Radiohead doesn’t play by familiar rules, so it wasn’t a surprise to see news this morning of a music video for the unreleased OK Computer track “I Promise.” Last month, the band announced OKNOTOK, a 20th-anniversary reissue of their iconic Grammy-winning album from 1997. OKNOTOK will feature a remastered version of the original album, plus B-sides and three previously unreleased tracks. Among those three tracks is “I Promise,” and its accompanying video, directed by Michal Marczak, is of a piece with the themes of ennui explored throughout OK Computer and Marczak’s All These Sleepless Nights. The video, not unlike Marczak’s three features to date, is a hybrid documentary-fiction, in this case a reverie about Warsaw in nighttime and all the lonely people, including a man-robot’s head, who absorb the Polish capital’s mundane wonders while riding a city bus. This uniquely immersive video attests to Marcak’s knack for empathetically homing in on the essence of archetypical figures, people and environments alike.
Radiohead (#1–10 of 23)
So many of the highlights and lowlights of the year in singles were, for better or worse, attuned to what feels like a worldwide drift toward maintaining one’s own financial and psychological (same diff) bottom line at the expense of anyone else’s. Beyoncé, of all performers, was far from immune, though her particular brand of exceptionalism continues to dress itself up in the finery of collective consciousness raising. Far more common were the unfussy, ruthlessly entertaining likes of Fifth Harmony speaking on behalf of Melania Trumps everywhere. Or Kanye West’s epic clapback against Taylor Swift, which in turn presaged his detour into the mental hospital, which we’ve now seen firsthand more or less counts as the first step in a presidential bid in 2020.
Three days ago, Radiohead released the first single, “Burn the Witch,” from their ninth studio album, along with its Wicker Man-inspired music video. And if that wasn’t enough to whet your appetite, today the band has released the music video from another of the album’s tracks, “Daydreaming,” directed by filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson. In the video, the Inherent Vice director’s camera follows Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke through numerous locales, from hotel hallways to laundromats. The images, lucid and confrontational, exude an almost gestural quality as they cut from interior and exterior spaces, with Yorke waltzing in a sleep-like torpor toward a hole—or spacious studio igloo?—somewhere on a snow-capped mountain. The world here appears at once real and imagined, and by the time the fire within the hole lights Yorke’s face and the song grinds to a halt, Anderson dramatically reaffirms most of our beliefs about Radiohead’s music as, above all else, the prettiest soundtrack in the world to one man’s devotion to his own alienation.
After a series of Instagram teasers and mysterious leaflets sent to fans that made mention of the song’s title, Radiohead has released “Burn the Witch,” the first single from their ninth studio album. Rumored to be called Dawn Chorus, the upcoming album will be the band’s first in over five years, following 2011’s The King of Limbs. “Burn the Witch,” which goes on sale at midnight, has reportedly been in the works for at least 15 years, as far back as 2001’s Kid A. True to the band’s long-established brand, the track melds digital and analog, with staccato guitar stabs, lush orchestral swells, and of course, frontman Thom Yorke’s sonorous wails undergirded by buzzing electronic sounds and Colin Greenwood’s distinctive bass. “Stand in the shadows/To the gallows/This is a round-up,” Yorke cautions at the song’s start, with all the paranoia and politically shaded intrigue we’ve come to expect.
1. “LFO’s Mark Bell: 10 essential tracks.” The electronic-music producer, who died last week, was an innovator of electronic sound, from his huge influence on the early club scene to Radiohead remixes and groundbreaking collaborations with Björk.
“Mark Bell was an electronic-music innovator throughout his career, which was tragically cut short last week. Riding the wave of the early-90s dance-music revolution, the Leeds-born Bell and longtime friend and partner Gez Varley defined the northern English ’bleep’ techno sound found in LFO’s music—especially on the group’s bass-heavy self-titled hit. Along the way they helped put Sheffield’s Warp Records (home to Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada and countless others) on the map, and remixed Radiohead, Sabres of Paradise and their hip-hop heroes Afrika Baambaataa & Soulsonic Force. When Varley left the group in 1996, Bell maintained a solo career as a respected underground techno producer. In 1997, his transformative work on Björk’s epochal Homogenic album brought him into the pop sphere and established a long-running and fruitful partnership. Other collaborations followed, most notably with Depeche Mode, as well as movie soundtracks and more acclaimed productions under the LFO guise. The shock of Bell’s death casts a sudden light on a considerable discography, which was marked by adventurism and a consistently recognisable approach to funk-infused, melodic, wonderfully bleepy electronica. His best productions put him in a league with better-known peers like Andrew Weatherall and Aphex Twin. Here are 10 of them.”
Tori Amos is best known for her brutally honest, often opaque original songs, like “Silent All These Years” and “Caught a Lite Sneeze,” but longtime fans also know her to be a consummate interpreter of other musicians’ work. In 2001, Amos released Strange Little Girls, a collection of songs originally written and performed by men, and she’s covered the music of everyone from Joni Mitchell to Metallica during her live shows. The crimson-haired singer-songwriter’s Unrepentant Geraldines Tour features a segment coined the Lizard Lounge, in which she performs covers selected by fans, and her Tori-fied renditions of Radiohead’s “Creep” and Madonna’s “Frozen,” not to mention a mashup of songs by feuding songstresses Sinéad O’Connor and Miley Cyrus, recently got the blogosphere buzzing. Amos, who celebrates her 51st birthday tomorrow, wraps up the North American leg of her tour in the great state of Florida this weekend, and while there’s bound to be more gems given the straddled-piano-bench treatment when she hits Australia in November (our pick: Aussie pop icon Kylie Minogue’s “Slow”), here are our favorites from 2014 so far.
- calvin harris
- careless whisper
- cloud on my tongue
- dolly parton
- george michael
- Kate Bush
- Madonna Frozen
- nine inch nails
- pictures of you
- PJ Harvey
- running up that hill
- something i can never have
- the big picture
- The Cure
- Tori Amos
- trent reznor
- unrepentant geraldines
- unrepentant geraldines tour
- we float
- we found love
- y cant tori read
1. “The Essential Shorts.” Fandor’s Mike Plante selects 25 must-see short films from over a century of cinema.
“Let me start by recognizing how silly it would be to say a specific movie is ’the best film ever made.’ Studios made tons of classics every year for a hundred years, independents have been churning out work and breaking expectations for fifty years at least. And that’s just feature films. With shorts it’s even more difficult. There are so many you haven’t seen. Or more importantly, didn’t see the right way. So let’s talk about ’essential’ short films. If you haven’t seen many shorts, here is a roller-coaster sample of incredible work. More importantly, if you love short films, you need to see these. With little to lose and even less to spend, shorts can take risks. Think of all your favorite short stories or anecdotes from life—those can be just as insightful, powerful or as funny as a novel. Add invigorating style, whether its pushing expectations, or revitalizing a time-honored method.”
1. “Toronto Film Festival Lineup Announced.” The festival has unveiled a first round of titles for its 2014 edition.
“The 39th Toronto International Film Festival has announced its initial slate of galas and special presentations, which includes 37 world premieres and several films with Oscar ambitions. The Judge, which stars Robert Downey Jr. as a big-city lawyer who reluctantly returns home and ends up defending his revered father (Robert Duvall) against criminal charges, will have its world premiere in Toronto. His Avengers pal, Chris Evans, will unveil his own directorial debut in Toronto, titled Before We Go. Also noteworthy: James Gandolfini’s final film, The Drop, which also stars Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace; another Jason Reitman Toronto world premiere, Men, Women and Children, starring Jennifer Garner and Adam Sandler; the Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything; and films directed by Jon Stewart and Chris Rock. Toronto made some changes this year, motivated by the increasing competition for world premieres from rival fall festivals. Since films like Foxcatcher and David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars debuted in Cannes, they won’t be slotted during the fest’s first four days, which are being reserved strictly for world premieres. In recent years, the Telluride, Venice, and New York festivals had poached some big titles from Toronto, and TIFF is now making an effort to reward films that hold their premieres for the trip north. The Toronto Film Festival runs Sept. 4-14.”
1. ” An Emotional Jay Leno Bids Goodbye to Tonight.” Johnny Carson’s departure from the ’Tonight’ show was an abdication. Jay Leno’s last show, on Thursday, was closer to a retirement party—a bittersweet send-off for a loyal executive pushed out after 22 years.
“Newer viewers were like the younger employees down the hall who barely know the retiree, but are still drawn to the drama of a forced exit, and also the free champagne and cake. For his older, longtime fans—his audience’s median age is 57.8—there was a there-but-for-the-grace-of God frisson: Mr. Leno, 63, is such a familiar fixture of network television that his last hurrah became a dreaded rite of passage, an acting out of people’s deepest fears about their own obsolescence. (That could be the reason David Letterman, 66, of CBS put aside his longstanding grudge against Mr. Leno and congratulated his rival on ’a wonderful run.’).”
Alex Lake/Nasty Little Man
Exactly 20 summers ago, the world was introduced to Radiohead by way of their debut single, “Creep.” Thom Yorke and company may have soured to their very first modern rock hit, but as we said in our list of the Best Singles of the 1990s, for which the song ranked at #37, “Creep” is rivaled only by “Every Breath You Take” as the ultimate kind-of-obsessive/kind-of-romantic crush anthem, with guitarist Jonny Greenwood’s perfectly timed blasts of electricity turning it from slightly creepy to threatening. The track peaked on the Billboard pop chart in September of 1993, a full year after its initial release, and Radiohead would go on to become one of the most influential bands in rock history. On the eve of this anniversary, we take a look back at the group’s best and most innovative music videos.