September 28, 2007

Something Different: Thom Yorke - The Eraser (July 10, 2006)


I'm sure nobody saw this coming.

Thom Yorke is best known as the lead singer for the seminal rock band Radiohead. The Eraser is his first solo album, and has a more electronic influence than what probably would have been allowed on a Radiohead album circa 2006. There isn't really much more to say about Radiohead, other than you're either a fan or you aren't, and for being a visitor of a hip-hop-themed blog, either option would be acceptable.

So, what the fuck am I doing talking about The Eraser, huh? For starters, I love Radiohead, and I warned you on the Mark Ronson review that I would be branching out and writing about some albums outside of my chosen genre. However, there is a direct hip hop link to The Eraser, and it comes to us in the form of C.R.S.

C.R.S. is a rap supergroup made up of Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, and Pharrell Williams; the name stands for Child Rebel Soldiers (and not, as I had hoped, for Consumer Recreation Services, which would have been an awesomely dorky reference for me, since my second-favorite David Fincher film is The Game, with Michael Douglas). Why does any of this matter, you ask? Well, shut up, and I'll tell you.

Before Kanye West sold almost one million copies of Graduation in one week, he released a teaser mixtape entitled Can't Tell me Nothing, based on the single of the same name. The mix CD was decent, and it had a couple of tracks that were unexpected and, therefore, more enjoyable than the rest. One featured Kanye rapping over the music for Peter Bjorn and John's "Young Folks" to awesome effect. The other was a puzzling track called "Us Placers" (still don't understand the title), which producer Lupe Fiasco (I know, right?) utilizes Thom Yorke's "The Eraser" beat for the three rappers to spit on; he even retained Yorke's vocals on the hook, giving the implication that he actually authorized the use of his work. Now, when the mixtape dropped, most people were aware enough to know who Thom Yorke was, but not everyone is going to run out and buy The Eraser just because Kanye rhymed over one of his beats, which, by the way, sounded really damn good.

But should you? Let's find out.

1. THE ERASER
Well, how about that? The very first song on the album! Sounds like an OK Computer leftover, except with some electronic beats layered over it. If you're wondering, the original song is just as good as Lupe, Kanye, and Pharrell's version. It's not better, but it's on the same level.

2. ANALYSE
A great track, one that belongs in a slightly dark British film. Oh wait, it was already in one: The Prestige, with Christian Bale. If you haven't seen that movie, go out and rent it immediately after you finish reading this post.

3. THE CLOCK
Sounds like a Kid A leftover, but to me, that's a great thing. Hell, you can almost dance to this fucking beat. Bouncier than you would expect, but Thom Yorke won't be the next Timbaland anytime soon.

4. BLACK SWAN
I first heard this track during the end credits of Richard Linklater's A Scanner Darkly. (That would be another film that you should watch after reading this blog; it's a very good movie, but in my opinion, it's not better than Waking Life, Slacker, or Linklater's pinnacle, Dazed and Confused). Also, Thom Yorke uses the word "fuck" multiple times! Annoy your parents!

5. SKIP DIVIDED
After the strong start provided by the first four tracks, I'm good for a nap right now. Luckily, "Skip Divided" is the shortest song on The Eraser.

6. ATOMS FOR PEACE
A lot of these songs would probably be at home as Radiohead B-sides, if they were stripped of their electronic elements first. However, the additions, for the most part, add to the listening experience. On "Atoms For Peace", though, not so much.

7. AND IT RAINED ALL NIGHT
It's not like you're going to bump this in your ride or anything, but this song doesn't sound bad.

8. HARROWDOWN HILL
This song sounds great. Lupe Fiasco may be able to do something with this beat, too.

9. CYMBAL RUSH
Sounds like a regular Radiohead song (if there is such a thing), but maybe that's because the group actually performs this song live as part of their set.

FINAL THOUGHTS: The Eraser is not much of a departure for Thom Yorke, but Radiohead fans should be willing to take the trip with him anyway. As mentioned above, you're not going to bump this in your whip; on the contrary, you may believe that this is the type of music that you listen to when you want to believe that you're smarter than someone else. For sheer entertainment value, it's pretty good. And it's only nine tracks long, which is perfect for my short attention span. Also, U-God is nowhere to be found, which is great for me.

BUY OR BURN? For the first four tracks alone, I would recommend you buy this outright, whether it be from iTunes or from, I don't know, a brick-and-mortar store, with an actual physical location you can walk inside of. If you like this sort of thing, it'll be well worth your time. If you're not a Radiohead fan to begin with, you probably won't be turned by The Eraser.

BEST TRACKS: "The Eraser"; "Analyse"; "The Clock"; "Black Swan"; "Harrowdown Hill"

BONUS TREAT: When "Us Placers" hit the Interweb, I was reminded of one of my favorite Radiohead songs that doesn't seem to get enough love. It features another beat that an resourceful young rapper may be able to utilize to great effect. Here's an unofficial video (I don't think there is a real one) for "I Might Be Wrong", off of Amnesiac.




-Max

14 comments:

  1. Yeah I totally agree pretty much on all of it. I never listened to that Kanye mixtape for fear of getting irritable bowel syndrome but I'll check that out. Also the Prestige. My wife and I were all excited to see it and rented The Illusionist (on pay-per-view) and sat through one of the most horrible movies ever. It was like when I went to go see Dark City and ended up in City of Angels and kept waiting for nicholas cage to cut someone in half, or do something besides be depressing and lame, which never happens by the way.
    Sorry had to get that out.

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  2. That's probably where you went wrong. You should NEVER look for Nicolas Cage to do something that isn't depressing or lame, whether it's in his films or his actual film choices. I will admit that I like "Raising Arizona", "Face/Off", "Adaptation", and maybe one other Nic Cage film, but for the most part, anyone who follows his carrer is in for a world of perpetual letdown.

    The Prestige is awesome, though. Never got around to watching The Illusionist, so now I'll have something new to avoid. Woo-hoo!

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  3. He was a bad ass in that movie with the David Caruso too. I forget the name of it.

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  4. the most felonious vocalist in the wide world of showbusinessOctober 02, 2007

    I'm not really a big Radiohead fan. I enjoy the music but it's just too hard to understand the lyrics. Have you considered reviewing the White Stripes for your next something different? Most of my hip hop head friends enjoy their music.

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  5. now review ok computer ;o

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  6. Does anyone else agree that Amnesiac is the best Radiohead album?

    I mean, you gotta pay respects to OK Computer and Kid A, of which the former has a better average song quality and the latter flows much better, but the atmosphere and the creative juxtaposition of completely fucking different-sounding songs really works for Amnesiac- also, Life In A Glasshouse is one of my favorite songs EVER.

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  7. I'm not sure if I would go with Amnesiac as their best album (because I'm a Kid A freak, and my wife is an OK Computer stan), but "I Might Be Wrong" is my shit. Seriously. I would marry that song if it weren't illegal in four states.

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  8. AnonymousMay 26, 2009

    "the eraser" sounding like an ok computer leftover? hmmm, doesn't sound too accurate to me. ok computer is a rock mothafuckin album and the lack of guitars + piano would sound really out of place on that album.

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  9. Not sure if you've heard the mashup mixtape "Jaydiohead", but they took your advice...they mixed "I Might Be Wrong" with "Pray" off of American Gangster and it ended up being pretty much the only song I liked off of the mashup. You might like it more, though, being a big Radiohead fan.

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  10. I really, REALLY enjoyed this review. I don't know if it's because I'm a Radiohead fan, or the change of pace in genres, but this was entertaining as hell. You should definitely think about throwing some of these reviews in between the obvious hip hop reviews every now and then. Good shit, man.

    P.S. Hail to the Thief is my favorite Radiohead album. 2+2=5 is just.... wow. Fucking WOW.

    -Keeshawn

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  11. AnonymousJune 17, 2012

    You like Radiohead, too? Max, you have an excellent taste in music. You should consider reviewing a Radiohead album.

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  12. AnonymousJuly 27, 2012

    Speaking of Jaydiohead, one of the cuts on there is mash-up of Ignorant Shit and Black Swan from the Eraser. It's pretty sweet.

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  13. How come I never knew this review existed? Awesome! I know it's probably too much to ask, but I would love to read an actual Radiohead album review. Radiohead is incredible... I don't think many people realize how phenomenal their music actually is. I think Kid A, Amnesiac, and OK Computer are amazing. Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors is... nuts!

    Hail to the Thief was kinda lame D^: So was In Rainbows (Sans House of Cards and All I Need and maybe two other songs). King of Limbs was actually quite good, although a bit too short.

    RADIOHEAD RADIOHEAD RADIOHEAD!

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    Replies
    1. Correction: In Rainbows is fantastic. I've been listening to it more lately and it has really grown on me.

      Just in case you were wondering, yes, I did feel the need to correct a two-month-old post of mine that no one will ever read.

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