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  • The King Of Limbs

    19. Feb. 2011, 23:18

    Radiohead - The King of Limbs review

    I remember when I downloaded In Rainbows and listened to it through the first time, palpably excited by the prospect of a new Radiohead record. In fact, this was the first time I'd been a fan a long enough to actually buy (or download for free) one of their albums the day it came out. I remember listening to it first time through and not being able to assimilate much except that it was different, good, and that there seemed to be a lack of... heavier numbers.

    I've since listened to In Rainbows probably hundreds of times and rank it as one of their most enjoyable, complete records, though there's still a part of me that feels like it needs something explosive. A pure rocker. Some brashness, perhaps. Sure, Bodysnatchers had distorted guitars, but they were remarkably clean distorted guitars.

    Unfortunately, for those expecting a return to The Bends or an introductory paragraph that actually builds to something, The King Of Limbs is not unsubtle. It is not loud, chaotic or rocking. It is, if anything, their most considered, subdued album yet and at only 37 minutes seems to drift by before you know what's just gently caressed your ears.

    That is not to say that The King Of Limbs is the sound of a band coasting, or finally reaching the end of their 'progression', more that Radiohead have finally found - or returned - to a sound they're comfortable with and are now trying to hone it to sonic perfection.

    To wit, opener Bloom - after a few seconds of piano trinklets - brings on the prominent bass, electro-bleeps and dub-step drumming that will be familiar to anyone who's listened to Amnesiac, immediately recalling songs such Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors. It is moody, slow burning, deceptively layered and on first listen perhaps a little - depending on your expectations - unremarkable.

    Morning Mr Magpie switches things a bit with three guitars playing variations on a staccato riff, though even this is more enticing than rocking. Come opening line "You've got some nerve..." and you feel in familiar Radiohead territory, something that's oddly hard to accustom to. When they've spent most of their career confounding expectations, it's strange to hear something resolutely them.

    Colin Greenwood's bass and Phil Selways's drums provide the backbone to nearly every track, with Johnny and Ed covering ocassional overlapping guitars and those aforementioned electro-bleeps. There are refreshing, deft touches such as a brass-like sound on Bloom and Codex, and even a hoover at the end of Mr Magpie, but instrumental variation is few and far between. For the most part, this is the land of mid-tempo beats and low hums.

    Thom Yorke is largely in reverb-heavy falsetto-mode here, recalling Reckoner or House Of Cards. There is certainly none of angry Thom (2+2=5) or even rapping Thom (Wolf At The Door, Faust Arp); in fact on the latter tracks particularly he seems to have found a melodic warmth to his voice that would have seemed unimaginable 10 years ago. Lyrically, he is as incomprehensible as ever, but at least when you make out snippets they aren't nearly as threatening as "I will eat you alive" or "We suck young blood". 18 years and 8 albums down the line, Radiohead seem done trying to completely alienate.

    On lead single Lotus Flower he even sings "And now I'll set you free, I will set you free", even if the preceding lines are "There's an empty space inside my heart where the weeds take root". Either way, for all the moodiness and chlaustrophobia this album is the closest they've come to sounding inspirational, with the closing, almost anthemic sentiment "If you think this is over you're wrong" almost enough to bring tears to the eyes, as Yorke's soaring vocals crack over an exquisite little guitar line.

    The second half of the album is probably the more sucessful, with some beautiful ballads making the most of Yorke's vocal range and the busy electronics giving way to some piano and acoustic guitar. Again, it's nothing unfamiliar, but it's still damn good. If they're not as eclectic as they were on, say, Hail To The Thief, they've at least mastered their quality control.

    Despite initial reservations it's hard to join all those waiting for Radiohead to trip up and proclaim this a failure, or even a dip in quality. But whilst I appreciate the return to Kid A's spacey atmosphere over the relatively radio-friendly In Rainbows, I still yearn for the explosiveness or lean simplicity of the former's National Anthem and Idioteque, and sadly the crunching guitars seem further away than ever. This is an album for late nights and good quality headphones. It is atmospheric and beautiful, but by now we expect nothing less. Hopefully it's not time to stop expecting more.
  • Artists I'm getting into via the songs I'm about to list

    25. Jan. 2011, 1:38

  • Eat my list

    25. Jan. 2011, 1:21

    I'm gonna use my Top 10 artists of the last 12 months, 'cause they're better.

    1) XTC
    2) Spoon
    3) The Beatles
    4) The Waterboys
    5) Alexander Brandon
    6) Led Zeppelin
    7) Rush
    8) U2
    9) Dire Straits
    10) Radiohead

    Now answer the questions according to the numbers:

    What was the first song you ever heard by 6?
    Well, technically I would have heard their Whole Lotta Love riff the TOTP intro. But technically that version wasn't recorded by them. So it would be Kashmir. My dad wanted to show me what the Godzilla theme tune was originally from.

    What is your favorite album of 2?
    Transference

    What is your favorite lyric that 5 has sung?
    Would be the only instrumentalist on my list...

    How many times have you seen 4 live?
    I'm going! In two weeks! So, touch wood, once - in London.

    What is your favourite song by 7?
    Limelight, or Different Strings

    What is a good memory you have considering the music of 10?
    I tend to listen to Radiohead in the dark, alone with headphones while the rest of the world's asleep.

    Is there a song of 3 that makes you sad?
    Can The Beatles make you sad? I'm not sure if Eleanor Rigby or A Day In The Life actually make me sad, but they are sad songs. I'll go with Golden Slumbers as it makes me cry, if not sad.

    What is your favorite lyric that 2 has sung?
    And I've got nothing to lose but,
    Darkness and shadows
    Nothing to lo-ooo-ose but bitterness and patterns


    What is your favorite song by 9?
    Right now, You And Your Friend (live).

    How did you get in to 3?
    Well, they are pretty obscure... I think I've spent my whole life listening to The Beatles, as most everyone has, but it was only in the last few years I really starting getting into their individual albums and seeing them as a proper band. The first song I remember hearing by them was She Loves You.

    What was the first song you heard by 1?
    Scissor Man. My brother played me the Primus cover of this, which I looked up and discovered XTC. Haven't stopped listening to them since.

    What is your favorite song by 4?
    I guess I'd have to say Fisherman's Blues. It just sends shivers up my spine and makes me long for a different time, world and place.

    How many time have you seen 9 live?
    None, and never will.

    What is a good memory you have concerning 2?
    Saw them live last year with my brother. For the encore I hoped they'd play The Way We Get By and My Mathematical Mind, and they did. Me and my brother just looked at each other with that kind of "FUCK YES!" expression.

    Is there a song of 8 that makes you sad?
    Many. Particularly Drowning Man and The Ground Beneath Her Feet.

    What is your favorite album by 5?
    Well, he hasn't done albums per se, but the Deux Ex soundtrack is what I love him for.

    What is your favorite lyric that 3 has sung?
    Like I need that kind of choice in my life. Fair enough. I could pick any. So I will.

    Well, you should see Polythene Pam
    She's so good looking that she looks like a man
    Well you should see her in drag dressed in her polythene bag
    Yes you should see Polythene Pam


    What is your favorite song by 1?
    Runaway. I just love the atmosphere.

    What is your favorite song by 10?
    Climbing Up The Walls.

    How many times have you seen 7 live?
    None. I can't see Rush ever coming to England.

    What is your favorite album by 1?
    Don't ask me to choose between English Settlement and Skylarking.
  • Songs you may not have heard by bands you will have

    15. Jun. 2009, 23:04

    The Ground Beneath Her Feet - U2
    Go Slowly - Radiohead
    Sappy - Nirvana
    I Burn For You - The Police
    Telegraph Road - Dire Straits
    Eminence Front - The Who (Join Together Disc 2 version is the best if you can get it)
    Old Brown Shoe - The Beatles
  • An epic list of lists

    9. Jun. 2009, 23:59

    Shamelessly pilfered the format from someone else, but I need some catharsis on my music tastes, and the small hope that someone else might go "ooh, me too!".

    Favourite bands:
    1. Radiohead
    2. U2 (though, it must be said, this a band I won't defend adamantly. Bono's ego is now off the scale, his voice has withered and I pretend I haven't heard their latest stuff. Give me War though, or Boy, and there's nothing to compare)
    3. Led Zeppelin (I wouldn't be playing guitar if not for Jimmy Page)
    4. Mansun
    5. Pink Floyd
    6. Fleetwood Mac
    7. The Verve
    8. Tears For Fears
    9. Idlewild
    10. Genesis (mostly Gabriel era, though I'm fond of both incarnations)

    Near Misses: Stevie Wonder, Vangelis, Dave Matthews Band, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds


    Favourite albums:
    1. Urban Hymns
    2. Kid A
    3. (What's The Story) Morning Glory
    4. Six
    5. Animals
    6. Blade Runner
    7. Boy
    8. In The Land Of Grey And Pink
    9. Anti-Anti
    10. The Queen Is Dead

    Near misses: War (U2), Twelve Dreams of Doctor Sardonicus (Spirit), Hail To The Thief (Radiohead)

    Greatest rock song of all time:
    Inexplicably, Gimme Shelter.

    Favourite Greatest Hits:
    Any Dire Straits best of will usually do. So long as Sultans Of The Swing and Brothers In Arms are on there.

    First CD bought:
    Hard to remember, though it was almost certainly (What's The Story) Morning Glory or Urban Hymns, which subsequently have become two of my favourite albums. That or a Lightning Seeds best of.

    First Concert:
    There were plenty of minor ones, but one I actually chose before-hand and paid for... Idlewild, at the Princess Pavillions in Falmouth I think, with Twilight Sad supporting.

    Favourite Concert:
    I'm not a big concert-goer, but I'm gradually building up a decent track-record. I'd have to say The Verve at The Eden Project, 2008. Bittersweet Symphony, as the light broke through the rainclouds, was something else.

    Concert You Wish You'd Seen:
    U2 Live At Red Rocks, caught on Under A Blood Red Sky. This was the moment when they were at their most exuberant and fearless, ripping through what have remained (to my ears) their best songs. They couldn't have given that same performance one year later, let alone today.

    Best Use of Music In Film:
    Head Over Heels by Tears For Fears, soundtracking the camera sweeping through the highschool of Donnie Darko. There is swathes of classic 80s music in that film, but that one manages to transform an already brilliant song into something else. If we're talking a whole soundtrack though, the music to Blade Runner by Vangelis.

    Best Use of Music In TV series:
    The lovely 30/40s popular jazz tunes in The Singing Detective (1989), particularly Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive, sung and danced by a hospital staff.

    Favourite Songwriters:
    Stevie Wonder, Morrissey (with The Smiths), Roger Waters (with Pink Floyd), Roland Orzabal, Tom Waits, Stevie Nicks (with Fleetwood Mac)

    Favourite album covers (that I own)





    Least fav album covers to albums you like/love/don't mind


    What were they thinking?

    Favourite Music DVDs:
    Pink Floyd's Pulse, U2's Under A Blood Red Sky

    Artist You Will Always Believe In:
    Thom Yorke

    Artist You Will Always Defend:
    Mansun

    Albums You Will Always Defend:
    Animals
    Be Here Now
    Boy

    Artists I'm Supposed to like, but don't
    R.E.M.
    Pearl Jam
    Muse
    The Clash
    Bob Dylan (well, I do, but not nearly as much as could be possible)

    Song You Can't Stand by an Artist You Like:
    No Surprises by Radiohead

    Artist Who Broke Your Heart:
    The Coral... great debut album. Eccentric mix of The Beatles and pirate music, with great pop like Dreaming Of You and plain madness like Skeleton Key. Then they turned into a startlingly bland Zutons sound-a-like.

    U2... I guess I could claim they broke my heart if I was alive when they came out, but as it is they just mildly dissapoint me.

    Band that should break up
    Oasis. It's not that they make bad music, but they just have no relevance. They had a time, it was the 90s, they don't make any sense here and now.

    Bands That Should Get Back Together:
    Mansun. We barely got to know them, and then they were gone. Two brilliant albums isn't enough, I demand more.

    Guilty pleasure
    Sting. Or Natalie Imbruglia, though I don't know why I should feel guilty about her. Perhaps because she's better known as an average Australian actress.
  • My life in music...

    13. Jul. 2008, 18:52

    Because everyone else has. This is somewhat painful though, as a lot of my favourite music was from before I was born, not after.

    1986 The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead
    1987 U2 - The Joshua Tree
    1988 The Church - Starfish
    1989 The The - Mind Bomb
    1990 Extreme - Pornograffitti
    1991 Talk Talk - Laughing Stock
    1992 Rage Against The Machine - Rage Against the Machine
    1993 The Verve - A Storm In Heaven
    1994 PJ Harvey - To Bring You My Love
    1995 Oasis - (What's The Story) Morning Glory
    1996 The Divine Comedy - Cassanova
    1997 The Verve - Urban Hymns
    1998 Mansun - Six
    1999 Aim - Cold Water Music
    2000 Radiohead - Kid A
    2001 Opeth - Blackwater Park
    2002 Preston Reed - Metal
    2003 Kamelot - Epica
    2004 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus
    2005 Spoon - Gimme Fiction
    2006 Snowden - Anti-Anti
    2007 Rachel Unthank & The Winterset - The Bairns
    2008 Cold War Kids - Loyalty to Loyalty
    2009 Them Crooked Vultures - Them Crooked Vultures
    2010 Spoon - Transference
  • Some of my favourite Solos

    12. Jul. 2008, 21:35

    I was considering making this just guitar solos, but that seems limiting. For me, solos aren't necessary, but if done well they can usually turn a good song into a great one. So I thought I'd list a few solos that actually make me giddy with delight or wish I was ten times the musician I am.

    Led Zeppelin - Thank You (BBC Sessions version)

    This is my favourite solo of all time. The song is played primarily on a crunching electric guitar, unlike the mostly acoustic Studio version. The solo breaks in after only a few minutes and just reaches peak after peak, with no wasted notes. It just makes me overjoyed every time I hear this.

    Sappy

    It's generally considered that Kurt Cobain wasn't one of the greatest guitarists around. But he always seemed to hit the right notes for his solos, and this is my favourite. All the bends come in at just the right time.

    High Hopes

    I was tempted to put Comfortably Numb, which is obviously one of the best solos ever written, but this one just beats it. Done on some form of slide guitar (sorry, i'm not a music expert), it reaches high notes I didn't think were possible. So expressive.

    Eminence Front

    The best version of this is on the Join Together live CD. Not sure if it's technically a solo if it's played at the start of the song... but this really shows how good a guitar player Pete Townshend is. Jagged and very melodic.

    The Logical Song

    Amazing song, with a wonderful little sax solo after the second chorus. Impossible not to dance or move your body in some way.

    Englishman in New York

    Another great sax solo.

    Covered In Rain

    John Mayer is probably the greatest guitarist around today... shame he usually just writes pop songs. This solo is simply stunning.

    Underdog (Save Me)

    Lovely acoustic solo, with a great switch from minor to blues for the chorus chords.

    Plenty, plenty more. Just felt like listing a few I love.
  • Top 6 Sad Songs

    31. Okt. 2006, 2:42