Red City Radio

Red City Radio

Written by: TL on 28/04/2015 21:14:46

"I used to see a light, shining like a diamond in the darkest night, I don't see it, I don't see it, I don't see it, I don't see it anymore!". It's hard not to sing the familiar words when Oklahoma punk rockers Red City Radio open their new self-titled album in very similar fashion as they did the awesome "A Joke With No Words" from their previous album, 2013's "Titles". The lyrical hook here is different though, as indeed this third album is different from the band's two former records, and different primarily because you can actually tell a difference now - something that was arguably hard with "Titles" and 2011's similar, yet no less brilliant "The Dangers Of Standing Still".

On the first two albums, Red City Radio were in a hurry in the way punk songs often are, rushing to a start and racing ahead, then benefitting from using two lead singers, exchanging gruff yet catchy vocal melodies in a way that made fans lose their breath. On the new album, the tempo is more of a casually upbeat than full speed, and the sound is less compact, giving you the impression of more space around the riffs and vocal lines. It's open to debate how "punk" that leaves the band in terms of instrumentation, as it simply seems to mean that it and the song structuring are kept entirely no frills, striding ahead on simple beats, with clear sense of hook-centric orientation. That remaining lead singer Garrett Dale is a punk singer is for certain though. He sounds like you imagine a mix of Alkaline Trio's Dan Adriano and The Jungle Book's King Louie would sound, after a long night of boozing in smoke-filled rooms, and it is frankly somewhat unbelievable how melodious his singing appears despite this. Melodious he is though, to the point of scary consistency, for while the album has a mere ten tracks on it, you bet you'll need more than your own two hands to count its number of infectious refrains on your fingers.

In fact it is easier to point out "I Should Have Known" and "In The Meantime..." at track eight and nine - incidentally the two tracks that are faster and most similar to the band's older material - as the odd two out, them being only moderately catchy compared to the remaining eight. As for those eight, Dale will sing with his broken voice, and laid-back harmonic guitar work will respond, so will the backing vocals, and so, inevitably, will the listener. "Like a hurricane with a head on I was looking for danger" Dale reminisces strikingly in "Rest Easy", but otherwise his lyrical hooks cast him in the present, as a grounded dude who shakes his head somewhat wearily at the drama that unfolds around him, while he himself is content to just get by and play punk rock. "I don't need anything from anybody, I don't need nothing at all" he sings on "Two Out Of Three Ain't Rad" prior to the song's main hook: "To each his own, everybody's got their own opinion oh and everybody's wrong, and I've been listening to the fighting for way too long, know that everybody will not always get along", and later on, the mentioned "In The Meantime..." delivers a sure-to-be fan-favourite in the line "I just wanna get high and play my fuckin' guitar!" There are some slightly deeper lines as well though, in the barroom courtship of "Electricity", in the poser-callout cum party anthem "Pretend Kings", and in album closer "...I'll Catch A Ride", which addresses denial and addiction to both drugs and love - mind you in the way of a song that calls for lighters and cellphones to come out during a mellower concert moment.

At the other end of the spectrum, a song like "I Should Have Known" does feel like autopilot apart from its signature riff, and "Stranger" can get just a bit too repetitive in its chorus melody, and in these the band's spell can break for just long enough for the listener to notice that this is far, far from rocket science. It is warm, relatable and catchy to a fault though. And measured in hooks-to-filler ratio, "Red City Radio" resides on a level that most bands cannot only not reach, it's likely that many might not even consider it probable, to ever write a record that gets in your head as routinely as this one does. Considering that level of know-how, you can easily wonder if it wouldn't look good on the band to soon explore just a bit more ambitious and perhaps diverse territory. But then at the going rate, they'll probably match someone like Bruce Springsteen in number of singalongable tunes before they're half his age, and something about that is difficult to argue against.


Download: Rest Easy, Two Out Of Three Ain't Rad, Electricity, I'll Catch A Ride
For The Fans Of: Iron Chic, Hot Water Music, Off With Their Heads

Release date 21.04.2015
Gunner Records

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