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Brain Cycles

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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.

Customer Reviews

Freakin' Amazing

Words cannot describe (at least not my words) how amazing their first two albums are. Man! I can't stop listening to them. These guys are like...ok, so you put the White Stripes, the Black Keys, Monkey Boy and The Fumes in a blender...a really big blender. You add some Hendrix and Cream, then push "liquify". The tasty rock n roll brew that is Radio Moscow. Go get you some.

Brain melting heavy blues-psych guitar rock

Iowan Parker Griggs returns with Radio Moscow’s second album of power-trio electric blues. The trio here is one of instruments rather than players, since Griggs accompanies his bluesy psychedelic guitar leads by pounding out flamboyant, full-kit drumming. He’s surprisingly accomplished at both, and with bassist Zach Anderson (replacing the debut album’s Luke Duff) and the magic of overdubbing, the duo brings to mind the heavy sounds of Hendrix, Cream, Blue Cheer, Jeff Beck, Montrose and other pre-metal hard rockers. If anything, Radio Moscow’s gotten heavier, riffier in its tuneage and flashier with its rhythms. Though he was no slouch on the group’s previous album, Griggs’ sounds like he’s been practicing his drumming. Radio Moscow is a heavy-jam powerhouse, with many of the tracks clocking in at 4- and 5-minutes, and the studio-effect heavy “No Good Woman” stretching to over eight, including a (flashback alert!) minute-thirty drum solo. Griggs serves as the band’s vocalist, singing through processing that sounds like a Mellotron, but the lyrics mostly serve to keep the guitar solos from running over one another. It’s best to approach the band as an instrumental combo, with the scattered vocals as texture. The singer who could actually front this torrent of sound (rather than stand by and occasionally lob lyrics into the quieter parts) would just end up distracting from the group’s interplay of guitar, bass and drums. The tight, heavy riffs brings to mind early UK prog-rock and metal bands like King Crimson, Arthur Brown’s Kingdom Come and Black Sabbath, but generally without the lengthy excursions into jazz-styled jamming. Available on both CD and vinyl (but sadly not reel-to-reel tape), this should really be heard at maximum volume through classic 1970s speakers such as Altec Voice of the Theater A7s and a suitable cloud of smoke. [©2009 hyperbolium dot com]

Probably the best straight rock album I've heard in years.

These guys rock harder and more dirtier than any other band out there right now, can't stop listening to this album


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...
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Brain Cycles, Radio Moscow
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Customer Ratings