Radar Bros 
And the Surrounding Mountains
/chemikal underground; 2002/

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Radar Brothers is signed to the Scottish label Chemikal Underground but they really sound American. Like Grandaddy and Sparklehorse, their music is filled with the feeling of tedium in the open country, of bittersweet (but not depression). …And The Surrounding Mountains, their third album, smells summertime dust and derelict houses. It sounds like the first Grandaddy (Under the Western Freeway) but it is not as original and touching though, and they obviously share same influences – Neil Young, The Beatles, The Birds, etc. Radar Brothers might be a little bit more oriented towards the seventies now, like Mercury Rev for example (“uncles”, “you and the father”, “mothers”, “mountains” could be part of Deserter’s songs).

In fact, I listened to this album quite a lot this summer but I quickly grew tired of it. It’s one of these albums making you stay drowsily in your bed for hours, watching idly dull TV programs and never stir out of home. When you really want a do-nothing day, …And the surrounding Mountains is a nice album to play but when you decide to get up off your butt, it’s time to put away this album.

And the Surrounding Mountains begins with soaring melodies and dreamy cymbals. All of the songs have the same slow, languid tempo. They're built around warm acoustic guitar, beautiful guitar melodies and arrangements, and windy analog synthesizers. Everything tend to bring into relief vocalist Jim Putnam. The songs almost all deal with family (“you and the father”, “sisters”, “uncles”, “mothers”, “xmas eve”) and warm weather. They have the same slow rhythm of evening family meals taking place with a summer setting sun. “Sisters”, “mothers”, “mountains” and “the wake of all that’s past” nicely incorporate a mellow piano. The album peaks with “on the line” (which really sounds like Grandaddy at the beginning) "Rock of the Lake" and the quiet “mountains” (and its seventies prog rock atmosphere) and the magnificent “the wake of all that’s past”.

…And The Surrounding Mountains is a good album but it becomes boring in the long run. We might take it off its shelf next summer though…


/oct 1st 2002/