Frank Royster/Thru The Years
Initial Impression: Don't have a press kit here so I was headed in blind. After having "highlighted" the black text on black background MySpace page enabling me to actually read it, I found enough information to kill my first impression that I was about to listen to a Christian singer-songwriter.
Defintely not. Read on please...
Notable Lyric: "When you said turn out the light, took me by the hand. I had never been that far, no not a one night stand. And now the pressure's gone away." - "Pressure"
Factoid: Jim Babjak of the Smithereens lends some guitar work to "Pressure". Also notable: The dude is wearing a Rick Springfield T in the CD booklet. How cool is that?
Serve With: Go-go boots and a micro mini-skirt.
Comments: I love this CD! From the first strains of "I'm So Glad" I was taken in by the 60's style and Elvis Costelloesque vocals. Think Elvis Costello singing "That Thing You Do" (ala Smithereens, The Posies, and Jellyfish). By the second and third track, the 60's vibe and Elvis Costello comparison carriers through along with a strong Beatles influence (andeven moments of The Ramones without the punk edge). I'm sold.
Let me pause and give you my childhood theory: If a record had a song I liked, I'd to see if another song appealed to me, at which point I'd strongly consider purchasing the album – weighing the cost versus buying two 45's. If there were three songs I liked, I considered it to be worthy of my
hard earned cash (Hey mom can I have this CD?) On the other hand, if only one song appealed to me, I'd tape it off the radio--my recorder pressed snuggly to the stereo speaker (Isn't that illegal?), or purchase the 45.
"Thru The Years" is a definite must have. Fortunately for me I don't have to buy it, the benefits of running a music magazine. But I WOULD buy it if I didn't already have it. And so should you!
Frank Royster: Press
Thru The Years
Music veteran Frank Royster has been a member of The Fire Apes and The Hed Shop Boys. This guy has real melodic guitar chops. If you took Randy Newman and Elvis Costello and spiced together the DNA with The Smithereens, you'd get Frank. His new solo album is called "Thru The Years" and like a Pinata, it contains lots of musical treats. The album starts with "I'm so Glad" a Beatlesque tune with a fantastic wall of sound production that would make the Spongetones blush. The DIY ethic is all over this album and I haven't heard a better example of this since The Breetles. It's followed by "You Don't Understand" a really nice rocker that could've fallen off the Elvis Costello "Armed Forces" album. The vocals here really emulate Elvis C. nicely. The raspy rock voice on "Mr. Wiggins" recalls Ian Hunter a bit, with great guitar riffs here. Along with the great guitar playing is truly great songwriting ability. The chord changes on these tunes are akin to Marshall Crenshaw and other great writers of power pop. Frank puts his guitar melody in the forefront of the sound. Granted it sounds brilliant, but I think the vocal echo effects are a bit too much on some tracks and would've liked it mixed a bit more evenly. "Lullaby" gets into some Emitt Rhodes acoustic territory. "I Don't Want To Lose You" is a terrific song in the Enuff Znuff mode. Some of the other songs here reminded me of The Oohs excellent "Llamalamp" album. If you like any of the artists I mentioned in this review you'll enjoy Frank Royster. This is essential listening for power pop fans.
Frank Royster "Thru the Years" (Independent 2006)
Frank takes us thru the years
Frank Royster is not a household name here or in the US - apparently he added guitars to the 'Fire Apes CD' - called 'A Perfect Day for Bananafish' - and was a member of the band from 1996-98. He's been a vet of the Charleston music scene for the last 20 plus years and the songs on this record have been recored over the last 12 years, hence the title. Very influenced by the Fab Four, Beach Boys, Marshall Crenshaw, The Smithereens and sounding very much like late 70s Elvis Costello, it's all guitars, powerful pop chords and catchy choruses with a sort of DIY charm. Royster's guitar is complimented by various musicians who contribute drums,guitar & bvs and the record retains its homemade charm, but is it any good? Well yes, and no.
Royster does write catchy songs, best heard on 'You Don't Understand' & 'Mr Wiggins,' and he even manages a sort of McCartney acoustic pastiche on 'Lullaby'. Unfortunately there's nothing here that really stands out from the crowd - on the last and longest track 'Say Goodbye' Frank moves away from the 3 minute pop song, and stretches himself lyrically with a five minute song heavily influenced by George Harrison with Jeff Lynne 'Cloud Nine' period. Power pop is a much maligned music genre; Frank's takes us back thru the years and with his influences that's no bad thing I guess.
6 out of 10
Date review added: Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Reviewer: Andy Riggs
Frank Royster/Thru The Years
A smart mix of garage-rock riffs, arpeggiated rhythm guitar work, raspy double harmonies, and punchy drum beats, Charleston singer/guitarist/songwriter Frank Royster's newly-released solo album Thru The Years embraces the basics of classic "power pop" and explores the melodic possibilities. Things are upbeat and romantic with a tough melancholy and the tunes tap along with medium tempo and a singalong vibe. Stepping out of the shadows a bit as a guy who ain't afraid to sing about being taken by a smile, pleading to talk a little while, and professing his true love, Royster moves away from the heavy guitar sound of his bar-rock cover band The Hed Shop Boys toward more heartfelt stuff on the 10-song collection. Recorded with a bit of help from drummer Paolo Liccardi and guitarists Todd Mayson, Michael Pennington, Keith Bradshaw, and special guest Jim Babjak (of The Smithereens), the album keeps a genuine rock 'n' roll vibe throughout. TheLennon/McCartney team would approve of lead-off single "I'm So Glad" and "Say Goodbye." The Brothers Davies would approve of the hand-clapping grooves and lilting minor-key chord changes (in the chorus, of course) in power-pop nuggets "Isabella" and "Kristina."
Frank Royster-Thru The Years
Local musician Frank Royster can most often be caught on various stages around town as part of the popular cover band The Hed Shop Boys. When he's not rocking the socks off locals on any given night, Royster is working on his own original material. After several years of recording at a couple of local studios and at his home, Royster has finally seen fit to show the rest of the world what a select few already knew; mainly that he has a definite ear for melody and knows a good pop hook.Listening to "Thru the Years" you might swear that you have heard some of these songs somewhere before, sung by a different artist.
For instance, "I'm So Glad," the song that leads off the CD, sounds like something The Beatles might have played on "The Ed Sullivan Show" back in the '60s.
These are all Royster originals though, and while it is clear after the first two or three songs what Royster's primary influences are (Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello, The Smithereens), at no time does it feel as if he is ripping those musicians off.
The Costello vibe can be heard on tracks such as "You Don't Understand" and "Say Goodbye," while a very Beatlesque feeling hangs over the entire album.
Possibly the best track, "Pressure," even benefits from the guitar playing of real, live Smithereen, Jim Babjak.
Other local musicians performing on the 10 tracks included on the CD include Paolo Licciardi, Todd Mayson, Michael Pennington and Keith Bradshaw.
Everything on the CD, from the songwriting on down to the packaging, oozes of a professional attitude mixed with a DIY spirit.
Royster should be proud of himself here.
But really, Frank, what took you so long? (B+)
Download These: "Pressure," "I'm So Glad," "Lullaby"