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I’ve been meaning to resurrect my weekly “music news” installments (Mews), and this week has some cool Mews-worthy happenings, so the timing feels right. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you, the return of the Mews…

– Thom Yorke announced today on the Radiohead blog that his solo project, to which he added official band members just last year, now has an official name and will be touring the US this Spring.  deadairspace

– The awesome free music website known as Noisetrade just got much more awesome.  Go check out the changes, and get yourself a bunch of free records while you’re at it.  Noisetrade

– To all the haters: Erykah Badu apparently used Twitter to clear some copyright permission issues with Paul McCartney earlier today.  See people?  Stop making fun of me for having a Twitter account.  I’m telling you, it’s helpful on a lot of levels.  Pitchfork

– Speaking of Twitter, Matt Chamblerlain just tweeted that he played the drums on the new Of Montreal record.  Apparently they just completed the tracks, which Chamberlain is calling “a crazy-funky-psychedelic-drum extravaganza.” Nice.  Chamberlain’s Twitter

– Nickleback lost their popularity contest with “a pickel,” and lead sing Chad Kroeger isn’t happy about it.  Comcast

– Editorial:  We just decided on a date for a clinic I’ll be giving at New Hope Church.  The day is March 13th, is open to everyone, and will center around playing drums in a church environment.  The cost will be low and maybe even nothing, so I’m hoping we can get a good group of guys who care about drums in worship services to come out for the clinic.  I’ll post official details here soon.

Recent music news…

– Thom Yorke announced the formation of a live band to play material from his solo album, The Eraser, as well as new non-Radiohead Yorke songs.  The band includes long-time Beck drummer Joey Waronker, the animated Chili Peppers bassist Flea, Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich (who NEVER plays live), and multi-instrumentalist Mauro Refosco.  Billboard

– MTV has resurrected the popular 90’s live music broadcast MTV Unplugged.  The 6-show season has already begun, with features from Adele, All Time Low, and the recent Paramore episode.

– Sub Pop Records is re-issuing the 1989 debut album from Nirvana, Bleach, with some previously unreleased live tracks from a Portland show in 1990.  You can preview one of the live tracks here.

– NYC’s Lincoln Center opened its fall season with an Ornette Coleman performance.  This is noteworthy both because Ornette is 79 years old and still blazing, but also because the traditionalist-leaning Lincoln Center and progressive-pioneering Coleman don’t normally get along.  Good for both of them.  NYTimes

– Without any real warning, JC Chasez up and announced this week that there will officially be no N’SYNC reunion.  The music world responded with a collective, “I’m sorry… who are you again?”  MTV

– Editorial: I guess some indie bands got in a fight somewhere the other day.  Don’t indie bands sometimes remind you of the “cool kids” in highschool?  You know, the ones who receive a lot of attention for no real reason and therefore have a pretty skewed perception of reality…

61hv02uyedl_sl500_aa240_1This morning I was listening to Thom Yorke’s solo record, The Eraser, and it reminded me of something I noticed when I first heard it a couple years ago. I don’t know if I’ll be able to communicate this well in print, but I’ll try…

Each and every track on this album has a rhythmic “bait-and-switch” happening in it. What I mean is: the groove, when it starts, gives the impression that the downbeat is in a different location than it really is. Each song begins by hinting at a groove that doesn’t actually exist, and then the reveal happens at various points depending on the song. Some of the tracks develop almost immediately so that the REAL downbeat shows itself, while other tracks are able to maintain the ambiguity for quite a while (until the syncing of a vocal melody and a chord change make the real groove impossible to miss).  In each tune, there’s a moment where my head “shifts” from my misinterpretation of the groove to the true groove.

It’s like when you’re driving in the car listening to the radio, but it’s not too loud, and you hear the sub-harmonics of the bass, and they make you think the song is in a different key than it really is… so you turn the radio up to sing along with it, and you realize that you’re singing along in a totally different key than the actual song.  Maybe nobody can relate to that analogy, but that’s always the feeling I have when listening to each track on The Eraser.

The totally rad part about this, to me, is that I’m a drummer.  I play and teach rhythm for a living, and Yorke gets me every time with this groove trickery!  I love it.  His patterns are cool from both perspectives, but only one of them is the “real” groove for the track.  I have to assume that he’s aware of the deceptive nature of his programming, and I can probably also assume that he’s doing it intentionally, especially in light of this lyric, buried in the middle of Black Swan (track 5): “This is your blind spot… it should be obvious, but it’s not.”

It’s as if Yorke, as the performer/composer, doesn’t want to let the listener in on the perspective that he has on the track until he’s good and ready.  In most/all other circumstances, a recorded piece of music leaves the performer/composer on an even playing field with the listener.  The performer/composer no longer has exclusive rights to the sounds he/she is imagining – now anyone can just listen to the recording and hear the same thing the performer/composer hears.  But Yorke, in pulling this “bait-and-switch” with the grooves on his tunes, still manages to have 10 seconds (or even 2 minutes) in each track where he’s the only one who knows what the true sound of the song is, while presumably everyone else is getting duped by the displaced downbeat.  This concept is FANTASTICALLY interesting to me.

Needless to say… The Eraser is a brilliant album.

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