WE HAVE MOVED!

That’s right, we finally got our site up and running on a server; much easier for everyone. Another benefit is the shortened URL. We are now at www.homeworkonthefire.com and we have a much-improved layout for the music blog/magazine niche we are aiming for.

We hope you really enjoy the new website and we trust you will let us know of any imperfections and constructive criticism you may have. In due course we will be re-directing this website to go straight to the new URL. ENJOY!

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The King of Limbs: track-by-track review

come at me bro!

By now I hope people have had plenty of time to listen to The King of Limbs. Radiohead are a band that warrant frequent and detailed listening in order to truly decipher, rather than merely skimming the surface of their music. The first time I listened to TKOL I thought it was ‘good’. I was pretty aware that they would veer off in a left-field direction – it only takes a flick-through Thom Yorke’s Office Charts on their website to discover a host of dark, rhythmically-complex electronic influences – but as you listen to the album more and more, things fall into place and become slightly more coherent. Let’s go from the beginning:

Bloom

An abstract, looped piano line welcomes you into the album, before poly-rhythmic drums, bleeps and glitches hit you and your foot begins to tap along. Colin’s bass line is a huge part of this song, and his under-rated genius is very much apparent throughout this album. “Open your mouth wide, a universe inside” can be interpreted as entering another dimension and a new beginning, rather fitting for the beginning of the album. The song seems to melt together in the middle, as if there is the start and the end of the song and the middle section is the two moulding together to form a big middle-y mess. Except it isn’t a mess, because Radiohead wrote it. It’s coherent and wonderful; everything happens for a reason with this band and they know exactly what they are doing.

Morning Mr. Magpie

Morning Mr. Magpie has actually been in Yorke’s songbook for about ten years; I saw this video thanks to a friend who shared it. The first thing that struck me about this song is the emphasis on the hi-hats, the extreme panning and how they almost fall out of time with the kick and snare drum, resulting in a beautiful groove that is the focal point of the song. The frenetic guitar-riff works great in the centre of the stereo field and everything else works around it. A good song but in my opinion the rest of the songs on the album surpass this.

Little by Little

This song sounds like a distant cry to Amnesiac, particularly the song I Might Be Wrong which has a very similar guitar tone. Yet again, complex percussion play a part, sitting subtly in the background until you notice their absence when replaced with Yorke’s crooning vocals on the chorus. The line “I’m such a tease and you’re such a flirt” sounds lost and lonely yet is right close up in the mix of the song; Thom Yorke is singing to you and you’re supposed to be creeped out, okay? People have complained about the lack of guitars on this album and I don’t understand why. Almost every song has guitars in it, but they twist and turn hypnotically around the song, acting as layers and support which I enjoy a lot. Unfortunately, many fans are still hoping for Jonny Greenwood to crack his Digitech Whammy out and play the solo to Just for 45 minutes, but it’s just not going to happen.

Feral

I see Feral as a bit of an interlude to the album. With no vocals apart from the sporadic chopped-up samples, this song is here for that heavy sub-bass. The drums are manipulated and seemingly improvised throughout much like Yorke’s vocals on Everything In It’s Right Place, letting Colin’s bass do the talking. Again. Don’t complain about this basically being a Thom Yorke solo album.

Lotus Flower

My favourite song off of the album at the moment. I love the marshy synths that work their way in and out of the song, I love the extensive use of delay throughout(I hope reggae-heads notice the Space Echo slap-back on the snare), I love the syncopated hand-claps, I love Yorke’s dominant falsetto, oh God I just LOVE IT. Just incase you haven’t seen the video, it is below. The actual music is very simple, really, but Radiohead do what they do best and turn a few chords into something God listens to on his iPod daily.

Codex

This is a Pyramid Song style piano ballad, but perhaps slightly more minimal. Drenched in reverb with a lo-fi brass section followed by strings, this song was written to be played in the middle of a festival set-list. IMAGINE. The flow from the end of this song to the next is sublime, with bird chirps acting as the glue that fuses them together.

Give Up The Ghost

Thom played this song last year at a solo gig in Cambridge and I had an inkling it would feature on this album. Whilst Codex veers away from the electronic manipulation of the first-half of TKOL, Give Up The Ghost is a complete abandonment of that, feauturing not a lot more than a bass drum, acoustic guitar, a timid electric guitar and vocals. The looped line of “don’t haunt me” with Thom singing over it gives a sense of two sides of a story which is never resolved. This song is moving in a poignant way and is just superbly written.

Seperator

This doesn’t sound like the end of an album, and this is what I think began to spark all the theories and speculation about there being one, or even two, more releases to coincide with this one. The track is called Separator, possibly dictating a separation between two collections of material and the line “if you think this is over then you’re wrong” soars above the tantalising guitars, inter-twining vocal lines and the surface bass. This is one of very few songs that has a notable melody the listener can cling on to, and that might be why many people are choosing this as their favourite track on the record.

This album is all about the rhythm section; the drums and the bass, whereas In Rainbows incorporated the whole band equally and to immense effect. Whilst I genuinely really enjoy this record on its own, it would make a lot more sense with accompanying material. Let me know your thoughts on this album and whether you think Radiohead will be bringing out further material. It’s not like they aren’t afraid to shake up the music industry. They control it.

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Weekend Playlist #4

The last week has been filled with thrills and spills all thanks to Radiohead. A completely out of the blue announcement on Monday for new album The King of Limbs, a tweet indicating an announcement in Japan on Friday and then the album being pushed forward by twenty-four hours for release, it’s all been happening. Many people including me believe there will be a second half to The King of Limbs. The last song is called Seperator, with the last lyric being ‘If you think this is over then you’re wrong’, TKOL is unusually short compared to the other seven albums and the newspaper edition of the album, out in May, has two 10″ vinyls included, space for plenty more material.

Unfortunately the album isn’t available on Spotify but I have included the brilliant song Lotus Flower on the Youtube playlist. Have a gander at this:

Bright Eyes – Shell Games

The second track off of new album The People’s Key. A slightly more contemporary direction for Conor Oberst, his cryptic poetry going from strength to strength.

The Smiths – Rubber Ring

A favourite off of the album The World Won’t Listen. Another classic Andy Rourke funk bass-line with a great melody.

Anna Calvi – Blackout

Anna Calvi might be a newcomer but her song-writing skills are second-to-none. Predicted big things for 2011 and quite rightly so.

Radiohead – Lotus Flower (YOUTUBE ONLY)

Perhaps the best video of all time, Thom Yorke is a magician. The song gets better and better after each listen and this might just be the beginning…

Royksopp – Sparks

I found this in my vinyl collection recently and completely forgot about its greatness. Put this on and chill out.

Written on the Forehead – PJ Harvey

Off of her new critically acclaimed album Let England Shake, this song uses a sample from Niney the Observer’s Blood and Fire, a great reggae song about, basically, the apocalypse. Nice. The whole album is great and is a personal insight into Harvey’s schizophrenic views of her home country.

Gil Scott Heron and Jamie xx – NY Is Killing Me

Jamie xx has been on the fire over the last six months and his run of form is set to continue with the release of We’re New Here, which I mentioned in the last post. Check out the bass on this badboy.

Jenny Lewis – Carpetbaggers

Sometimes you get these moments of revelation when you get a good song on iTunes shuffle. This was due to one of those moments. Jenny Lewis and Elvis Costello sound excellent together on this song, Costello’s voice is faultless.

James Blake – Wilhelms Scream

Okay, okay, i’m sure you’ve got an RSS feed going into overload because of this song, but I had to end the playlist with this. The internet set on fire when people realised this song was taken from one of Blake’s dads songs, Where to Turn. Who cares where it came from though, the song is beautiful.

SPOTIFY: Weekend Playlist #4

YOUTUBE: Weekend Playlist #4

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Stream: Gil Scott Heron and Jamie xx – We’re New Here

Jamie xx has been riding high on the crest of a wave made of pure praise for the King Midas of remixes. His recent re-working of Adele’s Rolling In The Deep was a smash hit for music bloggers worldwide and he is now rumoured to be working with Canadian hip-hop bigwig Drake, so I guess it’s about time he released an albums worth of material.

We’re New Here is a personal interpretation of Gil Scott Heron’s fantastic 2010 release I’m New Here, with a few older songs thrown in for good measure (recognize Home? It’s sampled on Kanye West’s My Way Home). Jamie xx hasn’t put a foot wrong lately and they are still firmly stuck to the ground upon listening to this; the beats are fantastic, the album flows superbly – and most importantly – Jamie has taken good care preserving the soulfulness and honesty that is taken from the original Gil Scott Heron material.

Because WordPress won’t let me embed anything that isn’t a Youtube video (HATE!), please follow this link to the stream via The Guardian. Reliable as always.

We’re New Here is released February 21st. Pick it up without second thought.

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A simple fix for the declining physical music sales?

I am willing to admit it here and now; I have illegally downloaded music in the past, and I will probably continue to. Any sneering is welcome, but please look in the mirror pre-sneering. People illegally download for a number of reasons: a) they want to listen to the album before committing their hard-earned money b) it’s free and c) it is much easier to just download it from your own home. And I don’t blame these people. Here’s why…

I went into my local HMV yesterday and purchased two CDs. They were pretty easy to find as both were new releases. Once I picked the two CDs up, I scanned the aisles that led to the till for any bargains and then went up to pay for my CDs (there were no bargains). I was greeted by a sales assistant in his mid-20’s who was nice enough, but then simply took the CDs off of me, scanned them and then I paid. Let’s compare it to something else, shall we? I went into Rough Trade East in London last Monday and bought three CDs. I picked up the one CD I wanted to buy, but then was drawn to the vast array of great music that was displayed. No gimmicks, no big pink stickers with ‘SALE – £6′ on it, just great music that is approved from the record store and then sold to consumers. I found two more CDs I wanted to buy, had another two or three good looks around the CDs on offer and then went to the till. Similarly, I was greeted by a sales assistant in his mid-20’s, who was also nice enough, but upon handing him the CDs he made comments about the CDs and opened discussion. I was made to feel as if what I was buying was actually worth buying. In HMV, I felt as if I was buying the CDs to keep their business alive (literally) instead of for my benefit and pleasure. I am not singling out Rough Trade here, nor am I saying that HMVs have average customer service, these are merely two recent comparisons.

Whilst I have done a gracious morris dance around the actual point, and as much as I don’t intend to sound like a virtual Mary Portas, customer service plays, in my opinion, a much bigger part than people think in keeping the music industry alive. Do you want people to carry on buying CDs? Get your staff to briefly brush up on the new releases perhaps and spark conversation with their customers when they purchase them perhaps, it will make them want to return next time. Even if you don’t know who the band are for Gods sake, just say that you like the album/single/EP, whatever it is they’re purchasing. If customers leave a record store with just a few CDs, where is the future incentive to go and buy music in it’s physical format as opposed to buying it off iTunes or Spotify?

Does anyone else feel the same? Do you disagree? And more importantly, do you still buy CDs? Let me know.

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NEW RADIOHEAD ALBUM!!!!1!!1 – The King of Limbs

I almost screamed at my desk today when I heard this news. With a link on their website saying simply ‘thank you for waiting’, The King of Limbs is Radiohead’s eighth studio album, released via download this Saturday. In addition to the download, you can pre-order what is being dubbed as ‘the world’s first newspaper album’. No one quite knows what this will be, but we do know it consists of 2 clear vinyls, a CD, a purpose-built record sleeve and about a gazillion bits of artwork. I am most definitely pre-ordering it.

What the musical material will be like, nobody knows. Everyone seems to want The Bends mark 2, but I am hoping for something similar to In Rainbows; a perfect blend of the electronic and the natural influences that make Radiohead the game-changing band they will forever continue to be. The artwork certainly depicts an album of dark qualities. We’ll find out on Saturday…HOORAY!!!!!

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Yuck – Holing Out

Remember Cajun Dance Party? Of course you do, because they were great. Whilst it was a huge shame when they decided to go their separate ways, lead singer Danny and bassist Max – who now plays guitar – are now two of the young’uns behind Yuck.

A far cry away from the upbeat indie-pop that CDP wrote, Yuck are quite simply a shoegaze version of Sonic Youth. Basically. Whilst that sounds rather bland and boring (it certainly didn’t interest me before listening), Yuck are certainly not yuck. The above video is a Radio 1 session they did recently, performing their single ‘Holing Out’. Nice to see SOMEONE keeping the phase effect alive!

Yuck release their self-titled debut on February 21st and it is well worth a purchase. Apart from ‘Holing Out’, there is the tambourine-laden fuzzy haven that is ‘Georgia’, the rapturous album opener ‘Get Away’ and a handful of beautiful slower numbers such as ‘Suck and ‘Suicide Policeman’.

 

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