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splendid > reviews > 6/8/2004
New Radiant Storm King
New Radiant Storm King
Leftover Blues 1991-2003
Contraphonic


Format Reviewed: CD

Soundclip: "Mercy"

Buy me now
This rarities compilation supposedly spans the time period to which its title alludes, but I couldn't tell you whether or not it's even sequenced chronologically, as my promo copy came sans any liner notes about the individual songs and their origins. Since it doesn't seem like this venerable New England trio has noticeably evolved or significantly altered their sound over the course of six albums, I guess that's almost irrelevant. The ten tracks (and one untitled instrumental) collected here alternate between slightly scruffy, sweet near-pop ("Mercy" recalls the serene second half of "Layla" as if it was covered by Evan Dando), polished, tightly wound rockers ("Quicksand Under Carpet", "Subway Token (Save My Soul)") and noisier, more ambitious stuff ("Mrs. Baird's Beard", "Smear") that satisfies the filler quotient usually guaranteed for this sort of interim release.

What emerges is less an alternate history than a seemingly random travelogue that never quite coheres. You'll admire little things, like the way the title track keeps shifting between melodic accessibility and cognitive dissonance, but they won't have enough of a cumulative effect to pull you in if you're hearing the band for the first time. However, those who have followed NRSK throughout their lengthy, rocky career will definitely want to own these mostly fresh leftovers.



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