Wednesday, January 03, 2007

How Can You Be Sure

Song: How Can You Be Sure
Artist: Radiohead
Album: Music From the Gregg Araki Movie: Nowhere

We are expecting to hear new music from Radiohead this year and I am one of the many eagerly awaiting this. They are a bit of a love’em or hate’em band, but the people that do love them are pretty passionate about them.

I first saw Radiohead open for R.E.M. on their “Monster” tour and it was the first (and only) time that I was completely enthralled by a band that I knew very little about. (Well… I guess I knew “Creep.”) I immediately bought their second album “The Bends,” which they were supporting at the time. A modern classic of post-punk guitar pop, it was the record that helped them build the buzz and set the stage for their crowning achievement, “OK Computer” which, many will argue is the best record of the last twenty years or like… ever. (discuss)

They followed “Computer” with the supremely odd but beautiful “Kid A” and “Amnesiac.” “Kid A” is their “Dark Side of the Moon” and a recent listen reminded me just how good the thing is. It’s catchy, arty, and while totally strange, very accessible. It was also the start of the band not giving fans what they wanted… another “Bends.”

I highlight the excellent track “How Could You Be Sure” which was recorded during the “Bends” sessions and for some reason was not included on the album. It’s an amazing song that holds a place alongside their best material. It’s more straightforward Radiohead, yet Thom Yorke’s obtuse lyrics always seem to shake things up, no matter how pretty the melodies. The song was released on the soundtrack to the 1997 Gregg Araki film “Nowhere.” The movie is a bit all over the place, as is the soundtrack… but it has some great remixes and odds and ends by late-millennium alternative bands such as Hole, Elastica, Massive Attack, Chemical Brothers, and James.

While I am eager about hearing new music form the band, I am also a bit hesitant as I was so disappointed with their last record, “Hail to the Thief.” It was the first time I wasn’t totally blown away by a record of theirs and never listen to it. Furthering the damage, Yorke’s solo album “The Eraser,” which was released last year, didn’t really grab me as I wanted it to. It was weird (of course) but also a little boring, which is the worst thing you can say about a record in my opinion. Maybe my expectations are out of whack… but when a band is great, shouldn’t they always be great?


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