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Somewhere between punk and blues – a porch and an alley – lies Radiator King, the performing/recording name of Boston native and Brooklyn based, Adam Silvestri. Established in 2011, Radiator King’s music shows influences from both Dylan and Strummer with a sound described by Boston blog Allston Pudding as something akin to what “Tom Waits locked in a room for a month with nothing but a copy of Springsteen’s Nebraska” might produce. Whether alone with a guitar or backed by a band, Radiator King embodies the raw energy of punk, the grit and intricacy of delta blues, and the lyrical potency of folk in “songs that are the sonic equivalent to an old whiskey bar at the end of a dirt road.”
Woven from the moral fabric of integrity and hard work fundamental to hardcore, Silvestri is relentless in bringing his music on the road. With six separate tours spanning from the East to West Coast in 2013 and 2014 alone, Radiator King has played everywhere from basements and bars to art galleries and cafes. Based on a constant energy and the genuine nature of his songs, Silvestri’s performances bridge the separation between stage and audience and are reflective of not just the crowd and venue, but the city and neighborhood in which he is performing.
In early 2015, Radiator King released his second full-length album, Document Untold, followed by a 6-week US tour. In the tradition of American folklore, Document Untold, reflects on the hardships and humanity shared by working class Americans. When asked where his ideas for the album stemmed from, Silvestri explains: “The ones who tell history decide what we remember about the past. It is too often that those at the bottom are forgotten and their story dies off for lack of retelling. I’ve known these people my whole life. It’s their stories and lives that are most inspiring. They possess a certain grit and authenticity that I have always been drawn to. These are the stories worthy of mythologizing. It’s these stories I want to tell.” With his characteristic rasp, Silvestri sings of those who, despite being overlooked and marginalized by society, refuse to give in and give up. Building on similar themes in his debut album, Launching Day, Silvestri’s lyrics tell of the choices, triumphs and tragedies that every life endures.
The album is a compilation of Silvestri’s own experiences, observations, and stories passed down. In “On the Corner”, Silvestri draws from his father’s memories about the neighborhood block where he grew up. On the corner, his gang of friends would congregate. “Growing up I would often hear stories of lots of crazy characters from his neighborhood, many came from nothing and caused their fair share of trouble. But what always stuck with me about the stories were the loyalty and camaraderie. For better or worse and without much to show for it, the guys on the corner had a moral code which they took very seriously. Those who did not respect that code were banished from the corner. When I look around today, I see those same scenarios still exist in cities and towns all across America; most likely they always will.” From beginning to end, while the details are specific, the experiences are universal.
From the perspective of one who is dealt a tough hand and repeatedly faces life’s injustices, “Under Iron” reflects the album’s underlying philosophy of remembrance and documentation of the common man’s experience. It captures the story of those who accept and bear the perpetual burdens they face with a heroic sense of pride. Recognizing what is beyond his control, Silvestri’s character trudges on and when faced with his own mortality, only cares to be remembered for the strength with which he lived.
At times devastatingly sad, unwaveringly proud, brutally honest, and always raw with emotion, Document Untold reflects Silvestri’s versatility as a song-writer and musician. From the heavy, high-energy rampage of “On the Corner”, reminiscent of the hardcore scene that Silvestri’s musical foundation was built upon, to “It All Grows Old”, a poignant ballad about inevitable endings, this multifaceted album is a reflection of emotions to which we can all relate.