Radio Moscow: Brain Cycles

radiomoscow_braincyclesBrain melting heavy blues-psych guitar rock

Iowan Parker Griggs returns with Radio Moscow’s second album of power-trio electric blues. The trio here is one of instruments rather than players, since Griggs accompanies his bluesy psychedelic guitar leads by pounding out flamboyant, full-kit drumming. He’s surprisingly accomplished at both, and with bassist Zach Anderson (replacing the debut album’s Luke Duff) and the magic of overdubbing, the duo brings to mind the heavy sounds of Hendrix, Cream, Blue Cheer, Jeff Beck, Montrose and other pre-metal hard rockers. If anything, Radio Moscow’s gotten heavier, riffier in its tuneage and flashier with its rhythms. Though he was no slouch on the group’s previous album, Griggs’ sounds like he’s been practicing his drumming.

Radio Moscow is a heavy-jam powerhouse, with many of the tracks clocking in at 4- and 5-minutes, and the studio-effect heavy “No Good Woman” stretching to over eight, including a (flashback alert!) minute-thirty drum solo. Griggs serves as the band’s vocalist, singing through processing that sounds like a Mellotron, but the lyrics mostly serve to keep the guitar solos from running over one another. It’s best to approach the band as an instrumental combo, with the scattered vocals as texture. The singer who could actually front this torrent of sound (rather than stand by and occasionally lob lyrics into the quieter parts) would just end up distracting from the group’s tight, gutsy interplay of guitar, bass and drums.

The tight, heavy riffs bring to mind early UK prog-rock and metal bands like King Crimson, Arthur Brown’s Kingdom Come and Black Sabbath, but generally without the lengthy excursions into jazz-styled jamming. Available on both CD and vinyl (but sadly not reel-to-reel tape), this should really be heard at maximum volume through classic 1970s speakers such as Altec Voice of the Theater A7s and a suitable cloud of smoke. [©2009 hyperbolium dot com]

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