In the last few days we have seen a flurry of enigmatic online activity from the members of Radiohead. First, the band's website slowly faded away to white. This was accompanied by a complete deletion and whiting out of all of the members’ social media accounts. The group emerged from this disappearing act on Tuesday with the release of their new single and accompanying video “Burn the Witch”. We still don’t know what the band’s ninth LP (LP9) is going to look like but if this track is any indication we are in for a treat. Radiohead have reached a position of confidence in their art that is nearly unparalleled and comes of a long streak of successes. In this track we have a more melodic sound for the band, but it is a sound that is still punctuated by their trademark complexity. In the pre-chorus Thom sings, “This is a low flying panic attack”. He catches the implacable dread that accompanies digital life. Everything is simultaneously simple and complex. Things once trusted can almost always be corrupted. The song is accompanied by a stop motion video in which the protagonist and the mayor of a small town con the villagers into thinking the protagonist has been burned as sacrifice. It is an effective visual metaphor for the attendant dread of the song. It is elemental and beautiful in its execution and frankly doesn’t require the accompanying social media theatrics. Still, we have reached a point with Radiohead where they will exercise the freedom we have given them; and to their credit blanking their Internet presence made them one of the most discussed things on the Internet this week. Hopefully we will have LP9 in our hands soon.

 

 

Jazz Fest In Review

Despite the washout of the second weekend, it was another good year for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. One of the things I like about rainy days at Jazz Fest is that they often push me out of the fields and into the tents. There is so much going on around the Fairgrounds that it is easy to let the big names overshadow the younger talents and the local legends. For me the absolute highlight of the festival was Janelle Monáe’s set on the first Friday. Her close relationship with Prince translated into a cathartic and fitting tribute to the Purple One at at time when we were all still reeling from his sudden departure. Monáe is a consummate bandleader. She knows exactly where she wants her accompanying musicians to be and leads them there effortlessly. I thought that this year also hosted one of the better Paul Simon shows I have seen recently. I know that folks are often put off by his continually changing arrangements of his classics, but after so many years something has to keep them fresh. It was also great to hear a glimpse of his new record with the track “Wristband” toward the start of the first encore. It’s nice to see Simon veering back toward the pop sound that worked so well for him in the 90s. One of the other standouts was Ed Volker’s Narcosis project over on the Lagniappe stage the first Sunday. Ed and Camile Baudoin brought some of the Radiators’ spirit to a high powered afternoon set. Those are the moments that really shine at Jazz Fest. When you can sit down with a dozen raw oysters and watch a couple of legends run through a perfectly magical set.

 

Comment on Fest Crowding

I will say that Jazz Fest continues to grow and I’m not sure that there is a solution to crowding on the main stages. Putting desirable headliners on against each other just seems to increase the overall crowd size at the fest without alleviating the strain on either stage. The “day at the beach” approach to hanging out at Acura with chairs and a tarp is becoming a less pleasant exercise with each iteration of the festival. I’m not saying we need to find a way to salvage that model, but something needs to happen to make things a bit friendlier. At Newport Folk Festival chairs are also allowed but they only allow low backed chairs (less than 30 inches) so that everyone can move and see. I’ve spent a lot of years out in the Acura field and I know as festival goers we are set in our ways. It just seems that we need to figure out a way to accommodate all of the interest that these headliners are attracting.

 

To Do This Week

Tangerine will be at Siberia tonight. Saturday check out Pantyraid at Republic. On Sunday Wolf Alice will open for The 1975 at Champion’s Square. Wolf Alice had one of my top 10 records of last year and The 1975 have just put out a new one as well. This will be a great night. Tuesday and Wednesday you can catch The Cure at the Lakefront Arena. The Cure always put on a great live show, expect two to three hours of classics.

 

To Listen This Week

New track from Mitski’s upcoming record via CoS

The new Gregory Porter record is streaming in full via NPR First Listen

New track from Marissa Nadler via Soundcloud