Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Radiohead and the National Conversation

Regardless of whether you feel positively or negatively about "In Rainbows," the new Radiohead album, one of the cool things that their unique distribution policy has done is create an album that basically all of my friends own. When was the last time that happened? I was really racking my brain to come up with the last time everyone was talking about the same record. It would have to be a hip-hop record, though, possibly something by Kanye West, Outkast, or Eminem?

Plus, the fact that everyone can get the album for free has created enormous goodwill around the record and the band itself. Assuming that most of you that read this have heard the record, what do you think about it?

Personally, I already like it more than "Hail to the Thief" and there is no doubt that there is something warmer about this record than the Kid A/Amnesiac duo (though I wouldn't say it's better, at least not yet?). Obviously, it can't touch OK Computer, but I find it sort of tiresome to bring this up every time a new record of theirs comes out. In re the songs themselves: "15 Step" and "Bodysnatchers" are an excellent, upbeat 1-2 punch to start off the record, while "Nude" and "Videotape" remind me of some of the best slow moments from "Ok Computer."

Does anyone have a problem with the sound quality? As much as I love music, I'm no audiophile, and the 160 bit rate sounds just fine to my ears (Check out this Slate article argues that most of the time, you really can't notice anyway). Still, I know that there are some people for whom this kind of thing drives them crazy, is this the case for any of you?

Regardless of what you think about the record, the conversation about this record reminds me of a time when everyone got a big new record on the same day (as opposed to now, when everyone seems to get leaked records 6 months or more in advance), and there was no avalanche of hype (or disappointment, for that matter) to make up your mind for you before you even heard the record. That alone has me more excited than I've been about an album in quite a while.


Howard said...

I also think it's been amazing that everyone got it t the same time. No advanced copies to the press or anyone. So there was no vibe about what critics thought before we even heard it. I mean guys were literally like live-blogging it that morning. I think that's great. It's like we all get to be at the first screening. We were all able to form our own opinion and dicuss it rather than be like "I heard Pitchfork gave it a 6."

And that to me may be the quantum leap of this whole thing.

Personally, I think it's their most "human" record since The Bends.

But ain't nothin' gonna top OK Computer.

Josh said...

It was definitely a refreshing experience not to really know what anybody thought about it before I heard it. Try as I might, Pitchfork has an alarming tendency to shape the way that I think about albums.

Bryan said...

Yeah, the whole experience has been invigorating. And here we are perpetuating it.

I'm digging it too. That damn Reckoner has been stuck in my head for days. Don't know if it will eclipse most of their albums for me, but the more I get into the lyrics, the better idea I'll have.

I did enjoy Pitchfork's _._ rating. I appreciate that they're consciously making fun of themselves.

MDD said...

I just listened to Videotape about 8 times in a row. I love that every single one of their albums has a killer closing number.