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Radio 4 – Gotham

April 21, 2010 Leave a comment

Gern Blandsten Records, 2002

I vaguely knew a little bit about Radio 4 based on what I had heard what they were about, and that was post-punk.  Somewhere I had read that they were a good modern substitution for Gang of 4 and that “Gotham” was their best record, so I made a mental note to be sure and check them out.  Sure enough, the very record in question has appeared a few times in dollar bins in various parts of the country, so I was eager to check them out to see if they were worth the quarters.  As it turns out, my research proved fruitful.

Although the dull, dual-colored cover wouldn’t show it, Radio 4 bring a lot of aggressive burst.  The first few songs illustrate that as “Our Town” chugs in with a heavy guitar riff and a jarring chorus.  What Radio 4 does a little differently than their previous post-punk counterparts is that they utilize some electronics to fill in the gaps.  “Start a Fire” and “Eyes Wide Open” follow and refuse to let up in their tempo and catchiness.  The band actually doesn’t let up in the slightest until a swinging “Calling All Enthusiasts”, which is five tracks in and probably much needed after the early rush.

The first song that truly stands out is “Save Your City”, if only because its unwavering guitar riffs charge the entire song without pausing for a breath.  Anthony Roman’s vocals are merely a supportive assistant to keep the rush going, so at a little more than three minutes this song steps in just long enough to rile you up before departing.  Unfortunately, it departs into some kind of spacey song that steps far, far from what one had just heard from the first half dozen songs.  “Speaking in Codes” is a total misstep, so unfortunately the band didn’t capitalize on the excellent catapulted projectile of vigor that “Save Your City” launched.  Bands make strange decisions sometimes.  They do pick up with the excellent “Certain Tragedy” and thankfully finish the record with the sound that they are known for.

Have a listen to a few Radio 4 tunes on Last.fm.

There are a few choice songs on this record that I would highly recommend one to check out, but Radio 4 mostly dish out a good rock record that sounds fine in its entirety but doesn’t really deliver a song that will bowl one over.  Still, it’s a great record and should be gotten for cheap by anyone that sees it.  Radio 4 are still together and touring after a decade of work, and with a new record on the way according to their website, one can look forward to something from them if they liked this record.  At least Radio 4 is channeling the right bands for their music, which can’t be said for those who rely a little too heavily on the nineties to get their rock n roll going.  I know, I sound bitter, but maybe I can wash some of that away as I look forward to these guys coming to town sometime soon.

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Categories: TheRest Tags: , ,

Various Artists – MOJO: Beyond Punk!

January 27, 2010 1 comment

MOJO Magazine, April 2005

Well look, it’s another one of those free compilations that come with those great MOJO magazines and yet usually sells individually for a few bucks (or more) at record shops.  Lucky for us, some of these can be found cheaply here and there.  No, I imagine you’re not shocked that this compilation has the word ‘punk’ in it and I bought it, but you may be surprised that I still held this record with hesitation.  I have to say that I am not a huge post-punk fan and, if I am going to be honest, the Siouxsie song I’m most familiar with is “Peek-a-Boo” that I heard a lot of from watching “Beavis and Butthead”.  Yeah, I know, my credibility just took a hit there (even if I scored major points with the mundane humor crowd!)  Therefore, this record read like a list of bands that I should know more about, so I suppose that the choice to pick it up was even more obvious.

Post-punk, by definition, really does mean ‘beyond punk’ when put in context of the time.  Punk was getting played out and musicians were trying to be more creative with elements of punk but without resorting to the typical thrash and yelp that was common in most punk outfits.  What you get on this compilation is a wide array of sometimes complicated, sometimes noisy tunes that won’t always necessarily mesh with your tastes.  However, there are quite a few great tunes on here, like Mission of Burma’s “Academy Fight Song” (mislabeled on this comp) which is a classic song that is right up there with their “Revolver” tune in greatness.  Wire, my favorite post-punk band, gets their soothingly enjoyable yet essentially nonsensical “Kidney Bingos” on this disc, which highlights their later period of music more than their earlier raucous.

Siouxsie and the Banshees’ “Mirage” comes across as the most punkish tune, with the speed and hard riffs required to cause a bit of pogo-ing.  The band that I had hoped would be great is Bird Blobs, if only because their name is rather amusingly curious.  However, they are rather noisy without being memorable, which I suppose appeals to some.   A few more modern bands, like Radio 4 and Death From Above 1979, get a tune on this record due to their post-punk style in the more modern day.  It’s too bad that the latter have disbanded and the former hasn’t put out anything particularly good since 2002.  Those two groups, once promising in 2005, are now just another addition to the post-punk back catalog.

Unlike some other genres, I’m not sure if there are many people out there who like everything that is post-punk, but this is a great introduction to the sound of the genre.  Some of the artists on this compilation are still putting out music, like Mission of Burma and Siouxsie Sioux, but it’s mostly a collection of tunes from time gone by.  One would have to check out some post-punk revivalists like A Place to Bury Strangers and the Walkmen to get their modern day fix these days, but that shouldn’t be too much of a chore since I can vouch for the Strangers’ excellent live show.  Still, is there any chance we can rewind a few decades to when the music scene was utterly fantastic?