In my opinion, the single greatest band of the last twenty years. What wrongly was assumed to be a no brainer one hit wonder band, the British powerhouses of nuance- Yorke, the brothers Greenwood, Selway, and O’ Brien have consistently been able to transcend modern music and make thought provoking music that’s not easily digestible but nonetheless has engrossed a massive following that is as fervent as the band is stubborn in pursuit of new exciting sounds and emotions. As another entry in our series of top five albums, I present to you the five best albums from the one and only Radiohead.
5 A MOON SHAPED POOL, 2016
Plenty of people didn’t fall in love with the previous “King of Limbs,” but “A Moon Shaped Pool,” brings it back to the layered, thoughtful, solemn sound that made the band so interesting in the last decade or so. Song after song finds it grove in ways only Yorke, the Greenwoods and company can. Many of these songs are familiar to hardcore RH fans, but it’s the new ways the band can change styles among the same song that make it sound so fresh. “True Love Waits,” the longtime fan favorite b- side finally shows up on a proper record, but it’s not what we were used to hearing. The music on the track and the larger album manages to be subdued but still instrumentally powerful. It’s wonderful all the same, but it’s in those ways that the band is able to spread their experimental tendencies and produce something that sounds way ahead of the curve in areas that would see other bands fall to the ground in defeat.
4 AMNESIAC, 2001
Released just one year after Kid A(we’ll get to that later), this record is weird, yet motivating, but also with a sinister undertone, like a foreboding apocalypse. “Pyramid Song” is a masterpiece and maybe their best song period, while closer “Life in a Glasshouse” is a solemn, worrisome track that whimpers passionately, under a cloud of horns and uncertainty. So much of the album is opposite of its predecessor, yet it still manages to be a poignant reminder of the potential of the band. I feel like it’s often overlooked when discussing the band's best moments, but if you’re a fan of the band through and through, it’s a classic album that deserves accolades.
3 IN RAINBOWS, 2007
Pay what you want, and get a record. I still remember the announcement of the bands seventh record, and definitely not understanding the angle. Either way, once you downloaded “In Rainbows” you were welcomed into a record that ended up being a landmark for the band. It has all the constructions and effects that a fan can recognize as being Radiohead, but it’s more casual and easy going then some of their more experimental records. It has the slow building moments like “Nude” and “Videotape,” but it also has measured angst and raucousness during segments like “Bodysnatchers” and “Jigsaw Falling into Place.” This record is hard to escape, even more than ten years after the fact. It shows a band maturing in gorgeous but painful ways, and sees the band enter a new landscape of musical direction.
2 OK COMPUTER, 1997
The album that changed everything. One moment they were a quite good but obscure band, and then the turn approached and the band went balls to the wall to break out of their earlier shell. The result is simple- the best album of the 90’s. In 1997 it was hailed as a masterpiece, which it is, but we hadn’t yet met this “new” Radiohead. Every track on “OK” works and sits nestled in comfortably with each other track. “Paranoid Android” is a whirlwind of sounds and energy, while “Let Down” is a thick mess of emotions and soundscapes. The point is, every song compliments the tracks before and after it while staying true to the theme of failing systems prevalent through the running time of the album. The fact that every song is an illumination of the band's strengths make the album that much more of a landmark. Even after 22 years it’s still often regarded as a perfect album, but that’s only because it actually is.
1 KID A, 2000
And now we come to the number one. Obviously this is just my opinion, but when a band does a complete and sudden 180 in regards to their sound, and it ends up being this goddamn good, you have to take notice. The cold electronic elements beaming through the record put the listener in a lonely, thoughtful place, but again, it simply works. “How to Disappear Completely” is a slow burn of emotion, with Yorke’s detached voice acting as a compass as you wander through the dark looking for safe passage. Note, this record is less about showing safe passage than it is opening up your subconscious in a way that’s measured but sullen. I could listen to this all day and still find new things to get excited over. “Idioteque” is more upbeat and energetic in instrumentation, but it still has the hunger and depraved moments the band is known for. If “OK Computer” was the best album of the 1990’s, than “Kid A” stands as the moment that the band not only made two of the best albums in different decades, but also the moment that the mass public really started to get hooked into the wondrous, illuminating sounds that make this band so timeless and engaging. Thanks for reading
Some bands you listen to and enjoy but they never seem to latch on to you in a personal way. Tame Impala is not one of those bands. Since arriving on the scene in 2009 with “Innerspeaker,” the band, which is to say Parker himself, have gradually changed our perceptions of psyche rock and lovelorn melodies that can be at times infectious and daunting in terms of musical I.Q. Today we deliver the ten best tracks from the first four impeccable Tame Impala albums.
10 ONE MORE YEAR: THE SLOW RUSH
“One More Year,” which opens The Slow Rush, has the kind of layered soundwave that Kevin Parker has become known for, but it's more mellow and beach centric than earlier works, but its the type of gradual change we should be used to by this point. What once was a full fledged indie rock psych project has turned into something more meaningful, more purposeful in their execution, and way more layered and dance oriented than anyone expected the band and its creator to embrace.
9 BORDERLINE: THE SLOW RUSH
Plenty of folks apparently didn’t latch on to this record like Parker’s previous three, but there are plenty of great songs to go around. “Borderline” is probably the best track on the album, with its synth dance vibes and difficult to pin down lyrics. It’s a song about the dangers of contentment, and what may come out of that feeling. You can tell during the song that feeling of uncertainty even though he’s grateful to have found a worthy life partner. Again all of this is done on the shoulders of Kevin Parker, who’s mastery in songwriting is now very well documented. “Slow Rush” and its parts might not be masterpiece worth, but tracks like “Borderline” show no less skill or attention than what we’ve become accustomed to when it comes to Tame Impala
8 APOCALYPSE DREAMS: LONERISM
Like a sun suddenly appearing in the sky at full strength, “Apocalypse Dreams,” roars into ears and explores the mind of Kevin Parker, and what he’s capable of. The track has this frollicking aspect to it that also renders the song in the best way possible. The lyrics, as well as the vocal harmony Kevin engages evoke some of the best moments of the record, but the real prize doesn’t hit until the second half of the song. After the slow strung guitars comes and goes, the track is propelled by the drums, all leading to a bright explosion of energy as the song heads quickly into a sundrenched, mind altering field of sound
7 EVENTUALLY: CURRENTS
Songs like “Eventually” drill the notion home that mistakes happen and that everyone will “Eventually” make their way through the downsides of failed love. When Parker croons “But I know that I'll be happier and I know you will too,” you feel the relief of knowing that even though it sucks at this moment, it does eventually become better. I, for one, can fully understand the concept of moving on is easier if I never knew a person, but with all that hard work, you’re able to grow and set out on a new path with your remade self to attempt to make something work in this toxic, never good enough world.
6 LOST IN YESTERDAY: THE SLOW RUSH
Much of the vibe surrounding the “the Slow Rush” revolves around tightly arranged dance notes, with more upbeat elements than on previous efforts. We already talked about this in some length earlier in this piece, but “Lost in Yesterday,” likely the best track of the album for my money, deals with lyrical content that's rooted in real life stresses and turmoil about the future that faces all of us. It’s easy to get lost (no pun intended) during the four minute run time, most likely because of the infectious beat, but seeing the song live, with a full band and a light show that would make Pink Floyd jealous, really is something that takes your breathe away.
5 ALTER EGO: INNERSPEAKER
On early records Parker had to do more with less in terms of production quality, however, that doesn’t stop him from executing a song that can still draw you in. The song itself relies more on the vast musical labyrinth of styles and less of the lyrical aspects, but this is still something Tame can do very well. The lyrics are important, but by the time Parker’s voice comes in you’re already hooked in by the majestic nature of the dense, all surrounding instrumentation. It’s an early sign of what he’s capable of, and thankfully for us he hasn’t lost a single step on subsequent releases.
4 LET IT HAPPEN: CURRENTS
When I first heard this song, honestly, I was not a fan. The music didn’t remind me of what had come before, and the more dancey, electronic vibe turned me off. Not that it was bad, but it wasn't the Tame I had fallen in love with on the previous two albums. But, after multiple listens, and hearing the album presented in full, it suddenly made sense. This album, and this track especially was Tame Impala opening themselves up and rising in the world of thought provoking music. The success of the albums rides on the popularity of the first track, and “Let it Happen,” with all of its meandering and chasing of holes, comes through in a big way, and shows the band is capable of so much more.
3 ELEPHANT: LONERISM
There’s so so so much amazing happening in this song it’s hard to figure out a starting point. Obviously, a big part of the song is the fact that it very much lives up to its title. As a track,”Elephant” hurdles through the wild, violently and strongly pushing limits, with full sets of lumbering giants pummeling through whatever gets in its way. The live version also has a wicked cool instrumental section that only elevates the energy of the song. The drum roll through the verses is also brilliantly laid out, while Kevin’s vocals sound as pure and fun as they ever get. The best lines though come toward the end of the bridge, making its way to the song conclusion. The word pay during the segment about pulling off the mirrors of his Cadillac (YEAH!), are some of the best lines in any song I’ve ever heard.
2 FEELS LIKE WE ONLY GO BACKWARDS: LONERISM
For many people, this was the song where they suddenly became aware of the majestic mode of storytelling that Impala lays out. The dinging opening, the lush overlaid guitars and bass, and the minimal but effectiveness of the drumming all make the song one of the best by the band. When Parker bellows the chorus, and various other sections you can grasp and understand the weariness permanent in the song structure. So many of their songs go hand in hand with raw emotion, of guilt, second thoughts, and other feelings that it eventually becomes your song too. It’s amazing, and it’s a song that still gets all the love it deserves.
1 THE LESS I KNOW THE BETTER: CURRENTS
The argument could be made that without this song this record wouldn’t have been nearly the juggernaut it was, and while that may be slightly true, “Current is full to the brim with incredible songs.” However, this song has so much working for it that it’s nearly impossible to ignore. Let’s start with the 70’s stylings on guitar as the depth of the song opens up into a strange disco vibe, but it’s the lyrics that pull you in and embrace you. It’s a sad song that we all can relate to, the moment when your brain syncs in with your heart and you’re aware that the end of whatever you had with a person is over. It’s important to stress that anxiety but also to embrace it in hopes of getting better. Parker’s voice is top notch 100% here, and with this gorgeous balance among his word play and juxtaposition between trying to be free of the pain but also to learn from it, the song is able to transcend all modern music and make a song that you can feel as part of your soul. Thanks for reading!
Remember when this band was the biggest band in the world? I was only ten but still aware of their massive popularity. That was one of my first memories of an artist truly being larger than life. The epicness of the music, the soaring vocals of Axl Rose, and who can forget the sincerity and craftsmanship when it comes to Slash’s guitar playing. The best representation of this is the once classic, now pretty laughable video for one of the band’s biggest hits, “November Rain.” This isn’t an overview of the band, but it might as well be, since I think of this video as a perfect example of a once great thing that just kept getting more and more extravagant and how it ultimately killed what was once an incredible band.
The video opens up with Rose chugging some pills in a blue, stormy room. The next scene quickly goes to a very nice theater and the band is flanked by a full orchestra. Oh look there’s a wedding with a little black girl throwing roses, even though there’s no other black people around. It’s very easy to understand… Then we get a crying jesus. My god, there’s so much happening at once I can’t even keep up.
Anyway, we then cut again to a very hot Stephanie Seymour walking down the aisle to meet an Axl Rose that looks equal parts bum on the street and fencing instructor to royalty. Trust me, it’s even sillier than I’m explaining. Also, why does Rose have all 4 other members of the band as groomsmen but Seymour only has one woman. This makes no fucking sense.
Next we get to see thet “hanging out being pals” part of every rock video of the time. The bands at a local bar, sucking down smokes like the world’s about to end. I’m assuming this is meant to showcase the happy times before it started raining once upon a time in November. So yeah the video isn’t even half over but you can tell things are gonna go bad soon enough, much like they did within the band.
Ok so back to the wedding where a drunken Slash can’t find the wedding ring, and everyone just snickers as if to say “ Oh that silly Slash! Always losing stuff.” Then I guess after feeling so bad about almost losing the ring, Slash walks out of the wedding and starts immediately playing guitar in a desert, even though moments earlier we were just in sunny downtown Los Angeles.
While the video has aged horribly, the song is still really good. They’re all around good musicians, and a craptastic video from the early 90’s isn’t likely to change that. After the epic guitar solo, the bride and the groom run out of the church and into a really nice Bentley, but something is going on with Stephanie Seymour. There’s pain behind her eyes, but we don’t quite know what yet. Is it lupus? Is it the fact that she’s acutely aware that she’s just married a soon to be washed up rocker who has a history of incredible instability? Time will tell….
So then, and this is one of the dumbest parts of the whole thing: Axl Rose is walking all forlorn in a deserted town from something out of Deadwood or Blazing Saddles. Why is he here? How’d he somehow find out about this abandoned western town? Back at the wedding, which is happening in a vacuum of time and space, Bride and groom are cutting the cake. Everything is going great! That is until the Rain part of the song title shows up and just shit’s on everyone’s lovely day. C’mon rain, things were going so well too.
Suddenly people are falling over, things are breaking, and all hell is breaking loose, because apparently no one in SoCal has ever seen rain in their goddamn lives! To top it all off, some colossal asshole decides he can’t take the rain anymore and jumps THROUGH THE WEDDING CAKE!!! Did you read that? This douche just leaps right through a wedding cake that probably cost thousands of dollars. I know this because I just got married recently, and the amazing cakes we got were not cheap at all. If someone would’ve jumped through our cake, the world would have literally stopped while 20 people took turns ruining that person’s life for the foreseeable future. Seriously we would’ve gone the route of Marsellus Wallace and gone “Medieval on his ass.” Alas I digress.
So now that that’s all over, the song takes a turn for the darkness and sees Rose’s bride dead in a very nice casket. I wonder how much that cost. So yeah she’s dead, and no explanation is given, but I’m gonna assume it was lupus. Axl is seen crying while looking up as if to say “ Why God?!, Why Me?!”
Anyone else picturing Nancy Kerrigan on the ground right now, or is it just me? The other thing to mention is that this church that was full for a wedding just 3 minutes ago is now half empty. What kind of friends are these people? Thanks everyone for coming to my wedding and celebrating but for leaving me in the cold “November Rain” when my wife dies 3 minutes after we say I do!!
Of course it starts raining at the funeral, and Axl Rose is left mourning his incredibly hot wife who just died. The video ends with him bolting up in bed, I guess to portray sadness, and his kneeling by her coffin as a rose that was once red slowly turns white and the video fades to black. All in all, it's a pretty ridiculous video and one that will go down as one of the worst examples of a work of art truly nuanced in the world of nonsensical things.
Landon Murray is a music connooisseur who craves sounds of all shapes and textures. He's seen over 2000 bands and looks forward to welcoming you into his world of sound,
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