Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Thom & Co.

OK, I should retract the venom I spat Radiohead's way a short while ago. I could still do without their more precious communications, and I still think they lost their way after Kid A, but I downloaded their newest, In Rainbows, today, and after a couple of listens, it's really good. It's generally mellow, but there's structure, too. Mostly it sounds like vintage eerie-but-pretty Radiohead, a la "No Surprises" or "How to Disappear Completely."

The band's been getting a lot of press for the way they've chosen to distribute this record, in case you just woke from a coma. The aspect of all this I liked best was that they announced the record release just 10 days before making it available. When I was in high school, the joy of figuring out when a band was going to release something new was half the fun. The information wasn't available online, and usually required flipping through obscure magazines. Once the date was set, I had all that time to anticipate it. But now, I generally know things too far in advance to enjoy the lead-up, and songs start leaking online in bits and pieces way ahead of time, making the experience more fragmented and diluted than coherent and satisfying. As one blogger put it:
By offering the album in the way they did, Radiohead gave us a bit of a gift: universal excitement. This effectively brought back the joy of album release day — millions of people hearing the record for the first time at once — and combined it with our modern ability to instantly gush to all of those fellow fans online. It's the best of all worlds.


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