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BEAUTIFUL BUZZZ

Tonight - Royal Bangs @ The Echo

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Tonight @ The Echo - Royal Bangs

Ah, the South, the region that has always boasted the best alt- and indie-rock bands, from Big Star in Memphis, Tenn., to R.E.M. in Athens, Ga., to the late and great Sparklehorse (R.I.P., Mark Linkous) in Richmond, Va.

Indeed, there's a long tradition of eclectic rock 'n' roll, especially in a town like Knoxville, Tenn., home base of avant-electro trio the Royal Bangs. So it's a surprise that the band's guitarist, Sam Stratton, confesses that his band doesn't feel much of an affinity for the Sweet Tea Belt.

"There are some awesome bands from the South, for sure," he says in the tour van while en route to a show in Boise, Idaho. "In high school, we all loved listening to Elephant 6 Collective bands like Olivia Tremor Control and Neutral Milk Hotel. But we've never met them, and we're not interested in participating in 'musical regionalism.'"

The Royal Bangs' recently released third album, Flux Outside, is a 12-tune collection that's relentless in its spirited attack. From the post-punk guitar miasma of "Grass Helmet" to the bruising bass keyboard lines of "Fireball," Flux Outside is about change. Sure, frontman Ryan Schaefer's voice is consistent, a grainy, fevered yawp suited for cutting through drummer Chris Rusk's crashing cymbals and Stratton's unusual chord structures. Otherwise, the band takes a different tack on nearly every song. The Royal Bangs aren't about being unusual for its own sake, though. -Tucson Weekly