As though he predicted that MTV News' James Montgomery would bump his band from the top of the "Best Band in the World" list in favor of Arcade Fire, Thom Yorke went ahead and threw the gauntlet down by unveiling a brand new Radiohead song during a solo gig at the Big Chill Festival in Eastnor, England last week. Yorke spent most of his time at the piano, playing a mix of Radiohead tunes and other entries from his 2006 solo album The Eraser, but he stepped away and picked up an acoustic guitar for a song called "Give Up the Ghost." The song had appeared in Yorke solo sets in the past, but it had never been identified as a full-on Radiohead song until the Big Chill performance.
The song is fantastically moody, haunting and catchy — exactly what a Radiohead song is supposed to be. But perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Yorke's performance of the tune is the way he pulls it off. He begins by pounding on the microphone with his hand and then looping it to create a beat for himself. Then he sings a bit of melody into the same microphone and loops that. In a matter of seconds, he has an excellently low-fi electronic backing track for himself. From there, he plays guitar and breaks into the main part of the song. Like everything Yorke does, it's simultaneously understated and completely remarkable.
Radiohead have been at work on a new album for most of the year, and "Give Up the Ghost" represents the first new bit of material the world has heard since the one-two punch of "Harry Patch (In Memory Of)" and "These Are My Twisted Words."
What do you think of the new Radiohead song? Let us know in the comments!