Monitor Down

The music blog that doesn’t want to hear itself

Posts Tagged ‘radiohead

Some Good Songs to Download to Your iBrain

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dr pepperLike many people, there are songs constantly streaming in my head. They can fade in like a mist, or come crashing onto the scene like a warthog. They can drown out things like real-life conversations, or simply hang in the background while I go about my day. It’s like having a built-in music player, sans record-industry meddling. iTunes, meet iBrain. Now kindly go get iBrain a Dr. Pepper.

The thing about my iBrain, though, is it doesn’t cost anything. Not a dollar a download, not one cent a download, nothing. Even better, there’s no account to sign up for, no annoying emails to block, and no mega-corporation to decide what songs are allowed to be there. Unless you count taste. I usually let Taste, LTD pretty much do what it wants.

So here are a few of the songs that have been occupying my iBrain rotation as of late. Feel free to listen in, start your own mental download, and show the industry suits that you’ll listen to whatever you want, when you want. As long as it’s not while your boss or significant other is saying something important. That’s just bad for business.

The Vines, Autumn Shade II. Like the first one, but Craig Nichols nailed the wispy, esoteric harmonies even harder, and it survives more than three listens.

Blur, Tracy Jacks. Because that guitar part is catchier than a left-fielder with sonar. Whoa, did a sports analogy just make it onto this blog?

Radiohead, I Might Be Wrong. This riff could smash a hole in the side of your grandaddy’s barn without an ounce of remorse. I heard it even robbed a nun in broad daylight. Shame on it.

David Bowie, New Killer Star. The bassline to this song would make me punch a guy in the face, if the music video didn’t make me feel dizzy.

The Primrose League, Stealing All Those Cars. It’s not as well-known as some, but the intricate guitar work and vocal harmonies manage to find their way into your bloodstream.

The Smashing Pumpkins, Hummer. That opening solo is like a bucket of cold water on a saturday morning, but somewhat more awesome.

The Von Bondies, C’mon, C’mon. Ok, I watch TV. But screw you if you don’t appreciate 1-2-4 guitar stumming and a loud voice. At least I’m not repping Jet.

Versa Vice, It’s Clear. Another lesser-known band, but the guitar and bass are the muggers who 1-2 you to death in the alleyway behind Circle-K.

Blur, Death of a Party. I usually try to avoid dumping the same band on people twice, but the creepy vibes from this one have a tendency to linger. You just try to shake them off.

Queens of the Stone Age, Make It Wit Chu. Who knew a song titled in text speak would actually be good? Josh Homme once again demonstrates his ability to get inside your head with a piano and a guitar.

Gran Ronde, Wisdom. This short number hits the pleasing-guitar-riff quotient right on the head.

Written by Peter Kimmich

September 8, 2009 at 1:03 pm

The Curioso’s Guide to Radiohead

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radioheadThere are three things everyone seems to have opinions about: politics, religion, and Radiohead. On two of those topics, one dissenting view can cause a flat-out argument. When it’s Radiohead, it can cause someone to go insane. It’s quite a phenomenon.

That’s because, like politics and religion, Radiohead is complicated. When an ardent Radiohead fan hears disparaging remarks, or even worse, lack of acknowledgment about their favorite band, it’s easy for them to assume the disparager is uninitiated, and therefore not equipped to make the call. Because “getting” Radiohead isn’t like “getting” Puddle of Mudd. It doesn’t just happen after hearing a couple of songs on Internet radio (“They’re so dreary and weird … how can you like this?”). Most people who are wanton over Radiohead have listened to them for years, seen them evolve, and have grown immensely attached to them.

This is why whenever you ask someone what they like about Radiohead, you get a vague, impassioned gushing of adjectives, with no real explanation. It can leave you even more clueless than before. Or thinking your friends are hippies.

But if you’re into music, and a little open-minded, Radiohead is totally worth getting into. Because the hype is true. They’re like the 200-piece orchestra of pop bands. They’re a punk mentality shoved into something that is about as far from punk as you can get (without involving bagpipes or accordions. Yet.) Their music explains why Thom Yorke is so twitchy and paranoid, and why he sings like that. (He doesn’t always.) Radiohead is pure, 80-proof sonic bliss, if you get what they’re doing.
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Written by Peter Kimmich

August 31, 2009 at 12:41 pm

Radiohead’s Latest Available for Download

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harry patchRadiohead has released a composition written in honor of Harry Patch, the last remaining UK veteran of World War I.

Patch died July 25 at age 111, having been one of the world’s last four survivors of the First World War, the third oldest man in the world, and briefly the oldest man in Europe. As Thom Yorke says on Radiohead’s Web site, “I had heard a very emotional interview with him a few years ago on the Today program on Radio4. The way he talked about war had a profound effect on me.”

The song, inspired by Patch’s story, was composed and recorded a few weeks before his death. Johnny Greenwood arranged the strings, Yorke wrote the lyrics, and everything was recorded live in an abbey.

The song’s feel is old-fashioned and awe-struck, the way one would imagine a dirge for every fallen soldier would sound. The lyrics are bleak and dark, evoking an old war documentary or Normandy footage. It is sparse and delicate, and powerful at the same time. The abbey’s echo can be heard in the strings, giving it an ancient, wooden feel.

“Harry Patch (In Memory Of)” is available for download at Radiohead’s site and can be previewed, 30 seconds at a time, through a somewhat irritating flash player. The cost to download is 1 UK pound, or around $1.70. All proceeds are going to the Royal British Legion.
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Written by Peter Kimmich

August 5, 2009 at 1:27 pm

Posted in Old, stale news

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Revelations Rooted in Listening to Office Music

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radioSome random revelations that came from listening to Internet radio stations at work (a work-in-progress, watch for sudden changes):

  1. Thom Yorke definitely seems to have gone through a “whiney, screamy acoustic version” period. Meh.
  2. After a long time, yes, it is possible to be sick of hearing the Beatles.
  3. Pandora can play long sets without repetition, but not that long. I’d say the euphoria dies around the 4-hour mark.
  4. John Mayer sounds like a rock and roll version of Dave Matthews.
  5. David Byrne struggles a bit to hit that high note in “Psycho Killer” when he sings it live, but he’s a badass for not lowering the key.
  6. In any group of people, young and old, there is always the “metal guy,” and he’s not who you think. Don’t let him control the station.
  7. Some ’70s group covered the Rolling Stones’ “19th Nervous Breakdown” and slopped it up, and I don’t know who they are. Must look into this further.
  8. New Order’s “Blue Monday” is catchy, but also long and redundant. I don’t know why so many bands have covered it. Note to self: If I start a band, don’t cover “Blue Monday.”
  9. God, the Strokes are undeniably awesome, and I’ll wall-slam anyone who disagrees. Try me.
  10. Also on the Strokes: Ignorant people sometimes bag on Fab’s drumming, but I believe simple and steady outperforms fancy and flamboyant any day.
  11. The Killers line “I got soul, but I’m not a soldier” is like a grotesque mustard stain on an otherwise halfway decent song. Must write band and complain.
  12. Someone somewhere started a “sad, high-pitched girl singer/pianist” trend, and then everybody started copying it. Boo, hiss.

Written by Peter Kimmich

April 9, 2009 at 12:09 pm

Some Music Fans May be Shallow

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Post intro: You know.

Back to the post:

STP at the Hollywood Bowl

STP at the Hollywood Bowl

This is partially intended as an addendum to the recent rant on bland retro-popheads, titled “When did the World Get So Unoriginal?” by esteemed [former] CinemaBlend music editor Mack Rawden. I’m wholeheartedly agreeing with his main thesis (albeit without judgment against J.K. Rowling, because I freaking like Harry Potter). Bu I’m adding one significant point.

And naturally, we will get to it via a quick story.

There I was, with my beautiful girlfriend, watching the Stone Temple Pilots’ June show at the Hollywood Bowl. We’re both into them, even the albums no one really likes (No. 4 and Shangri-La Dee Da). So we had at least a handful of songs we were waiting to hear.

About 10 minutes into the set, the obligatory wave of fashionably late bros and sorority chicks showed up. This element was expected, since due to some cosmic theorem they make up about 85% of the band’s following. But I was completely bewildered, and even disappointed, when during the ¾-set arrival of “Plush,” a group of sorority girls nearby suddenly got all antsy, huddling together in a secret conversation until one of them finally turned to the people next to them and said, “Oh my god, what’s this song called?” At first I thought I was hearing things. But then it happened again, during “Interstate Love Song.” My jaw was floored.

I get it: some people’s memories of these songs are a little dimmed by lite beer and accessory distraction (I might have heard someone singing the lyrics, “Driving on a Sunday afternoon / I swerve my Bug between the lines…”). But someone just spent $50 on tickets, fought traffic and crammed into a packed bleacher row without knowing the name of two of the band’s 16-year-old major radio hit singles. It seemed like a big monkey wrench just got tossed into the logical fandom gears somewhere. What was wrong here?

Then it occurred to me that the world’s sea of music fans might be a lot shallower than I had previously thought. Do some people pretend to be into bands? Do some even pretend to be into music? I decided this needs to be explored further.

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