Nothin' before 94

This is a music blog, reviewing music between the years 1994-now. Whatever artist, whatever genre

http://www.last.fm/user/Matt-2304

tastefullyoffensive:

Anatomy of Songs [wronghands]

(via thats-so-meme)

181 plays
Arcade Fire,
The Suburbs

Now our lives are changing fast

Hope that something pure can last

been listening to this album all day maan

3,643 plays
Arcade Fire,
The Suburbs

lazy—eyes:

deep blue - arcade fire

Boyhood reminded me of how much of a tune this song is

#1

Radiohead- OK Computer

No surprises at all this time round. This album is a brilliant, but really quite scary one. Sometimes it feels like the music is coming from somewhere completely unknown, like with Ágætis Byrjun except with lyrics that hit every single note for the world we live in. We live in a world governed almost completely by machinery, and what we feel as part of this, is captured perfectly by this album. Though it may not contain as much electronica as Kid that came before, it’s closer to reality than the “fantasy world” Kid A creates. Along with this philosophical dimension, the album musically changed rock music, influencing so much of the rock that is part of the music industry today. The combination of the monotonous sound of the band, the dissonant sound of Jonny Greenwood’s guitarwork, and the fragility of Thom Yorke’s voice makes for a perfect amalgamation to fit the theme of the album. Yeah this combination may be similar in all their albums, however what sets this album apart from the rest is its clear sense of purpose. ‘Kid A’ is a brilliant album, which in a way is more innovative than this one. However it wouldn’t exist if they hadn’t known how much they hit the nail on the head with this one. 

This whole album leads us into a terrifying world, and we grow to realize that this terrible world is the one we live in. The whole album begins with the electronic-sounding, sampled drums of ‘Airbag’, bringing us straight into the world of technology, through the description of a car crash. In this one Yorke is amazed that “An airbag saved (his) life,” he failed to control his technological object of transport, his car. However it was also in control of his own life, in saving his life with an airbag. This near-death experience is a brilliant starting point for the album, because it is showing that it has been a point where he feels like he “is born again,” and the story of OK Computer begins. This experience with the ‘Airbag’ has helped him realize his own mortality, and his place as a human being in society. This new way of thinking is then prevalent through the rest of the album. ‘Airbag’ also starts the album positively, it is the first thought of the average person when they come across technology. It is looking at it in a one-dimensional sense, looking at how it can aid people, and make life easier. However as the rest of the album shows, there are other dimensions to all this.

Paranoid Android' is then the representative song of the album in terms of bringing original ideas to rock music. This one is a sprawling 6 minute track, with multiple different sections, explaining that he has now been “born again”, as a 'Paranoid Android', he is so immersed within the technological world that he cannot find the line between humanity and technology. And now there is no line, it is basically part of humanity. The song itself forgets typical song structures in rock music, yet flows so impeccably with the emotions and atmospheres that it creates. The lyrics throughout bring up all the paranoia and worries that the coming 21st century is bringing, all wrapped up in such a tense tone, and in a very emotional one in the mid-section - “The dust and the screaming, the the yuppies networking and the panic, the vomit.” It brings up images of everything going on in the world, the people constantly profiting off of dust and screaming and panic and vomiting. The entire song represents confusion about one's own humanity, the confusion that fills humans around the world. 

Radiohead don’t keep their perspective at an Earthly level though, they expand into space with the track ‘Subterranean Homesick Alien’. This is one is explaining the consequences of this confusion spoken about in ‘Paranoid Android.’ It causes us human’s to “lock up their spirits, drill holes in themselves, and live for their secrets.” This entire song is supposed to be from the perspective of an alien coming to Earth, in order to show the complete banality, surrealism and backwardness of the human condition. He uses an alien perspective in this song purely to describe alienation from one another, and alienation from ourselves. We just can’t seem to connect, because we are so connected through technology, and to technology. We long for a spaceship up above to take us away and show us “the meaning of life,” even though we think people will “shut (us) away” for it.

This all delves into tragedy in the song ‘Exit Music (For A Film)' which was written for the exit music for the film adaptation of the tragedy of Romeo & Juliet. The strange thing about this song is that, it's a sad one, though the lyrics describe normal circumstances. It's showing a conflict between two lovers, and their own parents, in particular their “rules and wisdom.” The beginning of the song describes the usual tragedy, which is personal and human. Then after the line “there's such a chill, such a chill” is sung, the song drops into something so much darker, everything changes at this point in the song. At this point it is no longer thought that their own situation is the tragedy, and that their father is against them being together. It is a lot more universal, it is the “rules and wisdom” of the father that is the problem. It is the older generation that came before them, setting all the rules for what is wrong and right, creating the backwards society. It is funnily enough, much more political than it seems, like with all of this album.

After this comes one of the centre-pieces of the album - ‘Let Down’. This is a long expression of what life is like in this society, and it is possibly the most beautiful Radiohead song out there. It has the monotonous feeling of living in this world, yet at the same time it has a very reflective, emotional, human feeling. The song begins by describing the cycle of life, and the bleak existence humans have in a western society, of “transport, motorways and tramlines, starting up and stopping, taking off and landing.” then explains what it gives - “the emptiest of feelings.” Everything we go through in life contributes to making us empty human beings, we are “disappointed”, “hanging around”, “clinging onto bottles” ie. alcohol. We are “crushed like a bug in the ground” wishing to one day fly away. This whole song is full of these metaphors, all within such an emotional feel. Everything we are is “a chemical reaction” making us “hysterical and useless.” It’s a beautiful song, lyrically and musically.

After this comes the wonderful chord scheme of ‘Karma Police.’ This one gives another story of our own vulnerability. We’ve “given all we can” but “it’s not enough.” This song has two sections, the first speaks about what seems to get us down and suffocate us through our life. It also gives a few stories of people getting the better of others, and punishment for no viable reason other than one’s own selfishness. It gives a number of extracts of little stories of competitions between humans, and discrimination of individuals for menial reasons like buzzing like a fridge” or talking “in maths.” All of these stories are sung about accompanied by a plodding monotonous rhythm, as if it is all part of daily life, this plodding rhythm is something you can get a bit lost in however, with it’s long chord accompaniment. This first section then breaks away into the second section of “for a minute there, I lost myself.” This is a big moment of realization, figuring out that all of this that he speaks about in the first section is completely outside of his own head. That everything we make up about society is not part of our own human mind, we merely lose ourselves in it all. We don’t live in our minds, we lose our minds to the world around us. It’s unsure whether this is a good or a bad thing. It’s a very Buddhist concept, along with ‘karma.’

'Karma Police' then falls even further into the world around us in 'Fitter Happier.' This plays out like a list for self-improvement, however comes across extremely artificial, giving the idea that the world around us may not be completely human. The “self-improvement” style phrases, are then juxtaposed with stark imagery that provide some metaphors for the way in which humanity lives in the world. Some of it is very morbid and dark, but it’s certainly to an effect. All these phrases are spoken by a cold Microsoft Sam-esque voice, and accompanied by completely directionless, and quite tragic music. It is using the artificial to give the effect of what the artificial might do to us, it’s an alienating song, succeeding in what it wants to achieve. It’s bleak, and it’s packed with falsity, in the phrases and in the ‘music.’ There’s an irony to the fact that all these phrases are designed to make oneself a ‘better human being.’ They’ve definitely broken the boundaries of ‘rock music’ with this track, and along with the track ‘Paranoid Android’ they’ve broken the boundaries between the idea of what’s human, and what is machine.

It feels like a band comes back to play some more music though when ‘Electioneering' comes around. What's sung about in this track is a possible compromise politicians give to help all this. The compromise of “I go forwards, you go backwards, and somewhere we will meet.” This is giving the big problem of capitalism in a bold short statement. The idea of the poorest constantly being exploited for work, and the richest profiting off of this work. The irony is that these two ends of the spectrum will never meet, anywhere. “It's just business”, the speaker of this track says, that there's no different way of going about things, even if it may be “voodoo economics”. Yorke wails down the microphone throughout this one, as if he were a politician campaigning for our votes. The guitarwork throughout is frantic too, just like the way us humans go about things, constantly trying to “say the right things.”

This falls into the complete and utter fear throughout ‘Climbing Up The Walls’. This song is full of desperation and the human, biological side of politics. You know this purely from the music too, you don’t need the lyrics to feel the desperation in the music, the doom that the bassline gives us, the wail of Yorke that just builds and builds in emotion through the whole song, until the horrendous scream he does. The whole song builds to quite the explosion, it’s the darkness of this song that reveals some truths about humanity, like art is supposed to do. The “local man” has “the loneliest feeling” here in the city, though he still puts on a “smile”. There’s something quite horrifying about this song, yet something quite beautiful about it at the same time. There’s something slowly breaking like the song, in all of us. Though it’s only by listening to songs like these where we can truly confront our own subconscious weaknesses

After this horror, the fantasy of 'No Surprises' arrives, the fantasies we place above what is real in the world. The music throughout this one is really childlike and innocent, and it works perfectly after the darkness of ‘Climbing Up The Walls’ because it is showing what really underlies the darkness, or in a way what comes after it. It’s the monotonous routine of life, and the clichés us city dwellers all revolve our lives around to feel part of culture and part of the world. The song plays out like a bit of a nursery rhyme and it works perfectly. It speaks about the easy, quiet life we all yearn to have, and all eventually have of “a quiet life” and “a heart that’s full up like a landfill, a job that slowly kills you, bruises that won’t heal”, purely because we don’t want any “alarms” or “surprises.” We all hate surprises don’t we. In the video for this song Yorke’s head is immersed in a tank, which slowly fills up with water, suffocating him. It’s a metaphor.

'Lucky' comes in with another reference to technology getting the better of us, the complete opposite of ‘Airbag’ where it saves our life. This one speaks of an “aircrash” and the illusion that technology gives us, that we are the lucky ones, because we have access to all this technology that aids our everyday lives. However we’re constantly knocked down by it, over and over again. We are always “standing on the edge.” The song also has a dual-theme, it speaks of those city dwellers that gain success and more ‘freedom’ than others. The ones who are called for by “the head of state” and branded as “superheroes.” It isn’t like they’re any different from anyone else, it’s that in this world, they’re “lucky.” This song is like a reference back to ‘Airbag’ in the way that in ‘Airbag’, he is “born again”, and this time he survives an aircrash therefore, he is “on a roll.” It’s another situation where new thoughts arise due to incidents where technology has a giant hold on our lives. This can relate to many many other situations.

The album then finally finishes with 'The Tourist' which brings it all together, concluding the human conflict which is present through the whole album. This is that in the western world, we all move far too quickly, unable to keep up with our own lives, and all the “holes” we drill in ourselves. We’re all going at “a thousand feet per second”, and not realising what we’re doing or “where the hell” we’re going. We are all alienated from ourselves because we are losing ourselves to the world that we can’t quite keep up with. It’s a reminder to us that we’re only human, and that we aren’t better than that, and we can’t do everything at once. The present age tells us to be perfect and try everything, and get all the enjoyment we can out of everything the world has to offer, but we can’t do that, the best we can do is “slow down” and be comfortable in who we are. Without that we can’t really enjoy what the world has to offer properly, we’d only be “tourists” in the world, going around and trying everything, we wouldn’t be real people. If we get “overcharged” with everything, that’s when we see “sparks.” The song itself is a slow, enjoyable, soothing one too, it really shows what’s achieved when we just “slow down”

This album is a bit of a predictable choice for number 1, though everyone who’s lived the last twenty years should definitely have a listen to it.

Genre: Alternative Rock

Recommended Listens: “Paranoid Android”, “Let Down”, “The Tourist”

Have a Listen!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4GsSCfOeAk

As you probably realised, unfortunately Nickleback aren’t number 1 on this countdown. The number 1 album will be posted tomorrow.

Anyone who has read the top 11 albums so far can probably see where it’s going.

I’d ask people to guess what the album is, but it’s really quite predictable.

Oh and beware, tomorrow’s post is a long one

adjectiveanimaluk:

New demo to taste what’s to come at the end of August.

Check this out if you like a bit of psychedelic noise

#1
Nickelback- All the Right Reasons
Look at this photograph
Everytime I do it makes me laugh
How did our eyes get so red
And what the hell is on Joey's head

And this is where I grew up
I think the present owner fixed it up
I never knew we'd ever went without
The second floor is hard for sneaking out

And this is where I went to school
Most of the time had better things to do
Criminal record says I broke in twice
I must have done it half a dozen times

I wonder if It's too late
Should I go back and try to graduate
Life's better now that it was back then
If I was them I wouldn't let me in

Oh oh oh
Oh God I

Every memory of looking out the back door
I have the photo album spread out on my bedroom door
It's hard to say it, time to say it
Goodbye, goodbye

Every memory of walking out the front door
I found the photo of the friend that I was looking for
It's hard to say it, time to say it
Goodbye, goodbye

Remember the old arcade 
Blew every dollar that we ever made 
The cops hated us hanging out 
They said somebody went and burned it down 

We used to listen to the radio
And sing along with every song we know
We said someday we'd find out how if feels
To sing to more than just the steering wheel

Kim's the first girl I kissed
I was so nervous that I nearly missed
She's had a couple of kids since then
I haven't seen her since God knows when

Oh oh oh
Oh God I

Every memory of looking out the back door
I had the photo album spread out on my bedroom floor
It's hard to say it, time to say it
Goodbye, goodbye

Every memory of walking out the front door
I found the photo of the friend that I was looking for
It's hard to say it, time to say it
Goodbye, goodbye

I miss that town
I miss the faces
You can't erase
You can't replace it
I miss it now
I can't believe it

So hard to stay
So hard to leave it

If I could I relive those days
I know the one that would never change

Every memory of looking out the back door
I had the photo album spread out on my bedroom door
It's hard to say it, time to say it
Goodbye, goodbye

Every memory of walking out the front door
I found the photo of the friend that I was looking for
It's hard to say it, time to say it
Goodbye, goodbye

Look at this photograph
Everytime I do it makes me laugh
Everytime I do it makes me...Recommended Listens: "Photograph", "Rockstar"Have a Listen!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BB0DU4DoPP4

#1

Nickelback- All the Right Reasons

Look at this photograph
Everytime I do it makes me laugh
How did our eyes get so red
And what the hell is on Joey's head

And this is where I grew up
I think the present owner fixed it up
I never knew we'd ever went without
The second floor is hard for sneaking out

And this is where I went to school
Most of the time had better things to do
Criminal record says I broke in twice
I must have done it half a dozen times

I wonder if It's too late
Should I go back and try to graduate
Life's better now that it was back then
If I was them I wouldn't let me in

Oh oh oh
Oh God I

Every memory of looking out the back door
I have the photo album spread out on my bedroom door
It's hard to say it, time to say it
Goodbye, goodbye

Every memory of walking out the front door
I found the photo of the friend that I was looking for
It's hard to say it, time to say it
Goodbye, goodbye

Remember the old arcade 
Blew every dollar that we ever made 
The cops hated us hanging out 
They said somebody went and burned it down 

We used to listen to the radio
And sing along with every song we know
We said someday we'd find out how if feels
To sing to more than just the steering wheel

Kim's the first girl I kissed
I was so nervous that I nearly missed
She's had a couple of kids since then
I haven't seen her since God knows when

Oh oh oh
Oh God I

Every memory of looking out the back door
I had the photo album spread out on my bedroom floor
It's hard to say it, time to say it
Goodbye, goodbye

Every memory of walking out the front door
I found the photo of the friend that I was looking for
It's hard to say it, time to say it
Goodbye, goodbye

I miss that town
I miss the faces
You can't erase
You can't replace it
I miss it now
I can't believe it

So hard to stay
So hard to leave it

If I could I relive those days
I know the one that would never change

Every memory of looking out the back door
I had the photo album spread out on my bedroom door
It's hard to say it, time to say it
Goodbye, goodbye

Every memory of walking out the front door
I found the photo of the friend that I was looking for
It's hard to say it, time to say it
Goodbye, goodbye

Look at this photograph
Everytime I do it makes me laugh
Everytime I do it makes me...

Recommended Listens: "Photograph", "Rockstar"

Have a Listen!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BB0DU4DoPP4
#2
Radiohead- Kid A
Released 14 years ago now, and still as innovative as ever. This came out in the year 2000, and probably takes the bait as the best album to come out of the 21st century. This one has the darkest of dark Radiohead tones, you can just tell by looking at the album cover really. This album is what brought out the ‘alternative’ part in the ‘alternative rock’ genre that Radiohead have always been part of. Most of these songs don’t follow the typical formats found on The Bends or OK Computer. Most of them just repeat into themselves until they purely fade away and some of them just build into chaos (‘The National Anthem’ is a big example). The lyrics in this one are more abstract than anything Radiohead have come out with, they did quite well on OK Computer and then Amnesiac after this one. However neither quite beat this one in terms of ambiguousness. They had a bit of this in OK Computer but this was the real beginning of the lyrics being designed to bring up thoughts in our own heads, letting us make it into the art it is, rather than any specific theme being there for us to find. The lyrics in this one however, are in no way important, without the music to bring everything out. This becomes less an expression of the world we live in, and more an exploration of the world we live in.
Now ‘Everything in its Right Place’ begins the bleak landscape that is this entire album. This is one which repeats and repeats into itself, repeating four lines. These being the titular line, “yesterday I woke up sucking a lemon”, “There are two colours in my head” and “what was that you tried to say?” This is all combined with an echoed, sampled voice alongside it all, breaking apart into incoherent slices of vocals, breaking up around it until he very aptly asks “what was that you tried to say?” This voice has arrived in a natural sense, and left disfigured and edited by technological means. This is a brilliant representation of our own relationship with technology in the contemporary world. We edit our own voices and ideas through the internet, and through the media, we have ourselves, and our edited, virtual selves. I found that critics at the time of this album’s release, negatively reviewed it, stating that it “lacked soul” and “passion” etc. and this is exactly the point of the album. The humanity in the album is completely lost within a realm of technology and alienation, and everything being “in its right place.” You can hear the desperation building and building in Yorke’s edited voice till the very end. This then falls into the title track ‘Kid A’ - this is where the edited voice becomes the voice. Yorke’s voice is lost within a realm of technology, so much that it is difficult even to make out the words he is saying. What he is saying however, is a little pied piper fable, describing people who copy one another, in a number of different ways, for a safe lifestyle. This is a possible expression towards the current mainstream music industry of people constantly copying one another.This eventually then ends with the disfigured sound of a baby crying, some sinister stuff. They are a lucky band to manage to do exactly what they want to, whilst making a living off of it. 
This then breaks into the chaos of ‘The National Anthem’ which very much explains that the thing that brings us humans all together, is chaos and the notion that “everyone has got the fear.” I always find that all the sounds of the brass band towards the end of the song are purely to represent the chaos of humans going about their everyday lives, possibly the sounds of a bustling city full of people. And these sounds are really quite alienating. Firstly, for a song called ‘The National Anthem’ it is really quite uninspiring, and that if they played it live, it wouldn’t give any anthemic quality, and nobody would really sing along in unison. This is telling us something. That the old traditions that brought humans together are now gone, in our contemporary society, it’s pure chaos, there isn’t a sense of unity anymore, it’s purely “holding on”, it’s not moving in any direction, there is no one purpose we are all part of. We are just a large mash-up of mini-purposes, battling it out with each other and creating dissonance, just like the brass section at the end of the piece (see what I mean by the music and lyrics not working without one another). The aftermath of this is then all brought out with ‘How To Disappear Completely’ which is one of my favourites on the album, and it is a desire to become nothing at all just for a short time. A wish just to not be involved with the world for a moment. The mood of this song is an airy one, which is very difficult not to lose yourself and get caught up in. Like with ‘The National Anthem’ it speaks directly about living, through a day in the world. In this one the technological sounds become emotive, the effected-guitar becomes part of the emotional world around the singer. It is no longer trapping him, though instead he wishes to be part of it, to be something without knowledge of itself living, without sentience. This in a way is something that is affected by the technological world, still in a negative sense. There is a lack of reality caused by the artificial in our world, and this can make people want themselves to be artificial, and not be part of reality anymore. They want themselves to look like someone from the video games they play, act like a character in the films they see etc.
This one then carries its atmosphere into an instrumental track ‘Treefingers.’ This track sounds very unorganized in a way, however on more and more listens you see the organisation behind it all, there is a musical structure in it, even if it is fluid and purely to create atmosphere. The song is an instrumental created purely with one instrument, the electric guitar. You might want this track to sound more organised because that way it may sound more human, but by this point in the album Yorke has disappeared completely into a completely non-human atmosphere. They have left some space here in the album to contemplate. This is until ‘Optimistic’ comes along, which was the track they decided to have played on the radio from the album. This one is actually a little optimistic lift, and it is understandable why they’d give it the air-play. Though I can always get a sense of irony from any Radiohead songs. Especially in lines like “I’d really like to help you man” after describing that “the big fish eat the little ones.” This is all purely a critique on the society we all live in, of being “messed up marionettes flying around on a prison ship.” The only advice one can give in this world is that “if you try the best you can… the best you can is good enough.” In a way the song is actually hopeful, which is quite unlike Radiohead, so it is as the title suggests. This all then falls into a much bleaker atmosphere, the atmosphere of ‘In Limbo’. ‘In Limbo’ is very linked to ‘Optimistic, it’s another critique on society, in a much more abstract way. The one thing that a capitalist society strives on is fantasy, it is full of signs + symbols of brands, and keeps itself going through the love for products we all have. This song repeats over and over the line “You’re living in a fantasy world.” The whole song is also lost in the realms of technological sounds, Yorke’s voice is once again completely edited within the electronic atmosphere. It is swamping everything, representing how the real world just swamps us with all these items, and new technologies to help create the fantasy around us.
This then hits the bottom, where we find ‘Idioteque’, which tells us that “this is really happening”, this one has a very electronic, yet very desolate feel to it. This one uses technology in a way to bring out what it was really built to do, most technology has come out of weapons manufacturing for war, and most technology was build to cause chaos. This is exactly the feel of the song, it is panicked, and it is chaotic. The entire song is one long panic, stating all the paranoia of the 21st century. Global warming, is an ice age coming? “Mobiles chirping”, hearing both sides of the story in this information age, greed - “I swallow till I burst”. It has everything all wrapped into one long chaotic track with a jittering beat. We are told though that none if it is false, none of it is “scaremongering, this is really happening.” The last part of the album then - ‘Morning Bell’ and ‘Motion Picture Soundtrack’ - are a little bit more chilled-out and a little bit more contemplative this time. This is a little more emotive, and atmospheric, and it is of the toll that all this takes on the personal lives of everyday people. All we need is some sort of release, but really we just get bogged down with all the things we need to do in everyday life - “clothes are always on the furniture” etc. The way “release me” is sang, is full of yearning and full of emotion. This is in a way, like an emotional release from everything that has gone on through the first part of the album. It finally all ends with ‘Motion Picture Soundtrack’ which is a very sad song, about all the things we do and take to escape and arrive in our “fantasy world”, “red wine and sleeping pills… cheap sex and sad films.” It’s a dark ending to it all really, but it does have some underlying truth. It tells us that this fantasy world that we make is not real, “it’s not like the movies.” Oh well, maybe “the next life” will be different, some people tell themselves.
Genre: Experimental Rock
Recommended Listens: “The National Anthem”, “How to Disappear Completely”, “Idioteque”
Have A Listen!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6XKgvKZy10

#2

Radiohead- Kid A

Released 14 years ago now, and still as innovative as ever. This came out in the year 2000, and probably takes the bait as the best album to come out of the 21st century. This one has the darkest of dark Radiohead tones, you can just tell by looking at the album cover really. This album is what brought out the ‘alternative’ part in the ‘alternative rock’ genre that Radiohead have always been part of. Most of these songs don’t follow the typical formats found on The Bends or OK Computer. Most of them just repeat into themselves until they purely fade away and some of them just build into chaos (‘The National Anthem’ is a big example). The lyrics in this one are more abstract than anything Radiohead have come out with, they did quite well on OK Computer and then Amnesiac after this one. However neither quite beat this one in terms of ambiguousness. They had a bit of this in OK Computer but this was the real beginning of the lyrics being designed to bring up thoughts in our own heads, letting us make it into the art it is, rather than any specific theme being there for us to find. The lyrics in this one however, are in no way important, without the music to bring everything out. This becomes less an expression of the world we live in, and more an exploration of the world we live in.

Now ‘Everything in its Right Place’ begins the bleak landscape that is this entire album. This is one which repeats and repeats into itself, repeating four lines. These being the titular line, “yesterday I woke up sucking a lemon”, “There are two colours in my head” and “what was that you tried to say?” This is all combined with an echoed, sampled voice alongside it all, breaking apart into incoherent slices of vocals, breaking up around it until he very aptly asks “what was that you tried to say?” This voice has arrived in a natural sense, and left disfigured and edited by technological means. This is a brilliant representation of our own relationship with technology in the contemporary world. We edit our own voices and ideas through the internet, and through the media, we have ourselves, and our edited, virtual selves. I found that critics at the time of this album’s release, negatively reviewed it, stating that it “lacked soul” and “passion” etc. and this is exactly the point of the album. The humanity in the album is completely lost within a realm of technology and alienation, and everything being “in its right place.” You can hear the desperation building and building in Yorke’s edited voice till the very end. This then falls into the title track ‘Kid A’ - this is where the edited voice becomes the voice. Yorke’s voice is lost within a realm of technology, so much that it is difficult even to make out the words he is saying. What he is saying however, is a little pied piper fable, describing people who copy one another, in a number of different ways, for a safe lifestyle. This is a possible expression towards the current mainstream music industry of people constantly copying one another.This eventually then ends with the disfigured sound of a baby crying, some sinister stuff. They are a lucky band to manage to do exactly what they want to, whilst making a living off of it. 

This then breaks into the chaos of ‘The National Anthem’ which very much explains that the thing that brings us humans all together, is chaos and the notion that “everyone has got the fear.” I always find that all the sounds of the brass band towards the end of the song are purely to represent the chaos of humans going about their everyday lives, possibly the sounds of a bustling city full of people. And these sounds are really quite alienating. Firstly, for a song called ‘The National Anthem’ it is really quite uninspiring, and that if they played it live, it wouldn’t give any anthemic quality, and nobody would really sing along in unison. This is telling us something. That the old traditions that brought humans together are now gone, in our contemporary society, it’s pure chaos, there isn’t a sense of unity anymore, it’s purely “holding on”, it’s not moving in any direction, there is no one purpose we are all part of. We are just a large mash-up of mini-purposes, battling it out with each other and creating dissonance, just like the brass section at the end of the piece (see what I mean by the music and lyrics not working without one another). The aftermath of this is then all brought out with ‘How To Disappear Completely’ which is one of my favourites on the album, and it is a desire to become nothing at all just for a short time. A wish just to not be involved with the world for a moment. The mood of this song is an airy one, which is very difficult not to lose yourself and get caught up in. Like with ‘The National Anthem’ it speaks directly about living, through a day in the world. In this one the technological sounds become emotive, the effected-guitar becomes part of the emotional world around the singer. It is no longer trapping him, though instead he wishes to be part of it, to be something without knowledge of itself living, without sentience. This in a way is something that is affected by the technological world, still in a negative sense. There is a lack of reality caused by the artificial in our world, and this can make people want themselves to be artificial, and not be part of reality anymore. They want themselves to look like someone from the video games they play, act like a character in the films they see etc.

This one then carries its atmosphere into an instrumental track ‘Treefingers.’ This track sounds very unorganized in a way, however on more and more listens you see the organisation behind it all, there is a musical structure in it, even if it is fluid and purely to create atmosphere. The song is an instrumental created purely with one instrument, the electric guitar. You might want this track to sound more organised because that way it may sound more human, but by this point in the album Yorke has disappeared completely into a completely non-human atmosphere. They have left some space here in the album to contemplate. This is until ‘Optimistic’ comes along, which was the track they decided to have played on the radio from the album. This one is actually a little optimistic lift, and it is understandable why they’d give it the air-play. Though I can always get a sense of irony from any Radiohead songs. Especially in lines like “I’d really like to help you man” after describing that “the big fish eat the little ones.” This is all purely a critique on the society we all live in, of being “messed up marionettes flying around on a prison ship.” The only advice one can give in this world is that “if you try the best you can… the best you can is good enough.” In a way the song is actually hopeful, which is quite unlike Radiohead, so it is as the title suggests. This all then falls into a much bleaker atmosphere, the atmosphere of ‘In Limbo’. ‘In Limbo’ is very linked to ‘Optimistic, it’s another critique on society, in a much more abstract way. The one thing that a capitalist society strives on is fantasy, it is full of signs + symbols of brands, and keeps itself going through the love for products we all have. This song repeats over and over the line “You’re living in a fantasy world.” The whole song is also lost in the realms of technological sounds, Yorke’s voice is once again completely edited within the electronic atmosphere. It is swamping everything, representing how the real world just swamps us with all these items, and new technologies to help create the fantasy around us.

This then hits the bottom, where we find ‘Idioteque’, which tells us that “this is really happening”, this one has a very electronic, yet very desolate feel to it. This one uses technology in a way to bring out what it was really built to do, most technology has come out of weapons manufacturing for war, and most technology was build to cause chaos. This is exactly the feel of the song, it is panicked, and it is chaotic. The entire song is one long panic, stating all the paranoia of the 21st century. Global warming, is an ice age coming? “Mobiles chirping”, hearing both sides of the story in this information age, greed - “I swallow till I burst”. It has everything all wrapped into one long chaotic track with a jittering beat. We are told though that none if it is false, none of it is “scaremongering, this is really happening.” The last part of the album then - ‘Morning Bell’ and ‘Motion Picture Soundtrack’ - are a little bit more chilled-out and a little bit more contemplative this time. This is a little more emotive, and atmospheric, and it is of the toll that all this takes on the personal lives of everyday people. All we need is some sort of release, but really we just get bogged down with all the things we need to do in everyday life - “clothes are always on the furniture” etc. The way “release me” is sang, is full of yearning and full of emotion. This is in a way, like an emotional release from everything that has gone on through the first part of the album. It finally all ends with ‘Motion Picture Soundtrack’ which is a very sad song, about all the things we do and take to escape and arrive in our “fantasy world”, “red wine and sleeping pills… cheap sex and sad films.” It’s a dark ending to it all really, but it does have some underlying truth. It tells us that this fantasy world that we make is not real, “it’s not like the movies.” Oh well, maybe “the next life” will be different, some people tell themselves.

Genre: Experimental Rock

Recommended Listens: “The National Anthem”, “How to Disappear Completely”, “Idioteque”

Have A Listen!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6XKgvKZy10

#3

Arcade Fire- Funeral

Everyone has to go through loss in some way or another, and that’s why this album can be touching to everyone. It’s ‘Arcade Fire’s debut album, released 10 years ago now, and it’s still very meaningful to anyone who has to forget the child in them, and grow into an adult. Yeah growing up may be a lot like shooting a dog out into space never to return, or being told not to cry when crying seems like the best option, or moving from the peace of the backseat in a car, to the front seat, where the responsibility is. This album is full of these metaphors, set to music that is full of spirit and passion. The band may not be very good at playing their instruments, and it may not be very well-recorded, though you can definitely feel the passion shining through the recordings. You definitely know the passion is there and genuine too, with the knowledge that several band members had parents that passed away prior to the recording. This album expresses the feelings of taking up responsibility, and growing up, in a beautiful, emotional way.

The entire album begins with the luscious F major chords of ‘Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)’. This is already possibly the most beautiful song on the entire album, through it’s magical, almost-christmassy feel. I remember the stage being lit up with a snowy theme when I saw them play this one live. It wonderfully begins the whole childhood theme of the album in it’s tone of childlike wonder. This song is a child’s first reaction to the death of their parents, and escaping it briefly through finding their own comfort in someone else in the world. It is also finding the positives in the situation, of feeling like they can do whatever you like, they can “let (their) hair grow long, and forget all (they) used to know.” They can dig a tunnel to each other’s windows, and have their own babies, even if that reminds them of their own parents dying. This track sets the scene for the rest of the album, especially in the pure sadness expressed when the line of “then we think of our parents, well whatever happened to them?” is sang, with such unnerving emotion. There is a brief happiness in the ‘taking responsibility for your own’ theme of the song, and there is also sadness. It is realizing that out of such sadness, you can live your own life, as you are your own person. It is uplifting in both a musical and lyrical sense. It also made the number 1 spot on my first countdown, of my "Top 900 Songs". ‘Neigborhood #2 (Laïka)’ is then a darker turn in the album. You’d often find people speaking about old family stories in funerals, and this is exactly what they’re doing in this song. Laïka was the first dog launched into space, who didn’t have a clue what was going on, launched into the great unknown. In the song this is linked to a story of a troublesome son leaving his parents to never come back. This journey into the unknown is one we all take when we grow up, there is an air of distress about this whole song, with the shouted vocals through the verses, and often in quite dissonant harmonies. It’s the stress of leaving your own comfort zone “for your own good”. It’s the stress of being “bit by a vampire”, the vampire of responsibility, and instead of letting your parents catch “his tears in a cup”, having to “drink it”, drink those tears yourself, and don’t “die or dry up”. It’s oh so full of metaphors.

'Une année sans lumiére’ translates into English to “A Year Without Light”, this takes the theme of loss, and taking responsibility for your own, and takes it slowly into something bigger, this being taking your place in the world, and making the difference you want to make to it. This theme only comes into place fully in songs like ‘Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)’ and ‘Wake Up’ though. This song is more of a low key one, describing how everything in this world is a consequence of something else happening in the past. That “if you see a shadow, there’s something there”. Light is also brought in as a theme here, of a light going out within us, upon losing someone. The “Light” in ‘A Year Without Light’ most likely is the relative that has been lost. The song explains that you are the shadow the light of your parents casts on an object. And that we are the objects that use light to cast shadows on our world. Musically I find that this is probably the most unexciting, uninteresting song though. This is broken completely though by the time ‘Neigborhood #3 (Power Out)’ comes around, which is one of the catchiest songs on the entire album. This gives the sense of chaos that ensues when the light is all gone, and “the power’s out”. It gives a story of children running amok once the parents are gone, looking for something to do, and “swinging from the power lines” because they “don’t have any dreams, don’t have any plans.” There is an especially chaotic part in this song where “what’s the plan?” is being sung, combined with some very dissonant music, to give the sense that now their parents are gone, they feel like their life is without any sort of foundation, and it isn’t going in any particular direction, that the only consequence is confusion. This is part of a bigger theme too, of taking the world into your own hands, when the world is going in no particular direction, like the state it is in now. It is telling us to “take it from your hearts, put it in your hands.” Meaning to look at what you want to happen with the world, and strive to achieve that. This album is speaking to the “children” of the world in a couple of different ways. ‘Neigborhood #4 (Kettles)’ is then a bit of a calm after the storm, and it carries on with the whole “the power’s out in the heart of man” vibe in the last track. This is all a lot gentler than the last track, and they are contemplating how his neighborhood has changed from when he was younger, that there’s a spirit about it that has changed, and died out. And then he’s contemplating larger aspects of the neighborhood, of time “killing old folks, waking up babies” etc. They’re contemplating the fact that now they’re an adult, they’re waiting around for a “watched pot” that “won’t ever boil”, waiting for something in their lives to click that just never will. It’s just “some water, getting hotter, in the flames”. More and more is happening in their lives that they don’t want to happen, just because they’re waiting for a good moment, that they don’t exactly know will come. I’m sure it’s a feeling most people feel.

'Crown of Love' is another change that has taken place due to movement from childhood into adulthood. This one, along with the next is really quite powerful, in it's whole chamber pop flair. It definitely shows off the grandeur that they've given to the modern musical world. It is talking directly to someone that they loved as a child, and no longer love anymore, because they are now an adult, and that something in them has changed because of all of this, that they have grown into a different person. It is stating how much this person does mean to them, and that they have really made them who they are, but that they now pray for them to leave their life, because they have no need for them anymore. It's a sad song but it is certainly something that must happen a lot in the world. It is a sad fact that people do change when they grow up, often into entirely different people. People have their “old love” and people have their “new love” and their names “keep changin.” 'Wake Up” is then possibly the grandest, most epic-sounding song on the album, moreso than the first track (and neither of those are even the last track). This seems to be expressing musically, what happens when one's feelings are all bottled up, and then they burst out again. This one is the big contemplation of growing up, in a very epic sense. It is simply going over how your innocence is lost as you grow up, your heart becomes colder, as everyone tells you “not to cry” and how “our bodies get bigger but our hearts get torn up.” It's a very universal song about humanity, and how “we're just a million little gods causing rainstorms, turning every good thing to rust”. It is also carrying on with telling the children of today to “wake up, hold your mistake up, before they turn the summer into rust”. Telling us young people to do something before the world turns to shit. 'Haiti' is then purely a story about Régine Chassagne’s own childhood, that they have decided to include. This story just adds to the thematic sense of the album. She talks about growing up in Haiti under the brutal dictatorship of Duvalier where her parents died, and how she made her way to Canada when she fled there, hiding in forests and rowing through rivers away from soldiers. It is explaining that she managed to do something, and take up responsibility for herself, once her parents died. And that she made her way out of corrupted world by doing this.

'Rebellion (Lies)' then goes even more political, with themes about the media telling you lies, and not believing something purely because everyone else thinks in this way, and to always be on the look out for the right answer because as soon as you “close your eyes (lies! lies!).” All you will get are lies, once you don't open your eyes to the world around you. This is also one of the catchiest tracks on the album, and it really gives almost a punk-like feel. It is telling us not to sit down and sleep, because “sleeping is giving in” to what the media want us to see and believe, purely sitting down and taking it all in, without listening to your own dreams, and your own instinct, will only open us up to all the lies “they” want you to take in, and “scare you son, scare your daughter.” Though it all ends with some absolute truths in life in saying “here's the sun, it's alright, here's the moon it's alright.” Now these are two facts of life we can open our eyes to. Finally the album ends beautifully with 'In The Backseat' is another song sung by Régine Chassagne, about how she’s been “learning to drive, (her) whole life”, that she’s been learning how to cope on her own, and take responsibility, her whole life, and that one day she’d like to sit down “in the backseat” because she “likes the peace” there, after the horrors of the brutal dictatorship she lived under as a child. There is a wail that Régine makes near the end of the song which seems like a complete outburst of emotion, as if she is letting go of the emotions tearing her up about her deceased parents. This is finally before a really emotive string melody breaks in, and takes over the song until the very end. This one just builds and builds in emotion, and I know Régine’s voice may not be the best voice around, but it is full of passion and spirit, and this is much more beautiful to hear than any good voice. It begins with the impact of death on others, and ends with the very same thing, however we feel like we’ve learnt so much about it as we’ve come through the album. It’s definitely something to listen to for anyone going through the process of becoming and adult, and becoming responsible.

Genre: Indie Rock

Recommended Listens: “Neigborhood #1 (Tunnels)”, “Wake Up”, “Rebellion (Lies)”

Have a Listen!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGkPHX1KaFw