This year, amazing live shows for this writer in South Florida have been sporadic at best (discounting the almost holy experience of watching a band re-create Genesis’ The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway live with near time machine precision). But a pair of stand outs included a couple of sublime affairs by today’s most reputable independent artists: Radiohead and Bon Iver. As it turns out “Austin City Limits” will kick off its 38th season on PBS with these two bands, beginning Oct. 6. See the full announcement by jumping through the logo below:

These two bands will certainly offer for great, interesting television as far as live bands go. Their music is both complex and subtle, and the amount of musicians to reproduce their tunes live should offer for an exciting sight as well as sound.

I have already written breathlessly enough about Radiohead live on this blog. The first time I saw them live was as opening act to Belly in the early 90s, and the memory has stayed firm. There is also, of course, my rushed and messy but passionate Radiohead live review from earlier this year, which I have allowed to stand as testament to the horrors of the rush to get news out to the Internet, as much as I would like to revise and re-write it. This one of the best songs I caught live, “Separator,” off the new album:

Radiohead kicked off the US leg of its world-wide tour in Miami supporting the King of Limbs, it’s highly undervalued new album (It’s too short, it’s too mellow, protested many). The band cherry-picked some choice songs from its catalog for a mood befitting the delicate beauty of their new album. They played the best show I ever saw in the monstrosity of the AmericanAirlines Arena that night (see above, entrancing 6-minute song). The post went viral (by this blog’s standards) due to the fact that I was one of the first few who recorded the new song “Identikit” live and “Rolling Stone” featured the video on its website. Here’s that video featuring that song, which is sure to have evolved in its form since its debut live:

More recently I caught Bon Iver at the lovely, intimate Fillmore Miami Beach/Jackie Gleason Theater. I never wrote a review here, as the next morning saw me rushing out of the city to catch an early flight. I regret that.

By the time they arrived in Miami Beach, Bon Iver was long and deep into its tour for its brilliant 2011 self-titled album. There live shows had become old news on the Internet, as had its album. However, they still enthralled this mostly virginal Bon Iver-live crowd (It was the first time the band visited the area). Man, could this band perform. Though the music is subtle and mostly tranquil, it also has a majesty and grandiosity unmatched by many other bands. It takes nine guys on stage to re-create the music with justice to the studio recordings, and each one of these musicians are always doing something interesting to watch. Throw in an ingenious screen that looks like a giant cobweb hanging off the ceiling and project some images as a kaleidoscope of lights shift and shimmer over the stage, and the show becomes quite a dynamic experience.

I only bothered to record one video (my first in HD!) that night because I was too mesmerized by the rest of the show. It was the last song of the night, “For Emma:”

But click on over to the “Austin City Limits” website. They have already put up two videos featuring two songs from the Radiohead set that are not hard to find.

Hans Morgenstern

(Copyright 2012 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

I just received an email from the distributors of the new Radiohead album, the King of Limbs, with the official release date of the physical format of the album— in stores (no, you cannot order these other formats direct from the site where you can pre-order the digital format or “newspaper album”). During the haste of announcing the availability of the digital format and the artsy newspaper album, there was no mention of when the album would be available on old fashioned CD and older fashioned 12-inch record at shops (on-line or brick and mortar). It seems the answer is March 28, a Monday, meaning a UK release date. Those in the US should therefore expect the CD and LP on Tuesday, March 29. So, in a little less than a month after the digital release, the physical format will follow at your favorite indie record shop or nearest Best Buy. Here’s the specific line from the email from Sandbag UK:

“For the next few weeks, The King Of Limbs will be exclusively available from our website,
but from March 28th it will be on general release on CD, 12″ vinyl and digital download in all good record stores.”

So it seems the double 10-inch format for the newspaper album is a design thing, as the album does fit on one 12-inch record, a concern expressed in an earlier post. Hopefully the spreading out of tracks does improve the album’s sound quality. Although, if they really wanted to give it higher quality vinyl sound, they would have manufactured it on two 45 rpm 12-inch records, as In Rainbows‘ limited edition featured. Still, it should not make that much difference, seeing as Radiohead is not necessarily about analog instrumentation and have been known to make music with lots of digital affectations. But who knows, maybe we will be in for another surprise…

(Copyright 2011 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

Tuesday release dates are for corporate suckers. Here comes Radiohead with their new album: The King of Limbs. You can own it on digital format this Saturday for the price of $9 (Higher quality WAV files will set you back $14). My order is in for the unique sounding vinyl version, which will not arrive until May 9 (you still get a digital copy on Saturday, however). Here are the details on the physical copy, as found on the pre-order site:

Radiohead’s new record, The King Of Limbs, is presented here as the world’s first* Newspaper Album, comprising:

  • Two clear 10″ vinyl records in a purpose-built record sleeve.
  • A compact disc.
  • Many large sheets of artwork, 625 tiny pieces of artwork and a full-colour piece of oxo-degradeable plastic to hold it all together.
  • The Newspaper Album comes with a digital download that is compatible with all good digital media players.
  • The Newspaper Album will be shipped on Monday, 9th May 2011. You can, however, enjoy the download on Saturday, 19th February 2011.
  • Shipping is included in the prices shown.
  • One lucky owner of the digital version of The King Of Limbs, purchased from this website, will receive a signed 2 track 12″ vinyl.

*perhaps

So, Radiohead are celebrating that dying medium, the newspaper. According to the terms and conditions on their website, the package will feature true newsprint, something I am sure will feel alien to the youth now buying music. Having originally graduated college with a print journalism degree, I can appreciate the reference.

As for the 10-inch wax, I do not know whether it was an aesthetic choice or practical reasons, but I do not care for double 10-inch albums (I already have two Radiohead albums in that format). Too much record flipping for my taste. It also remains unclear whether this is a true limited edition, as nothing on the site seems to say so.

Unlike their last and first independently released album, 2007’s In Rainbows, the King of Limbs offers no “choose-your-own-price” option for the mp3s. I gave nothing for that last album, as I have always invested in new Radiohead records with some skepticism. Their albums have always grown to be great, but, going in, I always wonder if the band could keep up the quality. Before you call me a mooch, after several listens, I would later happily drop $85 for the limited edition vinyl box set (now it seems it goes for $200 new).

With this new album, I do not mind dropping $48 straight up, as I have finally accepted myself a full-fledged fan, especially after it became hip to hate on Radiohead following “Spin” magazine’s article that the band may actually blow (Read my blog post about that here). It should come as no coincidence that article came out around the time Radiohead left their major label to go truly indie by self-releasing In Rainbows. All of a sudden they were an easy target by a corporate rag. How curious.

Some might be surprised that Radiohead have announced not only the completion of their eighth album, but also a rapidly approaching release date. I am not. Word of a new album had been circulating about the Internet for well over a year now. Also, as an independent band, they have more control over their music, so I would be surprised if it leaks for free before Saturday. Without the greedy corporate types involved, including bottom-feeding underlings with sticky fingers and all too easy access to studio masters, it is even less likely to leak.

I look forward to the first listen on Saturday. But if you want some knee-jerk review, look elsewhere. As I have found over my years following the band, a Radiohead records needs time to stew for full appreciation. I might have something to stay when I finally get the physical vinyl release in my hands in May, where I can offer some original pics of the item. Edit: seems the physical release on 12-inch record and CD is due March 28 in the UK. Read more here.

Until then, watch a sanctioned but unofficial concert video of Radiohead in HD on YouTube (It’s their 2-hour-plus benefit concert for Haiti via Oxfam):

(Copyright 2011 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)