RADIO FREE UNIVERSE – CASA DEL DIABLO
Release Date: March 17th, 2017
Hamilton, Ontario has brought us plenty of good Canadian rock bands over the years. And what a variety too. Teenage Head, Whitehorse, Arkells and Monster Truck are some of the names to come out of there, and neither sounds anything like the other. Radio Free Universe would share a class with the latter of those four bands, based on their recently released album Casa Del Diablo, but even then they are easily showing their own identity as a Hamilton band.
American Gun, the first track off of Casa Del Diablo demonstrates Radio Free Universe‘s reliance on big beats, chunky guitar riffs and crunchy guitar solos. It also has a slow pace, much like a few of other songs on the album. Like 18 Wheels, which I’m sure the band intended to sound like a tune to blast in an 18-wheeler. I wouldn’t say they succeeded in making that effect but the point does get across and is great for the badass heavy beat lovers out there. Six is another slow pace track, but this one sounds like it could play during a slow motion barroom brawl with its lyrics and its attitude.
Radio Free Universe show some musicality on a good number of tracks on Casa Del Diablo. Butterfly, for instance, sounds like a song that could have come out in the 90s, thanks to its grungy sludgy guitar sound and its vocal harmonies. Magnolia Girl has a Jack White charisma to it. I don’t like Jack White (though I admire him for a good number of reasons) but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying this track. The Rest of Us takes on kind of a garage rock sound with its simplicity and sound. For the best of these tracks though, you’ll have to go back to the second song on Casa Del Diablo. Disclosure scorches with badass integrity and George Panagopoulos gives his absolute best vocal performance, both from an intensity and melodic perspectives.
Pretty much all of the songs on Casa Del Diablo are shortish in length and Radio Free Universe keeps it straight forward and to the point. The one song over four minutes in length is Dirty Little Thing. I always have my reservations for songs with “dirty little” in the title. Of the many songs that I have on my computer, seven of them have “dirty little” in the title, and really only two of them are what I’d consider quality songs. The Velvet Revolver song that shares a title with this Radio Free Universe track being one, and Elton John‘s Dirty Little Girl being the other. Some may consider the Elton John track to be filler, but I see any of the seventeen tracks on Goodbye Yellow Brick Road to be fillers. Anyway, this Radio Free Universe song is not just another boring, sleazy rock track that sounds like it took all of three minutes to write. This one fits more along with Bullet For My Valentine‘s Dirty Little Secret or Jackyl‘s Dirty Little Mind as songs that are certainly great to listen to, yet other songs on Casa Del Diablo could be considered stronger overall.
Dirty Little Thing is followed up by three very short songs – none of them reach the three minute mark – that end Casa Del Diablo in a great way. Rhythm and Bones might as well be called “groove and boogie,” because that’s the best way to describe this solid rock song. Happy is a song that shows even more fierce vocals by George and more virtuous songwriting. Closing track Armageddon Song impresses me the most. After an album filled with such great hard rock tracks, this acoustic closer shows Radio Free Universe mixing their Canadian roots (I hear some Tragically Hip influence in this one) with some more 90s sounding influences like possibly Soundgarden.
I love reviewing local (or close to local) bands. Just seeing that there are some great bands from areas that aren’t too far of a drive from me is enough to love. Hell, the fact that there are such great bands from this country in general just makes me so happy. I don’t know if I can pinpoint the quality that separates Radio Free Universe from the pack. I’ve spoken to other music fans who know what I mean when I say a band sounds Canadian. You can tell, I don’t necessarily know how, that they come from this great country. Casa Del Diablo has that essence that I really only hear from major label bands, which makes this album a special one.
Thanks for reading!
8 (Out of 10)
|8||The Rest of Us||3:50|
|9||Dirty Little Things||4:47|
|10||Rhythm and Bones||2:26|