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July 10, 2006 - Image 9

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2006-07-10

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Monday
July 10, 2006
arts.michigandaily.com
artspage@michigandaily.com

ARTS

9

Radiohead frontman a
finds sound on 'Eraser'

By Chris Gaerig
Associate Arts Editor
The end of Kid A says it all. Thom Yorke,
lead singer and mastermind of the enigmatic
Radiohead, sits behind the
throbbing heartbeat of a Thom Yorke
pump organ and angelic
cries of harps as he moans The Eraser
his way through the mun- XL Recordings
dane yet strangely opti-
mistic "Motion Picture
Soundtrack." His solitude is heart-wrench-
ing and his voice warm and comforting as he
croons, "I think you're crazy, maybe."
Kid A was already a departure for the
group. Often touted as the next Beatles - or
at least the future of Brit pop
after the decline and essen- 6c Motion Pi
tial death of fellow British
powerhouse Oasis - the Soundtrac
group's decision to rely on
electronic drones, synthe- Just convir
sized instrumentation and
drum machines raised more was truth:
than a few eyebrows across
the music spectrum. So was Thom
when the album ends with at the mos
Yorke hunched over a pump
organ nearly swallowing the point in h
mic in front of his face, fans
and critics alike understood
that this was a new side to the baby-faced
guitar rockers.
But when the group returned on their next
album, Hail to the Thief, back to their old ways
of screaming melodies and straightforward (at
least as straightforward as Radiohead can get)

rock, some were left scratching their heads,
because "Motion Picture Soundtrack" wasn't
just convincing, it was truth: That was Thom
Yorke at the most open point in his career.
That's where Thom Yorke belonged.
And he's finally returned there on his
first solo release The Eraser, a sprawling
electro-pop record simultaneously reminis-
cent of Kid A and full of its own life and
heady tracks.
On first listen, though, The Eraser isn't any
of the above. It simply sounds like an album
full of Radiohead B-sides and rarities. Why
did Yorke wait so long to release this album?
It's a Radiohead disk performed by Yorke
rather than the rest of the band. And at that
point, that's exactly what it appears to be. But
keep listening and you'll discover that not
only is The Eraser a production of Yorke's
genius alone, but also that
icture it's drastically different
from anything Radiohead
k" wasn't has ever done.
"Black Swan," the
ncing, it album's first single - and
ironically one of the tracks
That showing a great likeness
Yrke to Radiohead work - is a
Y lorke mass of popping electronic
st open snares and staccato guitars.
But it's Yorke's lyrics that
is career. prove how far he's ventured
from Radiohead: "What
will grow crooked / You
can't make straight" and the chorus "This is
fucked up, fucked up." He later cries "You've
tried your best to please everyone / But it just
isn't happening." Yorke seems oddly disillu-
sioned with his previous work and plans to set
things the way they should be (or at least how

1'
1
C.
.r
n
s
!1

When Yorke isn't playing the melodramatic lead singer, he's getting chicks with those shades.

he should be) on The Eraser.
And things only continue to venture further
from Radiohead. "The Clock" loops every-
thing from people mouthing drum beats to a
low-fi, scratchy guitar. Yorke even hums his
way through the chorus, ignoring words in
exchange for a simple melody. Even "Horrow-
down Hill" - the first notes of which are an
identifiable guitar riff, something that is gen-
erally absent on The Eraser - quickly degen-
erates into a swarm of drum machines and a
melancholy string arrangement.
Finally, following in Yorke tradition, The
Eraser ends on quite an odd note, possibly

signifying work to come. The synthesized
bass line and mystifying computer blips
of "Cymbal Rush" would be welcome on
any Autechre album while Yorke moans
nearly incomprehensible lyrics. But as on
"Motion Picture Soundtrack," it seems
that this is exactly where he needs and
wants to be.
First, he was hunched over a mic with a
guitar. Then, an organ. Now, he's over a lap-
top. Who knows what's next? What we can be
sure of though is that Yorke will never stop
reinventing himself until he's exactly where
he should be.

CSS proves sex can't sell terrible music

By Lloyd Cargo
Daily Arts Writer
CSS hails from Sao Paulo, Brazil
- where the city's official motto is
"I am not led, I lead."
The same cannot be said for
CSS. Mega-indie Subpop's first
South American
signing sounds
like a third-rate
Peaches, but Cansel de Ser
without any sort Sexy
of agenda or Subpop
sense of humor.
Cansei De Ser
Sexy translates to "Tired of being
sexy." Probably (hopefully) that
is meant to be ironic, but after a
spin through the album, it's hard
to see how anyone could confuse
their tired electro-rock as any-
thing approximating sexiness. And
while lead-singer Lovefoxxx does
say "fuck" a bunch, she comes off

like a 12-year-old trying to impress
her friends. If dumb lyrics get you
hard, you should definitely file CSS
in your CD collection right next
to your Electric Six and Le Tigre
albums.
For a band that comes from a city as
large, diverse and culturally progres-
sive as Sao Paulo (the city is the larg-
est in the Southern Hemisphere, almost
twice the size of New York City), CSS
is shockingly narrow-minded. The lyr-
ics are especially inane - if they really
can't do better than "I'm an artist / I'm
an art bitch / I sell my paintings to the
men I eat" for the chorus to "Art Bitch,"
then maybe they ought to stick to Por-
tugese. Even for electro-rock, a genre
that's pretty ridiculous by nature, those
lyrics are particularly horrendous. No
one is expecting Thom Yorke-level
soliloquies, but "CSS Suxx" for the
entirety of a song, coincidentally titled
"CSS Suxx," is painful.
Peaches can get away with a simi-
lar schtick because her gender-chal-
lenging lyrics and political rants

lack obvious posturing and posses
a certain level of tongue-in-cheek
humor. Maybe CSS was going for
that with songs like "Meeting Paris
Hilton," but not a single word on
the album approaches the intel-
ligence of Peaches's album title,
Impeach My Bush (coincidentally
both albums are released on the
same day, July 11).
Subpop throws a quote on the
back of the promo CD that says
"Not only music, but a new way to
live with it. An unfinished group
that, unlike preserving itself until
getting 'to the point,' was bravely
showing off, turning everything
into style." Getting to the point?
What point? What the hell was
Subpop, one of the most respected
indie labels, thinking when they
gave this a greenlight? It's a big,
overly stylized turd of a record that
reeks of perverse internationalism.
Maybe the joke was lost in transla-
tion, but one listen will leave you
tired of CSS.

CSS's music would be sexy if they weren't all so ugly.

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