Okay, all the bands who aren’t influenced by Pink Floyd or the Byrds please step forward. Yeah, that’s what I thought. There’s more bands with a sixties guitar sound out there than you can shake a Rickenbacker at. (Forgive the sentence ending in a preposition just this once English majors, it’s a saying). However, while some are just copycats, posers or worse, there are some who take a style and use it as a springboard for something transcendent. The Radar Bros. are just such a band.
Originally formed as an outlet for Jim Putnam’s songs that weren’t recorded by former band Medicine, Radar Bros. turned into a heavyweight of a band all on its own. The band has progressed over the years, eventually making a critical darling out of And the Surrounding Mountains. The band’s latest effort, The Fallen Leaf Pages, can be counted alongside some of the best jangle-pop records in recent years. Jim Putnam proves on this record that his songwriting skills are at their finest and that he is a multi-instrumentalist to be reckoned with in the indie world, alongside Blake Sennett and Jay Bennett. (See that rhyme? I mean’ it!)
“Papillon” is the first song on the album that makes you turn your head towards the speakers to better pay attention. True, Putnam’s voice sounds like Wayne Coyne and Roger Waters had a secret love child, which scares me more than you can imagine, but it works to such perfection that you would think the album were actually recorded in the 60’s. Heck, Putnam even says that beetles (Beatles?) are in the firelight. The song “We’re Not Sleeping” seems to answer Isaac Brock’s question of are you dead or are you sleeping? when Putnam sings, “we’ll be in the ground, but no we’re not sleeping.”
Another standout is “Sometime, Awhile Ago”, a string-laden song similar to “Papillon,” with far more Floyd-esque strains. The album is fairly constant throughout, never really reaching any dramatic highs, though that’s not the intention. Whereas a similar band like Beulah might build up to breaking crescendos, Radar Bros. keep the songs on an even keel throughout, believing in the consistency of great songwriting. The Fallen Leaf Pages is a testament to the work of a great craftsman, Jim Putnam, who lets us all in on why music of the sixties and seventies was so great.
Earlimart- Treble & Tremble
The Flaming Lips- The Soft Bulletin
Pink Floyd- Wish You Were Here