Jim Putnam has been creating works of introspective beauty from his California base for the last eight years. Recording as The Radar Brothers with Steve Goodfriend and Senon Williams, ‘And The Surrounding Mountains’ is his third full-length masterpiece, and as a collection of psychedelic slowcore melancholia, it is unlikely to be bettered this year.
‘And The Surrounding Mountains’ takes time to work its magic. These are gentle tunes, with delicate arrangements and vocals, but repeated listening renders them truly memorable. Understatement is the key, with the likes of ‘Rock Of The Lake’ and ‘Sisters’ (further evidence of a ‘family' theme is provided by ‘Uncles’, ‘Mothers’, and ‘You And The Father’) on a par with the best of Sparklehorse, Lambchop or Low.
There is a genuine love and warmth to this music which transmits itself to the listener. It feels like a set of private demos made purely for pleasure, untouched by the pressures of commercialism. As it happens, demos are exactly what these tracks evolved from. Supplemented by layered keyboards, guitars and vocals, Putnam’s earliest recordings of these songs now form the basis of the album’s simple, uncluttered sound.
In many ways, the very existence of records such as ‘And The Surrounding Mountains’ represents a small triumph for musical substance over marketing style. There is no distracting imagery, no pretty faces, no controversy or hyperbole. The only way to discover The Radar Brothers is to listen to them play.
9Jonathan Rawcliffe's Score