There’s a moment in your adoption of a band into your regular rotation when they feel like they’re yours. Your discovery: your private little lullaby from which you draw happiness, heartache, catharsis, a pep-talk or dance to start the day. You know it can’t last forever and that one day, if they make you feel this way, they’ll make others feel it, too, until that lullaby becomes a collective anthem.
Sometime in summer 2011, an old friend sent an email notifying me and others that his new band was coming to New York and that he’d love to see us at the show. As friends do, we happily obliged; we wanted to see our buddy who lived on the other side of the country and support his new venture. So we bought our tickets, waited for the day of the gig and crossed our fingers that our post-show congratulatory remarks would not just be awkward, lip-service to a friend but earnest appreciation for what we’d heard.
For the past two years, through two releases – 2011’s The Hands That Take You and 2012’s Cool Nightmare EP – Radiation City have felt like they’re “mine”, even as their following grew and the buzz oscillated more wildly. Yet, with Animals in the Median – the band’s second full-length album, released this month – I realize the time has come where the lullaby will become the anthem….but for once, I know my love for the music will continue.
As someone who makes a living trying to monetize a product, it’s hard for me to not think in terms of profitability and all the components that drive it. But in 2 years’ worth of conversations with Cam, Lizzy, Randy, Matt and Patti of Radiation City, I’ve not heard a single goal mentioned. I’ve not heard a single utterance of money or target audience. Radiation City make the music they love and share it with whoever wants to listen. Their music is radio-worthy but not made for radio. Like their two releases before it, Animals in the Median is a beautiful album for all its unpredictability. It twists when you expect it to turn. It steadies when you expect it to rise. And it crescendos just when you thought you’d never get the pay-off you’d hoped for. Like all good things, it is delayed gratification or as the band put it in a Baeble Music interview* from that initial 2011 tour, “addition by subtraction”. What you get as a result, is music that gets better with each sitting. Two years of listening in, and this still holds true. While you are sustained by the beautiful vocals, clever lyrics and a well-measured dose of popiness, as the listener, you ultimately feel like you’ve earned the pay-off and the intimacy through attention to detail and discovery.
The track record of Radiation City to date suggests that even as they transition from the band I selfishly consider “mine” to that of a widespread following, they will only get better with time. So, for once, I’m comfortable letting go in the knowledge of what lies ahead. But for now, I – along with that growing audience – can simply enjoy Animals in the Median and the waning moments of our private lullaby.
“Lark” from Animals in the Median: http://bit.ly/17bZPqF
“Foreign Bodies” from Animals in the Median: http://bit.ly/15hlj1m “Hide from the Night” from Cool Nightmare: http://bit.ly/12mCO3y “Babies” from The Hands That Take You: http://bit.ly/11h3dwe
*Baeble Music interview from 2011: http://bit.ly/18EjPTs
Photo courtesy of www.radiationcity.net