Klever’s Review: November

There are many albums of the nineties that had a profound impact on the way I listen to music.  Sadly, I could only choose one to review this month.  So, the more I listened to them the past couple of months, one album stood out more and more.  Not alone for the content, but also because how in many ways it foretold the future.  That album is Radiohead’s 1997 classic, OK Computer.

I remember exactly where I was when I first heard this album – it was in my friend Mary’s car, heading out to ‘the Quarry’ in Toledo, Ohio to watch the July 4th fireworks. I was sixteen, so estactic to be sitting in traffic, in a car, with someone else other than my parents driving me around, that this perfected the soundtrack of my life.

My life had become, in many ways, as Thom Yorke said, “… the outside world became all there was… I’m just taking Polaroids of things around me moving too fast”.

1997 was the beginning of the end of an era for record companies as well, as this album was one of the last of the great albums you would have to buy – Napster and the mp3 revolution was around the corner.  By the time I was a naïve freshman at Ohio State in 1999 – I could download, “just the songs that I liked” in seconds from my dorm room’s T1 line.  I could now have my Proclaimers “I’m gonna be (500 miles)” blared from the 10th floor of Smith Hall whenever I liked without having to sort through the other crap on Sunshine on Leith.

That naivity lasted entirely too long and like many people, I began to judge an artist for their ability to produce a single and forget what it was to like to listen to and appreciate an entire album.  Maybe Lars Ulrich was right in, “wanting to control everything that had to do with METALLICA.” Including composing of an album instead of a collection of singles.  However, he may have just wanted his “gold-plated shark tank bar beside the pool”.

OK Computer also marked a shift for the band from their previous albums, and ironically they embraced and used the technology that booming around them, while ironically secluding themselves in shed outside of London, in Didcot, England.

The opening track sets the tune for all of this, Airbag, features a sampled drum beat inspired from DJ Shadow, followed by the stories of Paranoid Android and Homesick Subterranean Alien.  You can feel the isolation inspired by Romeo and Juliet of the next track, Exit Music (For a Film).   The next track, Let Down, leads you to the hit of the album, Karma Police.  The band, may have taken the technology  too far, as in the middle the album, Fitter Happier, the lyrics are not sung by Yorke, but rather recited by a Macintosh SimpleText application and is a major blemish on this album.

Almost as if they became lost making Fitter Happier, the following political-minded Electioneering, reverts back to an earlier Radiohead style heard on The Bends.

The album rounds out with four songs that in a beautiful, melancholy way integrates, “all the textures and the sounds and the atmospheres we (the band) were trying to create:” Climbing Up The Walls, No Surprises, Lucky and The Tourist.

After completion of the album, the record company’s first reaction was, more or less, ‘commercial suicide’, not critical praise and multi-platinum sales.  Afterall, keep in mind that this was the band that opened for Alanis Morrissette during her North American Tour that summer.

If you haven’t listened to the album, or listened to it in a long while, I suggest that you should (while skipping through Fitter Happier).   It takes you on a journey of a band stretching the limits of technology and themselves.  It takes time to listen to, I suggest putting it on while going on a road-trip. The more you listen to the album unfold, it becomes almost cinematic in nature.  One can sum it up as quinesstial aural enlightenment.

Ten years after this was released, Radiohead, in many ways completed the circle.  OK Computer is universally accepted as a classic, mp3’s are here to stay, Lars Ulrich is swimming with sharks, and they did something unheard of: they released their newest album, In Rainbows, in digital download format for the price of whatever you could donate.

They continue to push the envelope and I convinced that this would have happened if they did not do so when recording one of my favorite albums, OK Computer.

Album Tracks

01-airbag

02-paranoid-android1

03-subterranean-homesick-alien

04-exit-music-for-a-film

05-let-down

06-karma-police

07-fitter-happier

08-electioneering

09-climbing-up-the-walls

10-no-surprises

11-lucky

12-the-tourist

Rob Klever – November 2008
If you like this check out: Mogwai’s Young Team, REM’s Automatic for the People and Jeff Buckley’s Grace
If you hate this check out: Dr. Dre’s The Chronic Pearl Jam’s Ten;; The Lonesome Crowded West by Modest Mouse; Stankonia by OutKast, Beck’s Odelay and Things Fall Apart by The Roots.
New Stuff: Passion Pit

All comments, suggestions for future months, and praise can be heaped to: robklever@yahoo.com

Klever’s Review: October

Hey everyone!

First of all, I wanted to thank Dr. Rosh for putting together this great website.  Really, it is a fantastic and an excellent learning tool.  None of my other former classmates who went into EM (26 of them) that I’ve talked to have something like this.  And, nobody, I repeat, nobody has a video of Dr. Siadat dancing like Adam does.

Anyway, enough digressing.  Since I listen to a ton of music (not quite as much as DJ Guyer) I approached Adam about writing an album of the month review as something fun for me to do and force me to keep up with my music.

Since I am not quite sure of the best way to do this given my wide taste in music (I listen to pretty much everything, but death metal and country).  Therefore, some of you will choose to label fractions of that as ‘poor’, something that I take offense to because I like enough music that we have to like at least one of the same artists.

Therefore, throughout the year, I am going to do a theme of the month ranging from a Christmas Album to Album of the ‘Band You Should See In Summer 2009’.

Most importantly, Adam graciously accepted my offer and now I present you with my first album review:

Since finishing medical school at Cincinnati, I have for the most part have been stumbling around and this includes choosing my first album to review. Therefore, I decided to pick an album from someone who had a little bit of stumbling of his own.

Justin Vernon, under the moniker Bon Iver, had been kickin’ it down South with his band mates of DeYarmond Edison, when he the realization that his career and life wasn’t headed in the direction he had envisioned set in.  Unfortunately, his girlfriend at the time agreed with him and dumped his ass.

So, he did what any red-blooded American boy would do… He locked himself in a cabin in Northern Wisconsin to live off the land and clear his head.

While enjoying the wonderful Wisconsin winter, he spent the better part of his days chopping firewood.  Luckily for us, there is only so much firewood to be chopped (after all, his moniker is Bon Iver, not Paul Bunyan) he broke out his guitar and started writing music about what happened to his life and why Wisconsin Cheddar is so much better than Minnesota’s Cheddar.

When asked about Cheddar and other quandaries of the winter, Mr. Iver stated, “There wasn’t any distraction.  There wasn’t anybody for me to run to and say, ‘Hey look what I’m doing!’ … As soon as you get excited about it and tell someone, your ego is involved.  Even the smallest fraction of that and you can kill some of the magic.”

Thankfully there is more cheese and less people in Wisconsin, because the album that came out of this, For Emma, Forever Ago is pretty magical.

It’s an acoustic album, driven by layered falsettos, punctuated by the outright singing of a man trying to find his way while locked-up in a cabin. Bon Iver begins the album of with the harrowing Flume and then weaves the unadulterated tale of his year. By the time the he finishes the last lines of the closing track, re: Stacks you feel as if you were a part of his journey.

The album, deservedly, has received a fair amount of critical praise as Emma is on many album of the year lists and the track Skinny Love was the iTunes ‘Song of the Week’ earlier this year in the UK.

I find it to be a simple album and enjoy having it on in the background while I am surfing the internet or studying.  It’s beautiful and easy to listen to day after day.  His solitude is palpable on each track of Emma and you can hear the bite of the winter in his voice.  For me, as I stumble through this next part of my life, when I listen to this album I feel ‘the  sound of the unlocking and the lift away.’

Album

01-flume

02-lump-sum

03-skinny-love

04-the-wolves-act-i-and-ii

05-blindsided

06-creature-fear

07-team

08-for-emma

Rob Klever, M.D. October 2008

For fans of: Jeff Buckley, Iron and Wine, Coffee-House Music.

If you like this check out: The Fleet Foxes.

If you hate this check out: Cut Copy (dance), WALE (Rap), TV on the Radio (experimental rock).

I hope to have the music available to listen from this website.

All comments, suggestions for future months, and praise can be heaped to: robklever@yahoo.com