Lately, I’ve been doing a deep dive into music of the 80’s, trying to go past the well-known radio hits of the day and searching for lesser-known bands that may have been great but never reached the kind of acclaim or sales to make them staples of the decade.
Being that I was born in 1983, my musical memory of the time is limited, so I checked in with an older friend and die-hard music fan to get some recommendations of more obscure groups to check out. Being as there was no internet at the time and it wasn’t always easy to get records from smaller bands in different states, most people only discovered indie bands by seeing them live or getting recommendations from zines or friends. It was the latter that introduced my friend to Radio Architecture, a group from Scottsdale, AZ. A girl my friend went to college with knew the guitar player, introducing their music to him, and now he has introduced their music to me.
The group’s lone album, To Have or to Be came out in 1988, and on listening to first song “Children of the Earth”, the group fits in with some of the familiar sounds of the decade; dramatic vocals, synth-filled sonics, keyboard, and dual bass notes. The track has a strong chorus, and is solidly produced. “Watch the World” is reminiscent of “Melt With You”, with the chiming acoustics and upbeat harmonies, but the noodling guitar work and tactile percussion push the track more into the alternative realm than the pop realm.
As one keeps going through the album, it becomes more and more intriguing. “Perfection” has the pop knack of The Cure‘s most radio-friendly songs, while “Go Where the Rain Goes” is an eight-minute, bongo and sitar filled psychedelic trip. “Works That Way For Me” mixes funky synth line with an islandy vocal melody. “Stay”, one of the album’s highlights, brings in smooth sax, latin rhythms and twangy guitars for a melodic gem that would get me on the dance floor in a second.