Review: Radon Chong – “I Keep On Talking To You” (x2)

Radon Chong — a Pittsburgh act that crafts musical nooses out of knotted guitars — sets its sights high on I Keep on Talking to You, a debut cassette sitting at the intersection of post-rock’s interwoven trajectories and Captain Beefheart’s atonal laments. And, man oh man, does this band bloody and utterly batter those sights.

In nine too-short songs, these guys leave just about everyone else writing guitar-driven rock in Southwestern Pennsylvania looking misinformed or, worse yet, absolutely clueless. Songs like “Farm Pays For Me,” with arrhythmic bursts of guitar-sound from Brian Hecht and Jim Price, are angular and cutting-edge stuff. The song’s bizarre presentation made all the more delicious by front man Sasha Weisfeld, who not only manages to stay in tune (no small feat) but amplifies a kind of demented joy at the madness going on around him. Elsewhere, as on “Second to One,” the band tips its hat to Chicago post-rock legends Cheer-Accident by winding a guitar-string rope around your throat or, on the closing half of “Cold Hands,” reduces blues rock to just dissonant strumming and throaty moaning. Enticing, indeed.

One of the best tracks on the cassette, available on Bandcamp and through Philadelphia-based indie Single Girl Married Girl, is its opener, “Faith-Based Charles,” which, despite a lulling close, is 90 seconds of wonderful, in-your-face dissonance. It’s followed by “Grandma Anthropology,” which features sweeping, melancholy passages of guitar, bass and voice, as well as its fair share of disorienting harmonics and hand-muted guitar chops. The band does not hesitate to explore every crooked idiom it can find.

The fact that there’s not a dud on the offering is completely overshadowed by Radon Chong’s unique mode of presentation, which isn’t as concerned with verse/chorus/verse molds or clean lines as it is sonic dissonance. That word — “dissonance,” and all its variations — will come to mind plenty when listening to Radon Chong, and for good reason. These guys aren’t just in a different tuning than most Pittsburgh bands — they’re operating on another plane. It’s a good thing for us plebeians they’re dictating the experience. – Pittsburgh City Paper, Nov. 29, 2017


About the author

Justin Vellucci is a staff writer for PopMatters, Spectrum Culture, and MusicTAP, a contributor to Pittsburgh Current, and a former staffer for Popdose, Punk Planet and Delusions of Adequacy. His music writing has appeared in national magazines such as American Songwriter, alt-pubs like The Brooklyn Rail, Pittsburgh CityPaper and San Diego CityBeat, blogs Swordfish, Punksburgh and Linoleum, and the Gannett magazine Jetty. He lives in Pittsburgh.