Tag Archives: Radiohead

Peter Gabriel: Songs To Listen To In An Empty Room

Peter Gabriel

Peter Gabriel, the former lead singer of Genesis, is putting out a new album. It happens to be his first in seven years. It also happens to be contain covers (or “song-swaps”) of some of the most varied big-name artists. Here’s the full track list:

01 “Heroes” (David Bowie)
02 “The Boy in the Bubble” (Paul Simon)
03 “Mirrorball” (Elbow)
04 “Flume” (Bon Iver)
05 “Listening Wind” (Talking Heads)
06 “The Power of the Heart” (Lou Reed)
07 “My Body Is a Cage” (Arcade Fire)
08 “The Book of Love” (The Magnetic Fields)
09 “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today” (Randy Newman)
10 “Après moi” (Regina Spektor)
11 “Philadelphia” (Neil Young)
12 “Street Spirit (Fade Out)” (Radiohead)

Most of those names are familiar, I’m sure, but some may not be. Elbow is a British band – heavily influenced by U2 – that sounds like  a stripped down Coldplay. The Magnetic Fields come out of Boston. As a point of reference, both bands have been about for 20 years.

Album Art for Scratch My Back

Starting his musical career as a drummer, Peter Gabriel was drawn into music by its craftwork. In an interview on his website, Gabriel says that he’s alway had interest in doing “the dreaded covers album”.  But he wasn’t about to go about it in any old fashion. He reflects, “I thought, ‘If I’m going to do that, I’m going to do something different with it.”

Gabriel wanted to create self-imposed rules to rein in the creative process, stating that “giving an artist total freedom is castrating them”. At first he toyed with the idea of using homemade instruments, but finally decided that a strict no guitar, no drums policy would be the way that Scratch My Back would go.

John Metcalfe

And in the absence of guitar and drums, Peter Gabriel has turned to New Zealand composer John Metcalfe, who has written string arrangements for The Cranberries and The Pretenders. But the compositions on this record have strayed far from the beaten pop path into the realm of minimalist and classical music. Gabriel himself says that Metcalfe had Steve Reich and Arvo Part in mind when composing the music.

This has led to the creation of songs that deserve to be listened to with your full attention. These songs create in my mind a white, unadorned and simple room where the empty space is filled in by the beautiful textures of Metcalfe’s compositions.

But enough talking, take a listen and decide for yourself. First up, “Heroes”, originally by David Bowie.

A fantastic string section adds a dramatic edge to the song, especially in the context of Gabriel’s recent contribution of the track in an effort to support Haiti.

His cover of the Bon Iver song, “Flume”, starts with somber piano and then slowly brings out french horns and coronets to back the haunting lyrics, “Sky is womb and she’s the moon”. Take a listen, and if you like it, you can download the song here.

But the pinnacle of the album, or at least the songs I’ve heard so far, is his cover of The Arcade Fire’s “My Body is a Cage” – an incredibly original and dynamic song to begin with.  The song explodes two and a half minutes in, and is the only song on the album to feature a full chorus.

By contrast, his cover of Radiohead’s “Street Spirit” is surprisingly disappointing. Barely choking out the words, or just grumbling at times, it’s simply not pleasurable to listen to.

But in the end, Peter Gabriel really has accomplished a great deal with this album. In his own words, “working with the negative” of the songs allowed him to set his album on a different plane than where the “positives” lie.

To see some footage from the recording, check out  this interview. And get all the info about the upcoming album on his website www.petergabriel.com.

~Josh

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PEAK KEYWORD: GABRIEL

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Not 8th Continent, Not Chocolate Soy Milk

So no radio station blog-writing intern is perfect, and this one is no exception. In August, when this blog was still a baby germ of an idea, I came across an article talking of an upcoming album, The Sun Came Out, by a group called “7 Worlds Collide”.

Neil Finn

What caught my eye at the time were some of the names on the back of the CD. 7 Worlds Collide is the brainchild of New Zealand rocker Neil Finn. In tow is Scottswoman KT Tunstall; Jeff Tweedy, of Wilco, plus fellow band members John Stirratt, Nels Cline and Glenn Kotche; Phil Selway, the drummer from Radiohead is on there; and so are Neil’s two sons – Liam and Elroy and his brother, Tim. And there are plenty more.

The 7 Worlds Collide lineup

Jeff Tweedy of Wilco

Talk about some world class rockers – you’ve at least heard Neil Finn’s voice backing Sheryl Crow’s “Every Day is a Winding Road”. You’ve heard numerous cuts on the Peak off Tunstall’s debut album Eye to the Telescope – most notably “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree”. Wilco and Radiohead pretty much go with out saying, and if you’re a devout listener, then you may remember hearing Liam Finn’s “Second Chance” on Next about two or three years back.

Now when I went back to find that original article last night, I’ll confess I was a little mixed up – and found a bunch of great information about the soy milk company – 8th Continent.

But soy milk and British internet tech firms ( Continent 8 ) aside, check out some of these videos to see the really great songs that make up The Sun Came Out. You can head over to their website, and buy the album for just five pounds!

The best part is all proceeds from the band go to benefit Oxfam, a non-profit that brings aid to those living in poverty. So by listening to great music you get to help the poor. And just in time for the Holidays too!

And don’t forget to check back next Monday for Josh The Intern’s Blog (JTIB)’s first annual Record of Records (no science included)! I’ll be looking at some of my favorite records of the year based around arbitrary categories – you’ll see. But if you’ve got an album that you’ve been digging and it’s from ’09, drop me an email or a comment and maybe it’ll deserve a category of its own.

Check out these great videos from 7 Worlds Collide:

A really great intro video for the 7 Worlds concert this past January

So first up: “Hazel Black” with KT Tunstall

Next, father and son perform “Learn to Crawl”, a truly powerful song

And last but not least, Mr. Selway gets his chance to be a songwriter with “The Ties That Bind Us”

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PEAK KEYWORD: SOYMILK

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Attack of the Supergroups!

While actress Milla Jovovich may be trying to draw in your attention with talk of extraterrestrial owls and an imminent fear of the fourth kind, there’s a phenomenon that has been slowly gaining momentum in the music world….

Bands and musicians have been switching members and pairing up like Xenon Octa-Flouride (XeF8) would, if it ever is going to be invented (thanks Wikipedia!). In layman’s terms, we’ve been getting a lot of new supergroups, side projects, and collaborations – some that could have been foreseen, and others that seem to have appeared out of nowhere.

The Almanac Singers... singing

The Almanac Singers seen here with Bess Hawes, Arthur Stern and Sis Cunningham

Now, the idea of a supergroup is not a recent innovation by any stretch of the imagination – the supergroup goes all the way back to the Almanac Singers – a combination of Millard Lampell, Lee Hayes, Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie that got its start in 1940. From the 60’s until today, we have been given plenty more supergroups, such as in 1969 which brought us both The Plastic Ono Band (which included the likes of Eric Clapton, both George Harrison and Ringo Starr, Keith Moon and Alan White – just to name a few) as well as Blind Faith (which also featured Mr. Clapton, but had Ginger Baker, Steve Winwood and Ric Grech to boot). 1988 brought us the Traveling Wilburys, which was the tour de force of George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and Bob Dylan. And although they Wilburys only stuck together for about a year after Orbison’s death, that cosmic aligning is something that has not met it’s match… yet.

monsters-of-folk

The Monsters of Folk

Among the recent crop of supergroups is a group I mentioned last week – The Monsters of Folk, which consists of folk songsters Connor Oberst and  Mike Mogis from Bright Eyes, M. Ward of She & Him, and Jim James from My Morning Jacket. They’ve been associated under the Monsters name since 2004, but have all been so busy with their respective main attractions that they weren’t able to release their self-titled first album until this year. You’ve definitely heard their track “Say Please” on the Peak – and both M. Ward and Connor Oberst gave free concerts in NYC this summer!

Ben Gibbard and Jay Farrar

Moving down the line from most folky to least, next up is the recent pairing of Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard with Jay Farrar, member of Uncle Tupelo and frontman for Son Volt, the two bands that he played with throughout the 90’s before he launched his solo career in 2001. Gibbard and Farrar first got together in 2007 to record the soundtrack for One Fast Move and I’m Gone: Kerouac’s Big Sur. Both the movie and the album came out on October 20th, the day before the 40th anniversary of the prolific author’s death. You can see the music video for “San Fransisco”, the last track on the album, here. And you can expect to see more from them in the future.

Taking a detour into the realm of electronica, at the end of September, Thom Yorke, the lead singer of Radiohead, slipped this little surprise into his blog:

hi
in the past couple of weeks i’ve been getting a band together for fun to play the eraser stuff live and the new songs etc.. to see if it could work!
here’s a photo.. its me, joey waronker, mauro refosco, flea and nigel godrich.
at the beginning of october the 4th and 5th we are going to do a couple of shows at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles.
we don’t really have a name and the set will not be very long cuz ..well …we haven’t got that much material yet!
Thom Yorke and Flea at the Oprheum show on Oct. 5

Thom Yorke and Flea

Of course, those shows were sold out in 20 minutes. Flea, as you know, is the Red Hot Chili Peppers Bassist – and he seemed to be ecstatic to be on stage with Yorke, playing cuts from Yorke’s solo album The Eraser (2006). There hasn’t been a follow-up to the October concerts, but that’s something you should keep an eye out for as well.

Jack White and Alison Mosshart sharing the mike at Glastonbury this year

Next up come two really driving groups. First is The Dead Weather, whose song “Hang You Up From the Heavens” I featured in my first week of blog-writing. The Dead Weather was formed by Jack White who’s been extremely active – leaping from the White Stripes, to the Raconteurs, to the recent release of “It Might Get Loud” – a documentary featuring White, The Edge, and Jimmy Page. The band also features Alison Mosshart of the Kills on lead vocals, Dean Fertita of Queens of the Stone Age and Jack Lawrence, who played with White in the Raconteurs. And to sweeten the deal, they just announced a show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on November 17th! Tickets for that are going on Sale this friday, so get ’em quick.

them-crooked-vultures

The "Them Crooked Vultures" teaser photo from earlier this fall

And finally, we come to Them Crooked Vultures, or TCV as they call themselves. TCV is big news. On drums is Dave Grohl, from Nirvana and the Foo Fighters. On vocals and guitar is Josh Homme, from the Queens of the Stone Age. The kicker is that John Paul Jones comes soaring in on bass. They’ve got a really great sound, full and rocking, but what remains to be seen is whether TCV will be able to stay afloat once their star power has worn off. Their self-titled first record is due out on Sony in a week, which should be an insta-grab for all hard rock fans. But for now, check out the full album on the band’s website!

So, I apologize about all the name dropping – it’s not something I routinely do. If you think a supergroup has been left out, please let me know. Or if you feel the need to justify the Tinted Windows‘ existence, by all means, please try. But if you do, I’ll kindly remind you that their lead singer is from Hanson, and we’ll go our separate ways. Wikipedia to the rescue once again!

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Peak Keyword: MMBOP

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