Blacklist Royals – Semper Liberi

Sometimes I feel I have been driving longer than Jack Kerouac.  This week consisted of miles and miles of roads while pushing almost 12 hour work days in the office.  When I look back at it all, it just all blends together.  This is a bad thing and a good thing.  It is bad because I didn’t get to spend enough time in certain locations, but it is a good thing because I had the perfect soundtrack to my travels.  Also I found a great abandon place by my apartment which will be explored shortly.

What is life without having a soundtrack playing in the background?  How about having a good “driving” album?  I have certain albums that paint the picture of what my life was like at certain times.  These albums to this day bring back the memories like they were yesterday.  I never had a “driving” album before though.  I usually just play random songs and that was my soundtrack for the road.  The band Blacklist Royals changed all of that this week.

Imagine if Bruce Springsteen and Rancid met.  Their child would be Blacklist Royals.  This young band, in band years not age, hails from Nashville, Tennessee and their roots show in the music.  With fast punk anthems, swirling guitar solos, and pianos sprinkled throughout the album, this album should not be missed.

I first heard of Blacklist Royals from my friend’s brother.  It is actually funny; he showed me their music video for “Things They Say” and explained that the lead singer is my doppelganger.  After watching the video,  

I must admit the lead singer does resemble me quite well.  Except in the video he has car I can only dream of having and a pretty girl on his arm.  I enjoyed the song to say the least and just put the band in the back of my mind.  It wasn’t until their label, Paper + Plastick Records, had a sale on their web store, which I decided to just go for it.  It should be noted that Paper + Plastick Records is owned by Vinnie Fiorello, drummer of Less Than Jake.

My first impression of the album was of me thinking back to when I was “punk” in high school.  I have been steadily growing back into this music again, but Blacklist Royals are a different breed of punk.  They incorporate different instruments on this album that you wouldn’t find on a say, Misfits album.  They have a piano playing throughout the album with a violin, harmonica, and an accordion.

The album jumps right into a fast, hard hitting punk song.  Right away you are thinking, just another punk band, but just wait.  The next song, “Rock & Roll”, continues the fast pace sound with an intro that sounds too close to an Elvis Costello and the Attractions songs.  The song’s title says it all, a must listen song for any one that is a music lover.

“But I can listen to the music and it takes me back,
Every note just like a photograph on my heart,
Before it fell apart.

I’m playing records on my stereo,
With all those songs we used to know,
And thinking about you.”

The following song, “Howling At The Moonlight”, is my favorite off the album.  The piano is clearly heard and the guitar solos are mind melting.  This song is close to something Rancid would have written.  When the chorus hits, you can’t help but clap your hands to the beat of the drums.

“I’ve been howling at the moonlight since you’ve been gone.”

The lyrical content and music of “American Hearts” has the soul of Bruce Springsteen when he was younger.  I feel this song would’ve been a b-side of his if he decided to try and do a harder or punk sounding song.

It isn’t a surprise that towards the end of the album, Blacklist Royals cover a Bruce song, “The Promised Land”.  The final song, “Church Bells Are Ringing”, shows off Nat’s acoustic guitar playing and his raspy, emotional vocals with a piano and accordion backing him.  A short but moving song that I could see Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem covering sometime soon.

“Got a picture in my pocket of my baby and me,
Standing in the sun on winter’s day,
Seems so damn far away.

And I hear the church bells are ringing.”

I don’t know if it is the cover of the album, the music video above, or the lyrical content, but this album screams, “get in the car and drive”.  You are taken to California, Tennessee and everywhere in between on this album.  If you aren’t traveling somewhere, Nat, will write about just being in a car with your loved one in “Love In The Backseat”.

“We got one more mile,
Drive on.”

As I said before, this album was released by Paper + Plastick Records under Vinnie Fiorello of Less Than Jake.  He has many years under his belt and knows how to put out a quality album along with great packaging.  That is the point of Paper + Plastick Records, never forget about the packaging.  The album didn’t come with a download card, but is available online for cheap digitally.  The record came with a lyric sheet and also a drinking game. The game consists of picking a card with a song title.  When you hear that song, you either drink a beer without pausing or take many shots during the guitar solos.  Believe me there are a lot of solos, please play responsible.  The record has a nice blue, red, and black splatter on white.  A nice touch to an album that deserves to reach many listeners.

$5 digital dowload

2 thoughts on “Blacklist Royals – Semper Liberi

  1. Hey man, this is Rob from Blacklist Royals. Nat and I ran across your blog today and just wanted to tell you what you wrote means a lot to us and we’re glad you dug the album so much and like the new one we are wrapping up the recording of right now.

    Stoked just to see Blacklist Royals and Jack Kerouac in the same article! haha.

    See you on the road,


    1. Hey guys, pretty unreal you commented on my blog. You are welcomed by the way! Hopefully people see this blog and pick up the album. I can’t stop listening to it, especially when I go on long drives. Can’t wait for the the new album, and when you tour make sure you stop in Eastern PA!


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