Radiator Hospital Credit: Paul Hudson

Of all the lessons Radiator Hospital founder and co-front man Sam Cook-Parrott took to heart from early 2000s pop-punk or the unclassifiable Jonathan Richman, it’s “do what comes naturally.” As the Michigan native told Better Yet podcast host Tim Crisp on a recent episode, “Anybody can make music, regardless of how their voice is, regardless of their skill level—so I’ve realized pretty early that my voice is probably an acquired taste or something, it’s kind of annoying.” On much of Radiator Hospital’s material, including October’s Play the Songs You Like, Cook-Parrott shows he knows how to take the tools before him to create songs that are so sweet and inextricable from his own foibles that they will only ever sound so good coming from him—or from Cynthia Schemmer, who also contributes lead vocals and guitar in the group. As Cook-Parrot’s slack caterwaul bursts out during the hook of the prickly, anxious ripper “Out of Mind” or his yearning drawl unfurls throughout the relaxed power-pop tune “Dance Number,” he uncorks a little of the magic that’s made his indie-rock sensibilities stand out. In recent years the band’s home base, Philadelphia, has become a center of the country’s underground rock movement. That’s largely because bands such as Radiator Hospital have made it a welcoming place for people seeking to find their voice in a style of music that’s been pushed so far to the margins that some see it as a niche and others see fit to declare it dead. Play the Songs You Like, however, is very much alive.   v