Radio Mafia – Don’t Think About It – EP + Bonus Singles “Preacher” / “Pyre” Review
Now…lemme check the rulebook here for a second…just how many personalities can one band have?
Given the fact that I’ve got tunes from three separate years here, you’d figure the whole multiple-personalities of their music-thing would somehow correspond to that…but nope – if you check out their debut EP called Don’t Think About It, the less savvy among us would probably assume they’re just listening to a randomized shuffle & potentially four entirely different bands – that’s how unique these dudes brought it to their first record back in 2019. For the more scrutinizin’ among us, you’ll notice how their tight musicianship bonds this band together in an extremely cool way, no matter how diverse their sound will get…and believe me, it WILL. Honestly, listening to this array of sound within six tunes and knowing how early on it is into their career, I’d kinda be shocked if even Radio Mafia themselves knew EXACTLY what it is they’ve got goin’ on here…but it’s undeniably something special, that I can tell ya. I’d also wager a bet that the members of this band have not only also been honing their own individual instruments for years, but that there’s also an intense knowledge of the history of music in Radio Mafia. I’m a firm believer it’s the kind of thing you can hear when it’s present…when comparisons jump out at ya here & there, and you realize how wide the spectrum of sound truly is, you’ve gotta assume they’re pulling from a deep well of inspiration and influences that intersect within their music in multiple ways.
Take the stylistically slick dose of progressively inspired sound goin’ on in the first track called “Don’t Think About It,” and how it’s essentially cleverly disguised as a bright & shiny Pop/Rock tune for example – this is a highly effective approach, but they aren’t fooling me – I can hear these guys have the juice, and that they can seriously play. As flashy as “Don’t Think About It” can be at times, there’s no denying that the well of knowledge in this band runs super deep – songs like this first cut are more or less a hybrid of many things from the Progressive 70s, catchy flash & flair of the 80s, and all played with the punch of a highly relevant modern-day era edge…these chameleons change color faster than you can blink from track to track, so be ready for it. What I cannot possibly understate, is just how much you’re probably gonna dig what you hear, and how little it will reveal in terms of their full scope and how far they’ll proceed to morph the direction of their sound & songs from this point forward – where you start on this record, definitely ain’t where you end up, you feel me? They had me at the drum rolls into this first cut if I’m being entirely honest with ya…there’s a rawness to the production of Radio Mafia’s early sound, but just enough to clue your ears into the fact that this is the early era of their overall career – nothing detrimental…actually quite fitting for the band & this sound they’re rocking with if you ask me. Vocally, I think two things can be, and are true here – one being that, I really like what I hear in terms of memorable hooks & energy & attitude & whatnot…and the second being that it still sounds like the dude’s gonna sing his way into an aneurysm if he ain’t too careful…or at least need to change his shorts if you catch my drift. Guy can be so gritty with his singin’ it’s damn near a gruntin’ – but I do dig what I hear, and I’d imagine the vast majority of you out there will likely feel the same way – it’s a catchy cut.
You’ll get what I’ve been talkin’ about as far as the epic diversity in this band’s sound as soon as you work your way into track two of the Don’t Think About It EP – you can tell right from the meaty groove of the bass sliding into place on “B.R.S.,” and the energy of Radio Mafia ramping-up quickly, that you’re in-store for something entirely different than what you just experienced with their title-track just prior. This is straight-up live-wire entertainment y’all – Radio Mafia grabs “B.R.S.” by the freakin’ horns and gets so much more than a mere 8-second ride outta this beast! There are far too few songs out there that you listen to and genuinely feel like you’re hearing a true reflection of what the live experience would really BE like…and “B.R.S.” is one of those wonderful exceptions to that rule. If they rock this cut with even a fraction of the energy they’ve put into this recording, the bloody roof is gonna get blown off of whatever venue they play this in. I’m talkin’ about one of those tracks that has all the right dynamics between the transitions between the loud/quiet that’s like a full-on stick of dynamite when they go off – “B.R.S.” simply has one of those killer combinations of true grit, badassery, and mammoth sound that’s destined to get the crowd in front of the stage forming a circle, tossin’ bodies for a surf, and an elbow or two likely in the process. You get the point – Radio Mafia crushes this cut and spares us no quarter as they storm & stomp their way to a cut so savage that it’ll keep ya locked onto every wild ticking second. I like or love everything I’m hearing on “B.R.S.” – these guys are playing like a unified force to be reckoned with, and I dig the passion & power they’ve put into this cut without question. That being said, if I’m handing out bonus points…I’m probably gonna have to go with the guitars & vocals this time.
Don’t worry bass-man, your moment, as you full-well know, is right around the corner now ain’t it? Good gravyboat LIGHTHOUSE y’all – the groove and impeccable combination of professionalism & spot-on tone is worth the price of admission right here in the bass dear readers, dear friends – trust me, you couldn’t miss it on “Glass Soldier” – it’s the main feature. They’ve got some all-out absolutely amazing stuff happening in this track that goes even beyond that…if you were to ask me, this is one of the most inspired and all-out perfect performances/complete songs you’ll find on their debut EP. I mean…I’m just gonna call a spade a spade here – “Glass Soldier” is a flawless gem from start to finish, and an incredible riot to listen to, full-stop. There’s so much substance and style goin’ on here that we’d all be here for weeks if I was to try to describe it accurately to ya…no joke folks, I’m blown away by this tune, every bit as much for their ideas as for their execution. They displayed a harder edge than what you might hear in a band like Man Made Lake out of our old home back in British Columbia on a cut like “B.R.S.” just prior, but when I hear a track like “Glass Soldier,” it’s like there’s only one degree of separation between these two incredible bands instead of the normal six+Kevin Bacon. I guess it comes down to the adventurous nature of each band, and how willing they are to explore what they can do and what they’re capable of – that’s where I’m drawing the comparison mainly…but also for the jazzy twist on Rock they’ve got goin’ on in “Glass Soldier” too. EVERYONE IS ON FIRE HERE – PULL THE ALARM! It didn’t matter how many times I spun my way through Radio Mafia’s debut EP…every single time I listened to this track, I was floored all over again…the KEYS man! Love the way they come into this tune…the bass-lines never quit, the guitars chime in brilliantly, the drums are metered to perfection and lively, the vocals are straight up perfection from the smoothness in the sly lead performance, to the layers of harmonies added in too. If you find yourself getting to the end of “Glass Soldier” and somehow feel like you were missing something, or wanted more somehow…I don’t know what to tell ya other than you’re listening upside down. If you were right-side up, I promise you’d get it in an instant, and be just as addicted to it as I am. Do I NEED to tell Radio Mafia what they’ve got here in this song and the potential it has? I really don’t think so. Not because they’re not a band of five humble dudes…I’m sure they are…it’s more of a comment on how when single-worthy sound and flawless perfection is achieved, every one of us can hear it. So I shouldn’t need to tell Radio Mafia that they’ve got pure sonic gold with “Glass Soldier” then, right? They’d have to know. Just like you’ll know when you hear it…and repeat it, over & over.
One of my favorite things about Radio Mafia, bar none practically, is the fact they do SO MANY things SO WELL, that it’s basically freakin’ Sophie’s Choice trying to pick what you think they do better. Is it the completely fluid grooves and stylistic flair of cuts like “Don’t Think About It” & “Glass Soldier” – or is it the wild, rampaging musical mayhem they’re capable of creating on the savage side of their sound with tracks like “B.R.S.” & their scorching hot finale “Fit To Die” – or is it every bit as impossible to choose as I’m claiming it to be? I’d go with the latter y’all…I’m tellin’ ya, it doesn’t do any one of us any good to try and argue one side of this band’s sound having anything over the other…we’d only be hurting ourselves. Let’s just agree that Radio Mafia kicks not just some, but ALL of the ass, on all sides of the musical spectrum – can we do that? “Fit To Die” would have you thinking these guys were just coming out of the Grunge era on their way into the 2000s…and MAN I cannot even begin to express just how fuckin’ fierce this final track IS. They remind me a lot of Red Fang on this track, which is a band that’s been loaded onto my playlists & screens for their wild videos for the past couple years straight at least – so obviously, that’s good company to be keeping in my books. The comparisons they’ll get to Alice In Chains will come from the rest of the music critics out there…I’ll leave that one to them cause the influence is a lot more obvious…but you heard it here first, there’s more Red Fang than AIC goin’ on here. Not that I’d be complaining if the ratio was reversed…I love the fact that you can hear the AIC impact on Radio Mafia’s music here, and didn’t feel like they were any kind of carbon copy – “Fit To Die” is ALIVE & FRESH AF y’all – and once again, this band attacks this track like their freakin’ lives depend on it. The textures and tones of the guitars are about as addictive as sound can possibly get to these ears of mine…this I can confirm…and the vocals are enormous when they need to be, stylistically slick in the rest – I’m tellin’ ya folks…for a debut record, Radio Mafia left absolutely nothing out of this set of four songs.
Now…they say timing is everything when it comes to the music business, right? I’d be willing to bet Radio Mafia probably wants to retire that phrase once & for all. Imagine their scenario, from their side of things for just a moment will ya? Consider the timeline. They put out an absolutely badass debut EP in 2019…they go crusin’ straight into 2020 surging with momentum and inspiration, crushing it on their single “Preacher” with another guaranteed-to-be-crowd-favorite cut that has their instrumentation & songwriting shining together at an all-time high…and right as they’re about ready to take the world by storm, enter the pandemic era. Don’t get me wrong…I’m very familiar with stories of all kinds from out there in the scene…from veterans of the biz that were able to hold out on what they’d already achieved, to bands just like Radio Mafia, whose very existence has practically been threatened by all the inaction. It’s no normal beginning to a music career for any band or artist to have started around the 2019/2020-ish area…and you can seriously only cross your fingers and hope that those you know and love have spent their time as wisely in preparing for the future ahead. I listen to the keys on “Preacher” alone, and I think to myself…good lord…like…Radio Mafia COULD have been discouraged enough from the pandemic afterwards to have simply called it a day…and then like, what – that’d be IT? No freakin’ way. NO FREAKIN’ WAY. And I’ll have more on that in just a moment here…keep reading. Suffice it to say, they were on a serious roll with what they had going on, and “Preacher” is all the proof of that you’d need. The production is improved, the sound is as lively as ever…the surge into the main hooks of the chorus is straight-up brilliant, and so is the way the vocals wind through the lyricism in the verses. It does sound like their singer is once again setting himself up for a live-action hernia one day at the peak of the intensity in the chorus in the call & answer design it has…but call me crazy, there’s something genuinely interesting and addictive about the sound. Bass & guitar solos duelin’ it up for a short but memorable highlight…drums are poundin’ it up with confidence & precision as always – these five guys have a remarkable balance of strengths shared between’em, and they put their talents to work. Radio Mafia ain’t shying away from involved, complex, and intricate ideas – but what’s truly impressive about how they incorporate such progressive tendencies, is how accessible their sound remains at all times. That’s no easy task to say the least y’all…truly, they should be proud of what they’ve accomplished in such a short timeframe. “Preacher” was more confirmation of just how ready to roll this band really is.
Or was…at the time…you get it. Pandemic happens, the brakes got put on in some ways, but from the sounds of things, clearly not in others. After having a listen to their upcoming single “Pyre” – I’m convinced they spent their time dialing into their sound even further…and I’m equally sure that they’re basically gonna come back and scorch the earth on their way to the top when every stage is opened up again. These dudes just GET IT…it’s as simple as that – they have such an incredible understanding of what makes music connect, that regardless of which style or sound they’ve chosen, they find success. As “Pyre” started up, the very first thing I felt was that immediate hit of CRUNCHY ALT-ROCK cruisin’ straight through my speakers…and instantly thought I was easily listening to the best thing this side of the DeLeo brothers in Stone Temple Pilots. Then the vocals came in…and I was like, good lord – now they’ve turned into THE CULT – and how kickass is that? As the intensity & murky mayhem continues to seep in, comparisons to bands like The Doors and The Black Angels would be accepted as well. The resulting combination of all this together, gives “Pyre” a non-stop, gripping structure and massive sound that’s fired-UP and ready to ROCK. Think of it…and buy those tickets y’all…after these past two years, when Radio Mafia steps out on stage with a track like “Pyre,” they are gonna straight-up melt the WALLS around the crowd with the heat they’re gonna generate…and as they collect the check and walk on over the rubble, you better believe they’ll be just as ready to do it again the next time they hit the stage. These guys can play! They’ve got vocals that are every bit as stellar as the musicianship, and they play like an authentically unified force…trust me when I tell ya, you’ll hear it on “Pyre” – it’s impossible to miss. Time & experience, even with the best of players, still plays a huge role in the tightness of a band and the way they play together…and if “Pyre” is any indication, they’re evolution is occurring FAST. They’re gonna attack 2022 with a straight-up vengeance on their way to the top…you can FEEL IT – there’s just something in the combined energy, skill, and songs these guys have that suggest they’ve got everything it takes to take over…and I’m very much excited to see & hear how far Radio Mafia will go.
We’ll be spinning their brand-new single “Pyre” in advance of its official release, exclusively on the ol’ SBS Podcast coming up this weekend – be sure to tune-in…you do NOT wanna miss out on Radio Mafia.
Until then, make sure to visit their official pages below so you’re the first to know when it comes out! *hint…it’s February 18th. “Pyre” comes out February 18th. That’s more than a hint, but you deserve it, and you’re welcome.
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