Bradley’s Almanac

[Live MP3s] New Radiant Storm King (RIP) in Cambridge, MA

Posted on May 29, 2011 at 7:16 am | 4 Comments

I have a very warm place in my music-lovin’ heart for Western Massachusetts rock combo New Radiant Storm King, so the news that they packed it in awhile back was sad news indeed. The generally under-appreciated band, which started at Amherst’s Hampshire College back in 1990 and released some killer mid-90s material, had a remarkably creative resurgence in the 2000s, putting out the personal-year-end-faves-list-making albums “The Steady Hand” in 2006 and “Drinking in the Moonlight” three years ago. An email to core guitarists/co-singers Matt Hunter and Peyton Pinkerton last Fall, sent to check on the possibility of a new album or potential shows, brought the bad news from Peyton: They’d quietly called it quits in September of 2009. Their ace website (which had a really cool band member timeline on it) is no more (oh, the loneliness of a 404 error), their discography may never again change, and their Wikipedia entry needs one last update. I don’t have it in my heart to make that edit, though. The only public clue they’d broken up is hidden in their Facebook ‘info’ section, where it says “New Radiant Storm King was an indie rock band…“. Yeah, they sure as hell were.

It was “Phonecall” that hooked me. Not sure how I heard it back in ’93 (probably on WRUV), but the fifth track off their sophomore set, “Rival Time”, had the perfect balance of energy, earnest emotion, and melodic two-guitar interplay to nail my burgeoning US-indie-rock sensibilities. I drank the album deeply, so much so that when time came for Colin and I to put together the first-ever Burlingtonitus festival up in Vermont, I reached out to NRSK and invited them along to headline a night. They played such a great set, and I’m forever grateful that they made the drive up. I’m sharing up “Phonecall” here, something I normally wouldn’t do as it’s not a label-approved promo track, but the album is long out-of-print and there’s no online sign of Positive Records. So here ya go…

[MP3] New Radiant Storm King – “Phonecall

To be honest, I lost track of the band after my late-90s relocation to Boston, rediscovering them with “The Steady Hand”, then digging into the intermittent releases I’d missed. They’ve been on almost as many labels as they’ve had albums, which shows not only their persistence, but their ability to find new homes to get behind them. They had a damn good run, and ended on a couple of very high notes thanks to Darla Records. Grab their final two albums from the links above while you can, and enjoy this live recording of the very last time I saw them, opening for Polvo at the Middle East in Cambridge, MA a few years back. Look below for more songs and videos as well…

New Radiant Storm King

Live at the Middle East Downstairs
in Cambridge, MA
on June 20th, 2008
(opening for Polvo)

[Download all 9 tracks in one 53 MB .zip file]

01. The Winding Staircase
02. Little Ice Age
03. Islander
04. Montague Terrace
05. Soporific Slump
06. Senseless
07. Eraser
08. Clouds Cover Everything
09. Hands and Eyes

  • Go out and track down whatever NRSK albums you can – there are a good number of discs available on Amazon, although the prices vary wildly. There are things to love about every full-length, but of the latter-period, I’d go for “The Steady Hand” first, and for earlier stuff I’m partial to 1996’s “August Revital”. And you certainly can’t go wrong with…
  • The band’s long-out-of-print 1992 debut, “My Little Bastard Soul”, was resissued in 2000 by (the very wise) Wormco Records, and it included an extra disc of demos, rarities, & sonic sundry titled “The Castle”. Sadly, Wormco’s web-store is non-functional at the moment, so you can’t buy direct. Their site does share up a couple of MP3s for your sampling pleasure, so I’ll post them here as well…
    [MP3] New Radiant Storm King – “Every Day Is Mother’s Day
    (from “My Little Bastard Soul”)

    [MP3] New Radiant Storm King – “XANAX (4-track version)
    (from “The Castle”)

  • The band didn’t have many official videos, but here’s one from “Quicksand Under Carpet” off “The Steady Hand”….

    And from their final (*sniff*) album, here’s a clip for “Clouds Cover Everything“…

    FYI, both of these videos were directed by Jay Hollinsworth, whose work recently won him an opportunity to direct a video for a song off the new Foo Fighters record. Go check out his brand new clip for These Days.

  • Long ago, Guided By Voices did a cover of NRSK’s “The Opposing Engineer (Sleeps Alone)” for a 1995 Chunk Records split 7-inch, and you can hear it right here. No surprise that Pollard’s version is excellent, especially given the source material.
  • Check out a couple more of my NRSK photos on Flickr.

    Thanks for all the songs, NRSK. How long do you think we have to wait for the little reunion tour that’ll find you returning more popular than you ever were? Or at least as popular as you damn well deserved to be. In the meantime, here’s hoping we get word of some new musical output from misters Pinkerton and Hunter sometime soon.

    [the fine print] If anyone has an issue with these MP3s being made available, just let me know (my contact info in the ‘nac faq). This live set recorded with a Sony minidisc and stereo mic, converted to .wav and edited to 192kbps mp3s.


    4 Responses to “[Live MP3s] New Radiant Storm King (RIP) in Cambridge, MA”

    1. Earthdog70
      May 30th, 2011 @ 9:37 pm

      Just a side-note that Stiff Little Fingers are playing Boston on Wed. Guest guitarist for this tour is John Haggerty (Naked Raygun/Pegboy).

    2. Anonymous
      June 1st, 2011 @ 9:05 am

      And an FYI… you can find “Drinking in the Moonlight,” “Singular, No Article,” “The Steady Hand,” “Leftover Blues,” and “Winter’s Kill” all on the Zune Service if you happen to be a Microsoft Zune user.

      June 1st, 2011 @ 3:06 pm

      A criminally underrated band and a pleasure to work with, to boot.

    4. Andrew Wagner
      June 10th, 2011 @ 3:19 pm

      Hey Brad,

      Great write up on the dearly departed NRSK. I first came upon them in ’93 with the ‘Buy this Used CD’ comp, for which they had the leadoff track (‘Opposing Engineer’.)

      I lost track of them after ‘Hurricane Necklace’ and got interested in them again when I picked up ‘The Steady Hand’ at Amoeba Recs in San Fran for $4.99– an awesome purchase, given that it ended up coming in at #1 on my top 100 albums of the decade. (‘Drinking in the Moonlight’ came in at #10, and ‘Winter’s Kill’ was #76.)

      It was interesting to see the Wikipedia entry propagated to their own band site and to Discogs, seeing as how I had written it. Maybe I should go update it with the sad news…

      Ah well. Always glad to find fellow NRSK fans. Thanks for posting the Middle East set, and if you’re curious, I recently acquired a copy of ‘My Little Bastard Soul + The Castle’ from the Netherlands.


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