So far 2017 has been pretty solid in terms of musical releases, but the one thing 2017 is missing in my eyes is a jam-packed rock album. Acts like Foo Fighters, Queens Of The Stone Age, Rise Against, and Royal Blood have released new albums, all of which have just been okay. Deaf Radio’s Alarm, although released way back in January, is the rock album I’ve been waiting for all year.
The record kicks off with “Aggravation.” A thick, fuzzy guitar riff quickly introduces the rest of the song. The riff itself, and the way the drums and extra guitar layers come in, is instantly reminiscent of something that could be off QOTSA’s Songs For The Deaf. On top of it all, Panos Gklinos’ haunting vocal timbre the perfect match to the instrumentation. It’s almost too good to be true, falsettos and all. Aside from the obvious comparison to Josh Homme, the lead vocals have a touch of The Smiths-era Morrissey in them, which really gives the album’s gloomier tracks like “Anytime” and “…And We Just Pressed The Alarm Button” an added dynamic. Gklinos’ accent definitely cuts through for the first time during the record’s first slower tunes, and, up until that point, totally had me forgetting I was listening to a band from Athens, Greece.
Alarm’s length feels much longer than its 9-song track list would suggest. My only gripe with this record is that it says all it needs to within its first half. You’ve got your faster, energy-filled headbangers, your slower, psychedelic tunes; yet, Alarm’s second half lays somewhere in the between. Without any additional standout riffs, melodies, or structure, the latter half doesn’t break into any new territory that the record’s previous tracks haven’t already covered. It is not a bad thing, if anything, it makes for one hell of a consistent tracklist, with each song being as solid as the last. I’d love to see Deaf Radio take that extra step in future work to make each song stand out in their own right.
All in all, this album was a huge surprise and one that’s in serious contention for my top rock album of the year. I wish the track-to-track variance was a little more defined, but I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for this Deaf Radio’s sophomore effort. Do yourself a favour and check out Alarm. Although it came out more than half a year before Villains, it’s everything I wanted the new Queens Of The Stone Age to be.
Written by Mathieu Perrier
*edited by Danielle Kenedy