OK Go – 180/365
I’ve never been one to enjoy the authenticity of a live album, particularly because I like the preciseness and refinement of albums which have been edited to all Hell. The composition of an album, in my mind, is similar to the composition of any good book or movie in that it’s edited to be just so. A finished product exactly what we’re intended to hear. In comes OK Go, a band who I unintentionally keep missing every time they come to Toronto (one time I wasn’t even in the country). Upon doing a ‘what’s new?’ search (as I do) I discovered that their latest album, 180/365 was streaming online (as they do). I had no choice but to buy it off iTunes. Turns out, the album is all live songs. What do?
I should probably add that what little live music I keep in my collection is comprised of AC/DC (“are you ready Donington?!”) and Fleetwood Mac, two bands whose songs cry for live treatment; I won’t listen to Stevie Nicks sing “Landslide” unless it’s live. OK Go, on the other hand, is a band whose music I won’t go without. Although their albums are few and far between, they’re avid performers and excellent independent artists. Oh, and they do music videos– if you use the internet, you’ve seen them, I assure you.
180/365 is an important number; it signifies the amount of days they performed live last year. Every day of these performances was faithfully recorded by the band for future use (re: this album) and they chose the best versions of each track to appear. Amazingly, each track nonetheless flows seamlessly into one another as a gapless album, even though they’re pulled from completely different venues. This makes the album quite interesting; it gives the concert setlist style without you having to be at sixteen different places at once.
The disc features songs from the band’s three albums (OK Go, Oh No, and Of the Blue Colour of the Sky) though most are from the latest release. Surprisingly, “End Love”, one of their notable music video singles, didn’t appear as part of their live track listing. For people who’ve listened to their albums front and back and memorized the flow of each, 180/365 is the perfect bit of displacement. Everything feels like it’s in the right order; the songs feel so refined, even though they’re live, after all, they went through 180 versions of each to get the best ones. With years under their belt to perform these songs, these are the shiny, new live versions done the way they’ve learned to do them. Although they don’t differ entirely, you can hear the differences and appreciate them for not being carbon copies.
After listening to “Do What You Want” live for the first time (the first track), I started getting too excited. Cranked up to max volume, the whole list of songs is enough to get a listener excited for each subsequent tune. When “This Too Shall Pass” comes along and lead singer Damian Kulash allows the audience to sing the chorus, it’s enough to give you shivers.
Even songs like “Skyscrapers” which, admittedly, I never really cared for in their original form, found new life on the live stage. Of course, I’m a sucker for live saxophone; knowing that this version came from jazzy New Orleans only piques my interest. A short version of “Last Leaf” is icing on the cake. When Kulash stops midway through the song, presumably to leave the audience suspended, he receives a resounding applause. It’s a beautiful song which, in its succinctness, is all the more ephemeral considering the power of some of their other more energetic songs.
To say the least, this is one of the only live albums I’ve ever appreciated from start to finish. It’s hard to complain about something I enjoy so much from a band I, admittedly, have favoured so greatly (and with reason). I strongly recommend picking this up. If you don’t know OK Go, start listening to their older stuff and anticipate what they could possibly do next with me. It’s well worth it.