There's been a lot of talk about New York rock lately, but maybe too much of it has been blind cheerleading. Denying NYC's rock renaissance would be foolhardy, with the Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Interpol, Liars, and Fischerspooner all making waves. But thus far, these bands have proved to be more chic than consequential, as none of them has championed much besides the right to have a fantastic record collection.
Which is where Radio 4 is different. The guitar-bass-percussion-drums quartet doesn't have the hooks of many of its more talked-about, fellow Big Apple exports; nor does it have a good stylist. But the band does have ants in its pants -- both in terms of its post-punk funk rhythms and its pissed-off convictions about disintegrating culture. Gotham, Radio 4's sophomore turn, was produced by hot-as-shit dance-rock team the DFA, and its loops and sonic squiggles gleam in and around the band's guitar attack like an update of Eno's Talking Heads productions. Meanwhile, the songs rage about the forgotten AIDS epidemic, dead-end civil service work, and the harsh light that NYC artists lived under during Giuliani's reign. Like many of its brothers and sisters, Radio 4's sound could be boiled down to a short list of excellent influences (Gang of Four, the Clash's funk side, Generation X); but unlike the group's compadres, its anger boils over, making Radio 4 one of the few NYC outfits that's more fierce than fashionable.