Thursday, July 14, 2005

Radio 4

Radio 4- The New Song And Dance

The boldly titled ‘New Song And Dance’ was released in 2000. I remember being excited about it before I even heard ‘em for a few reasons: ex-members of Garden Variety, band name stolen from an under-the-radar P.i.L. song.

I loved the music, as well- an amazing synthesis of late seventies/early eighties new wave, combining all of the best production and songwriting tricks into a package that sounded fresh and intense even though there was no question where the band was coming from. I never felt that Radio 4 was doing their thing to be campy or retro- it was more a question of appreciation, homage. Their music sounded fresh to these ears, despite the heavy nostalgia.

Of course, there were haters talking shit about the band almost immediately. Radio 4 was nothing but a ripoff, if you listened, which a lot of people did. The band played lots of shows, were out there doing it, but there was still a large amount of shit being talked about them.

I wonder what would have happened to Radio 4 had it not been for the recent wave of bands that have been riding the 80’s nostalgia trip to the top of the charts. They probably would have been forgotten completely or left for dead in the desert of acts who tried and failed to play in a foregone style. As it stands, there’s groups of kids in their early twenties making millions playing music they weren’t old enough to catch the first time around. Is it too soon to say that Radio 4 was right, or is it merely time to blast them for kickstarting the whole thing?

Radio 4- Dance To The Underground

A four-song CDEP that served as a stopgap between full-lengths, keeping the fires of revival stoked and the pockets a little fuller as the band continued their incessant touring.

The eponymous single sounded a little bit alien to me right away. One of my favorite things about ‘The New Song And Dance’ was that it was produced to sound very chilly and detached, like everything was being sent into your speakers via a wire that ran directly back to like 1982. ‘Underground’ featured some sounds that didn’t fit into the eighties motif, sounds that seemed forced and labored over- I can’t remember any eighties new wave records that had hand claps and bongos on ‘em. There probably were some, but those two things remind me of hippies, and I can’t think of a single thing more antithetical to post-punk/new wave than hippies. Sheesh.

‘Sink So Low’ finds the band back in their debut LP form, while ‘Caroline’ succeeds in expanding the band’s 80’s palate by utilizing synths and harmonics in a fashion that recalls the gloominess of early Cure stuff. It’s a different direction, but it’s one that feels lateral. Makes more sense than bongos, anyway.

Radio 4- Gotham

More thorough integration of the 80’s signifiers. Overdriven guitars, more well-developed synths adding texture, plenty o’ 2600-sounding bleeps and bloops. ‘Dance To The Underground’ was an attempt to get more stylistic elements involved in the band’s songwriting, but, as I mentioned, the bongos didn’t go over so well. ‘Gotham’ sounds like everything that’s being played on the radio, and it’s a few years ahead of the curve (uncanny how much ‘Red Lights’ sounds like a Strokes tune).

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