Radkey, “Cat and Mouse EP” 12-inch

cover - radkey cat and mouseRadkey is probably the hottest band to come out of the Kansas City / Lawrence area in the past few years -- and they're actually from St. Joseph, Missouri, so go figure. They're a trio of young brothers making rock 'n' roll -- a story that has comparisons with everyone from proto-punks Death to Kansas City's own rockers, the Architects, whose Phillips brothers started making noise at around the same age. Their Cat and Mouse EP just saw a digital release through Wreckroom Records, along with a limited pressing of 300 on 12-inch black vinyl. For all the hype, for all the "they're so young" commentary, for everything else ... what occasionally gets lost in the flurry of coverage about Radkey is that they're a fantastically good band. Dee's voice has a resonant near-croon which gives their music a certain gravitas usually lacking in young bands. However, for all of the skill they demonstrate in creating an atmospheric eeriness in songs like "Cat and Mouse," the group isn't infallible. "N.I.G.G.A. (Not Okay)" has a wonderful message -- specifically, dropping n-bombs to someone of color is straight-up offensive, and no amount of "well, was 'ga' not 'ger,' so it's all right" will get you out that. The song's a rocker, and the message admirable, but it's the sort of song only a young band would write. It reminds me of the songs James Brown would write and perform, like "Killing Is Out, School Is In" which were politely applauded at his concerts, but never made it as a hit. The message is admirable, and the song well-done, but it's so earnest, it's a trifle embarrassing. The rather overt-earnestness is completely counterbalanced by the pure, driving punk rock blast of "Out Here In My Head," which is easily the perfect meeting space between melody and intensity. "Red Letter" is a bashed-out crusher that pummels you with its rhythm, and the way Dee and Isaiah's vocals counterpoint each other -- one low, the other high -- is an excellent example of what makes this band work. Plus -- and I've said it before, but it bears repeating -- drummer Solomon is the unsung member of the trio. His drumwork is like that of Charlie Watts or Ringo Starr, in that it's not the sort of thing you notice when you see the band live. Solomon Radke's a small kid, and tucked back behind his kit between two energetic older brothers, he doesn't stand out. But when you close your eyes and fucking listen, you hear him laying down simple, clean drumwork that supports the vocal acrobatics and guitar solos. [embed]https://soundcloud.com/radkey-band/sets/radkey-cat-mouse-ep/[/embed] You can get the EP on vinyl through Radkey's Bigcartel store for £5.99. It's worth it for the printed inner sleeve with some amazingly weird artwork alone, if you're the sort of person debating whether to get physical product or just download it (seriously, you need the music either way). This is a nice-looking release, and these kids just grow by leaps and bounds with each and every show they play or single they put out, so get on board so you can enjoy the ride with everyone else.