Vol. 1: A Country Album that Goes Leaps and Bounds

I had no idea this band existed, but I now realize that I have been missing out. The band Radio Company is the 2018 brainchild of Jensen Ackles, star of the show Supernatural, and Steve Carlson. Their new album, Vol. 1, was released on Nov. 8. I’d educate you a bit more on the artist, but these guys are so new that there’s not much to say. The album exists, the songs are good, and here’s why. 

Despite the ten tracks, Radio Company wastes no time laying out the musical map for listeners; i.e., there’s a ton of quality stuff happening. I was sorely unprepared for “Cannonball,” the first track, and the absolute bonkers sounds it contains. The tune opens with a mysterious reverb before busting out into an electric guitar accompanied with silky smooth country vocals. The song progresses with the addition of a gospel chorus, jazz elements, and a strong drum beat. Speaking of, the drums on the entirety of the album are crisp, clear, and groovy. While not every track contains a repertoire quite like “Cannonball,” these elements are not just one-trick ponies. The different instruments and sounds pop up all over the album.

And that’s just the instruments. 

Lyrically, Vol. 1 plays fast and loose. While it doesn’t do away with lyrics entirely, Radio Company isn’t afraid to let the instruments speak for themselves. There are many songs in which the chorus or verses are the only verbal part of the song. Radio Company manages to say a lot without actually saying much. They’re able  to set the scene of a song with just guitars, drums, and whatever other instrument seemed to fancy them. I couldn’t help myself from picturing the Wild West, which probably was not intended but certainly made the album even better for me. 

My top five songs, in no particular order, are “Bound,” “Sounds of Someday,” “Dume,” “Drowning,” and “When I’m Down”. “Bound” seemed to take the win for me, coming early on in the tracklist but sticking with me throughout the album. The song has a very mysterious vibe, with the verses practically being whispered, creating a reverent feel to the entire experience. There is a very strong emphasis on the lyrics, unlike some of the other songs. The already expressive song leaps to life in the pre-chorus with the guitar and vocals bouncing off of each other into the pulse-pounding chorus. 

The album itself can be strangely calming at times, even though some of the songs can have fairly lively instrumentation. With this in mind, Vol. 1 is one of the most unique albums I’ve listened to all year. The country genre is a hard sell for me, but Radio Company has brought back a little of the appeal for me. I’m not sure I can fully call them country, though. They still have me scratching my head over what on earth I just listened to. Is it country? Jazz? Alternative rock? Alternative country jazz? 

It does not matter what they are in the long run, however, because only their magnificent music does. Radio Company mostly uses country as a backdrop for genre-bending songs that calm and excite. It’s diverse, unique, and a rollicking good time to listen to.