Written by: Rachael Goetzke, Special to CC2K
Just days before 2012 sailed in, I boarded a ship called U.S. Royalty. Well, not exactly. I’d anticipated seeing Third Eye Blind in concert at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia. The highlight of the evening, however, was the astounding opening band U.S. Royalty. In their four-song set, the band wowed me with raw energy and originality. Singer John Thornley is a haunting likeness to a young Robert Plant in his mannerisms and stage presence. The microphone seemed a living appendage of his body during the show. This power-packed quartet drove me to do some research, and, of course, buy the physical album from their site.
U.S. Royalty is the lifelong effort of two brothers John Thornley (vocals/harmonica) and Paul Thornley (guitars.) Accompanying them are Jacob Michael (bass) and Luke Adams (drums/percussion.) The band officially formed in DC in 2008 and released Mirrors in early 2011.
Some bands are destined to be radio bands. This is not the case with U.S. Royalty. They are a must-see. Their cohesiveness and on-stage relationship explodes its energy into the crowd, even during the more mellow tracks. Each band member gave all he had to each song as if those songs were the last four they’d ever play. For some musicians, touring is an obligation. You can tell from the energy in their set that U.S. Royalty truly love every minute of their performance for the crowd. This energy is evident from their studio album. I highly recommend you check it out.
The album, Mirrors, begins with the intro track, The Mirror. This short number has an anticipated drive, a certain build up, with no lyrics, as though to prepare the listener for what’s to come. In just one minute, thirty seconds, you already know this purchase is going to be worth it. At the rise of the musical crescendo, it dives into the stomping, Zeppelin like blues of Hollywood Hollows.
With a flowing energy, the album continues Monte Carlo – a track reminiscent of mid-70s Fleetwood Mac (i.e. Dreams) with its chorus of vocal harmonies, laden with driving, almost mythic guitar overtones. racks like this and Equestrian exhibit a very Rusted Root / Moody Blues feel. Fans of these bands will likely soon be fans of U.S. Royalty’s Mirrors. Fool to Love You (Like I Do) is inescapably influenced by the Beatles’ early days. I challenge you to listen to it without tapping your steering wheel.
The Desert Won’t Save You is very bluesy/Clapton-esque with Hendrix-like guitar riffs and serves as a nice intro to the closing number, Voice Memo. Voice Memo is, by far, one of the best closing tracks for any album I’ve heard in the last decade. With a light, finger-picking on guitar and a very mellow vocal set, this lyrical beauty will have you singing along by the time you hit repeat (and I guarantee you will.) Besides, after such an amazing listen, you’re not going to want this exquisite album to end. There are elements in this track that have a very “Atlantis” feel. If it’s a sunny day, open your car window and let your hand dance on the breeze as you consider the current state of your life.
Though the band imports great techniques and sounds of the great legends that came before them, their sound is uniquely their own. The only thing wrong with my experience aboard the U.S. Royalty was that their live set was not nearly long enough! That’s no fault of theirs, of course. It’s no doubt they will soon be the headliners, as well they should be. If you want to discuss them further, you’ll find me in the front row.
I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!
Be well and rock on,