Thursday, May 7, 2009

Radagun - Life Lessons

So what does Radagun mean? It means a band who works tirelessly at their dream, and makes it look easy in the process. When asked what keeps them going, front woman Aimee Ortiz Low said, “We spend every minute of every day thinking of what we can do better, and then we do it...we were all strangers when we met, but we're really close now, having the same goals has brought us together.” “We make a plan and then we stick to it. It's really easy to give up on something when you don't see results right away, but you have to believe in what you're doing, and know that it will pay off.” Added drummer Todd Low. Their hard work is indeed paying off; as they release their debut album Life Lessons they are starting on a full speed path to success and show no signs of slowing down.

Blasting out of Central Valley California’s Fresno, Radagun goes after coveted Garbage territory and quickly carves out its own space on the lawn next door. With their first release, they show up with a ‘80’s and 90’s pop/rock vibe that owes a lot to their predecessors without ever sacrificing an ounce of energy or fun.

“Party Girl”, the opening track starts with a coked up Casio drum machine before the rest of the band riffs in. Shawn Stephens and Jordan Pyles are hyped up, and in full gear by the first chorus. Aimee Ortiz Low gives us the 3 second sketch of the girl that we’ve all known: tell yourself we’re jealous and we just don’t understand/ tell us that its your decision you don’t have a man/ no wonder when you’re with a boy it never seems to last/ ‘cause even for an easy girl you’re moving kind of fast.

“It Never Ends” goes straight to the heart of the matter: its boy and girl and girl and boy and we’re all in our teens again and the world can turn on a heartbeat or choice phrase at a party. From the fast riffing under Aimee’s vocals to the great rocking breakdown and solo, this is a band that hasn’t forgotten the lessons of the past: they’re a rock/pop band, not a pop/rock band. The guitars and drums add the tooth to Aimee’s declarations of love, lust and boredom. You walk out singing the choruses as if you had heard the song a hundred times.

“Not the One” should become an underground college anthem: You’re just too nice you drive me crazy not in a good way/ you make me laugh but just at you not in a bad way/ stop buying me things that I don’t want/ stop trying to be something you’re not/ we’re just good friends/ get it through your head/ get it through your head.

Ouch. I’ve been married for over 10 years and I think that I just got bitch slapped by half my college girlfriends again.

With a bit of The Knack, the set the chorus into high gear, like smashing up against all the 21 year old unrequited love that anyone can channel. Even with "Lie to Me," they show their pop smarts: Can we try one more time/ cause I think about you/ this picture perfect world just fell apart/ but even though I left you I never thought you’d leave me. The shoe slides as easily on the other foot as it did the first.

Shirley Manson and Butch Vig should be proud to have such smart and tuneful successors in bands like Radagun. With the electronic pulse to open “Scary Night” Aimee confronts all the rock and roll bullshit and media head on, all while admitting that its not easy or as simple as it seems. Copy me/ copy me/ I’m everything you want to be/ I’m everything you want to be/ but I change my mind /you still agree.

“From Now” is the delightful break eight tracks into the album when you start to think that power pop is all that they can do. With a faux-symphonic track behind Aimee’s delicate vocals she details a life in increments of 10 days, 10 months, 10 years. A sharply written and delightfully sung little song whose great, great grandfather was on the second side of Sgt. Peppers.

“Panic” closes out the album with an adrenaline rush of rock and kicks out the jams on the drums, without losing its chorus to frenzy. For a self described “joke band” that Aimee talks about in the liner notes, they’re tight and focused on this first album, with a perchance for a great chorus and melodic hook. Next time you’re in, well, Fresno, look ‘em up. Or better yet, maybe they’ll come to you.

--Fearless Rock Iguana

Buy here: Buy the CD

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