If you were inclined to like Radkey, I’d suppose you’d say that they sound a lot like Danzig, or maybe The Offspring and AFI’s adopted bastard child. If you were disinclined, you might say they sound a lot like Danzig, or maybe The Offispring and AFI’s adopted bastard child. Perception is a tricky thing and Radkey have produced their debut album reductio ad nihilum to a sound we’ve all heard before. Given their newness, one can forgive them for wearing their inspiration on their sleeve.
The album’s title, Dark Black Makeup, says nearly everything that you need to know about their sound. Thick as fuck guitars, drums that go boom more than snap, the bass that maintains eighth notes just in case there weren’t enough chugging, and a vocal that’s slightly more crooned scowl than singing. A few times throughout the album, they make space for a brief guitar solo in the shredding style popular with 80s bands.
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My question then, was there anything to this beneath the familiar exterior? Does there need to be? Does every album need to be an enlightening experience for it to be enjoyable?
The first time around, I listened to Dark Black Makeup playing in the background as I cleaned up the apartment; an activity I find immeasurably calming. This is how I listen to nearly album I review—it plays in the background so I don’t become overly critical the first time I hear it. (My ethos is to never review as a critic, but to do so as a listener. This is why I almost always end up compartmentalizing an artist/album’s influences. I believe this is how a music gormandizer hears music).
During the second listen, I dive headfirst and make notes, mental or written, about what I heard and felt. Really listening for the guts of the thing. The third time, it once again recedes to the background as the soundtrack to my writing. Of course sometimes there’s more listening involved, but you don’t want to listen to an album too much either before saying something about it. But never less than three times.
For Radkey, I found that I really liked this album the first time I heard it. That enjoyment faded upon closer inspection. Only for me to like it more the less I thought about it when I began writing. Which is fucked up to think, much less to write out in a review of the album. The less I heard of each individual part, and the more I heard the band as a whole, the more I liked the band. The less I heard each individual track, the more I liked the album.
What that means to me is that I should be listening to this album while cleaning the apartment. Or driving, or in the shower. Growing up, as I did with Interpol, to those who had Soundgarden, AFI, Danzig, and Joy Division before me, I know that they will surely find an audience amongst those that that wear the Dark Black Makeup.
What that leaves is an album review with hardly any review. I choose to confine myself to the album I like, rather than the one I do not. And for good reason: I don’t dislike very much music at all. There is a time and a place for every album, and sometimes the key to hearing a good album is finding the right moment for you to hear that album. At the wrong moment, it could be dreadful; in the right one, it is perfect.
Which leads me to repeat myself: If you were inclined to like Radkey, I’d suppose you’d say that they sound a lot like Danzig, or maybe The Offspring and AFI’s adopted bastard child. If you were disinclined, you might say they sound a lot like Danzig, or maybe The Offspring and AFI’s adopted bastard child. Perception is a tricky thing.
Radkey 2015 US Tour Dates
Sep 08 Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry
Sep 10 Omaha, NE @ Waiting Room w/ Desaparecidos & Joyce Manor
Sep 11 Denver @ Larimer Lounge
Sep 12 Salt Lake City, UT @ Music Garage
Sep 14 Vancouver, BC @ The Cobalt
Sep 15 Seattle, WA @ Barboza
Sep 16 Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theatre Lounge
Sep 18 Oakland, CA @ Leo’s
Sep 19 San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar
Sep 20 Long Beach, CA @ Alex’s Bar
Sep 21 Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo
Sep 22 Scottsdale, AZ @ Pub Rock
Sep 26 St. Louis, MO @ The Demo
Sep 27 Springfield, MO @ The Outland Ballroom
Sep 29 Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade
Sep 30 Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter
Oct 01 Hudson, NY @ The Half Moon
Oct 02 Allston, MA @ Great Scott
Oct 03 Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie
Oct 04 Washington DC @ Black Cat Backstage
Oct 07 New York, NY @ The Studio at Webster Hall
Oct 08 Pittsburgh, PA @ Smiling Moose
Oct 09 Toronto, ON @ Phoenix Concert Theatre
Oct 10 Chicago, IL @ Township
Article: Christopher Gilson