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What's Trending: New Radiohead and Foo Fighters

Sunday - 4/3/2011, 11:54am  ET

Radiohead

WTOP's Neal Augenstein and Nathan Hager discuss Radiohead's new album "King of Limbs."

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Foo Fighers

WTOP's Neal Augenstein and Nathan Hager discuss "Wasting Light," the new album by the Foo Fighters that they leaked themselves.

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Neal Augenstein, wtop.com
Nathan Hager, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - It's a double dose of what's trending this week, with new music from Radiohead and the Foo Fighters.

For the arty, enigmatic band from Oxford known as Radiohead, it's like Marshall McLuhan said: the medium is the message.

More than three years after embracing digital music downloads by offering their album "In Rainbows" under a pay-what-you-want model, the band self-released their latest song collection, "The King of Limbs", via the web on February 18.

This time, the price was fixed, but for early-adopters willing to pay a premium, the band also offered the album in physical form: CD and/or vinyl, with newspaper-themed inserts and art.

On March 29, Radiohead released the new album to record stores in North America, and to promote it, they combined the new media sensibility of flash mobs with the ultimate symbol of old media.

For one day only, they issued a newspaper at targeted points throughout the U.S. and Canada.

So these days, Radiohead have become known as much for how they distribute their music as for the music itself.

For those (like Neal) whose earliest exposure to the band was when they took a marked departure from the grungy, early sound of "Pablo Honey" and their biggest single from that period, "Creep," Thom Yorke and company might be a little off-putting.

They won't get much help from "The King of Limbs."

After the markedly experimental turn Radiohead took in 2000 and 2001 with "Kid A" and "Amnesiac", they'd actually gone more melodic with subsequent releases "Hail to the Thief" (2003) and even "In Rainbows" (2007).

But "Limbs"represents an even moodier return to the experimental sound of the early 00's. The first video from the album, for "Lotus Flower," has an electronic beat you can flail your arms to.

Rock 'n roll isn't dead. In fact, some bands are impatient to show just how alive it is.

Foo Fighters, the band fronted by Fairfax County native and former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl, are due to release their seventh studio album, "Wasting Light" on April 11.

On March 30, the band leaked the opening track, "Bridge Burning".

But in a surprise move just three days later, the band apparently decided, what the heck, let's go ahead and release the whole album online right now.

And that's what they did.

Wasting Light by Foo Fighters

The eleven-track collection is purposefully lo-fi, recorded entirely on analog tape, and it features some old friends, including Grohl's former Nirvana bandmate Krist Novoselic on "I Should Have Known" and another D.C. favorite, Bob Mould on "Dear Rosemary."

"Wasting Light" is Foo Fighters' first album in more than three years, and it seems they want to make up for lost time.

On April 16, to mark Record Store Day, the Foos will release "Medium Rare", a collection of cover songs that includes "Band on the Run" by Paul McCartney and Wings, "Have a Cigar" by Pink Floyd, plus a couple of songs the band has already covered memorably, including Prince's "Darling Nikki" and Gerry Rafferty's "Baker Street."

So what do you think of these new albums? Let us know in the comments section or tag your tweet with #whatstrending.

(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)