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Friday, August 18, 2017

Radon Chong - I Keep On Talking To You review

Radon Chong grew from the remains of Skinless Boneless, a band I mention here quite a bit. It is a worthy successor. While Skinless Boneless could be a little sloppy sometimes, Radon Chong is very tight and more jammy. The dual guitars, hopping bass, and drums, accompanied with some lifting sax, make something more than the sum of their parts. The vocals, from Actorcop's Sasha Weisfield, are so varied and more musical than most bands. And it really is a band, not a one-person show, everything working together like the gears in a grandfather clock.

In this month of August 2017, Radon Chong is releasing an album on Single Girl Married Girl Records. I got a copy for review purposes, and it is a fine piece of work. Everything is so solidly crafted, with tight, clean production and good sound. The release has calming/creepy color scheme of yellow/purple, the cover adorned with a manikin pillow person next to a small lamp. It is an eerie and lonely picture, but it's also just a room in every house, white walls, darker carpet, and enough light to bring that known feeling.

The first track, "Faith-Based Charles" has some bouncing bass and geometric guitars. The vocals are loud and quiet, dynamic but not like Nirvana, saying, "I really miss you". I like the crispy sound of the cymbals and the slow fade out of the guitar harmonics accompanied by a sort of bass solo. "Grandma Anthropology" sounds like Pere Ubu mixed with R.E.M., David Thomas singing about explosions. It starts with some fancy guitar lines and really bouncy bass and follows with some NYC Ghosts & Flowers ambiance. The vocals are really nice here, incredibly musical and growing to growls. "Farm Pays for Me" might be my favorite with its, "c'mon, the farm pays for me" and more Pere Ubu sounds (vocals a little like the similarly titled "Big Ed's Used Farms" from Song of the Bailing Man) and springy guitars. "Seaform" is a bit slower, a small whirr before building up to some cymbals and then heavy drums. It's not a slow, epic build like Television. This song really shows Radon Chong's pop sensibilities, which, though buried, they do have. It's in the corners, behind all the scattered things, but it is there in the end "living in a steel mill". "You're a Kid" starts with Stooges drums, going into some Texas art-punk vocaloids before saxophone sounds, the color of a blue city painting, ride along the guitar and other vocals join harmonically. I like the outtake at the end. "Second to One" is kind of a continuation of the last, sonically but with some breaks. The drums are really energetic. The album ends on "Cold Hands", the title of which describes, to me, exactly what I said about the cover art, distant but warm in the end (cold hands, warm heart). This track goes from a downer to a real rocker that descends into guitar drone and more rock 'n' roll, Skinless Boneless style. Screeching, textural solos come up around like Humbaba's Cedar Forest at sunset. Then it ends, like everything else, at least in theory.

I Keep On Talking to You is an excellent album. It drags on a tiny amount, the songs sounding similar towards the end, but the actual end is well done and these are interesting songs with many things to find. The production is crisp, not muddy or blown out as is too common, and every instrument, including the vocals do their part to make something monumental. This is an epic, a tiny epic, "it's like sitting at home and risking yr life". Radon Chong's I Keep On Talking to You receives a Good.

If you're in Pittsburgh, be sure to check out Radon Chong's release show for this album on August 26th at the Mr. Roboto Project. They are playing with the always excellent, and sonically similar, Night Vapor along with two touring bands, Nonzoo and Lake Lake. Here's a link to the Facebook event. I hope to see you there!

EDIT: The album title was incorrectly written here as "I Can't Stop Talking To You" (hence the web address); it has been changed to the correct one.

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