Pay What We Say, Not What You Want
I don’t know about anyone else, but I paid for digital versions of both these albums even though I’d like physical copies. Regardless, these sudden releases with little fanfare are nice in that no drawn-out anticipation mars your first listen. But I doubt I would have discovered Lisa Walker’s collection had I not fervently checked Wussy’s Facebook page; Yorke’s was everywhere because of his name. Hopefully the internet proves fertile ground for artists to keep control of and profit from their very hard work.
THE MAGIC WORDS – Junk Train (Bandcamp download): For ten bucks these eight songs are only worth it for the ultrafan curious how Wussy frontwoman Lisa Walker of 2006 would sound solo acoustic with some background electro-toodling to fill the void for cohort Chuck Cleaver. You buy this for alternate versions of popular favorites—the soft bleeps ‘n bloops behind “Loaded for Bear” and infant incarnations of “Mayflies” and “Jonah”—not for the train of junk you haven’t heard. Somewhat similar to the more polished Funeral Dress II, the strength of this self-conscious collection is the very naked Walker, who sounds even more sincere in her upper register than she does with full accompaniment. And like Funeral Dress II, you’ll be surprised just how well these early takes stand on their own even in comparison to the studio originals you’re used to. Wistful, warm, and full-hearted, regardless of how ‘lo-fi’ or ‘stripped down’ any half-listener might have you believe. A MINUS
THOM YORKE – Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes (BitTorrent download): More King of Limbs than The Eraser, and about as close to the antithesis of AMOK as possible. Where his Atoms for Peace venture featured Waronker’s and Flea’s rhythm-heavy jams, this uses beat as backdrop for the bleeding together of Yorke’s ambient synths and warm-bath vocals. Honestly doesn’t feel like it’s a whole lot more than that, which is fine; those unable to appreciate this as floral background music will miss the very real charms of a slowly unravelling album (aren’t all Yorke/Radiohead records this way?) whose moaned words can’t be anywhere near as important as the wall of paranoid sound. And do we need to address the ‘unconventional release method’? He charged six dollars to download it, which is more than the five for KOL. And is there something here fundamentally different from Bandcamp? No? Then who fucking cares? A MINUS