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Radar Brothers: Eight (Merge)

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As the guitarist, singer, songwriter and producer for Radar Brothers, Jim Putnam has been releasing sun-drenched, slow and spacey pop records that evoke Meddle-era Pink Floyd by way of Crazy Horse since 1996. Rarely venturing too far outside the boundaries of this template, Putnam has carved out a niche for himself.

But longevity and consistency have their downsides, too. The band has undergone several lineup changes, with members leaving to pursue other projects over the years. Luckily, this can also yield positive results.

For Eight (the band's eighth album), Putnam added additional guitars and keyboards to the existing drums-bass-guitar/organ three-piece setup, thus broadening the band's sonic palette. The results breathe life into the Radar Brothers' well-honed sound.

This comes across in tracks such as "If We Were Banished," which adds drum machines and multiple layers of vocal harmonies to the song's chorus. "Reflections" and "Time Rolling By," on the other hand, find the band cutting loose from their typical pop craftsmanship in favor of rocking. "Couch" could easily be mistaken for a track on any of the band's previous few albums, until the lap steel and strings come in at about the halfway point.

It's these extra touches that signal the progressions made by the band. While this is certainly not the soundtrack to a Saturday night on the town, it does give a little kick to the Sunday afternoon listening that Radar Brothers have perfected. Now, if only producer Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Tame Impala) could get his hands on their next record!

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