"Never judge a book by its cover," my old grandfather once said to me. He did add that he felt that this nugget of wisdom did not apply to Herbert Lungstrum's 1948 tome How To Skin, Boil, And Serve Armadillo. Not much left to the imagination there, although Lungstrum's culinary masterpiece has been a constant companion to me.
My grandfather's words do in fact apply here to the EP by four-piece Fresno band Rademacher (named after the notable mathematician Hans Rademacher). Their self-released/self-produced, eponymous CD arrived in a very earthy, linen outer sleeve, with some nice print on the front.
Now, my usual reaction when the packaging is so good for a demo/promo is "Hmmm...what are they trying to make up for?" Usually, style outweighs substance by a not inconsiderate margin.
Not so here – I really like this. I like it an awful lot.
What Rademacher have sussed, you see, is that lo-fi does not equate to low quality. There is definitely a lo-fi feel to this EP, but no more lo-fi than some moments on, say, Radiohead's Kid A or any of the rather excellent Joseph Arthur's loop fests.
Kicking off with They Are Always Into That, the band swagger through a menacing, self-assured and dramatic song, never over-staying their welcome. I'll bet this track is a blast live and is a crowd pleaser. Small wonder.
Next up is Courtesy Call, even further down the lo-fi scale, it's opening acoustic guitar and gated drum kit complimented by a superbly wrecked electric guitar riff. The vocals waver on the edge of some psychological illness. Edgy and unnerving, they work perfectly with this ticking-bomb of a track.
Third track What The Neighbors Don't Know shifts style and pace again, and is definitely in the Radiohead/Explosions In The Sky district. There's even a Lou Reed vibe going on here. A good showcase for the subtle skills of each band member, this song is, for me, the best indicator of the future of this band. More like it, please, Rademacher...lots more like it and make it snappy, OK? My favourite track on the disc by a long chalk.
The closer, Robot Show, has an opening that is an advertising exec's dream, so expect to hear it being used for airline ads. Not spectacular, but a good solid song which builds, has some introspection and makes its excuses and leave before the listener has chance to get tired of it.
I'm mightily impressed with this. Someone somewhere should get these lads and lasses into a studio right now. With a good, sympathetic producer to trim just a little from around the edge and an engineer with full auditory faculties, they could and should go far.