There’s a reason Radar Eyes is one my favorite Chicago acts: they’re versatile. They have a great talent for reinterpreting the past into something that is fresh and new, yet familiar. Their self-titled debut album for HoZac Records was released back in the winter of 2012, but is still finding its way onto my turntable and in my earbuds. And soon enough, I’ll be able to jam out to it in my ’97 Camry.
Alabama-based Happenin’ Records will be re-releasing the full-length on cassette this December. The band are no strangers to cassette releases, having made their unofficial debut via the “outdated” format back in 2010 on Chicago label, Plustapes. Singer/Songwriter Anthony Cozzi has been a strong supporter of the format for quite a while, advocating the band’s choice to release on cassette in this interview with the Chicago Tribune:
“I used to have a pickup truck when I was working in construction, and it only had a tape player. I was buying tapes at Reckless (records) for 50 cents: old punk tapes, tons of great stuff really cheap like the first tapes from (Chicago bands) Disappears and Cave. It gave me the idea to do our album that way as well. It squishes all the sounds together. If you’re doing a driving, psychedelic thing, it’s perfect.” [Chicago Tribune]
I can relate; having only a tape deck in my first car has given me a great appreciation for the cassette. In honor of this upcoming release, I’ve decided to devote this week’s Psychedelic Sunday to the album that helped me discover the psychedelic rock scene that exists in Chicago. So here it is, finally: a proper track-by-track look at Radar Eyes.
The album jumps right in with the foot stomping “In Love”. The song’s driving beat and reverb soaked vocals give it a bit of a post-punk vibe, but Radar Eyes manages to make this one into a danceable rock tune.
Following is “Prairie Puppies”, bringing out some of the softer side of Radar Eyes. The fuzzed-out guitars are still there, but they take a backseat to the vocals this time around. It quickly becomes one of the “poppier” tunes on the album.
For those who enjoy more prominent guitar work, they return to the foreground in “Miracle”. This song easily has one of the catchiest guitar riffs of 2012. Also released as a 7″ single via HoZac, “Miracle” is a perfectly crafted piece of pop rock. The song builds to a swirling layer of guitars and a noise-fueled solo but never loses its catchiness.
“Accident” is where the album really kicks into high gear. The drums get faster, the fuzz gets heavier, and the riffs get bigger and better. Just in case “Miracle” was too catchy for you, “Accident” brings a darker vibe to the album’s pop exterior.
“I Am” is the track that got me into Radar Eyes. I heard it once and couldn’t believe how good it was and that it took me so long to discover it. I played it ten times after that and immediately bought the album. It’s got an infectious synth line that breaks through the mix of guitars and drums. The song is another one that will get your head bobbing and foot tapping. In a few words, “I Am” is simply breathtaking.
Finishing out the A-side is the psychedelic rock infused “Secrets”. Lucas Sikorski’s distorted bass leads in the song and keeps it grounded as the band ventures deeper and deeper into the pure guitar noise that closes out the song.
Flipping to the B-side, the album offers up the droning but melodic “Bear Bee”. Another track that showcases the band’s ability to make catchy songs that still have a rock edge to them. The keyboard driven, “Disconnection” is an instantly enjoyable departure from the album’s heavy fuzz and reverb. The B-side starts off with two damn catchy tracks.
It might be pretty evident by now that Radar Eyes isfilled with personal favorites, and “Summer Chills” is no exception. Anthony Cozzi’s voice shines more than ever with a delightful chorus of “baaah bah bah bah”‘s that becomes the song’s hook. The track feels like all of the band’s influences from ’60s pop to ’80s new wave/post-punk melding into one fantastic 3 minutes of audio.
The album closes with two of the band’s more ominous tracks. Shelley Zawadzki’s heavy drumming on “In Time” really defines the track’s darker vibe, focusing more on driving bass and toms with very minimal use of her cymbals (except during the verses). The versatility I mentioned earlier is highly evident in this track; Radar Eyes can make well-crafted pop songs, but they have a darker side, too.
Driving this idea home is the album’s closer, “Side Of The Road”. Here, the band really explores their post-punk side. Taking influence from bands like Joy Division and Bauhaus, the track features heavy synth alongside Anthony Cozzi’s booming baritone. The band recently premiered a new video for the track via Purevolume, and it’s just as dark and brooding as the song itself.
So that’s it, Radar Eyes in a nutshell. With this rundown of the fantastic album, we hope you are as excited for the December 17th cassette release as we are. We’re pleased to see this great Chicago band embrace this media once again. Does anyone else have a soft spot for the cassette? Follow the band on Facebook and Twitter and keep an eye out for plenty of new material from these guys.