"I can't stand that sloppy shit." It was at the 15th Street Tavern that I was offered this opinion on music by a drunk, middle-aged devotee of Ronnie James Dio. I still don't know what "that sloppy shit" is exactly -- but whatever Dio Dude meant, he'd surely be pissed off by (die) Pilot's Radiation, Weather, Art. Masterminded by transplanted Kentuckian Eugene Brown, the disc's eleven songs are as unhinged as latter-day Big Star, stitched together with abrupt, vertigo-triggering lurches of static and ambience. Echoes and arpeggios drift disjointedly out of synch; textures collide and grate. But therein lies Radiation's salvation. Brown's songwriting is grandiloquently epic, gouging out psyche-sized expanses of emotion and melody worthy of Ben Gibbard or even Thom Yorke. Which might have been overbearing as fuck -- if not for the shaky-handed, all-too-human vulnerability that pushes this disc from the realm of mildly inspired into that of borderline brilliant. Sloppy? Sure. Shit? Not by a long shot.
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