Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Countdown to Radiohead's "In Rainbows"

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

Sorry for the lack of updates--I was out of town over the weekend and had midterms this week.

Tomorrow (or, within a couple of hours), Radiohead's album, "In Rainbows", will be released. Here are just a couple of tracks that you may not have ever heard by the band that I think you'll find enjoyable.

"Maquiladora" (off of the "High and Dry" single)
This song seems to have nothing to do with the subject matter of Mexican maquiladoras
and everything to do with rocking out--the song was released during the bands "The Bends" period, which was full of straightforward rock songs. The guitar lines in the pre-chorus ("beautiful kids in the beautiful bubbles") are so incredible, and the song just transcends the generic radio rock song because of Thom's powerful voice and the band's strange instrumentation. Jonny really thrashes here.

"Blow Out" (off of Pablo Honey)
Akin to "Permanent Daylight" in that they both seem to be Sonic Youth/My Bloody Valentine homages, "Blow Out" rides along softly for it's first half, with Ed playing the guitar in a way that makes it sound like a bell. Of course, this tranquility doesn't last long, and the band really ratchets up the noise and urgency--and Thom's screaming "I am scared/Just in case I blow out" is incredibly prophetic of his own life later on in life (he "blows out" on the Bends tour, blacking out on stage and having to be pulled off). "Everything I touch...turns to stone" is such an incredibly self-loathing line that is both poetic and putrid. The ending, which sounds like a million bees being unleashed on a city, is absolutely mind-numbing. Yes, this is an album track, but this is the band's "hated" first album, and this track gets glossed over far too often.

"Go to Sleep" (Live at Glastonbury)

This is not one of my favorite Radiohead songs ever per se (and it is off the abysmal "Hail to the Thief"), but it includes what may be Jonny's best solo--ever. On the album version, the solo is pretty non-descript and sounds like any other Telecaster prattling about. However, we all know Jonny loves toying with things, and on this song, he runs his guitar through his computer and has a program set up that mathematically randomizes the delay time and delay feedback of his guitar signal. Of course, he has it set so that there is a range in which the signal is affected, but the solo is always incredibly different, and often uncontrollable. Start listening at 2:35. It just sounds like the most amazing thing ever--I mean, what other mainstream band could artistically and tastefully fit the noise of a computer crashing into one of its songs?

"Meeting in the Aisles" (off of the "No Surprises/Running from Demons" EP)
Much was written about the band's embrace of electronica when it put "Kid A" out. However, the band had been experimenting with synths, glitch and ambiance much earlier, as evidenced by this song. The song features one of Phil Selway's jazzy drum lines and is played over by delayed and tremoloed guitar. Thom is absent here, and rightfully so--he knows when to step back from the mic. I figured that this would be a good "go to sleep" song for all of you--just a few more hours before "In Rainbows" is unleashed upon us all!