Tag Archives: Thom Yorke

A-Moon-Shaped-Pool

A new Radiohead record is always a special event and after a particularly long absence nothing sounds better. I’ve listened to little else since A Moon Shaped Pool went live and I don’t see that changing any time soon. This time around they’ve managed to strike the perfect balance between personal and progressive, fleshing out songs that have been marinating for as long as 15 years. Radiohead’s sound has always seemed more important than Thom’s lyrics. There are Radiohead songs that I love, have listened to countless times, but couldn’t tell you two verses of lyrics with a gun to my head. This time around, likely inspired by Thom’s separation from his partner of 23 years Rachel Owen, the lyrics hold a greater amount of weight. Thom, and by extension the band, often operate from a safe distance but these songs feel different – more open, more specific – character traits that add significantly to their strength. The other big textural shift is Jonny Greenwood’s growth as a composer and the addition of the London Contemporary Orchestra on the majority of tracks. Radiohead are no strangers to the grand flourish of a string section but the contributions here are at times more subtle and more complete. The power that these musicians have to offer is better utilized within the landscape of a typical Radiohead song and sometimes, like with lead single “Burn the Witch”, built around that talent. Because many of the songs were plucked from different eras it may be the band’s least comprehensive album. The fact that the songs are organized alphabetically rather than to create a certain energy or tone may be their own acknowledgement of this. The album’s structure also has the fortunate consequence of making you want to reexamine their impressive back catalog, especially the b-sides, with fresh ears after you realize that a good idea or song owes no debt to a release date. Regardless of how you process the record, A Moon Shaped Pool is a rich, fulfilling experience and another impressive addition to their legendary discography.

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Daily inspiration.

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Thom-Yorke-Tomorrows-Modern-Boxes

Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes appeared out of nowhere on Friday and sounds more like a series of sketches than fully-fleshed songs but any new material from Thom Yorke is going to get my undivided attention. I’m left wondering if these are tracks pulled from the archives or new stuff he’s been working on with Nigel Godrich. Either way, it’s a nice surprise.

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AtomsLast week I got to see Thom Yorke’s new project Atoms For Peace play in both Philly and Brooklyn and couldn’t have left more impressed. Back in 2010 at NYC’s Roseland Ballroom I saw what now seems like a rehearsal for the band as a concept and even though those shows were amazing this latest version is much more advanced. The band is comprised of Thom on vocals, piano and guitar, producer and multi-instrumentalist Nigel Godrich, drummer Joey Waronker, percussionist Mauro Refosco and of course Flea on bass. This is a group of master musicians clearly enjoying the chance to do something new. The set list was the same both nights, made up of songs from the Atoms album Amok and Thom’s Eraser solo work but in this setting the material is transformed into something completely different. These versions are stretched out and loose but far too precise not to be rehearsed. The sound is big and edgy with a clear desire to push them as far as they will go. To say that Flea brings a unique energy is an obvious understatement. His presence on stage pushes the other guys, including Thom who seems to enjoy the charged back and forth. Radiohead has always had an impressive light show as part of their stage set up and the lights here were equally impressive, synching perfectly to both match and elevate the mood of the music. Highlights for me included “The Clock”, “Cymbal Rush” and “Harrowdown Hill” as well as the pairing of a piano-driven version of “Ingenue” with album highlight “Stuck Together Pieces”. It was also cool to hear Thom revive his collaboration with DJ Shadow, “Rabbit in the Headlights” from way back in the Mo Wax days – something I think most fans never thought they’d hear live. People must not be that familiar with the name of the band because there were empty seats at both shows in venues that Radiohead or RHCP could likely sell out in less than an hour. This was a unique experience and one I’m not sure will happen again so I was happy to be able to catch a pair of shows on their short tour run. Shout to my Super Fan partners who tripled up and caught them again in DC on Monday.

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Thom-YorkeI’ve never been a big fan of Alec Baldwin but he’s able to get a surprisingly revealing interview during this recent conversation with Thom Yorke on his Here’s The Thing show for NPR. I found it reassuring to hear Yorke talking honestly about the constant battle to find a balance of happiness and sanity while feeding your creative impulses. For someone so accomplished he maintains a very grounded point of view and offers up a series of funny quotes about everything from politics to celebrity stalking to how he formed Radiohead. Of course they also get around to talking about Thom’s latest project Atoms For Peace.

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ThomDazed Digital published a rare and revealing cover story on Radiohead and Atoms For Peace superhero Thom Yorke today.  Amok lives up to the hype, on repeat and likely to stay that way for at least a month.

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Uni of YorkeI’ve really enjoyed these Uni of Yorke pieces Dazed Digital has been posting this week to coincide with their Thom Yorke/Atoms For Peace cover story. Getting artists to submit questions is a clever idea and one that seems to have drawn some interesting results from the typically guarded genius. The Dazed reboot has given the site a refreshing new look backed with quality content. I’ve gone back several times recently and been consistently impressed.

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Radiohead rewarded fans who purchased The King of Limbs with a two song digital bonus (originally available as a Record Store Day 7″). Both “Supercollider” and “The Butcher” fit right into the mode/mood of the album and could have been included without any complaint from me. After having The King of Limbs playing consistently for the better part of two months it reminds me more and more of Thom Yorke’s infamous quote, “We’re like The United Nations. And I’m America.” His influence is such a major component of this record that many of these songs could have been released under his own name and I wouldn’t have blinked an eye. These two are no different but I’ll take new material in any size, color or shape.

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There is a certain group of artists (Dilla, Four Tet, Thom Yorke) that never cease to amaze me. I’m interested in just about everything they do and am always excited for the next fork in the road. Burial has been in that category for me since the first time I heard his music. New 12″ Street Halo out on the mighty Hyperdub label this week. Stolen Dog is the highlight for me.

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Too great not to re-post: Thom Yorke at the Louvre, Paris.

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