Hold On Hope: Fort Wayne Celebrates The Music of Guided By Voices

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by E.A. Poorman

So way back at the beginning of September Fort Wayne was all buzzing about the then just-released news that Guided By Voices was going to be donning the stage at C2G Music Hall. After years and years of heavy GBV fans in the Fort thinking there wouldn’t be a snowball’s chance in Hell the Ohio indie rock Godfathers would ever play the River City, our good friend and vinyl pusherman Morrison Agen of Neat Neat Neat Records had done the impossible. Well, it turns out it wasn’t all that impossible at all. He just asked Bob Pollard what it would take to get Guided By Voices to the Fort to play a show. That was pretty much it, really.

Not more than two weeks after the date had been set, days had been taken off of work, and dreams had been made the news broke that Guided By Voices were no more. All existing concert dates were cancelled. Hopes and dreams dashed. Then Morrison had an idea: instead of Guided By Voices performing their own songs, some of Fort Wayne’s best and brightest would perform them instead and they’d slap “tribute show” on the marquee instead. Lemons into lemonade.

Before this music crisis was averted, I wondered how Morrison got Bob Pollard’s phone number in the first place. “Bob’s been in my store a couple times”, said Morrison as we discussed the show over the phone. “Actually, the first time he came up I was on vacation, and he told me that, He drove all the way up to come see me and I wasn’t here.”

A year later Morrison said Pollard returned to Neat Neat Neat Records in search of Beatles records and he said he played it a little too cool when the GBV mastermind arrived. “So when he came in I recognized him immediately”, said Agen, “and then proceeded to promptly play it a little too cool. Like not talk to him at all and just absolutely give him his space and not even say a word, even though I’m pretty sure he knew who I was since I have a section in my store that says ‘Bob Pollard and Associated Projects.”

Back in the spring of 2014 Bob Pollard returned once again to Morrison’s shop and they got to spend a few hours just talking music. Agen said that since then him and Pollard have corresponded both by phone and email. Agen has even talked to Pollard’s wife. He has a real rapport with Pollard. On the day before Record Store Day when Bob visited the NNN Records Morrison brought up the idea of GBV playing Fort Wayne. “One of the conversations we had before Record Store Day was what’s it gonna take to bring GBV to town?” Morrison said. “He(Bob Pollard) said ‘you know I don’t think we’ve ever played Fort Wayne’.” After some prices were thrown around and logistics were discussed Morrison received a call a few months later. “So six months later I get an email from his(Bob Pollard’s) manager. We made it happen and signed the deal and started marketing, selling tickets, and all that other stuff. And then a week after we started selling tickets Bob decided that Guided By Voices was no more.”

At this point most folks would just curl up into a ball and cry themselves to sleep for about a week and then move on. Maybe occasionally look to the past and tear up thinking about what could’ve been. But you don’t know Morrison Agen. Morrison was driving around that afternoon the news broke of Guided By Voices’ demise running errands when he got a phone call about the show getting cancelled.”So later that day I was outside my apartment trying not to freak out a little bit. I live next door to Jon Ross and I saw him walking out to his car when I said ‘Hey come here for a minute,’ and told him about everything when the idea popped into my head to just say f**k it, let’s just have a party and just do a tribute show. Jon was like ‘Yes. Absolutely.'”

With C2G Music Hall having an opening on October 25th, the venue was already set for the Guided By Voices tribute show. Now all that was left was who was going to be playing? Here’s how Morrison put it, “We can get the best and brightest of Fort Wayne together and have them learn a bunch of Guided By Voices songs and we’ll just make a party of it.” That party will open with Morrison and his daughter Addison performing Guided By Voices’ “Hold On Hope”. Exterminate All Rational Thought will be hitting the stage next with Morrison helping out on vocal duties as they hit the later-era GBV material. Streetlamps For Spotlights will be up next performing songs off of Univeral Truths And Cycles, Mag Earwig, and Do The Collapse. Then supergroup Hardcore UFOs, which consists of Derek Mauger, Zach Smith, Morrison Agen, and Ryan Holquist, will be hitting the stage running through tracks from Alien Lanes and Bee Thousand. And finally, closing out the night will be Thunderhawk performing songs from Isolation Drills. As an added bonus you can snag the brand new album by Thunderhawk exclusively at this show. So get on that.

So here’s what you need to know: C2G Music Hall, October 25th, $10 at the door, and this show is all ages, folks. Come out, bring the kids, get your GBV on with Fort Wayne’s best and brightest. Oh, and don’t worry dad. You can still have a beer as there will be beer and wine available. And the rumor is that possibly Bob Pollard might actually be at this show, watching his influence and inspiration take the form of Fort Wayne bands lovingly covering his songs. But like I said, it’s just a rumor. For $10, I think it’s worth it. Do you want to be the guy at the office Monday morning that wasn’t there to see Bob Pollard drinking a Miller Lite in the crowd at C2G? While Thunderhawk is playing “The Brides Have Hit Glass”? I didn’t think so.

I thought I would end this with a few of the folks performing sharing with us what their favorite Guided By Voices albums are and why:

Morrison Agen: “You know, I don’t know if I have a favorite album but I have favorite songs that when I put on that album they make me go crazy. “Everywhere With Helicopters” is a brilliant, brilliant song. I think “Game Of Pricks” is a really, really amazing song. I think “Surgical Focus” is an amazing love song. “Game Of Pricks” is an amazing break up,’f**k you song.”

Derek Mauger: “Its a tie; Alien Lanes and Bee Thousand. And I’m super lucky those are the two albums our group is doing. Every song on those records are ear worms. GBV doesn’t waste time on verses. The songs on them are all anthemic hooks.”

Josh Hall: “If you ask any musician or hardcore music fan, they all have an album that saved them. I don’t mean that in any literal sense. They have an album that left a permanent mark. An album that consumed a year of your life. It changed the way you walked, talked, dressed; it changed the way you heard other bands. You remember what shitty beer you drank and how cheap it was, how bad your apartment smelled, that friend you used to have, that girl you thought you’d still be with today. For me that album is Isolation Drills, which is what we’ll be playing songs from.

To actually answer your question. 1- Isolation Drills is probably the closest to how GBV sounds live. It’s a straight up rock album; just two guitars, bass, drums and vocals. There’s very few overdubs/effects and zero guitar solos despite having one of the best rock guitarists at the time. Isolation Drills is my favorite album but definitely not their best. Most of the hardcore fans love the lo fi stuff. There’s an irreplaceable charm about a school teacher trying to make an arena rock album on a 4 track in his basement on the weekends, and actually succeeding.

2- it’s the only GBV album where Bob reveals anything about himself and his life. Most of the time he’s singing about robots and spaceships. I love that stuff too and I’m sure there’s all kinds of coded messages in there. I’ve been to more GBV shows than I can count on my fingers and toes and the crowd would always light up when they played something off isolation drills. Hopefully we can get out there and not butcher it too bad.”

Zach Smith: “Live From Austin, TX (Austin City Limits). It perfectly encapsulates what I love about the band. It is brilliant yet sloppy, high energy yet clearly beer-fueled, and acts as a best-of compilation that also updates some of the setlist’s more primitively recorded origins.”

Jason Davis: “What a tough request! To pick a favorite album by GBV is like choosing your favorite Kurt Vonnegut book. To name your favorite song is like deciding on the perfect James Baldwin quote. Robert Pollard and GBV are prolific. Everyone knows this. Every album is littered with true pop gems, whether they be lo-fi, noise collage, folk, pump your fist in the air arena rock, new wave, heartfelt ballad, or drunken serenade. Favorite album? I would have to point to four records that define an era. Mag Earwig, Do the Collapse, Isolation Drills, and Universal Truths and Cycles. Are these the Hi-Fi years? Yes. They are also the years in which GBV had bigger budgets, recorded in nice studios, and enlisted outside help. Was it the Ric Ocasek or Rob Schnapf productions or the fact GBV had been working toward that big sound all along. It does not matter. “Bulldog Skin”, “Teenage FBI”, “Hold on Hope”, “Chasing Heather Crazy”, “Glad Girls”, “Everywhere is Helicopter”, and many more. Great songs, great sounds, great records!”

Ryan Holquist: “Do the Collapse. Ric Ocasek reigns in people who sometimes need it, and can usually do no wrong.”

And finally, although he’s not playing that night I had to ask Mark Hutchins because he’s the guy that made me listen to Alien Lanes and love it. Plus, if you’ve ever heard his New Pale Swimmers you’d realize what a true fan of GBV he really is. “Alien Lanes. Why? It was my first GBV album. I bought it when it came out, knowing these guys were from Dayton and becoming kind of a big deal (I had to choose between Alien Lanes or a Brainiac record. Go figure). The short songs and basement sensibility hooked me right away. I had just come out of a big, loud band and was doing a lot of 4-track recording… You can imagine what a find this was. Plus, some of this stuff sounded like uncovered bootlegs of the Beatles jamming with Pete Townshend and Sid Barrett. I didn’t see GBV live until 2000, but even the most rickety songs on Alien Lanes transcended their wobbly cassette recordings; you knew these songs were huge. The arena-ready sound came to pass, but it’s no accident that a bunch of Alien Lanes tunes showed up in GBV’s (and solo Pollard’s) sets for the last 20 years. ‘And then the time will come when you motor away’.”

Iceage :: Plowing Into the Field of Love

iceageIceage have come a long way from their vicious post-punk beginnings. New Brigade was dark, angry and monstrous. It was the sound of torn fingers and bloody guitar necks. You’re Nothing seemed to be a continuation of that sound, albeit with more experience under these young, Icelandic lads belts. On Iceage’s new album, Plowing Into the Fields of Love, these guys have opened the flood gates and have released a record so varied and expansive that if it weren’t for Elias Bender Rønnenfelt’s unique vocals you wouldn’t know it was the same band. It’s a huge step forward and a hell of an album.

“On My Fingers” starts the album out like a funeral dirge written by The Fall and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. A doomed romantic vibe permeates and pulsates in the piano and Rønnenfelt’s vocal delivery. “The Lord’s Favorite” has a cow punk shuffle and chiming guitars that gives this great track a Smiths vibe. There’s a lightness to this song that hasn’t been heard previously and it’s a welcome surprise. I think even Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros might have had some fun with this one. “Glass Eyed, Dormant, and Veiled” has a punk rock jangle mixed with an almost doomed, goth sound. “Let It Vanish” sounds like Joy Division fronted by Sid Vicious. It has that Manchester darkness, but with youthful energy those post-punks could never quite muster. “Abundant Living” could be the love child of The Smiths, Love and Rockets, and Drivin N Cryin. “Cimmerian Shade” has all that nasty vitriol that got Iceage their reputation for intense and bloody live shows. It’s tension-filled and waiting to explode at any moment. “Plowing Into the Field of Love” is a ramshackle track that ends the album on a drunken Pogues stumble that nearly falls out of the speakers.

It’s one thing for a band to get ambitious and attempt some sort of grand gesture on a record. Usually they just end up reverting back to the same old thing next time around. But Iceage aren’t being ambitious here. They’ve just grown up, and their music has grown right along with them.

8.2 out of 10

Invisible Voices

invisble voicesYes, we all hear them. The invisible voices that tell us to fire the missle launcher into the idiot driving in front of us that’s going 25 miles an hour in a 45 mph zone. Or the voice that tells us to snag that horrid wig off of great aunt Colleen’s head at the Christmas get-together(C’mon, Aunt Colleen! It’s soooo obvious!) Or better yet, that invisible voice that tells us to lip sync “Shock The Monkey” in the middle of the grocery store, even though it’s only playing inside our head. That invisible voice that comes from some otherworldly place that begs us to cause havoc. Fortunately our vehicles aren’t equipped with missle launchers; poor Aunt Colleen has moved onto the great beyond, and rarely does “Shock The Monkey” ever run on the karaoke machine inside our head(though “Games Without Frontiers” does occasionally on mine.) Besides, I’m not talking about those kinds of invisible voices. I’m talking about the album Invisible Voices by Rüdiger Lorenz.

Who’s Rüdiger Lorenz? You don’t know? Well, actually I didn’t know myself up until this past August. That is, until I read an article about how Mexican Summer, via Kemado Records and Anthology Recordings were reissuing his self-released album Invisible Voices from 1983. All it took was one audio snippet to convince me to pull the trigger and preorder it. It turns out, Invisible Voices is an obscure, little synth masterpiece.

rudiger lorenzNow, this isn’t the only album this German synthesist released. In fact, he self-released 17 LPs and was on 3 compilations between 1981 and 1998. Prolific output is putting it mildly. Not only that, but he built his own synthesizers as well. Even crazier is that music was only a hobby for Lorenz. He was a pharmacist by trade. When he wasn’t creating pharmaceuticals he was creating analog ear candy in his home studio. By the time Lorenz passed away in 2000 he owned 38 synthesizers. The guy was a mad genius, chainsmoking and knob-turning like a cross between a mechanic and Dr. Who.

I have not delved into any of his other albums as of yet. I’m not even sure they’re out there to be had.rudiger concert poster So, I’m going to go on the assumption that Invisible Voices will be my only foray into Rüdiger Lorenz’ synth handiwork. If that is indeed the case, then I can be happy as it’s a hell of an album. It creates the aural atmosphere of some lost science fiction soundtrack. It doesn’t get weird and wobbly like so many other synth albums have in past. In fact, I’m listening to it as I type this on a brisk, early Saturday morning as the kids still sleep. It lulled my wife back to sleep in the recliner in fact. It’s one of those kinds of records. It’s not tense or dramatic like Sinoia Caves’ Beyond The Black Rainbow. It’s not dark like Bernard Szajner’s Visions of Dune, or quirky like Morton Subotnick’s Silver Apples of the Moon. It’s music of its time, and its time was the early 80s. Being a kid in the late 70s and early 80s I have a soft spot for the analog synthesizer, and Moogs especially. Songs like “The Sun of Shangri la”, “New Atlantis”, and “Out of the Past” elicit both old and new. While these synths tried to give the feeling of “the future”, they somehow end up sounding even more ancient. They don’t sound like the future, more than a voice from the past interpreting what the future may sound like. There’s a naivety to this idea that I love. Much like watching George Méliès’ La Voyage dans la Lune or Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, you get this incredibly imagined version of the future. It’s child-like in the overzealous and over-the-top vision. Synth music is a lot like that; at least back in the earlier, knob-turning days. Back when guys like Lorenz were patching cables here, there, and everywhere to create these spaced-out sounds. Reading the list of synthesizers he used for this record is pretty mind-boggling. Let me break it down for you: Korg Polysix, Formant Synthesizer, Roland Vocoder Plus, Korg Vocoder VC 12, Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer, Moog Sample & Hold, MXR Stereo Chorus, Electro-Harmonix Flanger, PPG Sequencer, Elektor Ring Modulator, and a Pearl Vorg Echo-Orbit. Not to mention the unholy amount of German cigarettes he inhaled during those late night recording sessions in his home studio.

I’m wheezing just thinking about it.

I can’t say enough about this album. I took a long walk a couple of Sundays ago and had this playing on my mid-afternoon quest for calorie burning and fresh air breathing. It was absolutely perfect for a jaunt like that. I found my mind wandering here, there, and everywhere. Invisible Voices acted as a reset button of sorts for my brain. It allowed me to thoroughly enjoy that warm, sunny walk and travel(in my mind) far beyond the few miles I physically took in. This Rüdiger Lorenz album also proves a very distinct point that I sometimes forget: there’s always something great out there I haven’t yet heard. I do get into ruts where I think there’s nothing left for me to find musically. On those grey cloud kind of days I think everything great has already been written and everything new is just xerox copies of those great albums. Then I’ll stumble across a lost gem like Invisible Voices and I get excited again about music. Or I’ll hear a new artist that gives me hope for the future.

Granted, those ruts only last about a day. But still, those are scary days.

 

Heaven’s Gateway Drugs :: Apropos

HGDApropos is the sophomore effort by a band that for all intents and purposes no longer exists. It’s a swan song for Heaven’s Gateway Drugs Version 1.1. Since recording Apropos last December the Fort Wayne psych/freak cooperative have cocooned themselves and have re-emerged a new kind of freaky beast. Three of the five original members have slipped into the ether, leaving guitarist/vocalist Derek Mauger and band shaman Ben Carr to plant seeds and grow new members from the Holy ground that lines the murky St. Joseph river. The results of these changes? What will Heaven’s Gateway Drugs Version 2.1 sound like? We will have to wait for that. For now, let’s raise a glass to what was, shall we?

First things first, Apropos sounds like an album made by a band that has learned a few things since they first started making music back in 2012. Nearly everyone in the band played in other bands so there’s no newbies here, but it takes awhile to lock in with the guys(or gals) you play with. CPF Cassette was a rough and gritty beginning with the vibe of some flea market find in an oil-stained cardboard box that you guffaw at on the drive home, wondering how you’d never heard these guys before. Last April saw their debut full-length We Are Heaven’s Gateway Drugs. While a solid effort and beautifully-produced, it lacked some of the gritty fire and mystery of that short run cassette release. Apropos is the culmination of time on the road, festival dates, and general touring grit under the fingernails. “Read Between The Lines” has the swagger of the Kinks in 1967. A paisley-covered track that ebbs and flows between light-headed glee and oxygen-deprived madness. “Gone To Ground” sounds like a highway death trip, much like something more ominous found on that first cassette. The Black Angels abide. “Apropos” is a hallucinogenic pop track that is catchy as hell and has a piano line that brings the Kinks’ excellent “Do You Remember Walter” to mind. Piano is a welcome addition to the HGD sound. A full-time keyboardist would be tops. “Hate/Love” is another pop gem. Mellotron guides the technicolor track through some excellent Zombies territory before making a detour with some Ennio Morricone vibes in a spaghetti western guitar riff. “What It’s Like To Die” has a druggy, desert death trip vibe courtesy of some jangly guitar and an ominous riff. “Fall Back Down Again” benefits from some wonky drums and a fuzzy riff that helps to make the faux British accent and Doors-like organ sound even more sinister than they really are.

In a way, this album is bittersweet. Knowing this Heaven’s Gateway Drugs no longer exists makes how good Apropos is a little sad. The thought of what these five guys could’ve done next will echo in fans heads every time they hit play on this album. Still, it’s a hell of a swan song for version 1.1. Looking forward to what Mauger, Carr, and their new freaky friends have in store for us in the future. In the meantime, get freaky with Apropos.

8.2 out of 10

Steve Gunn :: Way Out Weather

gunnSteve Gunn makes music that is simple sounding on the surface, but underneath there’s a complexity hiding under the breezy sway and summertime shine. He’s an incredible guitarist that shows he can handle pretty much anything that comes at him. On his latest, Way Out Weather, it’s all about southern jangle with an east coast sophistication.

When I heard last year’s excellent Time Off I wasn’t aware that Steve Gunn played in Kurt Vile’s live band The Violators. Now that I know that I can really hear that Vile laid back drawl in Gunn’s music. While Vile is firmly planted in the rock and folk camps in his songs, Steve Gunn sticks with a more earthy, organic sound. Though, he can kick it up a notch as well. “Drifter” is a hard-driving tune with some great Allman Brothers-like guitar. And “Atmosphere” has an almost psychedelic vibe to it with Gunn singing through a Leslie speaker. Steve Gunn’s voice is a smoother version of Califone’s Tim Rutili’s crackling, whispy voice. And Steve Gunn’s music does bring to mind that Chicago band’s rustic and at time acoustic-driven sound, though Gunn is more subtle and intricate. He’s a clever songwriter in that he hides his prodigious playing under simple, pleasing music. “Way Out Weather” brings to mind Allman Brothers’ Brothers and Sisters and the Dead’s Workingman’s Dead. The latter showing a band in their prime “taking it easy” while still dropping jaws at their musical proficiency. “Wildwood” has a nice shuffle rhythm and some great guitar run through a Leslie speaker. “Milly’s Garden” is a mover and a shaker. It’s a breezy track that could soundtrack a million road trips and don a thousand mix tapes. It will please fans of the Dead and Real Estate alike. It even has a little bit of the Stones in there with the great lap steel guitar. “Shadow Bros” is the blues, but of a different shade than what we’re used to. The acoustics crackle and jangle as Steve Gunn sings along to the beautiful waltz-time track. “Fiction” keeps that easy feel flow going with a touch of melancholy just underneath. “Tommy’s Congo” closes the album out on an almost tribal note, with a mantra-like guitar line that keeps repeating.

There seems to be a mantra-like feel to Steve Gunn’s music. It repeats itself over and over, lulling you into a meditative state till you almost forget there’s music playing. It transcends from just a song to something much deeper.

Way Out Weather is a record from start to finish that effortlessly flows and moves like a river in the country or a subway in the city. It’s one of those rare records that will appeal to many that can’t see eye to eye normally. It’s an album that brings folks together and lets them nod their heads together in unison. Simple and sophisticated.

8.2 out of 10

Syd Kemp :: The Horror EP

syd kempSyd Kemp has been described as a “lo-fi psych pop wunderkind”. Who described him as that? People, that’s who. Anyways, he recently played in London’s Lion Coffee+Records in celebration of Cassette Store Day. I’m sure he played some songs off his new The Horror EP there, as well as sold a few cool cassette copies of the EP.

Whether Syd Kemp is a wunderkind or not, I don’t know. I do know that he can make some catchy music. “As I Don’t Get It” has an Unknown Mortal Orchestra vibe, mixed with a little Mac Demarco wooziness for good measure. This music really isn’t lo fi as much as it is a little gritty. You don’t hear too many horn sections in the lo fi music from my neck of the woods, but what do I know? Anyways, moving onto “The Horror”. This track lies very much in Deerhunter’s wheelhouse, with Kemp even doing a quite nice rendition of Bradford Cox’s medicated serial killer coo. It’s a deceptively simple track that carries an element of dread underneath its laid back exterior. “At The Old Blue” has a great 60s vibe to it, with a bass line that was pulled right out of Revolver. There’s real classic psych vibes going on in this track’s hazy groove. The production is pretty spot-on here with lots of things going on to keep your headphones busy. “Marble” starts out sounding like some lost Portishead track, all reverb, tremolo, and mystery. Kemp’s vocals ooze into the mix like a stalker appearing from the ether. It’s a disorienting track sure to make you have an anxiety attack about half way through. There’s touches of psych, yes. But there’s also a good chunk of avante garde and art rock in there for you folks that like things a little weird.

The Horror EP is an excellent listen for those days when you want something more than the ordinary. If Deerhunter, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Mac Demarco, and Alex Calder trip your trigger, then snag a copy of this. I’ve decided, Syd Kemp is a wunderkind. Yep.

Thom Yorke :: Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes

Thom-Yorke-Tomorrows-Modern-BoxesOut of the blue on what was thought to be just another normal Thursday afternoon Thom Yorke dropped a brand new solo album. No real warning, other than some random tweets of some mysterious white vinyl spinning. Thom and Radiohead are no strangers to the surprise release, with In Rainbows and The King of Limbs being two albums that seemed to come from nowhere and melt our brains. Well Thom has done it again. Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes keeps things footed in the electronic and glitchy department, and if you’re a fan this really won’t surprise you. What? Were you expecting something more along the lines of Pablo Honey? If so, you might want to take the Tardis back to 1994.

Yorke’s solo debut, the dark and dystopian The Eraser, showed what Thom could do with nothing more than a laptop and his pal Nigel Godrich. It was heavy on the beats and looped keys, but was fueled by Yorke’s ghostly voice. A sort of Ray Bradbury short story turned into a glitchy, electronic rock opera. Thom Yorke took what him and Radiohead had began cultivating on Kid A and Amnesiac and brought it full circle. Where the electronics on those albums seemed to work towards confusing and lulling the listener, The Eraser used the loops and beats as a means to deliver more of a pop-centric album. Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes continues that trend. But since 2006 Yorke has gotten pretty comfortable with his laptop beats and synth soundscapes. There’s an ease and flow with this album that hasn’t been heard in some time. I think his time with Atoms For Peace has loosened his grip on the blippy, glitchy sounds. A song like “A Brain In A Bottle” cannot truly be appreciated until it’s been heard through headphones. Much like the rest of this record, “A Brain In A Bottle” is a dizzying display of studio magic. Wavering synth floats from left to right while the beat remains firmly centered. Soon enough it seems that off in the distance there’s some sort of electronic rustling. Weird noises hover just under Yorke’s reed-thin falsetto. This is electro psych. “Guess Again!” runs along with a steady beat and what sounds like a distant piano. This song sounds like something that would’ve fit nicely on The Eraser. Some heavy bass rolls in to rattle any trunks in throwing distance. “Interference” opens with the line “We stare into each other’s eyes, like jackdaws, like ravens” setting up a mournful track that feels like some dystopian, space age tragedy. “The Mother Lode” is about as upbeat as this album gets, bringing a bit of The Eraser and “Atoms For Peace” into the fold. It’s kinetic beat and Yorke’s vocals keep the song moving nicely.

So, you’re probably wondering what makes this album any different than anything Yorke has done since 2006? Well, I’m not really sure I can answer that. But I’d respond with why would you want it to be different? I feel every time out of the gates Thom Yorke expands a bit on his capabilities as a songwriter, composer, arranger, and generally being a human. These electronic records he dabbles in from time to time seem like a rather freeing exercise. He obviously loves to create music, whether he’s in a room with Radiohead or alone with nothing more than headphones and a laptop. Electronic music as a whole has been devoured by a good number of folks. It’s become the go-to genre for those that can’t play nice with others(as well as those that just love EDM and like to create in solitude.) Thom Yorke has gotten to a point in his electronic exploits to where he can sit back a bit and let the music take some of the load. He doesn’t have to be front and center like he did eight years ago. A track like “There Is No Ice(For My Drink)” proves that. It’s nearly seven minutes of fidgety beats and noises whizzing by. This is the electronic equivalent of a psychedelic jam track. I can just imagine Yorke dancing uncontrollably as this song pumped through the studio monitors. There’s no pretense here. It’s just Thom having fun making music. “Pink Section” is a short piano piece that leads into “Nose Grows Some”, the excellent closer. A bit melancholy and distant, much like a cosmonaut stranded on a distant star.

Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes may indeed be “more of the same”, but I say when “the same” sounds this good, why change it? It’s some of the best production you’ll hear this year on any album. It flows and grows with each listen. It’s a minor masterpiece and one of the best records of the year.

9.1 out of 10

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/107278326″>Thom Yorke – A Brain In A Bottle (OFFICIAL VIDEO)</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user8173558″>Tommaso Colella</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>