March 20th, 2012 | Published in Featured
By Pete Roche
Tallahassee quartet Go Radio descends upon Musica in Akron this Friday for an evening of infectious power pop, alternative rock, and piano-based ballads.
Formed in 2007 around front man Jason Lancaster, Go Radio courted a legion of fans (and current label Fearless Records) with the EPs To Life and Do Overs and Second Chances—the latter of which included #8 Billboard Heatseeker hit “Goodnight Moon.” Previous outings with Mayday Parade, A Day to Remember, and Secondhand Serenade readied the band for headline status—and 2012 appears to be Go Radio’s breakthrough year.
The Floridians are road-tripping their first full length, Lucky Street, a delectable smorgasbord of 90s-inpsired gems that bear traces of Goo Goo Dolls, Collective Soul, and Bush but pack post-millennial sensibility. Alex Reed (guitar), Matt “Burns” Poulos (bass), and Steven Kopacz (drums) are competent, tight players—but Go Radio’s not-so-secret weapon is their string-picking vocalist.
It’s not just that Lancaster’s lyrics are alternately cryptic, clever—and sometimes downright poetic. It’s the way he sings them that separates Go Radio music from the floodtide of middling indie-rockers with their woe-is-me approach. Lancaster has a peculiar way of pronouncing certain vowel phonemes that can’t be ascribed to regional origins, a pseudo-surfer dude speak wherein his hard As and long Is become strong Os. With a singing voice that turns last into lost, blind into blonde, just into joust, as into Oz, dark into dork, and apart into a port, you’d think Lancaster has something against the schwa sound.
“We all sing songs about things we’d take back if given the chance,” he surmises on the title track. “We’re all just chasing red balloons.”
Pursuant to that modus operandi, Lancaster begins symbolically repossessing different aspects of his life to the blast of an air raid siren. On “Any Other Heart” he removes the last remaining filter on his last remaining words, speaking his mind over zig-zag guitar lines. On “Swear It Like You Mean It” he turns off the lights to discover his nights are just different shades of blue. During the poignant “Why I’m Home,” Lancaster contemplates how every breath taken is like “a kiss we give away.”
The romanticism is tempered by fuzzy, angular guitar and volume swells on “House of Hallways.” Kopacz offsets the chord progression of “Redemption in the Verse” with shot rattles. Poulos’ bass thrum bolsters “Kill the Beast.” “Fight Fight (Reach for the Sky)” could be a matador’s anthem with its staccato pulse, bendy strings, and bullfighting brass. The confessional “Truth Is” commences with spliced-together static and dial tones, before some automaton prompts Lancaster (or it is the listener?) for a password. Lancaster swaps guitar for piano on several tracks, including the plaintive “Forever My Father,” wherein he calls upon his mentor to pick him up “just like when we were young.” “Why I’m Home” boasts not only tinkling ivories but cello strings and orchestral percussion. “Singing with the King” recounts a trip—perhaps imagined—to Graceland, where Go Radio sings Presley.
Go Radio, This Providence, Tyler Carter, Remember When. March 23rd at Musica in Akron. $12.00. Doors at 6:00pm.