Radiation City

Polyvinyl Records, 2016

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Portland, Oregon is home to plenty of stunning indie rock bands, including the young but prolific Radiation City. Though they only formed in 2010, the band has already released three albums. Synesthetica is their first on Polyvinyl Records, which is also home to plenty of other stunning indie rock.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Oil Show” starts off the album with a sleek, dance rock feel where pretty female vocals are met with a spacey and R&B feel. “Juicy” follows and is a slow-burner with an ‘80s feel, where multiple vocals help make this an even more lush affair, while “Butter” gets breathy and intimate, with an underlying soulfulness that is rarely approached in indie rock circles.

At the middle of the disc is when guitarist and vocalist Cameron Spies makes his first grand entrance on the microphone; he and Lizzy Ellison take turns between soft cooing and his rougher vocals on “Come And Go.” Interestingly enough, the louder instrumentation is backed with jazz solos here. “Milky White,” one of the disc’s singles, is easily an album highlight, illustrating Radiation City’s glam side with grooves, beats, and a penchant for synth and organ fun; meanwhile, that synth sound is furthered in the sci-fi and hook friendly “Sugar Broom.”

Near the end, “Separate” is both the longest track and the most eclectic, often sounding like dozens of ideas mashed into one atmospheric and hazy, acoustic focused version of dream pop. The album closes with Ellison’s soaring pipes on the genre-defying “Fancy Cherries.”

The band nearly dissolved before this album was made, due to the driving couple of the band, Cameron Spies and Lizzy Ellison, nearly breaking up. Incredibly, amid all the turmoil going on within the band, they were able to birth both a sensual and aesthetically pleasing album that opens an entirely new door on their expansive sound. Thankfully, for fans of sophisticated, unpredictable, and catchy indie rock meets dream pop, Radiation City appears to have a new lease on life.

Rating: B

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© 2016 Tom Haugen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Polyvinyl Records, and is used for informational purposes only.