For the past several years Portland, OR’s Radiation City has been making a name for themselves, putting out charmingly quirky, folky dream pop. However, their sophomore LP, Animals in the Median (released this May on Tender Loving Empire), is more along the lines of a whimsically funky postmodern brand of lounge. The album is receiving rave reviews from the likes of Nylon and BrooklynVegan. They are also in the middle of a full-scale tour, which will be making a stop at Kung Fu Necktie this Tuesday, June 11th. I recently got a chance to chat with Radiation City’s Cameron Spies about the band’s latest release.
“It’s definitely a progression for us, in our grasp of our sound,” Spies tells me of Animals in the Median. He goes on to clarify, “Our debut was mostly written by Lizzy and I and this one was collectively written, as a band, and I feel like we’re working best as a whole. We also mixed this one with a professional, whereas we used to do all of our own mixes.” When I ask him about the album’s biggest influences, he tells me, “One big musical influence was Songs in the Key of Life by Stevie Wonder and, personally, Roy Orbison and Patsy Cline… Non-musical? Outdoor spaces, animal sounds, emotionally difficult things in our lives… zombies…”
Despite Animals in the Median barely being out of the birth canal, the band already have another LP set to drop June 18th… a Hip-Hop LP of remixes of the album… “It’s actually less out of leftfield than you might think,” Spies tells me, going on to explain, “Both Randy and I have backgrounds in Hip-Hop. There’s always been an affinity for Hip-Hop with us.” The project began when Radiation City got together with PDC emcee G_Force, whom they were introduced to during an annual sports outing set up for local musicians: “We met him during a game of basketball in a three-on-three band tournament that they have every year… I think that’s why they have them, to bring together artists who normally wouldn’t collaborate.” From what I’ve heard, the project actually sounds a lot more cool and cohesive than you would imagine… And they’re already thinking about and putting together their next release: “I’m really excited about the next record. We have a breadth of material.”
But, for the time being, Radiation City is most concentrated and excited about being on the road. When I ask Spies what he’s most looking forward to in 2013, he tells me, “I’m really excited for (although I’m not sure it it’ll be this year) trying to get over to Europe. We’re also trying to get on a really great package tour and we’re really excited about CMJ.” Although a lot of that is still up in the air, the band are certainly going to be in town this Tuesday and Spies seems quite confident with the band’s current live experience, and thinks it’s definitely something we will enjoy: “We’re kind of at the top of our game, in terms of how we play together and the chemistry continues to grow. You can expect to hear a lot of our new album and lots of vocal harmonies… People have told us of our live show, compared to the records, that it’s more dynamic and a little more bombastic.”