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cbertsch
cbertsch
What the Hell Am I Doing Here?
Alright. I admit that I should have listened to the new Radiohead album before ranting about the new Radiohead album. I wasn't going to download it ahead of its release on CD, because, as I've noted previously, I am still too invested in the way things used to be, when I would eagerly wait for a record to arrive in stores. But I should have waited to comment on the hype surrounding In Rainbows's internet-only debut. I still find the way it was covered annoying. And I'm still peeved that Radiohead is treated differently in the media from other equally worthy acts. Nonetheless, after hearing the album over and over during the past two weeks I need to prostrate myself before its musical excellence. Seeing There Will Be Blood last night, with its superb Johnny Greenwood score, reminded me that I need to separate my misgivings about Thom Yorke's public persona -- which I mysteriously conflate with Natalie Merchant's -- from my response to the band as a whole. Not that he isn't a fine singer. It's just that I prefer my front men and women to be less earnest and more ironic. That said, the lyrics to "Creep" have been on auto-repeat in my mind since the semester started.

Tags: , ,
Current Location: 85704
Muse: Videotape - Radiohead - In Rainbows

21 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
sisterblister83 From: sisterblister83 Date: January 20th, 2008 12:32 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Natalie Merchant and Thom Yorke.. outspoken politicos...?
One is an alien vistation transcendence live experience and the other
is dirty bare foot not wash my hair dance wildly across the stage hippy. (Merchant performs regularly in the Hudson Valley). :)
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: January 20th, 2008 12:35 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I think it's that earnestness that risks sliding into self-righteousness. Although I agree with Thom Yorke's political positions, for the most part, I prefer the sloppy musical polemics of The Clash to the extra-musical seriousness of someone like Yorke. I realize that my preference is susceptible to deconstruction. But I can't rid myself of it. It is a great album, though.
celebrian_3 From: celebrian_3 Date: January 20th, 2008 01:10 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I, too, am perplexed, by your mental connection between Thom Yorke and Natalie Merchant. It's an interesting peek into the way your mind works. :-)

I completely missed the internet-only debut. Not that I didn't hear about it. I too am annoyed at how it was portrayed--I saw the reviews as negative, and as a result, mentally disregarded the work and relegated it to the dark recesses of my mind, forgetting altogether to download it at all until it was too late. Now I'm regretting that decision, since I'm now hearing rave (or otherwise favorable) reviews of the album from my friends, and wish that I had at least partaken of the download-only phenomenon--if only to be able to say later on that I did so. Woe is me. I have left-out-kid/pop-culture-envy issues.

I've probably never said so, but I've always enjoyed the word pictures you paint about your everyday life and thoughts. Your skill with the pen far exceeds mine, sir. I'm honored and blessed to know you :-).
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: January 20th, 2008 03:19 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I forget that other people's minds don't work the way mine does. An important oversight!

I know what you mean about missing out. But I'm enjoying it more for having waited until the hype subsided. It's a nice package, too, which makes shelling out for the artifact easier to stomach.

No, your skill with the pen far exceeds mine. I'm OK with a keyboard. But when it comes to freehand drawing you make me feel like a toddler.

Seriously, thank you for the compliment. It nicely complements the one I'm going to send back your way, which is that I find it very easy to derive benefit even from your rantish entries, because they are so lucid.
carte From: carte Date: January 20th, 2008 02:58 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I am a completely unapologetic Radiohead tool. In fact during my freshman year of college I took an impromptu vacation midway through the second week of school to go see Radiohead live in San Francisco. It was probably the best thing I've done in my five years at UA. :) I guess what's really special is that they are the only band I've been continuously listening to since the age of ten or eleven; they even lasted through my "punk rock/Crass is the best band EVER" phase in high school, which I am beyond embarrassed about, but Radiohead knows no boundaries.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: January 20th, 2008 03:12 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
So many of my favorite people from your generation have articulated similar devotion, if not always so articulately. It's not that I don't understand it. It's just that I don't understand why other devotions didn't take such deep root. Of course, I ask similar questions about the Pixies cult among twenty-somethings, which strikes me as analogous, though the Pixies broke up.

As for CRASS, well, I have great friends who are all about CRASS. I interviewed CRASS member Gee Vaucher and wrote a review of the book collecting her art, which I loved. But I have never been able to get into the band's music -- or "music," as I tend to hear it -- at all. Of all the storied punk bands, they rank at the bottom of my personal list, even though I know that my political convictions should counterbalance my personal preferences.
From: babyiwasshot Date: January 20th, 2008 06:45 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
So many of my favorite people from your generation have articulated similar devotion, if not always so articulately.

Not true; I, for one, still think they don't acknowledge their debt to CAN. Further, OK Computer is still better than the recent album, in my opinion. As for devotions to CONTEMPORARY stuff, I don't like radiohead as much as.......shit. I need a while to think.....fuck it! INTERPOL's firs album, despite the hype, was GOOD.

Actually, I think I dig BLONDE REDHEAD the most.....no!!!

I got it: NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL. NO band is better, period. Incidentally, no band is more RIPPED OFF today than they are (e.g. The Decemberists, The ARcade Fire, Beirut, etc.)
From: babyiwasshot Date: January 20th, 2008 07:00 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
and by "They" I mean "he," and I realize this response is presumptuous in that it assumes I'm a "favorite."

All I know is that i'll be playing "in the aeroplane over the sea" either at my wedding or when i kill myself.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: January 20th, 2008 08:59 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
That is another one of those records with that status for twenty-somethings. I love OK Computer. But this one is pretty fine.
carte From: carte Date: January 20th, 2008 05:30 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Oh I was nuts about Crass. I don't know why. I thought they were the only true punk band to have ever existed and would get in arguments over it. I think I still have a bit of nostalgia for them because I can listen to "Big A, Little A" without feeling the need to turn it off. Same with the Subhumans -- a prof said "zyklon B" the other day and all of a sudden I had that song stuck in my head, although I haven't actually listened to them since I was sixteen. I love the Pixies but have never been blown away by them; I listened to them mostly in high school but could never understand my friends' obsession. I think the band I get the most crap for is Joy Division. I have put so much effort toward getting at least my closest friends to appreciate them, but no, nothing. Actually, at that Radiohead show I went to in 2003 -- Thom Yorke was doing these little dance moves, and I swear he was ripping off Ian Curtis's seizure-dancing. (Of course, none of my friends believe that either!)
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: January 20th, 2008 06:27 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Oh, man. I'm all about Joy Division. Of course, I guess that fixation is the equivalent of twenty-somethings being fixated on the Pixies. Maybe it's the music of our "tween" years that we are most likely to regard in that way, even if we discover it belatedly, as I did with Joy Division.

Your last entry was great, BTW. Had I been able to say that in a comment on it, I would have.
carte From: carte Date: January 20th, 2008 08:02 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Joy Division has been a staple since my Crass years but somehow they lasted and well, Crass/Subhumans/Casualties didn't so much. I think what's really funny is that I am suddenly listening to the music I shunned during my "tween years," all of those bad jangly pop bands and one-hit wonders. Thank god high school self can't be here to judge present self!

And thanks! I'm glad to hear you appreciate my fandom. I honestly can't even remember why I started disabling comments a few years ago, by now I am just in the habit.
carte From: carte Date: January 20th, 2008 10:21 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Oh, I forgot to mention this ... one of my friends, as a going away present some years ago, gave me a Joy Division record from when they were still Warsaw. I think he found it somewhere in Germany. It sits in my record collection with an obscene amount of importance, and I haven't actually ever taken it out of its plastic sleeve.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: January 21st, 2008 06:35 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Awesome. I have a CD with those tracks on it, if you'd like them. Some familiar stuff and some sketchier numbers later abandoned. But full of energy.
masoo From: masoo Date: January 20th, 2008 05:29 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
"I prefer my front men and women to be less earnest and more ironic."

Guess that counts out Bruce :-).
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: January 20th, 2008 08:53 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Good point. For whatever reason, Bruce is an exception in my mind. Joe Strummer too. And Prince. I feel that all three of them, in very different ways, transcend the divide between sincerity and irony.
flw From: flw Date: January 20th, 2008 08:10 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Hip

Where are all you cool people? A lot of great comments here. It reminds me of all those years I spent going to show after show after show seeing the same people repeatedly. Did I ever talk to them? No. They to me? No. Why? Who knows...

Did you see the New Year's Eve Broadcast on current_?

AWESOME!

It must be a little tough to have something as amazing as OK Computer in your past. To have people constantly comparing your present work to it, and finding your new work unable to compete with something that has had ten years to work its way into every facet of your consciousness and unconsciousness. That is why I think it is horribly unfair to compare Radiohead's latest to their "masterwork". I think RH have relaxed nicely into middle-aged craftsmanship. I will look forward to every one of their albums for the rest of my life, I expect. And I hope they keep making them.

This one is great, of course. It has a "groove and riff" feel. As if one or another of the band members said, "Check out this groove," and another said, "Check out this riff." You got your chocolate in my peanut butter... No! You got your peanut butter in my chocolate! Of all their albums, I feel this one has potential for Orchestral arrangements. It has a certain classical feel to it. Themes, harmonies, tricks, surface and resurface. It has a sense of "place". You feel it was made somewhere, in a hurry, by desperate people with something to prove. It is a miracle that people who fly around the world on private jets performing music can even come close to pushing that feel, but these guys are masters.

There is little in the way of guitar or technical gymnastics to it... This album has something to prove, but nothing technical. It has a poetic point. I agree that it may be their best. It is one of those albums that you must listen to over and over, and then eventually it floats away from you, or sits on top of the bookcase, and you sort of forget about it. Then one day it works its way back into your every day pile. OK Computer was like that for me. I listened in 1997 and was amazed at the artistry of it. But never really listened to it again until 2002 or so, when I started listening to it obsessively, going to sleep with it on every night like I did with Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me by The Cure when I was in High School.

It's a great drive around all night album.

It has returned RH to the sort of "private despair of a disconnected modern landscape of isolation" feel away from the "Are they actually doing this?" feel of Hail to the Thief.

I think the deployment hype is well deserved. It is going to make people aware of the fact that "record" companies are DEAD. At least for the likes of Radiohead. I failed to download it, because the "pay what you want" feature was in pounds, and I was scared I would accidentally charge myself $50 or something!
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: January 20th, 2008 08:57 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: Hip

Such a great comment! Yes, I have awesome friends, yourself included. As I'm too tired to type a proper response, let me just state that I agree with you and also note that I listened to Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me -- horribly underrated, in my mind -- over and over like that when I was nineteen and Pavement's. . . Actually, I listened to every Pavement album that way.
jstgerma From: jstgerma Date: January 20th, 2008 10:12 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I also held the release against them, but more because for two weeks, I loaded the download page every day and sat there wondering how much to pay. Finally I paid nothing, with the logic that I'd download it and if I liked it, I'd pay. I downloaded it, listened once, and didn't listen again for three or four months. I never paid. Now I've been playing it more and I like it a lot.

I know this sounds like empty contrarianism, and nobody I've ever said this to agreed with me, but I really never liked another one of Radiohead's album as much as The Bends. OK Computer came out my sophomore year of high school, and I liked the videos more than the songs themselves. Kid A was the album whose hype really alienated me, during my freshman year in college. I never got around to buying anything after that until I found a pirated CD in Russia with all of their albums on high-resolution MP3 for like $3. And now, even though I own their entire catalog, I can't remember the last time I sat down and listened to an entire Radiohead album.

The band that endured from my early teens, all the way through my punk and hip-hop phases, and still enjoys heavy rotation today (other than Nirvana), is the Verve. I never thought they got nearly the love they deserved on this side of the Atlantic. I'll still take them over Radiohead.

But what do I know. I didn't think There Will Be Blood deserved its fanfare, either. Maybe I am one of those contrarian dorks.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: January 21st, 2008 06:40 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Hmmmm. I did love There Will Be Blood for its intensity and old-school filmmaking. But I was also in a mood for that kind of misanthropy. And I'm so impressed with how different each Paul Thomas Anderson is from its predecessor. Come to think of it, he's a bit like a cinematic Radiohead in that regard. The push for novelty wears thin, at times, but is greatly preferable to its opposite.

In other news, thanks for your note. Yes, life is pretty rough at present. I've become one of the abject. But at least I've been hitting more three-pointers when I play basketball. Wait, that reminds me of how miserable Cal's inability to close out games -- spotty and inexperienced guard play being the principal reason -- is making me, so the solace I was taking in going from 10% to 20% from behind the arc is a double-edged sword. Sigh.
hollsterhambone From: hollsterhambone Date: January 21st, 2008 08:27 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I hated Radiohead in the early 90s--all I knew of them was from top 40 radio. "Creep" still really irritates me. I saw them live by accident when they opened for R.E.M. Must have been the Monster tour. and I began my relationship. In Rainbows rocks my socks off!
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