Jonathan Rado: “Faces”

Out of nowhere, Foxygen became this year’s most talked-about band. In January came We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic, the L.A. band’s critically-acclaimed second album. On the strength of its release, Foxygen took their freewheeling show on the road, but their live performances were, well, perhaps a little too freewheeling. In a bout of SXSW-fueled exhaustion, lead singer Sam France berated a festival crowd, and the band subsequently called off their European tour dates. Later in the summer, France injured himself onstage, leading to more cancelled shows. A recent blog post detailed the growing animosity in the band, particularly amongst France and guitarist Jonathan Rado.

Foxygen seems to be burning out bright and fast, a victim of its own success and subject to a constant digital microscope. It’s hard to remember a group in recent memory with two such distinctive personalities: while France struts around at the front of the stage, Rado sticks to the shadows, gently crooning. Of course, appearances are only half of the Foxygen story; the intra-band squabbling might be due to Rado’s desire to kickstart his own solo career.

And on September 3, he’s doing just that. Rado will release Law & Order, a debut record that continues in the manic, Kinks- and Stones-influenced direction of Foxygen. Without his bandmates, Rado’s songs don’t sound like they’re on the verge of breaking apart, but that dangerous, devil-may-care attitude is still out in full force. “Faces” struts down the street to a jaunty pop beat, content to bop along before hitting the catharsis hard at the end. Rock and roll is littered with opposing creative forces–Mick and Keith, Ray and Dave, Liam and Noel–but Rado proves he can stand on his own.

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