Radiohead: In Rainbows [a review]


Review:

I got a prompt from Radiohead’s W.A.S.T.E. this morning with a link to the downloadable version of their 7th studio LP and felt this was a benchmark in my life as a music consumer. ‘Pay whatever you want,’ is a concept I could get used to. I’m just crossing my fingers hoping that this is the end times for major record labels and all their vile, exhausted schemes.

Nothings stuck out immediately, well, not truthfully. “Bodysnatchers” completely destroys in all it’s ripping guitar awesomeness. It’s going to be really hard to find any fault on this gem of rock beauty. Like their best records, Radiohead get into your heart by surgically removing your skepticism. Radiohead make records, unlike popular music artists, who make singles, which is why the release of In Rainbows is so exciting to an audiophile like myself. Though with some scrutiny this particular album seems more song oriented than their past bouts.

Looking forward to December when the ‘Disc Box’ ships, almost like I’ll have a new opportunity to rediscover In Rainbows on vinyl. I love vinyl, its warmth, that hiss, some day my children will listen to old records on my Benjamin Miracord (once owned by their Grandfather) and scratch their heads in wonder asking; ‘why does it sound so scratchy?’ I’ll laugh, as I put the needle down on my 180 gram copy of In Rainbows and say, ‘that’s the sound of authenticity kids! Listen to how amazing “Nude” sounds, the music is practically naked! And by the way, side 2 is always better.’

The reverb drenched effects of ‘All I Need’ fortifies this ethereal track, anchoring it once the drums kick in, washed out crash cymbals punctuate Thom’s melancholy warble. The folkiness of “Faust Arp” with orchestral accents and flat picked acoustic guitar break up what would seem like side 1 from side 2, (if this was vinyl) quite nicely.

Track 7, “Reckoner” comes through the speakers like some lost child, clapping hands, shaking tambourine, stomping bells, grinning solemnly. Johnny Greenwoods got that whole arpeggio clarity thing nailed. And Thom. He who spells his name with a silent ‘H’ wails beautifully along a syncopated beat. This song is the centerpiece, one that ties past efforts together with the current effort. You can hear bits of Pablo/Kid A/OK Computer and Hail to the Thief in this song.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m of the type that has enjoyed all of their releases and has relished each for the unique way each was composed and released. My initial, immediate impression is that I like the second half of the record better. The second half doesn’t seem quite as esoteric as the first. Thom’s lyrics are more informed; at least they seem so on “House of Cards.” Where it seems the last 8 years of a nightmare world where Bush is the president twice over and Iran could be the next target of a ‘coalition of the willing’ could be coming to an end. A hopeful tune on a Radiohead album? Yes! But it is a song that is hopeful in that dreary, sweater wearing British way. A real house of cards can’t stand up to strong winds, maybe collective outrage fatigue has hit its tipping point and people are ready to actually put their foot down and say ‘enough!’

“Jigsaw Falling Into Place,” is a driving tune. That acoustic guitar leads the rhythm, pushes the beat, its percussive tonality compliments the eeriness of Thom’s ghostly backup vocal track. A song with a million layers. A song with a dozen implications. The lyrics, like black suited paramilitary troops, invading the urban squalor of the mind through the canals of the ears to whisper answers in the form of questions. Its nice to know Radiohead can inspire creative thinking without bludgeoning listeners with concepts such as global warming, er…while singing about climate change.

I’m anxious for the vinyl to ship. It is annoying listening to this band without some sort of visual guide for the songs. I hate not being able to sit down and open a gatefold read lyrics to every song and get totally immersed in the world they’ve created. I’m happy to report that I will be receiving the ‘Disc box’ with its book, art and two vinyl’s (one In Rainbows and the other is just ‘other’ they didn’t fit on the album). I like the way Radiohead define their art and appreciate the way they defy consumer culture by delivering a product worth every penny.

So as you wade through the static of the ever present TV Eye, ignore the man behind the curtain and take a listen to In Rainbows. [fuck, sorry, I just wrote that then realized how lame a reference Oz was] My biggest complaint about this record, or rather digital release – no cover art! WTF?

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Consumption Junction: The Cultural Significance of Britney’s Ass

I caught this post on Tech Crunch and in light of the hilarity of the 2007 VMA’s recently I thought it’d be appropriate to expound my opinion on a couple of things (btw, my opinion is awesome). I’ll first address the Arousal Industry’s latest blundervestment: making ringtones available on CD and selling them as ‘Ringle’s.’ If you haven’t followed the rapidly declining sales of the dinosaur-wearing-gucci-industry into the rabbit hole of failure you’ll know that these gentle giants and habitual employment curtailers are scrambling for the next best thing to supplement their bottom line. For that they have thought long and hard while on the toilet, squeezing out a seared ahi and quail egg champagne shit as the collective stone was passed from urethra, chinking on the porcelain, inspiring the latest money maker – The Ringle.

 

To the uninitiated or layperson, basically the ‘Ringle’ will, “contain three songs: one popular track, a remix, an older track from the same artist and a ringtone.” The distro method will be a “CD with a slip-sleeve cover.” If you’re smashing your balls with a meat tenderizer right now (or if you are a female, feel free to smash your nipple or equivalent in a desk drawer) in light of that news, well, you’ve been paying attention to the comings and goings of the music industry. If not, don’t despair. This can still be considered one of those ‘what the fuck’ moments. The first of those will be a single from recently re-celebritized Britney Spears, her song; “Gimme More” is already testing really well in the major markets. Sony and Universal are going to pump titles into the stream this fall and they’ll be available at your favorite wallet raping store. The propensity for continued revenue loss in the face of continued bad decision making isn’t as appalling as the fact they’re going to sell singles by CD. CD??? Or is Britney’s gunt more appealing packaged as a pitch corrected ringtone. I dunno.

 

Okay.

So now that your brain has come to a nice simmer and your eyes are bleeding a bit, drool slowly congealing somewhere on your shirt or blouse, hands limply at your sides, legs prostrate beneath you, a jolt of pop narcotic will bring you back. A shot to the jugular with a syringe full of excitement – a glass pipe filled with potent crystallized entertainment – a tincture of attention drawing, edge of your seat mayhem filled with blinking lights, celebrity and pageantry. For the kingdom of your brain we present the 2007 VMA’s. A nightmare ride into The Palms casino/hotel in Las Vegas for an amalgam of hyper stylized vampiric pop-lust orgy of coordinated chaos – presented by Chevrolet. That’s right. America’s car company. The company that brought you the Tahoe, and the tagline “An American Revolution.” AND John-fucking-Mellancamp leaning his jackboot on the fender of a truck while a montage of ‘life style images’ flood the screen. Look! Some sepia toned portraiture of African Americans that look doggedly low income smiling bravely for the high paid photographer, middle-American white folks ‘eating’ hot dogs, and team sports! Yes. Chevy has now taken it upon themselves to sell us cars by insinuating that this whole “save the world thing” is a punch line for some smog breathing fat cats with pockets full of cash.

 

Those genius marketers at MTV and Chevy teamed up for what they’re marketspeak calling a, “…Superserve Key 12-34 demographic with creative integration and multiplatform innovation campaign.” Essentially, they’ll use the power of their marketing muscle and advertising budget to sponsor something that MTV knows is well worth every penny for hooking new consumers. So they show a series of seemingly Eco-friendly spots. The spots are kinduh irreverent, edgy; MTV’s demo will totally jibe with this posish. (WOW 30MPG on highway! I can hear dolphins singing as baby seals swim in crystal clear water and unicorns shit rainbows).

 

This is part of MTV and Chevy’s “Break the Addiction” campaign, which sadly promotes the benefits of Flex Fuel or E85 and touts their continued development Hydrogen Fuel Cell technology. Want to know about E85? Click here.

 

MTV has always been the bane of my entertainment consumption. They’ve had some good shows and of course they used to play those dinosaurs of the entertainment dietary pyramid, THE MUSIC VIDEO but if the fact they’ve been dictating youth cultures taste in music doesn’t make you vomit your righteous indignation instantly, these commercials will. One example in particular is a scene of a young woman with dyed hair, fairy-winged, and glossy eyed. Hers is a character meant to exemplify some green friendly tree hugging marijuana addict blowing a tune into some plastic bottles strung together while a voice mockingly says something like “You can still save the environment without having to drive an ugly car you little sheep.”

 

And this brings me to Britney Spears ass. It has always been a shining example of slutty suburban chicks everywhere. Her ass is insignificant. Her music represents an industry’s reliance on tone corrected voices. It is robotic. She is ubiquitous. You could interchange her with Rhianna and only by ear you’d never know the difference. The reason she and Rhianna lip synced their shitty songs was because in the fantasy world MTV has made for viewers and the public, they’ve instituted a zero tolerance policy on imperfection. This is smoke and mirrors. It’s no wonder Viacom’s ad agency shares similar tactics as the US government’s agency that handles all of their “Be Army Strong” campaigns, or Chevy’s highly insidious and clever “Break the Addiction” campaign.

 

Britney Spears showed us all that you can sound like a robot, dance like a star in a giant production but if you gain just five pounds you can lose all credibility. She also showed the world our addiction to perfection through her socially imposed imperfections. Break the addiction of what? Oil? Bad performances and MTV? Soon we’ll see teen stars, weighing 90 lbs., chain smoking Marlboro Reds, eating a leaf of ice burg lettuce a day, while a Ringle from Mastodon plays “Holiday in Cambodia” on my sweet new iPhone. Chevy and British Petroleum will be champions of the Green movement and George Bush will go down in history as one of the most thoughtful presidents in history.

 

This isn’t science fiction.

 

This isn’t the future.

 

This is the perpetual “What the Fuck?”

Synthesis of Classic Form

you enjoy this!An air raid siren echoing off of glass and concrete as dust and debris filter from between the buildings to the streets below. So much skin. So much skin. Where does the mind end and the body begin? You are on perpetual display my dear. Your white skin and your blond hair and your long legs and trim figure are attractively relative. But not because you are the best choice for breeding. Your hips are much too small. You don’t eat enough. Or you must eat just enough to get by. What are you drinking? Vodka Tonic? No way! Vodka Cranberry. I can see from here when the tender lips touch the reddish-purple concentrate of the glass, filled with ice, garnish with lime. That guy over there is leering at your breasts. You’d call him a ‘creepy bastard’ if you caught him but you don’t notice and he zero’s in on another couple. I believe he enjoys their shape. But those aren’t real are they? They could pass but they don’t move quite right and your 5’4″ frame wouldn’t naturally support those shapes: that weight and its implications of alterations. Those strange looking objects that bring men pleasure because of their shape and their muscle memory in meaning. You can feed a child. But not really. Cause they’re full of saline and not the apparatus to sustain the life of your offspring.

Is this merely observation?

Is this social commentary?

Does it affect me?

Is it effective?

Grinderman Says, “I must above all things love myself.”