Radon is one of the best pop-punk bands out there.
They’re also probably one of the most underrated, unheard and unknown.
But there’s something magical in a Radon song that’s blatantly apparent though difficult to describe. Part of it is Dave Rohm’s confident but prying vocals that exert warm, comforting melodies through fuzzy guitars and drums that--unlike most punk bands--are in no particular hurry. Another part is the bizarro lyrics thrown to paper that puzzle, bewilder, and eventually begin to make some strange form of sense within the framework of the song.
Take “Kibbles and Bits,” for example, which is, with no exaggeration, one of the catchiest songs ever: “I want out of this neurotic master / It has me by the leash / This dog wants to run free and shit in the woods / Don’t feed me that Kibbles and Bits shit / This dog wants the food that’s good / And let the photons shine on in / This light-starved seed wants to grow / I want it always.” Or if that’s not odd enough, try the bouncy pop-punk of “Facial Disobedience”: “Hello boys and girls, this is Alistair Cookie / Welcome to the Monsterpiece Theatre / Want to hear a little story about the war and glory of one big ugly family? / Living in a bell tower that’s full to capacity / See there’s this batman and he’s got no skeleton and he’s got five shadows and they’re pinning him to the ground.” Other catchy songs that aren't necessarily as weird or abstract lyrically include the deliciously fuzzy “Wash Away,” band track “Radon,” and “Wasting Time” with its ingenious guitar lead and stop/go structure.
Before Less than Jake, Hot Water Music and Against Me!, Radon was one of the first bands to get the Gainesville punk scene going back in 1991, catching the attention of No Idea shortly thereafter and releasing various 7-inch, full-lengths and compilation tracks for the next several years before disbanding and reuniting in 2005. This disc not only compiles the Radon 7-inch and parts of the In Your Home 7-inch, but includes some 14 live tracks including a Misfits medley of “Astro Zombies,” “I Turned into a Martian,” “Night of the Living Dead” and “Skulls.” The live tracks range from really good (“Bryan’s World,” “Better Than I Am”) to kind of weird (“The Weiner Song,” “Grandma’s Cootie,” “Alien Goat Bitch”) to not that great (“Chinese Rednecks,” Sanford and Son theme). There’s also a handful of covers by bands like Hüsker Dü (“Divide and Conquer”), the Smiths (“What Difference Does It Make?”) and the Pixies (“Debaser”).
The recordings are rough and real, the songs are tasty, and We Bare All is a great deal by any measure. While Radon have gone on to find some of the recognition they deserve with their reunion LP, Metric Buttloads of Rock!, this release is an essential opportunity to hear where it all began.