Radio Silence: ‘The Hanging Tree’ – Single Review

Newcastle-based quartet, Radio Silence reflect on the dire realities of lockdown in a rather morbid, yet uncannily zealous, psychedelic-punk number, ‘The Hanging Tree’. Released to all major streaming platforms on December 19th, ‘The Hanging Tree’ is the band’s first release with new band member John Gair, as well as being the opening track of their upcoming EP, due to be released next year.

Sharing similarities with their previous release ‘Crank Bugs’, ‘The Hanging Tree’ is an experimental modern punk offering that draws inspiration from both 1950s/60s rock and roll and surf rock music. From its hauntingly emotive vocals and gritty lyrics to its powerful, yet pristine, instrumentals, the well-mixed track is a great addition to the band’s discography and showcases the talents of each and every member.

Radio Silence (Photo: Scott Jacobs)

Fuelled by political angst, yet softened by its more light-hearted 1950s/60s influences, the lyrics create a passive aggressive display of discontent, or (what I’d like to call) a happy-go-pissed-off façade. With the lyrics focusing on mental health during the seemingly never-ending lockdown and the closure of pubs and social venues, they highlight the dire effects the lockdown has had on the well-being of thousands of young people. In the single, “The Hanging Tree” is treated as the new place to be. It plays on the 1950s and 60s ‘swinging’ terminology of a party which, contrasted with the obviously more morbid connotations of suicide, forces the overall tone of the single to infinitely switch from cheerful to dirgey, and places it slap-bang in the middle of uncanny valley. And although this doesn’t align with my own personal music tastes, I appreciate and admire the creative flare that the track exhibits.

When talking about the inspiration behind the lyrics, bass player, Rob says: “Lines like “It’s 2 for 1, give everybody a loaded gun” hint at our political motivation and the government’s poor way of dealing with the pandemic (for example the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme, putting profit over people, and masking it with 2 for 1 deals). We wanted to allude to it without it being too in your face and allow people to interpret it in their own way.”

Formed in 2019, Radio Silence consist of Jack Burlison (guitar/vocals) Robert Owens (bass), Andrew Mcaskell (drums), and John Gair (keyboard/rhythm guitar). The band has already released three singles in the last year and are currently in the midst of creating their first EP, which is due to be released in 2021. With plans to perform live once restrictions are lifted, and several new bangers due to be released, Radio Silence is definitely a name to watch on the local scene for the year to come.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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