Listen to a Great New Single from Thom Yorke's Supergroup

Slate's Culture Blog
Sept. 7 2012 11:26 AM

Hear a New Single from Thom Yorke’s Supergroup

Thom Yorke with Atoms for Peace
Thom Yorke, Nigel Godrich, Joey Waronker, and Flea perform in Los Angeles in 2009.

Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images

Thom Yorke has a new band, but on album they still sound like Thom Yorke. Or maybe just a little funkier than that. After Yorke released his debut solo album The Eraser in 2006, Yorke formed a supergroup to realize the songs on stage in 2009 and 2010. He brought together perennial Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, bassist Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and a couple scene stalwarts (drummer Joey Waronker and percussionist Mauro Refosco) to further fill out the rhythm section.

It’s that rhythm section that attracted raves on tour, but at first you might not recognize it on the band’s proper debut single, “Default.” Instead, the sound is straight out of The Eraser, with a twitchy Thom Yorke beat and a soaring, largely unintelligible vocal.

That said, “Default” is funkier than anything on The Eraser. Even if it sounds roughly like the kinds of tracks Yorke has assembled on his laptop while on tour with Radiohead—you won’t hear Flea slapping his bass—the band’s influence can perhaps be found in the added influence on the rhythms. If you listen really carefully, you’ll hear some less conventional rock percussion—including what sounds sort of like a guiro—that may come from Brazilian percussionist Refosco, but otherwise it's difficult to single out anyone beyond longtime collaborators Yorke and Godrich.

The track was released on iTunes yesterday, but only surfaced on YouTube after Yorke took to Radiohead’s website to announce that they’ll be making a new album. Over the course of the YouTube video, a series of mysterious squares are slowly stitched together. What do they reveal in the end? Artwork almost identical to The Eraser’s. We may be back to 2006, but it sounds as fresh as ever.

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer. 

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