“Hurricanes, XO” presents a bendy, metallic swirl of guitar and drum and semi-intelligible lyrics and manages to leave you feeling kind of smiley after all. I hear something of Neutral Milk Hotel in the fuzzy/tinny hubbub, as well as in the off-kilter approach to anthemic rock’n’roll. The song creates an agreeable racket, anchored by melodies both offhanded and expert and electric guitar work that hides its monumentality behind a veneer of distortion.
Beat Radio front man and general master mind Brian Sendrowitz mixes his voice down into the middle of the storm here, which on the one hand seems appropriate—we may not be supposed to catch all the words blowing by—but on the other hand, hey, we can’t catch all the words blowing by! And they seem pretty intriguing. You can cheat by reading the lyrics yourself on Bandcamp but then again, I’m not sure the song makes any more literal sense that way. In fact, straining to understand random phrases is almost more engaging, which could be why it was produced the way it was. I don’t quite know what “And if I write a seasick waltz/Or disappear to shopping malls” means but I like the sound of it.
Sendrowitz, based on Long Island, has been recording as Beat Radio since 2005. All the while it has been less an abiding band than an occasional getting-together of friends and collaborators; right now the only official members are Sendrowitz and drummer Brian Ver Straten. “Hurricanes, XO” is the lead track from the fourth, forthcoming Beat Radio album, Hard Times, Go! I like the title’s open-ended double meaning: it’s either telling hard times to skedaddle or, maybe, telling all of us that hard times can bring it on, we can take it. The album is coming later this month on Awkward for Life Records, a label Sendrowitz runs with his wife. He describes the album as one that “sonically and thematically falls between Bruce Springsteen’s Darkness on the Edge of Town and Robyn’s Body Talk. Alright then. Note that Beat Radio was previously featured on Fingertips back in 2006.