Sunday, December 10, 2006

so i weave myself up, slowly

radiohead's "Hail to the Thief" was officially released on june 10th, 2003, but i can remember bootlegs being circulated around the theatre department of james madison university as early as april 2003 (i remember this because i have vivid memories of friends listening to the record outside in the cold, and for some reason april is still a winter month in the valley of the blue ridge mountains). everyone was talking. "the best thing ever," people were saying. even if they hadn't actually heard the record, they heard from someone who HAD heard it that it was a masterpiece. i finally got my hands on a copy. i was eager, i must say. anxiously awaiting the follow-up to my numbers 19 picks, "Kid A" & "Amnesiac." the growth, the sheer blind leap of creative expression, musical genius, and artistry between 1997's "OK Computer" and 2000's "Kid A" is astounding. how can a band make such a jump like that? where is that missing logical step between these two era's. apparently, the answer lies in "Hail To Thief." and i was disappointed. "Hail to the Thief" is a record that sonically and artistically makes sense to be betwixt "OK Computer" and "Kid A". what a rip off. that's right. i said it. i was let down. a step backwards. sue me. bite me. i dont care. i was expecting an album to change my life; all i got was "the rain drops" repeated 46 times.

cutting back to the theatre department
, people were foaming at the mouth. i can actually remember a party planned in early may to sit around and listen to the thing. the invite was extended to me.

"i've already heard it" i politely said.

"well. right. everyone has. it's brilliant. its about the president and--"

"i've already heard it."

"ok, well the party is--"

"it's not that good of a record."

people were not pleased. but truth be told, i was not nice. i was a wreck; some unfortunate long-distance love gone awry had broken me. i needed inspiration. i needed hope. i needed someone to tell me i would be ok. luckily i found it in a very unlikely source. i knew this much, going i
nto the purchase of this record. i knew that it was sort of a shock this album had been made after the huge commercial success of the frontmans side project. i knew that the guitarist, a founding member of the group had quit sometime in the early stages of recording, and that most of the album had been recorded in Morocco. under the beautiful graffiti-art cover was a record i never expected to hear. i was expecting a logical follow-up to the bands previous 1999 release, or a clone of the frontmans aforementioned side project (which apparently is the reason said guitarist handed in his resignation).

this was easily among the top 3 records of the year (four 2003 records made my list, but it should be noted that i didnt discover my #20 pick--another 2003 release--until some time later), a fact i argued RELENTLESSLY with the theatre radiohead kids. "...Thief" Sucks. This ROCKS. softly. with a wit and humor and soul and intelligence i didnt know this man possessed. "no i aint got nothin' to be scared of, no." damon crooned to me. i needed to hear it. i needed to convince myself of this. i needed to be ok.


BLUR-think tank
RELEASE DATE: May 6, 2003

LABEL: Virgin Records Us

The album is rumoured to have almost been called Darklife. This is probably helped by the secret track, "Me, White Noise", featuring "Parklife" narrator Phil Daniels; "Me, White Noise" can be found by rewinding at the start of "Ambulance". -wikipedia

i have just come to the realization that so many of my top 25 so far have been heartache records. records that soothe my wounded heart. songs and words and melodies that were seemingly crafted to mend me. somehow, despite time and space, the artists had intentionally written every note to un-break me.

ok. so maybe thats a crappy theory. a bit far fetched. so. let me re-visit; either my musical taste sharpens when i'm heart-broken, or i just buy albums that end up meaning more to me because the help repair me, rather than remind me of someone that no longer values me in their life.

blah blah blah. i was heartbroken, blah blah blah.

this album is so hopeful. and inspirational. and beautiful. papa shoegaze said some beautiful things about it, so i wont. speaking of bill big-cheese, aka papa shoegaze...he mentioned on the phone earlier about trying to imagine a time BEFORE you had heard records on your list. the way your ears sense audio in relation to the knowledge that these albums exist. if that doesnt make sense, let me say this...i cannot imagine not knowing what this record sounds like.


SIGUR ROSE-Ágætis Byrjun
RELEASE DATE: june 1999 ICELAND / Nov 21, 2000 UK / May 22, 2001 US
LABEL: Smekkleysa Records
(ps; if you have 175 bones and you'd like to spend them on the double 12" version of this record, click here)

papa: i know i promised 3 today, but work is driving me nuts and it took me this long just to get THIS much done.


Big Cougar said...

"Crazy Beat": two thumbs down. Rest of the album, especially "On the Way to the Club," two thumbs up and recommended, though 13 and Blur are still better in my estimation. And, of course, their greatest hits is awesome...hmmm, where is my Blur greatest hits record? Where indeed....

Captain Ultra said...

i think "13" and "Blur" are very good records, i just think this is the record wherein Blur grew up. much like "the colour and the shape" was to foo fighters.