Royal Bliss Chasing the Sun released February 18th, 2014
Review by Ann Joles
If you have ever wondered what bands actually do with fan support from Kickstarter campaigns, you have your answer with Royal Bliss’s latest fan-backed release, Chasing the Sun. What do bands do with the cash? They create music the fans crave and love. Take a look and listen to their newest single, “Cry Sister.”
After a decade and a half working on their rock and roll dream, several studio albums, and plenty of singles landing on various charts, Royal Bliss have seen some success but are still on the trail and working hard. Produced by Matt Winegar and recorded close to home in their native Salt Lake City, Utah, Royal Bliss went independent with Chasing the Sun and has created a varied, interesting, ten song line up that will certainly thrill their long time fans and cultivate a whole new crop of believers.
Royal Bliss has a solid contemporary rock and roll sound – a little gritty, cleverly refined, and angst-filled. Led by the vocals of Neal Middleton, songs are energetic and feel vital, soaked with texture and movement. Taylor Richards, guitars, steps out for snips of solos and pushes Middleton’s vocals to create interesting harmonies and depth. Bass, covered by Dwayne Crawford, along with Jake Smith on drums, flex from heavy to subtle, and fill in this full, rich rock style, helping each song to be unique. Royal Bliss easily walks the tightrope between having a signature sound and allowing each song to sound the same. Using the talents of every band member and production, they have 10 songs able to stand on their own. From the first turn here at Maine Music News, Chasing the Sun, was listenable, entertaining, and full throttle. This one will be on heavy rotation for a long time for the many Royal Bliss lovers.
As I’ve said in the past, there are only so many ways to say that music is really good so let’s get to the Track by Track:
#1 ~ Welcome. This is short and sweet and splits this release wide open with a scream to set the tone for the whole show. The lyrics here defy socially accepted conventions and the music is raucous and straight out rock. And what does Royal Bliss have to say about society? “I find it’s the blind that teach you so you shouldn’t care…” Meaty truth there.
#2 ~ Cry Sister. Be careful – this hook sticks its claws in your brain and stays there, digging way down deep. “I’ll be your morphine, I go straight to your head…” Yes, yes, it does. Is this about social control, sexual male ego, or addiction? You decide. Anyway you slice it, this is infectious.
#3 ~ Rock You All Night Long. It’s hard to get this song loud enough. Grinding and building then letting it all go, this is the rock and roll they warned you about. Fun guitar work here with a steady on drum line, and I bet the fans go ape shit at a live show. This maybe my favorite cut.
#4 ~ Dreamer. Middleton’s vocals conjure angst and heartbreak in this ballad about passionate yet uncomfortable love. Reminiscent of the many male classic rock ballads, this could go down in history right beside the rest of them.
#5 ~ It Haunts Me. Starting off with strong drum and bass work, this song stomps along as it kicks ass. Harmony work gives vocals even more depth and texture to the lyrics, ”…out of your mind and far away, I see your ghost, it haunts me…” Another favorite. Let’s have a look at a live performance –
#6 ~ Drink My Stupid Away. Now here is a music lifestyle love song that I can get behind. Every band, every writer has one, but “Drink My Stupid Away” rips the bandage off and makes this work. “If I could break myself in two, one for them and one for you, at least I’d know a part of me, it can’t be wrong.” Everything comes together – guitar, keyboard, a soaring arrangement that still feels, as do the vocals, a bit ragged yet committed. Nice.
#7 ~ Alive to See. “I want to be there in the end, I want to push it off the edge.” Great bass and pounding rhythm set the stage for strong, grooving guitar and Middleton’s gritty vocals. Try and stop yourself from shaking a little as you listen to this one, I dare you.
#8 ~ Impossible. My favorite 80s sound came from North of the US Border bands, and this song’s ambient guitar work and vocals and passion recreate this for me. Great song. Yes, a favorite.
#9 ~ Turn Me On. What would a hard driving rock album be without a little naughty? I’m feeling a little Hinder influence here, a compliment, in the gravel, the rhythm shifts, and drum work. Great guitar solo as well.
#10 ~ Home. Poignant, acoustic, tambourine, and stomp all add up to a sweet end for this release. This isn’t sugary sentimentality, but it is able to convey what dedication to a life in music means for some. “All you people that I love, I never would have known without a guitar and a microphone.” It is all about the music and the fans.
Royal Bliss has a winner in Chasing the Sun. This album flows easily from one song to another providing variety in tempo and composition all in support of hard hitting lyrics and emotion. Check it out, put it on repeat, and enjoy. Thank you to all the Royal Bliss fans who supported the band through the expense of recording and promoting – fans always know good rock and roll music when they hear it!