Friday, May 15, 2015

I'm A Reasonable Man Get Off My Case

A week late, but here's May's Band of the Month - sticking with the late 90s early 00s theme for the moment. Sooner or later in this series, we're going to get to bands that don't have much biographical significance to me - and that's probably the case this month. I like Radiohead, obviously - that's why they're here - but I just like them. It took a while - I remember Creep coming out, remember thinking they sounded like 85 other generic 90s bands, though they could turn a phrase... Then forgot they existed for a few years, then discovered, to my shock, that they were extremely popular and widely loved by people who loved music. It was an amazing fact, I thought - though I was almost completely innocent of ever having heard them (other than Creep.) People I knew would have long earnest and intense discussions (ie, arguments) about them, whether Kid A was brilliant or some kind of terrible betrayal - and it felt like they were talking a foreign language. And then, for reasons I can't begin to remember, I got one of their records - Amnesiac it was - and discovered that they were quite good. So I got others, liked them, and accepted the fact that I was a Radiohead fan.

It still feels a bit alien to me somehow - listening to them makes me feel like a college kid in the 90s. I wasn't a college kid in the 90s, but I feel very confident that I would have loved them if I had been. This is particularly true of OK Computer and the Bends - I like their sources (I hear U2 and the Smiths in there, very strongly, and the lingering ghost of David Bowie and Pink Floyd), but it still feels very far from me. But - if I were 10 or 15 years younger - I know this would have filled me with exaltation and wonder. But I'm not - and maybe more odd than anything, the records of theirs I really love are the electronic ones - Kid A and Amnesiac - maybe because they have moved far enough from their sources to just sound like themselves - maybe because Thom Yorke has stopped trying to emote, and sounds less whiny - maybe just because I love the rhythm tracks on those records. I don't know, and I guess it doesn't matter. They are great, hypnotic records, full of great compelling songs.

Not that there aren't great songs on their other records - before and after really - and everything they do sounds fantastic. The early records have more guitar, and sometimes quite magnificent guitar (what Jonny Greenwood can make come out of a guitar is sometimes a thing of wonder) - all of them are exquisitely constructed tracks. And though Yorke's lyrics don't always convince me, when he's on - "when I am king you will first against the wall, with your opinion which is of no consequence at all" - "laugh until my head comes off, swallow til I burst" - "I wish I was special, you're so fucking special" - he nails it, can't deny it. So it goes, and I keep getting the new records and listening to the old ones, and though I can't help wondering what I would have thought if I had been 17 when OK Computer came out.

And here are 10 songs:

1. Idioteque
2. Subterranean Homesick Alien
3. Packt Like Sardines in a Crushed Tin Box
4. Paranoid Android
5. National Anthem
6. Creep
7. A Punch up at a wedding
8. Bones
9. I Might be Wrong
10. Optimistic

And here are some videos - we'll start with Creep, live in 94 - a song that holds up pretty well, over the years.

Idioteque, 2012:

Subterrainean Homesick Alien:

And Electioneering, to let Jonny show off a bit:

Paranoid Android (which I imagine is obligatory) - from Austin City Limits:

Finally - here's a cover of Packt like sardines (etc.) by a band I might be getting to eventually (Punch Brothers) - which does illustrate jjst how good these songs are:

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