Sounds Under Radio: A Flair for the Dramatic

In the summer of 2005, I was halfway done with college, and looking to satisfy my seemingly endless wanderlust. I somewhat randomly ended up living in Washington, D.C. and working Promotions at an Adult Contemporary radio station there (the now-defunct Z104 – it actually folded that winter). I was also working part-time at Tower Records (which coincidentally also folded that winter…I’ve got that Midas touch). It was a glorious summer: apartment parties, beer pong, walks along the Potomac, chilling in front of the White House. And it was soundtracked for me by all the hottest AC songs, which was weird for an indie kid such as myself. Yet, because of that summer I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Keane’s “Somewhere Only We Know,” Aqualung’s “Strange and Beautiful” and Coldplay’s “Speed of Sound.”

Sounds Under Radio took me back to those halcyon days. Some of their songs have fuzzed out bass lines and huge choruses straight out of the Muse playbook. Yet, at their best, they channel their inner Dawson’s Creek for some of the most compelling rock ballads I’ve heard in a long time (think British bands like Snow Patrol or the Editors). I recognize that the blogosphere tends to focus on hip, weird bands making challenging sounds – and those bands are important – but music like Sounds Under Radio can get overlooked. Their ear for melodies, love for production, and lyrical earnestness probably won’t do it for most hipsters.

Sounds Under Radio - All You Wanted

There’s a reason, however, that they have a song on the Spiderman 3 soundtrack, and another featured in an episode of The Vampire Diaries. A song like “All You Wanted” is the perfect accompaniment to that late-night knock-on-the-door confessing-your-love kissing-in-the-rain moment that so many of us are too jaded to believe in. But it’s Sounds Under Radio’s bread and butter. From that song to “Surrender,” “Fire Escape” or “Sing” (which is less ballady but still just as dramatic), Sounds Under Radio deliver music that makes every moment feel so much more important than it probably is. That will make some of these SUR songs staples of my headphones, playlists and mixtapes for at least the next few months. And something tells me I’ll keep coming back years down the line.

Their new record, Where My Communist Heart Meets My Capitalist Mind is available now, and they have just started a national tour. I can attest to the fact that their onstage banter is great.