#4- Radiohead- In Rainbows
First of all, I know many radioheads will give me flak for not choosing Kid A. So, in Kid A's honor, this first paragraph is an iceberg tip of a hat. Kid A is an incredible album. It perfectly ushered in the new decade of internet and digital dependence. It was still rock and roll, but it was built on what the internet and binary would produce. I felt like it was melodic rock and roll that my new cable internet would sound like if it made great music. Kid A had a perfect blend of songs that brought out a distinct Radiohead feel. I personally refer to this feeling as the "holy shit" sentiment: "holy shit, how did someone write that song? holy shit, why do I feel like this?" Songs like "Everything in it's Right Place" or "Idioteque" utilized the strange glitch sounds to create layered new millennium hits. The title track is still to this very day, one of the most overwhelming songs I've heard. It's not cluttered or hectic, but it's just... complete. It was difficult not to choose Kid A, but I had my reasons.
In Rainbows was the straw that broke the physical format's back. After finishing up their record contract with EMI, Radiohead took things into their own hands. In the fall of 2007, Radiohead released 10 songs on their website available for download for any price the consumer desired. I paid two pounds. Once a band like Radiohead made an audacious move against the dying record companies, the label and cd were deemed irrelevant. DIY was the new big break.
In Rainbows took over two years to make. Since Radiohead didn't have the pressure of a record label or deadlines behind them, there wasn't a sense of urgency. Between tours and years since a prior release (and Yorke's solo album), Yorke and company felt a bit tired. However, their genius held up, tried and true. The album had a perfect mix of Radiohead songs. Distorted guitar rock and roll songs like "Bodysnatchers", sampled 5/4 glitch beats in "15 Step", and an ethereal heaven in "Nude" (this song still gets my blood pumpin). "Weird Fishes" is an anxious song that truly puts the listener in a submerged and impatient state. It gives you the desperate tremble that one would have when snorkeling in an unfriendly current. Next time you go to a car wash where you drive your car through the line of soapy flaps, put this song on loudly and think of fish. (Nerd much?) After a few more perfect songs, the album wraps up with a bareboned and vulnerably mortal "Videotape".
To further explain why I chose IR over KA, I need to be straight with you. I am a relatively fresh Radiohead fan. In the early 2000's I consciously resisted drinking the Yorke juice as a passive aggressive protest against my younger sister who had been a 'head for a long while. Regrettably, I missed a lot of the Kid A culture while it was happening (but better late than never, right?!). In Rainbows, however, was delivered when my mind was rich and hungry for anything Radiohead. More importantly, I fell in love with Scotch_mist and the radiohead.tv shorts. Radiohead had a series of homemade music videos, performances, poems, and shorts available for fans. They became an interactive band. It felt like Radiohead had transcended from musicians, into simply Radiohead.
I know I sound like any other Radioheadaholic, geekin out here and all, but seriously...