Memphis Radio Kings
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Memphis Radio Kings


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Review of "The Devil's Dutchman""

The overall feel of this, their third album, has a big ol' foot in traditional American music while also prominently moving into other areas (e.g. straight rock, pop, and early 20th century jazz). Think more of the Replacements in attitude than of Hank Williams, although even Hank Sr. would feel plenty at home here. A few spins on this one, and you will, too - Three Imaginary Girls

"Review of "The Devil's Dutchman""

Fans of the Americana sound who feel betrayed by their heroes leaving the twang in the dust to pursue more radio-friendly music may now bow down to the Memphis Radio Kings, who fuse some of that Bo Diddley rhythm with dexterous Telecaster picking and melodies that stick like cactus candy. Oh, and their songs rule. - Rhapsody

"Review of MRK "Four""

As Prefab Sprout once sang, "It's a life of surprises." Which is my gentle way of alerting fans of local ensemble Memphis Radio Kings—who play a CD-release show at the Tractor Tavern this Friday, April 7—that their brand-new album, Four, marks a bit of a departure. Blessedly, it's not a "rude awakening." But sonically and stylistically, the 12-track set utilizes a broader palette than previous MRK discs, an advancement further enhanced by savvy production from local stalwart Martin ("Mister Fruity-pants") Feveryear.

"Somebody who only listened to our first few albums, and is expecting a traditional, Americana-type record, is going to be surprised," admits drummer Tony Leamer. "And, honestly, so far people either really like it or they don't. We could have easily made the last couple of records over and over again, but we didn't want to do that."

He credits much of the evolution to the addition of full-time fourth member Jon Goff, who, besides bass, also plays mandolin, keyboards, auxiliary guitar, and other instruments. "We wanted to exploit the opportunities the addition of a new member gave us," Leamer concedes, "but in a way that would still sound like the same band. I definitely don't feel like we went out and made a LCD Soundsystem record."

Well, there are those jumpy synthesizer lines on "Frehley's Comet (Fell on Me Tonight)," but the boys use them as an accent—just like the bells echoing throughout the childlike "I Want You to Fall"—rather than a predominant flavor. Overall, the disc is dominated by twangy pop with country overtones, and marked by a recurring trend toward juxtaposing upbeat music with darker, introspective lyrics.

In particular, the final two cuts on the album, "Shameless" and the blue-collar anthem and live-show favorite "The Fate of the Working Man" (the latter inspired by singer Charlie Beck's experiences as a Boeing employee), see the band staking out territory that tempers sharp political sentiments with just enough personal candor to soften, but not dull, their impact.

"These are dark times," admits Leamer. He points toward the recent fuss—or rather, lack thereof—over Sandra Day O'Connor's comments at Georgetown University as a prime example. "Here is a Reagan appointee, coming out with a very potentially incendiary statement... and nobody cares! There is this feeling of helplessness. So as a musician with some reach, you want to share your beliefs with people. But on the other hand, you don't want to become preachy."

"This isn't a protest record, or a Woody Guthrie album," concludes Leamer. But being branded as an Americana act means that the band and its audience members don't always see eye-to-eye on hot-button topics, and Four addresses those concerns. "There are people who come to our shows who probably aren't necessarily in line with us politically," admits Leamer. "We're happy that they might enjoy our music, but we want to be clear about where we stand on some of the things that are going on."


"Review of MRK "Four""

Memphis Radio Kings - Four (CD Review)

Four is the latest release from the americana tinged rock and roll outfit, The Memphis Radio Kings, from Seattle, Washington. They're comprised of Charlie Beck on vocals and guitars, Tim Jones on guitars and backup vocals, Tony Leamer on drums and percussion, and Jon Goff on bass, keys, piano, and organ. In recent years, the Memphis Radio Kings have been moving closer a more traditional rock and roll style while not foresaking their roots. While listening to Four, you're going to find teary eyed ballads, irresistable pop songs, rock and roll stompers, and everything in between.

Nowhere is this new direction more evident than in the opening track, "The Ghost." It starts with a big blues garage rock style riff in the intro part of the song, yet the verses and chorus still hold a little bit of that good ole twang. "Sudden Summer" is that irresistable pop song of the mix. The first time I heard this song, my first thought was to find a country road, roll down the windows, and turn up the car stereo. It's one of those songs that can trasport you away from a dreary day with each and every listen. In other songs where you might expect to hear a pedal steel or slide guitar, you may still hear it deep in the mix, but you'll also find whirling keys. A great example of this pairing is the ballad "I Want You to Fall." At its heart, this is a traditional beer soaked country ballad. What makes it special, is that dominating keyboard line that sounds like it came from out of this world. It shares space with Charlie Beck's broken heart vocals, organs, roots rock guitars, and a little slide. It's a mix that the Memphis Radio Kings pull of with spectacular results.

As I mentioned earlier, while the band has proclaimed a shift to a more mainstream rock sound, they haven't forgotten their alternative country past. "Last Lullaby" will still make you shed a tear in your Budweiser and there's also the rousing country rock number, "$2 Whiskey Pill." Even rockers like "Brand New Depression" and "Alabaster Carpet" bring enough of the roots along for the ride that they should please both the No Depression crowd as well as the rock kids.

The Memphis Radio Kings aren't the first band to put a little rock into their country. They certainly won't be the last one to do so, either. What sets them apart from their peers is the ability to shift seamlessly between genres from one song to the next as well as the ability to comfortably mix their roots straight into their rock. All of this makes for one thoroughly enjoyable listen. - I Rock Cleveland


Memphis Radio Kings (EP) - 2001
No Band in the Happy Place - 2002
The Devil's Dutchman - 2004
MRK: Four - 2006
Another Punch (From A So Called Friend) - 2009 (Release date April 14)



MEMPHIS RADIO KINGS are tired of bands that sound alike. Memphis Radio Kings are also tired of bands whose songs all sound the same. They have spent their lengthy and distinguished career trying to make songs that sound different from other songs they may have written. Why is this, you ask? Many bands find sweet gold in making the same songs over and over to please the masses, why not MRK? Is MRK too good for this approach?

Well, yes.. MRK can make many different kinds of digital audio files for your downloadable pleasure, so why shouldn’t they? Let me explain further.

When the founding members of MRK got tired of bringing the “rawk” in their previous band, they never set out to make roots music, country music, or so called Americana. They just wanted to write and play better songs. A reflection of their varied influences much more than any intentional direction, these songs felt organic and real. This, combined with a name chosen more because it sounded cool than with any particular identification with a place or time, caused them to be tightly embraced by lovers of “roots” music. As a result of this warm, cocoon-like embrace, accolades were heaped, many contests were won, great shows were played with the likes of Chuck Prophet, Cowboy Mouth, The Decemberists, Smashmouth, and many more.

But also like any embrace, it became limiting and constricting over time, until they began to writhe under it’s pressure, ultimately kicking and bucking like a toddler in a car seat. To soothe this musical temper tantrum, MRK added a fourth member, producer and multi-instrumentalist Jon Goff, and began experimenting with different musical textures, moving further away from traditional music and closer to something uniquely their own.

They also discovered that there are subjects to write about other than booze, heartbreak, and “the road”. So Beck and Leamer (MRK’s primary writers of words) began seeking inspiration outside of the roots rock cannon, exploring political themes (Shameless), the fleeting nature of youth and life itself (Sudden Summer, Divide) and self doubt (Frehley’s Comet).

And now here they present their latest series of data files, guaranteed to make your iPod squirm with glee: Another Punch From A So-Called Friend. Musically, it steps even further away from its predecessors, exploring piano-piano driven indie pop (Moment of Truth), driving rock (View from the Bottom), dance music (Set it Off, Find me Gone) and the textural balladry of the EP’s title cut. Lyrically, Leamer’s original vision was to use John Updike’s Rabbit novels as the inspiration for a concept album using these songs. While the fit wasn’t quite right as the songs came together, Updike’s unflinching look at the American dream through the extraordinary events in an ordinary life runs deeply through all of these songs. Careful listeners will find references to premature nostalgia, unrequited love, faded youth, and broken promises, as well as recognition of life’s sometimes too rare shimmering moments of happiness,

They have roots, but this isn’t roots music. This is decidedly American music, but don’t call it Americana. This is music influenced as much by John Updike as The Replacements or Bruce Springsteen. So download these files, put them into your playlist, and hope your crappy earbuds can do them justice. Another chapter, another reason to believe in unsung heros, “Another Punch From A So-Called Friend”.