Thursday, August 21, 2008
If you've been reading this site long enough, you're likely aware of my firm belief that New Radiant Storm King released one of the finest albums of 2006 in "The Steady Hand". That thoughtfully energetic collection of dual-guitar rock songs kept the best aspects of what made this born-in-89 quartet so good throughout the 90s, while at the same time showing enough growth to not sound like a retread. Unlike some of their peers, age hadn't split them apart and put acoustic guitars in their hands, or pushed them towards milking their rich catalog for nostalgia's sake -- their hook-filled creativity was still fully on display, along with a measured dose of songwriting maturity.
We got a healthy taste of their next record when NRSK opened up for reunited old friends Polvo at the Middle East a couple months back -- only 3 songs of their 9-song set were familiar (the excellent "Montague Terrace" from 2002's "Winter's Kill", and two set bookends from "The Steady Hand"), so I assumed the rest would be found on their autumn-scheduled album. Well, I assumed correctly, and thanks to Darla Records, I've been spending lots of time with New Radiant Storm King's upcoming eighth (!) full-lengther, "Drinking In The Moonlight".
The thirteen songs add slightly more intricate production to the mix, and while the band's energy remains (opener "Soporific Slump", "Eraser"), the new album relies a bit more on their cleaner, sparkling guitar lines over a bed of acoustic (yes, I said it) strumming, eschewing heavy distortion in favor of more instrumental depth. Hell, album closer "Fall Prey", with its gorgeous piano line and heavily-panned drum fills, sounds more like the Beatles than anything NRSK has ever recorded, and contains an actual guitar solo, a musical trope the band has rarely, if ever, fallen back on. Fortunately, they have the good taste to pull it off, and even the songs that stretch the band's own boundaries still sound undeniably NRSK. Not sure I can think of another non-twee act who can work "Ooooo la-la-la" backing vox into a song (see "Midnight Comes") and have it sound wholly appropriate. Yes, the hooks are there in spades, maybe less overtly propulsive but no less catchy, resulting in a little more pop in their rock. Lyrically, the band continues to grow, weaving in weighty subjects like religion, the consequences of violence, and of course, the unavoidable passage of time. Fortunately for us, that passage of time hasn't included retiring their band, and it'll be nice to see founding members Peyton Pinkerton and Matt Hunter celebrate their 20th anniversary as songwriting partners next year.
Through the kindness of their record label, I've got what might be the premiere of the first downloadable song from the upcoming album for ya. Here's track number three...
New Radiant Storm King's "Drinking In The Moonlight" arrives on October 7th, 2008 courtesy of Darla Records. You can stream five other songs from the album on MySpace. For the full track list and the band's (very) brief words on each song, head here, and to pre-order, click here. They play tomorrow night in Philly at the M Room and Saturday at Piano's in NYC, both shows with Photon Band. More tour dates are sure to follow later on this year, so keep an eye out.
live in cambridge, ma
on november 14th, 2008
previously: joy formidable - boston 2011
recent posts on the 'nac...
on the nightstand
boston-area music bloggers
boston music media