This is a guest post by fellow blogger The Alternative Mixtapes, who has a terrific music blog https://thealternativemixtapes.com/. Based in the UK, he’s an excellent writer with great taste in music. Like me, he features a lot of talented indie and up-and-coming artists, so do check out his blog.
Could this be the most overlooked rock band ever?
Twenty years ago, finding new music was much harder than it is now. These days, between social media, great music blogs such as EclecticMusicLover, and AI-generated playlists based on your listening patterns, it is actually difficult to miss anything related to your favorite music genres. Back then, websites dedicated to alternative rock were scarce, streaming over dial up connections was a joke, and the closest thing to social media was, perhaps, MSN. MySpace wasn’t even a thing yet.
Believe it or not, Amazon was a pretty decent source of new music those years because it could recommend you albums bought by customers who had purchased something you liked. This was how I discovered Radford, who almost instantly became one of my favorite bands. I remember the first song I heard from them was “Closer To Myself”, and I immediately got hooked on Jonny Radford Mead’s voice and the song’s innovative –at the time– bridge. And yes, the band was named after the middle name of its frontman.
The band was formed around 1998 in Los Angeles after Jonny emigrated there from Oxford, UK, and met guitarist Chris Hower, bassist Bobby Stefano, and eventually drummer Kane McGee. After signing with RCA records, they released their self-titled debut album in the year 2000, which in addition to “Closer To Myself”, featured other great tunes such as “Don’t Stop”, “Fly”, “How Does It Feel?” and “Fall At Your Feet”. The album had moderate success with some of the songs being featured in movie soundtracks (“Closer To Myself” was featured in Clubland and Never Been Kissed, and “Fall At Your Feet” in Teaching Mrs. Tingle). “Don’t Stop” even peaked at number 32 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart.
Unfortunately, RCA went through some restructuring and Radford got dropped from the label, causing them to go on hiatus. Luckily for us, in 2004 the band returned with a sophomore album Sleepwalker, released by Universal Records. It was even better than the previous album, but due to a lack of promotion by the label, it sold poorly. The highlight of the album to me was “Fake a Smile”, a beautiful song with really outstanding lyrics, but the album had other gems such as “Dead Heart”, “Out of the Dark” and “Anything”.
After another hiatus, the band returned in 2006 with a digital-only 5-track EP called “Black Out Of The Sun”. The only defect this EP had was that it was like 10 songs too short. The first track “Stay With Me” is in the running for Radford’s best song, but other great tracks on this EP are “Open Your Eyes” and “Now It’s Over”. Unfortunately, these were the last songs Radford ever released, at least so far.
Jonny Mead Radford has a music studio in L.A. today and he is a member of two bands today: The Blind Love and Princess Princess, but he’s taken the backseat in both of them, so it doesn’t scratch the itch of wanting new Radford music. To make things worse, Radford’s discography is not available in any of the major streaming platforms, so unless you own the albums, it’s not easy to listen to them today.
I run a music blog in which I recommend songs and add them to my “mixtapes” (playlists) in one of those streaming platforms. I’ve been dying to include Radford in any of them but I’m unable to do so because their songs are not available (although their album Sleepwalker seems to be available only in the U.S. on Spotify and Apple Music). Fortunately, Jeff gave me the opportunity to talk about Radford here on this great website and I’m thankful for that.
Without a doubt, Radford was and still is one of the greatest overlooked bands. I wish they had been more successful at the time, maybe they would have released more albums had that been the case. In any case, I hope you enjoy their music as much as I do.