In Rainbows


So after all the angry blogging I’ve done this week about the Frost saga, I need to make myself happy by blogging about miserable, depressing music. Fellow Radioheadheads, feel free to leave your impressions of the new album on the comments.

Radiohead released their new album today. As y’all may know, they’re one of my favoritest bands evar. Among the last decade’s mainstream alternative acts (if that makes any sense), I put ’em up there with Bjork, Sigur Ros, Beck, Arcade Fire and Outkast for being the most consistently innovative and intriguing. They aren’t afraid to take their audience new places, and they’ve been successful at transforming some of their cerebral studio concoctions (“Idioteque” “The Gloaming” “Everything in its Right Place”) into absolutely kickin’ concert warhorses.

I’d already heard most of the band’s new material from BitTorrenting a bunch of their shows from last year’s summer tour, so I already had a pretty good idea of how the new album would sound. Even so, there are times when songs played live can be either enhanced or degraded from a live studio recording, and this album is no exception. Some quick impressions:

-“Nude” is an absurdly beautiful studio recording, and it rivals “Pyramid Song,” “How to Disappear Completely” and “Fake Plastic Trees” as one of the band’s lushest, loveliest melodies. When everything goes quiet except for Yorke’s falsetto about three-quarters through the song, you can’t help but stop everything you’re doing and hang on the gorgeous, simple sound.

-They’ve pretty much wrecked “Videotape,” which was one of the highlights of their recent live sets. While the live version really built from a slow, plaintive piano ballad into a “Karma Police”-style crescendo, the studio version mostly stays flat at the same volume and tempo throughout. It’s not helped by the annoying, constantly-shifting electronic percussion they’ve got rattling on in the background either. If they wanted to make me super-duper happy, they’d go back into the studio and play the song all the way through like they played it live.

-“Jigsaw Falling Into Place” (formerly known as “Open Pick”) makes a nice studio transition. Although it doesn’t have the same frantic energy as when it’s played on electric guitars, it manages to keep the same sense of growing intensity and dread as it picks up steam toward the end.

-In a perfect world, “15 Step” would be a pop hit.

Thems is my impressions. It’s solid stuff, though by no means as groundbreaking as Kid A or OK Computer. What say the rest of you?


Comments: 42


I had their album on heavy rotation today with the new Beirut disc (highly recommandable too)

Overall the album is very solid, for me, it’s destined to be a classic for years to come. Less experimental than Hail to the thief, but succeeds in bringing a fresh air in indie rock. It has some really catchy tunes since the first listening: 15 step (a shame most people won’t even consider it as a hit, since they won’t listen to it through mtv and crappy radios) nude, reckoner, jigsaw falling into place are awesome pieces of music. I especially liked the use of percussions in this album (see 15 step). The guitar play is wonderful. Radiohead is back, and boy we needed it.


I feel about the same way on videotape. Sort of like Cymbal Rush, if you heard the thom and jonny live version before the version on the eraser, only worse. The album version of videotape has grown on me a little, but it’s still nowhere near the live version.
House of Cards is a little overproduced. Live version is more… roomy.
Otherwise, best studio album since Kid A.
Arpeggi and the new Reckoner blow me away. Bodysnatchers became almost great.
I’d call it damn near perfect if they’d included a studio version of the full band videotape. rgh. It seems like sometimes Thom tries a little too hard to make his best work sound unique, of late.


And yeah, it’s not OKC, how am i driving, Kid A period great, but there with the Bends in the still classic second tier.


Oh gods, I forgot about “Reckoner.” Holy cripes that sounds different from the way they played it live. I mean, I think it’s basically a completely different song that they just called “Reckoner” as well. “All I Need” gets interesting at the end, but otherwise, ehn, not their best. “House of Cards” I thought was boring live, but I’ll be damned if it’s not a dreamy little studio tune. “Bodysnatchers” is good, a little slower and less punchy than I’d hoped it’d be though.


Oh and how about “Faust ARP?” What a lovely little ditty that is!


I don’t have the new album yet but I’m a fan, so I will be picking it up next week.
I think $12 to $15 is a reasonable price, and plan to pay that much. I definitely want to support their new distribution model.


The new reckoner is based on the old one played backwards, or so i’m told. I don’t have a way to play mp3s backwards.
Faust ARP sounds like their first explicit Beatles nod. Lots of the white album in it.
Still 6 more songs to be heard. Down is the New Up had better still be full band, is all I can say.


Well, I must admit I wouldn’t know the difference between a Radiohead song or a Bush speech, but as consolation, three buddies and I got together today and did some singing, does that count?

Matt Browner Hamlin

I’m a Radiohead fan, though more towards the middling albums of “OK Computer” and “Kid A.”

I’m much more of a fan of the punk side of progressive rock — with bands like The Receiving End of Sirens and Coheed & Cambria. Any thoughts on the bands I like?


I’ve got Pablo Honey. I really like “Creep.” Other than that, I haven’t really kept up.

Now, Shostakovich – there’s some funky shit.


My local online station played pretty much all of the new record pretty heavily today. I kinda got over them after Pablo Honey and the one after that (the Bends?), but I love how they are going about putting the new joint out there. Bodysnatchers is a definite hit, I think. The LCD Sounsystem, and the Ponys new ones are my fave records of the year. Check ’em out if you have’t.


Sorry Matt Browner Hamlin, but they’re terrible. At least you didn’t say System of a Down.

I’m surprised there’s not more love for “Bodysnatchers.” That opening riff grabs your attention by the throat and shakes it.

Er, in a good way, I mean.


Eating some great jerk chicken, with fried plantains, bought to-go in Santa Monica. Mmm.!

Hey – Sadly Naughtians! Spouse has an all-expenses paid weekend trip to San Francisco, and I’m tagging along for the ride.

I am really not very well acquainted with SF. Went there once in the 80’s for an illicit weekend w/ a flame, and then went there for 3-4 days in 1998 to work.

When I was there in 1988, I stayed at the Hyatt Hotel and worked at the Orpheum Theatre – that was pretty much my “neighborhood” view of the place while there.

I don’t even get the geography of the place – and for me, in order to “get” a place I have to get the map in my head.

Anyway – this time we’re staying in a hotel near Union Square. Anyone got any cool suggestions for what I should explore while Spouse is doing business?


I think it’s a terrific album. Bodysnatchers is particularly good. And you’re right, Faust Arp has a very Bealtes feel. The album is overall far more polished, based I assume on three years’ of road-testing, than Hail to the Thief IMO.

And let me say that I over-compensated them, because I think the idea of pay-as-you-wish downloads is the 21st century equivalent of patronage, and I want Radiohead to keep making music, and I want the RIAA to get angry about their self-sufficiency.


Hey g,

Union Square puts you right in the center of things for good and ill, but you should walk on down to Market and take one of the classic F trains to the Castro Theater and catch a matinee, then get some coffee at Peet’s or a slice of pizza at Escape from New York. It’s a great walking around neighborhood. Doesn’t get too hilly below 19th Street.

Also, and it’s cheesy but really fun to take the train all the way the other way and see the sea lions at Pier 39. You can and should probably avoid the rest of that tourist trap, but the sea lions are pure amusement in sea mammal form.

You are walking distance to Chinatown so if you want some pure gingko biloba and want to load up on cheap gifts for friends and family, there’s that.


Kewl, Kuda. Thanx.

Tell me more – good places to eat? Good stores to browse in?

I wanna go to Chinatown and buy cheap crap. Although I can totally do that in LA, too, but its more fun in a new city. I also want to buy some chalk insecticide. The merchants in LA and Orange County don’t sell it cause it’s illegal.


this is the first Radiohead album since OK Computer where i deliberately avoided listening to early live versions, and i think that’s helped me appreciate this album immensely. every single song on here is fresh and interesting, and after three listens i’m still very much a fan.

i had heard the first live version of Reckoner from a few years ago (the very hard-rocky version), but like someone else said, they’re not even close to being the same song.

all this talk about the live versions has me intrigued to seek them out now, though.

i am a bigger fan of the live versions of Kid A (the song), Dollars and Cents, and a few others compared to the studio versions, and i blame it on having heard the songs “too early.” it is nice to have such distinct versions of some songs floating around, though. really shows how creative and inventive this band is, that they can take so many great songs and make them greater.


I kind of wonder about how old these tracks are. I;m getting it tomorrow. I’m sure it is good, but I don’t know how much they got left in the tank. I still love them, though.


I recommend taking the 38 bus west on Geary all the way to the ocean. To the South is Golden Gate park, which has tons of great places – Japanese tea garden, the new De Young museum. To the North is the Presidio, which has a free shuttle that circumnavigates the area. Back East a few blocks, between 28th and Arguello along Geary there are dozens of shops and restaurants.

downtown restaurant recommendations would depend on what you like. Specialites has the best sandwiches. That is just east of Union Square, New Montgomery and Market. More fancy, I would walk north on Kearny (just east of Union Square) to Myth Cafe. the greatest deviled eggs ever. Finally, the Ferry Building at the Bay end of Market street is lots of fun, and has plenty of amazing places to eat (Taylor’s refresher; the Slanted Door)


I like but do not love In Rainbows so far. Worth the four quid I paid for it, sure, but it’s not something that’s completely racked my mind like Kid A did. Agreed with those who are giving up love for “Faust Arp” and “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi” (the standout of the album, for me), but I’m really not feelin’ “Nude” so far. I’ll need a couple more listens to be sure, but at the moment it’s minor Radiohead (which, of course, is better than major almost anyone else).

By the way, Leonard’s must-buy pick o’ the week, and very likely a candidate for my album of the year, is Earthless’ Rhythms from a Cosmic Sky. If anything rocks you any harder in 2007, it will have a mountain attached to it.


thanks, Kathleen!! I’m saving all these suggestions.


Can someone wake me up when Mouth & MacNeal release a web-only album?

Thank you.


Kathleen’s suggestions are very excellent. My recommendation, based on my previous itinerary, would be to take a left off Castro on 18th and walk to Guerrero to Tartine, the most amazing French bakery. Those Croque Monsieurs! The decadent tarts! And the best coffee I’ve ever had, and I’m fussy. To die for, and worth the short 5 block walk. Plus you walk by Dolores Park, green, great for a ramble (amazing view of the whole city and the Bay Bridge if you walk up to Church and 20th) and fun with watching dogs off-leash having a ball.

Downtown? I like Cafe Claude (better for lunch than dinner), everything in Belden Place/Alley on Pine between Kearney and Montgomery, and, if you like meat, Bob’s Steak and Chop Shop at the Omni on California and Montgomery, where I used to make unsuspecting vendors take me for a nice kiss-up lunch (which may or may not have led to under-desk napping due to protein overload, I can’t say).


Occasionally I wonder if I am lapsing into the stereotype of a super-snotty, homosexual pseudo-intellectual hipster liberal.

When chowing down, I ask myself, “Do I really need to have this sushi and latte? I mean, REALLY?”

But then I reassure myself, “hey, it’s okay, because I don’t listen to Radiohead.”


I like the calmness of the album, even with the uptempo percussion. The backstory might be the usual record-making-angst, but the result has the kind of assurance that comes from a band that, well, doesn’t feel obliged to sign to a record label and will put out its music at whatever price the fanbase is willing to pay. It’s got ‘grower’ written all over it.

(And I wish I’d been to some of the gigs where they tested these songs — though DaD and various mp3blogs have helped out. The extras disc may provide: an intriguing prospect for a new recording model would be to release studio snapshots of songs during different stages of evolution. Though, in a way, they don’t need to: DaD and mp3blogs and YouTube provide, meaning that you really can settle on a favourite version, even if it’s not in studio quality.)


I’m blown away by the album; I think it’s the best record of the year. As I expected, it is very pretty, filled with gobs of delicate ear candy. Beautiful, pristine modern production– organic-sounding yet otherworldly. The first four songs are all unassailable classics.

My other favorite records of the year are “Boxer” by the National, “God Save The Clientele” by the Clientele and “The Shepherd’s Dog” by Iron and Wine. Those are all good records, but “In Rainbows” is on a whole other level.


Not there best, not there worst. I like it, but its not even my favorite of ’07 bt a long shot, but its better than the last one, so thank god for that.

In other news, Stalkin’ Malkin chickened out on the debate like the coward we all know her to be. A person who can’t even handle having comments on her blog obviously can’t handle a debate. Especially if she can’t have Jesse feeding her health care facts.


No Malkin, it’s a BAD MALKIN!

Finally got In Rainbows today after having all sorts of trouble with the online payment “thingee”. I live in the Czech Republic, but am having the disc box shipped to my place in the United Snakes, as per credit card regime diktat . The first two times, the credit security “thingee” rejected my card because it sensed I wasn’t where I said I wanted the thing shipped. It went through today after a long talk with the computer at my issuing bank, but they slipped “Czech Republic” into my shipping address! Argh! Whatever, sent some emails and I assume it will be fixed before some Czech postal employee decides that “North Carolina” means “fell in my bag”.

The album is great, in my opinion – their best since OK Computer in terms of straightforward “alternative” music, whatever that means anyway. More succinctly, it is a clean, heartfelt album of moving and catchy songs. I respected them greatly for pushing boundaries with Amnesiac and Kid A after realizing that the record industry was counting on them for more Fake Plastic Trees. It all worked out fine – fanboys got To Rococo Rot with soul, the h8rs got Coldplay, right? Faust Arp and Reckoner are the winners for folks who prefer their latter efforts, while Nude seals the mix tape deal for the future heartbroken and House of Cards could even become a weird mash-up radio hit after some cool kid remix.

Loving it. Also loving the Mekons’ new one. Still hating the Malkin thing.


Don’t have in rainbows yet, but The Onion has a good take on the patriots downward spiral.


New Mekons?!


New Mekons, is true! It’s called Natural. Get Perfect Mirror from yr iTunes for a teaser. I think they hid the Dirty Three in there somewhere too 😉


G, since you appreciate dogs, you should definitely go to Pier 39 and watch the sea lions squabble with each other (and the occasional gull). There was also a very fine carousel on the Pier when we were last out there, some years ago, but not everybody loves carousels. On the other hand, the Asian Art Museum has something for practically everybody, whether you best appreciate cool minimalism or violent orgies of color or just plain goofy stuff, like the ancient brass mat weights and temple beasts.


g – find the bar called “Specs” in North Beach. Have an Anchor Steam and a hunk of cheddar cheese with saltines for me. City Lights is across the street.

More here.

Johnny Coelacanth

Anyone got any cool suggestions for what I should explore while Spouse is doing business?

Take the BART to Berkeley, walk to People’s Park, look for the shifty-lookin’ long haired dude and buy a couple hits of acid off him. Eat them, get back on the BART and by the time you’re back in San Francisco, you’ll be coming on nicely. Go to Fisherman’s Wharf and stare in amazement at the tourists who don’t seem to be on acid. That’s what I did.

Johnny Coelacanth

A person who can’t even handle having comments on her blog obviously can’t handle a debate.

Not that it changes her status as a vile human being, but Stalkin’ Malkin apparently enabled comments on her website a while back.

Of course, any dissenting commenters are quickly deleted, so it’s an echo chamber of “right on Michelle!” and “You are the queen of what you do because of how you do it. With integrity.” (real comment, btw)

Her lame excuses for why she won’t debate Ezra are pathetic as well. He quoted her, but didn’t excerpt her entire comment, so he’s dishonest and stupid. And last year he said something she didn’t like, so he’s a poopyhead and beneath her contempt. And not worth debating.


I’d love to listen to the new Radiohead album, but their freaking website won’t sell the damn thing to me.

I’m trying it with IE now, in case it’s a browser incompatibility (i.e., designer incompetence) issue, although I’m starting to think that their payment service can’t handle the load.

Best albums so far this year:

Jesu- Conqueror
Githead- Art Pop
A Place to Bury Strangers- s/t

If you disagree with the above musical opinions, you’re objectively pro-Nazi.


I haven’t gotten around to downloading the Radiohead album yet but I did download Earthless on Mr. Leonard Pierce’s recommendation and holy shit but that is the shit. I have wrangled an invitation to Amagensett (Get this I’ll be riding out in a Volvo so I’m thinking of getting a latte and bottle of chardonnay even though I never touch the stuff. Just to round out my transformation into Ann Coulter’s cliche of a Northeast liberal) this weekend and I’m glad to have that music to freak out my friends with.

And to get the asses shaking I’ll be mixing it in with Prince Paul’s latest collaboration; Baby Elephant with Bernie Worrell, Newkirk, David Byrne and others. More samples on their Myspace page.


I like what I’ve heard so far (just on the radio).


It’s pretty good. I can’t say that there is a stand-out song for me, though I am replaying 15 steps and House of Cards. I miss the bigger guitar riffs.


Note: I wish Radiohead would have done OK Computer clones for the rest of their career. It’s one of my deserted island albums and The Album Of The 90’s for me.

There comes a time in any fans relationship with a band when they have to cut their losses and just bail, the returns have diminished so much it’s just not worth the effort any more and it begins to taint what one loved about a band to begin with.

I’m at that point with Radiohead.

Fine, they’ve moved on, I haven’t, they’ll never do another OKC. I’ve played in bands, I know what it’s like. But damn! the new album is just so….trivial.

It’s nice to have some guitars back in the front of the mix, but there’s just no there there for me with any of the new songs. A nice phrase here and there, a nice Yorke vocal here and there –enough with the screechy off-pitch falsetto already– some cool production touches and……it doesn’t add up to much at all for me. They sound so fucking bored and, as a result, so am I.

I never thought Kid A and Amnesiac were “radical” or anything like that because, having listened to Aphex Twin and Autechre and the Warp catalog since the mid-90’s, it was all so third hand to me. That’s fine, add a IDM gloss, but what the fuck happened to Radiohead’s songwriting? For every Idioteque or The National Anthem, there’s handfuls of anonymous songs that just sort of….exist. Nothing new to say musically, nothing at all in the slightest to say lyrically and productions that were dated in 1996.

The last song is emblematic for me: a fairly nice piano ballad, with an actual *gasp* memorable tune *gasp* and they completely fuck it up by having that god-awful drum loop stomp all over it. They have an excellent drummer, Phil Selway, and he mainly just does hi-hat stuff while the incredibly annoying and way beyond dated loops spool on around him.

So, Radiohead, I gave up hoping for another OKC with Hail to the Thief but until you actually write some memorable songs again and play as a band, not all chopped up and processed to death in The Spawn Of Satan That Is Pro-Tools, I’m off the bus.

Oh, wait, you won’t miss the $0.00 that I paid for the album, will you?


So, Radiohead, I gave up hoping for another OKC with Hail to the Thief but until you actually write some memorable songs again and play as a band, not all chopped up and processed to death in The Spawn Of Satan That Is Pro-Tools, I’m off the bus.

Funny, “In Rainbows” is more of a live band record than anything they’ve done since OKC, and a relatively un-processed record. “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi” isn’t the sound of a great band playing? “Bodysnatchers?” The only song that sounds like it underwent heavy Pro Tools editing is the opener, “15 Step,” which is a brilliant piece of music.

And OK Computer was really the band’s first “chopped up” record. Check out “Airbag”– those drums are heavily edited and quantized.


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