Saturday, February 19, 2011

The King Of Limbs :::: Radiohead

     Over the years Radiohead has built such a vast and devoted cult following that their new album releases are easily among the most highly anticipated in the world. They're also developing a reputation for being music magicians when it comes to announcing their new albums. The announcement of In Rainbows, Radiohead's 2007 release, was mysteriously preceded by short messages on their website, which included X's in the text, ten days before the album's release day of October 10th. Their latest release was an even deeper kept secret and a major surprise when they suddenly posted a Valentine's Day message on their website simply reading "Thank You For Waiting", which was a link to another website where the grand announcement of Radiohead's new album, The King Of Limbs, was adorned with two options to purchase, as well as news that, if purchased, the buyer will be able to download the album in it's entirety a prompt 5 days later on February 19th! The surprise just got sweeter when the link to download went live a day early!
     So what does such a progressively creative and innovative band do to follow its own arguably perfect previous album? Radiohead tends to musically answer this question with "something different!". The King Of Limbs (tKoL) follows the band's trend in slightly tweaking their sound from one album to the next. Of course, for the most part, the songs still sound like the Radiohead we've all come to love and obsess over.
     The first two tracks off tKoL sound like they could be (and for all we know might be) B-sides from Thom Yorke's 2006 solo record The Eraser. Track 2 especially, "Morning Mr Magpie" shares the same sort of guitar tone used on that album.  Obviously this is completely appropriate and just reaffirms how much Yorke has a hand in writing the songs in Radiohead. This point was actually perceived in the inverse situation, realizing Yorke's influence on Radiohead upon hearing The Eraser. That point aside, track 1, "Bloom", and 2, "Morning Mr Magpie", will surely begin the hypnotism process that comes with listening to brand new Radiohead music. They subdue listeners to that perfect state of consciousness where you're relaxed and ready for anything. Perfect timing for track 3, "Little By Little". This is one of those Radiohead songs that have that suave affect, almost making the listener feel cool from the smooth, but intricate beat, accompanied by some mellow, but bold guitar riffs and all topped off with Thom Yorke's ethereal vocals. A couple tracks later we reach what i suppose would be considered the single from tKoL, "Lotus Flower". If you weren't completely in a trance yet this one should put you over the top. The verses are a soft sort of funk that will make you wiggle and the choruses are sweet enough to bring tears to some. The following couple tracks slow the pace down, "Codex" involving some of Yorke's soft piano playing to accentuate his beautiful voice and "Give Up The Ghost" which is just him, his guitar, and his own sampled voice on an infectious loop. It sounds like it would make a great last impression song but Radiohead hits you with one more fun, upbeat song with classic Phil Selway drums, twinkling guitars and Colin's playful, rhythmic bass.
     Overall i would say The King Of Limbs is a calming and even-keel experience. The songs don't tend to build to intense extremes as some of Radiohead's past songs may have, nor would i classify any of them as "fast", however, every one of them is a masterpiece of pure musical beauty. If I had to make a comparison to a previous Radiohead album I would say the songs most closely relate to the album Amnesiac, but the likeness is only small reminders in select songs. Radiohead successfully reinvent themselves with every new record and, at the same time, sound unique to their own signature sound. My only complaint is that there are only a total of 8 tracks on The King Of Limbs. Here's hoping these magicians of music surprise us with more euphoric tunes very soon.

Favorite Tracks: Little By Little, Lotus Flower, Codex

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Appendage EP :::: Circa Survive

     There are MANY-a-band in history that fall into the category of "their older stuff is the best". Circa Survive is an obvious example of this label. A band matures with it's members and as a result, their sound will change. It is inevitable. Circa has undoubtedly lost a lot of fans as they simplified their songs and took their time recording and tweaking them. Of course, inversely, they have gained many fans by writing songs that speak to a broader audience and not just [us] music elitists. There's also that special group of fans that have stuck with them since the beginning and can appreciate whatever music they may produce because it is still art, it is still flowing from the same creative minds and hearts, and it still rocks more than a lot of other crappy bands that are out there right now.
     That being said, Circa Survive's new EP, Appendage, is great! Most of the album has a fairly "poppy" sound, but it works. You can hear the maturity and growth in each track. Anthony's lyrics seem to describe advancing in life, human error, and looking forward to change, as opposed to fearing it. The first track, Sleep Undergroud, is mellow and drumless. As a "demo" it has a sort of raw sound to it, which gives [us] original fans hope that Circa hasn't forgotten their roots; Especially when Anthony's classic backup vocals kick in, sounding beautifully raw and slightly disconnected. The way they used to throw his random self-harmonies in the background of the songs just added to his already mysterious and emotional vocal style. The effect is often apparent in his own Avalon album.
     The next two tracks have that very ear-pleasing quality that makes you nod along and possibly even project the word "yes" into your mind. I previously mentioned them sounding "poppy" but by no means are they "bubblegum", so don't worry about putting your masculinity in jeopardy. Colin and Brendan are playing off one another's guitar parts more creatively than they previously had been on the last couple albums. On their 2007 album, Circa Survive - On Letting Go, the two of them began to separate from each other, defining more of a lead guitar and rhythm guitar relationship in the songs. On the next album, 2010's Blue Sky Noise, this trend continued, especially with the use of a slide on a few tracks, but there are also tracks displaying their unique playing styles, alone, or together. The tracks on this new EP clearly showcase this and help to further cement what each musician's personal and combined style is. The way they feed off each other's riffs is reminiscent of the song Act Appalled, a fan favorite track from Circa's 2005 debut LP, Junturna. 
     One can never count out the rhythm section on a Circa Survive album. Appendage is no exception. Nick's bass drives the songs. His over-driven bass sound provides the perfect platform for Brendan and Colin to do whatever they'd like to. His precise and perfect choice of notes seem glued to Steve's always cool and creative drumming. The two reek havoc on every song.
     While I am sure at least a couple, if not all of the songs from Appendage were written and likely recorded during the Blue Sky Noise session, they are unique to their own collection. The choice to weed them out from the final album bodes well for this Circa Survive fan. One can only hope they have more unreleased, B-side material that will be available to us soon, since we all know that, with any band, the B-sides that didn't make the album are always the sweetest songs.

Favorite tracks: Sleep Underground, Backmask

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Doesn't anyone care what I think??

Hello everyone.

Do you remember when myspace was cool?  Seems so long ago now, doesn't it?  Back then, I used my own myspace page to blog a few music reviews.  I very much enjoy music and very much enjoy writing as well.  I also enjoy forcing my opinion onto others, so that helps...  I've now decided that I will attempt to rekindle the flame that is my opinionated album reviews.  I hope you, or someone you know, will enjoy reading my blogs.  I may branch out into writing about my views on other arts (i.e.: movies, food) and maybe sometimes just writing random rants, but for now I'll stick with what I believe I know best.  Some aim high...  I aim low, so if the shot's blocked I can pick up the rebound, shoot again, and score.  Check back often and see what's getting..........

                                                    REYVE REVIEWS
                                                   Torrey Matthew Carren