Monday, January 30, 2006

New Radiant Storm King: The Steady Hand (Darla)
release: February 14, 2006
rating: ***1/2

The album cover for the Steady Hand--some guy's brooding head with butterflies swarming around-- wasn't the most enticing way to get me interested in the latest from New Radiant Storm King. (Those albums covers are important yo!). But the fact that this release is a) on Darla and b) compared to a mix of Swervedriver, Teenage Fanclub and Wire, it's pretty much a no-brainer that I will have to listen to this, and most likely make a fresh discovery. The comparisons, which are usually not accurate, are right on this time. Oh, there is hella Swervedriver here, with the chugging noise-pop guitar riffs and the gliding vocals. In fact, the first track hints of this being an all-out shoegaze affair, with its MBV-style guitar-bending. After this Northampton, MA outfit is done with the noisey stuff on the first five tracks, they settle in for some indie rock that's anchored by acoustic guitar and friendly vocals. Later they rock out on "From A Roof" and "Hands and Eyes," the latter of which is especially ethereal. By then, I came up with a more contemporary and specific comparison: the songwriting skills of Deathcab for Cutie meets the sound-blasting of Amusement Parks on Fire. -Kenyon

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