New Radiant Storm King – The Steady Hand

New Radiant Storm King
The Steady Hand

Right away, I would like to let everyone know that I claim complete ignorance to anything New Radiant Storm King has ever done; I’ve never even heard of the band. According to the label, these guys are legendary in the indie-rock circuit, and while I can’t say I am any sort of expert in “indie rock,” I have listened to a pretty decent amount throughout the years. Usually I can at least say I have heard of most “legendary” bands within the genre, yet NRSK escapes me. I can, however, come up with a few reasons why I can’t seem to recollect any mention of these guys. Most importantly, they are terribly mediocre, and beyond that, they sound like a million other bands.

Perhaps the term indie rock doesn’t even apply here. I would argue that the band falls more in the vein of alt-rock, and not just any alt-rock, but the alt-rock that was around in the early 90s. This makes sense, though, since NRSK was producing music around that time. But I would also like to point out that there is a reason why most people don’t really listen to early-90s alt-rock anymore, and that is because it usually wasn’t very good.

The Steady Hand opens with a track called “Overture,” and it’s actually pretty good. Simple guitar plucking and a soft pad lead into a nice upbeat instrumental finish. It is past this point that things go very bland. From the second track on, the album is a blur of boring, repetitive songs. There are a few moments that caught my interest, but definitely not enough to carry a complete album. “Accountant of the Year” is pretty catchy actually, using solid drum work and a nice chorus to glide the listener through. “From a Roof” is another song I got into. The structuring isn’t anything amazing, but choppy guitars and more excellent drumming make it a standout track. The quick high-hat and guitar work found on “Quicksand Under Carpet” lets the band showcase a more indie-rock feel, which I think is handled well. Other than that, there isn’t very much to rave about.

The rest of the album is not bad by any means, and that is why no songs will be picked out to take the usual attack I give to stuff I don’t like. But while the album doesn’t suck, it isn’t all that great either, leading to the crux of the problem. Here and there, New Radiant Storm King dabbles in songs that are interesting and catchy, but the rest of the time, the band offers music that is bland and predictable. I feel I would be hard pressed to find anyone besides those at Darla, the label, to vouch for legendary status.