Showing posts with label radiohead. Show all posts
Showing posts with label radiohead. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

video review: 'a moon-shaped pool' by radiohead

So here's a true story: I was genuinely concerned that I'd lose so many subscribers with this video that I postponed filming the 20k Q&A video. Turns out that I didn't lose that many - and that video will probably be going live later today, along with Billboard BREAKDOWN - but still, this was one of my more controversial videos in a while.

Thankfully, the next on our docket wasn't nearly so controversial...

Sunday, May 15, 2016

album review: 'a moon-shaped pool' by radiohead

Most of the time, I have absolutely no issue going against the critical consensus. Sure, it's nice to know that my opinions are echoed by popular opinion, but I've taken some hard and controversial stances before and I'm not afraid to stand by them. I've found albums that critics adored to be tedious or mediocre, and I've found some albums that were critically savaged to be hidden gems. After all, as much as critics like myself like to think we're the ones who can shape history, reality often proves to be vastly different.

And yet when we get to Radiohead... goddamn it, I wish I liked this band more than I do. The way I've always described the critically beloved group is that I respect them more than I like them - I can appreciate what they did to push boundaries in alternative rock and blending in electronica throughout the 90s and 2000s, but in terms of the records themselves? My favourite Radiohead album has always been The Bends, and while OK Computer and In Rainbows definitely have their moments and are great records in their own right, I've never been able to get passionate about this group. A big part of it is Thom Yorke himself - I can appreciate his expressive delivery to a point, but I've never found him to be the profound or interesting songwriter so many have said. And sure, melodically Radiohead have put together some potent moments and great songs, but when pushed through every shade of melancholy in the book - especially with the increasingly diminished returns of the 2000s - the material just doesn't connect for me. Hell, I'd argue part of it started with Kid A, certainly a good record with some spectacular moments but not worth the ocean of praise the majority of online critics - especially Pitchfork - ejaculated all over it in 2000. And no, it wasn't going electronic that hurt Radiohead for me - In Rainbows found a synthesis of it that was looser, more melodic, and really quite potent, it really is the brighter side to OK Computer - but I will say that the more humanity and organic instrumentation Radiohead tends to embrace, the more their gift for melody comes to the forefront, something which their 2011 record The King Of Limbs didn't emphasize all that effectively in its choice to play for choppy, looped rhythms and minimalism.

So when I heard that their surprise new release A Moon-Shaped Pool was going back towards more organic instrumentation, perhaps even bringing in elements of folk that they've flirted with but never completely embraced for decades... hell, I was intrigued. And even though I'm decidedly in the minority when it comes to Radiohead albums, I figured I still liked the group enough to dig in, so what did I find with A Moon-Shaped Pool?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

album review: 'amok' by atoms for peace (RETRO REVIEW)

As a music critic, you always end up missing albums.

Yeah, even the guys who listen to a new album every single day are going to miss a few that are outside of their preferred genre or were dismissed out of hand as being crap. Now if you're familiar with any of my reviews, I like to give everything a reasonably fair shake, but as someone with a full-time job and an active social life, I still don't have time to get through everything.

And that means, like most music critics in the middle of the summer, I took a bit of time in this brief lull to start locating the albums in my backlog that I should cover before the end of the year. Sure, I'm not going to find everything, but it can't hurt to go through the seven or eight albums with positive critical press I inevitably missed (either coming out before I started my reviews, or were put aside in favour of albums I actually had an interest in or wanted to rant about).  

And completely unsurprisingly, most of these albums that I'll be talking about over the next while (with the exception of the new releases, obviously) are going to be the critically acclaimed material that Pitchfork and the majority of the entertainment press have slobbered all over. And those of you who have been following my work know that I tend to be significantly tougher on indie rock than most - something I also won't apologize for in any way. If these are going to be the acts that might dictate the paradigm in independent music, you bet I'm going to be scrutinizing them with a critical eye. After all, if you want to be on the cutting edge, you have to earn it.

So with that in mind, let's talk about the debut album of Atoms For Peace, a collaboration act featuring Thom Yorke of Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, Joey Waronker (who worked with Beck and R.E.M.) and longtime Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich. From that line-up alone, one can have high expectations - that's the sort of superstar tag team you'd expect to be introduced by its own theme music! And while I'm most definitely not the biggest Radiohead fan (a conversation for later), it's hard not to look at the rest of this act with a fair amount of awe and wonder.

But then the part of my brain that leaps up whenever I get excited about new prospects made sure to say, 'Now hang on a minute, you remember what happened with Angels and Airwaves, and even though Audioslave was a relative success, it was nowhere near close to the sum of its parts.' And really, outside of Ayreon (which owes its success to the excellent coordination of Arjen Lucassen, and even he doesn't always get it right), there really hasn't been a collaboration effort that I can think of immediately that hasn't been either overshadowed by one member or significantly less than its potential. And given some of my distaste for Thom Yorke, I wasn't entirely sure I was going to enjoy the album, with the very un-Radiohead-esque name Amok. Did that opinion last?

Youtube review after the jump