Polyvinyl Records, 2016
Review by Kent Manthie
On their fourth full-length CD, Synesthetica, Radiation City have shown that they are no fly-by-night, “here today, forgotten tomorrow” band. Originally formed in Portland, OR by the boyfriend/girlfriend duo of Cameron Spies (guitar/vocals) and Elisabeth Ellison (vocals/keyboards), the two eventually hooked up with three other Portland-area musicians, Randy Benrose on drums, Matt Rafferty on bass and Patti King, who also plays both keyboards and bass; and, by the way, all five contribute vocals as well. The latter joined the band just in time for the follow-up to their much heralded debut album, The Hand That Takes You, with an EP, entitled Cool Nightmare, in April, 2012. A year later, their second full-length CD, Animals in the Median came out, also garnering positive reviews.
On February 12, 2016, Radiation City will be releasing Synesthetica, it’s fourth overall release and third full-length album. There’s already buzz going around about this new album. It’s ethereal atmosphere shines and shimmers all through the album and with Elisabeth Ellison taking the lead in the vocals, her lush, satin voice breathes a lovely air over the lovely, candycoated music. Dominated by synthesizers in places and catchy guitars which complement each other quite well. The bass and drums, coalesce together quite nicely. The rhythm section doesn’t come on too strong, but it’s one of those elements that, if they weren’t there, you’d notice it. No bombastic drumbeats and no dominating bass arpeggios, Radiation City uses the keyboards to express much of the emotion here.
Some songs worth mentioning here include the opener, “Oil Show”, which comes on like the musical equivalent of a “come hither” look; catchy guitar riffs crunching, great pop hooks that have elements of disco and soul. “Juicy” utilizes synthesizers to bring off a cool, chilled song that has some interpolating guitar jams within as well. “Milky White” comes off as a kind of trip-hop crooner, with Lizzy singing her heart out in what is a great, memorable tune which will have you humming it in your head, hours after listening to it. Synesthetica closes with “Fancy Cherries”, a slow, but shimmering beauty of a song. It sort of takes the grandeur of the album and for its finale, wraps it up with a nice, pastel bow on top.
For more information on the band or on how to get a copy of Synesthetica or one of their three other releases, try http://radiationcity.net/ or https://www.polyvinylrecords.com for more. They’re also on Facebook, so those of you social media-heads out there, visit them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/radiationcity. -KM.