In the grand tradition of Hot Water Music, Off With Their Heads, Nothington and, if you reach back a ways to the progenitors of it, Leatherface, comes Red City Radio. Arising from the dusty streets of Oklahoma City, Red City have been working in the gravel voiced grit punk the aforementioned bands have risen to heights both admirable and impressive. To this band’s credit, they’ve already released a couple EP’s, a couple splits and a hell of a debut full length in 2011’s Paper + Plastic release ‘The Dangers of Standing Still.’
Generally, in genres far and wide, a band will either follow one of two trajectories with the albums they release throughout their lifetime; one, they release a amazing, classic debut record, the glory of which they are never able to touch again. Or two, they start off decent or good and just get better and better with every subsequent release. For my money, Red City Radio belongs in the latter group. They started off strong and have just kept getting better and better. To say ‘Titles’ is their best work to date goes without saying (but I’m saying it anyway).
Musically, this is the band’s tightest work. Whether that’s as a result of them spending more time in the studio or just gelling better than ever as a unit doesn’t really matter, I’m reviewing their record here and their record is as tight as Tupperware.
Their melodies are also more refined. Songs like ‘I’ll Take A Mile,’ ‘Joy Comes With the Morning’ and ‘Purple Heart Paper Weight’ have such chewy hooks you’re in danger of biting the inside of your cheek just listening to them.
In that same vein, ‘Don’t Be A Hero, Find A Friend’ has the peppy bounce of pop-punk but with the sugary sweetness stripped away, or rubbed out with sandpaper.
Meanwhile, the ferocious one-two punch that kicks off the record, ‘Two Notes Shy of An Octave’ and ‘A Version of Events’ are fast, heavy, and possibly face melting.
The record doesn’t always move at a wildcat pace though. ‘Show Me On the Doll Where the Music Touched You’ slows things down for the most part and the change of pace is apparent. It’s not a bad song, but I can’t say the title isn’t the best thing about it.
Red City have made a wise choice in their closing selection for ‘Titles’ though in the song ‘The Silence Between.’ ‘The Silence Between’ is, as far I’m concerned, the best song on the record. It takes the best aspects of the rest of the record and combines them into something that’s catchy, aggressive, powerful and honest. This is how records should always end, but rarely do.
‘Titles’ should be the record that gives Red City Radio the boost that finds them on tours in bigger venues in more cities with more fans who are there to see them, rather than the band that’s playing after them, or two bands after them. All bands have to start somewhere, but who wants to be the band that provides the soundtrack to the headliner’s merch line their whole career?
And can I just take moment to praise that album cover? I don’t know what the hell’s going on there, but it looks amazing.