Suspending Judgment: The King Of Limbs by Radiohead

Radiohead fans have learned to bear patiently with the band over the course of their career. Ever since they trampled all over the “one hit wonder” label with The Bends, they’ve been completely defying the expectations of their audience with each successive album. Their last full-length, 2007’s In Rainbows, went far beyond expectations, proving the band was anything but short on inspiration. And so, at this point, waiting three and a half years for a new collection from the world’s greatest anti-rock band doesn’t seem like much to ask. We are assured that when Radiohead gets around to releasing something new, it will be brilliant, and well worth the wait.

Only I’m not so sure about The King Of Limbs yet…

I will stick with it for a long time before I give up on it, but I’ve listened to it a good seven or eight times since it was released last Friday, and I’m not convinced it measures up. A few thoughts:

  • It sounds more like what I would have expected from Thom Yorke as a second solo record, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The problem is that it doesn’t have the “massive” feel of the other Radiohead albums. It’s certainly not a “guitar” record.
  • There isn’t a “fireworks” track on this record. Think of “The National Anthem” or “Pyramid Song” or “There There” or “Reckoner.” There’s no moment of unfathomable greatness that explodes from the speakers, blowing your mind. Perhaps The King Of Limbs is more about restraint than catharsis.
  • Eight tracks? Surely there’s more where this came from?
  • I hate to say it, but many of the tracks seem like they would have been better as b-sides. Of course, Radiohead are a great b-sides band.
  • For crying out loud, will they ever release “Follow Me Around” and “Lift” as studio recordings?

I will say that The King Of Limbs is growing on me though. I don’t think it will ever measure up to In Rainbows or Kid A in my mind, but there’s at least one track that’s undeniably brilliant (“Codex”), and a handful of other lovely moments (“Give Up The Ghost”). I’m going to suspend judgment on this one until I’ve given it the hearing that Radiohead deserve.

Listening Log: New Radiohead Saturday

Thom Yorke Jonny Greenwood LP8

New Radiohead = Live-Blogging Event

I’ll be live-blogging my first-listen experience of Radiohead‘s new LP, The King of Limbs, on Saturday. Stop by and leave your thoughts!

Quick Review (LP): III: Arcade Dynamics by Ducktails

ducktails arcade dynamics Ducktails
Ducktails III: Arcade Dynamics
Woodsist; 2011

My Rating: B

Best Tracks: “Hamilton Road”, “Sunset Liner”, “Little Window”, “In The Swing”

If you follow this here music weblog, you know that I love me some Real Estate, so it should come as no surprise that I decided to give the third long-player from Ducktails, Real Estater Matthew Mondanile’s side project, a look-see. What we have here sounds essentially like demo workouts aimed at future Real Estate recordings. Now, I don’t know that that’s what these really are, but perhaps it’s better to say that this record demonstrates that Mondanile is no mere hired-hand. Is it good? It’s certainly not as solid as the material we’ve seen from Real Estate thus far, but it does have its moments.  “Hamilton Road” in particular is a pleasant bit of breezy, backporch bliss, and the rest of the record’s hazy, dreamy tunes approximate some of the less captivating (but nonetheless enjoyable) moments on Real Estate‘s Reality EP. I think it’s pertinent to say that over the course of six or seven listens, I most enjoyed partaking in this on the heels of Chris Bell‘s I Am The Cosmos. To that end, I think it’s best to view Arcade Dynamics as sort of a “back down to earth” record. For a bedroom effort, that’s par for the course, and if you’re a Real Estate fan (and if you’re not you should be), then give this one a shot.

AMG review
Pitchfork review
Bowlegs Music review
Sputnik Music review

Back shortly…

I’ll be back by the end of this week. Big paper due and all…

For now, enjoy a great old jam and a hilariously dated video:

Quick Review (LP): Together by New Pornographers

File:The New Pornographers - Together.jpgNew Pornographers
Together LP
Matador; 2010

My Rating: A

Standout Tracks: “The Crash Years”, “Silver Jenny Dollar”, “Bite Out of My Bed”

Let’s see…five albums in now. This should have been the epic fail, right? Not so. Instead, they’ve achieved a fantastic synthesis of the polite baroque rock of Challengers and the rocket-fueled zounds! pop of everything before that. It boasts some of their best work (Case is on another plane of existence here), and turns out to be the most consistent album from liftoff to crash landing they’ve yet made. High on melody, high on spark, high on all of the things that go to make heaven and earth. RiYL: anything they’ve done in the past, Destroyer, A.C. Newman, powerful power pop, Neko Case.

band website
Pitchfork review
Myspace page

Rockumentary: A Few Thoughts on Hype!


Over the last few nights, I’ve had the nostalgic pleasure of indulging myself in the mid-90’s rockumentary Hype! It’s basically an exploration of the Seattle-scene phenomenon of the late-80’s and early-90’s, and while the whole “grunge” style is a bit dated at this point, I was happy to see the movie and music it covers really isn’t. A few (random) thoughts:

— There is something beautiful about the community of youth, art, and music that rises up in cities like Seattle. I was lucky enough to witness the Louisville, KY scene of the mid-90’s. The scene always goes through a phase of inflation where everybody wants a share, but the core community of “believers” always seems to survive and keep making music that only they care about. I wonder if this has stayed true in Seattle, or if the grunge movement, and subsequent successes of Death Cab and Sub Pop-acts like The Shins & Fleet Foxes has “ruined” the Seattle-scene?

— I really appreciated that the movie didn’t “preach” about the way money ruins everything. It’s definitely there as a theme,  but it’s almost handled as something to get over, an inevitable fact of life.

— I now officially miss the Pacific Northwest like crazy. The scenery played a huge part in making this such an authentic film. It really feels home-grown and true to the spirit of the region. The greater Seattle area is simply one of the most glorious places in the world.

— Come to think of it, I’d love to see a sequel to this film at some point, especially representing latter day successes like Death Cab For Cutie, Fleet Foxes, and Modest Mouse. There continues to be a steady stream of  great bands issuing from this region (especially when you include Vancouver, BC), so it would be interesting as a continued exploration of what makes the kids tick up there.

— Post-to-come: My Top 10 Pacific Northwest LP’s.

Check out a clip of the film here:

On standby for now…

Time has come to put this little project on indefinite hold. I will be back eventually, so don’t erase me from your favorites list, but I just don’t have the time necessary to dedicate to writing 5+ quality posts per week right now.

Thanks to the several thousand visitors who have somehow stumbled upon me in the last 2-3 months. Pls do check back every now and then!

By the way, I will be continuing the Worldwide Breezes feed here. And don’t be surprised if I post a list or two every once in a while just for the fun of it.

Weekly Review Roundup 8/29/2009

Radiohead’s Top 12 Non-Album Tracks…
10 to 12
7 to 9
4 to 6
1 to 3

Other reviews:

R.E.M., Out of Time
The Fire Theft, The Fire Theft
Dinosaur Jr., Beyond

Coming next week:
– a look back at one of my top tracks of the decade (the first in a series that will produce my top 20 or so)
– CD reviews of:

  • Modest Mouse’s  This is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About
  • Mark Knopfler’s Golden Heart
  • Nathan’s Key Principles
  • Fleet Foxes’ self-titled debut

One of the greatest rock tracks of all time…

Wish I could’ve seen these guys back in ’83, but I was 4…

August 5th, 2009

Thanks for dropping by! Why not drop a few comments while you’re here…

– New reviews today: Radiohead’s Kid A; Fleet Foxes Sun Giant EP.

– Paste’s The 20 Best U2 Songs of All Time. (Coming tomorrow here – The 20 Best Non-Single U2 Songs of All Time)

Good review of Wilco (the Album) over at Chromewaves; contrast with mine.

– UPDATE: How come this isn’t all over the place: NEW RADIOHEAD DOWNLOAD!