Thursday, October 18, 2007

Record Review-- Radiohead "In Rainbows"

In the interests of full disclosure I must confess that Radiohead are my favorite band of all time. I have: (i) every song they've ever written on my iPod, either live or in the studio; (ii) two gigantic framed posters hanging in my place; and (iii) three custom and numbered Thom Yorke lithographs. OK Computer is and always will be my favorite album of all time. Two of their other albums are in my top 10 albums of all time. I follow their every move like I'm one step away from going Mark David Chapman on them--seriously, nobody send me a copy of Catcher In The Rye. Alright, maybe that last bit was a poor attempt at humor.

Seriously, though, I was hyped to get their new album "In Rainbows" when it debuted October 10 especially since their last album was such a disappointment. In their 7 album career, 2004's "Hail to the Thief" ranks as their worst album. The arrangements and lyrics were just plain boring. It was the first Radiohead record that really held no excitement. Each song seemed so forced. Even the best song on the album "Scttrbrain" was better redone as a remix by Four Tet on the Com Lag EP. Its an album that I rarely listen to.

Its with great excitement that I can report that "In Rainbows" is a return to form. We actually have Phil Selway back on drums. Although, its no OK Computer, it certainly bears some resemblance to that LP. Both Bodysnatchers and Videotape could easily have fitten on that LP. Fifteen Steps recalls bridges the gap between Kid A and OK Computer.

The album is not without missteps, however. House of Cards is probably the worst song Radiohead has ever written. Nude, while a very good song, becomes repetitive and is too reminiscent of Sail to the Moon from Amnesiac. Worst of all is the re-recording of Appregi/Weird Fishes. When I saw them perform this song live, the song reached an emotional crescendo at the end with Thom Yorke screaming "No Escape/No Escape" over and over again. Sadly, this has been removed from the album version removing some of the emotion from one of the saddest songs Radiohead has ever written.

Overall, it isn't any OK Computer, but its not nearly as bad as Hail to the Thief.

RATING-- 8.1

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Record Review: Flim School's "Hideout"

In my top 10 records of 2006, I had Film School's self titled LP as my #2 album overall of 2006. It was a fantastic record. Filled with memorable riffs, great lyrics, and a surprising populist tinged shoegaze sound throughout. Consequently, Film School's Hideout was one of my most anticipated records of 2007.

Sadly, Hideout does not live up to my lofty expectations. Hideout does have its moments, but the record is bogged down in muted lyrics and guitars that rather than standout "hideout" in the background of the songs. Whereas, the self-titled LP had shoegazer tendencies, Hideout is above all a shoegazers record that aims for psychedelic sonic-achievement. The synths and keyboards dominate and are up front and center. The guitars, save for the song "What I Meant to Say", and one of the albums standouts, are relegated to the background. It seems as if Film School is attempting to reach a much darker psychedelic platitude that the Stone Roses met on their standout, albeit sunny, tracks "Don't Stop" and "Elephant Stone" from their self-titled LP. Thats a commendable goal. Can you name any other band today trying to bridge the gap between shoegaze and psychedleia in an accessible manner? Neither can I.

Hideout, however, never soars. Its rarely memorable either. Don't get me wrong, Hideout has good songs. "Lectric", the lead single and the video linked to above is a fantastic song as is the polyrhthmic "Two Kinds" and the song "Plots and Plans" which could have easily have been an outtake from their self-titled LP. What really holds the record down is Greg Bertens' vocals. Greg is a talented lyricist. He wrote one of my favorite verses of 2006--Well, I can't seem to help myself from showing only sides/What you can't seem to figure out, I know I've tried to hide/All I seem fit to say right now, I don't feel justified/One day becomes another day regardless of our fights/And, Oh, we measure heights/Back to Back/Your heels to mine/Oh you seem so high/Despite where you stand alone/In your mind. The listener wants to hear what he has to say, but, the arrangements leave the vocals tracks in the distance. Its like being at a concert where the PA has mixed the vocals way down in the arrangement. The album probably would have gained a higher score if the producer and band had decided to up the amount of vocal tracks in the mix.

Regardless of what could have been done, none of the songs, besides "Lectric" and "Two Kinds", reach the heights the band achieved with "Breet", "On and On" or "Harmed" or practically any of the other songs from their self-titled LP. What attempts to be a genre defining psychelic bridge between indie rock and shoegazer is instead a patchy, flawed effort, with the last quarter of the album really containig the bright spots of the whole records.


Discussing the Release of Radiohead's "In Rainbows"

Libertine14: You listen to it yet?
Sent at 11:17 AM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: yeah. so far I really like Videotape, Jigsaw, house of cards, all i need, and reckoner.
videotape and jigsaw are my two favs so far
Sent at 11:18 AM on Wednesday

Libertine14: I really love jigsaw and videotape and bodysnatchers. Haven't listened to it all the way through though. Just heard brief clips this morning. Its definitely not OK Computer 2, and, first, very brief impression is that it is kind of mellow.
Sent at 11:20 AM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: i listened to it on my commute. You're right, its not ok computer redux. It’s a different sound. Mellow, I want to say almost Jazz like.
Sent at 11:21 AM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: my only complaint is that they didn't put any album art on the tracks.
I'll have to do that later
Sent at 11:23 AM on Wednesday

Libertine14: They will when they release the CD. The download is poor quality too. Its only 160 kbps or something like that.
Sent at 11:26 AM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: that will probably be their way to sell any cd's. Better sound quality. So if you like the download enough to want more you can. Its a pretty fair compromise.

Libertine14: I think most people went with the 80 box set. That box set better be fucking awesome. It better have some cool poster or something. Eighty is alot.

Ben Kamobi: i know. The other tracks had better be good. The cd is enhanced so it will have other stuff too. We'll see
Sent at 11:31 AM on Wednesday

Libertine14's new status message - In Rainbows right now. 1:14 PM

Libertine14: Not sure I'm digging the vocals initially.
Sent at 1:15 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: i wish one of the songs actually rocked like old radiohead

Libertine14: Yeah, I know, me too. Its really disappointing how far away they've gotten from The Bends and parts of OK Computer.
Sent at 1:27 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: before they railed against things with noise and now they seem to just lament with weird sounds

Libertine14: I know, I totally agree. They've done enough weird shit with different sounds that if they came back to the Bends nobody would accuse them of just putting out another Radiohead record.

Ben Kamobi: the album is already getting rave reviews in the British press. I don't see how really. If any other band released this album it wouldn't even register.
Sent at 1:30 PM on Wednesday

Libertine14: I know, I totally agree. Who is raving about it? I need to really listen to it, but it definitely didn't jump out at me. I remember thinking the songs sounded great in concert, but most songs sound better live with the energy. I remember them being more rock oriented.
Sent at 1:31 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: the times of London gave it 4 out of five stars. The guardian is gushing over it. They are talking about it like its the most monumental release in British rock history. I think that it is more of a statement of how people think of radiohead as a band image and the current state of post-coldplay British music.
Sent at 1:33 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: 15 steps gets better with every listen though.
Sent at 1:34 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: and arpeggio is good, though the background really reminded me of Moby's "god moving over the face of the water." Though comparisons could be drawn to anything.

Libertine14: I really like bodysnatchers and jigsaw.
Sent at 1:36 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: I think its an album is the sense that its completely listenable all the way through. Which might be why they had the whole itunes tiff. The songs are better all together than apart.
But who has time to listen to a whole album?
I think bodysnatcher is good too.
Actually, all the songs are good there just aren't any singles in the traditional sense of music.
Sent at 1:39 PM on Wednesday

Libertine14: The melodies really aren't there. I gotta listen to it 3 times before any final conclusions though.
Sent at 1:44 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: Its like they never put out pablo, bends, or ok computer. If they had started out with kid a, rainbows sounds like the natural progression.
though, the latter half of bodysnatchers sounds like older radiohead, just muted or reined in somehow

Libertine14: Yeah, I heard the drummer has been really upset about things because he's had less and less to do.
I really miss old Radiohead.
I could listen to the lyrics and sing along. You can't really sing along as much to the new stuff. Since OK Computer he's become such a cryptic lyricist.

Ben Kamobi: I never get tired of the bends but it would be nice if they released an album with songs; wait, exactly, you hit the nail on the head.
Sent at 1:48 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: none of the new lyrics really stink in your head like they used to

Libertine14: I think the Bends is the better album, but I like OK Computer more. OK Computer was just more interesting more nuanced whereas The Bends is straight up rock and roll.
And Pablo Honey is fucking good.

Ben Kamobi: I love talk show host: You want me?Fucking well come and find meI'll be waitingWith a gun and a pack of sandwiches
Sent at 1:51 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: Yeah, I don't know why they get such guff in the press about Pablo. Its a really good album. Its definitly a young album but the Radiohead in The Bends and Ok Computer is there in natal form.
Sent at 1:52 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: I really like and have listened to constantly over the years about half the bends and half ok computer. About half of each I rarely listen to.
Sent at 1:54 PM on Wednesday

Libertine14: Really? I listen to all of the songs on the bends. I really love Black Star. On OK Computer, I listen to all of them. I even love the robot song. I think its the dark heart of OK Computer.
Wait on OK Computer, I rarely listen to the really slow tracks 3, 4.

Ben Kamobi: check this quote from the times of london:

Pablo Honey (1993): Universally recognized as the worst Radiohead album, the
band's debut LP also has the worst cover art of their back catalogue.
Sent at 1:58 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: On Ok Computer I like: lucky, no surprises, let down, exit music, paranoid android, and climbing up the walls. I leave Karma Police out because everyone like that. Lucky is my absolute favorite song on the album though.
Sent at 2:01 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: On The Bends, I pretty much don't listen to Bones, Nice Dream, Just (which sounds like an orphan from Pablo) and Sulk.

Libertine14: I really love that song. I love the part where he's like...."The head of state.....Has called for me....But I don't have time for him" I also love Airbag. Let down is my all time fave radiohead song.

Ben Kamobi: I really like street spirit.

Libertine14: What about Street Spirit, The Bends, Fake Plastic, and Black Star?

Ben Kamobi: the first four songs on the bends are untouchable.
saying they are good is stating the obvious
Sent at 2:06 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: I'm not that into black star, which isn't to say that dislike it. Its just not one of the ones that I listen to with any frequency. Though if it comes on I usually let it play.
I also really like every thing in its right place. I want to have that be the opening title sequence in a movie I direct.
Sent at 2:09 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: Unlike you, I have limited my explorations. I should probably just sitdown and listen to the albums again in their entirety.
Sent at 2:11 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: I need a new copy of the bends though. My CD was all scratched when I converted it for my ipod so High and Dry skips at "watching the ground beneath you drop". Its just something I've gotten used to.
Sent at 2:13 PM on Wednesday

Libertine14: At this point in time, i think i like the national more than radiohead, although, i like both older Radiohead albums more than the present national albums. I can't believe you can't get into the national.
Sent at 2:15 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: Its that dudes voice! I just don't like it. Its too low and eeyore sounding.

Libertine14: I love the baritone. Its so deep. He actually sings on Alligator if you've heard that. You may like that a lot more than Boxer. Boxer he just kind of talks. Man, but his lyrics are absolutely stunning.
he's probably the best lyricist in the world right now.

Ben Kamobi: I've been listening to the new Grand Avenue album a lot. I think they get short changed when they are called the "Coldplay of Denmark." They are much more nuanced (though poppy) than they get credit for.
Sent at 2:18 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: They're like a jumble of INXS, U2, Matchbox 20, Coldplay, and some other bands I'm not remembering.

Libertine14: That album is OK. I really like The Blakes album that just came out. I'm also disappointed by the new Film School record. All his vocals are so muted. I also can't get into the new Shout Out Louds record. That guys' voice makes me want to bang my head against the wall.
Sent at 2:19 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: You know who everyone likes so far that I've played for them? Zoe Keating. People also seem to like Amiina.

Libertine14: Yeah, Zoe Keating is fucking awesome!
Don't know Amiina. You ever listen to South? They're so good, and nobody listens to them.

Ben Kamobi: Yeah you got me on to south.
You know who I just don't understand? The Plain White T's

Libertine14: Everyone I play that for loves them. Yeah, they suck. I also don't get why everyone thinks The White Stripes are so good.

Ben Kamobi: Amiina is the female Sigur Ros though better. I think 2 are married to 2 sigur ros dudes.
Sent at 2:22 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: I think the White Stripes best album by far is Elepant. Everything else just isn't nearly as good. Icky Thump I never really gave a chance too though. I listened to it a few times but was not blown away.

Libertine14: Is this reviewer listening to the same Radiohead record we are? Read this.
The 80,000 references to In Rainbows being "lush" and "sparse" were correct. People who like Radiohead with guitars and melodies should be very happy today, people who like weird bleeps and bloops maybe a bit less happy. If OK Computer is your favorite album In Rainbows might be your second favorite.

Ben Kamobi: With Elepant I liked it immediately.
Sent at 2:24 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: I'm telling you. People are walking all over themselves to gush all over this album like its the greatest thing. Its like they want want it to be good so much that they are making themselves believe its as good as they want it to be.
Maybe its really good. But I'm not going to know how much I like it until I listen to it for a little bit right?
Sent at 2:26 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: I've been hearing background buzz about Reliant K. You listen to anything by them?
They sound like an American Snow Patrol (I'm on their myspace now.)

Libertine14: Yeah, I totally agree, dude. Look, its clearly not one of those albums that I push play and I instantly love like the libertines. I gotta play it at least 3 times before I form any opinions. I listened to it on headphones at lunch, and it sounded much better than through my iMac. Yeah, Reliant K are OK. They're just nothing special. I can't believe people are declaring this a 4 star album 8 hours after its been released.
Sent at 2:31 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: The guy gave it 5 stars. I am reading the comments now. Everyone seems to really like it. I wonder how old some of these people are?

Libertine14: I think The National have been the last band where I've really heard something different. Some people can't find the melodies, but they're really melodic and really lush with their orchestral arrangements. I also love how the guitars aren't based on riffs as much as dueling high notes that cascade. I think that may be the gayest thing ever.
Sent at 2:33 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: I will give them another try. I will listen to the album ONE more time ALL the way through.

Libertine14: Well, you gotta spread your listening sessions out, I think, and try to listen to it in different moods.

Ben Kamobi: Oh, and the gayest thing is more like Ben Folds "Best Imitation of Myself" or something like that.

Libertine14: Its amazing how people are falling all over themselves with this album. I wonder what pitchfork will give it. I think they'll go 7.6.

Ben Kamobi: I can't wait for rolling stone or spin. Rolling stone 4.5 spin 5. Spin sucks.
Sent at 2:42 PM on Wednesday

Libertine14: Spin is absolutely horrible! The one good part of spin, is the brief side column entitled, "What the office is currently listening to." The sad thing is they never review any of those bands. The best music magazine is Magnet, I think. I subscribe to that one, its really, really good.

Ben Kamobi: I like Rolling Stone because there is at least one political piece where they bash Bush or the republicans. And, because its a generalist music magazine and exposes me to general music (read pop, r&b, rap) that I wouldn't think about normally.
Sent at 2:44 PM on Wednesday

Libertine14: Blender used to be good. Now it really sucks. I subscribe to Spin, Rolling Stone, and Magnet. But Magnet is only good for reviews. It comes out every 2 months and comes with a CD of indie bands. There are like a 100 reviews in every issue with bands that I've rarely ever heard of. They refused to review the Interpol and National album because they deemed them too big. Its good for finding rare shit. I go through every review and listen to the band.

Ben Kamobi: I'll have to subscribe. I like listening to KinkFM in Amsterdam and XFM in London. Kink is great because it actually tells you what they are playing while they are playing it. They also have an eclectic mix of american and european groups from all genre's played next to each other. I then check out the bands website pages or their myspace's. Sometimes I look at what label they're on.
Sent at 2:48 PM on Wednesday

Libertine14: I wish iTunes let you search or click on record labels.
Sent at 2:50 PM on Wednesday

Ben Kamobi: You know what's good for that? Wikipedia. They put a little icon for what label a band is on. Its pretty handy. I hate how itunes doesn't have tabbed browsing. Sometimes I still want to look at what I am looking at but want to have other bands and stuff in another window. Itunes has really stagnated.
You know, I sold the new editors album short when I first listened to it but its good.

Get In Rainbows

In Rainbows Track Listing

1. "15 Step" – 3:57
2. "Bodysnatchers" – 4:02
3. "Nude" – 4:15
4. "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi" – 5:18
5. "All I Need" – 3:48
6. "Faust Arp" – 2:09
7. "Reckoner" – 4:50
8. "House of Cards" – 5:28
9. "Jigsaw Falling into Place" – 4:09
10. "Videotape" – 4:39

Locations of visitors to this page