Radio Silence: Isolation – EP review
Radio silence : Isolation PE
Newcastle’s garage-psych berserkers release their scorching debut EP, Isolation. Whitley Bay-based writer Gus Ironside hears echoes from The Cramps, The Gun Club and The Birthday Party and hails “the best unrestricted rock & roll band to come out of Newcastle since The Animals”.
Earlier this year, Hilton Valentine, the original guitarist born in North Shields with The Animals, sadly passed away at his adopted Connecticut home. The Animals has long held a special place in the hearts of garage-rock aficionados, with the rocky and popular anthems of the Newcastle band leading the charge in the British invasion of the American pop charts of the 1960s. With The Pretty Things, The Animals struck a chord with young musicians in Detroit / Michigan, forming a key influence on The Stooges and The MC5 in particular.
Almost 60 years later, Tyneside is enjoying a musical renaissance, with the adventurous indie folk-rock of Hector Gannet, the soaring electro-pop of Blamire and the punk-pop alchemy of Bugman to name a few highlights from the local scene, but for a long time now the region has been lacking a really exciting high energy rock & roll band that offers a fresh take on the genre. With an ending, hopefully, in view of live music’s long lack of lockdown, there has never been a better time for Radio Silence to emerge.
Led by young singer / guitarist Jack Burlison, with his unruly Wayne Kramer mop, Radio Silence’s powerful rhythm section features bassist Rob Owens and drummer Andy Mcaskell, while new recruit John Gair doubles down on guitar and keyboards.
Isolation’s main track, Crank Bugs, features the band’s stand from the start; a deranged flash of unbridled energy, this fierce garage-rocker invites comparisons to The Stooges and The Cramps, but there’s a contemporary sensibility to the track that escapes the retro trap. The group displays an impressive array of dynamics, while Burlison delivers a passionate voice that summons the spirit of Jeffrey Lee Pierce to Fire of Love-era Gun Club.
The second track, Repo Man, lurks and wobbles like the early Bad Seeds on the Lash with Gene Vincent, the jazz-tinged ride cymbal patterns of Andrew Mcaskell and the swing bass of Robert Owens holding the song together as Burlison screams his sound. timely story of ruthless debt collection. Radio Silence has the trick of infusing its lyrics with contemporary political undertones without ever falling into the awkward Idles controversy, creating a subtle but cumulative effect over the course of this 5-track EP.
Heads Will Roll introduces a bluesy swagger somewhere between Johnny Thunders and The Doors, with Burlison indirectly referring to the mental discomfort induced by lockdown as guitars stab and scream, while subtle melodica fleshed out the sound.
Speeding up the tempo up a notch, The Hanging Tree bristles with an edgy threat reminiscent of the early Bad Seeds. Another perfect psycho-drama for a jaw-dropping live finale, the song once again showcases the band’s sublime understanding of dynamics and intuitive ensemble playing.
Perhaps the most ambitious track in this energetic and engrossing EP, the title track made a career out of a ping-pong riff worthy of Sonic Youth at its most intense, before falling into a segment of ’60s crooner and then come back for a true guitar freak. -out to conclude an immaculate set of songs that will leave the listener hungry for a full album.
With this flawless debut EP, Radio Silence has the potential to be the best unrestricted rock & roll band to come out of Newcastle since The Animals. It’s the start of something special.
Buy isolation here.
Don’t miss Radio Silence live at The Engine Room, North Shields on July 2nd.
Radio silences are activated Twitter and Facebook.
Model: Sarah Broadley
Photographer: Kelly Smith
Editing / Composition: Jack Burlison
Group photo by Scott Jacobs. Other work by Scott can be found here.
All words from Gus Ironside, 2021
More of Gus’ writings can be found here.