Last updated by at .

Feb 212011

Radiohead_the-king-of-limbs_album-review_orlando-music-blogHa ha – Not really, I just thought that would be a funny headline, but the seventh track on The King of Limbs, “Give Up the Ghost” draws the “Grizzly Bear is the American Radiohead” comparison full circle. It starts with birdsong and builds a haunting layered vocal call and a stripped down percussion that may just be an amplified slap of an acoustic guitar body. Gentle guitar chords are accompanied by layers of vocals with different treatments and all is reminiscent of GB’s folkier approach to electro-alternative. This was also the point that the new sound began to sink in…

The album opens with looped piano notes and then a modulated beat creeps in sounding like a tennis shoe in a dryer. My first instinct was to assume, “here comes another insane Kid A-ish departure from normalcy.” Where In Rainbows came on with a completely new feel, The King of Limbs definitely harkens the Kid A / Amnesiac era as the first two tracks unfold, but only in their deconstructed approach to pop. The tendency is also to use synthesizer references in explaining the ambient sounds, but since this is Radiohead there is usually a far more organic-meets-outlandish technical production afoot. What sounds like synthesizer could be notes played from a harp in the basement of an old house, sampled and played backwards at half speed. Cheeky bastards!

The third song, “Little by Little” creaks forward from the delicately constructed electro-haze with a simple and soft, yet driving guitar chord festooned with a wall of maraca-like percussion. Elegant duel guitar parts bolster the chorus until the simple and sinister sounding acoustic progression returns. This song and the closer, “Separator,” are the easiest to wrap your head around and help you to digest the sonic approach to the rest of the album. For instance, my first exposure to “Lotus Flower” was through the video that was released just before the album. I think I was so transfixed by Thom Yorke’s apoplectic gyrations that it mitigated the impact of the song. After listening to the album once, then again the simple beauty of “Lotus Flower” emerged.

In the end Radiohead was able to continue the amazing feat of producing a new album that sounds fresh and inspired while being unmistakably Radiohead.

[media id=61]

Track 3 – “Little by Little”

Buy Radiohead’s The King of Limbs


Feb 182011

kid-cudi-man-on-the-moon-2_orlando-music-blog_erase-meI don’t know what the hell is wrong with me. First I can’t get this song out of my head, then when I finally get around to listening to Kid Cudi‘s new album, Man on the Moon 2: Legend of Mr. Rager, it’s his anthemic song with Kanye – “Erase Me” that won’t escape me. I’m trying to maintain my rock cred here, but it is the single / terrestrial radio worthy ear worms that have overtaken me lately.

I was eager to hear Cudi’s new stuff because I thought the first album was a true evolutionary step for hip-hop in the seamless meshing NY rap style with indie / alternative sensibility and layered electronica. Man on the Moon 2 is just that – a sequel. It doesn’t seem to break any new ground – on the first few listens anyway – and in fact, appears to be missing some of the unique edge that Ratatat may have brought to the table by producing the debut. It is good and there are are a handful of standouts including this super-catchy song, but I think I was just expecting more. It’s dark and introspective with descriptions of heavy drug use and allusions to suicide which builds on the themes of the troubled soul and MC. So in that sense, it may purposely be a sequel that does not expand too far beyond the original by design.

[media id=60]

Feb 152011

broken-social-scene_orlando-music-blog_firestoneOK. This show was weird. Not crazy or anything, but the presentation was kind of stilted and incongruous. Broken Social Scene sounded great and worked a thorough playlist that included “7/4 Shoreline,” “World Sick,” “Texico Bitches,” and “Lover’s Spit,” but lead singer, Kevin Drew, was battling laryngitis or lung issues and made it known. His voice sounded pretty good, but very early in the show Kevin revealed he was in a great deal of pain and was losing his voice. This notion and his obvious discomfort, first, made every song seem like it was the last. The crowd just kept getting the feeling that the show was going to be called any minute.

Second, it led to some interesting improvising with the set as they scrambled on-the-fly to work in songs where he didn’t have to sing. Some songs for female vocalist and super-cutie, Lisa Lobsinger, were arranged sequentially including “All to All,” then a series of instrumentals were brought out. After her songs I thought it was over. After the instrumentals I thought it was over, but they kept playing. Then Kevin returned to do some softer versions of songs including “Superconnected” with a little Modest Mouse “The World at Large” lyrics sprinkled in for good measure. Now I thought it was over for sure as he kept pointing to his throat and people off stage were pointing to their watches (in preparation for Latin Night which fucks up every show because they start earlier than listed BTW).

Next they continued with some songs that were definitely vocally challenging because there was more loud singing and he soldiered through. They played “World Sick” which I thought for sure would be the closer. Then they played “Lover’s Spit” which seemed like a perfect outro. Then they asked, “One more song?” They proceeded to play two. So I’m not sure if he was sick, rebounded a little at the end, or their dedication to the audience made him fight through his ailment, but it ended up being nearly 2 hours and didn’t come across completely seamless. Other than that I liked it.

Feb 092011

smith-westerns_live_backbooth_orlando-music-blogChicago’s Smith Westerns are gaining plenty of acclaim and buzz around their latest album, Dye it Blonde. They have Chi-Town sound in their 70′s guitar rock approach with the indie twist of subtly downplaying a sound that could be much larger in favor of hooks and bright melodies. Orlando music aficionado , Bao, compares them to the dreamier side of T-Rex and I would have to agree. They sounded good and even brought their sonic approach from Dye it Blonde to tunes from their abominably recorded debut album. This unlocked the core melody and vibe of a song like “Tonight” from the shackles of the purposely low-fi and sometimes grating sound it has on the record. That being said, I’m going to have to go with Yuck! for stealing the show. They brought an unabashedly big sound that took me by surprise and ended their set in a screeching jam out. I like.