Bad Computer

Yesterday, Stereogum set the blogosphere and Radiohead fan base abuzz with OKX: A Tribute to OK Computer, a humble attempt by musicians such as Mobius Band, Cold War Kids and Marissa Nadler to pay homage to a seminal ten-year-old album (this generation’s Dark Side of the Moon, according to some people). It’s a free download - no leaking or desperate pleas with OiNK members necessary - and a bold leap from bloggers as self-appointed musical commentators, to self-appointed musical producers, one that makes us if blog-run record labels are the next logical stop, and this is Stereogum’s way of sneaking in the back door. And they aren’t the only ones - there’s speculation that iTunes may have similar ambitions. How long before the role of blogger, music retailer, and record label congeal into one all-powerful force?

This is all speculative, of course - OKX is not dynamic enough to be the catalyst in terms of blog-label unity, though it's already attracting attention with both it’s roster of buzz bands, both up-and-coming and already past, and choice of musical material. As an AP writer Mark Kennedy put it in his recent review of Mark Ronson’s latest album, which includes a funked-up version of "Just," "It takes a certain audacity to cover a Radiohead song." If that's true, audacity abounds in the modern music world, because everyone’s covered a Radiohead song at some point - ask Wikipedia. And most of the covers - OKX included - make you want to do the same thing: listen to the real Radiohead, not some crappy cover version.  Still, Radiohead’s stoned melancholy and labyrinthine musical arrangements continually invite imitation - we’ve seen everything from nightmare-inducing Radiohead lullabies to bad electronica - and only in certain cases do the covers succeed im making us not want to throw something - Radiohead reggae, for example, is a lot better than it sounds.  OKX lacks any dreadlocked contributors - instead, the women are in control. Marissa Nadler and My Brightest Diamond provide the most worthwhile tracks on the album. "No Surprises" retains it’s comfortable creepiness set in a sparse folk frame, controlled by Nadler’s breathy over-dubbed vocals, while My Brightest Diamond’s quivering alto gives "Lucky" a new sense of gravity. Still, the OKX women are nowhere near the same realm as Gillian Welch’s unspeakably awesome cover of “Black Star” (which has been circulating the internet for the past few years), the only Radiohead cover that hasn’t made us immediately want to rush to the original. 

DOWNLOAD: Mobius Band, "Subterranean Homesick Alien" (mp3)
DOWNLOAD: Marissa Nadler, "No Surprises" (mp3)
DOWNLOAD: My Brightest Diamond, "Lucky" (mp3)

--Caitlin E. Curran

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