Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Fighting off the pricks

Play it: New Radiant Storm Kings The Steady Hand
Download: "The Winding Staircase" (Darla Records)

I already laid out my love for New Radiant Storm King last June, not realizing they were going to be putting out another excellent album (The Steady Hand, released yesterday,) to reinforce that sentiment. It's been six years since their last (Winter's Kill, Play It) was recorded (1999,) released (2002,) and subsequentially ignored, during which time guitarist/singer Peyton Pinkerton has had success playing (and recently engineering) with The Pernice Brothers. Going further back, it's been 17 years since Matt Hunter and Peyton Pinkerton formed New Radiant Storm King at Hampshire College (Northampton, Ma,) and each record has shown a growth in maturity (especially since the past few have been spaced out so much.) Looking back at all the bad luck they've endured (see their incredible timeline,) it's amazing they're even still a band (especially considering this.)

Peyton Pinkerton's songs (full band credited for songwriting, but Peyton sings these ones) encompass most of the highlights here. "The Winding Staircase," "Fighting Off the Pricks," "Quicksand Under Carpet" and "Come On And Let Yourself Win" are some of the best work Pinkerton's ever written, immediately brash and pop-y at the same time (much like Bob Mould's Sugar.) Meanwhile, Matt Hunter's work here serves more as a change of pace and are slower to grow on you, however "Hands and Eyes" has already taken up residence in my brain. I remember gravitating to Hunter's work earlier on in their releases, and it wasn't until '96's amazing Hurricane Necklace before Pinkerton's songs hit me the way they continue to now.

I'll still take the immaculate Hurricane Necklace as my fave, but this Steady Hand is nearly as good, and is the perfect time capsule back to mid-90's noise rock... and it sounds as good now as it would've then.

Maybe this will be their Meadowlands, since they've had a similar story to The Wrens, especially w/r/t Alan Meltzer and Grass/Wind-Up Records. They could tour together on the "Screw You Alan Meltzer! Tour." Just an idea.

Darla Records, NRSK's current label, has talked of releasing their out-of-print back catalogue, specifically My Little Bastard Soul (1992), Rival Time (1993) and Singular, No Article (1998); each disc replete with bonus tracks including (but not limited to) demos, singles and hopefully a video or two.

The Unheard Gem: NRSK
A Sad Status Quotient (The Pernice Brothers Discover a Lovelier You)

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