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Ah, remember a day when rock and roll was in its prime and just plain sounded the way it should; a day when guitars weighed a ton, hair was long, and the amps had knobs that were as big as pie plates. This was a day when you could still hear the hiss of the 2 inch tape on albums and bands could venture to the heavy end of the spectrum and not scare off the good spirited masses who were merely looking for a new album to throw on the turntables, space out, and expand both their mind and musical pallets. Fortunately for us, there are still musicians out there who abide by these creeds of the late 60's and early 70's, and could easily be considered contemporaries of their heroes, keeping great rock and roll alive in a world in which the majority of popular music has gone to shit. Hailing from Ames, Iowa of all places, Radio Moscow is one of these bands that does things right, from playing through vintage gear and joining forces with Alive Records, a label that can do no wrong in my book. Their newest album out of the oven, Brain Cycles, is a step above their 2007 debut with a greater confidence in both song-writing and musicianship.
I might be beating a dead horse by comparing Radio Moscow to Hendrix, however there is no denying the obvious influence that this music has on this album, from the guitar leads, tones, and effect choices. At the same time, Brain Cycles reminds me a great deal of other behemoths from back in the day including Cream, Blue Cheer, and the Groundhogs. Front man and guitarist Parker Griggs comes from a school of thought in which fuzz and wah are kings and the guitars are loud. Its a good thing too, because this young man has massive chops and an ear for the way rock and roll songs should be written. Chalk another one up in Griggs' column for his percussive work on the album, playing all of the drum parts himself. This leads me to the question, what can't he play? No kidding, there are hundreds of artists out there that would kill to have drum sounds like this, part Mitch Mitchell, part Carmine Appice. On the low end of things, Zach Anderson's bass lines are prime, tasteful, and in the pocket, perfectly complementing the guitar and drum work at hand. Brain Cycles is all about the driving riffs and psychedelic swells that will make the brain swim, swirl with an Are You Experienced? production quality. In fact I would almost require it to ingest Brain Cycles via a great pair of headphones.
Let's raise our glasses once again to Alive Records for bringing another of this year's best to the listeners. And most definitely hats off to the Radio Moscow boys for tapping into something that was in or added to the water back in the days when rock and roll was all about throwing on the cans, lighting some incense, and freeing ones mind. -Andrew Bryan