ALBUM REVIEW: Radiohead – 'A Moon Shaped Pool'

Radiohead did it again and completely blew me away with their new album. After 5 years of over and over listening to The King of Limbs (2011) and other Radiohead masterpieces, A Moon Shaped Pool, their 9th studio album dropped on the 8th of May. After locking myself into a dark room for several days in order to fully enjoy and let the album grow on me, I finally feel confident about writing a review worthy of the album.

A Moon Shaped Pool is introduced with its first released single ‘Burn The Witch’ which starts with a glimmering guitar and Thom Yorke’s dream like voice, letting you drift into another dimension, higher and higher, the more sharp the violins and guitar become. This dream though escalates into a shivery nightmare in the last seconds and Yorke’s voice and its instruments literally pierce through your head in horror. A masterpiece which sets the atmosphere for the following songs. The next song’s title ‘Daydreaming’ perfectly describes its tone, transporting you onto a summer grass field with Yorke’s melancholic voice shimmering in the background. This daydream though doesn’t turn into a nightmare,  but rather stays continuously dreamy and fantastic, ending with electronic sounds metaphorically letting you carry on trance like into Radiohead’s next song ‘Decks Dark’. The dreamy atmosphere is kept through the piano theme but mixed with choir voices rising up mid song, but is finally broken when the drums and bass kick in, transforming the song into a chilled rock song. ‘Desert Island Disk’ is among the less distinctive numbers (I hate myself for writing that). The song is clear and comprehensible, with less decorative bells and pianos in the background, making it more ordinary and less memorable.

‘Ful Stop’, a song that Radiohead played in their live performances in 2012 for the first time, was massively enhanced for the record. The live version suffered from its echoing sound mixing it into a chaotic blur of beats, whereas the new studio version with its threatening bass and wafting synthesiser builds up, claustrophobic and oppressive, marking the album’s height and a cut for the first part’s dream. ‘Glass Eyes’ then starts with less (positive) chaos in the background, being a very regular (a word that doesn’t describe Radiohead at all) quiet song, with its violins and piano. ‘Identikit’ is first a fairly tidy song with its rhythmic guitars and drums accompanied by Yorke’s smoothing voice, echoing in the background. But the ordinary is broken midway through a choir and later again by a guitar solo by Johnny Greenwood, which more sounds like a Nokia ringtone from the early 2000s (I also hate myself for writing that). This song is the first where I think that Radiohead would have been better off to keep to the simple. The next song is one of my favourites on A Moon Shaped Pool as ‘The Numbers’ embodies Radiohead’s artistic diversity in just over 5 minutes, starting off as a Jazz influenced piano dominated number, transferring into an atmospheric and room filling state of trance and over to a melancholic ballad accompanied by violins escalating in a emotional breakdown, setting me off rollercoaster of feelings.

Thankfully ‘Present Tense’ brought me out of the hole of emotions by being more uplifting again, letting you sway along to the melodic guitars and mysterious choir. ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier…‘s course feels similar to the album’s title, slowly closing the circular Moon Shaped Pool of light dreams and oppressive nightmares filled with emotions of fear, hope and melancholy. The album is perfected by ‘True Love Waits’, which was first played back in 1995 by Yorke with his acoustic guitar. Now, the song seems to be in his final version, finalising A Moon Shaped Pool after 21 years, because true love waits. The song stands at the end of the album as a summary of the evolution of Radiohead, clearly separated in its theme with less intrusive instruments and just pure uncovered beauty.

A Moon Shaped Pool is an album that is united by hustle in the background, the combination of bells, pianos, guitars, drums and synthesiser, creating the most melodic and quiet album of Radiohead’s career. The album stands for the uniqueness of its creators, but at the same time as a sequel to its predecessor. At the end of the emotional rollercoaster, I realise that I didn’t pay attention to any of the lyrics, but to be honest, Yorke could sing about bringing out the garbage and his voice would still put me in trance into fantasy world, creating the wildest pictures in my head (even though Radiohead’s lyrics are always full of meaning and poetic genius).

Review by Carolin Wolfsdorf

ONE SENTENCE REVIEWS: letlive. – "Reluctantly Dead"

Guess who’s back, back again – it’s One Sentence Reviews! Check out what the music team thought of the new single from soul punks letlive.

Carolin Wolfsdorf – “Very generic rock, but alright to listen to.”

Molly Pearson – “I’m not quite sure what to think – I feel like I want to like it as I enjoy this genre of music but maybe the song is one that needs to grown on people.”

Katie Gamble – “Not bad, a little bit funky for this kind of genre.”

Thomas Gibbens – “Sounds fun, but a bit repetitive.”

Zoe Stanton – “A catchy tune but sounds similar to many songs of this genre; great to listen to to get you in a good mood.”

Young Kuk Noh – “Sounds very repetitive and quite generic, which is to be expected in this saturated genre of music; some variation would have been nice, but they played it safe.”

Sophie Shapter – “If you like Linkin Park, you’ll like this; catchy, punchy chorus, give it a listen!”

Alice Copeland – “Really liked the guitar vibes but felt the guy was shouting a little too much.”

Michael Bird – “Surprisingly straightforward from this band, Jason’s vocals are fantastic but the song lacks the energy typical to the group’s material.”

The Insanity Music Awards

On the eve of the 58th annual Grammy Awards, we at the Insanity Radio Music Team thought we’d compile an alternative list of nominees for three of the prestigious award categories, based on who we think merit the accolade. Which of our choices do you think most deserves each award? Do you think we’ve done better than the Grammys? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Song of the Year

Calvin Harris & Disciples – “How Deep is Your Love”

Carly Rae Jepsen – “Run Away With Me”

Jason Derulo – “Want to Want Me”

Kygo – “Stole the Show” (feat. Parson James)

MNEK & Zara Larsson – “Never Forget You”

 

Album of the Year

Lianne Le Havas – Blood

Hudson Taylor – Singing for Strangers

Bring Me the Horizon – That’s the Spirit

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5_7z5UaTi0&list=PL-5yo8m5X2R1szwiLGJa28yHeRXmduOXF

Major Lazer – Peace is the Mission

Imagine Dragons – Smoke + Mirrors

 

Best New Artist

Years & Years

Låpsley

Creeper

Frances

Astronomyy

How Daft Punk Changed My Life

#Woraklsweek Day 7 – "Chemin"

 

 

It’s the 7th and final day of ‪#‎Woraklsweek‬ so let’s end with a fantastic finish. Throughout the course of this week I have posted a different song by the amazingly talented French DJ, who as of yet has not even remotely gained the appreciation he deserves. Worakls specialises in Minimalist House and constructs some truly beautiful atmospheres for us to just melt away into. I really hope these songs have given you an awesome insight into his work and have opened your eyes to the possibilities of electronic music today.

 

Our final song is “Chemin”. I won’t say too much about how Worakls put this one together, as I’m sure you’re already aware of how beautiful Worakls weaves different melodic fragments in and out of focus, creating an amazingly mellow vibe to chill you out. What makes this song particularly amazing is the different pitched percussion instruments that are use to simulate the different noises that rain can create in a city. Hearing this song while out and about is definitely the best experience it can give you as it really makes you think about how different each and every sounds can appear to you if you give it the chance. The overtones are all there in our natural world and through this change in perception – as cheesy as this is going to sound – music really can be anywhere.

 

So one final time for this week, and hopefully in the future if you stumble across more of the genius of Worakls in your travels, I give you this parting gift: “Chemin.”

 

Adam Hitchen

Album Review – "Lady Sings The Blues", Rebecca Ferguson

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As the weather is slowly (very slowly) getting warmer, and the days are getting longer, and balmy, lazy afternoons are once again in sight, what better way to chill out and melt into relaxation than by listening to the languid, soothing tones of Rebecca Ferguson? Her brand-new album is called Lady Sings the Blues, and is a fitting tribute to the legendary era of Swing and Jazz. The influences of Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday, and Amy Winehouse are clear, although Rebecca’s distinctive tone manages to leave her own individual stamp on the songs.

 

The tracks themselves vary in tone within the genre: from the upbeat and joyful ‘Get Happy’ (if you deny clicking your fingers along to that one then I don’t believe you), to the melancholic yet romantic ‘Embraceable You’. My personal favourites of the album are ‘That Old Devil Called Love’ and the wonderful ‘Summertime’, both classic songs that Rebecca does sweet justice to. If you have a penchant for the old-era vintage swing blues, then this collection is the ideal soundtrack to your afternoon of lazing in an armchair or snuggling up with that special someone. The perfect accompaniment to a smooth red wine, or a glass of G&T with cucumber.

 

~ Eleanor Goodman

#Woraklsweek Day 5 – "Soleil de Plomb"

 

Day 5 of ‪#‎Woraklsweek‬. Each day I’ll post a different song by the amazingly talented French DJ, who as of yet has not even remotely gained the appreciation he deserves. Worakls specialises in Minimalist House and constructs some truly beautiful atmospheres for us to just melt away into.

 

Today was supposed to be a solar eclipse apparently… as you would expect, this would usually entail a sun shining very brightly on a warm day. Wrong. Oh well, as Worakls’ song “Soleil de Plomb” will help to bring the sun to you! (For those who aren’t aware, “Soleil de Plomb” translates as a sun shining beautifully).

 

Today’s track creates a beautiful blend of piano melodies and standard house music conventions – a fuzzy, distorted bassline, vocal-like hits and a building drumline that helps the track become something truly special.

 

Once again, the name of the game in this song is layers – each musical layer is beautifully interwoven with the others to create a specific atmosphere. In the case of “Soleil de Plomb”, the mood that Worakls has gone for is an uplifting sense of energy, while remaining within the relaxing minimalist house vibe that he often creates.

 

At this stage, I’ll stop my incoherent babbling of music jargon and let you guys make your own minds up!

 

~ Adam Hitchen

#Woraklsweek Day 4 – "Elea"

Day 4 of ‪#‎Woraklsweek‬. Each day I’ll post a different song by the amazingly talented French DJ, who as of yet has not even remotely gained the appreciation he deserves. Worakls specialises in Minimalist House and constructs some truly beautiful atmospheres for us to just melt away into.

 

Thursday can be dramatic for many reasons. For some reason Thursdays just seem to be filled with action and stress – possibly because we know the weekend’s just around the corner but it’s not quite tangible at this point.

 

For this reason, I’ve selected Elea. It’s a slight change of pace, with more driving cinematic strings as the central theme, kicking in from the very beginning and filling you with a sense of urgency before the house beat and chilling electronics kick in. There’s a definite sense of loss and thoughtfulness in this record, with the vocal-like drone in the background and the minor key in the bell sounds and heavily edited marimba melodies. When the strings come back they cement the sense of time running out – just as you would expect from a film score.

 

The overall effect can be slightly overwhelming at times when you feel like there’s just too much to do, but the orchestration works absolutely perfectly in proving that Worakls isn’t afraid to tackle very difficult instrumentation and work outside of his comfort zone to bring you a class A record. Hit it up.

 

~ Adam Hitchen

Lyrical Poem – Whitesnake

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Give Me More Time” cause I can’t quite decide
I’m not “Ready an’ Willing” to give up my pride
Cause “Love Ain’t no Stranger”: I’ve been there before.
Here I Go Again”, while you’re just one more

 

But I’m a “Fool for your loving”, and in the “Still of the Night
When I’m a “Long Way From Home” it just doesn’t feel right
The Deeper the Love” they say the deeper you fall
I am “Guilty of Love”, but I’d give you it all

 

~ Laura Webber

 

The concept of a lyrical poem is to take an artist and write a poem consisting mostly of their song titles, to either get across what the artist’s views were or create a whole new narrative for their music. Each lyrical poem acts not only as a poem in its own right but also a crash course of the artist in question.

#Woraklsweek Day 3 – Bleu

 

Day 3 of ‪#‎Woraklsweek‬. Each day I’ll post a different song by the amazingly talented French DJ, who as of yet has not even remotely gained the appreciation he deserves. Worakls specialises in Minimalist House and constructs some truly beautiful atmospheres for us to just melt away into.

 

Having a bit of a blue Wednesday? Well who says blue (or should I say, “Bleu“?) has to be sad? This wonderful tune is one of the more reflective songs in Worakls catalogue, the looped guitar line creating a beautifully melancholic mood for all of the wonderful marimbas, glocks and chimes to sit in. The overall effect is one of complete and utter peace, and as always with the Worakls touch, each new layer brings with it a new sense of contentment.

 

As the piece goes on you’ll find yourself picking out each and every layer and how it weaves into the mix – at first the marimbas are the sole focus, followed by the guitar. But as you get further into the song you may find these elements slipping out of your focus in lieu of new sounds – and it’s not that they’ve gone away, they’re all just building to that perfect atmosphere.

 

I hope you’ve got a good pair of headphones for this one!

 

~ Adam Hitchen

#Woraklsweek Day 2 – Remix of N'to's "Trauma"

 

Day 2 of ‪#‎Woraklsweek‬. Each day I’ll post a different song by the amazingly talented French DJ, who as of yet has not even remotely gained the appreciation he deserves. Worakls specialises in Minimalist House and constructs some truly beautiful atmospheres for us to just melt away into.

 

If you’re having a traumatic Tuesday, Worakls has got you covered with this fantastic remix of labelmate’s N’to’s “Trauma“. Let’s be honest, remixing is more than slapping a different beat on the track and a handful of effects. An effective remix will completely strip the track back and complete an entirely different vibe for the track. N’to’s original “Trauma” is an edgy electronic masterpiece with an in-your-face attitude when it comes to sinking you into the music.

 

Worakls takes the track’s core melody and adds in much more mellow, almost trance-like moving chords and some drone elements to create a much more reflective atmosphere. His breaks include his signature cinematic style of songwriting and the typical tinkles are in there to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. This is 10 minutes of pure bliss,and if you don’t click the link you’re seriously missing out.

 

~ Adam Hitchen

#Woraklsweek Day 1 – Salzburg

 

This week is Worakls Week, because I’ve decided. Deal. Each day I’ll post a different song by the amazingly talented French DJ, who as of yet has not even remotely gained the appreciation he deserves. Worakls specialises in Minimalist House and constructs some truly beautiful atmospheres for us to just melt away into.

 

Point in case, Salzburg. Possibly one of my best discoveries of the year so far, the song continues to build on its solid foundation, each new layer bringing with it a new layer of peace. It’s reflective, that’s for sure. Oh, and it tinkles – I do love a good Glockenspiel!

 

~ Adam Hitchen