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Radio 4



New York City's Radio 4 may not be affiliated with BBC radio, but there's no denying that they're serious Anglophiles. These kids yearn for the heady days of British post-punk, when bands like Gang of Four, Wire, and PiL showed us you could dance to punk by infusing their nervous flanging aggression with catchy, often dub-derived rhythms. That's the cloth from which Radio 4 is cut too. The rhythm section and occasional keyboards rule the day, and even the guitars, never too prominent in the mix, offer more in the way of rhythm than hooks. Singers Anthony Roman (late of beloved Long Island punk-pop trio Garden Variety) and Tommy Williams offer nearly identical declamatory sandpaper-throated vocals that suggest they were classmates at the Joe Strummer school for aspiring rock singers. Even the group's lyrical sensibilities, which strike an aggressively left-wing social perspective, recall the above-mentioned bands. All in all, it's a tight little package, perhaps one borrowed from a different decade, but one which pulls you off your ass and makes you want to go dancing downtown, which is undoubtedly Radio 4's precise goal.

The band formed in 1999 and promptly set about recording their debut album, enlisting veteran producer Tim O'Heir (Sebadoh, Folk Implosion, Six Finger Satellite), to guide them through the process. The heady 11-song album, The New Song and Dance, though steeped a style two decades old, possessed an immediacy and urgency that showed the band was for real. Not letting a minute go to waste, Radio 4 again recorded with O'Heir, putting out the four-song 12-inch Dance to the Underground, which continued on the winning danceable post-punk formula they'd followed on their first album. For their follow-up, 2002's Gotham, the band hooked up with the celebrated DFA production team and wound up raising the stakes on their aggressive dance-punk fusion.