Sounds Under Radio – Where My Communist Heart Meets My Capitalist Mind
Record Label: The Musebox
Release Date: May 3, 2011
Sounds Under Radio are an Austin-based rock band who, a few short years ago, were receiving best-unsigned-band accolades. After an ill-fated, unfruitful deal with Epic Records, the band went on to release their debut Cinematica independently in 2008. Where My Communist Heart Meets My Capitalist Mind is their sophomore effort.
How Is It?
Obviously, given their appeal to the major labels in the past, Sounds Under Radio have the sound and presence of a big-time band. Much of Where My Communist Heart Meets My Capitalist Mind recalls Muse when they still rocked, before they started applying stomach-turning levels of pomp and circumstance. Occasionally, there’s more than just a passing similarity, particularly when vocalist Lang Freeman unleashes his falsetto, which is a strikingly accurate Matt Bellamy impression (see “Effigy”). Still, the album has more to offer than one-dimensional aping of Britrock bombast.
Like any album seeking broad-based appeal, it’s comprised of a fairly even mix of visceral rockers and poppy ballads. On the heavier stuff, like the early standout “The Arsonist”, the skyscraping guitars and Freeman’s cathartic vocals are reminiscent of another upstart-turned-fledgling band, Evaline. It’s on these more muscular tracks that the band makes their mark most successfully, as their attempts at lighter, touching fare mostly come off as overly saccharine. “Fire Escape” could double as a OneRepublic album cut, while the piano-laced, tailor-made-for-TV tune “All You Wanted” was not surprisingly procured for the Vampire Diaries soundtrack. Thankfully, there’s more than enough hard-driving material like “God vs. Me” and “I Am an Ambulance” to make up for the shmaltz.
The album’s title seems to try to frame it as some sort of high-concept treatment of internal conflict with political implications. In reality, it’s more so the case of a pop-rock band trying to sell themselves as more than they really are. (Because let’s face it, such weighty stuff won’t get you on the CW—which, by the way, there’s nothing particularly wrong with.) We can credit Sounds Under Radio for not allowing such artsy pretensions or delusions of grandeur to infringe upon the music itself. Where My Communist Heart Meets My Capitalist Mind is a sturdy, smartly-produced release that should provide broad palatability; whether you’re seeking something rousing or heart-tugging, there’s something here for you, and most often, that something sounds pretty damn good. As far as populist rock goes, you could do a whole lot worse.