Radio Vago rises
For Radio Vago, it's all about recovering lost momentum. The L.A. quintet was on the rise after a stint on the 2002 Warped Tour, an appearance at the 2003 South by Southwest Music Festival and gigs with the likes of the Mars Volta, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the Distillers. Then the band had a parting of the ways with vocalist Adrienne Pearson.
"It took us six months to find somebody and another six months to get her up to speed," says drummer Jenny Vassilatos, whose work with bassist Nicole Fiorentino forms the spine of Radio Vago's avant-punk stylings. "We basically had to stop in the middle of the recording process."
Now with singer Mire Molnar on board, the band -- including Olivia Parriott on keyboards and Jen Gillaspy on guitar -- are back to unleashing their noisy bursts of energy live. Radio Vago has two Friday nights left in its April residency at El Cid, and the quintet has completed (but not yet released) an album bearing the production fingerprints of the Mars Volta's Omar Rodriguez-Lopez.
"He's the kind of guy who pulls the best things out of you," Vassilatos says. "It was a really interactive process with him."
Over four albums from 1988 to '93, the Wonder Stuff's sharp-tongued power pop earned the quartet a loyal following in its native U.K. and carved out a niche on American college radio before the band broke up.
Now, after a 12-year hiatus, founding members Miles Hunt and Malc Treece have resurrected the band, emerging with a new album of melody-couched cleverness, "Escape From Rubbish Island."
"People who say they don't listen to the lyrics -- that really frustrates me," says Hunt, whose band plays Saturday at the Troubadour and Sunday at the Galaxy Theatre. "Some people don't want to have their brains fed, or even exercised."
Of the current crop of new-wave revivalists, he says: "I just don't think these bands have a lot that you can take with you. It's as if they're buying the uniforms and dressing up like the bands that influenced them. But the social commentary is missing."
As for his own album, the title reflects "a London's-eye view of England," Hunt says. "It seems to exist on a level of fear or hate. It's expensive, it's unfriendly, and we've got a government that seems to despise its population."
Local pedal-to-the-metal rockers the Vacation celebrate the release of their debut "Band From World War Zero" with shows Tuesday, Wednesday and next Thursday at the Silverlake Lounge.... With perhaps its headiest offering yet, "Talking Voice Vs. Singing Voice," just out, long-running Starflyer 59 performs Saturday at the Glass House.... Thee Rocket Summer -- whose upcoming album "Hello, Good Friend" is chock full of sugary hooks -- joins three other bands from the Militia Group for shows Sunday and Monday at Chain Reaction.
-- Kevin Bronson