STRYCHNINE EP - The Radishes (Standoffish Productions)
Having no knowledge of this band, I stumbled across this EP on the great CD distribution website cdbaby.com. After listening to some killer track samples - and reading that Wayne Kramer, Paul Barker (Ministry) and Rey Washam (Scratch Acid) were involved in the recording - I purchased the EP. After listening to the four tracks, I was sold - this EP is absolutely stunning in every facet.
The title track starts the EP with a swift kick to the head. A nice riff is established between original guitarist Scrote and Wayne Kramer. Vocally, it becomes quickly apparent that Paul Stinson stands out with a style that resembles Richard Hell. Stinson, like Mr. Hell, also has a knack for memorable lyrics such as "you got a face like a third world war / you can't remember what your memory is for" or "if they ask you who do you love? / plead the fifth!". Midway in the song, it starts to heat up with an exchange of fuzzed leads between the two guitarists. After the two stop, Washam remains the only active member, laying down a nice drum groove. Softly, Stinson starts to repeat "The streets belong to us..now". The song slowly begins to re - establish volume as does Stinson's whispered mantra then becomes a scream.
After an explosive lead off track, the second song "Astronaut Love Triangle" keeps the energy flowing. The song has got a jazzed up / heavy feel to it. Stinson's vocals in itself are tremendous; a classic delivery filled with a convincing sneer and attitude. Both Barker and Washam excel on this track, providing a thick and heavy bottom. Scrote again offers up angular yet distinct guitar lines.
As Stinson's vocal introduces the third song "Nowhere / Somewhere", the guitar stutters and the high hat of Washam provides a steady percussion. The guitar of Scrote rushes in, cymbals crash and Barker's bass propels the songs forward.
A major highlight of this EP is the final track "I Found Out". The Lennon and Plastic Ono Band song is literally re-claimed by The Radishes for it's own sake. What follows is a thrilling high energy guitar workout conducted by both Mr. Kramer and Scrote. Barker and Washam provide the driving force of the song holding the ensemble together. Stinson's vocal screams add punctuation to the song. At the four and half minute mark of the song, the song starts veering towards "Starship" - Sun Ra territory complete with feedback, distorted jazz guitar solos and backward vocals. The song ends with a member loudly stating that "it doesn't get any fucking better than that, huh!". Yes sir, it does not!
Once in a while, a band will release music that will reaffirm, and connect you, to that elusive belief of what makes great art. You know, those classic albums/songs (some of them of our own astute opinion) that hold a cherished place in our music collection. For me, after hearing The Radishes: Strychnine EP it's already occupying that hallowed ground. - Arthur S
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