This is the fourteenth in a series of Rock & Roll features I'm writing for this site. I'm a rock and roller, so this column is a way for me to feature a different album that I like, from different genres every month.
Seeing this is the first Rock & Roll Feature of 2008, I thought I would discuss an album that I think will end up being one of the most influential of the year when all is said and done. Although officially released via the band's website back in 2007, I think Radiohead's In Rainbows will end up being a major force in revolutionizing the music industry in the new year, if it hasn't been already. It just so happens that it is being released to stores today, January 1st 2007, as well, but the real reason I've chosen it for this feature is not because of it's unique release approach or store release. Instead, it is because I think this album is one of the band's best, as well as one of the most exciting albums I've ever heard.
Radiohead may be the most adventurous band to come out of the alternative era, or at the very least the most adventurous band that receives mainstream press. Their ability to shift styles and create progressive sonic landscapes puts them up there with bands like Pink Floyd and the Beatles in terms of innovation and compelling compositions in my mind. This album further solidifies those feelings even more. The band's innovative online release technique of “pay whatever you want” has been well discussed and documented by numerous sources, including me, so now it's time to talk about the musical aspects of this album.
In the past, Radiohead albums have shocked and surprised with styles completely unique and completely unlike what anyone expects from them. This album seems to hearken back to some of their previous works, but at the same time sound completely new and pushing in directions this band hasn't gone before.
Starting off with “15 Step”, a drum and drum machine driven piece with touches of jazzy guitar and the traditional intricate wordplay from Thom Yorke, it's obvious that the band has not completely abandoned the creative energy of electronica from albums like Kid A and Amnesiac. Songs like “Idioteque” especially come to mind with this one.
“Bodysnatchers” is one of their best songs of all time in my opinion. It's a “Radiohead rocker” in that it's got a great fuzzy guitar riff and a killer driving beat, but is still progressive enough to be unlike any other rock song out there. The band even seems to channel a little of their progressive punk roots on this song with a bit of noise rock thrown in ala “My Iron Lung”. “Nude” moves in a completely different direction. Symphonic and melodic, complete with sweeping string parts and hauntingly melodic vocals over it's jazzy, swaying beat and guitar work. This one grows as it progresses with additional elements to create a very atmospheric track that is packed with emotion.