Tag Archives: Music

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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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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Weekend Playlist #3

These past two weeks have been slow-paced in terms of new music. There have been a few releases – namely The Joy Formidable’s ‘Big Roar’, The Go Team’s ‘Rolling Blackouts’ and Destroyer’s ‘Kaputt’ – which I have enjoyed, but nothing has stood out. In other music news, Death from Above 1979 have issued an official reunion statement and The White Stripes have officially split up, although why this is a surprise to anyone is beyond me. The last time they played live was in 2007 and Jack White is balancing more side projects and production commitments than he’s had hot dinners, thus making it fairly impossible to ever continue with The White Stripes in a big way. However, we salute Jack and Meg in this fortnight’s Playlist and despite only having six tracks, I believe this Playlist is short and sweet.

The White Stripes – Fell in Love With a Girl

In celebration of their departure, we kick off the playlist with the song that, for me, summed them up as a band perfectly.

Bright Eyes – Coat Check Dream Song

In anticipation of the release of ‘The People’s Key’, I’ve been listening a lot to Oberst’s back catalogue. Coat Check Dream Song is a really interesting song off Cassadaga, I love the rhythm, the instrumentation and the washed-out, echoey atmosphere.

The Joy Formidable – Austere

My favourite song off ‘The Big Roar’, The Joy Formidable don’t seem to be trying anything new or innovative, but they have a massive sound! Throughout the album there are moments where you wonder how they can create such a noise with only three members.

Flying Lotus – Tea Leaf Dancers

Flying Lotus filled in for Benji B last week on Radio 1 with an amazing Brainfeeder special and ever since I have had FlyLo’s LP’s and EP’s on rotation. Tea Leaf Dancers is off his ‘Reset EP’ and is an amazingly chilled-out song. Flying Lotus did a session last year at Radio 1’s Maida Vale studios and this is one of the songs he did complete with a live band. If anyone has a full video of it, I would hugely appreciate it, all I can find are teaser videos!

Thrice – Come All You Weary

I’ve been listening to their ‘Live at the House of Blues’ album alot recently for no particular reason apart from the fact that they are an amazing live band and this album has a great set list that shows just how versatile they are as a band. Come All You Weary is a perfect weekend song.

Death From Above 1979 – Blood On Our Hands

And we close on another celebratory note! Listen to this song and you will quickly realize why so many people are excited about their reunion.

 

I’ve done it slightly differently this week, but this is MUCH more effective. Instead of putting a Youtube link every song title, I have made a Youtube playlist so you can just press play and let it work it’s magic. Amazing, ey?

YOUTUBE LINK: Weekend Playlist #3

SPOTIFY LINKWeekend Playlist #3

 

 

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Review – Tahiti 80 – ‘The Past, The Present and the Possible’

‘The Past, The Present and The Possible’ is Tahiti 80’s sixth studio album. The indie-pop band from Rouen and Paris might not be flying the highest banner in the UK, but they are big in their native country of France and they even had a song on FIFA 07 (remember it? No, me neither).

Album opener ‘Defender’ left me impressed; the crunchy bass riff had me in a trance whilst synthesizers buzzed around my head left, right and centre along with a nice, big dollop of jazzy piano chord stabs. Front-man Xavier Boyer takes a back-seat on this song; it seems to me that the music does more of the talking and Boyer’s voice is just an extra instrument. I instantly thought ‘Beach Boys’, ‘The Doors’ and even The Great Escape-era ‘Blur’. From the second song onwards I was concerned that someone had swapped all their Blur CD’s with Cher’s back catalogue.

Such songs as ‘Gate 33’ left me cringing, Boyer singing such lines as “you know I made a movie of you, I really got you looking good it’s true” and “drugs and booze don’t always mix so well”, over a very, thin, airy musical accompaniment made by a band that sound extremely unlikely to indulge in any drug whatsoever apart from paracetamol. Once my face muscles stopped hurting from all the frowning, ‘Want Some’ made them hurt once again multiplied by a factor of four-hundred. It sounds like an over-diluted attempt at a Beatles Magical Mystery Tour B-side, with a completely unnecessary harmonica throughout (and no drugs). ‘Nightmare’ is a breath of fresh air, with some particularly impressive production and great vocal harmonies, it’s just a shame that the rest of the album doesn’t maintain this standard of song-writing. The album consists of far too many ambitious ideas that ironically results in an album with little depth and leaves the listener with no good reason to go and listen again. On the other hand, Tahiti 80 are a pop band, and if they want to write generic-pop music, they have more than done their job.

“Won’t you dig a little deeper?”, Xavier Boyer asks at the start of ‘Solitary Bizness’. Well Xavier, I tried and I tried but I just couldn’t. There was nothing deeper to dig.

Tahiti 80’s ‘The Past, The Present and The Possible’ is out February 21st on Human Sounds. Listen to Jimmy Edgar’s remix of Darlin’ below.



Darlin’ (Adam & Eve Song)(Jimmy Edgar Remix) by wearetahiti80

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Weekend Playlist #2

Here is the second installment of Weekend Playlist, and trust me there will be many more to come. These ten songs I have compiled over the last two weeks, so sit back, relax, get a coffee and listen to these beauties. It’s the weekend after all.

British Sea Power – Who’s In Control?

The first anti-coalition song that I’ve heard, anyway. SAVE THE LIBRARIES!

The Strokes – Red Light

Fresh off of their announcement of new album ‘Angles’, one of my favourite Strokes songs. The guitar work = bliss.

Monsters of Folk – Temazcal

One of the most beautiful songs ever. M. Ward sings on the above version, Conor Oberst sings on the album version. I strongly recommend you watch the video.

Yeasayer – Sunrise

After listening to ‘Live at Ancienne Belgique’ over the past two weeks, this had to get a mention.

Lil Wayne ft. Corey Gunz – 6 Foot 7 Foot (Edited Version)

Unfortunately, only the edited version is available on Spotify. I’m not a fan of everything Lil Wayne does, but this is infectious.

Mew – Snow Brigade

I’ve previously mentioned Mew’s ‘Eggs Are Funny’ and whilst it is extremely hard to pick one song off of the whole album, this song has a very, very, veeeery catchy chorus.

The Decemberists – Down By The Water

The Decemberists released their sixth studio album ‘Down By The Water’ on Monday, and this is one of the album’s highlights, for me.

Outkast – Church

I don’t even need to say anything about this song.

Blue Oyster Cult – (Don’t Fear) The Reaper

Inspired from a playlist Everything Everything compiled for The Independent, this is an absolute classic.

She and Him – Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?

A sweet song to end on, I started listening to this song after watching their new video for ‘Don’t Look Back’. Plus, it’s Zooey Deschanel, duuuuh!

SPOTIFY LINK: Weekend Playlist #2
Hope you enjoy it. Do be sure to listen to it via Spotify, ideally!

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Review: The Decemberists – ‘The King Is Dead’

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

With ‘Hazards of Love’, The Decemberists previous 2009 offering, receiving extremely mixed reviews across the board, Colin Meloy and company needed to create something captivating and perhaps less ambitious if they wanted to regain any lost reputation, and ‘The King Is Dead’ is what they have treated us to as their sixth studio album.

Recorded in a small barn on a farm in Portland, Oregon, The Decemberists have taken a step back from the pretentious instrumentation of ‘Hazards of Love’ and written an album that puts their previous album behind them and returns to their roots. Infact, do The Decemberists even remember recording ‘Hazards of Love’? It sounds as though they have forgotten completely. The opening track ‘Don’t Carry It All’ features a pounding drum beat begging to be acknowledged from the very first second, and it is a task in itself not to comply. Once the drums have captured you, Colin Meloy’s voice grabs you by the scruff of the neck and shoves you into the corner of a room. The front-man has a subtle croakiness and rawness in his vocal chords that shapes the music and provides something rather unique to a genre of music that can become extremely boring, extremely quickly (cough Mumford and Sons cough).

Luckily, this album does the opposite. Album highlights ‘Calamity Song’ and ‘Down By The Water’ are slightly more upbeat numbers, both featuring guitarist Peter Buck, just in case you didn’t think REM had enough of an influence on the album. Whether bringing in a legendary guitarist to contribute on the album can be considered a blessing or a curse is debatable, but the twanging, nonchalant virtuosity of Buck adds a new dimension to the songs. ‘January Hymn’ and ‘June Hymn’ are slower, heart-felt songs that will strike a chord with any human possessive of a heart.

The Decemberists are a versatile bunch of musicians. They are ambitious, inventive and experimental as showcased in their previous albums, but sometimes less is more. ‘The King Is Dead’ is hardly a groundbreaking record, but then again it isn’t punching above it’s weight. Sometimes less is more, and The Decemberists seem to have taken this on board and utilized this to the best of their abilities.

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Weekend Playlist #1

Happy Saturday to you all. I’m starting a new ‘Weekend Playlist’ feature which will probably be fortnightly, featuring my favourite songs from the last two weeks. It will be a mix of new bands, golden oldies or songs that I am just really liking at the time. I will be describing each song in a minimal number of words, each song having a Youtube link and also a link to the playlist on Spotify at the end of each post. Here goes…

1. Lykke Li – I Follow Rivers

Single from forthcoming album. Catchy chorus, a certain big single for 2011.

2. Sleigh Bells – Infinity Guitars

May recognize from E4 advert. Brutal, in-your-face punk that i’m scared will blow my speakers soon.

3. James Blake – Footnotes

A song I barely understand, but can’t stop listening to.

4. Caribou – Jamelia

A beautiful song for your lazy Sunday. Just listen to the vocal melody.

5. Luther Vandross – Never Too Much

My favourite funk-soul classic. Saturday night party music.

6. Warpaint – Undertow

My (only) favourite Warpaint song. Lazy song with some attractive vocal work.

7. A Tribe Called Quest – Jazz (We’ve Got)

Because no one’s musical artillery is complete without some vintage hip-hop beats.

8. James Blake – Limit To Your Love

Haven’t stopped listening to this for at least two weeks.

9. Kanye West – Homecoming

Probably his most under-rated track.

10. Beach House – Zebra

A great track to end on. Uplifting, emotive, excellent.

Here is the Spotify playlist to enjoy the whole playlist: Weekend Playlist #1.

If you have any requests to put into the next Weekend Playlist just let me know and they may well feature.

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