
  • Keane
  • Kiss
  • Queensryche
  • Soundgarden
  • Suicidal Tendencies
All told, lots to look forward to, while we still can, of course…
Mike G – January, 2012


2011 Top Rock Songs

2011 was an interesting year for rock music, with a tremendous focus on artists with original sounds.  Sure, a few of these tunes have a familiar feel, but far more offer us a unique new sound.  That’s  exciting stuff and leaves me anxiously awaiting 2012. Check out the RARAsFarm Top 25 and let us know what you think.

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Bonus Track: Songbird – The Drowning Men. This album was released in 2009, but just re-released in the US this year. “Songbird” is a fantastic song that evokes darker memories of The Arcade Fire.

25. Shake It Out – Florence and the Machine. She’s back with a new album. Honestly, Ceremonials is not as powerful as 2009’s Lungs, but this tune is solid.

24. Get Some – Lykke Li. The Swedish muse told us this one was about power, everyone still believes it’s about sex.  Either way – the song rocks.

23. Sing – My Chemical Romance.  This is probably the most mainstream song the band has ever released.  It’s a synth-laden anthem in waiting.

22. Burn – Papa Roach. This was one of the few new ones on their live Monsters of Annihilation album. Glad we didn’t need to wait for their next studio album for this one.

21. You Are A Tourist – Death Cab For Cutie. The band’s first number one hit, and well deserved. The guitars and layered vocals are beautiful.

20. The Roller – Beady Eye. Liam Gallagher seemingly channeling the Beatles, and it works very well.

19. If You Wanna – The Vaccines. A fun little ditty that will leave you singing. Reminds me lots of their UK brethren The Kaiser Chiefs.

18. Howlin’ For You – The Black Keys. This one was off of their previous album Brothers. The trance-like bass and drums are addictive.

17. Go Outside – Cults. A great debut from the young duo out of Manhattan. The sound is fresh and new. and features a xylophone solo.  Nice…

16. Help Is On The Way – Rise Against. The band’s highest charting song, and first to really garner some overdue mainstream attention.

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15. Changing – The Airborne Toxic Event. The West Coast rockers do it again. This one again features superb vocals from Mikel Jollet.

14. Baby Don’t Dance – Mother Mother – Ryan Guldemond’s unique vocals highlight this quirky hit from North of the Border.

13. New Low – Middle Class Rut. Finally a commercial success for this under appreciated band out of Sacramento.

12. Pumped Up Kicks – Foster the People – The hip, happy song with the dark lyrics swept the world and the festival circuit this summer.

11. Black Night – Dodos. The freight train drums and addictive lyrics powered this song to the band’s most significant airplay.

10. The Sound of Winter – Bush. Gavin and Company are back after a ten year hiatus. and sounding as good as ever.

9. Crystal Vases – The Last Royals. This catchy tune reminisces on a relationship gone bad, and is the highlight of the band’s excellent debut EP.

8. Shake Me Down – Cage the Elephant. The best song on our album of the year, Thank You Happy Birthday. The lyrics reflect on life’s disappointments while hoping for something better. (Check out The Albums of the Year)

7. These Days – Foo Fighters. It’s Dave Grohl’s favorite song that he’s written, ever.  Mine, too.

6. Colours – Grouplove. Christian Zucconi’s unique vocal stylings, grunts, groans and a distinctive sound make this the best offering off their excellent debut.

5. What About Us – Handsome Furs. This one brings back memories of a great 90’s rock dance tune from another excellent young Canadian band.

4. Lonely Boy – Black Keys. The only band with two songs on this list, and this might be their best ever. Great stuff off the just-released El Camino.

3. My Body – Young the Giant. These California rockers, created this gem in ten minutes at the conclusion of what was otherwise a crappy day. Amazing.

2. Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall – Coldplay. I think it’s their best ever, and we’ll be listening to this one forever.

1. The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie – Red Hot Chili Peppers. It started with a bass chord Flea couldn’t get out of his head.  It morphed into be the best Rock song of the year.

You can sample all of the songs below…

Rock On – Cretin

The Best Albums of 2011

When I started this, I suspected that when we look back on 2011, we wouldn’t consider this an amazing year for music.  Unlike the amazing contributions we heard both twenty and forty years ago, this year’s contributions seemed a bit  more mediocre.  Nonetheless, after digging through the candidates, it became clear there were a few future classics out there.

So, grab your favorite beverage, crank up the music and check out the RARA’s Farm Farmer’s Dozen, the Top 12 albums of 2011.  Take a look and a listen, and let us know what you think:

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Bonus Selection: The Last Royals EP (read the RARAs Farm review)
This eponymous debut from a talented band out of New York City was one of the best discoveries of 2011.  Everyone knows their wildly popular “Crystal Vases,” but the rest of the EP is just as good, and quite diverse, especially for a four song sampler.  These guys have a ton of potential; look for their first full length album, Twistification hitting the streets soon.

12. Angles, The Strokes
Returning after a five year respite, the lads from New York are back, and in great form.  All of the classic garage sound we’ve come to love from the band, as well as some more modern stuff, and an occasional retro rock flashback – the result is a long overdue strong return. The first cut “Machu Pichu” is a great example of their newer sound.

11. White Rabbit, Egypt Central (read the RARAs Farm review)
The second album from this Memphis based quartet was one of the best hard rock offerings of the year.  Kick Ass features a wide variety of polished powerful rock and has prompted well deserved airplay on stations like SiriusXM’s Octane. The title track is an excellent hard rock tune, while “Goodnight” spotlights more of the ballad side of their repertoire.

10. Move Like This, The Cars
These guys are back for the first time since the eighties.  The only original member missing is the late Benjamin Orr who passed away ten years ago.  The rest of the band sounds eerily similar to their trademark sound that made them New Wave royalty.  It’s odd that so many other bands are tapping into that 80’s vein nowadays, but these true masters couldn’t get a sniff of airplay.  Nonetheless, it’s a nice overlooked return effort.

9. Codes and Keys, Death Cab for Cutie
Benjamin Gibbard and Chris Walla took a new approach for Death Cab on this album, eschewing their previous guitar laden sound for more of a keyboard driven groove.  It’s a refreshing change and makes the album more enjoyable than their previous six.  “You Are a Tourist” and “Stay Young and Go Dancing” are prime examples of the excellent new sound.

8. Torches, Foster the People
A nice debut from the L.A. trio includes their huge breakout hit “Pumped Up Kicks.” Their sound is modern through and through and Mark Foster’s vocals truly unique.  Admittedly there are a few weak tracks on the album, but the good far outweighs the bad.  Make sure you check out “Helena Beat” and “Don’t Stop.”

7. Covering Ground, Chuck Ragan
The long-time punk rocker turned folk troubadour gifted us with this excellent collection of introspective songs early this year. His gravely voice is paired perfectly with the stripped down instruments: an acoustic guitar, a fiddle and a stand up bass.   The songs reflect on a tough life on the road and the loved ones in his life.  Grab a whiskey and give it a listen.

6. Suck It and See, The Arctic Monkeys
Album number four is the band’s best yet.  It’s a different sound for the foursome, and a welcome change.  “She’s Thunderstorms” is a great opening cut on an album packed with excellent tunes all the way through to the closer  “That’s Where You Belong.” “Piledriver Waltz and “Black Treacle” are two of the stronger offerings. Listening to the band I’m reminded of a comfortable old favorite: Echo and the Bunnymen – good stuff!

5. Eureka, Mother Mother (read the RARAs Farm review)
In our album review, we described their unique sound as a diverse collection of alt-country-dance-funkadelic-harmonic rock. It’s impossible to classify their sound as anything but original; they sound like Mother Mother, period. Their sound is all their own, and it’s great stuff. The group revolves around the infectious harmonies of brother/sister combination Ryan and molly Guldemold. The Canadians really shine on “Baby Don’t Dance,” “The Stand” and “Chasing It Down.”

4. El Camino, The Black Keys
The Akron based duo broke through last year with the hugely popular album Brothers. This one might be even better.  There’s a bit more commercial appeal to this one, and the songs will translate well into live versions on their forthcoming tour. It’s straight forward, stripped down raw rock and roll; sounds a bit like a modernized version of Bad Company, if you can imagine that.  “Lonely Boy” is one of the best songs of the year, and has plenty of competition on the rest of the album. “Money Maker” and “Hell of a Season” are two other powerful tracks.

3. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
Noel Gallagher and friends prove that there is life after Oasis for both brothers.  Liam’s Beady Eye project was decent, but Noel’s new offering is great stuff.   The talented guitarist penned all of these tunes and nails the vocals throughout. Some of the tunes will remind you of What’s The Story Morning Glory era Oasis (“Dream On” and “AKA What A Life”), which is a good thing, and all of them are well produced and written. Favorite track: “The Death of You and Me.”

2. Never Trust a Happy Song, Grouplove (read the RARAs Farm review)
A great collection of songs from this quintet who met by chance at an artists’ retreat in Crete a few summers ago. The band has put together a fantastic assortment of Alt Rock anthems.  The feel of each song is distinctive yet they weave together nicely thanks to the consistent strong vocals from Hannah Hooper and Christian Zucconi. “Chloe” is the best cut on the album, but has plenty of company including “Colours,” “Lovely Cup,” and iPod favorite “Tongue Tied.”

1. Thank You Happy Birthday, Cage the Elephant
Fantastic album that also has a cool back story: The band basically had an album in the can ready to release when they realized no one was really passionate about what they recorded. They started over leveraging songs that the band members were planning to use for their own side projects.  The result is a tremendous passion-filled trip from the opening notes of “Always Something” through all dozen tunes.  “Around My Head,”  “Aberdeen” and “Shake Me Down are already classics for the quintet from Kentucky. It’s only their second album, but these guys are key linchpins for the future of American Rock and Roll.

There you go, twelve great albums that will define 2011 music for years to come.   Let us know what you think; what did we leave out? what doesn’t belong? And, if you want to take a trip down memory lane, check out how these discs compare with some classics: The Best of 1971 and The Best of 1991.

Rock On – Cretin

 

Wednesday Evening Random Thoughts

So – Orlando Calling has come and gone.  We asked for press access to the inaugural event so that we could dazzle you with our amazing coverage, but the Festival organizers ignored us.  Truthfully, I can’t really blame them, we’re still a small player on a huge stage.  You can help us for next year – follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook. Then tell your friends to do the same thing.  And finally – post on our Facebook page, share your pictures, provide your thoughts, and offer tips on new music, beer tasting and your favorite Modern Family episodes.  OK – got it?

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As for the first iteration of Orlando Calling, we’ve talked to a bunch of people who were there, and all of the reports have been positive.  Personally, Day 1 was much more appealing with The Killers, Gogol Bordello, Pete Yorn and The Pixies among the many bands spread across their five stages.  Day 2 had a totally different vibe with Bob Seger, Kid Rock, The Doobie Brothers and Blake Shelton headlining.  Truthfully a little schizophrenic.  Next year, they need to decide what they want to be when they grow up and have the entire weekend gel better as far as the line-up is concerned.  Seriously, what would a Bob Seger fan think when they saw the antics of Gogol Bordello???

Although we weren’t there, a few of our website members (oh yeah – you can register there, too) did attend, and we’ll be sharing some reviews shortly.

We’ve reviewed a bunch of great new music lately to tide you over.  Here are quick links to the last handful, if you want to check them out:

They were all good – honestly (we are not just schmoozing for more free music, although we are certainly open to that).  My favorite was Grouplove’s effort – and fortunately, they’ll be hitting the Sunshine State shortly for a few shows in early December.

We also had a great interview with Lovedrug’s Michael Shepard.  The band has a great story, a unique sound and their talented front man is a helluvanice guy.

Finally, I’ll leave you with this little tidbit from The Last Royals, who we interviewed a few months back.  Here’s a recording studio that is truly a “head” of its time: Crystal Vases