Royal Forest
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Royal Forest

Austin, Texas, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | INDIE

Austin, Texas, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Pop Avant-garde

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Royal Forest come from Austin, countercultural capital of Texas and home of the legendary SXSW festival. Spillway is an intriguing and accessible slab of melodic indie rock, packed with hooks but with enough intriguing production details to keep listeners on their toes.

The band have an unconventional attitude to recording dates, their keenness to incorporate unusual atmospheres having led them to record songs on a single-prop airplane, inside a World War Two submarine and during a lightning storm. So far, so quirky - but this would be nothing but a gimmick if the music didn't stand up on its own. Luckily, it does.

Cody Ground's starry-eyed vocals will appeal to fans of the Lips' Wayne Coyne and Wilco's Jeff Tweedy. Meanwhile, classic-sounding, ear-worm-y piano and guitar hooks are complemented by constantly shifting backgrounds. Percussive and rhythmic elements drop in and out, giving the impression of a band remixing itself.

The album kicks off with a killer one-two. Opener 'Everyone Who Knows You' features dreamy harmonies and grungily dubby bass a la Massive Attack circa Mezzanine; while the hookily acoustic 'John Denver' is a strumalong classic with a poet's eye for details ('black-eyed and drunk / you sleep in cars and drain their batteries...')

The lyrics are impressionistic and filled with arresting images throughout. The songs' narratives are not always obvious, but one recurring theme seems to be the desire to escape small-town life, and the lures and dangers of a life lived outside the law (the doomed subject of 'Goldwallpaper' ('Used to keep the wolves out with a chain-link fence...')

In most of these songs, people have made bad decisions - or are about to. However, elements as disparate as straight-ahead Motown drumming, gauzy shoegazey atmospherics and bubbling dubby bass make the album one sweet-sounding nightmare. This record is a producer's dream, with every song containing cherishable details such as the twinkling Eels-esque music-box and churchy organ of 'Castro'; and the epic finale of album closer 'Man-Made Lakes'.

But this is no kitchen-sink production job. There is some firm editing going on here: every song is tightly structured and, for all the wealth of ideas on offer, Spillway is a noodle-free zone. The result is impressively well-realised and cohesive: these slices of slow-moving, dreamily stoned melancholy come across like the masterful short stories of Raymond Carver as interpreted by peak-era Flaming Lips.

It's the perfect album for those long, humid summer afternoons. Dive in... - Bearded Magazine


Royal Forest come from Austin, countercultural capital of Texas and home of the legendary SXSW festival. Spillway is an intriguing and accessible slab of melodic indie rock, packed with hooks but with enough intriguing production details to keep listeners on their toes.

The band have an unconventional attitude to recording dates, their keenness to incorporate unusual atmospheres having led them to record songs on a single-prop airplane, inside a World War Two submarine and during a lightning storm. So far, so quirky - but this would be nothing but a gimmick if the music didn't stand up on its own. Luckily, it does.

Cody Ground's starry-eyed vocals will appeal to fans of the Lips' Wayne Coyne and Wilco's Jeff Tweedy. Meanwhile, classic-sounding, ear-worm-y piano and guitar hooks are complemented by constantly shifting backgrounds. Percussive and rhythmic elements drop in and out, giving the impression of a band remixing itself.

The album kicks off with a killer one-two. Opener 'Everyone Who Knows You' features dreamy harmonies and grungily dubby bass a la Massive Attack circa Mezzanine; while the hookily acoustic 'John Denver' is a strumalong classic with a poet's eye for details ('black-eyed and drunk / you sleep in cars and drain their batteries...')

The lyrics are impressionistic and filled with arresting images throughout. The songs' narratives are not always obvious, but one recurring theme seems to be the desire to escape small-town life, and the lures and dangers of a life lived outside the law (the doomed subject of 'Goldwallpaper' ('Used to keep the wolves out with a chain-link fence...')

In most of these songs, people have made bad decisions - or are about to. However, elements as disparate as straight-ahead Motown drumming, gauzy shoegazey atmospherics and bubbling dubby bass make the album one sweet-sounding nightmare. This record is a producer's dream, with every song containing cherishable details such as the twinkling Eels-esque music-box and churchy organ of 'Castro'; and the epic finale of album closer 'Man-Made Lakes'.

But this is no kitchen-sink production job. There is some firm editing going on here: every song is tightly structured and, for all the wealth of ideas on offer, Spillway is a noodle-free zone. The result is impressively well-realised and cohesive: these slices of slow-moving, dreamily stoned melancholy come across like the masterful short stories of Raymond Carver as interpreted by peak-era Flaming Lips.

It's the perfect album for those long, humid summer afternoons. Dive in... - Bearded Magazine


Knowing a song was recorded in a WWII submarine (or onboard a single-prop airplane, or among lightning-strewn sand dunes) will have zero effect on your enjoyment of said song. But that knowledge does offer a glimpse into a band’s creative headspace. Spillway, Royal Forest’s fourth studio album, is an album of sounds, full of psychedelic loops and expansive effects. Did they really need to hijack a submarine to get that perfect kick-drum sound? Probably not. But that wide-eyed pursuit of sonic perfection is admirable: If Spillway is anything, it’s a first-rate headphones album.

But stripped of their ornate padding, these songs are deceptively simple and strikingly hummable. “John Denver” is the perfect example: It’s a sweetly loping hum of acoustic strums and vocal harmonies—but the buzzing, arpeggiated synths push the track into deep-space. “On the Sun” follows a similar cue, layering lush keyboard orchestrations with a gently cascading melody over a one-chordal drone. (Is it kraut-rock? Is it Americana? Somehow it’s both.) The sleepiest tracks (the drifting piano balladry of “Broken Bow”) are emotionally distant—still it’s hard to avoid the sheer loveliness of the arrangements.

Blending the experimental with the immediate, the synthetic with the organic, Spillway pushes the same pleasure buttons as Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and The Soft Bulletin. And while Royal Forest haven’t delivered a masterstroke along those same lines, the most striking moments here suggest they very well might soon enough. - Paste Magazine


Knowing a song was recorded in a WWII submarine (or onboard a single-prop airplane, or among lightning-strewn sand dunes) will have zero effect on your enjoyment of said song. But that knowledge does offer a glimpse into a band’s creative headspace. Spillway, Royal Forest’s fourth studio album, is an album of sounds, full of psychedelic loops and expansive effects. Did they really need to hijack a submarine to get that perfect kick-drum sound? Probably not. But that wide-eyed pursuit of sonic perfection is admirable: If Spillway is anything, it’s a first-rate headphones album.

But stripped of their ornate padding, these songs are deceptively simple and strikingly hummable. “John Denver” is the perfect example: It’s a sweetly loping hum of acoustic strums and vocal harmonies—but the buzzing, arpeggiated synths push the track into deep-space. “On the Sun” follows a similar cue, layering lush keyboard orchestrations with a gently cascading melody over a one-chordal drone. (Is it kraut-rock? Is it Americana? Somehow it’s both.) The sleepiest tracks (the drifting piano balladry of “Broken Bow”) are emotionally distant—still it’s hard to avoid the sheer loveliness of the arrangements.

Blending the experimental with the immediate, the synthetic with the organic, Spillway pushes the same pleasure buttons as Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and The Soft Bulletin. And while Royal Forest haven’t delivered a masterstroke along those same lines, the most striking moments here suggest they very well might soon enough. - Paste Magazine


Knowing a song was recorded in a WWII submarine (or onboard a single-prop airplane, or among lightning-strewn sand dunes) will have zero effect on your enjoyment of said song. But that knowledge does offer a glimpse into a band’s creative headspace. Spillway, Royal Forest’s fourth studio album, is an album of sounds, full of psychedelic loops and expansive effects. Did they really need to hijack a submarine to get that perfect kick-drum sound? Probably not. But that wide-eyed pursuit of sonic perfection is admirable: If Spillway is anything, it’s a first-rate headphones album.

But stripped of their ornate padding, these songs are deceptively simple and strikingly hummable. “John Denver” is the perfect example: It’s a sweetly loping hum of acoustic strums and vocal harmonies—but the buzzing, arpeggiated synths push the track into deep-space. “On the Sun” follows a similar cue, layering lush keyboard orchestrations with a gently cascading melody over a one-chordal drone. (Is it kraut-rock? Is it Americana? Somehow it’s both.) The sleepiest tracks (the drifting piano balladry of “Broken Bow”) are emotionally distant—still it’s hard to avoid the sheer loveliness of the arrangements.

Blending the experimental with the immediate, the synthetic with the organic, Spillway pushes the same pleasure buttons as Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and The Soft Bulletin. And while Royal Forest haven’t delivered a masterstroke along those same lines, the most striking moments here suggest they very well might soon enough. - Paste Magazine


Knowing a song was recorded in a WWII submarine (or onboard a single-prop airplane, or among lightning-strewn sand dunes) will have zero effect on your enjoyment of said song. But that knowledge does offer a glimpse into a band’s creative headspace. Spillway, Royal Forest’s fourth studio album, is an album of sounds, full of psychedelic loops and expansive effects. Did they really need to hijack a submarine to get that perfect kick-drum sound? Probably not. But that wide-eyed pursuit of sonic perfection is admirable: If Spillway is anything, it’s a first-rate headphones album.

But stripped of their ornate padding, these songs are deceptively simple and strikingly hummable. “John Denver” is the perfect example: It’s a sweetly loping hum of acoustic strums and vocal harmonies—but the buzzing, arpeggiated synths push the track into deep-space. “On the Sun” follows a similar cue, layering lush keyboard orchestrations with a gently cascading melody over a one-chordal drone. (Is it kraut-rock? Is it Americana? Somehow it’s both.) The sleepiest tracks (the drifting piano balladry of “Broken Bow”) are emotionally distant—still it’s hard to avoid the sheer loveliness of the arrangements.

Blending the experimental with the immediate, the synthetic with the organic, Spillway pushes the same pleasure buttons as Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and The Soft Bulletin. And while Royal Forest haven’t delivered a masterstroke along those same lines, the most striking moments here suggest they very well might soon enough. - Paste Magazine


While some bands record within the confines of a professional studio or their bedroom, Austin’s Royal Forest prefer other venues: a single-prop plane over Texas; a decommissioned WWII submarine; and a lightning storm amidst the Monahans sand dunes. Not content with being a labeled a studio band or a live band, their shared interest in field recordings has evolved their compositional skills, utilizing whim and on-the-fly audio manipulation as regularly as they do chord changes.

But within the scope of that experimentation, the foursome always keep poppy energy and accessibility on the forefront. Consider it profoundly technical to please the music nerds and just enough of a songwriter vibe for the romantics. Those seemingly opposing musical concepts come together on the band’s fourth studio album, Spillway, now streaming a full week ahead of its release date (July 9th via King Electric Record Company).

According to a press release, Spillway “casts a surreal shadow on Americana.” And the album’s 10 tracks definitely play out like some burned-out version of ’70s country rock. Album opener “Everyone Knows You” sounds like a lonesome drinking ballad filtered through the psychedelic filter of Soft Bulletin-era Flaming Lips. Meanwhile, “Near the Spillway” is a tricky number, starting life as a quaint and gentle ballad before melting into a haze of mid-tempo psych-rock. Country’s emotional core remains, but taken into far more Avant-garde territory.

But amid all the methodical heartbreak of their country leanings, there exists gems of pure pop as support and structure. “Castro” may sound sullen and haunted with the methodical creak of organs, but those blown-out harmonies are pure joy. And, no doubt inspired by its namesake, “John Denver” makes more effervescent magic with little else than chipper harmonies and a vibrant acoustic guitar. Rather than bury their love of pop, the band twist and shape it with new and intriguing samples to give it fresh life.

Spillway proves there’s lots of beauty in the world. You just have to open your ears (and mics) and listen. - Consequence of Sound


While some bands record within the confines of a professional studio or their bedroom, Austin’s Royal Forest prefer other venues: a single-prop plane over Texas; a decommissioned WWII submarine; and a lightning storm amidst the Monahans sand dunes. Not content with being a labeled a studio band or a live band, their shared interest in field recordings has evolved their compositional skills, utilizing whim and on-the-fly audio manipulation as regularly as they do chord changes.

But within the scope of that experimentation, the foursome always keep poppy energy and accessibility on the forefront. Consider it profoundly technical to please the music nerds and just enough of a songwriter vibe for the romantics. Those seemingly opposing musical concepts come together on the band’s fourth studio album, Spillway, now streaming a full week ahead of its release date (July 9th via King Electric Record Company).

According to a press release, Spillway “casts a surreal shadow on Americana.” And the album’s 10 tracks definitely play out like some burned-out version of ’70s country rock. Album opener “Everyone Knows You” sounds like a lonesome drinking ballad filtered through the psychedelic filter of Soft Bulletin-era Flaming Lips. Meanwhile, “Near the Spillway” is a tricky number, starting life as a quaint and gentle ballad before melting into a haze of mid-tempo psych-rock. Country’s emotional core remains, but taken into far more Avant-garde territory.

But amid all the methodical heartbreak of their country leanings, there exists gems of pure pop as support and structure. “Castro” may sound sullen and haunted with the methodical creak of organs, but those blown-out harmonies are pure joy. And, no doubt inspired by its namesake, “John Denver” makes more effervescent magic with little else than chipper harmonies and a vibrant acoustic guitar. Rather than bury their love of pop, the band twist and shape it with new and intriguing samples to give it fresh life.

Spillway proves there’s lots of beauty in the world. You just have to open your ears (and mics) and listen. - Consequence of Sound


Royal Forest has officially taken the idea of live field recordings to new heights—or should we say depths? The Austin-based band boarded the USS Cavalla Submarine to record their song “Everyone Who Knows You,” and although the WWII-era submarine wasn’t submerged, the result is still something special.

The band recorded the song and captured the process on camera in just three hours with two microphones. The video documents the process involved and the flexibility and innovation it takes to work in such a unique space.

“Capturing the sounds of this weird, boxy, metallic space was our main interest—-for example, we set a guitar amp in a torpedo tube to maximize reverb,” said band member Cody Ground.

Royal Forest’s latest album, Spillway, is slated for release on July 9 via King Electric Company, but you can check out the video for “Everyone Who Knows You” in the player below. - Paste Magazine


Royal Forest has officially taken the idea of live field recordings to new heights—or should we say depths? The Austin-based band boarded the USS Cavalla Submarine to record their song “Everyone Who Knows You,” and although the WWII-era submarine wasn’t submerged, the result is still something special.

The band recorded the song and captured the process on camera in just three hours with two microphones. The video documents the process involved and the flexibility and innovation it takes to work in such a unique space.

“Capturing the sounds of this weird, boxy, metallic space was our main interest—-for example, we set a guitar amp in a torpedo tube to maximize reverb,” said band member Cody Ground.

Royal Forest’s latest album, Spillway, is slated for release on July 9 via King Electric Company, but you can check out the video for “Everyone Who Knows You” in the player below. - Paste Magazine


Royal Forest are big on field recordings. The Austin foursome have made songs in a single-prop airplane above the Texas hill country, inside a World War II submarine in Galveston, and in the midst of a lightning storm among the Monahans sand dunes, and their latest track, "Everyone Who Knows You," definitely sounds like it was crafted in the thick of something. A grinding groove gives the psych-pop tune its spine as bursts of warped, flailing melodies and stifled vocals conjure a garbled transmission from a forgotten era. Hear it below. - SPIN


Royal Forest are big on field recordings. The Austin foursome have made songs in a single-prop airplane above the Texas hill country, inside a World War II submarine in Galveston, and in the midst of a lightning storm among the Monahans sand dunes, and their latest track, "Everyone Who Knows You," definitely sounds like it was crafted in the thick of something. A grinding groove gives the psych-pop tune its spine as bursts of warped, flailing melodies and stifled vocals conjure a garbled transmission from a forgotten era. Hear it below. - SPIN


Royal Forest (Loxsly at the time) was one of the Austin bands I really got into after moving here. I loved Lamprey Eels off their Flashlight EP. It was (and remains) a brilliant piece of psychedelic pop rock. Since that early introduction, I’ve enjoyed the evolution of the band as they have added more experimental elements and guitar-driven tracks to their music (best displayed on their Tomorrow’s Fossils record).

Royal Forest has just finished recording their next album (due out in the Spring) and are releasing an EP by the end of the year. I was very pleased to hear the news and am proud that Side One Track One is the first to premiere the song The Rails off of the yet-to-be-named EP.



I had a chance to discuss the new recordings with Cody Ground (vocals, keyboards) and Justin Douglas (guitar). I was curious about the approach for this record. Past efforts were very thematic, not concept records per se, but there was definitely a unified direction in the songs. However, Cody and Justin say that is not as necessarily the case on the new tunes. While the lyrics were influenced by southern rural imagery (and many hours of listening to Townes Van Zandt) the music itself isn’t as rustic. As evidenced on The Rails, the band retains its trademark textures and stellar guitar work but it’s done with more of a lo-fi sound. They made a conscious decision to not to over think and continually tinker with the tracks, and instead opted for live tracking to tape to really capture the live energy and essence of the band. It shows on The Rails and I’m very anxious to hear both the upcoming EP and next year’s album.

If you’re like me and want to hear more of the new songs, be sure to check out Royal Forest on October 18 at the Mohawk. They’ll be sharing the stage with The Dig and The We Shared Milk. Can’t make the show you say? Well, keep an eye out for them on an upcoming episode of Hardly Sound on KLRU-Q (Austin’s PBS station for those who don’t do call letters).

If you haven’t heard of Hardly Sound yet, you need to check it out. It’s a documentary series that highlights the best in Texas music. They have crafted their own unique style, and based on the previews now available, they’ll have plenty of interesting stories to share. Plus, a whole bunch of good music.

Hardly Sound is just getting off the ground, though, and needs your support. I highly encourage you to help out your local community, the arts, and Texas music by visiting this page and pledging a few bucks to keep the Hardly Sound film rolling. In return you’ll get a great series on Texas underground music AND a lovely parting gift like a custom postcards, pins, a t-shirt, songs, and maybe even a Producer credit! Do it now!

The next Hardly Sound episode is October 1st on KLRU-Q at 11PM. It features garage rock gods the Bad Lovers. Check out the preview below: - Side One Track One


Royal Forest (Loxsly at the time) was one of the Austin bands I really got into after moving here. I loved Lamprey Eels off their Flashlight EP. It was (and remains) a brilliant piece of psychedelic pop rock. Since that early introduction, I’ve enjoyed the evolution of the band as they have added more experimental elements and guitar-driven tracks to their music (best displayed on their Tomorrow’s Fossils record).

Royal Forest has just finished recording their next album (due out in the Spring) and are releasing an EP by the end of the year. I was very pleased to hear the news and am proud that Side One Track One is the first to premiere the song The Rails off of the yet-to-be-named EP.



I had a chance to discuss the new recordings with Cody Ground (vocals, keyboards) and Justin Douglas (guitar). I was curious about the approach for this record. Past efforts were very thematic, not concept records per se, but there was definitely a unified direction in the songs. However, Cody and Justin say that is not as necessarily the case on the new tunes. While the lyrics were influenced by southern rural imagery (and many hours of listening to Townes Van Zandt) the music itself isn’t as rustic. As evidenced on The Rails, the band retains its trademark textures and stellar guitar work but it’s done with more of a lo-fi sound. They made a conscious decision to not to over think and continually tinker with the tracks, and instead opted for live tracking to tape to really capture the live energy and essence of the band. It shows on The Rails and I’m very anxious to hear both the upcoming EP and next year’s album.

If you’re like me and want to hear more of the new songs, be sure to check out Royal Forest on October 18 at the Mohawk. They’ll be sharing the stage with The Dig and The We Shared Milk. Can’t make the show you say? Well, keep an eye out for them on an upcoming episode of Hardly Sound on KLRU-Q (Austin’s PBS station for those who don’t do call letters).

If you haven’t heard of Hardly Sound yet, you need to check it out. It’s a documentary series that highlights the best in Texas music. They have crafted their own unique style, and based on the previews now available, they’ll have plenty of interesting stories to share. Plus, a whole bunch of good music.

Hardly Sound is just getting off the ground, though, and needs your support. I highly encourage you to help out your local community, the arts, and Texas music by visiting this page and pledging a few bucks to keep the Hardly Sound film rolling. In return you’ll get a great series on Texas underground music AND a lovely parting gift like a custom postcards, pins, a t-shirt, songs, and maybe even a Producer credit! Do it now!

The next Hardly Sound episode is October 1st on KLRU-Q at 11PM. It features garage rock gods the Bad Lovers. Check out the preview below: - Side One Track One


Royal Forest is a band that’s been on the ATH radar for a long time now and we try to give them as much coverage as we can when the chance arises. The band has been relatively quiet, as far as recorded material goes, but still seem to play around town on a regular basis. Lucky for us, the band just passed over this new gritty number called “Ambulance”. It has a solid backing beat behind some interesting hushed vocals that compliment the track quite nicely.

The band is planning on releasing a new EP of material for free on bandcamp sometime real soon. We’ll be sure to let you know when that goes down.
- Austin Town Hall


Royal Forest is a band that’s been on the ATH radar for a long time now and we try to give them as much coverage as we can when the chance arises. The band has been relatively quiet, as far as recorded material goes, but still seem to play around town on a regular basis. Lucky for us, the band just passed over this new gritty number called “Ambulance”. It has a solid backing beat behind some interesting hushed vocals that compliment the track quite nicely.

The band is planning on releasing a new EP of material for free on bandcamp sometime real soon. We’ll be sure to let you know when that goes down.
- Austin Town Hall


“A prelude to Royal Forest’s next full-length, the EP is a tantalizing glimpse at a reborn band that’s already lived several fascinating lives.”Josh Huck - The Onion - AV Club (Austin) - AV Club (Austin)


“A prelude to Royal Forest’s next full-length, the EP is a tantalizing glimpse at a reborn band that’s already lived several fascinating lives.”Josh Huck - The Onion - AV Club (Austin) - AV Club (Austin)


“… a highly textured affair that will likely appeal to psych fans who don’t like their trips quite as intense as those doled out by acts like BRMC and fellow Austinites, The Black Angels.”” - My Old Kentucky Blog


“… a highly textured affair that will likely appeal to psych fans who don’t like their trips quite as intense as those doled out by acts like BRMC and fellow Austinites, The Black Angels.”” - My Old Kentucky Blog


“Great pedal steel playing and strong songs make up their current record, Tomorrow's Fossils.”
Bob Boilen - NPR All Songs Considered - NPR/All Songs Considered/Bob Boilen


“Great pedal steel playing and strong songs make up their current record, Tomorrow's Fossils.”
Bob Boilen - NPR All Songs Considered - NPR/All Songs Considered/Bob Boilen


Discography

"Spillway" LP 2013

"Royal Forest" EP 2010

Photos

Bio

Austin's Royal Forest are not big believers in static sound, though they do appreciate the sound of static. Experimental across media---using analog tape loops in recordings and live at shows, for example---the band strives to reinvent their songs in new ways.

Lately this experimentation manifests itself in field recordings. Royal Forest has made songs in a single-prop airplane above the Texas hill country, inside a WWII submarine in Galveston, and in a lightning storm among the Monahans sand dunes. Not content to be labeled a studio band or live act, the band pushes the limits of composition, using whim and on-the-fly audio manipulation as songwriting tools. Experimentation is their evolutionary engine.

For all the geeky shit, Royal Forest is awfully listenable. The loops and field recordings only enhance their memorable hooks and positive energy. The band's dedication to DIY is not only impressive, it imbues their records, videos, and live shows with infective charm.

Royal Forest's latest album, Spillway, casts a surreal shadow on Americana. It was recorded to tape by the band and mastered at Abbey Road Studios. Spillway is available July 9th via King Electric Record Company.

Band Members