The number of different ways in which musicians were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic almost rivals the amount of virus variants we ended up uncovering. But broadly put, by April 2020, music makers faced a three-prong fork in the road: 1) reluctantly shelve their passion until an “all clear” eventually arrived, 2) maximize the sudden bevy of free time and continue to write new material, or, by far most commonly, 3) slow down along with the rest of the society, re-evaluate what makes your music unique, and let the uncertainty of those early times better inform the future path of your project.
Boston-to-NYC-to-LA singer-guitarist Adam Silvestri went with option three for his punk/blues endeavor Radiator King. Which makes sense since the momentum of Radiator King really picked up with the addition of Violent Femmes/Dresden Dolls drummer Brian Viglione and Alexander Burke before the release of the 2017 LP A Hollow Triumph After All. That title, alongside August 2020’s Unborn Ghosts both proved poignant in the new context of the quarantined turn of the 2020s. And with the exception of the following August’s Live at EastWest Studios, the court of Radiator King’s been awfully quiet.
Fortunately, as the world adjusts to a “post-pandemic” mindset, these royal heaters still tote the tools to tear the roof off their practice space. And even better, more synergic songwriting has begun flowing through the trio in this bold new iteration. Their latest single “Hammer & Nails” hones in on a hodgepodge of heavy-hitters like late-’90s era Bob Dylan, Nick Cave, and Tom Waits, albeit with Silvestri, Viglione, and Burke’s signature flairs; robust vocals, calculated, full-force percussion work, and straight up ripping Hammond B3, respectively. Its largely monochromatic music video with extreme close up camera work right in the grill of vintage equipment provides a moody juxtaposition against archival overlays including classic psychedelic eyeballs, nuclear weapons tests, and silent film footage, almost like a film noir version of an acid test.