Thursday, November 08, 2007

keep keep bleeding love

Great Unsolved Mysteries Of Rock And Roll #2

Why is it that Leona Lewis, when asked to record a #1 single with the word "love" in the title, decided to do it without using the letter "v"?

(perhaps she's like that bloke in "Only Fools And Horses" that could only sing songs without an "r" in them. Perhaps she didn't tell them she couldn't do "v"'s)

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Radiohead - In Rainbows.

In case you've missed the news recently, Radiohead have released their new album. Perhaps not important enough to make main-stream news in it's own right, after all, this isn't another 'Britney uses the public toilets in Wal-Mart' story. However, its the other facts that are big news; they are not tied to a record label and have decided to let their fans dictate how much (if anything) they want to pay for the new album. Suddenly it's not just the music media that's interested.
From the last figures that I read; the average price people paid for it was £7.50, about a third paid nothing for it and there were the occasional people paying thousands for it.
Quite what they wanted to prove by it, I don't know. I wonder, did they even want to prove anything at all. Of all the things it does say about the band; brave, pioneering, innovating, clever and so on, to me it mostly says that artists can have a massive amount of control over their work if they want to.

Hype aside, what's the album like?
Well....lemme tell ya. I like Radiohead. No, I mean I really like them. Since "Creep" literally 'crept' onto the radio waves, I've been a huge fan. Strange then that I might say something along the lines of "Well, Kid A was pretty good, but Amnesiac was just average and Hail To The Thief was so difficult to get into, I'm afraid I gave up". So yeah, I would consider myself a huge fan, but I don't think anything since Ok Computer was that great.
When Radiohead announce the release of their new albums, there's always a feeling of "It's Radiohead, it should be great. It will get 5* reviews. Maybe this will be the album of a return to form" in the air. For me, their last three albums have been met with such anticipation and thoughts, each time to be quashed when, after the repeated plays, it still isn't that good.

So, background story aside, what's the album like?
In a word "Brilliant".
It's not a return to form, a la Ok Computer days, but it's not a bunch of knob twiddling nonsense either. Somewhere....somewhere in the middle of guitar based music and computer twiddling they've found a formula. Whether it's a formula anybody else could carry off, I'm not quite sure.

Coming in at just over 40 minutes with 10 songs, the quantity and quality of this album is just about right. It's tight, that's for sure.
The percussion is a little crazy at times, there's samples all over the place, Thom's voice gets played with a lot, programmed beats bounce in and out of most tracks, guitars make a welcome return and there's a myriad of new sounds. Sounds like it doesn't have a chance in hell of sounding any good, but it works. And it works really well.
There's a mixture of slow and mid tempo songs on here. "Nude" is probably the best known because it's been knocking around for some time. I remember hearing demo's of this with just Thom and a piano. I notice a lot of media folks are tipping their hats to this track as being the standout. A great track it is. A beautiful song.
For me, there are many standout tracks. There isn't a single song on here that I would skip.

There's the usual obscure twisting lyrics of Thom Yorke, but if I were to hazard a guess I'd say there's a lot of broken relationship stuff in there. Orchestral sounds sweep in and out on occasion and there's a nice feeling of satisfaction listening to a collection of songs that sound like a Band instead of a couple of guys twisting knobs.

This is an album that sits nicely whatever the circumstances. Perfect background musak. Perfect album to give those speakers a ride for their money. It's almost hypnotic at times, attention grabbing and then dreamy again. Most songs come full circle.
It's possible it could turn out to be one of those 'hate it or love it' albums. No middle ground. If fans are hoping for Ok Computer part deux then forget it. If fans are looking for more Hail To The Thief, thankfully you too will be disappointed. For me, this is a fantastic album. Each listen takes me off in a whole new direction. It's elaborate, it's meandering, it's eccentric.

Try these:

Jigsaw Falling Into Place
Weird Fishes/Arpeggi

Currently a permanent fixture on my daily playlist.