EP Review – Retro Radio – Pretty Alright
by Jade Sperry
Retro Radio are a 4 piece band based in Toronto ON. They take the raw guitar sound and unhinged emotion of grunge and set it to a beat that gets to you until you can’t help but dance.
Brother and sister Sam (guitars) and Nora Decter (vocals) write songs that challenge you to look away, songs that have been brewing inside them since they were kids playing in the dirty Winnipeg snow. As they both bounced around Canada, they’d send each other songs through the mail always with the promise of some future project. In 2008, the siblings relatively settled in Toronto and in that city they began to sort out their sound. Harsh but still kind of romantic, Nora’s words met Sam’s rocketship guitars to make a Retro Radio show so airless and stifling it threatens to bowl you over. Add to that the unrelenting beat of the rhythm section of JJ (drums) and Tristan O’Reilly (bass) and you’ve got a party.
The five song EP starts out with “Say I Stay” has a powerful drum beat from Justin that builds through the song and gets faster. Under the drums is a chaotic mix of bass and guitars that are edgy and smooth at the same time. Nora’s vocals are angry and frustrated in a low key that mixes perfectly with the music. This song speaks of a relationship that is held together with “scissors and glue” and about wanting to stay but change is needed. “Sister Suspect” is put together quite nicely. Smooth and chaotic at the same time the rhythm of the bass and drums put the backbone in this song. The guitars are not overpowering and are a bit laid back but done well. Nora’s vocals are slightly suspicious and wary of a person who is not what they seem to be. This is a well mixed song. “Momma’s Boy” has a great rhythm groove from the start which Sam takes and weaves through it with seamless and intricate guitar work. Nora’s vocals on top of this stellar music is edgy and slightly off key which works with the rhythm of the song. “Hipster Boyfriend” with choppy guitars and drums and as soon as Nora’s vocals come in, the song changes to a smooth vibe with the rhythm section. The guitars come back in when the bridge leads into the chorus. Nora sounds as good as the music with a provocativeness to her voice that suits the music perfectly. This song is slightly out tune but that is the heart of the song. Lyrically, its pretty much bang on as the title says. The last song “Colour In The Dark” starts out with a laid back bass line and the drums soon follow. The guitars are brought in slowly and the song evens out as Nora’s vocals come in and build towards a smooth bridge and chorus. The song speaks of “no colours in the dark” which could mean several things to a listener. And that is a good way to end a collection of songs that are put together very well.
Retro Radio is playing a club show before they go on the Off The Tracks tour (http://ronallen3000.wordpress.com/2010/03/26/cns-off-the-tracks-tour-sponsored-by-steam-whistle-brewery-april-22-25-2010/) with The Big Deal, Kendall Mitchell, Propane, Propane and headliners The Central Nervous System. Here is a schedule for Retro Radio in April 2010:
Retro Radio EP Release party club date before the tour:
15 April @ Lee’s Palace, Toronto ON. Doors 2100, $6 cover charge.
Off The Tracks Tour:
22 April @ The Garrison, Toronto ON. Doors 2000.
23 April @ Paddy Flaherty’s, Sarnia ON. Doors 2000.
24 April @ The Blind Dog, Windsor ON. Doors 2000.
25 April @ The Blackshire Pub, London ON. Doors 2000.
And you can find the band at these links:
Official MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/retroradiorocknroll
Official Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Retro-Radio/105396619499268?ref=ts
CBC Radio 3 page: http://radio3.cbc.ca/#/bands/Retro-Radio