Cold call: Stray Radio ‘Afraid of Heights’… from Poland…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , — @ 8:35 am January 31, 2024

by Tim McMahan,

That’s it for January…

Writing about music means getting a few hundred (thousand?) pitch emails from promoters and labels per week. All get opened… if only to see if the act is coming to Omaha. If the record label is an indie favorite, or the band is familiar, the music may get a spin. Everything else gets the delete key. 

But every once in a while a band sends what appears to be a personal letter asking for a listen. The following ended up in the in-box this morning, f’r instance:


We are Stray Radio, an alternative rock band from Poland. We’ve just released a new album called “Afraid of Heights”. Maybe you will be interested in giving it a listen.

Cheers from Poland!

Is it really from Poland? Who knows. Maybe, maybe not. The internet is a wonderful, horrible thing. And despite all the phishing warnings about never clicking a link from someone you don’t know (especially if it’s a tinyurl), the plunge was taken.

Stray Radio hails from Bielsko Biala, Poland, according to their Bandcamp page. The band consists of Jan Cembala – vocal; Natalia Maliniewicz – guitar, Piotrek Góra – guitar, Marcin Maliniewicz – bass, Mikołaj Kowalczyk – drums. “All song written by Stray Radio, Mixed & Mastered by Marcin Maliniewicz, Drums recorded at Czecho Sound, Cover Design by Jan Cembala, Cover art taken from William Baxter Closson, Night Moths.

That’s all fine, but is the music any good? Frontman Cembala is at his best when he’s not trying to emulate Jim Morrison. Just be yourself, Jan, like on tracks “Candy” or “Monday,” which are the least affected of the bunch. Clearly these guys have listened to their share of the Velvets and Iggy, and I can imagine them playing a darkly lit underground pub in, say, Katowice, each member with a cig hanging from his mouth, a lonely couple dancing close in the muted light. There are also some unfortunate metal-esque moments that remind me of ‘90s grunge, which I could have done without. 

Look, I’m part Polish and the rules are very clear that when you get a cold call email from one of your Polish brethren you take it, and I’m not sorry I did… But I wonder if they’re really from Poland…

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2024 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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