December 2014 Playlist

An announcement came at the beginning of December that got led to my most anticipated album of 2015.  One of my favorite bands, Title Fight, was releasing cryptic clips on their website for the last couple weeks of November. The clips were weird and had night vision type overlays. I was hooked! Title Fight’s Floral Green was my “album of the year” in 2012 and I’m sure Hyperview will not disappoint. Check out the details of the album here. Their first single, “Chlorine”, was released on December 2nd. I loved the song so much, it cracked my “top ten songs of the year” in just a couple weeks. Everyone should be on the lookout for Hyperview, come February 3rd.

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December is hectic when it comes to music. It’s the month I have to cram a bunch of albums in so I can make absolutely sure I did not miss anything for my “end of the year” list. Although, listening to albums this way is not ideal, it has to be done. I listened to Circa Survive’s Descensus, Run the Jewels’ Run the Jewels 2 and FKA Twigs LP1. All three albums are extremely good and made my end of the year list in some sort of way. Although Circa Survive was the only album to crack the top 10, all three could have if I had given them enough time.

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One of my biggest mishaps for music last year was not listening to Childish Gambino in any sort of way. He is one of my favorite rappers now after I gave his first album, Camp, a listen way back in January. Although, better known for his comedy and acting, Donald Glover has a lot going for him as rapper. Break the Internet is a little different than Camp. Glover has developed into a more mature person after his Instagram-therapy incident and Break the Internet seems to display that side of him just fine.

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After my friend Brandon’s Ugly Sweater party, we had a dance party and listened to an assortment of wonderful music. The dance “party” consisted of myself, my girlfriend, Lydia and friends: Alex and Brandon. The main songs that I remember dancing to were from Glitch Mob. So, I added some Glitch Mob to my list.

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As far as working out, I usually jam out to The Chariot and Every Time I Die to shed as much weight as possible before the end of the year. Instead, this month I jumped back and bumped to Code Orange’s Love is Love/Return to Dust.

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I find myself diving into Circa Survive’s Juturna at least a few times a year. December is a perfect time to do this because of the long nights and cold days.

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End of the Year 2014 List!

Top Albums of the Year

1. Every Time I Die – From Parts Unknown

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Every single year I put Every Time I Die on a list, they’re near the top or they flat out top it. 2014 is no different. Looking healthier than ever, the boys from Buffalo, New York released a real ripper and my favorite album of the year, From Parts Unknown. Kurt Ballou, a true metal God, from the band Converge produced the album. It starts with an explosion from “The Great Secret” and ends with arguably the band’s greatest ending to a record, “Idiot”. Songs like their second single “Decayin’ with the Boys” keeps my blood boiling while the piano-led, eerie pseudo-ballad, “Moor” and banger “Exometrium” stitch the album together perfectly. The boys toured the United Kingdom with A Day to Remember, multiple United States tours and Canada with Expire. One of the United States tours was the entire span of the Vans Warped Tour. I made a trip out to Vans Warped Tour just to see them. I probably would have skipped the 8-hour-combined trip and a hotel stay in Minneapolis, MN if it was not for their presence on the tour. So, I’m glad Kevin Lyman got them on the tour. Funny tidbit: the band has it in their contract that Keith and Jordan Buckley’s father barbecue for the entire Warped Tour staff at the Buffalo, New York stop! The barbecue along with their insane live show must be why they have been on the Vans Warped Tour six times already!

2. La Dispute – Rooms of the House

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One of my biggest fails of the year was that I did not get to see La Dispute live. I even bought two tickets for their tour in Minneapolis but when the friend I was going with made a last minute cancellation and I couldn’t find anyone to go with me, I just sucked it up and stayed home. I will not miss the band in 2015! Especially since they recently announced a tour with one of my other favorite bands, Title Fight. I wish the tour wasn’t in Chicago on a Sunday in April, but nonetheless, I will try and make it out to see some of the songs on Rooms of the House. The album is wonderful from start to finish. My only complaint with their previous album, Wildlife, was that at times it seemed like it was droning on just a little bit. This is not the case with Rooms of the House. The album feels complete like Wildlife and never felt like it slumped like Somewhere At The Bottom Of The River Between Vega And Altair. Although, La Dispute had a wonderful year, I cannot help but worry for their future works since their guitarist, Kevin Whittemore, left the band after their tour supporting Rooms of the House.

3. Code Orange – I Am King

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Also produced by Kurt Ballou, I Am King by Code Orange was easily my biggest surprise of 2014. A year ago, my friend Kyle Ewing recommended then named Code Orange Kids to me. I shamefully shrugged off the recommendation and proceeded to move on with my life. The band’s unique name stuck in my head and after I stumbled on their first release from 2012, Love is Love/Return to Dust, in July of this year, I was hooked. College is a real bitch sometimes. I know I am supposed to be happy and grateful that I even get the chance to attend college but it does cuts into my concert fund and time. Code Orange barreled through the midwest in late September on a co-headlining tour with Twitching Tongues just after I started classes and couldn’t make the 7 hour round trip to Kansas City and back. Code Orange had a truly insane year! They released one of the best albums and even cut the word “Kids” from their name. I will definitely make it a high priority to see them in 2015. Who knows, I may even come out of mosh-tirement for songs like “My World” and “Unclean Spirit”.

4. Phantogram – Voices

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5. Tigers Jaw – Charmer

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6. Pianos Become the Teeth – Keep You

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7. ’68 – In Humor and Sadness

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8. Circa Survive – Descensus

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9. RL Grime – VOID

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10. Flying Lotus – You’re Dead!
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11-20 Top Albums of 2014

11 Run The Jewels – Run the Jewels 2

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12 Manchester Orchestra – HOPE

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13 The Hotelier – Home, Like No Place Is There

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14 FKA Twigs – LP1

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15 Brian Altano – Misanthrope 

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16 Foster the People – Supermodel

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17 Tycho – Awake

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18 ScHoolboy Q – Oxymoron

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19 Thom Yorke – Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes

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20 The Fighting Yawns – Montauk

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Top Songs of 2014 (released in 2014)

1. “Fall in Love” by Phantogram

2. “Woman (In Mirror)” by La Dispute

3. “The Great Secret” by Every Time I Die

4. “Woman (Reading)” by La Dispute

5. “Idiot” by Every Time I Die

6. “My World” by Code Orange

7. “Howling at the Moon” by Phantogram

8. “Chlorine” by Title Fight

9. “Best Friend” by Foster the People

10. “Tell Me” by RL Grime

Band of the Year: Every Time I Die

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*Editor’s Note – Josh Newton is no longer in the band. Stephen Micciche replaced him in 2011.

Tour of the Year: Every Time I Die, The Ghost Inside, Architects, Hundredth and Back Track in Minneapolis, MN at Mills City Nights on December 6th, 2014.

This is a live performance from the best tour of the year.

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Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):

Various Artists – Guardians of the Galaxy O/S – This soundtrack tied into an amazing storyline and crafted one of 2014’s best movie releases.

Childish Gambino – Kauai EP – Artsy EP that has me excited for Childish Gambino’s next album.

Aphex Twin – Syro – I didn’t get to spend near enough time with this album but from the couple spins I have given it, I think it’s a good album.

Submerged – Don’t Be A Gurn (In Huss We Trust) – Des Moines’ own, Submerged, released a really solid album that I will drunkenly mosh to for years to come.

Chon – Woohoo! EP – Chon opened for Animals as Leaders in Des Moines and I was blown away. These dudes have huge potential to become something extraordinary.

Foxing – The Albatross – Even though his album was originally released in 2013, it was re-issued in 2014. It would have made my list in 2013 if I had a chance to listen to it then. I don’t include re-issues in my list or I would have put it somewhere in the top 20.

November 2014 Playlist

November is an interesting month when it comes to music and myself. I usually spend it checking out albums I missed over the year after seeing end of the year lists from other editors and for my own list. I also rekindle my ties with other tunes that remind me of Thanksgiving, family and friends. This year, I listened to some older music for nostalgia’s sake, some newer music for my list and some music to hype me for the only concert I attended in November.

Tyson Stevens passed away on October 19th from an apparent heroine overdose. For those of you that did not know who he was, he was the ex-lead singer for Scary Kids Scaring Kids. The band called it quits in 2009, but they still played a prominent role in my adolescence and meant a lot to me. I cherry-picked some tunes from all their releases to start out the month of November.

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Check out this picture off of Scary Kids Scaring Kids’ old Myspace profile. Bring back any memories?

A week or so into the month, I really got into the new Pianos Become the Teeth album, Keep You. Even though I heard a lot of good things about it, I was worried because I read that they abandoned their heavier sound for something more melodic and for lack of a better word “mature”. I’m all for a band evolving especially if it results in an album like Keep You. Expect it on my end of the year list!

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I added in some Seahaven because even after seeing them in late September with Balance and Composure, I could not get them out of my head. I only own Winter Forever, so I primarily jammed to songs like “End of the World” and “Save Me”. I really like the sound they put out and expect big things from them in 2015.

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The only concert I attended in November was RL Grime in Lincoln, Nebraska. I spent a lot of the month listening to his debut album, VOID, which dropped on the Tuesday (11/17) before the show. I think the album is great and seeing RL Grime live is something that everyone needs to experience, fan of EDM or not. The concert was unbelievable! My friends and I got into the front row for his entire set.

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Title Fight releases details for their third LP!

After weeks of cryptic posts to their website, Title Fight released details on their third LP, Hyperview.

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(Artwork done by the wonderful John Slaby. He has done all of Title Fight’s album/EP artwork.)

Releasing February 3rd, via Anti- Records, it will surely be on my 2015 end of the year list, if not top it like Floral Green did in 2012.
Check out the video and lyrics for their first single “Chlorine” below!

Here’s the lyrics to “Chlorine”

Silhouette
of a violet view
Felt it fade
Was it too soon?

Hollow
You can’t hold it in

Poison in your mood
Chlorine eyes from you

Found your place
in a model face
Fell into
the violent daze

Hollow
You can’t hold it in
Pour out
all your emptiness

Poison in your mood
Chlorine eyes from you
Decorated blue
Opening a wound

Wound
Wound

Macklemore Concert in Des Moines, IA!

Macklemore Concert!

Macklemore was amazing in Des Moines, Iowa on October 30th!

I am not the biggest fan of pop music nowadays, but I have a lot of respect for Macklemore as he is truly a self made man. And an amazing performer. He stunned the crowd with an hour and a half set where his two biggest hits “Thrift Shop” and “Can’t Hold Us” would be played twice. Both times they had a different spin added to them to keep the performance fresh.

RIP Lou Reed

I definitely didn’t listen to enough of his music, but there is a famous quote about the late founder and famed front man of The Velvet Underground, “with one listen to his music, you have a desire to become a musician.”

One of my favorite songs by The Velvet Underground is “Pale Blue Eyes”. With just this song alone, a film with any sort of romantic relationship can go from “good” to “great”. Reed was a master of his craft and inspiration for a generation of musicians.

Although no cause of death has been announced, the musician from New York City had a liver transplant in May of 2013. Reed was 71 when he passed away in New York City, Sunday, October 27th.

Enjoy this phenomenal song:

SOURCE:
http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/music-arts/lou-reed-velvet-underground-musician-dead-71-article-1.1498187

The Future Belongs to Radiohead

The pay-what-you-like concept is something that consumer industries stray far away from. This isn’t a secret, but every once and a while staunch individuals come along and change everything. Their goal is to change the meta-game of the industry and become a driving force combating the vile side of the said industry. The artist and record label relationship. Artists get a significantly low amount of money for each record they sell. Radiohead is the staunch group of individuals I am talking about. They didn’t exactly do it before anyone else, but they are the first big-name band to do it and they did it on their own. The band is the future of the music industry, as far as Rolling Stone is concerned. Radiohead finished their contractual obligations with their ex-major label, EMI, with the release of Hail to the Thief in 2004. Afterwards, Thom Yorke, the lead singer for Radiohead, developed disgust with the record industry and how everything operates. In an interview for Rolling Stone, Yorke was quoted saying: “If I die tomorrow, I’ll be happy that we didn’t carry on working within this huge industry that I don’t feel any connection with.”

The band had their time working with a major record label, and they weren’t really into it. Radiohead released their album, In Rainbows as a digital release via their site in October 2007. The band would have posted it for free, but realized it would have cost them a fortune just to pay for the bandwidth of seeding the album to anxious fans. So, they did the next best thing and told the Internet that they can pay what they like for the album. This, of course, didn’t mean anything to most people since it was recorded that only two out of every five paid anything at all. After it was all said and done, the band didn’t release much data regarding the success of the pay-what-you-like scheme, but with what was released, it was figured that Radiohead netted an average of about $2.26 for each album downloaded. To the naked eye, this would most definitely be considered a failure since most downloaded albums sell for $9.99, but one thing must be pointed out: Radiohead sold these on their own, reportedly 1.2 million albums on their own. And that was just on the first day of availability. They didn’t have a record label gobbling up all the money for this manager or that managing fee; they had just themselves to worry about. So, the album netted the band more than they would have by releasing it via a major label.

Radiohead may have made a profit on the album, In Rainbows, but the fact that over half of the users didn’t pay anything at all was somewhat alarming to me. I remember when the news rang in that my favorite band of all time was releasing another album. I quickly hopped on my laptop and downloaded it paying only $5.00. At the time, I was seventeen and stole pretty much all the music I downloaded. I didn’t find it as a big deal and that is probably attributed with my biasness towards Radiohead. I felt and still do feel like they are better than everyone else and should be rewarded handsomely. If I did illegally download any of their material, I’d get the same feeling in the pit of my stomach that I would if I cheated on my girlfriend; a sense of dismay within myself. So, out of shear respect for the band, I paid for their album (and later bought a physical copy and a vinyl record). The album was on torrent sites nearly instantly, but I remember specifically going to these sites and happily seeing it having a lot less seeders and leechers than most torrents of this magnitude of a media bump. I think this is because mostly everyone was downloading it off their website because they knew they could do so for free. What a feat. Radiohead single handedly struck a chord not only with the music industry, but the torrenting and illegal downloading industry. And thanks to Napster, that is an industry.

Can bands advertise themselves and bare all the costs of doing so? In short, yes, and Radiohead has proven that. We are in the Internet age, making it possible for knowledge and information to be spread like wildfire. Radiohead admits that they wanted to use this as a marketing tool for their physical release of the album months later, but they were astonished at just how much the media picked up on it. Jonny Greenwood was cited saying in the Rolling Stone’s interview: “I really thought it would be a splash in a little pond, and I was surprised at how much the media picked up on it. Unlike a lot of Radiohead stuff, this idea really was boredom-driven. Just about avoiding the old.” The band did succeed in this when their physical album was released in January 2008. It debuted at number one in the US and the UK. Their first US and their fifth UK number one chart spot. Using their clout and past success, Radiohead has changed the industry. Inspiring bands such as Nine Inch Nails to attempt the same concept.

Where does the music industry go from here? Well, that was 2007-2008 and the Internet. The driving force behind this is a fast-moving beast. Radiohead announced their eighth album, The King Of Limbs, only one week before they released it via digital download and physical pre-order on their site. The band didn’t exercise the pay-what-you-like concept, though. Instead, they are attempting to change the industry once again with “the world’s first newspaper album”. What is this? Well, it is not entirely explained, at least not just yet. The newspaper album is up for pre-order on Radiohead’s and the details that are given explain it as an album that will include two 10” vinyl’s, many large sheets of artwork including 625 little pieces of artwork with a oxo-degradable plastic sheet to hold it all together, and a compact disc. Radiohead actually won a Grammy for their packaging of the physical release of In Rainbows. This is taking the packaging of an album to a whole new level and will most likely change the music industry’s and our views on just how an album should be packaged. Radiohead is a band that knows that downloading is the future, but maybe physical releases of an album can become a celebrated occasion that only the die-hard fans will stand by. I think that is something that Radiohead is pushing for with the release of the “newspaper” album. I believe that with In Rainbows, Radiohead showed that they think that digital downloads are stale and need a nudge in a different direction. The King of Limbs is no different. Radiohead obviously is attacking the preconceived notion of the physical release of an album with the “newspaper” album release. If you think about it, they are the pioneer of change for the music industry and maybe the future really does belong to Radiohead.

The King Of Limbs

The King Of Limbs by Radiohead – Thoughts

The beginning of the album starts off with “Bloom”. A very heavy bass and percussion, thanks to Colin and Phil, respectably, song that at its climax even brings in flutes. This is one of the strongest songs on the entire album, in my opinion, just as it needs to be. The already fast-pace ramps up as other instruments are added. The sound is reminiscent of Amnesiac immediately. Thom’s first lyrics  “Open your mouth wide! A universe inside!” carries his voice so strongly. The percussion is persistent, along with the bass and the piano, from the beginning of the song is stagnant with it’s beat. Thom eventually serenades us with his haunting voice as the flute plays. The piano, percussion and bass are constantly reminding us they are the backbones of the song. This is one of the strongest songs on the entire album. Heavy instrumentation sounds ever so beautiful when the flutes ring through bringing us to the climax of the song.

A similar fast-paced beat ramps up in “Morning Mr. Magpie”. Thom’s opening vocals “You’ve got some nerve, coming hear. You stole my heart, give it back!” are striking and noticeably separate from the instruments. Thom’s vocal hymns are then displaced with the instruments. “You know you should, but you don’t” comes over and sets the beat once again. Thom’s soothing vocals turned instrumental bring us towards the end of the song. “Good morning, Mr. Magpie. How are we today?”

Instruments flood the beginning as the guitar plays in “Little By Little”. “The last one out of the box, the one who broke your spell,” is sung as we approach the chorus. The bass and percussion keep it afloat as the guitar plays tune. Thom comes in singing higher than the other songs right out of the gate. The melody is quick as Thom sings “Little by little” “I’m such a tease and you’re such a flirt”. The song ends and flows, as always, nicely into the next tune.

Phil Selway’s percussion keeps “Feral” really quick, as it has in the first four songs. Thom’s vocals are emotive and affecting. This is where the song sounds most like the Amnesiac recordings. Thom’s vocals are placed well and there is a more natural and organic feel to the song with the instruments. If there were such a thing as a “Treefingers” on this album, I would juxtapose“Feral” with it. As the shortest song on The King Of Limbs, it seems Radiohead wanted “Feral” to be a solid and quick-paced introduction to the album’s single“Lotus Flower”. The synth-heavy Radiohead is back after “Feral”. Right away, Thom’s vocals are beamed down from the heavens and a two-beat clap capitalizes. As The King of Limbs’ first single “Lotus Flower”, is a solid song and Thom’s vocal range is truly shown here. The chorus “There’s an empty space inside my heart where the weeds stay root, so now I set you free, I set you free” shows Thom’s ability to sing a solid tenor, as if we didn’t already know. Selway is steady on percussion with Colin pouring in the slight Kid A mechanical sound in the background. Thom’s vocals are really steady and strong. He has truly developed even more from In Rainbows . “…just to feed your face, ballooning head. Listen to your hear”, Thom sings as the song comes to a close.

Codex starts off with Thom voicing something and then being cut off as the piano moves us. Being my favorite song off the album, I can only say it is nothing short of beautiful. Thom hums begin to haunt us with poignant sound. The song takes a turn from a sad sound to a now hopeful sound when Thom starts to actually sing. The song reminds me of “Motion Picture Soundtrack”. “Sleight of hand, jump off the edge, into a clear lake, no one around” is sung in an uplifting sense. It feels as though this is the end of the album and they are making their exit. Like an ending to a night it goes quiet, then suddenly birds begin to chirp. I think this emulates Radiohead’s cunning musical brilliance. This is the most memorable moment for me on the album as the transition gave me “goose bumps”.

Starting us back up with the birds chirping as if there is new life back in The King Of Limbs. How clever. In the background of the song, Thom’s heard singing “Don’t haunt me, don’t hurt me” repeatedly as he also sings the first verse. The guitar chimes in steadily, as does the beating of a bongo, gluing  together “Give Up The Ghost” beautifully. “I think I should give up the ghost, into your arms” is rung through the end of the song with Thom in the background singing “Don’t haunt me, don’t hurt me” steadily throughout the whole song. The song ends with it and the synth sound from Kid A, almost like a movie reel ending its play through. How many times can I call Radiohead clever? They are the most astute band I can think of. Every single aspect of their album is intelligently thought through.

I was expecting “Separator” to sound like something I was longing for, which was another “Jigsaw Falling Into Place” intense song. It wasn’t, but what I did find is Radiohead knew me better than I, myself did, because “Separator” was something I didn’t know I wanted. The sound starts up somewhat slowly with Thom’s vocals and a stable beat from the percussion and guitar.  Thom’s vocals are redolent of The Bends sessions here. “I’m a fish now, out of water” confines the listener with Thom’s vocals. “If you think this over, you are wrong” rings through towards the middle of the song with the steady melody coming from the bass and percussion. “Wake me up, wake me now” brings us towards the end of the song and album. But wait, do you really think Radiohead would leave us with nothing to talk about? Fat chance. “If you think this is over, then you’re wrong” is sung in the middle of the song with Colin Greenwood’s bass strumming. This is the conspiracy theorist in me, but I think Radiohead is planning an Amnesiac/Kid A kind of release. I’m predicting they will release another album within the next year. Think about it: Separator is the name of the last song, separator to what? Radiohead is entirely too imaginative for it to mean nothing.

Radiohead is full of surprises. The band does it their way and that’s that. Don’t bother trying to understand why they do what they do, because you may hurt yourself trying to wrap your head around it. They announced on Monday, the 14th the album would be released Saturday, the 19th. And then, to top it all off, they release it a day early. Who does that?! There are no fillers on the The King Of Limbs . The entire album is composed of solid songs. That’s right, there are no intros, no outros to speak of. People are most definitely going to be complaining about this, but the fact of the matter it’s Radiohead and they are not about doing things indisposed. I feel like The King Of Limbs wasn’t rushed, but they have something they’re hiding for sure. I am not complaining about the album length, but I do (and let’s face it, always will) want more Radiohead. The fact that there are only 8 tracks can be disappointing to some, but when you realize the album is still over 40 minutes long you should no longer be disappointed. The King Of Limbs doesn’t leave the listener with an empty feeling, but it leaves the listener wanting more. Something like eating a really good dinner, having your favorite dessert and then wanting even more of your favorite dessert even though your belt is now tight and your shirt is nearly bursting at the seams.  Radiohead is going to make heads turn with this album. That is for sure. People were definitely expecting a more organic sound coming off of In Rainbows. The album is something that I would say closely resembles the session between Ok Computer and Amnesiac. There are times when listening to the album that I could hear a slight Kid A sound, but it’s not as apparent as Amnesiac. I’m excited to see what Radiohead does with the“Separator” theory. I’m confident on another release later this year tying the albums together. The “Newspaper” album should reveal more on it and you know I ordered mine already!