A friend of mine told me about Red City Radio in 2014, but I was probably super busy with The Smith Street Band's new one or something and so I totally forgot about it. I'd heard them on Spotify radio stations in the years since then, and always thought "these guys are great, I must check them out!"...And I never did.
In March, they released their new EP: "SkyTigers," and guess what I did. I said to myself "yeah I should check this out!" I then continued to do other things that weren't listening to "SkyTigers," like a dickhead!
So this review is also me giving myself the opportunity to finally sit down and listen to a band I've slept on for the last 4 years:
Track 1: If You Want Blood (Be My Guest) has your classic pop punk intro: Vocals, a guitar, and a build. Some gang vocals and a false start, and then boom. The layering is quite impressive: guitar layers, tambourine, keys, more guitars and more vocals! There's harmonies all over the place, they're well thought out, and they're up front in the mix! Even the first track is a party! If You Want Blood is classic single material that screams of so many different bands. On first listen I was hearing Hot Water Music. (then The Hold Steady, Menzingers, as well as Lucero) I'm excited for where this is going.
"Tomorrow morning I'll be nowhere bound, but tonight, by last call I'll still be around" - The big influence i've been trying to pick has hit me. And as it happens, this artist would be a massive influence on the others I've listed above. I'll keep it to myself for a while. (but once I cracked it, I had to listen again from the top) Some cool doubled solos going on here and more layers. I love an acoustic guitar and a telecaster together. It's not reinventing the wheel, but it's a great rock'n'roll song about overindulging, and maybe not quite having your priorities straight.
In The Shadows brings out something new to me: Garrett Dale's voice. I knew it was good, but this track really shows his range. He sounds like he's been drinking whisky for 30 years, then sings some deep baritone, then there's a huge soar and before we know it he's at the top of his range. The wind is roaring, and we're all just hanging on. And then, a whisper. Red City Radio really have a way of building their songs up, and the dynamics are incredible. there's fuzzy bass layers in here, and guitar effects that come in and out, and then almost instantly, nothing but four part a capella harmonies for a while.
I like when two tracks make sense together, especially when they are obviously separate songs. Rebels brings back the a capella in the intro chorus, and as someone who tries to sing harmonies in a punk band, (that shit is hard) I really can't wait to see this live next time they're in Australia. The verse sounds like Dale is calling out a group of cowards, or perhaps a lover, afraid to fight for what they believe in. I like that. I'm not gonna quote it, you can listen for yourself. I'm also really digging the harmonies from the intro being tied back into the chorus. Best track.
Its almost over, and what better way to end it than with a title track? SkyTigers starts as a classic outtro. The drum beat just seems to keep marching. It's almost formulaic for these guys, the guitars sit so beautifully together, and it all seems to be wrapping up nicely in the first verse. Then, just before the three minute mark, an audio sample starts. One that I'd wanted to use in a song for a long time, but never did because it's so overused. The sample pauses after about 30 seconds, and even though I really like that speech, the predictability kind of soured what would otherwise be a perfect final track. There's a cool guitar solo and some more "woah woah woah's" and as it started to fade out, to what was predictably the end of the EP, I felt a little cheated. But then it all turned around and caught me off guard:
Mid fade-out, the keys came back, the backing vocals all came back, and Charlie Chaplin's voice comes back in to finish his speech, and the EP ends with:
"Let us fight for a new world. A decent world. LET US UNITE"
I'll score it 4/5. It's good and polished, and I reckon their live set is gonna be a party!
*The influence is Bruce Springsteen. Now go back and listen to it all again with that in mind. Or just watch this video for Rebels. My favourite track.