R is for Red City Radio
The Dangers of Standing Still
Paper + Plastick, 2011
So it was Change the Rotation’s own Davey who introduced me to Red City Radio in early 2011, probably not long after the release of The Dangers of Standing Still came out. And holy fucking shit! I fell in love with the band and record after that. The vocal combinations of Garrett Dale (the gruff voice) and Paul Pendley (the not-gruff voice) is perfect and the way the songs are written lines up perfectly with the incredible sing-alongs, which are present on every single song. Whether it’s just a bunch of ‘whoas’ or lines like “Together we can burn this fucking city to the ground” off of “Two for Flinching,” these are the kind of songs to sing along with. And when you see them live, you wanna be right up front, screaming at the top of your lungs, fist in the air, and not caring who is sweating on you doing the same thing. Back in 2012, we actually drove down to Bloomington-Normal to see them play at a pizza place. It was as amazing as it sounds.
Red City Radio are from Oklahoma, and they sound like a band from Oklahoma. And by all accounts they're proud of their hometown. Just look at “Spinning in Circles is a Gateway Drug:” “Oh country roads swerving / Singing along to the roustabouts / I'll never forget where I came from / Misdirected youth passionately devout / To the city I hold dearly / But everyone talks shit about / And I hear talks about leaving / Me, I never wanted out / I'd rather stay and make something out of this town.” Or how about “50th & Western,” where Dale sings, “Alone in Central Park / Wish I was back in Oklahoma.” Then there’s the songs about Oklahoma and travelling, such as “This Day’s Seen Better Bars,” which opens up with the lines “We're almost home / We'll drive all night / To this town that pulls my heartstrings.” They embrace their rambling lifestyle, taking pride in it. “The Benefits of Motion” ends with the epic sing along of “Dive bars and load times / Toll roads and state lines / We think these things will last forever.” There’s an odd recognition for a band to make: they know this will end. And they’re having a great time while they can. You can hear it in the songs. There’s an enthusiasm and energy that is blatantly clear in every power chord, every heart-on-the-sleeve line (like “When you're falling down / And I'm not around / Could you forgive me, yeah,” in “Captioned for the Hearing Impaired,”) every Garret Dale drawl.
I really connected with that idea of the Danger of Standing Still (or Defiance, Ohio’s equivalent, “Sometimes Motion is the Only Thing that keeps us Alive.” I was introduced to Red City Radio in time for them to be in constant rotation while I roamed around out West. The Dangers of Standing Still and their 2009 EP To the Sons & Daughters of Woody Guthrie are perfect records to listen to on repeat while coasting down the highways of Utah and Colorado. It was on those drives where Red City Radio’s music really clicked with me. I felt an instant connection to the music, the voices, the lyrics. “Home is a place where family is together / And our day will come / And we'll be back home together,” (from album closer “Nathaniel Martinez”) has a lot stronger meaning when you’ve been on the road for about a month. So go listen to this record. You’ll probably fall in love with it too. And when you go see Red City Radio live, you’ll shout along with the woahs at the end of “Nathaniel Martinez” with every other sweaty punk in the building, and it will be an absolute catharsis.