Radar Bros.

"Tar the Roofs," the opening track off The Singing Hatchet, the Radar Bros.' 1999 sophomore full-length, is just about as (gloriously) sad and searching as a piece of pop music gets. A slightly muffled piano and hopelessly downtrodden vocals combine gracefully until the onslaught of strings renders the occasion truly tragic: the perfect encapsulation of something/anything mourned, or maybe a forlorn afternoon's nap spoiled.

Three years later, the Bros. (there are no actual brothers here) at least seem to be a little less despondent. And the Surrounding Mountains, released in May, surely accommodates some of the expected gloom, but now the band's subdued verses, simply arranged and slow-burning, are prone to explode into swirling, near-epic choruses. It's longing soaked in optimism, like a stretch of desolate highway able to culminate any minute in a city or a vegetable stand. It's Grandaddy gone sincere, Low at its most triumphant.

Since the Radar Bros. hail from L.A., it's fitting that their finest moments are their most theatrical and lush, their most unabashedly soundtrack-ready. "You and the Father" might well be playing in the background during that moment of surprise, that rush of realization that comes two-thirds of the way through a good film. "On the Line" could unfold while the protagonist packs and leaves by snaking highway--"Miss Misery"-style, only more pomp-infused. I suppose that's the best place for Mountains; grab yourself a stretch of barren Southwestern highway and have at it.

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Ben Mercer
Contact: Ben Mercer

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