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A Light for Attracting Attention

The Smile A Light for Attracting Attention

Best New Music

By Ryan Dombal

May 12, 2022

When Thom Yorke introduced his new band at their first gig a year ago, he took a moment to explain their name. “Not the Smile as in ha ha ha ,” he said, his faux laugh echoing eerily, “more the Smile of the guy who lies to you every day.” Of course, no one figured that the most uncannily accurate doomsayer of the modern age was taking a sharp left to clown town with his latest project, but the Smile are not just aimed at shifty politicians, either. Their pearly grins are myriad, taking inspiration from smiles of love and deceit, bloody smiles and blissful ones, smiles that mend and smiles that destroy. At 53, Yorke has seen them all. And once again, he’s battling the absurdity of existence the only way he knows how: by offering a salve for his anxieties without letting anyone off the hook for turning everything we hold dear into one big joke.

This bid for transcendence amid chaos isn’t the only thing that’s familiar about the Smile. The trio also includes Yorke’s main songwriting partner in Radiohead , Jonny Greenwood , along with drummer Tom Skinner, whose eclectic resume includes work with jazz-funk explorers Sons of Kemet , electronic fusionist Floating Points , and UK rapper Kano . It’s the first time Yorke and Greenwood have collaborated on a major project outside of their main gig, and, not coincidentally, A Light for Attracting Attention sounds more like a proper Radiohead album than any of the numerous side projects the band’s members have done on their own .

We’ve got Greenwood’s lattice-like fingerpicking and saintly electric guitar tone. There’s Yorke’s voice, still in pristine form, wailing like an angel in limbo and gnashing like a punk who woke up on the wrong side of the gutter. There are synths and Greenwood’s sidelong orchestral flourishes signaling end times. Longtime producer Nigel Godrich is in the control room, giving each sound an immense and terrifying and beautiful glow. How about some wonky rhythms that keep your mind from slipping into passive mode? Yep, lots of those too. All due respect to the guys from Radiohead who are not in the Smile, but if A Light for Attracting Attention were presented as the triumphant follow-up to the group’s last album, 2016’s A Moon Shaped Pool , I’d bet that most people would have happily been fooled.

Then again, considering Radiohead’s infamous aversion to repeating themselves—a tendency that has at times brought them to the brink of self-destruction —perhaps it makes a strange kind of sense that this very Radiohead-y album isn’t an actual Radiohead album. It might be too obvious, too expected. So after recently retracing their own past with deluxe reissues , Yorke and Greenwood’s version of ripping it up and starting again takes the form of a new band plumbing humanity’s depths in a way that anyone who’s followed their old band over the last 30 years could appreciate.

The Smile spotlights the creative relationship between Yorke and Greenwood like never before. The two first met in adolescence, while attending Oxford’s Abingdon School in the 1980s: As Greenwood has told it , he was playing in the school’s drum room when Yorke, three years his senior, pushed him aside and told him to try a nearby upright bass instead. There was one problem—Greenwood had no idea how to play bass. Yorke, undeterred, said, “It’ll be fine, just attack it.” Since then, Greenwood has not only attacked but mastered many instruments in his role as Radiohead’s resident avant-garde musical guru, while also becoming one of the most progressive film score composers of his generation. Yorke still prefers a more intuitive approach. (“Jonny is absolutely adamant that I should not learn to read music,” Yorke once said . “He wants me to be the idiot savant.”) The duo’s left brain-right brain dynamic has proven to be one of the most adventurous in rock history.

A Light for Attracting Attention starts with a duet of sorts between Yorke and Greenwood called “The Same.” It’s the only song on the album that doesn’t feature any other players—no drums, no strings, no horns. On the track, Yorke offers a plea for human connection. “We are all the same, please ,” he sings, emphasizing the last word like a man facing the barrel of a gun. On paper, you could imagine Chris Martin singing a line like that, but this is no hokey Coldplay anthem. “The Same” begins with a spare synthesizer throb vaguely reminiscent of Kid A opener “ Everything in Its Right Place ” that serves as the song’s heartbeat. But as it goes on, more and more sounds slowly surround that pulse, like so many nattering voices sowing discord. A repetitive piano figure bobs up and down. The modular tones begin to swarm and then fray at the edges. The effect is disorienting, almost frightening. Even if we are the same, the song seems to suggest, the static we drift through every day is working overtime to keep us apart.

From there, the album alternately combats the horrors of modern life with roiling anger and Zen-like serenity. It churns through an all-too-common cycle: see red, get fed up, take a few very deep breaths, do it all over again. A Light for Attracting Attention ’s stiffest middle finger comes with “You Will Never Work in Television Again,” the most raucous Radiohead-related track since Hail to the Thief ’s “ 2 + 2 = 5 ” nearly two decades ago. Armed with three distorted chords that could have filled CBGB in 1977, Yorke puts on his best sneer while standing up to a “gangster troll” who’s lording his power over an aspiring young woman. Given its explicit reference to former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s “bunga bunga” sex parties, this chivalrous salvo for the #MeToo era could very well be aimed at that disgraced politician, who was once convicted of soliciting sex from a minor. Or maybe Yorke was thinking of Harvey Weinstein when he wrote of a “sad fuck” with “piggy limbs.” The fact is this song could reasonably be directed at so many different terrible men. As Yorke growls out lines like, “Take your dirty hands off my love/Heaven knows where else you’ve been,” you can practically see the spittle leave his lips.

Also likely on the Smile’s shit list: the 45th president of the United States. “A Hairdryer”—with its barbs about someone who flies south for the sun, blames everyone else for his screw-ups, and spins reams of lies—certainly seems like a swipe at the magically coiffed former head of state. Does the world need another Trump diss track right now? Probably not. But will the anxious song, which skitters on the back of Skinner’s pointillistic hi-hat work, feel increasingly relevant over the next couple of years, as the world braces for the next clusterfucked U.S. presidential election? Most definitely yes. That’s part of Yorke’s power as a dystopian seer: Every description of the present seems to also foretell the future.

When the Smile aren’t venting, they’re surfing the slime, reaching for specks of pleasure and solace wherever they can find them. “The Smoke” is a beguiling waft of understated funk that sounds like a collaboration between Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti and Marvin Gaye—thanks to Yorke’s wobbling bassline and falsetto moans hinting at sensuality and self-immolation, it’s the sexiest thing he’s ever set to tape. “Free in the Knowledge,” the album’s most direct song, deserves a spot among classic Radiohead ballads like “True Love Waits” and “Give Up the Ghost.” It’s about wishful thinking in a world where authoritarianism seems so far away—until it isn’t. “A face using fear to try to keep control,” Yorke sings, before his mind tentatively turns to revolution: “But when we get together, well then, who knows?” This isn’t a call to arms, though. It’s an admission of fragility that rings painfully clear and true. The floating hymn “Speech Bubbles” mines a similar uncertainty. Over airy percussion and Greenwood’s fluttering strings and piano, Yorke sounds like a refugee with nowhere to go. As he wails about cities on fire and a sudden sense of dislocation, it’s easy to connect the words to images of Ukrainian families torn apart, waiting for the next text from a loved one left behind.

The time Yorke and Greenwood spend traveling through their own history reaches a heady apex on another weightless elegy that flows like entrance music for the afterlife. “Don’t bore us, get to the chorus,” Yorke sings over celestial synths on “Open the Floodgates,” evoking a classic rock cliché he’s spent a lifetime trying to dismantle. “We want the good bits/Without your bullshit/And no heartaches.” This internal monologue has been taking up space in the singer’s mind since at least the In Rainbows era in 2006, when Radiohead first sound-checked a version of the song. Its numbness in the face of impending death goes back even further, to OK Computer ’s “No Surprises,” and Greenwood’s gently chiming guitar recalls “Let Down” from that same 25-year-old album. When the hook does arrive, it’s fraught and spare. “Someone lead me out the darkness,” Yorke repeats, as the cloud of synths begins to dissolve behind him. It’s an appeal that doubles as a pact between artist and audience—a pact that dredges resilience out from the abyss, that asks for absolution so we can receive it. A pact that, through it all, remains intact.

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The Smile: A Light for Attracting Attention

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The Smile Reinterprets Radiohead’s Past With Stripped-Down Sound and Driving Songs: Concert Review

By William Earl

William Earl

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BERLIN, GERMANY - MAY 20: Jonny Greenwood of The Smile performs at Tempodrom on May 20, 2022 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Adam Berry/Redferns)

Although they’re both ’90s alt-rock bands with enduring fanbases, there’s a world of difference between Radiohead and Weezer. While each new Radiohead album delivers challenging musical left turns that dazzle critics and add depth to their catalogue, Weezer has been eternally chasing the past. Their legacy was cemented by two classic ’90s albums, followed by decades of lesser material which engages fans but always falls behind their past glory. Fittingly, “In the Garage,” from their self-titled 1994 album, is a statement of purpose that has been guiding them ever since: What if we were only ever kids, shredding in our parent’s house, pretending we were in Kiss?

After touring the summer in Europe, the Smile has arrived to America on their first tour, and their Nov. 20 stop at New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom cemented their status as an adventurous live act carving a far different niche outside of Radiohead’s enormous shadow.

Highlights included the piano ballad “Pana-vision,” which devolved into a noisy outro, complete with Greenwood attacking his electric bass with a bow; “Bending Hectic,” an experimental and extended jam which could live alongside “A Thousand Leaves”-era Sonic Youth; the slinky, minimalist “The Smoke”; and set-closer “You Will Never Work in Television Again,” a rousing, pissed-off rocker, aided by frantic saxophone courtesy of show opener Robert Stillman.

The Smile also returned for a freewheeling encore, consisting of two unreleased tracks and the relatively rare Yorke solo cut “Feeling Pulled Apart by Horses.” Although the songs weren’t well known, they kicked up the lightest section of the night, signaled by notorious dancer Yorke cutting a rug all over the stage.

Credit the audio engineers who kept the show crisp as both Yorke and Greenwood fiddled endlessly with vocal distortion, switched pedals, changed synths mid-song and occasionally plucked a harp. All of the songs sounded lush, full and balanced, with Yorke’s ageless falsetto floating above the mix.

At one point, Yorke specified that “We’re a new band,” a wink to the countless Radiohead T-shirts in the crowd. But given their enthusiasm in playing new songs, as well as the fact that more than a third of the set was devoted to unreleased material getting worked out onstage, it’s clear the Smile is more than a pandemic hobby.

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The Smile’s A Light for Attracting Attention Peers Into an Ugly Future

Portrait of Craig Jenkins

I used to think Thom Yorke was singing about some far away but perfectly plausible future, mapping out the logical conclusions our worst tendencies can carry us to, wielding loaded allegories like a warning the way a dystopian-fiction writer does. Maybe it was all the robots and computers, the references to George Orwell and Douglas Adams, or the very 20th-century faith in forward cultural motion into which songs like OK Computer ’s “Paranoid Android” were pitched, but it seemed like a doomer trip, a laser focus on all of the exact worst ways the present can pan out. Twenty-five years on — now that we often find ourselves convincing machines that we’re human and it’s possible to buy groceries via artificial intelligence — songs like “Fitter Happier” come across as sober assessments of a rapidly digitizing but somehow increasingly fractured world. I think the story is that as much as it might be easy to play Yorke off as a kind of miserablist with a taste for the macabre, all that going on about wolves and piggies and fires and witches is just melodramatic framing for the overarching message that a corrupt, power-hungry elite playing for keeps is just the way shit is, no matter how good or bad we feel about the state of the world at the time.

Still, it is always jarring seeing that guy spooked. On A Light for Attracting Attention — the debut album from the Smile, a trio comprising Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, and drummer Tom Skinner of the London jazz quartet Sons of Kemet — Thom once again finds himself terrifyingly attuned to the current anxieties about climate change and the abuse of power in government. Opener “The Same” feels like a bookend to the threat of revolution at the end of Amnesiac ’s “You and Whose Army?” This time, Yorke is begging us to try to get on the same page: “People in the streets,” he croons, injecting a dark urgency into the lyric by punctuating it with a ragged “Please! / We are one, the same.” It’s your archetypal Yorke and Greenwood production. Foreboding notes build tension, ambling through changes that signify a growing dread. Hail to the Thief ’s “2 + 2 = 5” does the same, as do the baleful “Last I Heard (… He Was Circling the Drain),” from Yorke’s solo album Anima , and the jerky “Before Your Very Eyes …” by the side project Atoms for Peace. Attention benefits from a writer with distinct musical signatures and from the bond shared by bandmates who have spent a great deal of time building a musical language and just as much time warping and deconstructing their own processes. Skinner gets something different out of them, though: a feisty, earthy rock album that stands in notable contrast to Yorke and Greenwood’s work on 2016’s A Moon Shaped Pool , which honored the same fascinations with baroque music and acoustic instruments that informed Jonny’s soundtrack work. Attention is the brighter star in the Radiohead extended universe — maybe even the brightest — because the music balances beloved old sounds and new ideas while the lyrics speak pointedly to modern horrors.

A quality this record shares with much of the back catalogue of the rock stars in residence is the sense that a song is a musical puzzle this group of players intends to solve in front of us. “Pana-vision” drops us into an eerie, ascending vocal and piano figure, then introduces horn and string arrangements that deliver a hefty low end that contrasts the singer’s lonesome wail. “Thin Thing” lays out a latticework of arpeggiated guitar notes that dissolve into a chugging full-band rock routine in a manner not dissimilar to Hail to the Thief ’s “Myxomatosis” patiently selling you on a riff that feels ostentatious and willfully obtuse at first. The Smile plays devilish tricks with accessibility, teasing comforting melodies out of discomfiting patterns. The tension between the rhythmic games and the emotional payoffs they’re often guarding is the beating heart of A Light for Attracting Attention , an album that bounces from jittery unease to moments of repose, a mirror on the experience of going about your daily business while buffeted by bad news. As the knotty rockers on the front end of the album give way to ballads like “Free in the Knowledge” and “Waving a White Flag,” Attention starts to take after the sad songs Yorke excelled at in the mid-‘90s like “Street Spirit (Fade Out),” “Lucky,” or “Bulletproof … I Wish I Was.”

More intriguing than the way A Light for Attracting Attention frames and reframes Yorke and Greenwood’s pet sounds are the many places where the Smile branches further out. “The Opposite” chases the tension of “The Same” with sleek, mutant funk that begins to resemble the showy, highly technical vamps of early ’80s King Crimson records . On the flipside of the album, the exquisite “Speech Bubbles” settles into a sleepy acoustic groove that recalls the somber adult-contemporary sound of Sting’s “Fragile.” The burbling synth notes accompanying the sedate “Open the Floodgates” feel like the “Space Intro” from the Steve Miller Band’s Fly Like an Eagle . As much as the Smile is a product of the unique musical quirks of its members, it also gestures to punk, progressive rock, folk, metal, jazz, and Afrobeat. It delivers the expected gloom and doom via unexpected pathways. “Thin Thing” sings of being burned and pulled apart, then the band plays a loud riff that could fit into a Fu Manchu album. The dour “Waving a White Flag” mixes synths and strings like Depeche Mode’s “Little 15.”

It’s fascinating hearing what Yorke and Greenwood come up with outside the confines of Radiohead, and how Skinner nudges the duo in different directions. While he is every bit the fleet, precise hand Radiohead’s drummer Philip Selway is, Skinner loosens them up the way Brazilian jazz player Mauro Refosco — a Red Hot Chili Peppers affiliate with a masters degree in percussion — gave Atoms for Peace the necessary musical chops to nail the polyrhythms Amok plays with. This being the first time the pair ever worked together on a side project, it is unsurprising that they slip into familiar musical ideas. The Smile was an excuse for the longtime collaborators to create together during the lockdown in 2020. Is the need to work in smaller groups also the reason this band seems to be working with less toys than usual? In live performances, the Smile uses a leaner, more traditional setup than the vast array of musical arcana Jonny Greenwood favors. At Glastonbury , it was all guitar, bass, drums, and a few keyboards. Greenwood is mostly playing guitar, not jumping joyfully from axe to Moog to glockenspiel to ondes Martenot , or whatever antique tech he is into that day . It gives these songs a primal feel best exemplified by rockers like the blistering “You Will Never Work in Television Again” or the stressed “We Don’t Know What Tomorrow Brings,” where the band moves in lock step behind the singer as he taps into a snarling spite not seen since “My Iron Lung.”

While the Smile does its best to throw the listener off its trail with unexpected twists and sneaky changes, Yorke minds them confidently and carefully, like a lion tamer. He dances over the dizzying guitars of “The Smoke” with impressive ease; the yelps and squeals of “You Will Never Work in Television Again” fit the message hand in glove. “Television” exemplifies the overall mood of A Light for Attracting Attention , which lingers in the space between roiling rage and burnout. The lyric in the prickly rocker expresses contempt for film- and television-industry moguls like Roger Ailes, the late Fox exec run out of his own company thanks to a mountain of sexual-assault allegations, and Silvio Berlusconi , the former Italian prime minister who was accused of sex with underage girls in the 2010s. Elsewhere, the album seems certain that we’ll all die boiled alive in a climate catastrophe. “The Smoke” sounds like a play-by-play of a home evacuation in the middle of a wildfire as the dreamy bridge finds the singer waking up in a cloudy room. Similarly, “Speech Bubbles” starts off as an exodus from a city on fire. Yorke doesn’t have the answers this time. He’s only got one “Come Together” message in him. After the plea for unity in “The Same,” Attention maps out all the reasons it probably won’t happen, the vacuous entertainment that pacifies us and the listlessness that it imparts on us (“Open the Floodgates”), not to mention the stream of young lives the machine wrecks (“You Will Never Work in Television Again”).

This album isn’t saying that love is the answer, or whatever. It isn’t even reveling in the promise that wicked people in power will have their day of reckoning. (After Radiohead caught flak for playing in Israel, and since Greenwood blamed a “fat thumb” for faving a transphobic tweet, there are those who worry that the leftist spark in that camp cooled down.) It’s asking us to entertain the possibility that life already got as good as it was ever going to get, and every passing day is the chillest day we will ever see again. “Skrting on the Surface” seems to suggest there can be a grisly peace in that, but “Free in the Knowledge” can’t fathom a scenario where we don’t go down fighting. The uncertainty — about what tomorrow holds and about where a song will take us in the end — feels like 2022, even while the Smile nods to Bends and Hail to the Thief . That synthesis makes A Light for Attracting Attention a real treat, a trickle of nostalgia from guys who don’t do that much.

  • vulture section lede
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  • album review
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The Smile – A Light For Attracting Attention

Radiohead duo re-emerge refreshed as avant-jazz trio

The Smile

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When pirates ruled the waves, 17-track brian eno compilation to accompany new doc, grandaddy – blu wav, brittany howard – what now, pearl jam: “10 million records, that’s such a crazy number”.

“There was a point a year and a half ago when I wondered whether I would be doing this again,” admitted Thom Yorke on stage at the Albert Hall last October. “I’m a British musician, and I was told during the pandemic, like all British musicians, that I should consider retraining. And after we finally left [the EU] they told us we didn’t really need to tour around Europe anyway, did we? So perhaps I’m one of a dying breed… who knows?”

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That classic Radiohead sense of embattled, paranoid defiance was only amplified by Mark Jenkin’s video for The Smile’s “Skrting On The Surface” , released in March, which cast Yorke as a miner, 200 feet beneath Cornwall, his face grimy with soot and sweat as he trundled his lonely cart down a rail track.

Is UK indie rock one more venerable heartland industry to be blithely cast onto the national slagheap? Could Thom and Jonny Greenwood’s next jobs be in cyber? It’d take a heart of stone not to smirk – but there’s something heartening about Yorke and Greenwood’s vocational commitment to angular, knotty, intensely pissed-off art-rock. While their ’90s contemporaries have wandered far and wide in search of fresh purpose in the 21st century, they have remained steadfast, even when venturing through abstract electronica or orchestral soundtracks, in mining the same rich seam of truculence and awe.

So much so that The Smile , ostensibly a lockdown project for Thom , Jonny and Sons Of Kemet drummer Tom Skinner , along with long-time producer Nigel Godrich , feels more like a refreshment, refinement or even fulfilment of Radiohead core principles, rather than an extracurricular dalliance. An early version of “Skrting…” was in fact a feature of the parent band’s live shows at least as far back as The King Of Limbs, while the surging, splenetic debut single “You Will Never Work In Television Again” (“ He’s fat fucking mist/Young bones spat out/Girls slitting their wrists… ”) suggests the apprentice work of a neural network trained on the Yorke lyrical canon. On the irresistible one-two of “Open The Floodgates” into “Free In The Knowledge” , he even ventures as close as he’s come to the acoustic balladry of The Bends in a couple of decades.

Funnily enough, though A Light… feels on first listen like Continuity Radiohead , you might find the source or mother lode in a backstage performance from 2008, just Yorke and Greenwood with a couple of acoustic guitars, fingerpicking through Portishead’s “The Rip” as though they had just come up with it in an idle jam session. The album begins with the forlorn life-support bleep of a fritzing antique Moog, and it surfaces like a subterranean river throughout an album which seems to chart the same blasted, war-torn landscape as Portishead’s Third .

Sensationally so on “Speech Bubbles” , the beautifully mournful centrepiece of the record, set in the eerie calm after a terror attack (“ Devastation has come, left in a station with a mortar bomb ”). The serpentine guitar figure might be a cousin of the one that unravelled through the verses of “Paranoid Android” , but what takes the track to a new dimension is Greenwood’s orchestration. If Robert Kirby’s strings once roamed over the vales of Nick Drake songs like the cumulus clouds in a Constable landscape, then here Greenwood’s rippling piano, breaking through looming uneasy strings and woodwind, feels like a sunbeam in an otherwise foreboding Ravilious seascape.

On “The Smoke” , Greenwood’s heady brew of horns and flutes rise moodily and magnificently through Tom Skinner’s cavernous beat, like steam from the streets of New York in some early-’70s blaxpoitation movie. In fact, it feels like Skinner is the catalyst that’s refreshed the Yorke – Greenwood creative bromance. Around The King Of Limbs , Radiohead felt the need to add a second drummer to supplement Phil Selway on the songs’ skittering polyrhythms, but Skinner seems to be a one-man rhythm factory, turning his hands impressively from motorik to afrobeat, from algebraic math-rock to the avant-garage racket of Sonic Youth circa Daydream Nation .

And maybe it’s Skinner’s presence too that helps usher songs like “Pana-Vision” from the fringes of Satie to the kind of afro-futurist soundworlds Bowie approached with the help of Donny McCaslin on Blackstar . “ Don’t bore us, get to the chorus ”, sings Thom , quoting the immortal words of Roxette, on the hymnal “Open The Floodgates”, but at its best A Light… feels like a subtle jazz improvisation on old Radiohead themes, finding new paths through familiar territory.

“ I’m stuck in a rut in a flatland drainage ditch/And I’m drowning in irrelevance ”, Yorke squawks on “We Don’t Know What Tomorrow Brings” , which races nervily like Magazine trying their hand at Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” – but in truth he hasn’t sounded so invigorated and energised since the days of Kid A . If Radiohead’s hiatus is looking increasingly permanent, then The Smile will do very nicely.

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A Light for Attracting Attention

  • Record Label: XL Recordings
  • Release Date: May 13, 2022

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Universal acclaim - based on 24 Critic Reviews What's this?

Universal acclaim - based on 107 Ratings

  • Summary: The debut full-length release for Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood and Tom Skinner as The Smile was produced by Nigel Godrich.
  • Genre(s): Pop/Rock
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  • Positive: 24 out of 24
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  • Mojo May 18, 2022 80 Occasionally, they favour the billowy and formless- Waving A Whit Flag goes nowhere, albeit moodily - but their best tracks showcase Yorke's song most transparently; Panavision and Free In the Knowledge are two of his loveliest in years. [Jul 2022, p.90] All this publication's reviews

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The Smile Gets Wonderfully Stranger

A spinoff of Radiohead, the trio of Jonny Greenwood, Tom Skinner and Thom Yorke pushes further from the solid ground of pop on its second studio LP, “Wall of Eyes.”

Three men stand against a backdrop of a pond with trees surrounding both sides.

By Jon Pareles

“Don’t think you know me,” Thom Yorke intones near the end of the Smile’s second studio album, “Wall of Eyes.” He adds, “Don’t think that I am everything you say.” With its new LP, the Smile makes itself increasingly elusive. It’s now a band intent on destabilizing structures and dissolving expectations.

The Smile is still unmistakably a Radiohead spinoff. It’s the trio of Yorke and Jonny Greenwood from Radiohead, with the British jazz drummer Tom Skinner. Yorke’s tormented voice has stayed upfront, and the songwriting leans into Radiohead’s dissonances, odd meters and fully enveloping aura of anxiety.

The Smile’s 2022 debut album, “A Light for Attracting Attention,” and its live recordings introduced what was mostly a stripped-down, cerebrally twisted funk band — akin to Yorke’s 2012 project Atoms for Peace, which had Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers on bass. But on “Wall of Eyes,” the Smile questions and undermines its grooves. The band often lets them emerge only gradually, then deflates them or obscures them in complexly hazy productions.

In the Smile’s new songs, solid ground — verbal or musical — is rare and precarious. The priority is atmosphere, not legibility. Yorke’s lyrics are fragmentary and bleak, full of apocalyptic tidings. “Soon you’ll be there/in all that fire and ice,” he croons in “Teleharmonic,” over chords that keep sliding out from under him. The album’s most coherent narrative, “Bending Hectic,” is the last words of a driver steering along the hairpin turns of an Italian mountain road, then “letting go of the wheel.” The track is an eight-minute exercise in suspended time, meditating on two slowly alternating chords before plunging into a cacophony of hard-rock guitars.

Greenwood has long had a sideline scoring film soundtracks — among them “There Will Be Blood,” “Phantom Thread” and “The Power of the Dog” — and the Smile’s new songs allow themselves to be as amorphous and open-ended as film music. They’re not about hooks or choruses. Melodies recur while arrangements change radically around them; songs suddenly leap into entirely new territory.

“Read the Room” begins with prickly guitar arpeggios and a sputtering beat, veers into a pretty bridge that doesn’t stay that way and spends its final two minutes seething over an entirely different riff. “Under Our Pillows,” which may be a reproach of social media — “You give yourself freely/Nowadays everyone’s for sharing,” Yorke chides — starts with crisp cross-rhythms: hopscotching guitar picking and a contrapuntal bass line over Skinner’s stop-start drumming. But the momentum shifts, the odd meter turns into a motoric 4/4 and then recedes into un-metered, breathy spaces. For a full minute, the track is nervous but ambient. Throughout the album, the Smile’s music feels molten and improvisatory, though it’s clearly premeditated.

Greenwood’s film scores often deploy orchestral arrangements, and so does the Smile. Half of the album’s new songs are overlaid with strings played by the London Contemporary Orchestra — occasionally for sumptuousness, but more often to create tension and harmonic ambiguity. Some songs end with a full minute of cloudy orchestral sounds, every one of them calibrated.

Perhaps Radiohead’s internal decision-making grew too weighty or complicated. It’s easier to work as a trio than as an arty but arena-filling, much-scrutinized institution. In “Friend of a Friend,” Yorke sings, “I can go anywhere that I want/I just got to turn myself inside out and back to front.” For the Smile, that could be a mission statement, from a band determined to evolve in its own ways.

The Smile “Wall of Eyes” (XL)

Jon Pareles has been The Times’s chief pop music critic since 1988. He studied music, played in rock, jazz and classical groups and was a college-radio disc jockey. He was previously an editor at Rolling Stone and the Village Voice. More about Jon Pareles

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The Smile review: a stunning preview of tantalising Radiohead spin-off

the smile review

“Must feel weird to get out finally, does for me,” Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke told a sold-out audience at Magazine on Saturday.

It was his new band The Smile’s first performance in front of a live audience since their unveiling at Glastonbury’s virtual event last summer. Made up of Radiohead bandmate Jonny Greenwood , Sons of Kemet drummer Tom Skinner and produced by long-term collaborator Nigel Godrich, the group delivered three separate gigs throughout the night in the intimate setting, all scheduled so fans around the world could tune in via livestream.

“We don’t have much, but we’ll give you what we’ve got – which is this,” Yorke smiled on the stylish circular stage, surrounded by vertical strobes. The gig began in poetic fashion with Peaky Blinders actor Cillian Murphy delivering a dramatic pre-recorded rendition of William Blake’s The Smile. “This is a smile of love, this is a smile of deceit,” he read, before the haunting piano of Pana-vision began.

Featuring Yorke’s trademark falsetto, the Blakean theme continued on an opener exploring innocence before excellent new single The Smoke rooted itself firmly in experience. The song’s earworm – the driving bassline played by Yorke – was lauded by fans, as was the dreamy follow-up Speech Bubbles, which saw Greenwood dexterously playing the harp and piano simultaneously.

There was a relaxed feel to the group, perhaps promoted by the setting (it’s certainly been a while since Radiohead have played venues this size), but also through the freedom the new project has seemingly brought. Greenwood was shoeless, walking about the stage casually in socks, while Yorke seemed playful – especially when gently chastising a latecomer. At another point, Greenwood hugged Skinner.

Comparisons to Radiohead will be inevitable and the material sits somewhere between the uneasy dystopia of Hail to the Thief and the hopeful beauty of In Rainbows. An old Radiohead bootleg, Skrting On The Surface, was given an imaginative re-work mid-set, and the heavier songs in The Smile’s repertoire recall Radiohead’s rockier The Bends-era, like The Opposite and fearless first single, You Will Never Work In Television Again.

the smile review

Yet The Smile’s material stands up strongly on its own, especially thanks to Skinner. As well as the imaginative time-signatures, when Skinner ventures away from the drums and onto electro-duties, this is where the band feels at their most distinctive.

Take set standout Open The Floodgates, with its lush and expansive electronica, and Free In The Knowledge with its haunting, angelic-trumpeted orchestral that progresses into a stunning Yorke melody. While each of the band member’s other side projects often deconstruct songs, here there is bold commitment to melody that feels unique to The Smile.

The songs are threaded by another Blakean theme: the fragility of life when faced with oppression. “One of the things I’ve discovered...it’s quite possible that us human beings are quite similar in actual fact,” Yorke said reflectively, introducing new song The Same.

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“Apparently, we’re all in our little factions and we all have to fight one another. B******* we do,” he said about this politically-tinged song that pleads, “Please, we are all the same.” Free In The Knowledge continues in the same vein. “One day...this will end...We’re in this together,” Yorke gently sang, striking a hopeful post-pandemic note on this call for unity.

While many musical side-projects are often less than the sum of their main-project whole, The Smile feels different. With the promise from Yorke at the set’s close of more to come, combined with an audience already wanting more, this stunning preview gave a tantalising glimpse of what could become of the most exciting musical spin-offs in years.

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The Smile Are More Than a Radiohead Side Hustle

By Jon Dolan

The release of a new Radiohead album is greeted in certain circles as a kind of holy occasion, a time to drop everything else going on in your life and commence Deep Listening.

We have not witnessed such a hallowed event since 2016, when Radiohead dropped  A Moon Shaped Pool,  and a new album after such a wait sure would be welcome. Sometimes, though, it’s nice to see what the members of a great band can do when working outside such weighty expectations. That’s the story of the Smile, the excellent side band Radiohead singer Thom Yorke and lead guitarist Jonny Greenwood have formed with jazz drummer Tom Skinner . On the band’s 2022 debut,  A Light for Attracting Attention,  the stakes were low, and the jams were loose.

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The first Smile record rocked out a little more than recent Radiohead. This one is more subdued, but there are a couple of bangers. “Read the Room” is coiled and funky, with Greenwood splaying out coolly fractured notes over Skinner’s tense groove, before the song lifts off into a sublime krautrock-y zone-out.

The album’s intense emotional peak is the eight-minute “Bending Hectic.” Greenwood creates a little galaxy of distended shimmering notes. Yorke sets a scene of driving on a mountainside in Italy, and then “letting go of the wheel.” Skinner tensely pushes the beat, Greenwood’s guitar ripples ominously, and Yorke goes over the edge, narrating a moment of dread that also creepily feels like a moment of freedom. Violent strings swell, and Greenwood’s guitar explodes into some of the heaviest, meanest noise he’s ever conjured, mirroring the cathartic collapse Yorke is evoking. It’s the kind of terrifying grandeur these guys do better than anyone else. In any package it shows up in, we’ll always take it.

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The Smile Might Be In This For The Long Haul

the smile review

“Look at all the pretty lights,” Thom Yorke sang a few songs into the Smile’s concert on Monday, his feral falsetto repeating the phrase like a mantra against a surging electronic backdrop. He could have been referring to the giant, colorful rig of flickering bars set up onstage behind the band. It was an arena-scale contraption, something Yorke’s main band Radiohead might have brought with them on their most recent tour through the world’s most cavernous sheds. But this show was happening in a much more intimate setting, Detroit’s 4,650-capacity Masonic Temple. (“Intimate” is a relative term when discussing festival headliners.)

Yorke has been stepping away from Radiohead to play smaller venues for years, be it as a solo act or as part of the short-lived side band Atoms For Peace. The difference is this time he brought another member of Radiohead with him: Jonny Greenwood, the mad-scientist multi-instrumentalist and Oscar-nominated composer who has long been the most important member of the band besides Yorke. Together with drummer Tom Skinner, a fixture of London’s avant-garde jazz scene, they quietly formed the Smile in 2019. This May, after a year of gradually revealing themselves to the world, the band released their debut album A Light For Attracting Attention . Given the personnel involved, it inevitably sounded like Radiohead.

That resemblance was similarly inescapable onstage — they were mostly performing songs from the album, after all, and cycling through an array of instruments at gigs is nothing new for Yorke and Greenwood — but the differences between the two projects were more acute in concert. Whereas Radiohead tend toward fairly straightforward readings of their studio recordings, the Smile often stretched out the endings of their songs into incendiary jams and gorgeous tone poems. With Skinner behind the kit and opening act Robert Stillman sometimes accenting the music with his saxophone, the band moved with a jazzy fluidity without ever resembling “jazz-rock.” The spiky, funky, jittery guitar bangers that stand as the Smile’s main addition to Yorke and Greenwood’s arsenal felt even rangier and more volatile. Even on the songs that more directly called back to past glories — like the acoustic ballad “Free In The Knowledge,” the runaway-train rocker “We Don’t Know What Tomorrow Brings,” and the aforementioned rippling current “A Hairdryer” — there was a looseness in the new band’s performance not afforded to the larger, more lumbering Radiohead live operation.

the smile review

Confessions Of A Fanboy Who Drove 10 Hours To See Radiohead

One is not necessarily better than the other; there are few concert experiences more thrilling than being swallowed up by Radiohead classics alongside thousands of fellow devotees, like a city beset by tsunami. But it’s clear Yorke and Greenwood are very excited about their current endeavor and that the Smile’s momentum is full speed ahead right now. Midway through the show, Yorke announced, “We’ve made one record, and now we’re writing another one,” a conclusion anyone could have drawn based on how many new songs slipped into the setlist. They were incredible songs, too, arguably better than the ones on the album — and once again, they could easily pass for Radiohead if Yorke and Greenwood had not chosen to work on them in this context instead.

The Smile seems to have unshackled and invigorated Yorke. Monday night, you could hear his enthusiasm in the roaring inferno of “You Will Never Work In Television Again” and the fragile, spectral beauty of “Open The Floodgates,” in the frenetic sideways assault of “Thin Thing” and the windswept elegance of “Skrting On The Surface.” The renewed inspiration was even more apparent on new titles that further expanded the Smile’s stylistic range. “Read The Room” shapeshifted from a doomy groove to noodly krautrock that resolved into nimble power-pop. “Colours Fly” wrung apocalyptic tension from Greenwood’s piercing Afro-pop riffs. The eight-minute epic “Bending Hectic” spent most of its runtime floating through a dream a la Jimi Hendrix’s “One Rainy Wish” before exploding into wide-open power chords like “Pyramid Song” gone full Spacehog; “People On Balconies” reminded me of “Pyramid Song” too, as filtered through the Randy Newman songbook.

How many artists 30 years into their career could satisfy their audience with a set of virtually all new music? When the lights came up Monday night, I didn’t leave wishing that I could have heard my old favorites. I was buzzing over the possibilities of the future. That likely would not have been possible without a new name and a reconfigured lineup, nor could I have seen Yorke playing rock music in such close confines. The reboot has removed the Radiohead albatross from band and fans alike. In 2017, when asked if Radiohead would be ending after the tour supporting A Moon Shaped Pool , Yorke told Rolling Stone , “I fucking hope not.” Me too, Thom. Yet it’s hard to deny the vitality of the music he and Greenwood are making after getting out from under the weight of that legacy. I hate to say it, but we need to consider the possibility that Radiohead will not be returning for a long time. We also need to consider the possibility that this is a good thing.

SETLIST: “The Same” “Thin Thing” “The Opposite” “Speech Bubbles” “Free In The Knowledge” “A Hairdryer” “Waving A White Flag” “Colours Fly” “We Don’t Know What Tomorrow Brings” “Bending Hectic” “Skrting On The Surface” “Pana-Vision” “People On Balconies” “The Smoke” “You Will Never Work In Television Again”

ENCORE: “Open The Floodgates” “Read The Room” “Feeling Pulled Apart By Horses”

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2022, Horror/Mystery & thriller, 1h 56m

What to know

Critics Consensus

Deeply creepy visuals and a standout Sosie Bacon further elevate Smile 's unsettling exploration of trauma, adding up to the rare feature that satisfyingly expands on a short. Read critic reviews

Audience Says

You may need to pay close attention in order to keep up with the story, but fans of slow-burning horror should leave Smile with a grin. Read audience reviews

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Smile videos, smile   photos.

After witnessing a bizarre, traumatic incident involving a patient, Dr. Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon) starts experiencing frightening occurrences that she can't explain. As an overwhelming terror begins taking over her life, Rose must confront her troubling past in order to survive and escape her horrifying new reality.

Genre: Horror, Mystery & thriller

Original Language: English

Director: Parker Finn

Producer: Marty Bowen , Wyck Godfrey , Isaac Klausner , Robert Salerno

Writer: Parker Finn

Release Date (Theaters): Sep 30, 2022  wide

Release Date (Streaming): Nov 15, 2022

Box Office (Gross USA): $105.9M

Runtime: 1h 56m

Distributor: Paramount Pictures

Production Co: Paramount Players, Temple Hill Entertainment

Cast & Crew

Sosie Bacon

Dr. Rose Cotter

Jessie T. Usher

Kyle Gallner

Robin Weigert

Caitlin Stasey

Parker Finn

Screenwriter

Marty Bowen

Wyck Godfrey

Isaac Klausner

Robert Salerno

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REVIEW: The Smile mesmerizes with the beauty of new album ‘Wall of Eyes’

Photo+courtesy+of+Self+Help+Tapes

The Smile has arrived with their new album, “Wall of Eyes,” to take a Radiohead-like sound and go in a completely new direction with it. “Wall of Eyes” is their sophomore album, following the band’s debut, “A Light for Attracting Attention,” which came out in 2022. The songs on “Wall of Eyes” take the art and experimental rock from its predecessor and dish out a solid record. 

The main themes in “Wall of Eyes” surround the fact that however anyone expresses themself, they are judged before by a sea of people — a wall of eyes. From this comes the feelings of isolation and being misunderstood. Given that these concepts are thought up by Radiohead alums, Thom Yorke and Johnny Greenwood, and Tom Skinner of The Smile, it takes the somber themes of Radiohead into a different, dire perspective, reflecting on their status as established celebrities. 

The title track, “Wall of Eyes,” introduces this idea with its beautifully plucked acoustic guitar, which has a disgruntled undertone. It portrays a feeling that, while standing around with a cheerful expression, a feeling of unsettlement creeps up and will overtake. The song keeps an eerie tone as the track adds crescendos of keyboards, adding that that unpleasant feeling has arrived with its full force. However, the acoustic is still resonating in the foreground, so that happy-go-lucky exterior for the wall of eyes hasn’t dwindled. 

The track “Teleharmonic,” starts with the line: “Will I make the morning? I don’t know.” Now, the unsettlement has been acknowledged. “Teleharmonic” has the feeling of being lost at sea, within the wall of eyes. It takes that feeling and isolates Yorke’s voice into an ambiance of bubbling anxiety. The lyrics talk about being captured by “fishermen” out of revenge and being nailed for display. Yorke sings this not out of fear, but out of acceptance. It is clear that this recognition is a comforting cycle for Yorke, given that the song is a soft and easy listen. 

“Read the Room” is where the album begins to show its faults. Although the first third of the song is the catchiest part of the whole album, a four-note chord progression is played with the tenacity to strike anger and fear at the wall of eyes. Yorke sings a powerful lyric of accusing the eyes in a passive aggressive manner of being unjust of being better people. The song changes up two different times as the lyrics go inward with Yorke questioning himself for challenging the eyes and him being directly judged by the eyes. 

These two changes within the experimental/art rock genre create two mesmerizing musical passages. My biggest issue with this is that the change-ups are too jarring, as they occur instantaneously instead of blending into one another. The same occurrence happens on “A Friend of a Friend,” though it isn’t as jarring. “A Friend of a Friend” is a return to the serene atmosphere introduced in the track “Wall of Eyes.” It isthe most serene song on the album, because even though the wall of eyes is still there staring, friends have come out to help Yorke face them. It is a beautiful song about unity with a sad note of having to keep up appearances. The wall of eyes could also represent the comfort of loved ones watching out for you.

“I Quit” enters a realm of acknowledging bitterness. Here, the eyes have got Yorke giving up on him presenting himself to them. He then proclaims of going a new path and he will accept wherever it goes. It would be a beautiful and perfect closer, but it isn’t the final track on the album. The final track is called “You Know Me!,” and it is luckily and easily the best song on the whole album. It is a piano ballad played to brain-tingling perfection. Not only do the chords feel like being enveloped and sent on a luscious drift down a wafting river on a spring evening, but also proclaims Yorke’s most ethereal singing voice on the entire album. It talks about how someone doesn’t know Yorke as well as they think, while being so close to him. It makes me think the eyes have gotten into his head completely, as if they are thinking they are his friend, which would make him turn away from someone he cares about. However, there is a line about being literally backstabbed which could be taken in the literal and figurative sense. If it is the literal sense, then the betrayal could’ve been someone close to him who was a part of the judging wall of eyes. 

This album showcases another creative direction for The Smile. With their debut being more groovy, stylish and covering a wide field of genres, “Wall of Eyes” takes a more centrally structured and melodic swing. I recommend this album to anyone willing to give time to understand the musical genius of The Smile and their ability to make the best music of dark subjects, and also to long-time Radiohead fans like myself. 

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Reba McEntire's soaring national anthem moves Super Bowl players to tears

the smile review

While the Super Bowl halftime show secures the biggest spotlight, the trio of pre-kickoff performers warrant plenty of kudos.

Reba McEntire, Post Malone and Andra Day were tapped to handle the Super Bowl 58 honors, with McEntire tackling the daunting assignment of the national anthem.

Standing in front of the Color Guard, McEntire unleashed her familiar twang, causing some Kansas City Chiefs players including Chris Jones to tear up in the moment.

Clad in black pants with a prominent buckle and a cream blazer, the elegant McEntire jutted her hand out to emphasize the lyrics as footage cut to a shot of the Las Vegas Sphere showcasing the image of the American flag.

McEntire, a robust vocalist, hit the high note in the song with her own spin - though the "home of the brave" line was drowned out by fans screaming "home of the CHIEFS."

McEntire remains one of the most visible and distinctive voices in country music, having produced 24 No. 1 singles in her 47-year-career.

Miss the halftime show? Watch every Super Bowl 2024 performance, from Usher to Post Malone

This also marks the fourth consecutive year that a country singer has handled the national anthem. Prior to last year’s tear-inducing wallop from Chris Stapleton, Mickey Guyton delivered the song in 2022 and Eric Church shared duties with Jazmine Sullivan in 2021.

Three sign language interpreters were also on site at Allegiant Stadium to perform the national anthem, “America the Beautiful” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

Post Malone sings ‘America the Beautiful’

Though he’s better known as a pop-rap-rock singer, the familiar voice behind hits such as “Better Now” and “Rockstar” stayed true and reverent to the 1890s-era hymn.

Armed with an acoustic guitar, a low-key Malone picked out a gentle version of the song, his eyes closed with passion as he stood at the center of the NFL logo on the 50-yard line.

Malone professed to feeling “very nervous, but excited” to perform the soaring song, but said he promised himself that, “I’m just going to do my best.”

Andra Day performs soaring rendition of ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’

A lauded actress as well as a singer, the sublime Day soared.

In a beige pantsuit, Day gestured with her left hand as she worked through the lyrics, her voice escalating throughout as female backup singers buoyed her performance with gospel runs.

Standing atop a white platform, Day grabbed the mic for the second verse, hiting skyscraper notes as she patted her heart with her hand while many in the stands sang along.

Day said a couple of days before the Super Bowl that she felt “honored” to sing what has been referred to by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People as the Black national anthem.

“It feels intentional, and I like to do things with intention and purpose,” she said.

This Jackson restaurant was named one of best in the US. Here's what you must try

the smile review

Stamps Super Burgers is a popular, family-friendly, well-known burger restaurant located in Jackson, Mississippi, and this week, it has made national news: Along with 46 other restaurants, Stamps Super Burgers was included in the  2024 USA TODAY Restaurants of the Year list.

"This is a huge honor," said Phil Stamps Jr., the second generation to own and run Stamps Super Burgers. "I'm filled with so much excitement from all the recognition Stamps has received. That location of the restaurant originally started with my grandmother and grandfather in 1970 when they purchased it from Canterbury Grocery, and the entire family operated that business as a grocery and meat market for a while before transitioning over to burgers in 1986.

"My aunts and uncles all had influence and worked at that location so when my grandfather stepped away from the original location, my father stepped in and continued to own and operate at that location where he put his touch on the business and started to make changes so that we would be more operational and more functional as a restaurant and not a grocery store."

What's the best restaurant near you? Check out USA TODAY's 2024 Restaurants of the Year.

USA TODAY's Restaurants of the Year 2024 How the list of best restaurants was decided

What makes Stamps stand out?

A Black-owned family business, Stamps has legions of loyal fans and a casual walk-in atmosphere. Stamps serves all with a juicy burger, potato fries and a vibe you just can't help but love to feel. Co-owned by Phil Stamps Sr., who gives everyone a greeting when they walk into Stamps, the restaurant has been operating in the Washington Addition neighborhood in West Jackson since 1986. 

The kitchen is an open area at the center of the restaurant with a Stamps employee who will more than likely be working behind the counter hand-making their famous beef patties or slicing potatoes for fries as a side right in front of your eyes.

The signature Stamps burger is constructed with mayonnaise, ketchup, lettuce, tomato and cheese with pickle, onions and mustard with other choices of wings, a turkey burger or portobello burger.

"We just want to continue to build relationships with people so that we can continue to grow our media platforms and take advantage of opportunities like this of such an amazing recognition and of course growing the business and having conversations with economic developers not only in the city of Jackson but other cities to grow our business and provide incentives for smaller businesses like ours to come to their city," Stamps Jr. said.

What to order at Stamps Superburgers:

Burgers. It's one huge burger. Choose from an 11-ounce burger, a cheeseburger, a turkey burger or even a vegan portobello burger that weighs 11 ounces or sometimes more. The brave can try a "Double Super Burger," with two 11-ounce patties.

Sandwiches. Grilled chicken sandwich, Smoked sausage sandwich of 8-ounce beef or a turkey bologna sandwich of thick-cut bologna.

Wings. With a choice of eight, 14, or 20 pieces, the wings come in lemon pepper, sweet and spicy, old fashion or buffalo flavored.

Salads . Chicken with tender chicken breast, marinated, seasoned, and grilled or just a regular garden salad with freshly cut lettuce topped with tomatoes, pickles, and onions.

See the full menu.

Details : Stamps Superburgers 1801 Dalton St., Jackson, Miss.; 601-352-4555, StampsSuperburger.com.

Know an event coming up, restaurant opening or have a good story idea? Reporter Kiara Fleming can be reached via email [email protected] .

the smile review

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Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood and Tom Skinner, AKA the Smile, at Magazine, London.

The Smile review – Yorke and Greenwood stay close to the mothership

Magazine, London Thom Yorke’s latest Radiohead spin-off, alongside Jonny Greenwood and Tom Skinner, excels the more it explores new territory in a thrilling frenzy of analogue synths and percussion

In primates, what looks like a smile usually signifies submission. In humans, it’s more complicated.

“There is a smile of love and there is a smile of deceit,” intones a disembodied voice – actor Cillian Murphy’s – at the start of the third live performance in a series by the Smile , the latest band headed up by Thom Yorke of Radiohead. The power trio is completed by fellow ’Head Jonny Greenwood , latter-day composer of film soundtracks, and drummer Tom Skinner of jazz activists Sons of Kemet . (Producer Nigel Godrich is a silent partner.) It’s a sunny January morning outside, contrasting with the dimly lit, alternative Sunday service indoors, in which a churchy Fender Rhodes features. The band have snuck a few hours’ kip after their earlier 11pm and 1am live streams. The only sign that they are not fresh as daisies is one slight mistake on one song.

The opening invocation is by William Blake, that great observer of humanity’s double nature. But there’s confusion too: last May, Yorke declared the Smile to be named after a particularly intense Ted Hughes poem . That confusion lingers. The songs that make up the Smile’s 15-song set list come under this new alias, but Yorke and Greenwood’s preoccupations and aesthetics are ongoing. In May, when the Smile debuted online at Glastonbury, they were hailed as a raw, almost post-punk outfit, in sharp contrast with Radiohead’s more rococo output.

This morning, the clear blue water between the bands is less clear and less blue. As last spring, they play an unreleased song, previously thought to be by Radiohead – Skirting on the Surface. Yorke’s wracked croon takes centre stage and Greenwood’s effect-laden instrumentation now provides a trebly counterpoint. There is also Open the Floodgates, previously a solo Yorke tune, now warmed by the glow of Greenwood’s guitar notes and analogue blooping from the multi-talented Skinner, who frequently leaves the kit during this gig to man an electronic workstation. It climaxes as something akin to 60s systems music, one of the key features of the set.

As these songs spool out, it seems the Smile’s rawness has proved ephemeral. The vast bulk of these songs are intense, layered and feature Yorke’s vocals and Greenwood on guitar. Exactly how is this not a Radiohead gig? Because Colin Greenwood, Ed O’Brien and Phil Selway are not here? So many of Yorke’s non-Radiohead projects have privileged digitals over instrumentation. It has been easy to interpret his extracurricular activity as the restless singer exploring electronic sounds that other members of Radiohead did not wish to. But the Smile is chock-a-block with guitars – electric and acoustic – with live drumming, and harp for good measure.

Greenwood, who usually plays no part in Yorke’s side hustles, is in full swing in the Smile, fringe flopping, bowing his bass on Free in the Knowledge , hitting effects pedals with stockinged feet and playing keyboards with one hand as he attacks the harp with another on Speech Bubbles. (The downside is that the track sounds like three different songs being played simultaneously.)

the Smile at Magazine.

Free in the Knowledge starts off very Radiohead. But the keening and spacious percussion that closes the track is a beautiful departure. As the gig unfolds, there’s a sense that the Smile have been tuning in to much older electronic music, with resonant analogue synths providing clear division between the bands – like the insistent oscillations of The Same. Obviously there’s the magnificent Skinner too, whose default time signature is trigonometric. While not strictly playing jazz, he scrapes bells along his hi-hats, lifting the trio with his dynamism. The hectic clatter of Thin Thing is a revelation, with all three instrumentalists going hell for leather. Just Eyes and Mouth is practically Afrobeat, Greenwood’s guitar and Skinner’s kit doing genuinely new things.

Most of those present (or tuning in online) will probably be thrilled at this not wildly novel iteration of the Yorke/Greenwood partnership. But the Smile are most musically convincing when they stretch farther away from Radiohead.

Two Smile songs are, by now, familiar. The Smoke finds Yorke playing dubby, hip-swivelling bass – traceable, perhaps, to the influence of Red Hot Chili Pepper Flea and his sinuous work in that other great Radiohead spin-off, Atoms for Peace .

The set ends with the excellently angry You Will Never Work in Television Again, whose lyrics about “bunga bunga” have confused those not familiar with the more unpleasant ins and outs of Italian public life in the Silvio Berlusconi era. (Yorke’s other half is a Sicilian actor.) The deceit of politicians is a welcome through line in Yorke’s work. It’s hard not to think of the Smile without thinking of Berlusconi’s shark-like dentistry, or the Tony Blair grimace.

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COMMENTS

  1. The Smile: A Light for Attracting Attention Album Review

    By Ryan Dombal Genre: Rock Label: XL Reviewed: May 12, 2022 The debut from Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, and drummer Tom Skinner's new group is instantly, unmistakably the best album yet by a...

  2. The Smile: A Light for Attracting Attention review

    The Smile: A Light for Attracting Attention review - almost as good as a new Radiohead album (XL) The debut album from Thom Yorke's latest side project finds him in excellent voice, on tracks...

  3. The Smile's 'A Light for Attracting Attention': Review

    A review of the debut album by the Smile, a musical project of Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood, who worked on some tunes without pressure from Radiohead. The album features some of their most straightforward songs in years, with influences from Radiohead, jazz, classical music, and King Crimson.

  4. The Smile: A Light for Attracting Attention review

    The Smile: A Light for Attracting Attention review - Radiohead spinoff offers no alarms, some surprises Alexis Petridis Thu 12 May 2022 06.30 EDT s with any side-project or solo album by a...

  5. The Smile Concert Review: Radiohead Members Revisit Their ...

    The Smile is a new band formed by Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood, featuring drummer Tom Skinner, that plays stripped-down and driving versions of Radiohead's songs. The concert reviewer praises their debut album "A Light for Attracting Attention" and their live show at New York City's Hammerstein Ballroom, where they performed new and unreleased tracks.

  6. The Smile 'A Light For Attracting Attention' Album Review

    I Wish I Was." More intriguing than the way A Light for Attracting Attention frames and reframes Yorke and Greenwood's pet sounds are the many places where the Smile branches further out.

  7. The Smile

    Reviews Album The Smile - A Light For Attracting Attention Radiohead duo re-emerge refreshed as avant-jazz trio The Smile. Image: Alex Lake "There was a point a year and a half ago when I...

  8. The Smile review

    The Smile review - Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood give prog rock tendencies full rein Alexis Petridis Sun 30 Jan 2022 11.00 EST I n 1997, Radiohead 's bassist Colin Greenwood was asked about Pink...

  9. A Light for Attracting Attention by The Smile Reviews and Tracks

    Universal acclaim based on 24 Critic Reviews What's this? User Score 8.6 Universal acclaim based on 107 Ratings Summary: The debut full-length release for Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood and Tom Skinner as The Smile was produced by Nigel Godrich. Buy Now Buy on Record Label: XL Recordings Genre (s): Pop/Rock Published: December 8, 2022

  10. The Smile \'A Light For Attracting Attention\' Review

    The closer the album gets to the live-band alchemy witnessed in the Smile's livestreamed gigs from Magazine London, the more compelling it becomes. As a lyricist, Yorke remains a poetic town ...

  11. The Smile Gets Wonderfully Stranger

    Jan. 29, 2024 Wall of Eyes NYT Critic's Pick "Don't think you know me," Thom Yorke intones near the end of the Smile's second studio album, "Wall of Eyes." He adds, "Don't think that I am...

  12. The Smile review: a stunning preview of tantalising Radiohead spin-off

    The Smile review: a stunning preview of tantalising Radiohead spin-off The Smile feels different to so many other musical side-projects Thom Yorke performing to a sold-out audience at The...

  13. The Smile 'Wall of Eyes' Review

    On the band's 2022 debut, A Light for Attracting Attention, the stakes were low, and the jams were loose. The Smile are back with Wall of Eyes, a lavishly gorgeous second LP. No one is going to ...

  14. The Smile

    Listen: https://thesmile.bandcamp.com/album/a-light-for-attracting-attentionYa like Radiohead?More rock reviews: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLP4CS...

  15. The Smile Concert Review: The Masonic Temple, Detroit

    Concert Review December 1, 2022 11:21 AM By Chris DeVille. "Look at all the pretty lights," Thom Yorke sang a few songs into the Smile's concert on Monday, his feral falsetto repeating the ...

  16. The Smile: Wall of Eyes review

    The Smile: Wall of Eyes review - agile, tuneful second album (XL) With strings and psychedelia added to the mix, Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood's ever-evolving side project feels as dynamic now...

  17. The Smile (band)

    View history Tools From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia This article is about the 2020s English rock band. For other bands, see Smile (disambiguation) § Groups. The Smile are an English rock band comprising the Radiohead members Thom Yorke (vocals, guitar, bass, keys) and Jonny Greenwood (guitar, bass, keys) with Tom Skinner (drums).

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    Movie Info. After witnessing a bizarre, traumatic incident involving a patient, Dr. Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon) starts experiencing frightening occurrences that she can't explain. As an overwhelming ...

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    The Smile has arrived with their new album, "Wall of Eyes," to take a Radiohead-like sound and go in a completely new direction with it. "Wall of Eyes" is their sophomore album, following the band's debut, "A Light for Attracting Attention," which came out in 2022. The songs on "Wall of Eyes" take the art...

  20. Perfect Smile Dental Care

    Specialties: Our work includes veneers, implants, laser teeth whitening, Invisalign, facial pain management, and much more. Established in 1995. Dr. Agha established her dental practice in the city of Anaheim in 1995, then moved to Garden Grove in 2015.

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    A lauded actress as well as a singer, the sublime Day soared.. In a beige pantsuit, Day gestured with her left hand as she worked through the lyrics, her voice escalating throughout as female ...

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    The Smile's 2021 debut, A Light for Attracting Attention, caused some observers to wonder whether Radiohead had a future: here were the band's two most recognisable members with a set of songs ...

  23. Best burgers: Stamps Super Burgers in Jackson MS review

    Sandwiches. Grilled chicken sandwich, Smoked sausage sandwich of 8-ounce beef or a turkey bologna sandwich of thick-cut bologna. Wings. With a choice of eight, 14, or 20 pieces, the wings come in ...

  24. Smile&Co Dental Clinic Reviews

    We are Smile&Co Dental Clinic, a leading clinic in health tourism in Istanbul. Equipped with state-of-the-art medical facilities, we provide services that meet international standards. Specializing in smile design, our clinic offers personalized solutions for every patient, ensuring the highest quality of care in every aspect.

  25. The Smile review

    Greenwood, who usually plays no part in Yorke's side hustles, is in full swing in the Smile, fringe flopping, bowing his bass on Free in the Knowledge, hitting effects pedals with stockinged feet...

  26. Smile 2 (2024)

    Smile 2: Directed by Parker Finn. With Kyle Gallner, Naomi Scott, Lukas Gage, Rosemarie DeWitt. Plot under wraps.