Well it took roughly a decade but Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien (under the moniker EOB) has finally released his debut solo album Earth. The journey of Earth first began in the fall of 2012 after Radiohead finished their King of Limbs world tour. Ed decided to pack up the wife and kids to live in the Brazilian countryside (on the edge of a rainforest) for several months that would stretched into the start of 2013. While in Brazil, Ed decided to do a hard disconnect, focusing solely on “family, food and music”. In those months Ed was deeply touched by nature, Primal Scream’s Screamadelica and Carnival. The roots of Earth might have been planted in Brazil but it would take several more years of careful nurturing between a Radiohead album release (A Moon Shaped Pool) and two world tours to finally bring the project to a happy conclusion. Ed linked up with legendary producer Flood (Mark Ellis) in 2017, long with producers Catherine Marks and Alan Moulder, who all helped O’Brien hone in on the sounds he had envisioned in his head; an existential dance record.
Earth almost feels like a NBA “Dream Team” when you look at the roster of musicians Ed collected for the LP. Joining Ed under the EOB banner are drummer Omar Hakim of recent Daft Punk fame, Invisible members Nathan East and Dave Okumu, folk singer Laura Marling, Portishead guitarist Adrian Utley, Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche and Radiohead’s very own Colin Greenwood laying down some initial bass work on the track “Brasil”. Ed should be very proud of the end results for Earth. Nothing in the Radiohead realm which includes Thom, Jonny, Phil, Colin or Nigel is this direct, open and honest. Ed has called Earth “a record from the heart, not of the head” and that is exactly what he accomplishes over the album’s 46 minutes. Speaking recently to KEXP’s Kevin Cole, Ed said that Earth is part one of a trilogy of albums he is already plotting with producer Flood. We will now all wait with bated breath after a stellar debut.
The second single from Earth. Inspired by late night gallivanting at Glastonbury in 2014. Easily the most direct and poppy song from anyone associated with Radiohead in decades. You can hear the influence of U2 guitarist The Edge all over this one. A standout track from Earth.
Ed ushered in the Earth promotional campaign with this 8 minute folktronica banger back in December 2019. I think we were all properly excited about what lay ahead after hearing this bad boy rave up. Colin Greenwood even pitches in with some pulsating bass work on the back end. Ed said that this tune is the heart and soul of Earth. One of the show highlights when I saw EOB in New York City in early February. I can feel the existential dance party going round and round.
A funky soul song with phenomenal percussion work and a danceable groove. A seductive love song. “Where you go, I will go, Where you stay, I will stay, Where you sleep, I will sleep, And when you rise, I will rise.”
Long Time Coming
Strong Led Zeppelin III vibes flowing throughout this beautiful acoustic ballad. Safe to assume this was definitely written in the Cambrian Mountains in Wales.
The atmosphere and production created on this spacey slow burner reminds me of the album Ágætis byrjun by Sigur Ros. I believe this song was inspired by Ed’s friendship with American astronaut Mike Massimino and his experience of looking down at Earth from outer space. Very euphoric and cinematic.
The very first song Ed wrote for his future solo album Earth way back in 2009! Influenced lyrically by the global financial crisis of 2007-2008 and by being taken advantage of by a close friend. As many have pointed out after seeing Ed’s North American promotional tour in February, this track shares a lot of DNA with Coldplay’s “God Put A Smile Upon Your Face”. Very similar acoustic chord progressions and overall bounce. I for one dig the darker samba tones.
A heartfelt tribute to a cousin who recently passed away while Earth was being created. A song about passing into the afterworld or whatever lies beyond. Reminds me of latter day Pink Floyd. The most sparse song on the record.
An absolute banger. Both on the album and in person. If you told me this song was leftover from U2’s Achtung Baby sessions in Hansa Studio I’d believe you. In fact it sounds like a Kaleidoscope of sounds that U2 excelled at in the 90s. Think “Discotheque” meets “Lady With The Spinning Head” divided by the song “Zooropa”. Tremendous stuff overall. Ed has said this is his favorite song on Earth and likened it to “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi” from Radiohead’s In Rainbows.
Cloak of The Night
A fantastic folk duet with singer/songwriter Laura Marling. It’s so good and has all the right feelings that you could picture it being on The Beatles’ White Album. A perfect way to conclude Ed’s debut album.