Radiohead announces “In Rainbows.” Released Oct. 10. Download for whatever price you want to pay.

radiohead in rainbows

A very brief post at dead air space, the official Radiohead blog, informs the world that the band’s first album in four years will be available for mass experiencing in ten days:

Hello everyone.

Well, the new album is finished, and it’s coming out in 10 days;

We’ve called it In Rainbows.

Love from us all.

radiohead discbox
In Rainbows Discbox

The post links to the In Rainbows store site, which features a neat animated background with a couple options for pre-ordering the record.

The first is a physical “Discbox” version that includes the both a compact disc of In Rainbows, two vinyl records, a second cd with additional new songs, artwork and booklets and comes packaged in hardback book form. The entire set runs £40.00 (roughly USD$80) and isn’t expected to ship until December. Buyers, however, will receive access to digital downloads of the album on 10/10.

The package looks pretty cool, but eighty bucks is a bit steep for an album, even one from Radiohead. Fortunately, Radiohead is as innovative in their business practices as they are in their music. Showing that the band “gets it” in the new millennial music world, a basic download version of In Rainbows will also be available on 10/10. But get this, there’s no set price for it; you can pay whatever you want. The checkout screen brings up an empty field where you put in how much you’re willing to give (in British Pounds and Pence) in exchange for ten new Radiohead songs. “It’s up to you,” the band says, “No really, it’s up to you.”

radiohead set your own price

An iTunes-like rate of $0.99 per song converts to £4.84 for the entire album and that seems quite fair. The only thing that’s not mentioned is the format and bitrate of the downloads. MP3, AAC, FLAC, other rights-managed or not? 128 kbps, 256 kbps? Radiohead, I’m sure, has come up with an equitable solution.

Also, at the end of the year though, I would love to see a chart of the range of prices people are wiling to pay. That would be fascinating look at the value consumers place on downloadable music.

For a preview, here’s a live version of track 5: All I Need, recorded in Chicago, June 2006:

Radiohead: All I Need- Chicago 6/20/06

Additional live previews were compiled by Rawkblog this past July. Download away.

Foo Fighters – The Pretender: Best in a Decade

The Pretender:

I think I’m in love with Foo Fighters again.

I’ve watched as the band kinda coasted down hill, or at least plateauing after achieving breakout success and emerging from the long shadow of Nirvana after There’s Nothing Left to Lose. After that the band just seemed to be going through motions.

I still liked Foo Fighters during that time and some of their songs from that time are good, but the band’s zeitgeist felt like it missing the playful spark that made the early era so much fun. Since then, I’ve treated each release with increasing skepticism and when I learned of a new record, skeptical I remained.

But all it took was one viewing of the premier video from the forthcoming Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, The Pretender, and I was hooked.

The Pretender is the Foos’ hardest rocking song since Monkey Wrench and is some of their best material since The Colour and The Shape was released ten years ago. And that video is effing fantastic. Way to go Foo Fighters, I eagerly await next weeks release of your new album.

Ethan Winer, one-man Cello section: 37 parts to a song played by one man

Ethan Winer plays all 37 separate parts on A Cello Rondo, including the percussion, on his cello. He also composed the song. The music is about 6 minutes long and the end of the video shows his digital music editing and some of his film setup. Not only is the production quite smooth, showcasing the power of modern technology to allow a single person to (relatively) easily create complex and intricate music, the song is a really good pop tune.

And I thought it was impressive when Dave Grohl recorded the first Foo Fighters record all by himself.

A Cello Rondo at Ethan Winer’s homepage. Multiple links to sites hosting the video as well as a free mp3 download of the song. There’s also as much background information on the project as you could want and some downloadable sheet music if you want to give it your own try.

iTunes 7.4.2: No Change in Sorting behavior

Part of the iTunes Sorting Debacle Series

  1. iTunes 7.4.2: No Change in Sorting behavior
  2. iTunes 7.3 Sorting Problems: Fallout Central
  3. iTunes’ totally effed up sorting

Apple unleashed iTunes 7.4.2 today, mostly to cripple efforts by the iPhone community to customize their ringtones without having to pay an additional $.99 to do so. On that topic, one could argue that users are well within their Fair Use rights to repurpose (format shift) into a ringtone the music they’ve already paid for. I’m not an iPhone user nor do I intend to be, so it’s purely an academic observation in my case.

My slightly modified Motorola E815 lets me copy mp3s over Bluetooth and use those as ringtones. it’s quite convenient. But I digress.

The important news is that 7.4.2 in no way fixes the asinine sorting problems introduced in version 7.3. iLounge offers up some polite criticism in addition to my own.

Unfortunately, this “numbers-last” sorting order is counter-intuitive to how most other software applications function. Other media players, be they portable devices or computer software applications, have always taken a numbers-first approach, as do standard sorting algorithms in Word Processing and Spreadsheet applications. In short, this new behavior is extremely counter-intuitive to what most experienced users would expect, and as a result is a rather odd change on the part of iTunes.

This is going to be a hot topic around here until the day it gets resolved. If you’re as sick of hearing about it as I am of complaining about it, let’s encourage Apple to mend its ways.

Rilo Kiley – Under the Blacklight: It’s a Hit

The Moneymaker:

Rilo Kiley – The Moneymaker

Rilo Kiley is back, and in a big way. After a three year hiatus, the indie rock wunderkind of the twenty-first century is back with a new album, Under the Blacklight, and it rocks. Though technically, with this release Rilo Kiley can no longer be called “indie rock” as the new album is being released by a major label, Warner Bros. Records. Indeed, both in distribution and sound, Under the Blacklight shows a clear smoothness and polish of production that the resources of a major label can provide. It also shows a quite noticeable departure from the band’s previous ethos.

Part of Rilo Kiley’s rise to prominence in the indie rock circles was due to their ability to blend pop, rock and folk/country elements into a pleasant low-key package. While I have enjoyed that aspect of the band’s oeuvre, for my tastes, they’re at their best when they put the rock into overdrive (Spectacular Views!). And fortunately for my tastes, Rilo Kiley’s evolution has shown a steady increase of rock.

Where earlier albums were markedly complicated, emotionally dense and intricately constructed, Blacklight is straightforward, blunt and to a certain degree, shallow. But it’s just so damn addictive, like candy or a drug. The band has real talent and while the record is certainly not their greatest artistic statement, they do pull off straightforward, blunt and shallow *well*. Jenny’s engaging vocals and Blake’s smashing guitar melodies power a pure rock delight.

After reading some of the early commentary on the web, fans seem to have had decidedly mixed reactions to this new and revised Rilo Kiley, with criticisms largely consisting of predictable accusations of “selling out.” But here at tunequest, I couldn’t be happier. And it was some kind of most divine providence that the album dropped just as the Atlanta Heat Wave of 2007™ was breaking, providing improved conditions for windows-down, volume-up driving. Under the Blacklight is more than up to fulfilling that role. In fact, cruising down I-85 last Friday, I couldn’t help but nudge the volume up steadily after each song.

I’ve been digesting this album for nearly three weeks and man, it just keeps burrowing deeper and deeper. I can hardly close my eyes without hearing a riff, refrain or lyric.

One of the more compelling aspects of Under the Blacklight is its unabashed and forthright sexuality: Close Call is about prostitution; The Moneymaker is about pornography; Dejalo appears to be about being straight-up slutty; 15 is about unbeknownst and unwitting cyber-pedophilia; Smoke Detector is about hooking up on the nightclub scene. Indeed, the album’s recurring themes seem to highlight society’s darker, sordid aspects (ie, things that are revealed when illuminated by a blacklight).

Dejalo, where the band does their best calypso-infused Blondie impression, also turns out to be Blacklight’s weakest spot. It breaks flow and it breaks style and is somewhat hard to listen to. Otherwise, I have few complaints about the album.

I have the feeling Under the Blacklight will be shining in my library for a long time to come.

under the blacklight at itunes

under the blacklight at amazon

Silver Lining (probably my favorite):

Jenny and Blake dated for a number of years, so it’s tempting to read that history into this song and video. But, some have speculated that it might be about Jenny’s relationship to the rest of the band following her increasing success and notoriety as a solo artist.

Further reading: RK gets the cover story for 9/2007 issue of Spin.

Official Site
RK on MySpace

Managing a Two iPod workflow is just too difficult

(or, Initial Thoughts on the iPod Touch)

iPods shuffle nano video classic and touch

Weeeee… new toys from Apple! iPods iPods iPods, including shuffles in drab new colors (gimme orange), a new iPod NanoVideo (aka iPod Squat), an all-metal iPod Classic (the form we all know and love––now up to 160GB!) and a phoneless iPhone (aka iPod Touch).

Upon the availing of the line up this afternoon, I was immediately torn. In my mind, the iPod brand is essentially “a bajillion songs in your freakin’ pocket––more songs than you could ever practically listen to but who cares because it’s a bajillion songs! In your pocket!!” and the upgraded 160GB model is encoding a lot of digital saliva in tunequestland. The iPod has finally caught up to the point where I could realize the dream of fitting my entire library (all bajillion songs of it) onto a single portable device and that sounds like a lot of fun.

But Apple had to go ahead and simultaneously release that little portable wi-fi web browsing internet communication device, didn’t they? More than anything since the iPhone was announced in January, the prospect of in-your-pocket internet has been very appealing. But of course, I already have a phone that does everything I need a phone to do, so I wasn’t (and still am not) about to plunk down for the device. At the time I thought that if Apple wanted to unbundle the phone from the package, great, I’d look at it then.

And Apple has done just that with the iPod Touch and that is the source of my quandary.

The storage capacity of the iPod Touch’s models is 8GB and 16GB, a major step down from what I’m used to. While I did fine for years with a 15GB model, I’ve gotten accustomed to lugging around roughly 40-50 gigs of music, podcasts, audiobooks, courses from iTunes U, videos, photos and data at any given time. The thought of having to cram all that back to 16GB or gasp!, 8GB, is anathema to my idea of what an iPod is.

Then a thought occurred to me…

I’m still quite happy with my 80GB 5.5G model. I’ve had it for almost a year and the only major disappointment I have with it is my recently discovered long audiobook problem. I’ve been especially surprised by the durability of its screen. It’s not had any kind of protector and there’s nary a sign of a scratch or mark. While the idea of a 160GB iPod Classic is a very compelling dream, I’m more than happy to continue using my existing hardware as my workhorse iPod.

But… what if I were to simply use an iPod Touch almost exclusively as an internet device, saving most of the traditional iPod functions for my 80GB? That would be the ticket.

And for a moment, with the Reality Distortion Field set to maximum capacity, I seriously considered that option. Then I quickly came to my senses. I’ve tried managing multiple iPods for different purposes and it’s just too much effort. For a while, I tried to divvy up music and spoken audio (podcasts, books, etc) between two devices and invariably, I’d find that I didn’t have the one I wanted at the moment I wanted it. Then there was the hassle of keeping them both synced, updated and charged. Before too long, I abandoned that idea. Besides, when one device can do most or all of what you want it to, there’s really not much point to segregating the duties.

And the more I think about it, the less certain I become that I’d actually find a significant use for an iPod Touch. My multimedia needs are already handled by my 80GB and the vast majority of my wi-fi usage is done in my house, where there are four computers I have access to. Furthermore, based on the images at, I don’t see icons for some of the traditional “Extras” provided on the iPod’s interface, like Games and Notes (though I wouldn’t imagine that they’ve actual been removed). And where’s the note taking program to make use of that famous multi-touch interface? Other than for novelty, I can’t really see myself getting one, that is, until the storage is increased. Though that might change if it turns out the the Touch has inherited the iPhone’s PDF-reading capabilities. I’ve been wanting to make those portable documents truly portable.

But for now, the bottom line: I’m happy with what I got.

Of course, for me, this all a moot discussion unless iTunes 7.4 fixes 7.3’s horrible sorting problems, which, at first glance it doesn’t.


PS- Did anyone else notice that Music and iTunes are separate selectors on the Touch? I realize that using the term “iTunes” is Apple’s way of differentiating pre-loaded music from on-the-go purchasing, but it strikes me that that this could be a subtle shift in the iTunes branding away from the “your personal jukebox” function and toward the store aspects. If you look at Apple’s various iTunes pages, you’ll see that the money-making features are more prominently displayed.