Radiator Hospital releases a meandering solo album

Radiator Hospital
sings ‘Music for Daydreaming’

Salinas Records · May 10, 2019


If you’re not familiar, Radiator Hospital is the brainchild of Michigan native turned Philadelphia resident Sam Cook-Parrott. The band plays decidedly independent music, treading a line between pop-punk and rock – sad and mad.

Sings ‘Music For Daydreaming’ was released May 10, 2019. But the rest of the full-piece band is missing – lead singer and songwriter Cook-Parrott did the composition, arranging and composition, so it’s sort of a solo-project.

Daydreaming oscillates between upbeat and dreary. Cook-Parrot performs vocals in a lilting and wandering manner. Sometimes it can be hard to parse what exactly he’s saying but I’ll chalk it up to garage-rock vibes and possibly a Grand Rapids, Michigan accent. His singing is a universally interesting performance. Sometimes his singing turns into yelling a little bit, and I love that shit.

Burning through all 14 tracks in just 35 minutes, my first listen of Daydreaming left a positive, if unexceptional impression. But the more I listen to these tracks the more they make sense together.

A sense of weightlessness permeates this project. The lyrics discuss regret and fondness – vagueness and poetic intent. The album follows a pattern. Wistful then cheerful. The story that is told over these 35 minutes is one of oscillation and remembrance and renewal and realization. Consistently, Cook-Parrott is singing at someone. I don’t know who this “you” is that he keeps on bringing up, but it sure seems like they broke up at the beginning of the album and they got back together towards the end. Maybe it’s multiple people?

The dude starts out the album with a breakup song and ends it with a reunion song.

The album starts out with “My Fire,” which is about breaking up with someone after a house party. “Honey you don’t light my fire” says Cook-Parrott. It’s a lost way to break up with someone.

The longest song is “Guitar,” which tells the story of a Cook-Parrott’s loss of someone’s guitar (that same “you” he keeps singing to). It only clocks in at 3 minutes and 36 seconds because it’s got an instrumental intro and outro. I love this song so much. It’s so nice. It’s lit. And also melodic and simple. It’s funny, it’s named guitar but is only piano simple countermelody and vocal melody and harmony.

There’re songs about the impermanent search for love with others, and there’s plenty of reverb on vocals (that’s “Cupid”).

“Dark Sound” is a darker, slowed down re-recording of a track which used to be a duet with a woman.

“Weird Little Idea” has a music video with Cook-Parrott playing all the instruments. I think the weird little idea is affection, lust, love? Chemical attraction or something. It’s a good visual summation of the album – a dude playing all the instruments of a song he wrote in some random church in Philadalphia.

“Alright Again” is about rekindling something that was broken. Until reality drags us back into this mess. There’s songs about missing youth, finding ways to spend a lifetime, remembering walking along an old canal with “you.” Regret, spoiling something good. “Alright Again” stands out as a classic sad song. This production is imperfect, the acoustic instruments are performed and probably added in layers, rather than being played entirely live. It sounds like something made. It was clearly made with care, and care was spent in preserving the chaos, the guitars in this part are coming from various places around my head. Very pleasant. I like Alright Again a lot.

“My new chord is all I have, as I dive further toward the bottom,” sings Cook-Parrott in one of the more cheerful and mad tracks “My New Chord.”

The last four songs of the album seem to chronicle a reunion of sorts. “Corner Booth” talks about waiting at a Corner Booth for someone, probably a former lover, waiting to say something to them. I’m just guessing here but it seems like an admission of love, or at least affection or something. I think the words he’s looking for are “I love you”. But it’s not like he says that anywhere in this project.

“I Never Dreamed” is unabashedly happy, probably the only one on the album. There’s nothing to sour this song. It’s the climax of the album. The realization and the high point. “The song I love” is what he’s talking about.

“Hot Mess” is the next one, it sounds basically like a remaking of Mad World (by Gary Jules). It’s ‘dramatic’. He says the world is cold and wet, and his life is on fire for the hot mess. That’s the ‘You’ I think.

“Lit Up” seems to be nothing more than Cook-Parrott acknowledging that he has a problem. That he’s “all lit up,” in some random town and it’s not fine, and he knows it.

“The answer’s clear.”

He knows he’s wasting time and running away and this album is his thoughts on the matter. What is the answer? Will consult lyrics for more.

If you’ve ever watched Shameless, it feels like the sort of music they like to play during the background of dramatic family scenes, almost like a music video for depravity. It’s dope when they do it but it’s seldom a happy or good thing, or even maybe it is, you never know. The aprpreciation of nature or violence or sex or greed. Who knows. It’s not positive. I’m not positivie. But it scratches an itch, it’s good to listen to. This is nice because the singer is making mistakes and he knows it and it’s still nice. Idk.

This album is the musings of a late 20-something as he drifts out and into love. It’s clear that this album was made about and for someone. I hope they liked it. Because I certainly did.

There’s a story here, I don’t know all the details of what happened, but I get the gist. The outline. This album is the outline of this dude Sam’s relationships, with his sister, himself, his lover or lovers.

It’s clearly very personal. This album is the story of a rocky relationship, or relationships.

Looking up the lyrics and following along helps the songs mean more. This is a project performed and recorded mainly by one dude, and he’s presented a story for us. This is a less cohesive story than others

These songs usually mesh an idea and exist in a state of ambiguity. Radiator Hospital is on some quantum shit. A lot of songs sound sad but also hopeful, or the lyrics don’t quite match the tone. It’s an album made by someone who isn’t sure about things.

This album is about the personal relationships of the man Sam Cook-Parrott: with himself, bae, his music, his lovers, someone’s sister’s guitar. I’m speculating it a bit here, but those relationships are stressed and frayed. It seems like this album follows his breakup, some playing around and an uneasy make-up. Maybe there was some self-realizations in there, maybe not. There’s frequently a “you” he’s singing to.

These are excellent songs to listen to in the rain, in the spring, or to cuddle along to. Recorded in a very home-studio type of way, instruments float in and around each other in a way that sounds acoustic but doesn’t mesh perfectly. But the sounds go together. It feels weirdly live for something that is a collage of performances by one dude.

This is a personal thing, but I don’t like the punk-pop Vampire-Weekend-esque drumbeats that pop up a couple times through the piece. Like on “Cupid” for example. It’s too simple. That stuff is cheesy and could be more interesting. Simplicity is one of the virtues of this album, but you can go too far in dumbing down the drums. That’s my only criticism that’s real.

The project is split between happy-go-lucky and dreary songs. It seems to oscillate evenly between them to my ears. He’s a big fan of doubled vocals too. Chaos is packaged into these songs. And some meandering. There’s usually a switch, an indecision baked in, from thing 1 to thing 2 and back again.

Voice sounds as if he should be singing sad songs, not cheerful little jams. I think it would make excellent yelling at the moon music.

The thing that makes the vocals so nice is the simple sad melody and yearning of the voice, but mostly the pretty subtle doubling and harmony in the vocals.

The instrumentals are universally catchy.

He wants to move on and also be constricted and pinned to what he is doing. It’s relatable. It doesn’t seem like he is of one mind about anything. Just regret about his sister’s guitar that he lost and the relationship that it represents.

I think 3.5 out of 5 is appropriate. It’s very solid, and it is consistently good, but the storytelling aspect could be tighter. Like I’m left with a real idea of what place this dude is mentally and romantically, but it took a lot of parsing. At the end of the day it’s a mish mash of this guy’s thoughts – more poetry than prose. It oscillates between happy and sad. Daydream is a very apt word to include in the title.

A wonderful thing to sit down and listen to. Only 35 minutes so can be an intro to a nap. Or a short car trip. Really it’s just nice to put on. I don’t get a resolution from it, which is what I want from an album. It’s just switching between two moods.

Consistently quality songs though. Just listen to the whole thing if you’re curious, you’ll find the ones you like.

Listen to sings ‘Music for Daydreaming’:

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