Chilhowee Royal loves the sound of a muscular, guitar-driven rhythm. Their obvious affection for this weighted sound is bred into the band’s DNA—it goes far deeper than superficial influences and is part of what makes their music so incredibly authentic. Blending in some heavier psych sounds and gritty garage rock melodies, they find a happy medium within these dense progressions, a place where their creativity can be loosed and given free rein over the surrounding landscape.
You can hear the echo of bands like Blue Cheer and Cream shaking through each track, though these reverberations don’t overwrite the band’s own musical history. These recognizable presences add to the overall effect while still giving them the leeway to create something wholly their own. The guitars can be light or sludgy, burned out or rejuvenating, allowing for a far wider range of sounds than you might expect. Chilhowee Royal isn’t a nostalgia kicker—the band’s music takes the past and filters it through an expansive set of inspirations and aesthetic variety.
Back in 2016, the band released a two-song EP called “Cholo Choir,” and it is filled with a great percussive noise dotted with bombastic guitar riffs and transient bass lines. Recently, they shared a collection of four new tracks called “Chilroy,” and it’s just as mesmerizing and cacophonous as their previous effort. Opening with “No Skin,” the band wastes no time setting up the bluesy stomp that permeates the entire EP, a rustic devastation that also recalls the garage clash of The Sonics or The Shadows of Knight.
Tracks such as “About Time” and “Mean Dean” explore a ’70s rock sound that combines a feisty pop attitude with an indomitable indie rock momentum. The guitars are suitably fuzzy and distorted while the drums pummel your head, building to a climactic rock roar. The set closes with “Blood Eagle,” a song that offers something a bit more subdued, at least for Chilhowee Royal. The guitars still sound as if they were ripped from the cult of classic rock music, but there’s never a sense of imitation. It’s all glorious homage and respect for source material. The band carries that particular torch well and sets its shoulders against the weight of that rhythmic lineage. And they bear it effortlessly, fashioning an aesthetic as hypnotic as it is reverent.
Joshua Pickard covers local and national music, film and other aspects of pop culture. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.