Tag Archives: Radiohead

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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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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Want A Free Yeasayer Album? Of Course You Do!

I certainly was not aware, but Yeasayer treated their fans and followers to a live album, Live At Ancienne Belgique, over the Christmas period. The band used what I like to now call the ‘Radiohead Method’, whereby they let the consumers pick a price to pay for the album. However, Yeasayer have decided to put a few different price options instead of having complete freedom to choose what you would like to pay. Nonetheless, very similar. The album has received positive reviews from other music blogs such as Pitchfork, and I look forward to listening to it, just as soon as it finishes downloading.

Merry (belated) Christmas, from myself and all fellow disloyal Yeasayer fans.

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