Thursday, January 21, 2010

OK Computer Review

First impressions have always been a difficult thing for me when it comes to music. Sometimes I'm immediately hooked, sometimes I'm skeptical, and sometimes I completely hate it. I'll admit, this is the first time I've listened to Radiohead, and they made a great first impression. OK Computer is Radiohead's third studio album, and their most successful and critically acclaimed. So obviously when I sat down to listen to the record, I had high hopes; however hard I tried to keep my head above the hype. How could I not be excited to hear one of the so called best albums of 1997? Disappointment was nowhere to be found in it.

Upon first listening of the second track, Paranoid Android, I noticed how unique this band's sound was. It's incredible how every little sound adds to the overall feel of the song, giving it depth and atmosphere. The lyrics really give you something to think about (Which I love), compelling you to scrutinize them; pick out what it might really mean. The mysterious lyrical trend is consistent throughout the record, which I believe is one of the standout successes of it.

"Ambition makes you look pretty ugly/Kicking, squealing, Gucci little piggy"

Perhaps one of the eeriest songs I've heard in a long time, Fitter Happier, may catch you off-guard with a robot voice (The same voice that can be heard in the background in Paranoid Android) spewing the thoughts of a man stuck in a formulaic life. Though it is simply a robotic voice speaking, it feels like you can hear the desperate cries of the man. It's truly something to admire when words, spoken through what sounds like the default voice of a Mac, can make you feel uneasy. From the end of that track we're transitioned into a harder rocking song compared to the previous. Electioneering presents a perfect satire of modern politicians, presenting the sometimes savage nature of elections.

"I will stop, I will stop at nothing/Say the right things when electioneering/I trust I can rely on your vote"

No Surprises comes in as another one of the eerie, yet beautiful songs that this record is mostly composed of. Thom Yorke's voice in this song adds just the right tinge of emotion to make it really stick. It's a tale about a man desperate to live a quiet life, through means of suicide. This could very well be considered the best song on the album. The way Yorke can make a song about suicide sound almost comforting is remarkable.

"I'll take the quiet life/A handshake of carbon monoxide"

Among the unnerving songs there are also a few sprinkles of uplifting attitudes. The first track of the record, Airbag, tells the story of a man reinvigorated with life after surviving a car crash. This song can really pump you up with Yorke wailing lines like, "In an interstellar burst/I am back to save the universe". I mean, how can you not feel invincible when you're singing that in the shower? The eleventh track, Lucky, is a slower song, but still has lyrics set to inspire. A man feels saved by his love, like she pulled him from his deathbed. Though the tempo is slow and the vocals sounding almost desperate; the way this song portrays the man's optimism is beautiful.

"I don't have time for him/It's gonna be a glorious day/I feel my luck could change"

Through 12 tracks of music, only one falling under the 3 minute mark, you'll find that the brilliant writing of one man can really engage you as a listener. Yorke's lyrical and vocal style was a new experience for me, and at first I wasn't sure if I'd like it. After sitting and listening -- Really listening -- I found this album to be exceptional in the way it conveys the story of each song in a cryptic and elegant manner. The lyrics are obviously the high point of this record, if I didn't stress it enough. For my first Radiohead experience, I don't think they could have made a better first impression and I'm excited to hear more of their work. Definitely check this one out.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My Dinosaur Life Review

A little over two years since their last release, the Minneapolis pop-punk powerhouse group, Motion City Soundtrack, returns with a bang. Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 has returned to the producer seat, having also previously worked with the group on their sophomore album, Commit This To Memory. Onto their newest creation, entitled My Dinosaur Life. What does that mean? I have no idea, but it sounds pretty rad. Nevertheless, ladies and gentlemen, I give you My Dinosaur Life.

The moment the drums and guitar really kick in on the first track, Worker Bee, you know this is a new band. They've strayed from the synth-pop sound of their previous albums into a more stripped down sound, emphasizing the instruments and Justin Pierre's voice over the Moog. His deeper, more focused vocals add an almost mature sound to the album; however cheesy some of the lyrics may be. A perfect example of said vocals come in on the second track, A Lifeless Ordinary (Need A Little Help). He switches between a low, almost melancholy tone to a higher, more emotionally driven sound seamlessly.

The third track of the album, Her Words Destroyed My Planet, chronicles Justin Pierre's progression through a negative relationship to come out of it better than before. I think song is the essential song that portrays Motion City's progression as a band. This of course doesn't suggest that they've completely abandoned all the things that they've been loved for since their debut album, I Am The Movie. For example, the eighth track of the record, Pulp Fiction, has more keyboards then every other track put together, along with lyrics that I couldn't interpret if I studied them for hours. In essence, the Moog synthesizer is still there, just cleverly hidden.

"Sold my XBOX to Jimmy down the street/ I even quit smoking weed."

If you think you can get by with listening to this album a single time, you're terribly wrong. Nearly every song has catchy elements to it. Whether it is the chorus, the bridge, or just the rhythm, you'll be humming along through 12 tracks of fun music. A fine example of this would be @!#?@!, however you may pronounce that. Even with its silly (And explicit) lyrics, you're still compelled to sing along.

"You all need to leave me and my sensitive homeboys' alone."

My standout favorite would definitely be Stand Too Close. This is obviously a very personal song for Justin. He simply pours himself into the lyrics and his vocals portray just as much emotion. He continues this style in the song Skin and Bones, where he simply questions the meaning behind everything. "What if there's nothing more to me?/I'm just skin and bones, there's no mystery." Everyone has asked that at one point or another, making this song very relatable.

The pace of the record never seems to ease up, always keeping your attention. Just how it started, the album concludes strongly. The Weakends begins with a slow melody and transitions into crashing drums and guitar, and then slows back down as Justin begins singing. This is a fantastic end to the album; another strong, emotional track that Motion City seems to enjoy slipping in every now and then. My Dinosaur Life has your essential Motion City needs, catchy tunes, nerdy but meaningful lyrics, and of course Justin's impressive vocal box. This is an album definitely worth your $10, as well as their previous albums. Motion City Soundtrack never fails to deliver.