Thom Yorke – Suspiria

At this point, almost anything connected to the Radiohead name / brand will receive glowing reviews, accolades by those “in the know”, and give indie elitists a reason to feel like an indie elitist. Which really doesn’t make any sense – Radiohead are one of the biggest bands in the world, ever. It’s always been a a bit of a curious thing that makes me laugh. Anyway, when I read that Thom Yorke was scoring the soundtrack to the remake of the film Suspiria I was intrigued. Not so much by the original 70’s film’s history or soundtrack and how the new film and Yorke’s soundtrack would compare. I was wondering how Yorke’s soundtrack work would compare to Jonny Greenwood’s – his partner in Radiohead who has made a name for himself as a film soundtrack composer.

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My Favorite Albums of 2016

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Another year gone by, another year filled with musical delights. We lost quite a few musical legends starting in December of 2015 – Scott Weiland, Lemmy Kilmister, David Bowie, Prince, Sharon Jones, Leonard Cohen, and George Michael to name just a few (and let’s not mention an overall list of artists who have left us in 2016). I lost my Aunt unexpectedly back in February the morning after attending a Black Sabbath show. The year was filled with unexpected highs and unexpected lows for me. As with anything in life, sometimes you have to feel bad to feel good (and vice versa). I made some friends, lost some friends, and reconnected with some old friends. Throughout it all, I had music playing. Here are my top albums of 2016:

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Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool

Radiohead

The latest album by Radiohead arrived after a series of mysterious events relating to the band. The band’s website faded away, social media accounts went dark, and mysterious cards went out to fans. All culminating in the release of A Moon Shaped Pool. The two songs and videos that had been released – Burn the Witch and Daydreaming – only hinted at the brilliance contained within. Gone are the grunge indebted guitars as well as most of the inscrutable electronic exercises. In their stead are songs seeped in English folk, motorik krautrock, and a deep sense of middle-aged sadness. For me personally, it is an album that I can relate to on a deeper level. After a dozen spins or so, I have no problem stating that this is my favorite Radiohead album since 2001’s AmnesiacWith a band like Radiohead it can be a slippery slope to navigate. They’ve steadfastly presented themselves as outsiders, even whilst having their every move analyzed by tens of millions of fans. It’s an interesting position to be in – perhaps the most unusual in Rock n Roll history. When you are in that situation it is easy for reviewers to have long-winded philosophical discussions about what the band is trying to convey. And sometimes, an analysis of the music falls by the wayside. Make no mistake, A Moon Shaped Pool would stand on its own with or without Radiohead’s complicated history.

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Radiohead – Street Spirit (Fade Out)

Radiohead-Street_Spirit_(Fade_Out)_(CD_Single)-Frontal

Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

Radiohead easily could have ended up as 1 hit wonders from the 90’s based on their hit single Creep from the debut album, Pablo Honey. Angst filled lyrics, Nirvana-esque music – it was a perfect single that embodied the early to mid 90’s. The Bends – released in 1995 – was a reintroduction of sorts. A progressive element seeped into the music, with the abrasive songs balanced out by haunting melodic gems. Street Spirit was the 3rd single lifted from the record, and the 1st Top 5 UK hit for the band. For me, this song embodies everything that Radiohead would become over the next 20 years. Ghostly & emotional vocals by Thom Yorke backed by a band firing on all cylinders. The guitar refrain has to be one of the most haunting riffs Radiohead has ever created. In fact – I’ll go so far as to say that this remains my favorite Radiohead song. The lyrics present a contradiction of sorts, bleakness followed by the light. “All these things into position / All these things we’ll one day swallow whole / And fade out again and fade out again / Immerse your soul in love”. The video for the track adds to the emotional resonance of the song (embedded below). As a side note, my 2nd favorite Radiohead song is Talk Show Host – a b-side to the original single release of Street Spirit (Fade Out). It also succeeds admirably in creating its own atmospheric universe of isolation. Both tracks can be found on the deluxe reissue of The Bends.

Radiohead – The Daily Mail / Staircase

Radiohead have always been a bit of a polarizing band in the indie elitist music community. I view them as the music world’s version of Apple Computers – have a bit of an outsider feel to them, absolutely the best at what they do, and really, really successful. As much as I love almost everything Radiohead has released (with the exception of most of Pablo Honey), the reviews ushered forth from other “indie” music websites were so laughable in their utter fan-boy adulation for ANYTHING Radiohead released it honestly made me a bit Radiohead jaded. For all of the praise on Thom Yorke’s lyrics, consider this comparison:

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