Tag Archives: music

Can’t touch this

Radiohead released their eighth album, The King of Limbs, last week to, surprise surprise, widespread critical acclaim. “A challenging album, difficult to review, but beautiful and interesting”, was the general consensus. Hmmmn. Forgive me, but should an album really be difficult to review? I mean, I’d struggle to review The Saturdays’ album because, you know, it’s probably total shit, and even if it’s not, it’s music-box-churned-out-pop-dirge. Not music I listen to, not in a lucid state anyway. Besides which, an album should be fairly easily gradable on some arbitrary scale. But this is not a review, it’s a critique. Of the critics.

I’ve been a big fan of Radiohead for many a year. In fact, when people ask me who

Red trousers. photo: David Sh.

my favourite band are I will often refer them to the Oxford quintet. I even loved The Eraser, and I think Kid A is a near-perfect record. But I’m losing patience.

Sure, Limbs is a half-decent record. It’s gone some nice trademark tinkly bits, some catchy bass riffs, a smattering of Selway’s jazz infused drumming. I’m not saying it’s a bad record by any stretch. The problem is, Radiohead haven’t put out anything truly groundbreaking since 2001. And they shouldn’t have to, either – they’re great songwriters and fine musicians. However, when they put out a fairly average album, it ought to be treated as such.

It seems the only other person who noticed this is Barbara Ellen (ahhhhh, Barbara) in The Observer. Perceptive, she is, delightfully describing Radiohead’s sound as “like drunks tripping over Jean Michel Jarre’s dustbins”. But it’s not Radiohead’s problem. They’re now so revered, held on some music-royalty pedestal way above their contemporaries that their next record could just be Thom Yorke falling on top of a vocoder whilst playing glockenspiel with his penis, accompanied by Johnny Greenwood crying onto an infant’s face, and the crits would love it. “Ohhhhhh, once again Radiohead push the boundaries of ‘music’.” Actually, that does sound like a fairly interesting record, but the point stands.

It’s the old adage, “Man, you just don’t get it.” Well, Yorke, I do get it. You’re just not as good as you used to be.

*I’d like to point out that I thought of this article about a week ago but I was too lazy to write it. Then Babs wrote hers, and it seems like I stole her idea. I didn’t. Besides, we were all thinking it anyway.

You can follow Neal Wallace on Twitter @nealjwallace


VIDEO – Last Lungs – Ingeland. The Banshee Labyrinth, Edinburgh. 16/2/11

Last Lungs (Deep Elm Records) performing Ingeland parts 1 to 3 at The Banshee Labyrinth, Edinburgh. 16.2.11
Filmed and edited by Neal Wallace


Five albums I really, really love

Admittedly this is a bit of a cliched post, but it’s a nice starter for ten, and we all love a list (apart from American serial killer John List – bit of a nasty bastard by all accounts).

1. James Yorkston – When the Haar Rolls in

Hardly surprising that former Fence Collective troubadour James Yorkston makes an appearance on here, considering it was he whom my esteemed contributor Fearghus and I were watching on Friday night (see his review of that show here). However, this is an album as fit for balmy summer days as it is long winter nights, with Yorkston at his most affecting yet, particularly on the album’s title track. Force of habit has caused me to always skip ‘Would you have me born with wooden eyes?’, though. ‘Cos it’s crap.

2. Andrew Bird – Oh! The Grandeur

A far cry from the lyrically-intricate-I-just-learnt-a-new-big-word-so-Ima-use-it-soulless-dirge the Birdman tends to put out these days, Grandeur harks back to the music hall jiving of the ’20s and ’30s, all syncopation and jazz hands. He even makes room for a Jewish funeral march. What larks!

3. The Low Anthem – Oh My God, Charlie Darwin

Ranging from the sweetest harmonies of catharsis to Tom Waits at his growling dirtiest, Charlie Darwin is perhaps, musically, one of my favourites of the last few years. Wait, no, it definitely is, that’s why it’s on the list. Ok, the words aren’t wonderful, but the singing, especially on the first two tracks, makes my many hairs stand up.

4. Leonard Cohen – New Skin for the Old Ceremony

The stalwart of wry misery, Cohen’s fourth album has some of his best lyrics: “You told me you prefer handsome men, but for me you would make an exception.” We can all associate with that. Also, the clarinet on ‘Why don’t you try?’ is irresistible.

5. Dessa – A badly broken code

She’s got a masters degree in Psychology, you know? Well, she sure knows, and uses it to perfection, combining rap, spoken word and some gorgeously-sung hooks in her flow (I’m so white). She’s clever too, some insightful stuff on here. You can’t run on “whisky and risk and ennui and impatience’, though, and she should know better.

I compiled this list by having a quick glance through my itunes, and there’s probably at least 50 more albums I really love too. Maybe more that these, even. Why is it lists are so appealing?

You can follow Neal Wallace on Twitter @nealjwallace