Some #longreads as you make plans for Friday the 13th, “Pi Day”, and the Ides of March…
Multiple sites are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the release of Radiohead’s classic album The Bends, ranging from Consequence of Sound’s track-by-track remembrance to Stereogum’s full-fledged “Radiohead Week”. In addition to their usual anniversary post, Stereogum also has a great interview with Radiohead drummer Philip Selway in which he provides insight into the recording of The Bends. The best feature though may be their discussion with a wide range of musicians about their all-time favorite Radiohead song. A lot of the choices and explanations are illuminating, but I have to say that I was a little disappointed that my personal favorite was not selected.
“Street Spirit (fade out)” is a hauntingly beautiful song, and in my mind is the best song in Radiohead’s extensive catalog–after that, it’s about a thirty-way tie for second place. If you break it down to its basic musical components, it has a fairly uncomplicated structure: it’s just a gorgeous descending guitar melody built atop a simple three chord progression, with Thom Yorke’s voice wrapping itself around the music in a way that is alternately sad and hopeful. This is pure speculation on my part, but I believe that a key factor that contributed to its melancholic quality is the fact that the guitars were tuned about 15 cents flat, which gave a slightly unsettling feel to the arpeggiated riff and helped open up the tone of the guitar. And “Street Spirit” had a fantastic Jonathan Glazer-directed video to boot.
The other big news this week was a jury reaching a verdict in the “Blurred Lines” copyright trial, with the jury finding in favor of the Gaye estate that there was infringement. We may discuss the potential ramifications of the decision in detail at a later date, but in the meantime you can read about the possible unintended consequences of the decision from Deadspin and SPIN. Simply put, the fact that most people in the media has turned on Robin Thicke does not mean that infringement occurred, and it could have a potential chilling effect on future music.
Finally, for some lighter fare, you have a couple of options. Earlier this week we had a piece on Viet Cong, and now you might want to read an interview the band conducted with SPIN, even if it doesn’t touch on the name issue. And you can top it off with the AV Club explaining why you should listen to the gorgeous a capella TV on the Radio song “Ambulance”, followed by actually listening to the song.
Some #longreads to keep your mind off the fact that you’re missing out on the Austin City Limits Festival…
This week, the AV Club published multiple articles worth checking out. First, Daft Punk’s debut album Homework is examined in their Permanent Records feature, which would be worth checking out if only to hear the earliest demo of the duo, a nearly-unrecognizable bit of alternative instrumental rock. Then there’s this plea to listen to The Jam’s “Set The House Ablaze”, which coincidentally enough was published right around the time I was listening to Sound Affects. I have a rule: if anyone writes something about The Jam, I’m going to share it, since they are one of the most underappreciated groups in rock history and are always worth a listen. And finally, if you’re in the mood for something a bit more technical and business-related, there’s this piece discussing the role and motivations of BitTorrent in partnering with Thom Yorke for his recent release.
Readers of the site are well-aware of our love for The National, so it’s no surprise that we’re recommending this piece from PopMatters discussing their album Alligator and its role in the rise of indie rock in the mid-00’s.
When Kendrick Lamar released his new single “i”, it was met with a mixed reaction at best. The FADER attempts to correct this by placing the song in a greater context in their Popping Off feature. If necessary, familiarize yourself with the song by watching the lyric video which was just released today.
Dave Holmes uses his column at Vulture this week to take a look at the Top 40 chart from the week when Nevermind was released, and while the general shittiness is not surprising, the diversity of music at the time was pretty striking.
Finally, Chicago Reader has an in-depth look at the life of Jason Molina, the former leader of Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co. who unfortunately passed away last year after years of struggle with alcohol abuse and other issues. The piece also examines his continued influence, both through his music and his development of the Secretly Canadian label, and talks to the musicians and friends that mourn his passing but remember his talents fondly. But it also serves as a great introduction to a wonderful musician, with an extensive look at his development and history.
A few #longreads for your weekend as hipsterdom reaches its apex with a Pabst-sponsored music festival in Portland, Oregon…
One of the bands appearing at the Project Pabst festival this weekend is hometown heavy metal act Red Fang. They may be local, but they also have a worldwide reach, as evidenced by a recent interview that an Indian metal publication conducted with guitarist Bryan Giles.
Portland’s most identifiable landmark is a sign with its name.
Pitchfork has an extensive interview with Adam Granduciel of The War on Drugs, discussing the creation of his group’s brilliant new album Lost in the Dream and all the personal struggles he endured. Be sure to check out also this performance that the band did for The Current, featuring a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Tangled Up in Blue” (which is a perfect fit for the band).
Jeff Tweedy talks with The Quietus on the making of Sukierae with his son Spencer, discussing musical experimentation and lyrical processes among other topics. And because I missed it when it first was published, I’m linking to another recent interview from The Quietus, this time with Karen O.
Joey Santiago talks about the legacy of the Pixies with Diffuser, and it’s always worth hearing from the legendary guitarist.
And because it’s not enough that people discuss the twentieth anniversary of Dookie, Consequence of Sound has a roundtable examining the impact of American Idiot ten years later. I’m just glad someone stood up for Warning, which I feel is an underrated Green Day album.
And finally, some new music: after a week of dropping various hints, Thom Yorke announced the release of his second solo album, Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, which is now available for purchase on BitTorrent. It’ll definitely be making my weekend playlist.