After their virgin opening at Liquid Smoke (for Lawrence County couple Grace and Tony) this time last year, Murfreesboro’s own up-and-coming The Radio Symphonic are steadfastly breaking into the local music scene with their version of a late ’90s/early 2000s alt-indie rock record—their independently produced debut, The Radio Symphonic, which was released last August. The album arrived almost a year after this quartet of friends—vocalist/keyboardist/guitarist Rob Jones of 3 Bros. fame, lead guitarist Erik Houston, bassist Alice Law, and drummer Corey Huges—officially formed with the motto, “Music helps us make sense of our world and we take pride in playing it well” (quoted from an online bio).
Their invested pride surrounds their 10-track album, which falls right into the rock ’n’ roll vibe of afternoon MTV shows between 1997 and 2004/5, but more specifically sounds like a young and somewhat raspy Roger Waters singing inside of a huge barrel while The Deftones play behind him. There are little intricacies that vary throughout, though, such as the second track, “Here We Go,” that gets into a somber, Tracy Chapman-esque acoustic-picking style before it erupts into Modest Mouse territory. Also, the following track, “Windows,” sounds like Marilyn Manson stepped into the vocal booth while the fuzziest electric picking accompanies what sounds like a gorilla on the drums. (Both song styles are equally impressive.) The Radio Symphonic also strays into a slightly emo-ish feel as well as frankly cacophonic noises as a few frilly phrases of acoustic and electric guitar flitter around one another like blind love birds in flight on a couple of the tracks. In fairness, The Radio Symphonic is more keeping with the steady Deftones stride, as opposed to the few little experiments they toy with.
Production-wise, The Radio Symphonic often seems heavy on effects (for example, Roger Waters stuck in a barrel), but the mixing board mask comes off on a few songs, such as “Undertow” and “Hallowed,” giving the album its humanistic feel. The guys and gal in the band play with a couple of beautiful, instrumental ideas for songs, too, like “On the Tracks,” and the 2nd and 3rd movements of the eight-minute closing track, “Contact.” Talkin’ good stuff.
The best part is, it’s fair to say the arrangements on The Radio Symphonic are in mighty good taste, with fine examples in almost every song of how an outro is supposed to be done and, lyrically, the disc is just as nice. The band’s writing is polar, leaving nothing but really optimistic or really depressing and loathing sentiments, but the entire album is incredibly observational, which validates the biographical quote in the first paragraph.
The Radio Symphonic can be found at theradiosymphonic.bandcamp.com.