Monday, February 28, 2011

Album Review: "The King Of Limbs" by Radiohead

I like Radiohead. I wrote a thing about Radiohead once, but that was like three years ago so I would recommend you not click on that link I just took the time to link. I figure maybe I should tell you what I feel about The King Of Limbs because if I could single out one thing the internet is sorely lacking, it is opinions about Radiohead.

I haven't listened through King Of Limbs in a couple of days but I remember it being good to the ears. Right now I am listening to Tusk by Fleetwood Mac and I kind of don't feel like turning it off to listen to King Of Limbs again. So in summary, the new Radiohead album is pretty good, but not good enough to make you want to stop Tusk just to hear it again for review purposes.


Aha, OK! Just joshin ya. Hey! You remember how In Rainbows was kind of hushed and mellow most of the time, to the point where Sean Rose sorta didn't care about it for a while until maybe a few months ago and now he likes it a lot for the most part? King Of Limbs is kinda like that, only with a lotta less guitars. Less melodies, too. One might be tempted to label it a throwback to their Kid A/Amnesiac creeper-mood period, but that isn't quite the case here. King Of Limbs sounds different - the emotional stakes are lower, I guess. Yorke's vocals blend with the music more. Kid A was all about pushing the listener into despairing, uncomfortable territory; King Of Limbs just kind of sifts through you, to the point where you will probably not remember most of it until you have forced yourself to listen to it a few times. Give it a few gos. I am not going to deny that it is an album that sounds good, though.

I'm starting to realize that I am not very good at describing music at all. Kind of a problem when music is the only thing I feel comfortable writing about, correct?? "The drums are good." "Creepy electronics all over the place sound creepy." "I like the guitary guitars on this guitar-driven track." This is something I am going to work on.

You know what's a great song? "Give Up The Ghost." OOh, it's like Thom Yorke and Sean Rose are sitting alone in the woods together, reminiscing about our favorite Charlie one-liners in Two And A Half Men. Hey, "Separator," who likes that pretty blippy guitar line near the end?? That's the aural equivalent of Thom Yorke and Sean Rose sharing a chocolate malted at Margie's and imitating our favorite exasperated Jon Cryer facial expressions from Two And A Half Men's landmark third season. "Morning Mr. Magpie"? That's like a third joke about Thom Yorke and Sean Rose talking about Two And A Half Men.

OK, I just made a mistake and started reading that old Radiohead post I linked and I need to point something out before I forget about it. Because, seriously:

"...the fact that they're the choice 'progressive' band for Sublime-loving frat boys only makes matters worse."

Where in God's name did I get this from? What does this even mean? "Sublime-loving frat boys"?? Yikes. I must have been mad at somebody. I must have had a crush on a lady. Something was up. You have to understand - I like to make rash generalizations about things I know nothing about. So what happened here was, I probably saw an In Rainbows poster in the dorm room of some dude I wasn't fond of, and then I sat down and wrote a blog post about it. I was 21 when I wrote that, for Christ's sake! That's something a 16-year-old shouldn't write.

In conclusion, The King Of Limbs is the music album equivalent of Two And A Half Men's tragic cancellation. What else needs to be said?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Album Review: "Urban Hymns" by the Verve

I have no idea if anybody reading this post now has been following this blog since the early, mostly forgettable days of 2007 (if you haven't then you are better off for it, certainly). If you have, you might remember an old New Radicals review in which I referred to Gregg Alexander's songs as "Big Important Anthems," a descriptor that I thought was a real hum-dinger at the time. But in retrospect the term is much more appropriate in describing another hallmark of the ever-optimistic late 90s: The Verve's Urban Hymns.

For god's sake - Urban Hymns!! That is the actual name of the record. Richard Ashcroft is wearing a bucket hat on the cover. This might be the most intensely late-90s alt rock product ever conceived.

I have no idea why I am writing about this record. Besides nostalgia, of course. I bought Urban Hymns the weekend after my 18th birthday alongside Pinkerton. The latter hit me hard as a vulnerable teenager and has only built in reputation since, becoming my personal adolescent-idiot-bible every time I come back to it. Urban Hymns, on the other hand, has not aged quite as well and I kind of forgot about it for a few years after I graduated high school. But now I view it as kind of a strange predecessor to my eventual (and very brief) obsession with Britpop during my freshman year of college, even if it isn't a particularly Britpoppy record.

Hey! Did you know that 1997 was apparently the Year Britpop Died according to most renowned music historians? Oasis put out that big fat cocainey mess Be Here Now and everybody simultaneously realized they were a bunch of cockmen. Radiohead did OK Computer and the Verve did Urban Hymns which precluded the mellower British sounds of Travis and Coldplay. Blur fell in love with Pavement alla the sudden and did "Song 2". None of this is important.

What do you get with Urban Hymns. You get a bunch of heavily-produced 90s ballads about drugs probably, sharing album space with some vague psychedelia and some attempts at "rocking" that are not particularly thrilling. Not to mention way, wayy too long - "The Rolling People" and "Come On" are not nearly good enough to justify 7 and 15 minutes, respectively. Good lord!! Urban Hymns suffers from that unfortunate 90s tendency to fill up 80 minutes of CD space with a bunch of 3-minute tracks stretched out to 5 or 6 minutes each, making for a needlessly overlong behemoth (see also: Michael Jackson's Dangerous, R.E.M.'s New Adventures In Hi-Fi).

But I would be a bona-fide lying man if I told you the ballads on here do not turn me into a blubbering fool every time I play them. The impact of the big hit "Bittersweet Symphony" has kind of dulled over time for me, but hey. "Space And Time"? "Lucky Man"? "The Drugs Don't Work"? "One Day"? Hoo-jeez. You would be hard-pressed to find alt-rock ballads more expertly manipulative. Big Important Anthems that make you want to hug a man hard. If you don't have a nostalgic connection to this kind of music like I do you might just think it's a load of syrupy bullshit, and you would probably be right. End of review.

I have been living in Chicago for almost a year now. I just recently got a job, so. Now I'm stuck here. Don't think that I'm bitter about this, because I am a happy happy man, having a job that involves me getting paid. This is nothing but good. But I hate listening to music like this because all I think about is home. Of course, there's nothing left for me at home now besides my family - all my friends are off doing better things, and good for them. After I moved back home after college I had a boring job for a year and never left my house, and I was miserable. But fucking music like this, it makes me feel like there is something left back home, and I am abandoning it every second I am not there. It's stupid, stupid. A total lie. Why would I put myself through this??

It's trash. Manipulative garbage. You're better off with Coldplay. Fuck you!!

i am never going to write a decent review ever again