Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Review: Radiohead - Supercollider/The Butcher

Radiohead have gotten to the point where the release of their throwaway B-sides is headline news. Well, at least in the music world. If you’re an obsessive fan, like most Radiohead fans are, you know that sometimes their B-sides are just as good as the sessions in which their A-side counterparts were recorded (“Worrywort” from the Kid A sessions and “Fog” from the Amnesiac sessions come to mind). Other times, you can tell just as quickly why they were left off the album. It’s kind of like when you watch the deleted scenes from a movie and the tone is just completely different from the rest. These two new songs released by Radiohead on Saturday, “Supercollider” and “The Butcher” sort of fall in both categories described.

“Supercollider,” which I’m assuming at over seven minutes is one of the band’s longest works since “Paranoid Android,” is a wonderful Radiohead song on its own, but if released on The King of Limbs I’m certain it would be deemed the weaker part of a very great album. Oddly reminiscent of “Get Innocuous!” by LCD Soundsystem, “Supercollider” features a warbly tremolo-induced synth that repeats in the background over extremely sparse bass notes and a relatively simple drum pattern. Thom Yorke’s falsetto is about as characteristic as you can get, but that’s not exactly a bad thing.

The better part of this release is “The Butcher,” sporting a pretty aggressive minimalist electronic drumbeat, and again, not a whole lot of guitar. But definitely a Radiohead song worth listening to more than a few times. Reportedly left off the album because they “couldn’t make it work,” it’s again a reminder that Radiohead have an edit button that a lot of bands don’t. Rather than release everything they record onto their studio albums, à la Sonic Youth or Guided By Voices, the band gives their records longevity by meticulously selecting what goes on them. Which in the end, will leave them with quite the legacy.

Listen to both tracks below, which leaked shortly before their official release on Record Store Day.

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