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Brain Cycles

Radio Moscow

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Album Review

Between the front cover artwork, which features a pair of glasses with an additional lens for the Third Eye, and the back cover admonition "Best Played Very HIGH," Radio Moscow's second album strongly establishes its stoner credentials even before you've given it a listen, and the music doesn't disappoint if you're hoping for a gloriously resinous musical experience. Brain Cycles could pass for some long-lost heavy blues workout from the late '60s or early '70s, with layers of gargantuan Marshall-powered guitar tones flowing through wah-wahs and fuzz units as the rhythm section jams with indefatigable purpose over acres of six-string wailing. If Cream and Blue Cheer had a baby, it would sound an awful lot like Radio Moscow, and if historical accuracy were the sole criteria, Brain Cycles would be some sort of masterpiece — plenty of bands reach into the past for influence, but few have done so with such un-self-conscious ease as this band. Parker Griggs is an impressive guitarist and drummer, capturing a vintage style on both instruments that sounds less like imitation than an alchemical transformation into some band playing Iowa's equivalent of the Grande Ballroom in 1970, while bassist Zach Anderson has just the right low-end feel for the material, and they put their sounds on plastic with the optimal amount of studio trickery and no more (but if you love panning, you truly need this album). However, Brain Cycles is undercut by songs that aren't as impressive as the band playing them; for every number like the hard boogieing "City Lights" and the frantic wail of "Just Don't Know," there's another that sounds like a tune you'd skip over to get to one of the really good cuts of Outsideinside. And while it makes total sense for "No Good Woman" to have a drum solo, that doesn't mean it was a good idea in 1970 or today. They just don't make records like Brain Cycles anymore, and while most of the album suggests that's too bad, a few cuts demonstrate why folks stopped doing this back in the day.

Biography

Formed: 2004 in Ames, IA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Named for the pre-Cold War precursor to the propaganda outlet Voice of Russia, Radio Moscow are a blues-rock trio from Ames, Iowa, with a similarly anachronistic retro feel. Where bands like the Black Keys (whose guitarist Dan Auerbach produced Radio Moscow's debut album) and the White Stripes play with a stripped-down, modern take on the old power trio sound, Radio Moscow hark back to the glory days of the power trio, when Cream, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and Blue Cheer roamed the earth and the...
Full Bio
Brain Cycles, Radio Moscow
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