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Record Review


Drawing its primary inspiration from the increasingly en vogue '79-'82 epoch -- the post-punk pre-New Romantic period, where rhythm wasn't restricted to a Ramonesy "1-2-3-4!" -- Radio 4 uses fractured funk to fierce effect on its sophomore album, Gotham! Like contemporaries from the Rapture to !!!, the members of this New York band are primitive punks -- primitive in the use of primal rhythm, not in terms of structure and force. Radio 4 follows in a tradition that places equal value on the jagged grooves of Wire/Gang of Four and the moody but steady percussion of Liquid Liquid/ESG. Call it Bowery Boogie.

With help from famed Death From Above production duo Tim Goldsworthy and James Murphy, Gotham! emerges from the same streets that birthed the radical R&B of artists like Lou Reed and Blondie. Radio 4 draws on these influences and more -- from the acid house "Madchester" era to recent Primal Scream -- which makes Gotham! brittle yet full-bodied, one-dimensional yet deep and dubby. Its sound echoes that brief era when the barriers between punk and disco began to erode -- a notion any punk purist would disdain. Their loss.

Predictable yet danceable, Radio 4 go in syncopated circles as they drag ever so slightly against the grain. They may not dance to a different drummer, but they certainly know how to keep the beat.

Radio 4 plays the Echo Lounge Wed., March 20.

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