Kid A and Amnesiac, 20 years later

Radiohead release KID A MNESIA, a double reissue album featuring previously unreleased material and B-sides.

Following the release of OKNOTOK in 2017 — a 20-year anniversary reissue of Radiohead’s most acclaimed album, OK Computer — fans expected similar treatment for Kid A. But 2020 came and went, and it wasn’t until this fall that it all began to come together. 

The first hint towards a new release came in the form of the band’s foray into TikTok on April 1. What followed was a series of unsettling videos featuring Radiohead’s longtime character Chieftain Mews, played by producer Nigel Godrich, which ultimately culminated in an announcement of the band’s new project.

On Sept. 6, the band announced KID A MNESIA as “a coming of age for Kid A & Amnesiac” that would also include unreleased material and B-sides from their Kid A era in a brand-new album, dubbed Kid Amnesiae

Considering both albums were recorded at the same time (2001’s Amnesiac consists of leftover songs from Kid A), it makes sense that the band waited until now to release a twentieth anniversary reissue.

The story behind these two seminal classic albums is intricate and slightly convoluted. At the end of the ‘90s, Radiohead were at the top of their game. After OK Computer came out in 1997 and won the band their first Grammy Award, fans excitedly anticipated what would follow; but the turn of the millennium marked a stark change in the sound that had come to define them.

Gone were the moody guitar riffs from The Bends and OK Computer’s anthemic rock ballads; instead of what seemed to be the logical next step, Kid A was the band’s electronic left turn. The record was Radiohead’s first real attempt at making electronic music, and was a quiet, hollow, and unsettling continuation from what was once considered their peak.

Now, it’s impossible to dissociate electronic music from Radiohead; Kid A and Amnesiac firmly cemented that production style into their repertoire, and have influenced all their albums since. In Kid Amnesiae, the band explores this sound once again and combines near-forgotten bits and pieces from two decades ago to form a brand-new record, proving they’re just as willing to experiment now as they were back then.

The new album opens with “Like Spinning Plates – ‘Why Us?’ Version,” a superb reimagining of the Amnesiac rendition as a piano arrangement. Amid a cacophony of otherworldly electronic flutters, frontman Thom Yorke opens the album on a strong note, asking “Why us? / Why not someone else, not us?” in his familiar falsetto as the piano comes in.

“Untitled v1” follows, featuring creepy and distorted vocals reminiscent of Kid A’s title track, and is the perfect lead up to the new album’s first single, “If You Say The Word.” As Yorke croons over an eerily comforting, drum-led backing track, the almost-forgotten song breathes new life into Kid Amnesiae and evokes both the frigid emptiness of Kid A and the uncanny nostalgia of Amnesiac. A music video accompanied it, complete with the unsettling and abstract visuals that always seem to accompany the band’s new releases. 

“Follow Me Around” is the album’s other single. An acoustic track, it’s a distinct departure in style from the rest of the album’s electronic sound, more akin to something from The Bends, but the lyrics are what make it fit with the rest of Kid Amnesiae: “I see you in the dark / Corner of the street / Calling after me, yeah.”

The rest of Kid Amnesiae is made up of other instrumental tracks and alternate versions of existing songs, but the most compelling of which is definitely “How to Disappear into Strings,” a hauntingly beautiful instrumental-only rendition of Kid A’s “How to Disappear Completely,” serving as the perfect ending for the album.

Unfortunately, unlike OKNOTOK, none of KID A MNESIA’s songs were remastered — Kid A and Amnesiac received no special treatment for their re-release. While the entire album clocks in at just over two hours, the new material spans only 34 minutes.

Listeners who are left wanting more out of this release can turn to the KID A MNESIA Exhibition, a fever dream of an interactive audiovisual experience, which was released Nov. 18. While not a replacement for new music, it allows fans to experience the albums in a completely new way. Players can explore virtual landscapes inspired by both albums while specific songs from Kid A and Amnesiac play, depending on which area the player finds themselves in. It can be downloaded for free on PC, Mac, and PS5 on the Epic Games store.

KID A MNESIA is a perfect celebration of Radiohead’s most unique albums. Longtime fans will appreciate the inclusion of reimagined existing songs and previously unreleased tracks in Kid Amnesiae, and any excuse to listen to Kid A and Amnesiac back-to-back is a good one.

Music Quickspins

Jonny Greenwood – Phantom Thread

Jonny Greenwood – Phantom Thread (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (Nonesuch Records Inc., 2018)

Jonny Greenwood, known for his work with Radiohead, composed the soundtrack to the Paul Thomas Anderson movie Phantom Thread. Similar to the film, the soundtrack has an old-school vibe reminiscent of the 90s. Greenwood uses the dynamics of a large orchestra well. From percussive strings to the emotional violins and expressive cellos, the sound is impeccable. My favorite track off the soundtrack is the slow “Never Cursed.” The track manages to be atmospheric and express emotions just through the orchestra’s performance. Watching the movie is not required to fully enjoy this soundtrack; the work stands on its own. This album is perfect for a stroll out in the countryside on a brisk day.

Sample track: “Never Cursed”

Rating: 8.2/10


Best albums for surviving winter

The coldest days of the year are upon us

The winter season brings to mind notions of isolation and desolation. Music itself acts as a cathartic medium, capable of supplementing or defining how the weather makes you feel. Frankly, the two go hand in hand. Here are some essential winter albums that spark similar feelings of solitude.


Tortoise – TNT (1998)

Expected to continue the post-rock faction, Tortoise delved into a new fusion of dub and electronics to turn more heads with their masterpiece third album, TNT. Enlisting guitarist Jeff Parker to expand their deft musicianship, as well as their roots to Chicago’s sprawling avant-garde scene, Tortoise returned with an effort brimming with fits of post-modern jazz, dub-informed rock and only slight nods to the German experimental genre Krautrock and electronic textures of their sophomore outing, Millions Now Living Will Never Die.




Beach House – Bloom (2012)

Bloom may be Beach House’s most expansive and cinematic album, but its ice-covered ambience and skeletal sheen don’t warm up much. It’s easy to imagine singer Victoria Legrand contemplating past relationships and general discontent with life while singing in her expressive baritone voice. While the endearing intimacy of the album feels much like the typical Beach House formula, with Legrand passionately crooning over vintage keyboards and drum machines, Bloom’s towering heights are enhanced by the LeGrand’s philosophical ruminations on personal anxieties.


Radiohead – Kid A (2000)

In the wake of OK Computer, Radiohead’s transformative statement about technological paranoia in the wake of the techno boom, it became abundantly clear among fans that the band near single-handedly paved the path toward more exploratory and artistically informed rock—paying equal attention to their obsession with future sounds.

Considering the stagnating state of rock in the last half of the 90s, it was easy to see why fans and critics unanimously put all their hopes on Radiohead’s tendency for experimentation to deliver one of the greatest rock declarations of all time. Kid A pushed the limits of its creative breadth, without pandering to lower expectations of radio-friendly rock.

Radiohead’s blueprint for Kid A arrived when the band embraced the possibilities of electronica, cool jazz and Krautrock. Rather than simply acting as a pastiche, Kid A adds collage techniques and palpitating beats to a boundlessly expressive opus.


Boards Of Canada – Music Has the Right to Children (1998)

Boards Of Canada’s design for chilled-out dance music is complete with electro-synth, hip-hop inspired beats and DJ scratches. Though it isn’t the most innovative, Music Has the Right to Children pushes forth the same blueprint as hip-hop producer DJ Shadow. The duo are some of the few European artists who can parallel their American counterparts, while innovating the template from the inside out.


Elliott Smith – Elliott Smith (1995)

Elliott Smith’s self-titled second album was his first effort under the Kill Rock Stars label and also his first major label debut. The album’s sound is skeletal in its approach. Smith’s gentle fingerpicking on an acoustic guitar is supplemented by nothing more than the occasional drum pattern and softly articulated vocal harmonies. Smith’s melodies and lyrics operate as the album’s focal point, with a greater priority aimed at substance-fueled lyrics about angst and disillusionment with life. The songs require repeated listens—not just because of Smith’s esoteric, sensitive delivery, but also because of his achingly sad melodies and angular chord arrangements.



The Microphones – The Glow, Pt. 2 (2001)

The Microphones’s psych-pop horizons reached an undeniable climax in the larger-than-life epic The Glow, Pt. 2. The album marked a significant departure from the willowy, lo-fi folk of the band’s earlier recordings into a noisy blend of penetrative distortion and gorgeously restrained vocals. The album explores a plethora of singular styles and all-inclusive moods over the course of 20 staggering songs that transition into one another as seamlessly as the strands of a spider’s web. The album’s kaleidoscope of sounds span across decades of folk music, from pastoral, playful guitar arpeggios ballads to some of the most invigorating flourishes of white noise ever put on tape.


Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest (2009)

Veckatimest is a triumph in every sense of the word. The air of sophistication that defined Grizzly Bear’s previous work heightened by even more intelligent craftsmanship. The album’s creative width is instantly realized on album cuts such as “Southern Point,” a psychedelic folk-jazz fusion that includes bursting acoustic guitars, dense vocal harmonies and sparkling sonics. The most disarming track, “Two Weeks,” is a captivating, dazzling journey and has earned a spot in the zeitgeist as one of the best indie rock songs of the 2000s. The gorgeous, bouncy piano chords, by contrast, are the album’s most instantly gratifying musical motif. The chorus’ lyrics, “Would you always? Maybe sometimes? Make it easy? Take your time,” see-saw between pleading and reassuring.


The visual sounds of Radiohead

A retrospective on the band’s album artwork and music videos

Despite the fact that music is primarily an audio-based platform, visuals have always played an integral role in how the medium is consumed. Album artwork, costumes, logos and music videos are important, even necessary. For an artist to cultivate a public image that defines their style of music, they need to display a particular interest in visual media .

Radiohead, for instance, has placed an emphasis on visual aspects. Always working in tandem with artist Stanley Donwood during the recording process to create striking album artwork, Radiohead backs up its music with similarly strong visual elements.

From the 1995 release of The Bends, lead singer Thom Yorke, under the pseudonym Dr. Tchock, has collaborated with longtime friend Donwood on every aspect of the band’s visuals. According to a 2006 The Guardian interview with Yorke, the friends met while attending the University of Exeter in England. They shared a mutual reverence for experimental art and music. Since then, the pair have collaborated on Radiohead’s iconic album artwork and packaging: from the cold, desolate highways of OK Computer (1997) to the colourful and glitchy energy of In Rainbows (2007) and the aged sliver of the recent A Moon Shaped Pool (2016).

Radiohead’s album art manages to capture the mood and atmosphere set out by the ambitious sounds of their albums, creating visuals that enrich the music. Through their artmaking process, Yorke and Donwood capture the full spirit of the music. According to NME, Donwood even painted album art for A Moon Shaped Pool while the band recorded it in an adjacent room. While listening to the band record, Donwood translated the soundscapes emitting from the recording room into visuals—encapsulating the energy of the music through unique and often strange imagery.

For the cover of A Moon Shaped Pool, Donwood and Yorke utilized weather conditions to create living artwork. Earlier this year, in an interview with Creative Review, Donwood said: “I did some experiments with pools of water and paint and wind on quite a small scale, and it seemed to work in quite an interesting way. So I thought, ‘Well this will be great, I’ll just scale up.’ So I bought a ridiculous number of large canvases and paint, and we all went down to Provence, just south of Avignon, to where [Radiohead] recorded—a place called La Fabrique, which is a really lovely place, an old mill where they used to make the red dye for Napoleon’s uniforms.”

This process created truly bold artwork, reflecting the maturity of the band and the vibrant, organic sound of their album. The pair are never complacent in the way they make art, always challenging themselves with new ideas and styles.

Music videos also have the ability to complement the accompanied music, as they pair the songs with a matching aesthetic. Radiohead’s music videos are sometimes dark and twisted, strange and cryptic, emotional and even funny.

The video for “Just” (1995) revolves around a grieving man, laying on the sidewalk. A passersby asks him, “What’s wrong?” with subtitles denoting their conversations. The video and lyrics combine to make an extended metaphor about the systemic disadvantages often faced by minority communities. The video ends with the man telling the large crowd of people what’s wrong, except that part isn’t subtitled. The band, to this day, has never revealed what the man said.

“Paranoid Android” (1997) is a strange animated video, matching the song’s eerily raucous sound. The video follows a boy’s strange day, which includes naked mermaids, a drunk politician who decapitates himself, a man with a head growing out of his stomach and an angel flying a helicopter. It’s a frantic and chaotic video that perfectly captures the essence of the song— encapsulating the disconcerting feeling of being disoriented.

Recently, Radiohead has released relatively subdued videos. As the band has matured, their creative approach toward music videos has matured as well. The video for “Lotus Flower” (2011) features the wild dance moves of Yorke, shot using a simple black-and-white camera filter. For the “Daydreaming” (2016) video, the band enlisted the help of prolific movie director, Paul Thomas Anderson. The video has Yorke walking through different vignettes of people’s lives, eventually receding into a cave, atop a mountain covered in snow. The video for “Burn the Witch” (2016) is a stop-motion film which retells the story of the 1973 cult-classic film, The Wicker Man—about a policeman who is entrapped into participating in a sacrificial ceremony.

The videos are not simple or lacking complexity. For example, stop-motion animation is very intensive work, which requires each shot to be fully realized on paper before shooting in a proper studio. And while the video for “Daydreaming” may look simple, the variety of locations and the ability to light them correctly for a 35mm camera takes a lot of preparation. Nothing a savvy director like Thomas Anderson can’t handle.

Visuals are never an afterthought for Radiohead; the band works tirelessly to produce art that enriches its music. Video and artwork give fans a shared experience, with fans working together to uncover the hidden meaning behind each minute detail. Music goes beyond just sound—when love and care are put into the visuals, something truly special is created.

Graphic by Zeze Le Lin


The power of music in difficult times

A personal review of Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool

In times of change and fear, listening to music can be a cathartic experience, as it offers an escape from reality. Music can also reflect the moods and events that occurred during its creation. Last year, Radiohead released A Moon Shaped Pool which, for me personally, was the most impactful album of 2016. I repeatedly go back to the album to lament and escape the events that are happening in the world today. The album not only relates to my own anxieties, but captures overall feelings of anxiety, apathy, hope and lost love through lyrics and instrumentation.

Radiohead continues to evolve and change their sound instead of rehashing their past albums such as OK Computer or Kid A. The band’s sound reflects their age and the ways they have evolved. The album opens with the track “Burn the Witch,” a legendary unrecorded song known amongst ardent Radiohead fans. The song consists of violent violin plucking, a drum machine and a bass guitar, which together create a hectic, yet structured sound. Lead singer Thom Yorke sings “This is a low flying panic attack,” evoking anxiety about a metaphorical witch-hunt. “Burn the Witch,” both the song and music video, make an allusion to the 1973 version of the movie, The Wicker Man.   It tells the story of a detective going to investigate a disappearance on an island where they have sacrificial rituals. These rituals make reference to the “burn the witch” chorus, which refers to a “witch-hunt.” The song conveys an unwilling coercion, with its main hooks, “Burn the witch, we know where you live” and “Abandon all reason.” The song’s lyrics and sound, touches on the idea of political movements dividing people into “common people” and “metropolitan elite.”

The emotionally impactful track “Glass Eyes” is beautifully orchestrated, with gentle piano playing. The lyrics paint an image of a depressing grey world, where Yorke sings in a subtly depressing tone: “Hey it’s me I just got off the train, a frightening place, the faces are concrete grey and I’m wondering, should I turn ‘round? Buy another ticket? Panic is coming on strong.” In the song, Yorke sings about wandering off down a mountain path, not caring where he goes, just as long as he escapes this panic attack. I relate to these lyrics personally, as moving to Montreal for university was hard because of all the social anxiety I experienced. Last year, my anxiety flared up—walking down the street brought on a sense of panic, my heart rate would rise and I had to lower my gaze to avoid eye contact. Sometimes, I needed to be alone, to forget about the panic that was brought on by large public spaces. The song captured my anxiety, to the point where I cried on my bed the very first time I heard it. “Glass Eyes” is one of the only songs that has ever made me cry. This track uses a combination of an orchestra and Yorke’s somber, aged voice to illustrate a beautifully depressing image of a panic attack.

In the song “Present Tense,” Yorke describes a scene of a world crumbling around him, as he sings about dancing and clinging on to the things he knows and loves. “Present Tense” has sounds influenced by Latin music, and the song is constantly changing. A choir comes in halfway through the song as the drums kick in, and the vocal melody is constantly evolving, delivering an emotional punch and meditative state of reflection.

As Yorke sings “As my world comes crashing down, I’m dancing, freaking out, deaf, dumb and blind,” I feel he uses dancing as a way to save himself from distress. I love the image of dancing while the world is ending, not having the ability to do anything, content with the fact that the world is coming to an end. The song ends with the loving line, “In you, I’m lost.” “Present Tense” gives a hopeful message of love and catharsis. It reminds me of when I saw Radiohead at Osheaga this past summer. I’ll never forget the sense of community at Osheaga—camping out to see Radiohead for 12 hours at the main stage, dehydrated, with my legs feeling numb. The most memorable moment was when the whole crowd started singing “Phew, for a minute there, I lost myself,” the outro to “Karma Police.” Thom Yorke even extended the song, playing guitar while the crowd continued singing. “True Love Waits” is another mythical, unrecorded song on the album which dates back to the The Bends era (circa 1995).

The song on bootlegs — the unofficial recording that got released, (which only had Yorke playing acoustic guitar) was a hopeful, youthful song about unrequited love. However, more than 20 years later, the song is transformed with a minimalist sound. Yorke’s voice sounds strained and evokes a sense of sadness, accompanied with simple-sounding piano sounds. The sappy lines, like “and true love lives on lollipops and crisps,” seem more like desperate attempts to cling to an innocent time.

Now, Radiohead has transformed an old song’s seemingly outdated and naive lyrics into a truly depressing song. “True Love Waits” is an emotional gut punch, with lines like “I’m not living, I’m just killing time,” and the somber closing line: “Just don’t leave, don’t leave.” This song encapsulates how I feel about the year 2016. It was a shit year for many of us, but I’m glad we have music that reflected the essence of that year in a supporting way.

Radiohead and many other artists came out with albums in 2016 that were fun, exciting and relevant to today—they didn’t ignore the problems we are facing, didn’t just wish for everything to be okay. Instead, they faced them by making incredible music. Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool is not a political album—it never mentions specifics—yet manages to capture the emotions we continue to face, with wicked instrumentation and abstract lyrics.


It’s going to be a musical summer in Montreal

The season of flip flops, short shorts, fedoras and tank tops is upon us. Some of the best things are securely tied to the summer months in Canada, like patios, sangria and sun tans, and so too are some of the best music events in Montreal.
This year’s lineup for Osheaga Music and Arts Festival promises to be Montreal’s biggest music event. The city’s crowning festival glory has secured what has got to be the festival’s dopest musical lineup in recent memory, featuring S-n-double-o-p D-o-double-gee, Florence and the Machine, Sigur Rós, The Black Keys, Justice, Feist, and quite literally tons more. Weekend passes are available starting at $217, with day passes available later in the summer. The three-day-long festival will be rocking Jean-Drapeau Park from Aug. 3 to 5.
Montreal’s most famous musical event, however, has got to be Montreal Jazz Festival. In the 30 years that the festival has been bringing world-renowned musicians to the various festival venues scattered throughout downtown Montreal, it’s rare that the organizers have received a bad review. This year’s festival runs from June 28 to July 7. Performers include James Taylor, Montreal’s own The Barr Brothers, pop music icon Liza Minnelli, ‘90s R&B romantic Seal, Ontario folk project Timber Timbre, blues sweetheart Nora Jones and Roma-style indie rockers Beirut, among others.
If you want to celebrate Cinco de Mayo a few days early, treat yourself to a performance by the ‘80s and ‘90s princes of funky alt-rock: the Red Hot Chili Peppers. After announcing their split following the tail end of their Stadium Arcadium tour in 2007, fans weren’t sure if or when they should expect the L.A. outfit to make their comeback. In August 2011, they finally released their tenth studio album I’m With You and began planning their next tour. Although their tour was postponed due to frontman Anthony Kiedis’ foot surgery, it’ll be worth the wait.
As if that wasn’t enough good music to blow your brains out, Radiohead plans to make a stop at the Bell Centre on June 15 after thoroughly touring the U.S. and before jetting off to Europe for the remainder of their tour dates. Supporting their most recent album, The King of Limbs, it’s the band’s first full release and subsequent tour in four years.
If you long for some real nostalgia, The Beach Boys will be bringing a little slice of retro California sunshine to the Bell Centre on June 20, while Roger Waters will be performing The Wall live at the Bell Centre on June 26. Looking for something with a little more weight? Iron Maiden and Alice Cooper will take the Bell Centre stage on July 11, and don’t forget Vans Warped Tour on July 14, which will feature tons of heavy punk-rockers, including Lostprophets, Yellowcard, Taking Back Sunday, New Found Glory, All Time Low, Anti-Flag and Senses Fail.
No matter what your musical taste, Montreal is where you’ll find great music practically every night this summer. Hundreds of bands, from jazz to rock to pop to country, will be making a stop in this lively summertime metropolis, so keep your ear to the ground for concert announcements and you won’t be disappointed.

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