Royal Recommends: Week 2

Royal Holland got tired of people not knowing or seemingly not caring about music from amazing musicians who don't have the marketing power to make you want to get their music. Often times the music being posted is free, it only costs a small amount of your time, and could change the way you look at creativity. Support the ones close to you and they will sprout wings. 

Check out the Soundcloud Playlist that features a track from each artist featured. If you like what you hear, go give a few bucks to the artist and buy their music! 

I'm not as ensconced in the local metal scene as I probably should be. Granted I'm not playing with a lot of metal bands (why is that exactly?), and the local bands I do get to see are often the ones I play with. However, when my Louisville pal Hunter Correll's band Stagecoach Inferno (Who are quite a spectacle themselves and worth checking out. During their set, I ended up in the middle of a surprise pit in which my glasses quickly flew from my face and were ground to bits by an anonymous shit kicker), swung by Backstage Cafe a few weeks ago, I decided to go and say hello.

I thought it would be an evening of myself chilling on the back patio waiting for them to play, however I felt oddly compelled to check out the band playing directly before them. What compelled me, I do not know; some dark force most likely, acting like the Looney Tunes wafting apple pie steam that turns into a finger and persuades Bugs Bunny to come hither, haunches hiked in the air floating ever closer to its lures.

So, my friends did Fenrir.

I had no idea what to expect from them, although I have to say they looked like an interesting enough collection of fellas. I still cannot place from where I know their drummer, but I'm certain I've met him outside of metal context before. 

Either way, as their set pushed ever forward and plowed along like a steam engine tossing cows aside, I felt my weary bones solidifying and vibrating. I banged my head and pumped my fist and it was visceral and honest. 

Some of the tunes are blistering, songs shift and pivot on a dime and all the while you can smell the dedication these guys have to their craft.

Check them out. Let's shake the spirit world and make sure we're all still alive. Their Moon Ring EP is only $4 and I recommend the title track as a starting place, but other tracks on their page are 'Name Your Price'. Give em' a listen and then catch a live show.

M. Moncreiff
M. Moncreiff
To this point, I have shared some wonderful music with you. I've asked you to go and stream a song from a local Cincinnati artist who I believe in and love very much. Most often these songs are roughly 5 minutes long.

Today I'm going to ask you for more of a commitment, but bear with me. It's going to be worth it.

M_Moncrieff is the project of Jason Wells. His album Near the Lake, Just After Dark was written during a time when he was taking a hiatus from his other project for algernon, due to a car accident that left him reeling. On his band camp page, he states that he was 'unsure of what he wanted to do next, so he began writing and recording, reflecting on the wreck, a move to the country and saying goodbye possibly to music.'


Here's a quick disclaimer. I love Jason wholeheartedly. We insult one another incessantly, like siblings would, and I feel true brotherly love toward him. One of the reasons for that, is the final track from this lovely album – “M. Moncrieff (featuring GRAINS) - how stars are made”.

This song clocks in at 13:41. I realize this is a good chunk of time to spend listening to anything, but I can assure you this is one of the most beautiful, haunting, well-crafted and moving songs that has ever been recorded. If you can't commit to 13 minutes, please do yourself a favor and skip to around 7 minutes where the “song proper” starts.

I listened to the song this morning in my car. Jet planes were rumbling overhead adding to the ambiance of the strings that lay a featherbed for the songs intro. I closed my eyes and felt the tears building just behind my sun-warmed eyelids.

The first time I listened to this song I wept openly, not in small part due to the beauty of the music. The chords are simple, but the production is gorgeous. Jason's delivery is also one of the most heartbreaking ones I've ever witnessed, akin to Kurt Wagner of Lambchop. And the lyrics... they cut straight through all of the bullshit that we spend so much time worrying about and fearing and sink deep inside your pumping cardiac organ. 

are you a cloud of dust 

full of matter great 

yet too small to see with my eyes 

are you burning from the inside out 

surrounded by things 

bigger than you and I 

don't be afraid, 

that's how stars are made 

Jason. You're beautiful man. I'm so glad that you exist and that you've shared this music with us. Please, please never stop. You make me feel less alone and that's one of the most wonderful things.


The Ready Stance
The Ready Stance
The Ready Stance sure is a good rock band. 

Looking at the pedigree of the performers this isn't really surprising: Ass Ponys, Middlemarch and Black Owls to name a few of the projects the members have been a part of.

The Ready Stance sure are good people. Bassist Randy Cheek has always been a hero of mine, and getting to know him better over the past few years has surely been a pleasure. Hearing how much he believes in the music I make is a super boost of confidence as well. Guitarist Wesley Pence is always smiling. I can never quite tell if it's mischievous or not, but I do enjoy that. He's always in such a positive mood about this music scene we have here and always pushing forward. Drummer Brian Kitzmiller is one of the best in town, and has done so much with music in this city we might consider giving him a sash that says 'Ambassador'. 

Which brings me to the vocalist / guitarist Chase Johnston. He's the one I know the least. However, I feel like this gives me a good perspective on his performance which is always stellar. I like seeing three friends backing this guy up. Laying a solid foundation of driving jams while his Petty-esque lines soar overhead. Not to mention he's always smiling as well. It's a pleasure to see them play every time I've been able to. I was sad to have missed them opening for Guided By Voices recently on Fountain Square, however I can only imagine it was even more glorious than usual.

So, this is definitely a band to see live sometime, I implore, however they've also got a beautiful debut album called Damndest that you can stream via the link below. You can get it digitally for $7, but if you're trepidatious, have a listen to “Long Arm”, then drop the 7 spot.

Also, they're gearing up to release a brand spanking new album next year. Wes gave me a sneak preview of one of the tunes yesterday and dang, they've stepped it up folks. Get yourselves in the ready stance. 

Said sneak peek tune is also be featured on the above recap playlist thanks to Wes, so you're welcome!

So, you may or may not be wondering why these 'reviews' don't contain anything negative, as per most music reviews. I'd like to address that for a quick sec and then get on to today's recommendation.  

There are two reasons I'm keeping these things positive. 

1.) There's plenty of criticism to go around these days. In fact, criticism is easy and it doesn't mean a whole lot, especially when it comes to creative endeavors. Passion is the most important thing. 

2.) So, as these are 'Recommendations' I've already qualified the artists that I'm posting about in my own mind. Are they passionate? Yes. Do I believe in the music they are making? Yes. Do I want you to support and listen to them? Yes. The rest is up to your judgement. Make up your own minds as to whether you like it or not.

Which brings me to JIMS.  

You can choose whether you like Jims Snowden as a person. You can choose whether or not you like his band JIMS. However, if you ever meet the guy, or listen to his music, I imagine he'll win you over on both counts.

I've seen Jimmy perform solo a number of times, but most recently got to see his full band performance get up at a benefit show for Melodic Connections that he volunteered to play. It was a very compelling performance. Jimmy is a bit of a maniac on stage, It’s never quite clear just what he's going to do next. Will he bang on the body of his guitar and loop it as the funky back beat for the next song, or surprise you with a super intense vocal delivery or alternately a smooth and calming one.

JIMS has a few songs up on Soundcloud that you can stream right now. Listen to both of them, although I'd recommend starting with “Systems”. It's chock full of interesting textures, sexy / creepy harmonies and some of that intense vocal delivery I was talking about.

Once you're in lovey dove with this guy, go see them this weekend, November 11th & 12th at Ironfest VII at The Southgate House Revival.  They're heading Westward on tour right after and could definitely use the support! 

River City Roustabout
River City Roustabout
Next, I would like to expose you to the music of River City Roustabout, and my pal Luke Jellison. I've watched Luke's metamorphosis over the past few years form a fairly clean cut a quiet dude who I got to witness playing his heart out at the defunct Singer-Songwriter night at The Southgate House Revival (it was the best one). He used to get up there with his guitar and then his newer guitar and play what he calls on his website 'Working Man Music'. This folks, is working man music, and Luke Jellison is a working man. Anyway, he's transformed a bit from those days, grown out his hair and his beard and become less cautious. This is a good thing. His music is so very heartfelt and full of feeling. Not to mention it sounds great. 

Most recently, I got the chance to play with him at another defunct showcase at the wonderful Southgate House. He played a Folk showcase that my sis Margaret Darling and I were curating for a while. We all played sets and then at the end got up on stage and jammed a little bit. It's a good memory of making music with a good bud.  

Check out River City Roustabout's song “Wish Upon a Star” and toss them a few bucks, or download it for whatever price you like (even free, but seriously, you can't spare a buck?)

Now I will tell you about Patsy. 

I had heard of these fellas before having them play at the Music > Water benefit that I threw a few weeks ago, but I had never heard them, now I'm happy to say that that has been rectified. I was pleased to hook up with Matt Schlasinger when he volunteered his band to play the show, but didn't know quite what to expect. 

Upon meeting him, I couldn't shake his resemblance to one Bob Dylan, and I wondered just what kind of music they would posit. I was not disappointed. It seems as if there may be three Schlasinger's in the band, I like artists that keep it in the family in this way, however this was no Partridge family performance.  

They were poised and professional on stage delivering rock tunes that ranked among some of my favorite of the evening. Matt's voice was a pleasant surprise and it was powerful and captivating, not unlike Bob Dylan's in that regard, but much more of a modern and intense delivery.

I think you should go see these folks live sometime. Their stage show is quite a treat. The good thing is that you have a great opportunity to do so at Shake It Records this Saturday, November 12th as they perform an in-store to promote the release of their self-titled debut album.