I have been meaning to write about Tyler, The Creator and the whole Odd Future phenomenon for a while. Originally I was planning to feature ‘Yonkers‘ as part of our Weekend Videos feature but by the time I got to see the video it had already racked 6 million hits.
Surely there weren’t that many more people still left I thought and I was wrong because the video now stands at over double that somewhere in the region of 13 million hits. Not bad for an LA skater kid with a questionable attitude.
You may be familiar with Amp Live for his reworking of some of the best moments from Radiohead‘s ‘In Rainbows‘ album. Personally I completely loved him for the work done on Cougar favourites WHY? and their catalogue.
In any case he has gone and joined forces with Jazz Mafia to recreate these interesting re-runs from ‘Goblin‘. I had been wondering how long it would take before some decent remixes from would pop out, I just didn’t expect something like this to be made.
Last week modern gods Radiohead also got themselves involved in the Record Store Day shenanigans releasing 2 new tracks from the ‘The King Of Limbs‘ sessions. Both ‘Supercollider‘ and ‘The Butcher‘ would be potential singles, rather than outtakes, for lesser bands.
Our reviews of ‘King Of Limbs‘ as well as The Strokes recent ‘Angles‘ album sparked an interesting discussion at Cougar Microbes HQ. The problem for bands such as Radiohead or The Strokes is that have given us, in my opinion, two of the best albums of all time early in their careers.
As fans we always come back to these and therefore expect so much from them. It seems that we are never satisfied and this is because we inevitably compare every subsequent release with the raw diamond that will inherently never be reproduced, and this is to point out that we sometimes fail to appreciate great music just because it is not another ‘Last Nite‘ or ‘Karma Police‘ .
Going through reviews for both these releases I found it almost impossible to find one which did not refer to the both band’s “golden egg“. It is as if we were asking them to recreate ‘Ok Computer‘ and ‘Is This It‘ over and over again, but in that case would these albums be as special as they are?
Back in the summer of 2009 I caught Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros storm through their first London performance in the intimate surroundings of The Lexington in North London. Their debut album ‘Up From Below’ was already a regular fixture on my ipod and would deservedly end up as this sites number one album of the year. That night it was immediately obvious to me and the 100 or so people in attendance that we were witnessing something very very special and, dare I say it, spiritual.
In the time since the multi-membered musical cult have played shows across the planet charming and seducing new audiences along the way. Their name has been steadily rising as the music press and blogs began to pay attention helped in no small amount, I’m sure, by the mass appeal of standout track ‘Home‘. My immediate fear when I found out about these upcoming London performances was that some of the intimacy I had observed back in August would be lost on a larger audience.
The counter argument of course is that that that their heightened success has given the band the freedom to further their creative ideas. Ideas like playing 5 consecutive nights at The Old Vic Tunnels for example….
As far as London goes I haven’t experienced many venues as concealed as this one. It took us a good twenty minutes to find despite it only being 5 minutes from Waterloo. On any other day this may have resembled one of the many graffiti blanketed passages in the area but a throng of people outside as well as a massive Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros mural were kind of a giveaway.
Walking into the venue we were presented with a carnivalesque mood with performers and art installations all around. After being frisked by some alien cops (and being rewarded with sweets for it) we wandered around the venue stumbling across one crazy happening after the next. In between massive moon and sun effigies and wandering characters we witnessed a Mardi Gras style funeral whilst avoiding the overpriced beer in the Texan Tavern. The band were not due on stage for another hour but arguably we were already starting to get value for our money.
All of these side shows would have counted for little if the music had not been up to scratch and that was soon put to the test. With the introductory sounds of ‘Janglin’, the band’s de facto anthem, playing over the PA the 10 or so members began zigzagging their way right through the audience to reach the front. With an outbreak of smiles hitting both the stage and the audience the band burst into their first number and I was reminded of what made me fall in love with The Magnetic Zeros to begin with.
The band effortlessly reeled off big tracks like ‘Up From Below’, ‘Carries On’ and a spooky rendition of ‘Desert Song’ inducing mass sing-alongs at every possible occasion. Their sound has seemingly evolved after constantly tourign so that these songs appear to be much bigger and much more of a collective effort in comparison to the recorded versions.
This impression of cohesion and harmony was reinforced by a succession of band members lining up to play “their” songs. This gave us a chance to hear a new song fronted by cool as ice guitarist Christian as well as a sweet Simon & Garfunkel like number titled ‘Every Part Of You’ by excitable pianist Aaron. The highlight of course was hearing the amazing Jade Castrinos deliver a spine chilling rendition of ‘Fire & Water’ which was previously released only on their ‘Itunes Sessions’ EP. With so many talented musicians and vocalists on stage every song culminates in an explosion of melody and energy.
No Edward Sharpe review would be complete without a mention of frontman Alex Ebert. Even in those moments when he is not directly involved in the singing you feel you can’t take your eyes off of him. The shamanistic singer guided his band mates and the crowd throughout the night creating a very real connection. Spending a good portion of the set in the middle of the dance floor he is, as ever, the charismatic cult leader shepherding his followers along the path to ultimate enlightenment.
A brilliant rendition of ’40 Day Dream’ peaks and soars but by this point you got the feeling that half the crowd were waiting for one thing in particular. Of course they wouldn’t be disappointed as the familiar guitar and whistle intro of ‘Home’ eliciting a huge cheer. I fear that this may someday become the band’s equivalent to Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ but for now they still manage to play it with gusto. Compared to the last time I saw them there was noticeably less interaction between the protagonists Alex and Jade as they sung they parts. As a result the song took on a spiritual significance rather than a romantic one but was not worse off for it.
With the glorious notes of ‘Om Nashi Me’ ringing around the venue this would have been a fitting conclusion to a brilliant night but The Magnetic Zeros had more yet more surprises in store. After inviting the audience to a serving of milk and cookies (yes, really!) on the way out they continue continue playing for an extra hour or so just outside the venue surrounded by hundreds of new and old adoring fans.
It would have be sufficient to just show up and play a few songs but once again it feels like I have subscribed to a complete audio-visual experience. It’s precisely this willingness to always go the extra mile that makes this crazy talented bunch a true delight to witness live.
More than anything I get the feeling that Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros are having fun doing what they are doing and most of all having fun being together. Perhaps that is the secret to their magic.
If you wanted to see Thom Yorkegetting his groove on without a care in world then the video for ‘Lotus Flower‘ comes at the right time . Radiohead had already been featured on Weekend Videos in the past with their fantastic video for ‘Just‘ but with the internet going crazy over the release of ‘The Kings Of Limbs‘ here is a perfect track to kick off your weekend.
A new Radiohead album is an extremely loaded writing subject: few bands have the weight of expectation on them quite so heavily with each new release, a fact which the band have exploited amply this time by announcing a digital release date at the eleventh hour (with no press promos available) and then moving the release forward a day, unannounced, catching all those snoozing writers unawares, sending them running for their laptops to hastily publish their half formed opinions before their peers.
The record itself, available from the band’s website for £6, sounds, on first listen like standard Radiohead fare, if there is such a thing. The album is strong on atmosphere and dynamics, awash with echoey brass, strings and piano, and interspersed with a couple of propulsive, urgent tunes that pick up the pace just when you feel a little more movement might be needed. It feels as though it has a little more continuity, coherence and musical narrative than In Rainbows, but isn’t necessarily a return to the festival sing-along anthems that litter ‘The Bends‘ and ‘OK Computer’.
In short, the album, on first listen, sounds beautifully and thoughtfully crafted with an emphasis on dynamic shape rather, perhaps than anthems or brain-burrowing hooks. As ‘In Rainbows‘ proved though, nailing your colours to the mast on the first listen of a Radiohead album is a mug’s game: expect these tunes to insinuate themselves into your subconscious slowly and quietly with repeated listens.
Guest post by the erudite Pete, check out his blog.
One Eyed Jacks were never going to be boring with a name inspired by David Lynch‘s seminal Twin Peaks series. Having recently released their debut EP ‘In Memory…‘ the boys are now taking on a bunch of live dates around England including a recent Proud Galleries show.
When the London quintet are firing on all cylinders they can bring to mind an amalgamation of The Coral and The National and even a bit of early Radiohead.
Sombre tones and layered guitars are slowly unveiled in dream like crescendos offering to take the listener on a sonic journey. Strap yourself in.
Radioheadhave always been associated with great videos in their career. Whether it is the haunting ‘Karma Police‘ or the incredible ‘Street Spirit‘ you get a feeling the Oxford legends always go the extra mile with their video outpout.
The one that has struck me the most was their video for ‘Just‘ off of the brilliant ‘The Bends‘ album. The first time I saw it I thought I needed a TV repair job in that spot where the song goes quiet for a few seconds.
I wonder if what the man whispers is that the future Prime Minister and deputy would both share a love for the band. That might have been enough to spark off what happened next.
ERROR OPERATOR is the alter ego for a renowned House/Electro DJ & Producer from London who prefers to remain anonymous. So much so that it was hard to find out much information even about his upcoming album ‘Mistakes‘. From the few tracks I have heard I can say his downtempo electronica is masterfully delivered.
Likewise his remixes for the likes of Passion Pit, Does It Offend You, Yeah, UNKLE and Radiohead add a spectral quality to the mixes.