Portland band Radiation City’s newest album, Synesthetica, draws its name from synesthesia, the neurological condition that singer/keyboardist Lizzy Ellison experiences that crossfires the senses. In Ellison’s case, she sees swirling landscapes of color when she listens to and performs music, so perhaps it should come as no surprise that the album is even more lush, swirling, and colorful than the band’s previous work.
What is surprising is that the album happened at all. Most bands are like families, but the members of Radiation City have long talked frankly about how that’s even more true for them. The band is made up of two couples, whose relationships have played out on the road. The founding pair, Ellison and Cameron Spies, blames the three-year hiatus between 2013’s Animals in the Median and this year’s Synesthetica on tempestuous times that ultimately resulted in their romantic separation.
Instead of calling the band quits, though, they worked through it, tightening their song-writing process and bringing in an outside producer for the first time (John Vanderslice, known for work with Spoon, St. Vincent and Death Cab For Cutie), to create an album that is more polished and poppy. Synesthetica adds a synthy cinematic glam to Radiation City’s retro futuristic nostalgia, and almost across the board, reviewers have hailed it as a new and confident achievement for the band.
Watch the band’s performance at OPB in the video player above, via VuHaus. Download the songs and hear our interview with the band below.
Audio recording and mixes: Steven Kray, with assistance from William Ward and Randy Layton
Editor: Jarratt Taylor
Videographers: Jarratt Taylor, Nate Sjol, Sam Smith, Nick Gattman
Executive Producer: David Christensen