FACES FOR RADIO – Faces for Radio

CD Reviews 29 Sep 2009

ffr cdFACES FOR RADIO – Faces for Radio

(2009   Self-Release)

I don’t know what kind of magic box Paul Schluter is working with, but the stuff that’s been coming out of his Megatone Studios has been pretty exceptional of late. Faces for Radio is a good case in point. Everything about this record is big: Loud and crunchy guitars, huge drums, full bass, strong lead vocals, yet the mix has a surprising amount of breathing room. So when Schluter puts a faint delay on one of vocalist Tod Schwenn’s lines, it rings out somewhere between the left eyeball and left ear. That kind of thing is a joy to hear for anyone who’s done production work on any level. How he gets things to sit so perfectly in their pockets in the mix is a mystery and an inspiration. There is always going to be a split between those who appreciate well-crafted rock and those infinite number of basement/garage dwellers who bristle at the thought of spit-shining the purely spontaneous. But many of us like it both ways and Faces for Radio effectively straddle that line as their songs, many of which are composed in mere minutes, get polished up in recording.

Faces for Radio is the lovechild of Last Crack’s rhythm section (Todd Winger and drummer Chris Havey)and Rapscallion’s vocal and guitar combo (Schwenn and Jayme Poster). Two of Wisconsin’s finest hard rock bands, Last Crack and Rapscallion were also two of the state’s most successful, both having major labels and nationwide exposure, and are no strangers to music fans in the region. The group’s been messing about since 2006 and gaining momentum so it will please their legion of new and re-found fans (they recently played to 900 people at Scatz in Middleton) to have something to blast from their cars and elsewhere.

This eponymous debut is five songs of rock-and-roll nirvana but I guess we have to call it an EP. Shame, because a few more selections would have been welcome and might have given the band an opportunity to add some more dimension. As it is, Faces for Radio burns with an intensity not unlike Pearl Jam at its hard-rocking best, but with a similar approach to each track.

Leading of  with a riff worthy of Led Zeppelin, “How it Could Be” sets the tone for the rest of the album. Blistering lead guitar solos by Poster dominate each of the cuts along with themes of love gone wrong, going wrong or been wrong all along. “All I Have” rocks with a detuned heaviness and a chorus fitting of Nickelback. The distortion only gets partially toned down in the final track, “50 States.” The standout cut could be “Wreck Me” with it’s Angus Young-like riff and a chorus guaranteed to stick in your brain.

If you like it loud, this album will definitely lift you up and leave you wanting more. Since they can apparently write a song quicker than most of us can use the plumbing facilities, we should be hearing a lot more from Faces for Radio. And their live show? Well, that’s just got to kick some major ass.

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About the author

Rick Tvedt

Rick is publisher of Local Sounds Magazine, formerly Rick's Cafe, Wisconsin's Regional Music Newspaper. He is also the Executive Director for MAMA, Inc., a non-profit organization that produces the Madison Area Music Awards and raises funds to promote youth music programs.

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