Posts Tagged ‘Radiohead’

Going To ’11: Songs of the Year

Which Adele song makes the list?

Last year, my “Best Of” music post didn’t come out until January 27th. Well, I wasn’t about to let that happen again. Hopefully, you’re not sick of reviews of 2011 music yet.

Here are the best songs of 2011 (with a limit of one song per artist):

25) “The Merry Barracks” – Deerhoof – Deerhoof vs. Evil

I love the way this song moves from simple to complex.

Continue reading

Going To ’11: Music Videos of 2011

I always think that nobody watches music videos anymore, but then I remember that like 75% of the “Most Viewed” videos on YouTube are music videos that have, collectively, been viewed over five billion times. Nevertheless, it still seems like the cultural importance of music videos have waned. It seems like they exist now for people who want to listen to music on their computer without using iTunes, Spotify, or Pandora.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t cool videos that come out every year. This is a brief overview of the most inspired videos of 2011 (that we saw):

Best Use of Abstract Shapes in a Music Video

“Second Song” — TV On The Radio (Dir: Michael Please)

This is what geometry is for. Continue reading

The King of Limbs: Review

Your first reaction to the latest Radiohead album will be based almost entirely on what you expected from it. This is true to some extent for every album (and every movie, television show, novel, meal, etc.), but it’s particularly the case for Radiohead. The band has built a reputation as the most daring and innovative band on the planet, and it has now gone over three years between albums twice in a row. In other words, these guys have a lot to live up to.

I suspect that Radiohead knows this, and that it at least partially motivated the quick release of The King of Limbs. Just over a week ago, the album had no official name or release date; then last Monday the band announced not only that the album was complete, but that it would be released in five days. To top all that off, the band released the album on Friday, a day before they had initially planned.

The general effect of this was both to preempt any long, anticipatory buildup to the album, as well as to shift focus from The King of Limbs itself to the manner of its release (something Radiohead has done before).

Not that fans need or ought to be “distracted” from The King of Limbs: The album is quite good. Continue reading

Monday Medley

What we read while dunking over a 1992 Buick LeSabre…

Monday Medley

What we read while busting out our old vuvuzelas….

  • Amid the myriad things to love about this–I mean, the puns alone are worth it–I think my favorite is the idea of a story being attributed to Craig Ehlo.
  • We tried icing Tim, but it turns out he kinda likes Smirnoff Ice. Totally ruins it for everyone involved.
  • Feels like it’s been some time since we linked to some fiction. Here’s Loretta Lopez. She’s a Mexican high schooler. It’s good.

Aught Lang Syne: What John S Is Looking Forward To….

In this final installment Aught Lang Syne’s conclusion, John S presents what he is looking forward to in the coming decade. In case you missed it, Josh posted what he is anticipating here, and Tim posted his here. We at NPI hope you’ve enjoyed our retrospective on the Aughts.

In the Teens, I’m looking forward to….

…A Suitable Name for a Decade: Were we happy with “the Aughts”? Of course not. But we stuck with it for the sake of consistency. And even if it won’t be accurate for 30% of the decade, at least all the 2019 decade retrospectives will refer it as “the Teens.”

…The Future of Television: I’ve already touched on this, but television is currently at a crossroads. If anything, things have become more dire for the old model. Network television is apparently on its way out, and free television may be a casualty. This, of course, may have disastrous consequences: With free TV gone, shows’ budgets may be severely restricted. As a result, shows will not be able to have big casts, shoot extensively on location, or attract the best talent. In other words, the Golden Age of TV will be over.

It’s probably inevitable that television will undergo some growing pains, but I think that ultimately the industry will get stronger. The evolution away from the old network model will actually be conducive to more innovative programming. Broad hits like CSI and American Idol may suffer, but shows like Mad Men—which is already on pay-cable and maintains a large cast, original sets, and great actors—ought to be able to survive. In fact, the cable model, which is what people say we are drifting towards now, already produces most of the best television. No matter what, though, it will be fascinating to watch a medium that is hitting its creative stride at the precise moment that it faces logistical upheaval.   Continue reading

Aught Lang Syne: 25 Best Songs of the Decade

So you thought we were done discussing the music of the decade? Well, think again. We didn’t get to what is arguably the most important list of all: The Best Songs of the Decade. When Tim introduced Aught Lang Syne last week, he discussed how certain cultural events will always be linked to events in our lives. Songs may be the best example of this phenomenon. Unlike albums or even music videos, which are generally experienced individually, we tend to listen to songs in groups: They’re on the playlists at the parties we go to; they’re in the background of the bars we drink in and the restaurants we eat at; they’re the songs we dance to when we go to clubs; they’re on the radio when we take road trips. In short, they are the soundtrack of our memory. These are the songs that we will inevitably remember when we think of the Aughts.

Of course, out cultural memory does not always have the best taste: It will probably be impossible to remember the Aughts and not think of the Black Eyed Peas, but God knows I’ll try. What follows, then, is not an attempt to capture the most popular, memorable, or iconic songs of the decade; it is merely a list of the 25 Best Songs. Nevertheless, it is often difficult–and generally undesirable–to dissociate a song from the positive memories of the context in which you heard it. So even without actively trying to incorporate these qualities, the Best Songs of the Decade will inevitably include some of the Most Popular, Most Memorable and Most Iconic.

Anyway, on with the list: Continue reading

Aught Lang Syne: The Top Ten Albums of the Decade

Albums may seem like a dying a breed as technological advances make it easier to skip and rearrange tracks, but they are still the primary creative force for most musical acts. And whether it’s a pointless convention or the natural artistic outlet for music, we still evaluate acts based on the strengths of the albums they put out. For most music fans, it’s albums that allow them to develop a relationship with a band or artists work. Whereas most of NPI’s musical retrospective thus far has been an attempt to sum up what was popular, innovative and interesting about this decade in music, this list is not going to be concerned with broad trends: We are looking simply for the BEST albums of the decade. Now, this is just one man’s opinion, but I think it’s safe to say that if you made it through this decade without listening to these albums, then you’re missing out on quite the musical experience.

Continue reading

Aught Lang Syne: Musical Artist of the Decade

Ten years can be an eternity in music. Ten years after The Beatles released Please Please Me, they had become the biggest band in the world, recorded 12 more albums, and been broken up for three years. Ten years after Elvis came onto the scene and practically invented rock and roll for most of the country, he was an old clown singing boring movie soundtracks. Ten years after Nirvana released Nevermind, Courtney Love had more or less undone the grunge movement with the help of her band Hole.

The lesson: It’s really hard for a band or performer to be good for 10 years. This is probably why we end up remembering decades for small snippets: The 1970s are forever linked to disco, which was popular for a little over two years. The 1990s are best remembered for grunge’s dominance, which was waning by 1994. It’s hard to the think of a similar “moment” from the 2000s.

What we instead remember, with regard to music, are acts. Think of the ’50s and you think of Elvis, the ’60s and The Beatles, the ’70s and Led Zeppelin (or The Clash, or Pink Floyd), the ’80s and Guns N’ Roses (or Bon Jovi), the ’90s and Nirvana, etc. I’ve hypothesized about how this decade will be remembered musically, but that may be less important than who this decade is remembered for. What band or performer had the best decade from 2000-2009? Well, before we breakdown the list of contenders, let’s go over the criteria: Continue reading

Aught Lang Syne: The Decade in Music

I’ve never been a big fan of Kanye West. I generally think he’s overrated,* and I find his antics off-putting. None of his big singles—“Jesus Walks,” “Through the Wire,” “Gold Digger”—ever really resonated with me; I didn’t really think they were bad, but I never went out of my way to listen to them (not that I ever had to). But when I first heard “Stronger,” I remember thinking that West had trapped some kind of “cultural sound” in a bottle (I didn’t think it in those words, exactly; it was probably something more like This song is awesome!). “Stronger” was the kind of “cutting edge” song that sounded both ahead of its time and of the moment.

*Truthfully, this impression is mainly of College Dropout, which I really didn’t like. Most of his work since that is more or less accurately rated.

Rock music stopped being the most interesting genre of pop music at least ten years ago. This isn’t to say that there are no more good rock and roll bands, or that rock music has nowhere left to develop—both of these statements are flatly false—but simply that the dominant sounds of popular culture were not rock and roll this decade. Part of this is rock’s own fault: Watch a movie from that late 1990s and you’ll hear what a lot of “rock” sounded like then—a lot of Third Eye Blind, Sixpence None the Richer, Vertical Horizon, and, of course, Barenaked Ladies. Not exactly riveting stuff.

But even more of it had to do with the flourishing of other genres, most notably rap and hip hop. Almost every artist to get that elusive combination of commercial and critical success this decade was working within those genres: Jay-Z, Kanye, Eminem, 50 Cent, Lil Wayne, Usher, etc. The only rock bands to approach the success of those acts in the 2000s were Coldplay and Green Day…and those bands fucking suck. Continue reading

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