REVIEW: Royal Bears – “EP”

Royal Bears

For the last two decades or so, Brent Stewart and company have been making some of the most understated and overlooked pop gems in the city. While I’m uncertain of the overlap, Stewart and company operated previously under the name Les Debutantes, a project that included a who’s who of various musician around town including former My Morning Jacket player Danny Cash, still on board here. Whatever the case may be, whether this is a continuation or rebirth of a former project, the same core values seem to exist here, that the constituent members of the band focus on a solid pop hook when they hear it, filtered of course through Stewarts classic rock sieve.

As with many, the EP is a short affair, but perfect for getting your feet wet with the band. There is plenty to show off here in terms of the bands diversity, although there is nothing here meant to dazzle or change your world view. Of course, that isn’t meant as a backhanded comment, but rather to illustrate that the songs found herein are simple, but well-constructed with an obvious love imbued into each nuanced moment. Stylistically, this is all over the place. Album opener Better Not Found is a jangly folk rock number, where Here Come a Car has that kind of Pink Floyd meets David Bowie vibe that sounds like it ought to be on a radio somewhere. So it seems out of nowhere when Hollow blasts off with all the swagger of classic Nirvana to the extent that if you told me that this was a lost cut from Incesticide, I would believe it.

Taken as a whole, this is an imminently listenable experience. The music is tightly constructed and each track has it’s own personality, although not to the detriment of the album as a whole. The end result is an album that has all the confidence of experience, but all the vibrancy of a band feeling out their place in the world. That’s a good start point for any project, regardless of history, to become unmoored by expectation and to let your freak flag fly as you will. And that flag flies high here, making this an enjoyable listening experience, slow, but deliberate, and always in service to the song.

You can listen to the full EP below and ought to consider buying it. The price is at your choosing, and art is a tricky thing to maneuver for anyone out there hustling to make their vision a reality. Get into it.

3 thoughts on “REVIEW: Royal Bears – “EP”

  • June 3, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    Syd, thanks so much! I had no idea Andy had even started sending the record out, so this was a surprise in the nicest possible way. Your kind words and consideration are much appreciated, as is the fact that you absolutely got where we were coming from. Thanks again sir!

    • June 3, 2016 at 4:16 pm

      No one sent us anything. I found it on Bandcamp and knew immediately that it deserved some TLC. This is great stuff.

    • June 3, 2016 at 8:46 pm

      You're a scholar and a gentleman. You got the train rolling for us, and I'm very grateful!

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