When we first discovered Radio Moscow, we were all immediately floored by the guitar playing of Parker Griggs. For those unfamiliar with the story, Parker went to a Black Keys show and handed a demo to Dan Auerbach. Auerbach loved it and subsequently produced the Radio Moscow debut.
While their eponymous debut is excellent (#29 in the HearYa top 50 of 2007), it has a rough feel to it. Parker played most of the parts on the album himself and it came across as a one man project. In contrast, on Brain Cycles, Radio Moscow is a much more cohesive band. After listening to the album a few times, there are three things that really make this a more complete and balanced effort:
- Parker’s vocals. On the first album, the vocals sometimes seemed as if they were just filling room between blistering guitar solos. Griggs is a guitar prodigy so it works, but on Brain Cycles, Parker is more confident as a front man and has some swagger.
- The rhythm section is staggering. They move in lockstep with Parker while pulling off some of their own crazy shit. As I mentioned in my SXSW recap, Zach Anderson on bass has made tremendous strides and is every bit the equal to Parker.
- On the debut, the songwriting was about showcasing Parker’s guitar work, which was fine by me. But Brain Cycles shows a more mature effort in his songwriting.
A couple of my favorites include “Broke Down” that has a Sabbath inspired riff and “No Good Woman,” complete with 90 second drum solo by Parker (it actually kind of works).
Radio Moscow is growing up, but they don’t abandon their blues-psychedelic sound that is sure to fuel bong circles in smoky dorm rooms all over college campuses.