Oklahoma-natives Red City Radio released their third full-length album in April. The self-titled record is their first on Staple Records and their first without singer Paul Pendley. Ryan Donovan joined the band as a backup vocalist and guitarist, leaving Garret Dale as their only lead singer. Upon reading that one of the two leads was leaving, fans were a bit iffy about whether Red City Radio would change too much. So many changes! So much chaos! What’s going to happen?! Now, I can’t speak for everyone, but I think everything turned out just fine.
Red City Radio starts off setting the tone for a very sing-along-worthy record. “Whatcha Got” is upbeat, high-energy and gives off a “what’s up, new label? We’re here” kind of vibe. I haven’t seen them since they toured with New Found Glory last fall, so I haven’t heard it live, yet, but I bet it’s a hit at live shows.
Their first single from Red City Radio, “Two Out of Three Ain’t Rad” is a little more polished than we’re used to hearing from RCR. Less aggressive than past singles like “Two Notes Shy of an Octave” or “We Are the Sons and Daughters of Woodie Guthrie” but as usual, still perfect for crowd members to shout right back at the band.
Simply stated, the halfway point on Red City Radio, “Electricity” is a punk rock love song. It’s spunky, it rhymes, and it’s something to put on a love interest’s mix CD squeezed between something like, “The Way I Feel” by Rancid and “I Don’t Wanna Be an Asshole Anymore” by The Menzingers.
“In the Meantime…” shouts “I just want to get high and play my fucking guitar,” reading the minds of fans everywhere. So if that’s something that you and your love interest partake in frequently, that could have a place on your mix CD too.
At only ten tracks, Red City Radio is a quick listen. It doesn’t exactly sound like “old Red City Radio,” though. It’s clear that the band has evolved and changed, while not deviating too far from the sound that fans fell in love with. It’s still the perfect album to play on the jukebox at a dive bar that has free popcorn and smells like stale beer.
The end of the album slows it down with “I’ll Catch a Ride,” a Social Distortion-esque ballad with fantastic vocal harmonies. Though it sends on a slower note, Red City Radio ends as strong as it started.