The Radiation Kings
The Radiation Kings knocked my socks off with a stellar 7-inch earlier this year, and after catching a fantastic performance at this year's CMJ Festival in their NYC stomping grounds, I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of this debut full-length. Glad to say, Early Years does not disappoint, with a traditional ska vibe that's fleshed out with R&B, jazz, soul, and 50's rock overtones. I dig the casual, live-in-the-studio atmosphere of this record -- when singer Lisa White erupts into a giggling fit at the end of "Number 6," it's testament to the feeling that the band is at ease with their skills and having a good time making great music. White's amazing voice is the first thing you'll notice when you check this band out -- she can growl and belt with the best of 'em (check out "Come Down" and "NYC Blues" for just two fine examples), but despite serious pipes, she never crosses the line into annoying Mariah Carey diva-tude. Still, while her voice will grab your attention, it's the rocksteady groove laid down by the boys in the band that'll keep you coming back for more. Highlights include "Murder" (a smooth soul-ska burner with a great break right out of Del Shannon's "Runaway"), the sweet, jazzy ballad, "Spending Time," the dark and lovely "Carry," and the R&B-flavored "Dem Try," but everything here's worth more than one listen. The Radiation Kings are a band with unlimited potential -- with Early Years like this, just imagine what they're going to be like with a bit more seasoning! They're touring Florida in January -- don't miss 'em!
Stubborn Records, P.O. Box 176, 57 Pitt St., New York, NY 10002; http://www.stubbornrecords.com