Album Review

​Red City Radio - Red City Radio

Released April 21, 2015
Lisa Sanchez
​Punk quartet Red City Radio originally hail from Oklahoma City, but they evoke the raw emotion and energy of a Los Angeles band without all the frills. The band's self titled album, Red City Radio, hits you on all fronts. The songs are catchy and fun while maintaining a solid, deeply personal subject matter that lead singer Garrett Dale brings home consistently throughout the album.
Red City Radio starts off solid with "Whatcha Got?" and "Rest Easy" getting you into the groove of laid-back punk rock. By the time you get to "Stranger" the stakes are raised with lyrics like, "When you needed me I know I wasn't there. I wasn't going to let myself hold you down and you don't need a man like me around." Red City Radio has a knack for story-telling that conveys a whole scenario without hammering home an overbearing theme. You can tell the content is very personally and strikes a nerve for listeners that makes it infectiously endearing.
"Stranger" sets the tone for the rest of the album. Although the subject matter is deeply personal, the music remains light with accentuated guitar and punctuated drum beats for Dale's penetrating lyrics. "Two Out of Three Ain't Rad" has an excellent balance of guitar licks mixed into the melody as well as careful use of drum backing that helps break up the song and keep it punchy. "Electricity" is another killer song that I would want to be played at my wedding and my divorce. It's a little romantic, a little sad, so pretty much great for any occasion where you want to freak out a date or significant other.
All of the members of Red City Radio offer backing vocals on most of the tracks, which gives the album a full, strong sound that drives home their memorable tunes. The group vocals work well with their music and offer a nice foil to Garrett's gravely voice. This is showcased nicely on "Let Me In" which features some great musical composition, but also the harmonics the band members are capable of. I don't often look for real vocal talent in punk bands, it's usually a sneering spew of utterances, which I love, but, Red City Radio have chops and they're not afraid to show them off.
The band's album ends just as strongly as it began. "In the Meantime..." is a fast-paced, persistent confessional where Red City Radio energetically exclaim, "I just want to get high and play my fucking guitar...sometimes I wish that I would die just so I could see what's on the other side, just so I could prove you all wrong." There is a sardonic playfulness in the band's sound that I just can't get enough of. Red City Radio ends with the ballad-esque "...I'll Catch a Ride" which lays those Johnny Cash flashbacks on thick. The song gradually builds with deep bass drum and increased bass and guitar intros that bring the atmosphere to full-on smoky dive bar quality.
Red City Radio as a whole embody an organic, emotive, sound without pulling any punches on their punk roots. The band occupies an interesting dynamic in my mind. They have the hooks and melody of Alkaline Trio, the emotional utterances of Off With Their Heads, but the narrative style of Johnny Cash. Put that all together and you get one awesome band that is destined to be your new favorite. Red City Radio still deliver an in-your-face sound that isn't based on aggression, but lyrics and melodies that demand to be heard because they deserve to be heard. If you listen to one album, punk, rock, or otherwise make sure it's Red City Radio's self-titled release.