Earth (EOB album)

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Earth
Colored triangles with EOB and Earth in opposite bottom corners
Studio album by
Released17 April 2020 (2020-04-17)
GenreAlternative rock
Length46:00
LabelCapitol
ProducerFlood, Catherine Marks
Singles from Earth
  1. "Brasil"
    Released: 5 December 2019
  2. "Shangri-La"
    Released: 6 February 2020
  3. "Olympik"
    Released: 2 April 2020
  4. "Cloak of the Night"
    Released: 9 April 2020

Earth is the debut solo album by English musician Ed O'Brien, released under the name EOB. It was released by Capitol Records on 17 April 2020. O'Brien is best known as one of the guitarists of alternative rock band Radiohead. The album was produced by Flood and Catherine Marks and features musicians including drummer Omar Hakim, Invisible members Nathan East and Dave Okumu, folk singer Laura Marling, Portishead guitarist Adrian Utley, Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche and Radiohead bassist Colin Greenwood. It received mostly favourable reviews.

Writing and recording[edit]

O'Brien had been writing music for years, especially around the time of Radiohead's 1997 album OK Computer, but had never written lyrics. He said: "I was a bit like a dog at the Battersea dog’s home – I had no self-confidence, I was slightly beaten up."[1] O'Brien wrote "Banksters" in 2009 in response to the 2007–2008 financial crisis.[1]

In 2012, O'Brien and his family moved to Brazil, living for a year on a farm near Ubatuba. There, O'Brien planned to create electronic music using Ableton Live, inspired by dubstep and electronic musician Burial, but found it "didn't resonate with me in Brazil". Instead, he was inspired by the Primal Scream album Screamadelica (1991): "I put [it] on for the first time in years and I had a fucking eureka moment ... It was rave, and it was connectedness, it was hope, it was powerful."[1] He described attending Carnival as another "eureka moment",[2] and said the album was inspired by "the spirit and being in Brazil ... open-heartedness, rhythm, colour".[1]

O'Brien considered taking the songs to Radiohead, but felt they had a "distinct energy" that would be lost if it became a "hybrid product".[3] He initially planned to have someone else sing, and considered asking his Radiohead bandmate Thom Yorke.[1] He decided to sing himself after he was pleased with his demo recordings, made with producer Ian Davenport in 2014.[3] Recording with Flood began in late 2017 and ended in early 2019,[1] in the Cambrian Mountains in Wales and Flood's Assault & Battery studios in London.[1]

O'Brien wanted to call the album Pale Blue Dot, in reference to the space photograph, but was prevented by copyright problems. He chose Earth as it was "direct" and he did not want anything ironic, obtuse or mysterious.[1]

O'Brien said he initially worried what his bandmates would think of the album, but decided: "Fuck that, I have to just be myself ... Of course you want the approval of your bandmates but it’s not the be-all and end-all. This is my own thing. It’s different to Radiohead."[4]

Promotion and release[edit]

In late 2019, O'Brien launched social media accounts to promote the album. On October 4, he released his first solo work, the ambient track "Santa Teresa."[5]

The first single from the album, "Brasil", was released on 5 December 2019, with a video directed by Andrew Donoho. The video shows humanity's response to an alien force that brings about greater community and understanding.[6] Donoho said, "Ed and I both shared a love of space and the abstract concepts surrounding time, so I started building a narrative around transcending the physical barriers of our bodies and the temporal barriers of linear experience."[7] The single was released on a limited 12" vinyl.[8] On 6 February 2020, O'Brien announced the album's title, release date, and track list, and released the second single, "Shangri-La".[9] The third single, "Olympik", was released on 2 April.[10] "Cloak of the Night", a duet with Laura Marling, was released on 9 April 2020.[11]

O'Brien began a tour in February 2020, debuting songs in Toronto, Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles.[12] A more expansive tour, with performances at larger venues and music festivals worldwide, is planned for mid-2020.[13] While promoting the album in interviews, O'Brien fell ill; in late March, he said he was recovering from a suspected COVID-19 infection.[14]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
AnyDecentMusic?6.8/10[24]
Metacritic70/100[17]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic3/5 stars[15]
Clash8/10[16]
Exclaim!8/10[18]
musicOMH4/5 stars[19]
NME4/5 stars[20]
The Observer2/5 stars[21]
Pitchfork5.7/10[22]
Rolling Stone3.5/5 stars[23]

Earth received generally positive reviews from music critics. On the review aggregate website Metacritic, Earth received a score of 70 out of 100, based on 14 reviews, indicating "generally favourable reviews".[17] Aggregator AnyDecentMusic? gave it 6.8 out of 10, based on their assessment of the critical consensus.[24]

Writing for Clash, Sophie Walker gave the album a positive review, writing that it was "a reassuring anchor in these chaotic times [...] The on-edge instrumentation has distinct echoes of his [O'Brien's] Radiohead days, proving that unlike many bandmates that split from their main gig, O'Brien is in no rush to shake off their signature, and instead brings it forward into his own work: always evolving, always maturing."[16] MusicOMH critic John Murphy particularly praised O'Brien's vocals, and wrote: "Throughout the album, O'Brien's voice is surprisingly strong and varied – on 'Shangri-La' it switches between a falsetto and his more usual lower range, while he duets beautifully with none other than Laura Marling on the closing 'Cloak Of The Night'. While he may not be as distinctive as Thom Yorke (and let's face it, few are), it's good to hear him take a more prominent role than his usual backing vocals." Murphy wrote that the album was "well worth the wait".[19]

NME reviewer Andrew Trendell praised "Brasil", saying that it "captures the full and kaleidoscopic range of this record; it's one-part tender folk lament and one-part dancefloor banger". Trendell ended his review by saying that "O'Brien's personality shines through, and it's a pleasure to get to know him. It's tempting to conclude he's Radiohead's secret weapon." Writing for Rolling Stone, Angie Martoccio called Earth an "exceptional solo debut"; he praised O'Brien's vocals and considered "Cloak of the Night" the album's "gut-wrenching highlight".[23] Dylan Barnabe of Exclaim! wrote that Earth was "an impressive solo debut from O'Brien" and "one of this year's more fully-formed albums", with "swaths of texture and sonic landscapes that unfold amid layered synth, soaring guitars, rattling percussion and O'Brien's unwavering vocals".[18]

Martin Toussaint from DIY gave the album a lukewarm review, saying it "might provide moments of hope and compassion across its runtime, but for the majority it feels too indirect and underplayed".[25] Emily Mackay of The Observer said that "for all its ambition, [Earth] will mainly be of interest to Radiohead completists".[21] Timothy Monger of AllMusic wrote the following: "Finally seeing the light of day in early 2020, Earth often recalls the late '90s, when the aftermath of Brit-pop and the burgeoning electronica scene collided with rave, folk, and other disparate elements. At times it almost feels like an alternate-history tendril of pre-Kid A Radiohead that kept its groove going into the coming decades. While those layered textures, pulsing beats, and unfolding guitar loops are fine, it's EOB as a reflective acoustic singer/songwriter that provides Earth's most authentic moments".[15]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Ed O'Brien.

Earth track listing
No.TitleLength
1."Shangri-La"5:47
2."Brasil"8:27
3."Deep Days"5:00
4."Long Time Coming"2:50
5."Mass"4:10
6."Banksters"5:08
7."Sail On"3:27
8."Olympik"8:38
9."Cloak of the Night"2:33
Total length:46:00

Personnel[edit]

Additional musicians[edit]

Charts[edit]

Sales chart performance for Earth
Chart (2020) Peak
position
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[26] 94
UK Albums (OCC)[27] 13

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Radiohead guitarist Ed O'Brien steps up". The Face. Retrieved 2020-02-14.
  2. ^ "Radiohead's Ed O'Brien to release debut solo album in 2020, new single "Brasil" coming this week". Consequence of Sound. 2019-12-02. Retrieved 2020-02-14.
  3. ^ a b SUN, Toronto; Entertainment; Music; Email, Share Radiohead's Ed O'Brien finds own voice on 'Earth': 'Something was missing' Tumblr Pinterest Google Plus Reddit LinkedIn; Tumblr; Pinterest; Plus, Google; Reddit; LinkedIn (2020-04-17). "Radiohead's Ed O'Brien on going solo: 'Something was missing' | Toronto Sun". Retrieved 2020-04-18.
  4. ^ Music-News.com (2020-04-18). "Ed O'Brien Says Radiohead 2021 Plans Now In Doubt". Noise11.com. Retrieved 2020-04-25.
  5. ^ "Radiohead's Ed O'Brien Debuts First Solo Music: Listen". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2020-02-15.
  6. ^ Greene, Andy (2019-12-05). "Radiohead Guitarist Ed O'Brien Unveils Trippy Video For 'Brasil'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2020-02-14.
  7. ^ "EOB (Ed O'Brien) - "Brasil" Video". Stereogum. 2019-12-05. Retrieved 2020-02-14.
  8. ^ "Radiohead's Ed O'Brien premieres nine-minute solo song "Brasil": Stream". Consequence of Sound. 2019-12-05. Retrieved 2020-02-15.
  9. ^ "Radiohead Guitarist Ed O'Brien Announces First Solo Album, Shares New Song". NPR.org. Retrieved 2020-02-14.
  10. ^ DeVille, Chris (2020-04-02). "EOB - "Olympik"". Stereogum. Retrieved 2020-04-02.
  11. ^ Corcoran, Nina (2020-04-09). "Radiohead's Ed O'Brien Duets with Laura Marling on New Song "Cloak of the Night"". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  12. ^ "Radiohead's Ed O'Brien announces first-ever solo tour dates". Consequence of Sound. 2019-12-09. Retrieved 2020-03-25.
  13. ^ "Radiohead's Ed O'Brien announces first-ever solo tour dates". Consequence of Sound. 2019-12-09. Retrieved 2020-02-14.
  14. ^ "Ed O'Brien Of Radiohead Suspects He Has Coronavirus: 'But I'm Getting Over It'". Uproxx. 2020-03-23. Retrieved 2020-03-25.
  15. ^ a b Monger, Timothy (23 April 2020). "Earth - EOB". AllMusic. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
  16. ^ a b Walker, Sophie (16 April 2020). "EOB - Earth". Clash. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  17. ^ a b "Earth by EOB". Metacritic. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
  18. ^ a b Barnabe, Dylan (20 April 2020). "Radiohead's EOB Finds Solo Success on Richly Textured 'Earth'". Exclaim!. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  19. ^ a b Murphy, John (17 April 2020). "EOB - Earth". musicOMH. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  20. ^ Trendell, Andrew (15 April 2020). "EOB – 'Earth' review: Radiohead guitarist Ed O'Brien proves himself the band's secret weapon". NME. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  21. ^ a b Mackay, Emily (19 April 2020). "EOB: Earth review – Radiohead's Ed O'Brien goes eclectic". The Observer. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  22. ^ Berman, Stuart (21 April 2020). "EOB Earth". Pitchfork. Retrieved 21 April 2020.
  23. ^ a b Martoccio, Angie (17 April 2020). "Radiohead's Ed O'Brien Finds His Own Voice on 'Earth'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  24. ^ a b "EOB Earth". AnyDecentMusic. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
  25. ^ Toussaint, Martin (16 April 2020). "EOB - Earth". DIY. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  26. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – EOB – Earth" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
  27. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 24 April 2020.