July 9, 2013

Review: Radiator Hospital | Something Wild

It seems like only yesterday we were praising the merits of the latest and greatest from the white-hot Philadelphia underground, but even so it didn't take us long to turn up something new from the musically fertile City of Brotherly Love, something that just may be the best the metropolis has to offer this year, Radiator Hospital's terrific LP Something Wild.

Indie pop concern Radiator Hospital is the brainchild of Philly-based singer/songwriter Sam Cook-Parrott. While Something Wild features a fully fleshed-out, four-piece band including Swearin' drummer Jeff Bolt on the skins, Mr. Cook-Parrott has been releasing singles and EPs with different collaborators for a few years under the Radiator Hospital moniker. Incidentally, Mr. Bolt isn't the only connection between Radiator Hospital and Swearin’: the two acts also share a living space. That’s right, folks, the house that brought you Swearin', Waxahatchee and the Crutchfields twins' mutual side project Great Thunder is also home to yet one more killer indie rock act. Indeed, Something Wild was even recorded in said house. And while a new record from Swearin' could be out this fall, any new entries in the realm of indie pop in 2013 will have to go a very great distance to surpass the brilliance of Something Wild.

Breathlessly brief at under a half hour, Something Wild still captivates and satisfies in a way few other records have this year. That's largely because it's so dynamic. The long-player, which touts 13 tracks, boasts an impressive stylistic breadth and depth offering almost equal parts revved-up pop-punk, unguarded folk and jangly downer-pop. Indeed, at times individual songs can sound like the product of different groups. But what's best about Something Wild, however, is that it never feels the least bit empty. Cook-Parrott jettisons all unnecessary excess, and occasionally even conventional song structures, to focus more intently on crafting short and sweet bursts of sugary pop goodness. Even in the single rare instance that the band draws things out over three minutes during the acoustic strummer "Big Cloud," the subdued tune more than gets by on the raw immediacy of pretty, layered vocal harmonies and rootsy instrumentation.

Cook-Parrott is just as comfortable nasally waxing poetic over a brittle and crudely recorded acoustic guitar as he is belting out love-lorn narratives above over-driven guitars and pounding drums. Needless to say he's just as effective at conveying emotion either way. It should come as no surprise then that Something Wild's greatest track, "Your Boyfriend," reaches its emotional climax when Cook-Parrott and co. shift from one dynamic extreme to the other. Kudos to any band that can turn real emotional pain into catchy summer jams as well as these guys do. With no shortage of electrifying tunes, from the belter "Our Song" (and its fist-banging chorus "You won't get off that easy, no don't say you love me, when you know you don't") to the, uh, other belter "Ghost Story," Radiator Hospital delivers the goods in as impressive a fashion as we've heard all year. Something Wild is due July 15 on LP from Salinas Records and pre-orders are being taken right here. The record is also available as a free download from Bandcamp (click through the embed below), so indie rock fans have no excuse not to treat themselves to Something Wild. -- Dillon Riley

Radiator Hospital: Bandcamp | Facebook | Internerds | Vimeo

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Terri said...
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