Amateur Radio Operator - Sirens of titan


I would say this is a diamond in the rough, but it feels too polished for that.



Classic Rock has become such a derided word nowadays that it’s almost become an insult. That’s primarily because of all those radio stations that seem to think playing The Eagles and a handful of Golden Earring, Led Zeppelin and Fleetwood Mac constitutes a decent playlist. As we all know, there’s only so many times you can listen to Hotel California in full before you start to lose your mind. After all, if you hang around in those neighbourhoods for long enough you’re sure to run into a Meatloaf song or two, which can’t be good for your health. If you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself listening to Genesis and then, I’m afraid, there’s simply no help for you.


The thing is, Classic Rock shouldn’t be a derogatory term, it should be a badge of honour. After all, if those radio stations started playing Black Water instead of Long Train Runnin’ by The Doobie Brothers, we’d all be in a happier state of mind. Imagine, if you will, a radio station that stopped playing Lou Reed’s Perfect Day and played the live version of Sweet Jane from Rock and Roll Animal instead. A world where The Stooges were played as often as The Eagles and the radio world realised that there’s more longevity in a Black Sabbath riff than half of Led Zeppelin’s entire output. You see, there’s so much true, honest to goodness, Classic Rock out there that we shouldn’t have to put up with hearing Heart of Gold by Neil Young for the twenty zillionth time when we could be listening to Revolution Blues instead.


Amateur Radio Operator must feel the same way, as Sirens Of Titan has Classic Rock oozing out of every pore. You can hear echoes of  Neil Young, Gram Parsons and the brothers Doobie and Flying Burrito. What’s more is you can hear how they’ve taken those influences and stirred  them into a mixture so smooth it could slip down your throat like honey.


Sirens of Titan is a classy piece of work. The production is pristine and clear. The songs are intricately layered, every track sounding full and large. The sound is big, but there’s a lot of space there, giving the album a very transient feel. Steel guitars float in and out, drums pound away, yet feel distant and Mark Johnson’s voice is an instrument all its own. Essentially he sounds like somebody getting castrated in a tunnel, but it works. He whines in a way that is beguiling and words seem to ring in and reverberate in his mouth before he’s even finished saying them. He provides a very wispy, almost ethereal presence to the record and he works wonders. The band behind him take their alt. country sound into some dark territory – think of a modern day western – and Mark’s haunting vocals complete the picture. And what a picture it is. It feels timeless in that the record feels like it could have been recorded decades ago. Amateur Radio Operator aren’t creating anything new here, but they’re refining an existing template and coming up with a new version – rather like those retro trainers you can buy nowadays.


Put simply, Amateur Radio Operator are a force to be reckoned with. They sure as hell know their stuff and, my word, do they know how to play it. I would say this is a diamond in the rough, but it feels too polished for that. This is, for want of a better phrase, truly classic rock. You’ll love it.


Words: Damian Leslie