Radio Birdman CD review [Yep Roc]

Music Reviews
Radio Birdman CD review [Yep Roc]
Sep 5, 2006, 15:00


With their first recording effort since 1981's Living Eyes, Radio Birdman returns with the same blistering energy and raw power that defined their legendary 70s recordings. Zeno Beach delivers the characteristic Morricone/surf swagger and Detroit garage/punk sound that fans of the earlier work will appreciate, but the band has achieved more with Zeno Beach than simply trying to recreate the “old” Radio Birdman sound—the band has transformed and reinvented themselves through thirteen powerful and electrifying new songs.

Laying the grooves on thick, Tek and Younger write with the same tight and economical urgency, but the songs resonate with a broader sense of experience (and maybe a clearer sense of mortality). “We've Come So Far (To Be Here Today)” kicks open the album with the aplomb expected from such a title. Restless, driving guitars power the grandiose message, which is backed by riveting drums, solid bass, and icy keyboard tones. Rob Younger's lyrics are less abstract and more straightforward: “Are you ready, are you nervous baby… is it enough just to be satisfied?” Another standout track is “Remorseless.” An almost gothic narrative of hope after all hope is lost, the song takes the brooding fire of “Descent into The Maelstrom” and drags it deeper into inspirational darkness. Contributions from Dickson and Hoyle also widen the scope of the record, especially Hoyle's “Brotherhood of Al Wazah.” Here the band revisits the strange cultish landscape of “Man with Golden Helmet,” but “Al Wazah” is crafted with such dramatic flourishes that it vividly recalls Ray Manzarek's most arresting work with The Doors. 

I caught the band at their first ever Los Angeles appearance this fall. And while it was great to finally see performances of songs like “What Gives,” the new material from Zeno Beach is performed with a weight and groove that just doesn't seem to inform the back catalog: the band could just as well be playing only material from the new record and sound just as urgent, punchy, and raw as if they were touring on Radios Appear. [Yep Roc]

-Paul Matthew

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