The Lonely Minotaur

Music & Concert Reviews

EOB’s Earth: A Track-By-Track Review — April 17, 2020

EOB’s Earth: A Track-By-Track Review

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.

Shangri-La 

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. 

Brasil

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.   

Deep Days

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. 

Mass

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. 

Banksters

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. 

Sail On

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.

Olympik 

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. 

Wading Through Radiohead’s Public Library — March 11, 2020

Wading Through Radiohead’s Public Library

The start of January brought Radiohead fans a tremendous late holiday surprise, an extensive online resource containing videos, music, artwork, websites, full concerts, playlists, old merchandise, webcasts and other assorted ephemera. The band has named it the “Radiohead Public Library” (https://www.radiohead.com/library/) and you can even create your very own printable library card if you fancy it. No longer do you have to hunt down old videos on YouTube or buy rare items on eBay. The Radiohead Public Library is now the go to destination for all your Radiohead needs. The collection naturally begins in 1993 with debut album Pablo Honey and travels all the way up to 2016’s magnificent LP A Moon Shaped Pool. Everything in between is an odyssey like voyage with countless jumping off points to get lost in for hours upon hours. Not everyone has the time to explore everything the band has just gifted us. That could take weeks, maybe even months to properly unpack. If you are looking for some of the very best bits from this massive archive, I’ve constructed a list of library highlights. Sadly there is no MTV Beach House from 1993. I suspect this list will need to be updated as time passes and future discoveries are made. The band themselves have even added to the library two different times since its launch. I suspect this will remain the case, especially with the looming announcement of a 20th Anniversary boxset for Kid A this coming October. That day can’t come soon enough. The Kid A section is surprisingly………….skimpy. Wink wink. A treasure trove awaits folks.

Live at the Astoria
27 May 1994

https://www.radiohead.com/library/#bends/1994-05-27-live-at-the-astoria

A setlist featuring many throwback cuts that have been missing in action for decades at this point: “Bones”, “Ripcord”, “Blackstar”, “Maquiladora”, “Vegetable” and “Pop Is Dead”. The evening ends with a killer version of “Blow Out” with an absolute guitar shredding hurricane of fury by Thom, Jonny and Ed. A real highlight.

MTV’s Most Wanted
05 October 1994

https://www.radiohead.com/library/#ph/1994-10-05-mtv-s-most-wanted

Thom and Jonny performed stripped back versions of Pablo Honey’s “You” and the newly written “My Iron Lung” which would later appear on The Bends in 1995.

MTV’s Most Wanted
18 August 1995
Radiohead cover Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does It Better” which was the James Bond theme from the 1977 film The Spy Who Loved Me. Thom once proclaimed the Bond theme to be “Sexiest song that was ever written”. Also performed on the night was “Just”.
W.A.S.T.E. Newsletters Volumes 1-16

https://www.radiohead.com/library/#bends

A collection of hilarious band newsletters between 1993 and early 1997 with interesting antidotes from the road including a trip to Thailand’s red light district, Jonny DJing on Mexican FM radio, Ed and Colin appearing on KROQ’s radio show Lovelines, learning that Thom’s favorite film is My Cousin Vinny, Phil’s sugar addiction and music they were consuming while on tour: R.E.M., Black Grape, Tricky, Ennio Morricone, Beck and Teenage Fanclub.

Tibetan Freedom Concert

Radiohead take to the stage to play an 8 song setlist that would feature R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe joining the band to perform lead vocals during “Lucky”. It is also pretty clear the band were really into parachute pants during the summer of 1998. Strange days indeed.
Amateur Night II
One of Radiohead’s earliest innovative webcast streams. This one taking place during the recording of the band’s upcoming album Kid A. The real treat of this web show was an early demo of “There There” which features different lyrics from the version found on Hail To The Thief and rocks much much harder at almost 7 minutes in length. Hopefully more stuff like this appears on the pending Kid A boxset due out this October.
Radiohead would initially promote their newest album Kid A by performing a series of concerts with a carnival like atmosphere housed in a traveling Big Top tent complete with Victorian era ticketing. A very cool and unique idea. I also wish Radiohead would resurrect “Motion Picture Soundtrack” for future tours.
EMI & CANAL + present Kid A : Amnesiac In Paris
28 April 2001
A mashup TV appearance of tracks from both Kid A and Amnesiac. The night would conclude with a thrashing cover of Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl”. Definitely a performance worth checking out. Despite taking a deep plunge into electronic music Radiohead still prove they are the mightiest guitar band in all the land when they want to be.
Later Presents… Radiohead
The calling card for this Jools Holland appearance is New Orleans jazz funeral tune “Life In A Glasshouse” which to my knowledge is the only time the band performed the track in a live setting. Radiohead are even backed by the Humphrey Lyttelton Band who performed the track on Amnesiac.
The Gorge, Washington
About 35 minutes into this Kid A/Amnesiac tour stop in the state of Washington fans are treated to a new unreleased song called “Feeling Pulled Apart By Horses”. This would later be known as the first incarnation of future In Rainbows track “Reckoner”.
Beacon Theatre, NYC
05 June 2003
Part of the now defunct MTV $2 Bill Concert Series, Radiohead would take to the stage to preview material from their new album Hail To The Thief. Best of the bunch would be the acoustic rendition of “True Love Waits” to end the show. It would still be another 13 years before an official studio version was released. I think I love every single version of this song.
A legendary concert performance at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee.  I think this gig still holds the title for longest ever Radiohead concert at nearly 2 and a half hours and 28 songs. Radiohead spent most of that early summer road testing new material across North America that would eventually materialize on their 7th LP In Rainbows in October 2007. The band would play 6 unreleased songs on the night: “15 Step”, “Weird Fishes”, “Videotape”, “Nude”, “Bodysnatchers” and “House of Cards”. For my money the best ever version of “Videotape” (35 min mark) was performed at this show. The band would later strip back the tune to its most basic elements but prior to that it was a proper rock-rave up. Hopefully a future anniversary edition of In Rainbows will gift us a studio version of this incarnation of “Videotape”.
Another famous Radiohead webcast. The best part of this evening’s broadcast were the three awesome cover songs. The first being The Smiths’ “The Headmaster Ritual”, the second New Order’s “Ceremony” and lastly Bjork’s “Unravel”. Also played were “Bodysnatchers”, “Faust Arp”, “Reckoner” and “I Might Be Wrong”.
Radiohead would delight 200 fans at a small intimate club show that saw the band play their new album In Rainbows from top to bottom plus an encore of old faithfuls and a solo acoustic version of “Up On A Ladder”. This might be the smallest show the band has performed in over 20 years. Wish they would do more of this type of stuff. Granted scoring tickets would be next to impossible.
Possibly my favorite track from In Rainbows. This performance of “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi” is outstanding. Not just from the band who is on point the entire time but also the way the director cut his cameras to show all the best aspects of the band at the right moments.
Radiohead did very little promotion for their 8th album The King of Limbs in 2011. Just a handful of stops ranging from Glastonbury, Saturday Night Live, Roseland Ballroom and The Colbert Report. This performance is an extended set from what was seen on the main broadcast that night (“Morning Mr. Magpie”). The band would also play “The Daily Mail”, “Bloom”, “Little By Little” and “The National Anthem”. As the From The Basement session from December 2011 would also prove, the material found on The King of Limbs really transcends to another level of excellence when performed live compared to the final studio versions.
This is the closest Radiohead came to giving the fans a From The Basement type release from A Moon Shaped Pool. It would be just Thom, Jonny and a drum machine sitting around a campfire in the Hollywood Hills while being directed by filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson. I kind of wish they did a third tune for this series with Paul Thomas Anderson like a “Desert Island Disk” or even “True Love Waits”. There are so many beautiful tracks off A Moon Shaped Pool. I want to see them all shine in different presentations.
Ed O’Brien Soars in New York City Debut — February 11, 2020

Ed O’Brien Soars in New York City Debut

Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien took to the stage Monday night in New York City for just the 3rd time as a solo artist at the sold out Le Poisson Rouge. Last week Ed officially announced his upcoming debut album Earth which is due out on April 17th and has already been supported by the singles “Shangri-La” and the folky rave up banger “Brasil”. The album was inspired by Ed moving to Brazil with his family for most of 2012-2013 and forming a spiritual connection with nature. Outside of that not much is known on how Earth will sound overall. It was previously announced that Earth is co-produced by the legendary Flood and Catherine Marks, mixed by Alan Moulder and featuring a bevy of supporting musicians: Omar Hakim, Nathan East, Dave Okumu, Laura Marling, Adrian Utley, Glenn Kotche and Radiohead bandmate Colin Greenwood. For many in the crowd our first taste of solo Ed was about to begin. 

O’Brien is using the moniker EOB for his upcoming solo ventures and touring act which will see Hinako Omori on keyboards, Ross Chapman on rhythm guitar, Dishan Abrahams handling the bass and Alvin Ford, Jr. on the sticks. It’s a much smaller operation compared to his other day job in Radiohead but do not let that fool you. EOB pack one mighty punch! Ed was in tremendous spirits all evening and thanked the crowd profusely for coming out in a rainy Monday in the city. He seemed generally touched by all the positive outpour the fans were giving his music and told a wonderful story about a woman he had met at Whole Foods earlier in the day that instilled a huge confidence boost inside him.

The show opened with a brief instrumental called “Love Story” before EOB launched into new Achtung Baby inspired single “Shangri-La” which promptly fired up all those in attendance. From there the band worked their way through another new song called “Banksters” that carried a strong A Rush of Blood To The Head vibe. Specifically “God Put A Smile Upon Your Face”. Ed recently told TheFace.com that “Banksters” is one of the oldest songs he had written and dates back from 2009. Next came a tune named “Mass” which was a slower acoustic based number that to my ears sounded like early 00s Sigur Ros. Very euphoric with a cinematic atmosphere.

As a result of only having one future album featuring 45 minutes of music, Ed let everyone know that some covers and extended jamming would be taking place. First up was a cover of a Krautrock song called “On My Own” by Ulrich Schnauss. It was an excellent choice that slid in well within the context of EOB’s playing style and the music drawn from the upcoming Earth album. This was followed by another new song “Sail On” that floated in a spacey manner with echoes of 80s Pink Floyd. A no doubt highlight of the setlist was the 8 minute sprawling rave up “Brasil”. It begins with Ed singing gently over acoustic guitar plucking before evolving into a world class banger that incorporated all the best aspects of his band. I can’t help but be reminded of Daft Punk and Random Access Memories on this tune. A proper way to close out the main set of the night.

Just when you thought EOB can not possibly top the heights heard on “Brasil”, Ed and company throw down the gauntlet with another chugging anthem called “Olympik”. It was a tremendous start to the encore and most likely one of the best songs from Earth. The guitar work reminded me of U2’s Edge and the overall tune bounced around like a modern day “A Sort of Homecoming” from The Unforgettable Fire. A good thing in my book! The night would come to an end with a surprising cover of Labi Siffre’s “I Got The” which is most famous for being sampled by Eminem in the mega smash hit “My Name Is” from 1999. Naturally EOB crushed the Siffre cover and the crowd reacted strongly to the funky breakdowns of “I Got The”.

Before departing the stage Ed promised he would return to the city in the summer with heavy touring all over the globe for 2020. Things are only starting to heat up for EOB and we are the ones who are going to benefit from it. Anyone in the audience tonight was treated to a wonderful performance from a man who is opening his heart and tender soul for the first time. I am anxiously counting down the days until April 17th when debut LP Earth will be released.

Pre-order Earth here.

https://www.eobmusic.com

Main

Love Story (Layo and Bushwacka cover)

Shangri-La

Banksters

Mass

Long Time Coming

Deep Days

On My Own (Ulrich Schnauss cover)

Sail On

Brasil

Encore

Olympik

I Got The (Labi Siffre cover)