Radiator King’s “Raylene” is Americana Punk that taps into the overwhelming sadness that nostalgia brings.
Stream: “Raylene” – Radiator King
Armed with a sense of nostalgia, Radiator King’s latest song “Raylene” is a hard rocking ballad that channels the Americana sensations of Bruce Springsteen in a straightforward manner. Like so many great songs, “Raylene” (from Roll the Dice, out 2/15 via SoundEvolution Records) is about trying to win someone’s heart by writing a song, but on a macro-level it’s about how music really brings us all together. The Brooklyn band takes the open-wound rawness of punk rock and draws it into this dirty, simple rocker.
Raylene, my heart is burning
I hope you hear me singing
to you through this song
I walked back, back to where I started
I swear I’ll make it all up to you someday
Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering Radiator King’s “Raylene.” What resonates most about “Raylene” is that it has this no-bullshit sense about it. Perhaps due to frontman Adam Silvestri’s Boston roots, Radiator King sound like they could be playing in a DIY basement show or on the jukebox of an Irish bar. “Raylene” rocks hard with a sadness. When the chorus hits, the band has this crunchy, swelling distortion that sounds like Black Sabbath and Cheap Trick are backing Springsteen. Even in the song’s softer moments, there’s a relatively quick pacing, so it doesn’t really lose the bob that the simple guitar melody forces you to nod along to.
I watch the clouds roll on through the foothills
Until at last they make their way out of sight
Lets say goodbye in the last days of summer
Knowing we got every bang for our buck
“Lyrically ‘Raylene’ is one of the more personal songs I’ve written,” Silvestri tells Atwood Magazine. “Normally I try to write from others perspectives, trying to put myself in their shoes but that was really not the case here. The emotion I sought to convey was very much a result of my own experiences at the time of writing. Writing and releasing personal, heartfelt songs can be difficult because they leave you vulnerable. But I think it’s that vulnerability that can allow for the most honest and impactful songs.”
He continues, “When I first wrote ‘Raylene’ I envisioned it as a soft, subtle ballad played on an acoustic guitar with some light percussion — Very minimalist and subdued. However, when I brought the song to the band, that approach just seemed too predictable. After running through it a few times, we decided to start experimenting with a bigger sound. If I remember correctly it was really the producer, Shaul Eshet, who suggested we take it in more of a rock and roll direction. So we just went for it and everything started to fall into place.”
Silvestri’s delivery is filled with a timeless yearning that’s much older than he is. There’s a pain in his voice, as he sings to the titular Raylene, that’s often reserved for the likes of Jason Isbell. The Boston-sensibility really shines through. There’s a sense of longing that comes with places like Boston or New Jersey that’s familiar and as comforting as it is melancholy. It sounds like the type of song where your uncle’s just snuck you your first beer and is telling you about the music he grew up on. In the lines, “Raylene, my heart is burning, I hope you hear me singing to you through this song,” you’re left convinced that Raylene will never hear this song, as you replace the name with Tommy or Gina. It’s most moving when Silvestri turns the questions on himself and sings lines like, “I’m worried I forgot how to walk with another, ’cause you know I’ve walked so far now on my own.”
The wind calls me now so I must be going
There were so many things I could never say
I’m worried I forgot how to walk with another
Cause you know I’ve walked so far now on my own
Raylene, Raylene, Raylene
Baby the ends upon us
Oh and here comes the storm
I still cherish all the days I spent with you
Most of all, “Raylene” serves a reminder that we’re not perfect: “I walked back, back to where I started. I swear, I’ll make it all up to you someday.” It’s an ideal song for walking the streets in these brutal last few weeks of winter. Radiator King serve to help us reckon with our emotions and wrongdoings, and in spite of wishful thinking, sometimes it is best to just say goodbye.
Stream “Raylene” exclusively on Atwood Magazine! Radiator King’s Roll the Dice is out Friday, February 15, 2019.