For the uninitiated Radkey are a teenage band of brothers; Isiah (bass), Dee (guitar and vocals)
and Solomon Radke (drums), who are managed by their dad and play garage rock.
If that sounds a bit too cutesy and suggests a reality tv show in
waiting then “Dark Black Makeup” should come as a pleasant surprise to
the cynics amongst us out there (myself included).
This is their debut album and it is produced by Ross Orton, who was
responsible for the muscular re-tooling of the Arctic Monkeys sound on
“AM” and he brings a similar vibe of hard bodied bounce and gum
chewing insouciance to Radkey‘s youthful ram-a-lama’s. Make no mistake –
this album is designed to overpower your ears; the drums are huge, the
boys harmonies surge and envelope you and the tunes are just simple
enough to stay with you after one spin but cool enough to keep giving
you a buzz on repeated listens.
It is without doubt The Misfits that are the most immediate reference
point due to singer and Dee’s crepuscular croon, which is
uncannily like Glen Danzig‘s and with a lead out title track about
teenage vampires you could be fooled at first into thinking they were
a tribute act. The rest of the songs though, are less gothically
inclined and deal in the standard adolescent concerns of garage punk;
no bad thing as the best punk is usually made by adolescents. The boys
have obviously been playing a lot of the greats in their bedrooms too
as as the album progresses the band diversify their sound to take in
Black Flag-ish thuggery on ‘Song of Solomon’ and Bad Brains-esque
proto thrash on ‘Glore’. A couple of the best tracks see the band move
into more modern territory – ‘Sank’ is a brilliantly tough but slinky track
and you can imagine Josh Homme swinging his denim pants to it. ‘Evil
Doer’ slides in on the sort of euphoric stadium riffage that Jimmy Eat
World copyrighted about fifteen years ago.
Still, it’s safe to say that if you like The Misfits, and are
comfortable with embracing a band willing to sing ‘Na na-na na, na-na na’na na’
without irony (‘Le Song’) then there’s a lot to love under the “Dark