It hurts too much to cry

Radio K confounds the college rock stereotype with a diverse new compilation disc.

by Tom Horgen

A quick glance at Radio K’s latest compilation might make you think its station programmers only show love to the whiny indie rockers who always seem to need love most.

But a closer listen reveals a healthy variety that will quell any backlash you have to guitar-strumming cry babies who never had a bad relationship they didn’t want to write about.

The forth volume in Radio K’s “Stuck on AM” series that gathers the station’s best live performances from 2001 to 2003, is outfitted with everything from Har Mar Superstar’s mock R&B and Lateduster’s post rock musings to a tinge of hip-hop, courtesy of Traditional Methods.

These compilation moments where the mood changes abruptly really make the compact disc worth digging into. The Traditional Methods’ song “Bumble Bee,” for instance, is a welcomed addition – it’s the only hip-hop track. The local group, made up of three emcees and a live band, are still sharpening their skills but when emcees Sara White and Shiz finally reach the confidence level that veteran New is rhyming at, they’ll be on fire.

“Stuck on AM 4’s” other moment of significant change comes from another local group, A Whisper in the Noise. Its song, “In the Dark,” is mostly instrumental except for the short instances of faint and almost whispered vocals. The track’s cinematic sweep makes it sound like an extension of the film score Darrin Aronofsky used in his drug film, “Requiem for a Dream.” But here, A Whisper in the Noise has dimmed the haunting strings and implemented a recurrent drum beat. The outcome is operatic in a Trent Reznor kind of way and makes it the compilation’s most distinctive song.

So don’t worry about the CD’s initial stench of teary-eyed college rock. One day, those boys will accidentally hear the Man in Black and discover how acoustic sad songs are done.

Regardless, there is an assortment of gems on this compilation (don’t forget pop-rockers Rilo Kiley and the synth-heavy Psychedelicates) to assure us that Radio K really is a musical haven for diverse sounds.