Iowa band, with international streak, recalls a more psychedelic age

BY RYAN FOSMARK | JULY 30, 2009 7:11 AM

Like an acid flashback, Story City band Radio Moscow delves into the psychedelic soaked sounds of the ’60s and ’70s, delivering a sincere blues/rock that is practically indistinguishable from bands of the psychedelic era. While the local audience for the band is somewhat unresponsive, Radio Moscow’s sound is an internationally known treat.

In support of its new album Brain Cycles, Radio Moscow will play the Picador, 330 E. Washington St., at 9 p.m. Saturday with Crokane, a Lull, and the Post Mortems.

“Overall, it’s still the same idea that we’ve always been doing — heavy, psychedelic, blues/rock,” Parker Griggs, the band’s guitarist/vocalist, wrote in an e-mail. “But this album is a bit heavier than the first album, with more experimenting in the songwriting.”

In an age riddled with synthesizers, keyboards, and dwindling guitar playing, one might wonder how a band comes up with a sound so reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix and Blue Cheer.

“Sixties and ’70s psych is the type of music we love, and it’s all we listen to,” Griggs said. “None of us really listen to most modern music with the exception of a few bands, but those bands are going for the old sound as well.”

Generally, Radio Moscow finds a more receptive crowd the farther from home it travels, noting it draws bigger and more enthusiastic audiences during its European tours.

“There are little pockets of music nerds all over the world who, thanks to the Internet, now know about all these bands that they like,” Kevin Koppes, booking agent at the Picador, said. “Your average kind of indie/college rock music fan might not know about these bands, but there’s some kid in like Italy who’s losing his mind over it.”

Radio Moscow doesn’t try to reinvent the psychedelic sound or improve upon Hendrix’s riffs. Nor do the members try to blend the modern with the vintage or create some kind of new subgenre; rather, they produce music purely for the sake of making music that happens to sound like a lot of dead and gone blues/rock bands.

“They’re a lot closer to Cream than they are to any hard-core bands out of the ’80s or anything like that,” Koppes said. “And that’s great. You see a lot of bands that are putting their own different spin on the same genres time after time, and these guys reach way far back in a way that not a lot of contemporary underground bands do.”

But rather than creating cheap copies or producing music that might disgrace its ancestral roots, Radio Moscow does it in a way that makes its sound like an additive to the vintage psychedelia that is already collecting dust in record bins everywhere.

“Someone could hear Radio Moscow and not know when the record came out or how old these guys are,” Koppes said. “There aren’t that many bands like this in general appealing to this audience and certainly not in Iowa.

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