Listening To: Radiohead - The Bends (1995)
Oh my god, the nostalgia. I put this on because I was really stressed about my current academic situation, and now I feel like I’m 12 years old again — Not exactly the best time period to be nostalgic about, but it’s better than this I guess. Check out a cool performance of the title track from 1994 below:
I wish it was the sixties, I wish we could be happy
I wish, I wish, I wish that something would happen
Radiohead - “Kid A”
Snow is falling outside here in Connecticut. I’ve spent the past couple hours reacquainting myself with Radiohead, particularly the albums OK Computer and Kid A. Released three years apart from each other, the two landmark LPs bear little resemblance to each other in sound, but are inextricably tied together in mood and tone. If the guitar-based OK Computer was meant to be a last ditch outburst of emotion in a world standing perilously on the edge of an existential chasm, Kid A is the devoid emptiness that we feel once we’ve fallen in.
The album’s title track is the most fragile of Kid A’s ten, and not the least affecting. With its nursery rhyme synth melody and Thom Yorke’s unintelligible vocal babblings, “Kid A” sounds like a child about to be born into the digital wasteland that the surrounding songs evoke. It almost sounds hopeful, but it soon reveals itself to not be so.
It almost feels real, but you know it’s not.
Anonymous asked: No love for The King of Limbs? I remember you gave it a decent review, but it's nowhere to be found of your best of or biggest disappointments lists.
2011 was the first year of my life where I listened to enough new music to actually have a sizable middle ground between my top 50 and bottom 10 or 20 albums of the year. The King Of Limbs fits somewhere in the middle. I did enjoy it when I first listened to it, and for quite some time after that, but haven’t been compelled to play it in months. It’s not a bad record, but I’m comfortable now admitting that it’s really one of the worst Radiohead albums. Hopefully they’ll be able to put something better together for 2012 or 2013.
Left of the Dial Radio Playlist - 10/14/11
Sorry for posting this a day late. Yesterday I went up to Providence for Brown University’s homecoming and hung out with Mary. I left early and got back late, so I wasn’t able to do any posting yesterday. I had a great time though, so it was worth it. Anyway, here’s the full playlist from Friday’s Left of the Dial radio broadcast on WNHU. Click the song titles to listen to them. Thanks for listening to my show to everyone who did! Tune in next Friday for another live broadcast!
- 1. Neutral Milk Hotel - “Gardenhead / Leave Me Alone”
- 2. A Tribe Called Quest - “Excursions”
- 3. Washed Out - “Eyes Be Closed”
- 4. James Blake - “Once We All Agree”
- 5. Youth Lagoon - “Afternoon”
- 6. House of Wolves - “Follow Me”
- 7. Perfume Genius - “Mr Peterson”
- 8. The Middle East - “Black Death 1349”
- 9. Modest Mouse - “Gravity Rides Everything” (Requested by Blueshadedays)
- 10. Real Estate - “Green Aisles”
- 11. Beach Fossils - “Out In The Way” (feat. Wild Nothing)
- 12. YRRS - “YRRS”
- 13. By Surprise - “Terra Cotta Army”
- 14. iwishididntexistrightnow - “Twinkle Twinkle Death Star”
- 15. Man Man - “Dark Arts”
- 16. Man Man - “Rabbit Habits”
- 17. Man Man - “Banana Ghost”
- 18. Radiohead - “Lotus Flower”
- 19. The Rapture - “How Deep Is Your Love?”
- 20. Astronautalis - “Midday Moon”
- 21. WHY? - “Ferriswheel”
- 22. The Cranberries - “Dreams”
- 23. Destroyer - “Savage Night At The Opera”
- 24. Have A Nice Life - “Waiting For Black Metal Records To Come In The Mail”
- 25. Elliott Smith - “Somebody That I Used To Know”
- 26. The Antlers - “Nothing Matters When We’re Dancing” (The Magnetic Fields cover) (feat. Sharon Van Etten)
” It annoys me how pretty my voice is…that sounds incredibly immodest, but it annoys me how polite it can sound when perhaps what I’m singing is deeply acidic”
Happy 43rd !!!
Video: Radiohead - “Bloom” (Live From The Basement version)
Stereogum just posted the full set of videos from Radiohead’s recently-broadcasted From The Basement session. Watch the video of the band performing The King Of Limbs’ opener “Bloom” live above, and click HERE to watch the rest.
Video: Radiohead - “Staircase” (Live From The Basement)
After the release of 2007’s In Rainbows, Radiohead teamed up with longtime producer Nigel Godrich to record a live in studio session called From The Basement. Now, with their eight record The King of Limbs in the back headlights, the band has done the same once again. Their new From The Basement Session will be made available for the public to see soon. In the meantime, fans can check out this teaser video from the session, in which Radiohead play a brand new, never before heard song called “Staircase”. It follows a similar formula as much of The King of Limbs’ material, with a deceptively funky repeating bassline and minimalist synths and guitar work. The highlight here is the percussion, provided by regular Radiohead drummer Phil Selway and studio drummer Clive Dreamer (who Philip refers to as his “doppelganger”). The track is excellent and this version garners lots of replay value. Watch it above, and prepare yourself for the full From The Basement session, in which they will perform The King of Limbs in its entirety in addition to a number of other tracks. The session will air internationally through BBC on July 1st.
Left of the Dial Radio Playlist - 6/17/11
Last night’s show was a success, coming on right before I went to The Space to see The Antlers with Little Scream. The playlist is below, complete with youtube links to each song when available.
- 1. Radiohead - “Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box”
- 2. The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - “Contender”
- 3. Cults - “Abducted”
- 4. Japandroids - “Wet Hair”
- 5. Sufjan Stevens - “Come On! Feel the Illinoise! Part I: The World’s Columbian Exposition / Part II: Carl Sandburg Visits Me in a Dream”
- 6. Castevet - “Chilsen”
- 7. Algernon Cadwallader - “Pitfall”
- 8. The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die - “Six Seeds”
- 9. Into It. Over It. - “Pontiac, MI”
- 10. American Football - “Never Meant”
- 11. Everyone Asked About You - “Paper Planes, Paper Hearts”
- 12. The Antlers - “French Exit”
- 13. Free Energy - “Dream City”
- 14. The Replacements - “Raised in the City”
- 15. Reatards - “Memphis Blues”
- 16. Eddie Golden III - “Fish Hook Frank”
- 17. Spider Bags - “Bad Complexion”
- 18. Bob Dylan - “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”
- 19. Jonsi - “Go Do”
- 20. The Antlers - “Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out”
- 21. The Library of Congress - “Doctor Faustus”
- 22. Hallelujah The Hills - “The House Is All Lit Up”
- 23. The Hold Steady - “Stevie Nix”
- 24. The Mountain Goats - “First Few Desperate Hours”
- 25. WHY? - “Gemini (Birthday Song)”
- 26. Thurston Moore - “Benediction”
- 27. Nick Drake - “River Man”
- 28. Titus Andronicus - “Waking Up Drunk” (Spider Bags cover)
Remember to tune in next Friday from 6-8 PM on WNHU!
Radiohead - The King of Limbs (2011)
Let’s try this again.
Last night I posted some, erm, initial reactions to Radiohead’s new album The King of Limbs, which was released early yesterday morning for download on the band’s official website, and quickly leaked onto the various download depositories of the internet. I will keep that here for posterity’s sake, but I’m really not sure what was going on when I wrote it.
When The King of Limbs was announced just five days ago in the wake of Arcade Fire’s seemingly-unlikely but entirely-plausible Grammy victory, I remember feeling surprisingly apathetic. Sure, from an objective standpoint, both events were important for “mainstream indie”, but just as I didn’t really care about the Grammy Awards no matter who one, I didn’t particularly care about the prospect of a new Radiohead album. In hindsight, this initial reaction was a little strange, and probably says more about me than it does about Radiohead. In 2007, my mom’s college room mate introduced me to Radiohead when I was just twelve years old. In Rainbows had just been released, and even though I didn’t understand just how huge the global platform that Radiohead operated on was, I found the idea of a band releasing their music for whatever fans wanted to pay on the internet to be a really interesting idea. Perhaps because it was my first devoted listening experience with the band, the first time I heard In Rainbows was one of those major musical life events for me. I can remember exactly where I was, and exactly what happened on the day that I first heard it. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the very moment when I pressed play and the sputtering processed beats of “15 Step” surged through my headphones. Surely I thought something was broken, or that the CD player had malfunctioned, but I did nothing to stop it. As the beats pressed onwards, my ears were graced with the contrastingly organic sounds of Jonny Greenwood’s guitar. It was a sound unlike anything I had heard before, and one that still sends shivers down my spine
Had I understood the context in which that album was created, I would’ve been incredibly surprised that it had come from a band that had in some sense existed for a staggering twenty two years. This really is an amazing achievement in retrospect; In Rainbows was a near-perfect masterpiece that pushed creative boundaries while retaining everything that made Radiohead great in the first place. In the coming years, I listened to what should have been enough Radiohead to bore me of them, but somehow I didn’t stop listening and loving for years. I certainly did tire of some releases — I can’t get through a listen of OK Computer anymore just because I know it so well already that each guitar effect and piercing Thom Yorke wail plays in my mind seconds before it plays on record — but whenever one side of Radiohead started to get boring, I could always turn to the next one. This phenomenon is probably what has made Amnesiac my favorite Radiohead album overall; it never stays in one place long enough to be even the slightest bit predictable. After a while, though, I never found myself really excited to listen to Radiohead. I could put on “Idioteque” and every time feel the palpable nervousness that existed in the pulsing beats and the frenetically spoken vocals, but I would never hear that song the way I did the first twenty or so times. Incidentally, this realization occurred right as the band started announcing new material. It came in waves; first, the bizarre, string-drenched war tribute “Harry Patch (In Memory Of)” was released, and then the kraut-rock inflected “These Are My Twisted Words”, which I eventually warmed up to. In addition to new live songs which started floating around during late 2009-2010, these track kept me sated. But this satisfaction was relatively short lived as I quickly realized that they simply weren’t very good. Where was the spark? Where were the chill-inducing moments? I’ve listened to “Nude” dozens of times and I still get shivers running down my spine when the song climaxes. So, there I am, having witnessed the Arcade Fire win “Album of The Year”, with a handful of bad to somewhat decent new Radiohead tracks that were already growing stale, and the announcement of a new album leaving me unexcited.
So, the album. My first auditory experience with The King of Limbs was, like many, watching the video for “Lotus Flower” yesterday morning. I found myself not paying attention to the music whatsoever, though, and rather being transfixed by the disturbing and strangely captivating motions of Thom Yorke’s body. Seeing him writhe in front of the camera was bizarrely appealing. It reminded me of that amazing Saturday Night Live performance of “Idioteque” from 2000; the band members reserve themselves to the background while the frail, feeble Yorke takes center stage and flails his twisted self around, alternately shouting and singing his paranoid ramblings in high falsetto. The experience raised my excitement level for the album significantly, and with an open and fresh mind, I approached The King of Limbs.
Although I tried not to make snap comparisons to any of their other albums, I couldn’t help but call to mind Amnesiac and Hail To The Thief, two albums that remain divisive even among Radiohead’s devoted fan base. Upon the first full listen, I also connected it to Yorke’s 2006 solo album The Eraser, a largely electronic affair that was heavy on beats but lacked interesting melodic ideas and that distinctive atmosphere that Radiohead as a unit was so good at creating. Those same problems seemed to befall The King of Limbs at first, but a series of devoted, close listens revealed an atmospheric world largely hidden to the untrained ear. Much like the more minimalist pieces on Amnesiac, many of the songs onThe King of Limbs benefit tremendously from repeated listens. Nearly a dozen full listens into the album now, I’m still discovering sounds and effects that I hadn’t noticed or perceived. Although it initially appears to be simplistic and underwhelming, a headphones listen of the opener “Bloom” uncovers a secret beauty. The track bubbles with plinking keys that somehow inhabit the same space as an off-kilter rhythm, which beautifully underpin Thom Yorke’s dramatic, reverb-heavy vocals. As the track builds, the beat slowly becomes more massive. Though Jonny Greenwood’s guitar playing is sorely missed on this album, his other contributions are vital to the atmosphere of the record. As distinctive as Yorke’s vocals are, it is Greenwood’s mastery of effects and atmosphere that creates the uniquely-Radiohead tone. When his guitar does show up, it is just as welcome and effective as his string arrangements. The layered guitar on “Morning Mr. Magpie” perfectly compliments Thom Yorke’s characteristically frantic vocal. “You got some nerve coming here,” he sneers. Although many of the tracks feel minimal, there is a surprising amount of layering and processing going on here. “Little By Little” is dense to the point of being nearly incomprehensible; its beat is constructed from some really unplaceable sounds that somehow come together in a way that makes sense. “Feral” is similar, but goes even farther into abstract IDM-style territory by processing Yorke’s vocals to the point where they only contribute to the atmosphere.
Perhaps most notable of all are the contributions of drummer Phil Selway and bassist Colin Greenwood, two members of the band who have consistently remained somewhat overshadowed by Thom and Jonny. Although there is an obvious electronic presence on the record, it’s surprising and even refreshing how much of the percussion and rhythm is organic and live. Colin has created his fair share of great bass lines, and Phil his own share of stellar live beats, but never have their contributions felt so vital and so essential to the final product. On the aforementioned “Feral”, the rhythm and percussion actually takes center stage, making for a Boards of Canada-reminiscent highlight that still feels distinctly-Radiohead despite the lack of notable contribution from Yorke or Jonny Greenwood. However, it is when this newly-empowered rhythmic machine works in tandem with the other creative forces in the band that The King of Limbs is at its best; “Lotus Flower”, the obvious highlight that I mentioned earlier, is easily the best song on the album because it combines a powerful but restrained rhythm section with gorgeous falsetto vocals and a genuinely great melody. It almost feels like a restrained, more melodically conscious “Idioteque”, and it’s absolutely fantastic. Like that song, the closing track “Separator” works on a similar level, with perhaps the most organic beat on the record forming a solid but minimalist foundation over which Yorke’s vocals soar.
Unfortunately, rest of the album does really suffer from a lack of great songs… Perhaps The King of Limbs was meant to be more of a cohesive album than a series of songs, but it can’t quite come together as the band might have liked. “Give Up The Ghost” sticks out like a sore thumb, with awkward-sounding acoustic guitar and an unnecessarily repetitive choir-like vocal part. “Codex”, which precedes it, is one of the few really good stand-alone songs on the album, but its contemplative piano-based format doesn’t fit with the rhythmic nature of the rest of the album either.
On the whole, The King of Limbs finds Radiohead still holding onto relevance and creativity. Of course this is a good thing, and while it is satisfying to witness a band so huge and so powerful still expanding its musical and creative boundaries, it is sad to see this exploration done in such an underwhelming way. With only 8 tracks clocking in at just over 37 minutes, The King of Limbs is not good enough and not long enough to justify its possibly-impending status as “yet another classic Radiohead album.” Sure, this album is dense and inaccessible, but that doesn’t mean it’s brilliant, and it’s certainly not another Kid A.
- Morning Mr Magpie
- Little By Little
- Lotus Flower
- Give Up The Ghost
Best tracks: “Lotus Flower”, “Codex”, “Separator”
Radiohead - The King of Limbs (2011)
saturday 2:06 am 2/19/11:
It’s two am, and every part of me is sporadically and unpredictably shaking. I’m overly caffeinated„ tired and cold, covered by in a threadbare sweatshirt clinging to my thinning arms. evyerhtin is dark. leaving for my radioshow earlier, i left the windows to my third story bedroom open and all the coldness of winter has retreated from the melting snowbanks and front lawns and into my room and around my head. i spent the past four hours in the room below, under the pretencse that i was talking about urgent music with a friend but really just too afraid to come here and do what neede to be done. i am halfway through my sixth listen of the Radiohead album THE King of Limbs which was released earlier today to my surprise and even more surprising eventual apathy. at 7 am i saw that the video for one of the songs had been released but i had no time to listen to it i was out the door. you’ve got some nerve coming here.
third period i watched the lotus flower video. I was stunned less by the music itself and more by how thoms motions corresponded to it. i found myself strangely attracted to this sickly l0oking forty something year old man, contorting his body and conveying the spirit of the music, music equally sick and twisted as his revolting body. he’s more visible now, i can see his eyes, and he’s looking at me.
A terrifying shaking sound is coming out of my right speaker, maybe halfway througth the song. I thought i heard
something scratching at my door, then it fades out but returns, more pronounced. my parents are hating this. their door is half-open. thom’s vocals are my nightmares. my laptop screen reflects off a mirror and i see my face for the first time. my eyes are sunken in and my hair disheveled. i don’t remember pulling my hood over my head like this. “all i am is a moth upon a stage” is that what he’s singing? thom is now mumbling to the point where it seems pedantic. i fucking love it. the first chills came in.
when the acoustic guitar comes in on “Give Up The Ghost” it seems horribly oout of place on the record. it’s so clean and clear — none of this should be either of those things. the king of limbs is a horrible messss a fucking disaster of an album with no songs just lofty words sung over bass and drums and ambient noise. i’m not sure where to place this track
THIS IS A MESS AND A DISASTER this isn’t a review this is absurd///
///i’m waiting for the unfollowers-178,177,176,175,174…
Duncan and i discussed the king of limbs before i lose my mind. it is lonely and cold, like i am. i need
someone something to console me. something i don’t have to love or care about because all i can feel for albums is something. there is no aparthy when dealing with creatively stimulating music. i can hate it but i have to appreciate it. i want to watch thom dance for me again like he does in the videos. i want to know that he feels something still.
Alright, so — things that i’m actually going to talk about:
- colins bass playing is the best here
- the percussion is incredible
- thom’s voice
- he moans in “feral”
- separator is the best song theyve done since
no, it’s not. I walked home today listening to IN RAINBOWS and i recalled that the moment in “Nude’ where the instrumentation drops out and thom’s vocals climax is one of my favorite moments in all of music. this was 2007. there’ nothing like that here, but i don’t think it matters.
i don’t want any notes i don’t want any reblogs or likes or follows i don’t want anything
i hit repeat and begin the cycle again. the churning, bubbling sounds of “Bloom” come in, like “Too Much” from The Age of Adz, but much more sinister. that sputtering rhythm with deep bass hits — sampled sighing. i’m moving out of ooooooooooooorbiiiiiiiit, turning in somersaults / i dive into those EYES, jelly fish go by
Two more listenes, that it’s. i promise i’ll sleep. i promise i’lll eat
i am going to sleep to it and have thom yorke dreams. I don’t sleep on saturdays—> that’s a fucking lie.
9 it is no
Yeah so… real review coming in a bit…
VIDEO: Radiohead - “Idioteque” live on Saturday Night Live, 2000
This was the best performance of any band on SNL ever.
Song of the Day Number Eighty Seven
Radiohead - “Lotus Flower”
In case you haven’t heard it yet, Radiohead’s eighth album The King of Limbs was released for download today at their official website. “Lotus Flower”, which also has a music video that features Thom Yorke dancing like a maniac, stands out for me on the first few listens as the best track on the album. Like much of the album, the track is grounded in minimal electronics, and features a simple IDM style beat that repeats itself throughout the track. The beat glitches and swerves around to keep things interesting throughout the song’s five minute time-span, but remains stable enough to provide a solid foundation for Thom Yorke’s lofty vocals, which are in full falsetto style throughout the entire song. If anything, “Lotus Flower” reminds me of the more minimalist tracks on Amnesiac, and even has a similarly droning ambient synthesizer sound to some of those songs. This song is really growing on me, and I’ll be interested in seeing how this album sits with me after a few days. Expect a review as soon as I can draft one… I’m really busy with school, et cetera so bear with me please.