Review by Danny Coleman
Radio Exile is a five member unit comprised of veteran musicians whose current successes not only reflect years of dedication to their individual crafts but are also a testament to their perseverance and talents. Their self-titled debut disc leaves no doubt as to their influences and what they were trying to accomplish; fantastic, hard drivin’ rock ‘n’ roll with an ’80’s metal feel.
Led by Chandler Mogel’s powerful lyrics and searing vocal, it’s hard to imagine anyone not flocking to this release like sheep as this band is the real deal; not contrived material or players put together on a whim from an intoxicated idea at a recording session or some back stage party. Keyboardist Charlie Calv, guitarist Jimmy Leahey, bassistKenny Aaronson and drummer Dave Anthony have assembled a well written, well produced and well played 10 track effort worthy of any and all accolades that are sure to come its way.
The CD kicks off with “High Road, High Price,” a real attention grabber featuring dissonant power chords followed by tribal drum rhythms and a brief wailing vocal track; both of which are revisited later in this somewhat lengthy yet riveting opener.
“Soulfire” is a fantastic cut and one that takes the listener on a diverse musical trip as Leahey’s guitar drives the tune throughout interrupted only by a neat percussion laden bridge section that resolves itself back into an “80’s feel intertwined with Disney’s “Lion King” type big harmonies. This selection is also currently in video post-production and will be released as the disc’s second single and video.
“No Pity on the Highway” is the first single and and corresponding video and is the third cut on the album. A heavy guitar driven piece that showcases Leahey once again but only after a solid kick in the pants drum intro that sets the tone for Aaronson’s in your face bass work. This tune rocks hard and is a guaranteed speeding ticket; go ahead, keep your foot off of the accelerator, I dare you.
“Feels Like Home” changes the pace a bit and focuses on Mogel as he takes on Calv’s melodic keyboard headfirst with the result being a solid, upbeat rocker that floods the aural senses with a strong lead performance, great backing harmonies and some well placed percussion by Anthony that is mixed to perfection.
“I want to break through, start anew, heaven for us has begun, if we can shine through, follow through, love will take us higher than the sun…” This chorus pretty much says it all about track number five; “Higher Than the Sun.” A catchy, upbeat, dare I say “Pop-ish” type of tune from its melody to its length; this is definitely different from the first four cuts on the disc and a great choice to remind everyone that this band is as diverse as it is rocking. Calv said in an earlier interview that the band, “Didn’t want to be pigeon holed into a certain style,” and if the first five tracks are any indication; they are true to their word.
“Hang On” is a song of reflection about a failed relationship and a man’s desire to not let go of something which is obviously no longer there. Another well done track that is engineered to perfection; it flows well from start to finish and the lyrical content in this upbeat piece touches anyone who has ever loved and lost.
“Starting Over,” like most of this CD, possesses a big, bold melodic sound. Featuring background vocals/harmonies, a big drum intro, heavy keyboard runs and that ’80’s power punch production work with just the right amount of reverb that guarantees the “Wow factor.”
The eighth track is another upbeat, albeit straight forward tune called “Down in the Hole.” Simple and direct and again, different from the rest of the compilation; however, this offering seems like a throw in to take up space. A well done cut but it seems to lack the enthusiasm of the other nine.
“A Cross on Stone” returns the album to the flow that the previous selection mildly sidetracked. A slower tempo with great production work and the backing vocals of Joe Cerisano, Amy Harnell and Jessie Wagner (the three were given instructions to, “Do as they want.”), catapults this tune onto a whole other level. The “Thing” that makes this song special and unique is that it’s just there, nothing extravagant, nothing mind blowing; just heartfelt use of talent that is rarely seen in an industry that manufactures cookie cutter bands, where voices sound very much alike and are told where, when and how to express themselves. The use of improvisational vocals coupled with a great pace and quality lyrics makes this a grade above the rest and should be a track that receives much airplay.
Wrapping it up is “Road to Exile.” Starting with a percussion introduction and totally unlike anything else on the disc; this one wastes no time in kicking it back into overdrive and the big sound returns once again. Starting with drums, ending with strings and rocking in between; this was a fabulous way to close it all out.
Overall, “Radio Exile” is without doubt, one of the best debut records out there today or any day for that matter. Magnificently produced by Stephen DeAcutis (Vanilla Fudge, Cyndi Lauper, Corey Glover) who created a full sound while highlighting all of the right things and burying others in the mix so that they stand out when necessary. By blending all of the ingredients into a perfect talent entree that fans old and new should be clamoring for and creating a new sound from an old style; this disc is a winner and should be served up on everyone’s music menu.
To purchase this CD or discover more about Radio Exile, please go to www.radioexile.net.
Danny Coleman (Danny Coleman is a veteran musician and writer from central New Jersey. He hosts a weekly radio program entitled “Rock On Radio” airing Sunday evenings at 10 p.m. EST on multiple internet radio outlets where he features indie/original bands and solo artists.)