Music News

Critic's Choice

Every time some subterranean sound decides to paint itself up and whore itself out to the hoi polloi, there's a legion of bands left behind to rock away in obscurity, more out of love for the music than the lure of record contracts and movie-star girlfriends. Take, for example, Radio Berlin. This Vancouver quartet has been sculpting bleak, beat-laden rock for the past five years, releasing three excellent albums on tiny labels while all the Interpols and Raptures of the world have passed them by. Which sucks, because Radio Berlin out-writes and out-pouts most of its better-publicized peers. Besides sporting ubiquitous influences like Bowie and the Cure, the band's new Action Driver release, Glass, taps into the scratchier, nervier rock of Japan and Josef K: Filaments of synth and guitar are spun out of absinthe and cellophane, weaving a brittle, darkly hallucinogenic fabric. The vocals of Jack Duckworth and Chris Frey interlock like love-struck robots as they sing about shrouds and gauze, shadows and statues. The fulcrum, though, is the rhythm: The foursome flirts with funk without dicking around with disco, mixing knife-edged dissonance with polymer-smooth syncopation. Tune in to Radio Berlin at the Climax Lounge on Saturday, December 13, when the band will perform with Born in Winter, new local label-mate Black Black Ocean and Portland's own retro-wave phenomenon the Prids. Radio Berlin will also be at Surfside Seven in Ft. Collins on Sunday, December 14. Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance to the Radio.