At one point, we entertained the idea of rouletting the entire list of 150 songs, forgetting that the process employed to order the 400 all-time favorite albums of the Decades project took several months of card-shuffling in locales all over Northern California. None of us are very good at math, but after postulating some variables and discovering that 150 songs would take somewhere in the neighborhood of thirty hours to complete, we opted for a plan B. The bottom hundred tunes would be ranked by silent ballot, while the top 50 would be subjected to the live bonfire frivolity. With one exception: any song that was ranked number one by an individual on his or her list would automatically be bumped up into the roulette. Enter The Killers, making this mix installment the first to feature an Idler’s favorite song. We also get the first taste of Ted Leo, one of the patron saints of The Institute.
The next twenty tunes in The Ultimate Mixtape pay tribute to the enduring power of some back-in-the-day favorites. We’re all a little bit guilty of best-thing-ever fever, but the fact that so many songs from the earliest years of consideration made it this deep into the mix is testament to the fact that, in some cases, that initial enthusiasm was not misplaced. And center stage for this tribute to the formative period of our collective are the Oxford Angels themselves. Do-no-wrong Radiohead remain in heavy rotation with releases from before, during, and after this fifteen-year window.
Radiohead is a band obsessed with reinvention. There are few groups in the history of recorded music that have released back-to-back albums as different as OK Computer and Kid A, and often drastic changes in sound are a result of desperation rather than inspiration. A Moon Shaped Pool luckily stands in a place similar to In Rainbows, a cumulative review of the sounds various band members have come to master in their years off. Jonny Greenwood has spent the better part of the new millennium composing film scores. He brings his accomplished string arrangements to the forefront of album opener “Burn the Witch,” and few songs go by without a touch of emotion courtesy of the newly prominent string department. Likewise the band’s rhythm section, all too often overlooked when discussing the high levels of musicianship present in Radiohead, lays down simplistic beats whose complexity lies in their ability to work alongside Greenwood’s thick strings and Thom Yorke’s vocals that hang over the album. Continue reading The Immortal Iron Review: A Moon Shaped Pool