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Today was the day you could finally get your greedy mits on the real deal: the physical tangible huggable edition of Radiohead’s latest album The King Of Limbs. And if you were lucky enough to be near one of the selected major cities you could have scored the free newspaper that accompanied the release too: The Universal Sigh. If you missed out on this little presie from the Oxford boys, or like me you’re waiting for a copy somebody went to get for you, you can check out the contents at Kicking The Habit. Just like the album’s artwork, the atmosphere of the paper reminds me of the poster standing at the foot of my bed (yes really) from the Amnesiac era: we are back to the ominous and inevitable threat of ‘something’ ghastly.

It’s been well over a month now since the band released the download version of the album, and I was astonished by the lightening speed with which the online community devoured it, analysed it, reviewed it, reinterpreted it and moved on. Even before it was released you could read a hilarious review over at Viceland, on the day itself there were ‘in depth reviews’ popping up left right and centre within hours, a band called Robotanists managed to cover the entire album in 1 day, and soon you could watch Thom Yorke dancing to Beyonce, Zorba The Greek, and auditioning for Black Swan.

I decided I wanted to spend a bit more time with the album. And so, over the last month, I got to know it better, took it for walks and bike rides, and even took it to bed once or twice. Now that we are well acquainted I can officially say: we might have a bit of a thing going on. When we just started hanging out its jerky rhythms and off kilter melodies (In Bloom, Lotus Flower and most of all Feral) were an instant attraction. When the initial lust wore off, I went looking for the heart and soul of it. It told me fragile stories of loves won and lost in Give Up The Ghost and the pleasantly familiar ring of Little By Little. When we finally bared all to each other, I was rewarded with the breathtaking Codex.

The King Of Limbs might not be my first or even The One, but for now, let’s just say we are enjoying each other’s company very much.

Eddie - Thom

I am adopting kittens. Two tiny furball brothers. And though this might seem entirely unrelated to the usual brokenbranches banter, it is not. You see, when time came to name these two little fellas I automatically looked for references in the music domain. 

I weighed several options (Simon & Garfunkel? Bo & Diddley? Daft & Punk?), but there really wasn’t much competition for the final choice: Eddie and Thom, who’ve been with me since high school. Eddie the kitten is a bit of a daredevil, falling off sofas and getting into more trouble than his siblings. Thom the kitten is a more introspective chap and dare I say clumsy, but he does like to explore his surroundings.

As it happens, the real Eddie and Thom have both been very productive the last week and produced some fresh tracks. Pearl Jam have just uploaded The Fixer, first single for upcoming album Backspacer to their myspace. Thom Yorke performed solo at the Latitude Festival, looking particularly scruffy by the by, and sang a new song called The Present Tense . 
I do hope my two boys turn out to be as entertaining as their namesakes!

Pearl Jam – The Fixer

Thom Yorke – The Present Tense

jaydiohead

Yes yes y’all, brokenbranches is still in mash-mode and has some more magic mix-ups for you in the form of Jaydiohead. New York based hip hop producer Minty Fresh Beats had a magnificent brainwave when he decided to put Jay-Z and Radiohead in a cocktail shaker, the result is amazing!

There’s a Jaydiohead site where you can download all ten (!) mashups. Here’s the tracklist:

01 Wrong Prayer
02 99 Anthems
03 No Karma
04 Lucifer’s Jigsaw
05 Optimistic Moment
06 Dirt Off Your Android
07 Dreaming Up
08 Change Order
09 Fall In Step
10 Ignorant Swan

The songs are mainly composed by putting Jay-Z’s raps over a revised Radiohead track, with the odd Thom Yorke lyric popping up. Most of them are right on the money, but the stand out track has got to be the divine concoction of Jay-Z’s 99 Problems and Radiohead’s doom-and-gloomy National Anthem to make 99 Anthems.

Download it here: Jaydiohead-99-Anthems

Listen to it here:

Recently I was talking to Irish friend CR and he said he kind of lost track of Radiohead after OK Computer, but was perhaps open to being converted if I were to guide him in the right direction. What a delightful challenge!! His only clues were that he loves Exit Music (For A Film) and also Thom’s solo effort, particularly Analyse, Black Swan and Harrowdown Hill.

I got so stuck into making the ultimate Radiohead conversion CD, that I ended up writing rather lengthy liner notes explaining why each track made it onto the list or what makes it stand out to me. Here’s what I ended up selecting (bear in mind I largely skipped over Pablo Honey, The Bends and OK Computer as he knew these).

HOW TO LOVE RADIOHEAD
A guide in chronological order

01. Killer Cars [unreleased, 1994]
To start us off: some vintage Radiohead! An unreleased acoustic version of a song that featured on 1994’s Itch EP in a live version. That EP was released just after Pablo Honey (and contains far more interesting material if you ask me). This is the song responsible for my Radiohead obsession, I’ve been hooked ever since I heard it. It is also one of several odd songs dealing with Thom’s fear of cars/ car crashes

02. Permanent Daylight [My Iron Lung EP, 1994]
Some more old school Radiohead, released on another EP in 1994. It’s very reminiscent of some of the noise bands of the nineties and was indeed a tribute to Sonic Youth. There are hardly any lyrics, but they rock all the same:

The easiest way to sleep at night is to carry on believing that I don’t exist
The easiest way to sell your soul is to carry on believing that we don’t exist
It must be hard, hard with your head on backwards

03. Fake Plastic Trees [The Bends, 1995]
A live favourite and one of the many gems of The Bends. The line “He used to do surgery on girls in the eighties, but gravity always wins” always makes me giggle.

04. Lucky [OK Computer, 1997]
I realise you know OK Computer quite well, but I couldn’t NOT put this utterly amazing song on this cd. It is just essential. It always gives me goosebumps when played live, I secretly think the meaning of life is buried somewhere in this song. Oh and this one features an aircrash rather than a car crash, to mix things up a bit.

05. Talk Show Host [Street Spirit single, 1997]
This slightly eerie tale of escaping with your loved one is an amazing B-side to Street Spirit, which also appropriately features in Baz Luhrmann’s Rome & Juliet (which I still love). A favourite among fans, it doesn’t get played too much.

06. A Reminder [Airbag/ How Am I Driving? EP, 1997]
This very dreamy track featured on the (in my opinion best) EP “Airbag/ How Am I Driving?” which followed shortly after OK Computer, and has some of the most touching lyrics of a Radiohead song ever:

If I get old, I will not give in
And if I do, remind me of this
Remind me that once I was free
Once I was good, once I was me
And if I sit down and cross my arms
Hold me to this song

Knock me out smash out my brains
If I take the chair and start to talk shit

If I get old, remind me of this
One night we kissed, and I really meant it
Whatever happens, if we’re still speaking
Pick up the phone
Play me this song

07. Polyethylene (parts 1 & 2) [Airbag/ How Am I Driving? EP, 1997]
A two part song dealing with some of Thom’s favourite mid nineties obsessions: plastic, vacant middle class lives and selling of souls. There’s something oddly satisfying about spitting out the words “leukemia, schizophrenia, polyethylene!”.

08. How To Disappear Completely [Kid A, 2000]
A hauntingly desperate song of detachment, “I’m not here, this isn’t happening”. It also contains lyrics about floating down the Liffey.

09. Idioteque [Kid A, 2000]
This is the must have track off Kid A for two reasons: 1, it’s Radiohead at their most techno, and 2, Thom always goes absolutely mental when they play this track live. See it on youtube!

10. I Might Be Wrong [Amnesiac, 2001]
Together with Optimistic, this is arguably the most straight forward rock ‘n roll song amidst all the “experimental stuff” everyone was so taken aback by at the time Radiohead released Kid A and Amnesiac. It has a nice “mean” quality about it that grows on me more and more each time I hear it, something about the guitar.

11. Dollars & Cents [Amnesiac, 2001]
I like the ominous guitar strumming and bassline on this one, and the way Thom’s lyrics are a bit muffled and unclear, the whole song keeps you guessing for some reason. And it’s sexy. “Why don’t you quiet down?”.

12. Like Spinning Plates [I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings, 2001]
Off and on my favourite all time Radiohead song (it varies…), this is the heartbrakingly beautiful piano driven live version of a song which first appeared on Amnesiac in a much more electronic execution, with the lyrics supposedly recorded by Thom singing backwards (also worth checking out). Oh and there’s more floating down a river going on (this time an unnamed muddy one).

13. 2+2=5 [Hail To The Thief, 2003]
I love the build up of tension in this song, “it’s the devil’s way now, there is no way out, you can scream and you can shout, it is too late now…” and then it erupts! As you might imagine it kicks royal arse live.

14. There There [Hail To The Thief, 2003]
Just like 2+2=5, this track was released as a single, and quite rightly so. The added percussion really gives this song some extra punch, when they play it live everyone seems to be drumming. I always feel like this song is trying to warn me about something, not to get complacent maybe. It also gave brokenbranches it’s title: “In pitch dark, I go walking in your landscape. Broken branches trip me as I speak”.

15. A Wolf At The Door [Hail To The Thief, 2003]
Radiohead do a stream of consciousness Bob Dylan-esque song, which I find irrisistable. If only because you simply have to learn the lyrics by heart so you can sing along in one breath.

16. Gagging Order [Go To Sleep EP, 2003 / Com Lag: 2+2=5 EP, 2004]
Just a sweet little acoustic song. Incidentally my phone’s tune when I get a text message.

17. 15 Steps [In Rainbows, 2007]
I immediately fell for this weird off-beat beat, makes me want to clap along or tap/ hit/ kick anything around me to mark the rhythm.

18. Jigsaw Falling Into Place [In Rainbows, 2007]
This song is in a hurry, I like the way Thom’s voice is contrastingly calm and cool at first, but then it all heats up. This is what Radiohead does best!

19. Videotape [In Rainbows, 2007]
What a wonderful idea: “When I’m at the pearly gates, this will be on my videotape”. A fitting end to this journey through the Radiohead catalogue.

NOTE: the youtube links provided have different sources: some are official Radiohead videos or Radiohead webcast videos, but others are fan videos or live fan recordings.

If any Radiohead fans stumble across this post: feel free to tell me which songs I unforgivably left out!

Finally the wait was over: last night I saw Radiohead perform at the Westerpark in Amsterdam. Conditions were perfect: an open air gig in a park with sunshine, 27 degrees and 18.000 Radioheads with high expectations. And the band delivered! What a night, what a concert and what a privilege to see a band perform so well and with such gusto. We were treated to a varied setlist, with songs spanning much of their career, and 6 from their latest release In Rainbows.

As the band came on stage I turned to my friend MB saying “I hope they open with Bodysnatchers!”, as I knew they have played it consistently this tour but never to start the show.  Well my wish was heard and may I say Thom & co, what an excellent choice it was! It’s just a cracking song to kick off with, great guitar, great energy. It was worth squeezing into the front and waiting like “sardines in a crushd tin box” before the show, because it soon became apparent we were surrounded by Radiohead connaisseurs who immediately started singing and dancing like mad. Perfect!

After that the beautiful All I Need calmed everyone down a bit, only to be swept up again by The National Anthem, the dark and gloomy Kid A track that is always a winner live, not in the least because of Thom freaking out towards the end. Skipping through the setlist I would say my personal highlights were Lucky, There There, Videotape, and the amazing encores with gems like Climbing Up The Walls, Wolf At The Door (only it’s 3rd appearance so far), Jigsaw Falling Into Pieces and closer Planet Telex! And of course, the Amsterdam crowd was lucky enough to be treated to the new song Super Collider, which was previously only played during the Dublin and Paris shows.

Real crowd pleasers were Street Spirit (a massive hit here in Holland), Idioteque (nothing like a bit of techno in a Radiohead gig) and Just for it’s good old fashioned Bends-distorted-guitar-feel. Mind you, from where I was standing every single song got a very warm reception. Thom had the crowd laughing when he put on safety goggles before sitting behind his drum kit for Bangers & Mash and putting on a geeky voice saying “Safety first, safety first, that’s what I always say!”. And just before Jigsaw Falling Into Pieces, Jonny was fidgetting with his guitar and Thom joked “Hurry up Jon Jon! If you’re not in tune you’ll have to tune it. Well, it’s never stopped you before has it!”.

According to this amazing yet slightly disturbing website keeping track of the gig statistics of Radiohead’s 2008 tour (be sure not to miss the pie chart showing the occurence of animals that get lyrics devoted to them by Thom!!), the Westerpark gig gets an honourable 6th position in the Setlist Rareness Ranking out of 24 gigs so far. Not bad!

Check out some gig goodies below: a clip of Super Collider, some pictures I took and the complete setlist.

Super Collider live at Westerpark, July 1st 2008

The complete setlist
01 Bodysnatchers
02 All I need
03 National Anthem
04 15 Steps
05 Lucky
06 Nude
07 Street Spirit
08 There There
09 The Gloaming
10 Arpeggi/ Weird Fishes
11 Idioteque
12 Faust Arp
13 Videotape
14 Just
15 Bangers & Mash
16 Everything In It’s Right Place
17 Reckoner

First encore:
18 House Of Cards
19 Climbing Up The Walls
20 Wolf At The Door
21 Jigsaw Falling Into Pieces
22 Karma Police

Second encore:
23 Super Collider
24 How To Disappear Completely
25 Planet Telex

I try and keep my Radiohead compulsions under wraps, to prevent brokenbranches becoming a delirious fanblog.  I haven’t got much in the way of objectivity when it comes to these Oxford lads, what’s more, there are so many people that already do a fantastic job keeping their finger on the pulse of all things Radiohead.

However (I’m sure you could see that coming), I feel the overwhelming need to put up this video of Radiohead performing Bangers ‘n Mash in Nigel Godrich’s basement because, well, it kicks arse basically. You work that drumkit Thom! (And Phil too of course.) I suggest you turn up the volume and hit play.

(Go directly to Pitchfork.tv for a better quality version)

While you’re at it, might as well have a look at their new official video for Nude, especially if you’re into grown men having slow motion pillow fights. Nude is incidentally available in pieces for fans to remix and submit into a competition, how cool is that?

RH Amsterdam 08

Well my friend MB certainly knows how to brighten a day dominated by excrutiatingly boring work meetings, he called me to tell me the fantastic news that Radiohead have now confirmed an Amsterdam date for their 2008 tour!!

Westerpark is continuing the concept it launched this year with a number of consecutive outdoor concerts in the park and Radiohead is the first name announced for 2008, they’ll be playing there on July1st. This year I saw two excellent shows in Westerpark: Scissor Sisters and Bjork, and with Radiohead now in the bag it seems this new festival has established itself with a bang.

Ticket sales start this Saturday, it should be interesting to see what they’ll cost considering I saw an estimate of 175,- euro (!!!) for the show at Malahide Castle in Dublin. Last year’s shows cost around 40,- / 45,- euro, but let’s be honest, I’ll be lined up in front of the post office in the freezing cold Saturday morning regardless..

Click on the picture to see the other Radiohead tour dates announced:

RH tour 2008

Well, after a day in the office with In Rainbows on a perpetual loop, it’s time to put to paper some first impressions. On the whole it’s more mellow and balanced than its predecessor Hail To The Thief. There’s lots of melody, but electronic influences and guitars are equally present making it a great mix. I also think it packs a little less punch than some of the great songs on HTTT, but is more satisfying as a whole album.
A quick browse through the songs:

15 Step – Love the irregular beat (5/4 I’m told)! Makes you want to figure it out immediately. I remember Ed had quite a bit of trouble getting the audience to clap along correctly at the HMH concert last year. You used to be alright, what happened, etcetera, etcetera. Thanks for whatever, 15 steps, then a sheer drop.

Bodysnatchers – Yes! Thank you! It’s got some of that Electioneering/ Pearly rock and roll vibe, and the ominous background wailing sounds of How To Disappear Completely. And there are some nice traditional angst-ridden Radiohead lyrics like Their eyes wrapped around my face.

Nude – This song has been kicking around for so long that it’s very familiar, but they’ve added some nice effects to it. I particularly like the multi-layered Thom vocals and the strings, they give the whole song something ethereal, like it’s best listened to whilst floating around on a fluffly layer of clouds.

Weird Fishes / Arpeggi – Not quite as gloomy as I had expected it to be from some of the live recordings, I much prefer it this way. It has a sophisticated buildup, turning more eery after the break. Potentially one of my favourites.

All I Need – This one’s getting a mixed reception with me today. It seems a bit monotonous at first, although when the xylophone comes in it’s a nice contrast to the heavy bassline. I’ve noticed every time today that it only starts to really grab my attention in the last minute, which is excellent!

Faust Arp – Well this one is a real surprise, it doesn’t even sound remotely familiar. A small, lovely song with more strings and gentle guitar picking, reminiscent of some of my favourite low key B-sides/ unreleased tracks like Gagging Order and Fog.

Reckoner – Good grief what happened to Reckoner? Where did the shouty guitardriven Bendsworthy song go? It’s been replaced by this much slower paced mumbled version I don’t even recognise. Too early to say if I like it as I’m still confused about the 180˚. And I was so looking forward to that jagged opening

House of Cards – Love it, something makes me want to drive around town at night with this song on. Forget about your house of cards, and I’ll deal mine.

Jigsaw Falling Into Place – This song, formerly known as Open Pick, has really turned out nicely. This song is in a hurry. Something about the delivery of the lyrics in the last minute reminds me of a personal HTTT favourite A Wolf At The Door (you know, the “flan in the face, flan in the face” rambling).

Videotape – I’m glad it’s very close to the version Thom performed for Nigel Godrich’s From The Basement. There’s the gradual addition of a beat that’s a bit like being in a train and listening to the sound of the breaks between segments of train track as you speed through the landscape. The song doesn’t really need it but I don’t mind it either. Definitely one of my favourites, up there with the piano version of Like Spinning Plates.
“You are my centre, when I spin away”

Well as far as I’m concerned they’ve done it again. I still can’t get enough of it and I must have heard the album about 10 times today. I can’t wait to be on the road in California, staring out of the window with In Rainbows playing… Just three more sleeps!!!

There I was, 1 AM in the morning Dutch time, sitting in front of Radiohead.com waiting for this whole downloading business to kick off. But no, the boys decided to get some sleep first and start the downloading ’10 AM-ish’ according to a late press release yesterday. Damnation! So off to bed I went too, but luckily I found my cherished download-link in my inbox first thing this morning. 

Although I have no idea why anyone wouldn’t have snapped up this opportunity to download In Rainbows for (next to) nothing, there might be some lazy sods out there who would still like to listen to the album before dowloading it:

15 Step

Bodysnatchers

Nude

Weird Fishes Arpeggi

All I Need

Faust Arp

Reckoner

House of Cards

Jigsaw Falling Into Place

Videotape

Right, I’m off to the office, where I intend to lock the door and set my iPod to repeat for the next 8 hours…

Just 24 hours to go until it’s technically the 10th of October and time to start downloading In Rainbows!! If you can get a look in with the traffic mayhem that will undoubtedly occur…

To tide me and any other patiently waiting Radioheads over, here are some mp3’s of the band playing tracks from In Rainbows at their concert in the Heineken Music Hall in Amsterdam last year (May 9th).

Bangers ‘N Mash

15 Step

Nude (Big Ideas)

Open Pick

Bodysnatchers

House Of Cards

Some older posts