Punk power trio No Radio does Tucson justice on 'The Placeholder EP'
With the rise of Tucson DIY hotspot Tucson Live Music Space over the past six months, a few bands in particular have materialized as representatives of the growing local scene that has seen everything from one-person twee bands to more raucous affairs like No Radio.
Situated comfortably between late-80s SST punk and the new wave of guitar bands like Yuck and Cloud Nothings, No Radio’s first official release The Placeholder EP finds the power trio exploring every dimension of its sound with remarkable results.
In just four songs, singer/guitarist J Morgan leads the group through the Dinosaur Jr. fuzz of “Moonlight” to the chiming serenity of closer “Ever” with pure professionalism.
Boasting what is probably the best chorus hook on the album, “Moonlight” rides along on a guitar tone worthy of Dino Jr.’s classic You’re Living All Over Me, complete with a fierce solo by Morgan that promises great things from the EP’s remaining three tracks.
Thankfully, the band delivers. Falling on the softer side of things, “Sincerity” finds Morgan experimenting with an almost Craig Finn-like drawl with which he relates a tale about “a pretty nice girl but you won’t really know it.”
In addition to being a lyrical highlight, “Sincerity” also showcases No Radio’s talented rhythm section, consisting of Cord Boyd on bass and drummer Vincent Sesma, both of whom back Morgan’s story with just enough restraint to nail the track’s climax.
Impressively, the album’s second half is nearly as strong as its first, with “Virgo” once again boasting an effective lyric from Morgan that finds his narrator lamenting about “growing up so fast.”
Though it lacks the kind of big hook that made “Moonlight” so successful, “Virgo” is nonetheless a welcome addition to the EP, highlighting the no-frills rock and roll that has made No Radio such a staple of Tucson’s local scene these past months.
Finally comes the album’s closer, “Ever,” which is itself a masterful achievement that hints at new musical directions for the band. Carried by great interplay between Boyd’s bass and Morgan’s lilting guitar riff, “Ever” treks across sonic territory with all the skill of late-period Pixies.
Complete with a jazzy showcase for Sesma and an ending that suggests even better things to come, “Ever” is proof enough that No Radio is a local band to watch in the coming months.
Purchase The Placeholder EP by No Radio at noradio.bandcamp.com.