Songs about heartbreak are nothing new. The struggle of unrequited love has forever been a staple in the tale of human existence, creating a multitude of anthems and ballads to choose from.
Songs about heartbreak are nothing new. The struggle of unrequited love has forever been a staple in the tale of human existence, creating a multitude of anthems and ballads to choose from. But given these enumerable woe-is-me tunes, you’ve got to wonder if enough is enough; maybe it’s time to approach love from a different angle.
Thankfully, there are many bands and artists who are doing that exact thing.
Radiator Hospital, who will be performing on Sunday, October 5 with Sundials, Teen Death, and Postive No, tell complex tales of frayed relationship over catchy bedroom-pop melodies.
The Philadelphia-based group, which consists of Sam Cook-Parrott on guitar and vocals, Cynthia Schemmer on guitar, Jon Rybicki on bass, and Jeff Bolt on drums, got its start 2010 when Parrott was living in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Radiator Hospital are in the midst of a U.S. Fall tour in support of their latest album, Torch Song, released on Salinas Records.
“It’s been awesome,” Parrott said in regards to the tour. “We’re in Oklahoma City right now. It’s one of my favorite places to play.”
Parrott said the response has been positive so far, and fans are starting to sing along to the new songs, given the album has been floating around the internet for some time.
“It’s been going really well,” he said. “People really seem to dig it. We put it online like a while ago, so people have had some time to sit with it for a little while.”
One might say Torch Song is the heartbreak album for the bandcamp generation. It has received acclaim throughout the indie rock community (including a four-star review from none other than Rolling Stone), and after a couple of listens it’s easy to see why.
Each track is packed with attainable melodies that will stay in your head for days. The production, headed up by Kyle Gilbride, whose discography includes the likes of Waxahatchee and Swearin’, balances between lo-fi grit and pop-rock clarity.
While Parrott generally comes in with the songs in their final form to record, he does let Gilbride take the reigns when necessary.
“ I usually have a pretty good idea of how I wanna do things,” he said. “Every now and then I’ll… give him a little more control. It’s pretty collaborative, I would say.”
The characters in Parrot’s songs wrestle with relationships, romantic or otherwise, that have started to wither away for various reasons. Some of the characters are sympathetic and are willing to give the individual in question the benefit of the doubt, while others have no qualms with calling out the party at fault.
“I think any of my friends and anyone I’m writing a song about are sympathetic characters in some ways,” Parrott said. “I can see the side of any sort of story.
Theses narratives aren’t sad so much as they are solemn, painting an accurate portrait of post-adolescent life. The situations are never clear cut, the lines between heartache and apathy painted a shade of gray. When it comes to the angrier songs, Parrott said the anger is directed towards himself more than anything.
“There’s certainly angry songs on the record,” he said. “That’s usually where I’m coming from, an anger against myself.”
Philadelphia is known for its tight-knit music scene, and Parrott has made a home for himself in said community. Torch Song features guest appearances from sisters Katie and Alison Crutchfield, who are known for their work in Waxahatchee and Swearin’, respectively.
Parrott shared a house with the members of both bands for a time in Philly and contributed his musical abilities to their their albums.
“I’ve known [them] for a while,” he said. “We were all moving around the same time, so we got a big house together. We just like each others’ music a lot.”
This will be Radiator Hospital’s second visit to Richmond, their being a house show back in January. Following their tour, Parrott and Allison Crutchfield will join Waxahatchee in support of their upcoming tour and Crutchfield’s solo release Lean In To It.
“Me and Allison are opening for Waxahatchee in November,” he said. “It’s kind of solo [material]. We’re always doing stuff.”
As you may have noticed, we did not provide a location for this show. This is because it is a house show and most people prefer not to give out such information.
But the internet is your friend. Ask around. We’re certain someone will lead you in the right direction.