REVIEW: “Radio Receiver” is a Psych-Folk Thing of Beauty


Radio Receiver is a band that was born when Nate Wallace of Hearts of Oak had a bunch of songs that didn’t seem quite right for a Hearts of Oak record. Geography also played a part in the formation of this band. Mark Folkrod (drums) moved across the street from Anna Verlet (violin, vocals) in north Portland where Wallace lives. Enter Jason Willmon on bass, and thus Radio Receiver was formed.

The self-titled album was recorded live at Deer Lodge Studios using a reel-to-reel tape machine. Of the recording, Wallace said, “The reel-to-reel gives this album a warm psych-folk feel. It was what I was going for, but I had no idea how nice it would sound.”

It doesn’t take long to realize that psych-folk is a good description for the sound of this band. In the lead track “Billy #10”, the melody is pretty firmly in the folk-Americana category – especially with the violin. The psychedelic part hits mainly in the instrumental break. Where the volume increases and the sound swirls around you.

There is a real Neil Young feel on this album. Not that you’ll confuse this with a Neil Young album. The similarity is more in the melodies than the vocals. The vocals are closer to Mike Stinson. The similarity to Neil Young is more in the fact that the melodies are mellow yet gritty and give these songs a gravity like you would expect from a Neil Young song.

“One Way to Slice a Pie” is a pretty duet. Verlet’s vocals are the perfect compliment to Wallace’s. The acoustic guitar comes to the forefront in this one, but it’s the electric guitar that gives the song a psychedelic feel. While Verlet and Wallace harmonize beautifully, the electric guitar swirls with plenty of reverb in the background.

Wallace admits that he had a surplus of songs that he wanted to record, but didn’t fit on a Hearts of Oak album. That was a good problem to have because it led to him recording the songs with Radio Receiver. The album is filled with songs that contain elements of Americana and rock without falling firmly into either one. And the way the album was recorded gives these songs a richness and breadth that you can’t help but take notice. Radio Receiver was released on October 16 and is available everywhere now.

Leave a Reply!