Royal Headache

Photo Credit: Jon Hunter

With little fanfare, Aussie lo-fi punk quartet Royal Headache released one of the most refreshing albums of the year in 2012 (it came out in 2011 in their native country.) The group’s self-titled debut was a no-nonsense garage rock masterpiece, clocking in at an economic 12 songs and 26 minutes.

Royal Headache’s ability to perfect short, explosive bursts of catchy garage-rock and punk tunes made them seem like natural heirs apparent to indie titans Guided By Voices (not to mention that the group’s lead singer, Shogun, has a thundering, whiskey-tenored voice that is a dead ringer for GBV’s Robert Pollard.)

For a while, however, it was feared that the group would never advance beyond their stellar first offering. After touring extensively (and experiencing the occasional Visa problem), not much was heard of the band in recent years, leading some to speculate that Royal Headache might have been a glorious one-and-done experiment.

Those unfortunate rumors were put to rest earlier this summer, when the band announced the upcoming release of their second album, High, which is now streaming on NPR First Listen, along with a follow-up tour that includes a performance at the Rickshaw Stop on Thursday (they’re co-headlining with Total Control at the show, which recently sold out.)

Though it’s not exactly the Fox Theater, the Rickshaw Stop is a considerable step up for Royal Headache, who played at Thee Parkside last time they were in town. The larger venue will be an opportunity to highlight Shogun (real name: Who knows? But apparently this has been his nickname since he was like, nine years old), who is truly a revelation as the helmsman of the Royal Headache operation. His soulful, pleading renditions of the band’s catalog make him sound like a local bar act perpetually trying to sing himself out of a small town. There is a desperation to his baritone vocals that adds unexpected depth to the band’s two-minute specialties.

Royal Headache was denied access to the states the last time they were scheduled to play in the Bay Area. Expect them to make up for that missed opportunity on Thursday night.

Royal Headache, Total Control, Watery Love, POW!
The Rickshaw Stop
August 13, 8 p.m.
$15 (show sold out)