There’s a not-so-small quadrant of the World Wide Web that has been going bananas since Radiohead kicked off their spring/summer tour on May 6 in Copenhagen. For non-Radiohead heads — folks who don’t hang on every word posted on the band’s Dead Air Space blog or visit fansites like At Ease every couple of hours — since last year they’ve been working on a new album, the follow-up to 2003’s Hail to the Thief, and they’re road-testing the new material on the current tour, which comes to the Bank of America Pavilion this Sunday and Monday.
DEAD AIR SPACEMEN: Radiohead have been remarkably open about the songs they’re working on for their next album on their website blog.
For the last few weeks, Radiohead obsessives have been scouring the Web for the new stuff, like little kids at Christmastime poking around the basement for a Santa stash. But with the ever-increasing prevalence and popularity of bit torrent sites, MP3 blogs and aggregators, and video sharing sites, those corners aren’t as dark and dusty or hard to navigate as your average basement. With relative ease, you can download multiple versions (audio and video) of 11 candidates for “LP7,” as At Ease has christened the new album. And there are already remixes of at least one of the new tunes, a video of Will Smith and Carlton Banks shaking their tailfeathers to another, and who knows what else will be floating around by the time you’re reading this. NME has posted a “Your favourite new Radiohead track” poll. Message boards are abuzz with laments about lyric changes from show to show, debates about what the songs are about, and gushes about how great they are. All this based on some lo-fi, MiniDisc-in-the-crowd recordings of songs that aren’t even fully written.
Meanwhile, in an email to Radiohead’s fan club, Thom Yorke dropped the details on his first solo album, The Eraser — “inevitably . . . more beats & electronics” — produced by longtime Radiohead knob-twiddler, Nigel Godrich, who the band has abandoned for “LP7” in favor of Madonna mixmaster Mark “Spike” Stent. Oddly, indie label XL is releasing The Eraser on July 11, midway through Radiohead’s tour. Even better, for those who have a sense of humor, Easy Star Records, the folks who brought you Dub Side of the Moon, are putting out Radiodread: A Complete Reggae Version of Radiohead’s OK Computer in August — yowzah. There aren’t enough hours in the day to keep track of everything Radiohead. To help lighten the load, we’ve compiled a song-by-song guide to the new material.
"Bangers ’n Mash"
In Wolverhampton, Yorke introduced this song as being about “whatever gets you up.” More specifically, it’s Radiohead playing skronk-nasty guitar riffs (with someone’s low E string tuned a full two-and-a-half steps below drop-D) over a locomotive dance-rock beat with a couple of psychotic-sounding guitar leads (think Nirvana’s “Love Buzz”) thrown in for good measure.
The only new song they’ve opened a show with, “Videotape” begins as a beautiful piano ballad with Yorke singing, “When I’m at the pearly gates/This’ll be on my videotape/Mephistopheles is just beneath/And he’s reaching up to grab me,” before drummer Phil Selway comes in with an off-beat stick click/bass drum rhythm. The song eventually builds to an urgent peak reminiscent of the eargasmic Amnesiac B-side “Cuttooth” with Yorke wailing above the music. This is one to keep an eye on.